Friday, April 26, 2013

Friends who know friends who know friends

I recently reached 500 friends on facebook. Which is quite amazing because in real life I only really know 12 people. This is why social media is, ironically, great for the social mediocre. Facebook really is the Jesus of friends. Bring your few meagre scraps of people you haven't alienated through thinking before joking or expressing your extremist views on cats and facebook-jesus will turn them into a multitude. You can befriend the five thousand.

Even I with my brag-worthy half-a-grand of friends, stull suffer from the feeling that I have fewer friends than most of my other friends. Although suffer is a strong word. I actually think the 12 people I really do know is quite a lot of responsibility. But I do have the sense that everyone else knows more people. And that is probably true according to this article in the New York Times...

What this article basically says is that feelings of inadequacy are just an anomaly of statistics. And that's not just on facebook, but in other areas too. Buck up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, it's all just a statistical illusion. And in fact, statistics has just proved you are way superior than most other people. Very few people indeed have actually made it to the end of this blog post.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two-Wheels Good

Let me start by reminding you that riding a bicycle is impossible. Impossible. Bicycles are two-dimensional objects – especially my ageing wannabe racing bike. And we expect these two-dimensional objects to propel us, increasingly three-dimensional objects, along a plane perpendicular to the aforementioned bicycle. A plane that exerts a gravitational pull on us and is hard and jagged enough to bruise and graze us – or worse – when the geometry of cycling fails and the gravity gets a hold of us.

Riding a bicycle is impossible. Earlier humans seeing us riding bikes would burn us as devils or witches. Yet billions of us do it every day; Defying gravity, the gods and good judgement. It’s not only fun, enhealthening (note to self: check dictionary), but a very practical way of getting from A to B.

As you might have gathered from this blog, I live in Amsterdam which is famous for having a free and liberal attitude to cycling. Compared to many other big cities where cycling is treated like a criminal offense, Amsterdam seems to positively welcome cycling and cyclists. Cycle paths not only exist but are clear, visible and don’t suddenly stop and become a wall as they do in some places.

The streets swarm with cyclists at most hours of the day and especially in the morning and evening at those times when people bring and collect their kids to and from the various kid-repositories and bring and collect themselves to and from the place they keep themselves during the day (usually a place of work, but not exclusively).

This morning was one of those days where people cycling in front of you randomly and suddenly slow down for no apparent reason. The whole journey was me braking to avoid nudging into the back of some work-bound Amsterdammer. It was especially difficult because today I had been paying more attention to the street than other parts of the environment. This was due to my recent flat tire from which I pulled a hunk of glass which was a perfect scale model of an iceberg. So today I was studiously watching out for flocks of icebergs.

playmobil policeBy the end of my journey, I was paying more attention to the frequently stopping bikes and other eye-level hazards with only glances towards the glassy danger that lurked below because a flat tire won’t kill you. It saved me from ploughing into the back of the last cyclists that randomly stopped in front of me: two policewomen both with impressive blond ponytails poking out from under their cycle-cop caps.

It was then my mood was set for the day. I realised how happy I was to live in a city where my protection was provided by three-dimensional, blond devil-witches effortlessly doing the geometrically and gravitationally impossible. How can you not appreciate that?