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[P]
A Coder in Courierland

By transient0 in Culture
Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 04:31:55 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

Once upon a time, I was a coder not unlike yourself. My day consisted of coffee, perl and java hacking, meetings, and e-mail. I had a cubicle with fluorescent lighting, my own bookshelf and two computers. And I traded it all in.

Even before Office Space, white collar workers peered out the window (if they were so lucky) and imagined a more romantic life doing real work out under the sun.

Well, having no children, no great career ambition and no financial obligations more pressing than a crippling student loan, a year and a half ago, I decided to live this dream.

I became a bicycle messenger and now I'm here to report back.



Bits in Bags and Archetypes on Wheels

There are a number of reasons why the courier life was particularly attractive to this budding young programmer. Part of it was of course standard Office Space fantasy. But there was more. Gibson and Stephenson had taught me that the messenger, the mailman, was a vital romantic figure. The soldier of the information age.

And I won't pretend that I was blind to the fact that, in this urban world, the devil-may-care deliverator is something of a sex symbol.

And besides, I liked to ride. I loved it.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

It's no surprise that the first week on the job was something of a shock to my body. One of the first things to go was my sleep cycle. As a coder, I had long ago acclimatized myself to a roughly 3 AM - 9 AM sleep schedule. For my first week or two as a messenger, I found myself sleeping about twelve or thirteen hours a night (a slight increase from my usual six). Basically, I would wake up at seven in the morning, have coffee and a light breakfast and then call in to work. The next eight to ten hours would be spent on the road. Upon returning home I would fall directly into bed and die for three or four hours, then waking up just long enough to eat dinner before returning to the sweet paradise world of non-hurting muscles which we call sleep. Basically the only things i did were eat, sleep and ride.

But within the month I suddenly found myself getting by quite easily with eight hours sleep. For the first time in my life, I was going to sleep regularly before eleven PM. And the insomnia which had plagued me on and off my entire life had discreetly packed its filthy bags and hitched out of town.

I was also surprised at about this time to notice myself roughly ten pounds lighter. I freely admit that I had developed a bit of a paunch during my cubicle years, and I surprised how quickly those first ten pounds shed off1. And I was feeling generally stronger and happier as well. It is amazing how much crisper the general experience of life becomes when your body is given a chance to develop a little strength.

I am the same person I was in September 2003 when I threw off the shackles of curly braces and semicolons, but there is a certain well-being and sense of tranquilo that permeates my life that I hadn't even realized I was missing before.

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Dreadlocked Speed Freaks...

I was a little surprised to discover that the courier grind takes all kinds. There certainly exist a fair share of hopped-up hipsters and granola-munching hippies (two demographics whose representation i anticipated) but there are also more than a few no-nonsense middle-aged manual labour types (some of whom are supporting children) and fitness-freak jock types.

The gender distribution is skewed in favour of Y chromosomes, but not so pronouncedly as you might expect. I would say that roughly one courier in eight in Toronto is female. Interestingly however caucasians are considerably over-represented. I find this particularly strange because among walking couriers, metropass couriers and car couriers the ethnic distribution seems roughly the same as that of the city, so I can't imagine why the bicycle variety would be a uniquely white-washed niche.

But gender and race aside, the demographics of courier culture could hardly be more heterogenous. I could fill a book with courier character sketches, but the top three couriers at the company i ride for are: a forty-something ex-footballer from New Sealand who rides a Kronan cruiser, a late thirties dreadlocked philosophy masters grad who rides a Trek Alpha road bike and a twenty-five year old emo-rock singer-songwriter who rides a rusty old Peugot fixed gear.

Two Wheels and a Meat Motor

The most common sort of bike you will see couriers on is your standard street bike. Light frame, slick tires, no suspension and between 18 and 24 gears. Among veterans however, the favoured bikes are single speeds. There is a large variety among single speeds as well (fixed drive or freewheel, coaster brakes or hand brakes, etc.) but they all share the advantage of being mechanically simple machines. When you are riding eight hours a day, any part that can fail, eventually will. And probably dramatically. Thus, the simpler the mechanism, the lower the mechanic's bill.

