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It is stay off the Internet because everything you read is BS Day

This blog will be 10 years old this year, and I used to look forward to April 1st. each year when I could attempt to write some bogus article that would entertain and maybe amuse my readers.

A good “All Fools” story will suck you in at first, and you believe what you are reading. Then as the story becomes more and more bizarre, you start to ask yourself, “What is this?” Then you realize the date is April 1st. and you chuckle because you get the joke. You’ve been had.

However, a joke is not funny if you already know the punch line. I wrote my last April Fools piece four years ago in 2011. When I started to blog in 2005 there were only a few million of them, now there are gazillions. (Or whatever the biggest number is.)

Everyone and his brother is now doing April Fools articles, even the major Newspapers, so we all know the punchline. For me it has become a huge bore, or snore.

I just read where the guy who invented the “Pet Rock” died. He sold millions of them at $3.75 each, because it was funny at the time. Actually quite brilliant. It stopped being funny when every household had a pet rock. (That is a real story, it broke yesterday March 31st.)

Do you remember “Billy Bass” the singing fish? That was funny for about two weeks before it became extremely annoying. For me April 1st. has become the Billy Bass day on the Internet. A day to stay off the World Wide Web, because I know chances are everything I read will be bogus.

So what to do today? You could go back and read my early April 1st. posts, they are all together here in one place. I suggest you scroll to the bottom because I feel my first one in 2007 was the best, and it was gradually downhill from there. In 2011 I decided to stop adding to the shit pile.


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The March of the Machines

Just about any manufactured item can be described as Functional Art. Designed not only to do what it is supposed to do, but to look appealing also.

If you are choosing between two similar priced items of similar quality, you are most likely going to pick the one that looks cool, all other things being equal.

When I built bicycle frames in England during the 1970s my customers were almost exclusively racing cyclists. They bought my bikes mainly because they rode and handled well, and were reasonably priced. A few file marks showing under the paint showed it was a handmade item.

On moving to the US in 1979 I saw that American framebuilders paid a great deal of attention to detail and paint finish of the product, because their customers were swayed by aesthetics as much as what was beneath the paint.

However, aesthetics and function must go hand in hand, hence the term Functional Art. If someone made a musical instrument that looked beautiful but sounded awful, what use would it be apart from something to hang on the wall and look at? The beauty of a well-crafted bicycle is in the way it rides and handles.

How did these qualities get into the bicycle frame other than through the builder? Through design and skill, there is a part of the builder in every frame he makes. Also when he practices a skill long enough it becomes second nature, automatic without conscious thought.

This is not a new notion, the Native American called this “Hand Magic.” Nature bringing something into creation through the artist’s hands. When an ant colony builds an ant hill, is this any different from man building his cities and roadways? Just on a different scale.

The Native American sees mankind as part of Nature, not separate from it. There is nothing in Nature that is not beautiful, the only ugliness is manmade.

Man builds a barn in a field and paints it red. It is an eyesore, a blight on the environment. Given time the barn becomes derelict. Nature takes over and the barn becomes a thing of beauty. Photographers come to photograph it, artists come to capture it on canvas.

If the artist is connected to the creative source in the first place then his creation will be beautiful to begin with. It is not even necessary for the artist to be aware of this. Had anyone put forward this point of view to me some thirty years ago, I would have said they were full of crap.

It was only towards the end of my framebuilding career in the early 1990s did I realize that all creativity or art comes from one source only, be it music, painting, or even bicycle frames.

You can still find handcrafted bicycle frames, but the majority are designed and manufactured like everything else. That is not to say they are inferior from a functional standpoint, they may even perform better. And as for aesthetics, well they are smooth and shiny, what more can you ask for, or expect.

Looking back, it seems to me that what the customer demands of the craftsman making a hand built item, is a look of perfection. As if it came out of a mold, or was made by machine. When the craftsman attains this, the machines are not only ready to take over, the customer is ready to accept the machine made item.

Automobiles were once built by hand, and yet the finest craftsman, hand beating an auto body panel, could never produce a modern body panel. One that is stamped by a die that was machined by a computer controlled piece of equipment.

