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Archive for the 'Humanity' Category

Automotive isolation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I drove to work today because of rain in the forecast. It had clearly rained some before I got up, but it wasn’t raining at that time. Still, I didn’t want to take a chance and get dumped on on my way to work, and then show up soaked. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to bike to work even in the rain, but I’m not equipped to do that yet.

On my way to work, I reflected a bit on biking versus driving. It felt strange driving to work after two days of riding the bike; I think that one reason is that biking makes me feel an increased sense of self-reliance. If for some reason I couldn’t drive, I could still get to work (or anywhere, for that matter) on my bike. There’s also something really rewarding about getting around using your own power. However, I felt a bit lame bailing on riding because it was supposed to rain. It wasn’t even raining — in fact, it was beautiful outside. It would’ve been a perfect morning to ride.

The thing I kept thinking about, though, is how much more isolated you feel when you’re in a car. You’re largely shielded from outside noises, smells, etc, from bumps in the road, and from other motorists. Your vision is greatly obstructed. You can still notice things like hills, but they don’t have the same impact.

On a bike, though, all of these things are much more intense. You can see everything in all directions, just by looking around. There isn’t really anything separating you from the pavement, or from the things around you. When you’re going fast, you feel like you’re going fast, the pavement blurs beneath you, and you focus on where you’re going, and you’re in tune with what’s going on around you.

The automotive isolation is taken further when people (including myself) play loud music in their cars. Maybe some people like feeling isolated from their surroundings — sometimes I do, I noticed, as I turned up the volume on my stereo to drown out the sound of a truck — but how much do we miss by doing this? On a bike, you have to deal with the truck sounds, but you can also hear and see a lot more — birds, trees, the sky, etc. You feel the pavement below you, including any cracks, bumps, potholes, and other irregularities, but you also feel, and hear, the texture of the pavement itself. And in the morning, there’s that smell … yes, that smell, which I can’t describe, but is unmistakeable.

I also realized this morning what I liked about a car I used to have, a crappy 1994 Ford Escort. It was a piece of junk, but there was always something I liked about it that I couldn’t put my finger on. Now I think it’s that while cars are designed to isolate you as much as possible, from noise, bumps, wind, rain, etc., the Escort did all of those things very poorly. In that way, it was closer to riding a bike than driving a car.

That’s not to say that I want that Escort back. Not at all. But I’m looking forward to riding my bike more and more, to stay in tune with my surroundings, get around under my own power, get in shape, and more importantly, have fun!

Orange Shirt Day

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

My Festive Fridays are now no longer, since my festive shirt has a tear, and I have thus far been unable to find a suitably subtle replacement. But too late yesterday, my boss declared today Orange Shirt Day, which is apparently a long-standing and haphazard tradition around here, not occurring on any kind of repeating basis, only randomly when someone thinks of it.

But my boss sent his declaratory e-mail too late and (even though it was a high priority message!) almost nobody read it and almost nobody wore orange shirts today, aside from my boss, the head-bobber (whose shirt is the orangest I’ve ever seen), and my very own self, although I feel particularly weird about it because: 1.) I never wear orange and Q.) My orange shirt is a bit too small, not too small to be comfortable, but small enough to accentuate my belly and make me feel a bit too nipply, even though I am wearing a T-shirt underneath. But I wore the orange shirt in solidarity, or at least that was my intent, to reach out to my coworkers about whom I know little and with whom I don’t speak very much, and now I’m left here wearing this ridiculous too-small orange shirt and trying to hide my nipples without actually trying to hide them.

For the second day in a row, I sit here working on something that should be simple, so simple that it should just work, but it doesn’t. I broke down and e-mailed tech support, only to find that the guy I need to talk to is on vacation and won’t be able to help me until next week — unless the other guy helps me out of the kindness of his heart and the fact that we pay them thousands of dollars a year to …. well, we pay them to give us this ridiculous system that only works exactly how they designed it, just like some other systems here that are the same way.

I’m about to go eat some Mexican food with two of my coworkers, the orangest-shirt-ever head-bobber who thinks Americans don’t like rice, and the poker-playing accountant with wild business ideas that’ll never be practical. The good news is it’s Friday, and I think it’ll be a pretty good weekend with Sarah and hopefully a bike ride or even two, and maybe some music.

Protected: There’s a cloud above us

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

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