However, if it rolls, some messenger somewhere has worked on it. I have seen couriers on full suspension mountain bikes, on adult-sized tricycles (slow but can carry plenty of cargo) and there is even one messenger at my company who rides a BMX.

Personally, I ride an ultra light Trek MTB frame with old-school Rock Shox. I have replaced almost all of the components to suit it better to the task at hand and have converted it into a single speed. It is fast.

Breaker One Nine

One of the defining items of the courier pastiche is the radio. Though, in fact, these days it is much more likely to be a phone. The phone my particular company uses is a really snazzy unix based number by Motorola with 'net access via the Telus network. We use text messaging for general communication and each courier has their own PHP generated webpage which they access to view their jobs. When voice communication is needed, the phones also function as MIC radios.

I found it really amusing that I gained a reputation as a technical whiz on my first day by showing the couriers how to access hotmail on their phones (management sets each courier's home-page to their personal package queue and none of the other riders had ever realized that they could just hit [#] and enter a URL of their choosing). I have also developed a skill I previously thought unique to high school girls. I can type out text messages on the phone keypad as fast as my thumb can move without looking, and even while riding through traffic.

Incidentally, the phones aren't the only place that unix is used in the company. The managers and the PR/New Accounts people all use MS-Windows, but the dispatching and all the package tracking is done on a network of half a dozen p-100s running HP-UNIX. My geek's eye immediately noticed half a dozen places that a quick code patch could smoothen things out, but of course they don't encourage couriers to hack code.

Taxi Taps, Flesh Pylons and Door Prizes

As a courier, you will get hit by cars. It is an occupational hazard. Most of the skill involved in being a bike courier relates to making sure you never occupy the same space as a car at the same time. Even so, no matter how hard you pedal, you can't outrun the law of averages.

A certain brash courier from another company who liked to refer to himself as "The Fastest Messenger in Toronto" (and he may well have been, arrogance aside) once told me that he didn't wear a helmet because having a safety net makes you reckless and that if you are fast enough, you don't fall. The next week, he went through the back window of an SUV that stopped suddenly and spent two weeks in the hospital. I don't know a single courier who has worked the job for more than a year and not been hit at least once.

Personally, I have been hit twice while working. The first time was by a cabbie who changed lanes into me. I was knocked from my bike. My front wheel and shocks were damaged, but i wasn't. The second time was a door prize. As i rode north up Yonge, someone opened the door of their parked car directly into my path. This one was very scary, as the fall sent me rolling across three lanes of busy traffic, but both my bike and my person came out of it unharmed.

One thing I was surprised to discover is that pedestrians are almost as dangerous to the full-time cyclist as drivers are. Especially if you indulge in sidewalk riding, but frequently even if you stick to the road, people will dart in front of you or suddenly stop or change direction without even the most cursory glance or indication of intent. A car, at least, can't change its direction of travel by a full 180 degrees in half a second. Personally, I have never hit a pedestrian, but on at least two occasions I have bailed in the process of sudden evasive manoevers which they required of me.

What it comes down to it is that it is a physical job and a dangerous one. If you are afraid of getting a little scratched up, stay out of the kitchen.

Full Plate with Magical Helm +1 vs. Asphalt

Among couriers in general, the no-helmet crowd is a slight majority. Personally, I always ride with a helmet and padded gloves (the head being the most serious injury and the hands being the most common). There are those who wear basically full kevlar and plastic body armour, but most people prefer to simply try not to fall too often.

As far as general gear goes, it's about a fifty-fifty split among couriers between those who wear cycling shorts and jerseys (or weather appropriate equivalents) and those who wear street clothes (of which faction I am). Almost everyone however wears clip pedals. Personally, I ride SPDs, but a lot of couriers ride Tymes.

You're not the Boss of Me

One of the most appealing aspects of the courier lifestyle is the freedom. I don't really have the ambition required to make a good entrepreneuur, but I've always been drawn to the idea of working for myself.

I often describe myself as a chronically lazy person, but to be honest, I don't mind working. I simply hate working under an oppressive structure. As a coder, I would find myself slacking off just because the environment gave me no motivation to work hard. And at the same time, I hated the obligation to look busy from nine to five, regardless of how much actual work their was to do. And I hated working in a cubicle ten meters from my supervisor's office.

