Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for October 2013

Life Cycle

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I’m in the market for a new bike.  My whole life, I’ve been using mostly mountain or racing bikes, because those are the styles that have been popular and therefore available.  However, my back and neck are starting to complain about them.  Where cycling is a more popular mode of transportation, it appears that utility bikes are more common, with an upright posture, long mud guards, and some storage space.  They look a little silly to modern eyes, but that’s because we’re being stupid as a culture.

On the other hand, I might go for some sort of tricycle, with the advantages of extra comfort and stability, with the latter being particularly important on wet or icy roads.  Then again, parking might be a concern, particularly while shopping or at work.  If I really splurge, I could go for a velomobile, with better aerodynamics, some environmental protection, and perhaps increased safety, but at a significant higher price.  How would I lock it up, anyway?

Meanwhile, there seems to be a significant market for second-hand bicycles.  I hadn’t really considered it before coming across plans for an easily repairable shift lever; now that one of mine no longer ratchets when the temperature gets down around freezing, I completely understand the motivation.  Transportation is essential to many jobs, and a good, cheap, easily repairable bicycle makes a world of difference to a significant portion of the population.

So will I donate my current bike?  Maybe.  On the other hand, it might stick around for my children to use when they outgrow their little 16-inch two-wheelers.  As active as they are, they’ll need their own transportation to all sorts of odd stuff as they grow.

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Written by eswald

29 Oct 2013 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Cycling, Lifestyle

Little Things that Matter

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I’ve been noticing some parallels between a few movements that I support.  Each is a small change with some significant ramifications, creating significant benefit to the vast majority of people.  However, those ramifications are not obvious, the benefits fly in the face of tradition, and the costs are borne primarily by those with the greatest power to enact the change.

I once lived in a state where individual citizens, with enough support, could propose legislative ballots for the statewide elections.  For the federal government, the closest we come is the ability for a super-majority of states to support a constitutional amendment.

Then again, these are exactly the kinds of movements that can be proven at the local level, growing bigger with each generation.  If I ever, through some miracle, become rich and/or outgoing enough to gain the ear of my local officials, will I still be focused on these same issues?

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Written by eswald

22 Oct 2013 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Cycling, Politics

Your Brain on Love

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I read something recently framing Romeo and Juliet not as a romance, but as a story of teenage impulsiveness.  The intuitive portion of my mind combined that with musings about a relationship on trust, a song given to me years ago about love being for melting defences, and something else I once read about romance suppressing activity in certain parts of the brain.

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Written by eswald

15 Oct 2013 at 10:33 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

Memetic Tangents

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A recent internet sensation has independently infected both my office and my home.  It doesn’t grab me as much as it seems to grab everyone else, but I’m intrigued by another video from the same group.  One where a couple get together over a shared interest, then scream and swear their plains for a reasonable life together.  A life not entirely unlike my own.

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Written by eswald

8 Oct 2013 at 9:29 pm

Illegible Packaging

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My office includes people of many cultures. Something Chinese Occasionally, some of them will travel to other countries for business or personal reasons.  Judging by the contents of the break room table, someone recently brought something home from China.

Unfortunately, I neither speak nor read Chinese.  Perhaps I should, but both the characters and the tones intimidate me.  The boxes contain some English, but part of it mentions “wonderful stories” and another part says it was produced by a food company.  Each of the little boxes, which probably came out of the big box, has a picture of two cubes and some other kind of food.  So what could they contain?

I’m guessing candy, but I’m not certain enough to open one and put it in my mouth.  After all, the cubes look a bit more like soap.  Then again, the “stories” might well be literal; packages don’t always contain what they picture.

I rarely feel illiterate, so this was a taught me a bit of how my children must feel.  Our kindergartner has been feeling frustrated about reading, doesn’t have any sense of how important it is, and doesn’t want to practice.  Digraphs are a daily slog, and the difference between “R” and “L” is torture.

We won’t give up, though.  I didn’t marry one of the smartest people I’ve met just to raise illiterate children.  I may read code more often than books, but variable names and documentation are still largely in English.  Add that to emails, blogs, comic strips, recipes, legal forms, software menus, video game text, street signs, product labels, and dozens of minor words scattered throughout daily life, and I probably don’t spend ten waking minutes without reading at least one word somewhere.

There was once a time when everything you needed to know could be taught verbally.  We no longer live in such a time.  Reading is fundamental.

Written by eswald

1 Oct 2013 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Lifestyle