As for function, the modern robot built automobile will outperform its hand built counterpart of yesteryear. The robots are of course built by skilled engineers, but once built work for a lot less, and produce more than individual craftsmen.

Items still have to be initially designed by someone creative, an artist. However, with the computer being the modern day design tool of choice, and from there going to the programmer of the machines and robots. I'm not sure where the "Hand Magic" comes into the equation.

It appears the hand of the craftsman has been bypassed completely, in the name of progress. The march of the machines.

The problem is in time will humankind lose contact with the creative source, his contact with Nature? As I said earlier, it is not necessary for the artist to be aware that he is connected to the creative source, but it is necessary that he at least continue to create.


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Survival, Fear and Anger

On the spectrum of emotional feelings, fear and anger sit right next to each other. If we believe our vital instincts stem from mankind’s primitive beginnings, this makes perfect sense. When in danger there are two options, fight or flight. Fear will make you run, if trapped or cornered, anger will make you turn and fight. 

I sometimes feel we arrive on this planet with one very basic and simple instruction: Survive. But it is never explained to us how to survive. When, if we would just stop and think about it, if we just live our lives day to day we can do nothing else but survive.

Instead for many life becomes a game of survival. Some think in order to survive it is necessary to please others. To go around being kind, and helping others. Some feel they must control others, and get them to do their bidding.

These two personality types often pair off in relationships, because they each fill a basic need in each other. The one to serve, the other to control and be served. These relationships often end when the one doing all the giving, wakes up one day and asks, “Hey, what am I getting out of this?”

Many of these relationships don’t end but develop into lifelong partnerships of hatred and loathing for each other, but continue because they each still fill that basic need. And when one spouse dies, the other mourns the loss, by greiving more than that of a truly loving relationship.  

There will always be leaders and those who follow. We see that in the animal kingdom. The reason communism failed, is because it is a nice idea in theory that we are all equal and we should all share. However, in practice it doesn’t work because there is always a large percentage of the population who are lazy-asses and won’t pull their full share of the work load.

There is nothing wrong with the leader motivated by ambition of a better life. But there are two types of leader. The best kind are those who are intellectually superior, and lead from a position of respect. They treat their subordinates with respect, and the subordinates work hard because they genuinely want to help their leader and his company succeed.     

The worst kind of leader is the one motivated by pure greed, and the need to control. He treats his subordinates with disrespect, pays them poorly, and controls by bullying tactics and a fear of losing one’s job.

The only useful purpose these bosses and their companies provide, they give employment to the lazy-asses who under communism would live off the system. Bullying and fear of losing a job is the only way to motivate a lazy-ass. These bad corporations always have a large turnover of staff, so any loser can still find a job.

A job is like a marriage or relationship. Just as in the co-dependent marriage, both partners stay because neither is willing to step out of their comfort zone. A person may hate his job by stays because he is not prepared to work any harder than he has to. He becomes good at keeping his job, rather than just being good at his job.

Too many people live right on the edge of fear and anger. These are the ones who practice passive/aggressive patterns of behavior. The back stabbers, the real assholes.

They are angry at you, because they are angry at the whole world. But at the same time they are afraid of you, so they will not get in your face and tell you so. They will hurt you in ways you won’t even know where it came from.

My advice: Learn to recognize these people and stay the fuck away from them. Because that is how you really survive.  

Just my opinion, nothing more. Hopefully food for thought. Agree or disagree, let me know.


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Buyer’s Remorse

I occasionally sell a few items on eBay. I don’t make a regular business out of it, but like most bike enthusiasts I collect a lot of bike parts, and need to get rid of them from time to time.

A couple of weeks ago I collected about six items together, took photos, and listed them on eBay. It was quite a lengthy process that took up most of a whole day. I didn’t look too closely at the items, and maybe I should have paid more attention.  I listed a pair of Campagnolo, 1980ish brake levers as having “Slight sctatching,” and added “See photos.”

The photos clearly showed the scratches, especially when enlarged, which is a feature eBay has. I listed the item with a starting price of $9.99 and no reserve. They could have gone for $9.99, and I would have had to accept that. I was amazed when there were 21 bids and these levers went for $83 + $6 Shipping.