I think I may be the only courier who even knows what PHB means; the concept would be so foreign to their experience. The people in charge are almost exclusively ex-couriers themselves and they have neither the power nor the inclination to peer over your shoulder as you work. Your only obligation is to get the packages where they have to be when they have to be there. So long as you do that, no one cares what else you do. And if you don't do it, you don't get paid. That simple.

If it's a slow afternoon and you want to lounge around outside the hub drinking coffee or even beer, no one will ever come over and ask you if that is an appropriate way to spend company time. Ever.

Freedom.

$1000 or the Box of MysteryTM?

And what exactly does a bike courier spend all this time carting from Alpha to Beta?. Undramatically, it is mostly just legal documents and cheques. I fear that once average people get more comfortable with internet encryption, courier companies will go out of business. We also deliver a lot of corporate gifts (bottles of wine, theatre tickets and what-not) because, apparently, there is a certain prestige in having a sweaty punker on a bike rush these things to your office or doorstep.

The most interesting things we generally carry are reels of film from set locations to editing studios and glossies from modeling agencies to magazines and casting agencies (hilariously, I once nearly caused a modeling agent a heart attack when he mistook me for his two o'clock appointment). And on two occasions I have been called upon to deliver a bag of blood from one hospital to another (which weirds me out a little, just because I assume that legally you are supposed to be certified in some way to do that).

They Shot Horse Thieves, Didn't They?

Yes, this is another occupational hazard. There doesn't exist a lock that can't be opened in under five minutes with the right equipment (and I don't mean the key) and as a courier you will be locking a (probably) nice bike in busy parts of the city all day long.

A large portion of thefts are actually a result of free-locking. This is the practise of locking the frame to one of the wheels and then leaning the bike against a wall, rather than locking it to some sort of permanent structure. When a bike is locked like this, anyone can just walk off with it (or throw it in the back of a pick-up truck) and break the lock at their leisure. Still, every courier does it sometimes because a lot of buildings don't have bike racks and it can be a big time sink looking for somewhere good to lock your bike. It is a calculated risk. Of course that doesn't mean that you aren't really fucking pissed when a free-locked bike gets lifted.

A lot of couriers, myself included, are in the practise of uglifying our bikes with spray paint and duct or hockey tape. It won't fool the trained eye, but it makes the bike look like crap to a casual observer and even if someone can see through the smokescreen, it vastly reduces the resale value.

Also, most bike thieves can recognize a courier bike and there is a certain danger to lifting them because a good courier is almost never away from their bike for more than five minutes and there are a lot of us, we are fast, and we have radios.

I have had two bikes stolen, but neither of them while I was working. One was stolen from my garage and the other from in front of a restaurant where I was eating.

Have Travelling Machine, Will Travel

One of the nicest things about being a courier is job security. Certainly, it is not unheard of for couriers to be fired but, unless they are completely incompetent or are a prick of epic proportions, an experienced courier will never be long out of work. In any largish city, there will be at least half a dozen companies to choose from and, though there are lots of couriers, the majority of them at any given time will be newbies. The fact of the matter is that six months on the road will make you a bona-fide veteran and such are always in demand.

And, even if you move to a new city, you will find that, like hookers and bartenders, you are employable anywhere (well anywhere large). Just buy a new map, study it for a day or two, and dive in. I made the acquaintance of one courier in Toronto who had, over the past two years, made his way from Vancouver by bicycle, stopping to work for a few months each in Edmonton and Regina along the way, saving up money for the next leg of his trip.

A Boy's Got to Eat

So, you're asking at about this point what the downside is. Well, if you (like me) are used to skilled work like coding, the most obvious drawback will come in an envelope at the end of every second week. To be honest, the pay isn't that bad compared many other varieties of unskilled manual labour, but it doesn't begin to compete with cube wages.

