Sunday, March 16, 2008

Northwest Journal

I’m quite happy having minimal stuff -- and just sitting on the carpet leaning back on my inflatable bed against the wall, typing my thoughts. In time, I get what I think is essential to my optimal functioning. Yesterday, that was the fairly easy decision to get a new bike -- rather than mess with the dysfunctional old bike, that basically is an accident waiting to happen, in that the brakes don’t work well. A lot of people fall for this kind of false economy -- to “save” $50-100 while opening themselves up for a major calamity.

I’ve been looking at these Walmart Next bikes for sometime -- curious if it works since they seem so outrageously priced, for all the latest features they have, that cost at least ten times as much elsewhere. I paid $73.86, for a bike that would cost $738.60 in a bike shop. And then I bought a helmet for $7.14, and a lock for $5.46, both of which would have cost me ten times as much purchased in a bike shop. And I did check out three bike shops before deciding to go Walmart.

And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing that the expensive bikes can do a whole lot better than this entry level model. Even a comparable bike at Fred Meyer would have cost twice as much -- but there was nothing under $120 worth considering. Walmart had a $60 bike that I would not consider worth buying -- but for $14 more, I have a bike that is all a bike needs to be.

My old bike was better, undoubtedly, as a permanent possession -- but as a “disposal” bike, this is all it has to be for one year or more. That’s the lifetime I expect from any purchase anymore. If it lasts a year of excellent performance, I don’t care if it isn’t forever, because I’ll probably want the “new and improved,” state of the art -- especially at the low end.

I called Pat and told him of my exploits in Salem so far, and he had never ridden the bus and was impressed that I had ventured all the way out to Walmart and got a bike that I rode home on. He was impressed that the bus day-pass was $2. Then when he heard that I had abandoned the notion of resurrecting the abandoned ($60 Walmart) bike and bought the $74 model that I fully approved of, he was again impressed with my decision-making.

Like I told Isaac, I’ve bought over 20 bikes in my lifetime and enjoy going back into the market to see what is available now -- especially at the basic entry-level. It’s like buying the low-end basic, entry-level computer now and finding it fully-loaded with all the features that would have cost a premium five years ago -- standard.

I always knew that bike technology was really quite the bargain and still the state of the art in human efficiency -- so for me to look at this $74 purchase and see everything it has, makes me marvel that they can be selling anything like this so cheap, anywhere in the world. It’d just be a tankful of gas for everybody else.

Yesterday was also my first interaction with the community for any extensive purposes and I was very impressed with how helpful everybody was. Every customer is cheerfully welcomed and assisted as much as they want to be. The people seem to be wholesome and healthy -- without the presence of a hard-core perennial and resentful underclass.

One notices that absence -- coming from Hawaii so recently. Hawaii is becoming a very class conscious and stratified society -- between the haves and the have nots, as a permanent condition of its society, which is not a healthy and promising portent for the future. The Democrats have become the dominant and ruling class -- like Saddam’s Baathist party. You don’t find that in Salem -- that those have a right to more privileges by virtue of being in the majority with the power to impose their will and injustice on everybody else.

I don’t know what else one can do but leave such a society -- for the freedom elsewhere. Hawaii is a very controlled society -- by the old powers that were and hope to always remain so. Whereas here, one gets the sense that society is constrructed for the least able and privileged, to enjoy the richness of society as much as anybody else. The roads here are good -- without all those potholes, craters, and perennial construction -- and all the sidewalks have those ramps that bikes can travel safely on away from the traffic.

Things are done right -- without all the rationalizations and explanations for why they aren’t.


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