Now if anyone is paying $89 for a pair old Campagnolo brake levers, they had better be in unblemished mint condition. These were not, and I knew this customer had overpaid. But on the other hand I had set the starting price at just under ten bucks, it was not my doing some people got carried away and pushed the price up to over eight times that.

So it came as no big surprise when the buyer put in a claim for his money back. I emailed back immediately asking if I refunded $30, making the price $53, would he be interested in keeping the levers.

This was in keeping with a similar pair of levers I had sold before. He emailed back to say he wouldn’t accept less than $40 off. I agreed to $40 off, but in the end that was not acceptable either. I said, fine, just send the levers back and I will refund the $89. (Item + shipping.)

The levers arrived back today, and I issued the refund. After closer inspection I will agree I should have paid more attention, and not listed these as having “Slight” scratching. But on the other hand anyone paying over $80 for a pair of vintage Campagnolo brake levers, the word “Scratches” should not even be in the item description.

I would hope it is clear that I am not out to rip people off on eBay, otherwise I wouldn’t have listed these at $9.99. But it seems to me that in this case, “Buyer’s Remorse” had already kicked in long before this item even arrived to this customer.

Take a look at the eBay listing here, hover over or click on the photos to enlarge and tell me, after looking at the photo’s would you have bid $83 for these? I will list them again this weekend and you can be sure when referring to the scratches, the word “Slight” will not appear.


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Our society has this strange trait of labeling everyone.

It is not enough that we know someone by their given name, we have to categorize them further by what they do for a living, their political or religious beliefs. Even their hobbies.

I’m sure people who live in my neighborhood but have not yet met me, refer to me as “The Cyclist,” because they see my ride by on my bike.

The problem is that being labeled a “Cyclist,” I am then pre-judged by the worst behavior of other cyclists, even those who would not necessarily label themselves as cyclists.    

The dictionary defines a cyclist as “Somebody who rides a bicycle,” and as far as the media and news reports go that pretty much covers it. If a person robs a bank and makes his get-away on a bike, the story will read “Cyclist robs bank.”

What about the three-year-old child riding his little bike on his driveway, possibly with training wheels still installed. Is this little fellow a “Cyclist” or a child playing at being a cyclist?

There are people who ride bicycles as their only means of transport, either by choice, or for economic reasons, but would they necessarily label themselves as cyclists? 

A person who has lost their driver’s license or a young person not yet old enough to drive will ride a bicycle, and would not call themselves a cyclist. But should they be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, the media will say, “Cyclist hit by car.” When in the interest of accuracy, shouldn’t the report read, “Cyclist hit by Motorist?”

Some use a bicycle as an exercise machine but would not necessarily call themselves a cyclist any more than they would call themselves “treadmillist,” if there were such a word for a person who chose a treadmill as their exercise machine of choice.

At some point I need to be careful, lest I am accused of becoming “elitist.” When a person starts to ride a bike for no other reason than the pure joy of riding a bicycle, the temptation is to want to spread that joy and convert others to become cyclists and discover the joys of cycling.

When they resist efforts at conversion, it must be the same feeling that Jehovah’s Witnesses get when they knock on my door but fail to convert me to their way of thinking.  There is a danger of being a “Cyclist” becoming a belief system, almost a religion.

It is okay to feel superior, after all that is nothing more than a feeling of self-esteem, which is good. What I will try not to do is to look down on lesser mortals who are not cyclists. Those unfortunate souls who have not yet discovered the joy of being a cyclist. Those trapped inside their unfit bodies and their SUVs.   

However, I will not preach to non-cyclists or try to convert them. I will not display an elitist persona of superiority. I will not show disdain at those who choose to travel by car or on foot. I will try to show my fellow traveler, respect and common courtesy. Be they on the road (Literally.) or on this journey that is this life. Even though it is entirely possible they will not show me the same respect.

I will occasionally allow myself to "Poke fun" at the non-cyclist, in a good natured way, on this blog, knowing that the non-cyclist will not read it any more than I will read the Jehovah’s Witness literature that was tucked behind my screen door.

I will try to lead by example that people might say, “Here’s a happy, healthy, content individual, what’s your secret?” Then maybe I might tell them.


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