As a courier, your pay will be based entirely on commissions from the packages you carry. And of course, not all packages will be worth the same amount of money to you. The heavier ones will be worth more. The ones that are going farther will be worth more. And the ones that are more urgent will be worth more. The big trick to this is that, although it is more work to carry a heavier package and more work to carry a package further, it is not really any more work to deliver a package with more urgency. Urgent packages put a heavy strain on the dispatcher, but not much of one on the rider (who will generally be riding about as fast as they can maintain most of the time anyway).

So what it really comes down to is that on any given day there is only so much money to make and it is the dispatcher that decides how much of it you get. You can work your ass off all day delivering basics and make less scratch than another guy who delivers a couple of emergencies an hour. A good dispatcher will try and spread the gravy jobs around more or less evenly but still, perhaps the best advice I can give a beginner courier is: "Be the dispatcher's best friend."

In the final cell of the spreadsheet, you'll probably be looking at about $7CAD ($5.8USD) per hour when you first start out. However, once you've learned your chops you should be up in the $10 - $12CAD ($8.3 - $10USD) range within the month. As you climb the pecking order (or switch to a veteran company) you will see a slow increase in your paycheck, but it will never get much higher than this. And remember that it is very rare for a company to guarantee you a minimum income, so it is entirely possible to see your wage dip dangerously low from time to time with the fluctuations of supply and demand.

It's also worth noting that most companies pay you not as an employee, but rather as an independent contractor. This means that you will not qualify for employment insurance if you lose your job nor (more importantly) will you receive worker's compensation if you are injured2. The company for which I work does however have a policy of offering any injured biker office work until such time as they are able to work again (unless of course they prove massively incompetent at same).

The plus side of the independent contractor scheme is that it makes tax evasion quite easy if you are so inclined. And even if you do pay taxes in this socialist country, Canadian law allows couriers to deduct all bike related expenses as well as up to $10 per day in food expenses (fuel).

But Tell Me, Does it Rock?

Issues of pay aside, I can easily say that couriering is the best job i have ever had (and I have more than a few eclectic jobs on my resume). It is fun, the people are friendly, the stress is almost non-existent, it keeps you in excellent shape, and you spend most of your time outside (although this isn't really a year-round plus in Toronto). And, even considering the fact that my pay as a courier is between half and two thirds what it was as a coder, it is a rare day that I seriously consider going back.

One thing that I was worried about was that riding would cease to be fun. Delightfully, this never happened. Admittedly, riding does feel like work these days, but I still derive pleasure from it. And no matter how gruelling my day, when the time finally rolls around to call in "see you tomorrow" and turn off my phone, the act of riding home is immediately transformed from work to play. In fact, I still ride for fun on the weekends.

And couriering will teach you to know your city in ways you never imagined. I have always loved Toronto, but if you will forgive the metaphor, I feel that my relationship has transitioned from that of a secret admirer to that of a lover. I can call up at will the most intimate details of the financial core and of various tendrils extending therefrom.

You will develop a camaraderie with the other peoples of the street. You will find yourself exchanging knowing nods with hot dog vendors and buskers. Even mailmen and FedEx drivers (with whom couriers share a mutual conviction that each's job is superior to the other's) become your brothers and sisters of sorts.

And yes, if you have even the slightest bit of charm, you will have plenty of opportunity to pick up hot receptionists.

And so, I Leave You with Two Anecdotes and a Bullet List

Excerpt from diary (Fri Mar 19th, 2004):

Four times a day, sometimes five, I'll be sitting at the coffee shop near the hub and my radio will spring to life. When I check out the display it will invariably show four or five packages which need to get from the banking district to either St. Clair or Eglinton. And one of those packages will have twenty minutes left on it.

The ride up Yonge is fun every time. There are plenty of red lights that it is perfectly safe to blitz and there are always morons stopped in the middle of the road with their blinkers on. Not to mention wide sidewalks full of flesh pylons. It's a fast-paced obstacle course with all of the thrill and a tenth the risk of playing chicken with beamers on Richmond or Adelaide. It takes me nine minutes to get to Bloor. The light at Bloor is always red when I get there. Always. I stop in front of City Optical, I glance to see if 212 or 164 is having a smoke in front of 2 Bloor West. Chances are good that one of them is. It's winter now, so the seventy year old man with the karaoke machine, the car battery and the "Better than Viagra" T-Shirt isn't singing Sinatra in front of 2 Bloor East. Give it another month or so.

Then the light is green and I'm northbound again. There's a Tim Horton's on the right. I used to drink coffee there a lot when they had me on the Bloor East run, but there's no reason to stop there anymore now that I'm on St. Clair and Eg. The street dips slightly downhill and I feel like I'm on fire every time I fly past the gas station at Yonge and Church where I bought my map of the city on my first day on the road. But it's not 'til I reach Summerhill that the real fun begins. The dip bottoms out and the street starts to climb once again. The first couple of times you ride under the Summerhill bridge, when the hill disappears from your view, you can convince yourself for a few precious moments that it isn't actually as high or steep as it looked. But when you emerge from under the bridge, those delusions are quickly shattered. I have stopped courting them long ago.

I shift down as I pass under the bridge's shadow. I'm a torquer, not a spinner. I rarely venture out of the highest gear as I roll around the city, but I've got a special relationship with the St. Clair hill. I ride it with my pedals spinning fast. I don't let it break my stride and most of all, I never, never, stand up upon my drivetrain. I fix my eyes on the big CHUM sign. "Dial 1050" it tells me every time. I would if I could. And, firmly attached to the seat, I spin. I don't smirk at any of the people I pass who are walking their bikes. I smile slightly to myself as I fly past those who are standing and pumping desperately. They are saying to themselves, "If I can just rotate these pedals twenty more times, I'll be at the top." My cranks are spinning around the bottom bracket five times a second. The joggers I nod to with elitist camaraderie. Unless they have dogs.

And, in minutes that seem like sweat soaked seconds, I am passing underneath Dial 1050 and I am shifting up again. I'm only two thirds of the way up the hill, but the slope is starting to shallow out, and I love the feeling of acceleration as I fly, muscles burning, out of the steepest section of the curve. And though I know that in thirty minutes or so I'll be roaring back down Yonge, rims spinning without my aid, it is not this that I am thinking of when I smile at the corner of Yonge and St. Clair. I'm thinking about how, in about an hour and a half, I'll be sitting at the coffee shop near the hub and my radio will spring to life.

The St. Clair hill has become a friend to me. Today it threw me from my bike on the way back down. I'm in a fair bit of pain, but I'll forgive it. I'm sure it didn't mean anything by it.

Excerpted from diary (Fri Sep 5th, 2003):

The morning started off great: a few simple deliveries, flirting with a few hot receptionists, getting a little more buddy-buddy with the other couriers.

Then, at eleven o'clock I had a priority delivery to the 3rd floor at 2 Bloor St. West. I got in the elevator at the same time as two bussinesswomen. I punched "3" but the light didn't come on. The light had come on for the floor that the suit-women had punched, but not for mine. I looked at them, shrugged, and said "broken light, I guess."

Little did I know. The elevator cruised right past the 3rd floor and stopped at 7. The suit-women gave me sort of nervous smiles as they got off the elevator. When the door's closed, I punched "3" again. Nothing happened.

Ever resourceful, I punched in "4" instead, figuring I'd just take the stairs down one level. It let me off at 4 with no complaints. I wandered around for a few seconds until I found an unmarked door that had that "stairs" look to it. I turned the latch and, lo, there were the stairs. The door clicked behind me. In a moment of panic, I spun around and twisted the handle. Sure enough, it had locked behind me. Stoically, I made my way down to the third floor and the door there was not only locked, but boarded over. I went down to the first floor and once again, locked. I pounded on the door, but no-one answered. There was another door, a red one, that said "emergency exit only. alarm will sound."

I debated that route of escape for a few moments, but setting off the fire alarm in a forty-two story office tower in downtown Toronto is not something one should do lightly. I tried to call back to base, but the giant concrete bunker that is 2 Bloor West was interfering with my reception. I ended up running up and down the stairs pounding on doors for about half an hour until finally someone opened a door for me on the twenty-first floor. I went back down to the lobby and asked the security guard what the deal was with the 3rd floor. He said: "there is no third floor."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I mean, they're completely re-doing it, it doesn't even have carpeting right now."

"Well then," I asked, "what am I supposed to do with this?"

He looked at the package and said: "Oh, that's mislabeled. That office is on the 33rd floor."

Um, About that Bullet List

Oh, right. So you want to be a bike courier? You read this whole article looking for a few simple tips to make the transition easier? Well, here they are:

  • Have two bikes. You don't want to miss a day or two's work every time something fails on your bike and neither do you want some asshole bike thief to deprive you of the ability to pay your bills with one fell swoop of the bolt cutter. Anyway, no matter how fast your primary bike is, it feels nice to switch it up every now and then.

  • Buy a map. A good one. No matter how well you think you know the streets, you will be referencing it a lot. So don't buy a folding one, buy one that's bound like a book. Ideally, a water-proof one at that.

  • Put some money away from the big paycheques so it doesn't hurt as much when you get the small ones.

  • You will fall. Wear a helmet and then don't stress about it.

  • That said: First learn to ride safe, then learn to ride fast.

  • Capacity is more important in a bag than style.

  • Don't bother packing a lunch the week of hallowe'en. Every secretary's desk will have a bowl of free candy on it.

  • And finally: Be best friends with the dispatcher.


---



Notes:

  1. What is perhaps even more surprising though is that, even though still a good ten pounds above what my doctor claims to be my ideal weight, I never lost another pound. I guess some people are just biologically destined to a slight roundness of tummy, no matter how much exercise they get.

  2. These observations are based on the Canadian system. I have no idea how the American equivalents of EI or Worker's Comp function.


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Display: Sort:
A Coder in Courierland | 304 comments (291 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
Call me a nut, but ... (1.60 / 15) (#3)
by Peahippo on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 02:53:04 PM EST

... I think that people who go from coding in a cubicle to riding a courier bike for half pay was not really a coder to begin with. I'm glad these types are leaving IT to the real lifers like myself.


What makes one a real coder? (2.57 / 7) (#4)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 03:29:04 PM EST

Tall, ghostly pale, yet weighing under ninety pounds, or of average height, yet weighing well over two hundred.

I can see the appeal of it, but at forty and with a wife to support, I couldn't possibly.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

What about you? (none / 0) (#6)
by communistpoet on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 03:45:44 PM EST

You are white, but are you fat or tall?

We must become better men to make a better world.
[ Parent ]
Was fat, moderately tall, now in better shape (none / 0) (#112)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 05:10:43 PM EST

I'm 5'11 1/2", so I'm taller than most, but not the tallest around.

For nearly ten years, I weighed 250, but lost fifty pounds on a low carb diet. Until it got cold last year I was also bicycling and going to the gym, but curiously did not lose any weight, although the exercise had many other benefits.

I discovered an explanation for why I wasn't losing weight when I stopped exercising as winter set in: I lost nearly ten pounds, and very quickly too. I must have lost some fat when I started exercising, and built up some muscle, but then lost it when I stopped exercising.

It's nearly warm enough to start cycling again, so I expect I will soon. I don't know if I'll also go to the gym, it depends on how my time schedule works out.

I don't get out in the sun much.

Oh, and how I got to weigh 250: there were Burger Kings at each end of my hour long commute. Twice a day, for breakfast and supper, I'd get a double whopper, fries and large coke classic.

It wasn't just that though, but that I had just started taking medicine which increases one's appetite. I had weighed 200 for a long time before I started taking depakote.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0) (#296)
by soart on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 11:04:03 AM EST

Yes,I agree with you!
机票打折机票
[ Parent ]
BAH! What a question! (1.10 / 10) (#32)
by Peahippo on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 10:12:52 PM EST

A real coder writes software. A not-real coder takes a cycling job instead. Doesn't the word "career" mean anything to you?

A real coder would fight tooth and nail to perform his skill. The man who isn't, gives up and takes a lower paying job with what appears to be a gusty sigh of relief.

I refuse to take lesser jobs. The ones who do, exhibit less willpower and obvious relief, and are by definition not real professionals.

Like I said, this is fine by me. All the faux IT people should get the fuck out of MY career field ... and they can take their silly little pieces of useless paper with them. I wasn't doing this kind of thing for the money in the first place, but for the love of the game, and all the twits with dollar-signs in their eyes have laid waste to the honest prestige of IT.

For a techie, a bad IT job is still head and shoulders above a good manual labor job. Period. Anyone who thinks differently is obviously not a real techie.


[ Parent ]
My. (3.00 / 14) (#37)
by CrocoStimpy on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 04:50:32 AM EST

You computer janitors sure are uppity. Shouldn't you be writing some assembly-line code right now instead of wasting your employer's time on the Internet?

[ Parent ]
oh no, you're back on this site? (none / 0) (#110)
by Battle Troll on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 04:50:40 PM EST

Dammit. Now that gives me another person to read here. Just what I need.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Sir, (none / 0) (#122)
by CrocoStimpy on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:11:27 AM EST

I think you have me confused with someone else. CrocoStimpy Formerly jvance here and on Adequacy Currently pestering people over on HuSi.

[ Parent ]
Blasted HTML formatting. (none / 0) (#123)
by CrocoStimpy on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:13:00 AM EST

Please re-read the parent comment, with imagined break and paragraph tags inserted as appropriate.

[ Parent ]
I know exactly who you are, (none / 0) (#127)
by Battle Troll on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 07:32:57 AM EST

You insensitive clod.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but so what? (2.83 / 6) (#44)
by joto on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:22:22 AM EST

My story is pretty similar to that of the original poster. Although I (for now at least) ended up as a security guard instead. Plenty of challenges there too, despite the typical lazy image the public has of us.

A real coder writes software. A not-real coder takes a cycling job instead. Doesn't the word "career" mean anything to you?

Ok, so a coder writes software, that's sort of a vacous statement anyway. I'm not a coder (apart from the fact that I do know how to write software). I consider myself a problem solver. Heck, I couldn't care less about whether the objects I interact with are software bugs, dangerous traffic and tight schedules, or drug-addicts, thieves, and sometimes violent people.

The way I choose a career, is that I want to be happy doing the thing I do, and I want it to be something that is productive for the society at large. That actually excludes a lot of IT-type jobs. Because I did not find myself happy in a cubicle, and I didn't find it very productive for the society at large either (I believe in the free software ideas, not in the corporate world ideas).

I refuse to take lesser jobs. The ones who do, exhibit less willpower and obvious relief, and are by definition not real professionals.

Fine. If you choose to define yourself as a "professional" first and foremost, and rate happiness and ethics lower, feel free to do so. It won't get any respect from me. If on the other hand, you do it because you enjoy it, and believe you are doing something worthwile, all the more props to you!

For a techie, a bad IT job is still head and shoulders above a good manual labor job. Period. Anyone who thinks differently is obviously not a real techie.

If that's how you define a techie, then I'm proud not to be one. I would never ever take an IT-job that involved being an administrator or web-monkey, or something like that. I wanted to hack, or do something else.

The thing is, I actually was at the place in my career where I dreamed of being when I was studying in the university. I was working with real programming, unix, real-time, networking, etc. I had challenging problems where my computer science education actually came to use, as opposed to being a web-monkey or administrator. I had a reasonably fat pay-check, and got sent across the world a few times to solve problems there. I found it very hard to imagine a better IT-job (apart from maybe moving up to project manager or senior <whatever>). But I still wasn't happy. So with no hope of ever getting happy in the IT-business, what do you do? You take another job.

Am I happy now? Well, probably happier than I was. I have lost a lot of my elitism, I feel like a regular guy. I still have hope of a better job. And I have more freedom, and more time to live my life after work. In exchange for a lower pay-check, I have gained quite a lot, actually.

[ Parent ]

*You*, I Can Respect (1.00 / 2) (#132)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 10:20:22 AM EST

I did not find myself happy in a cubicle, and I didn't find it very productive for the society at large either (I believe in the free software ideas, not in the corporate world ideas).

Unlike my reaction to too many of the dweebs who responded to my posting, I respect your choice.

If you choose to define yourself as a "professional" first and foremost, and rate happiness and ethics lower, feel free to do so.

If you want to read so little in the word "professional", then that's your mistake. Looking at the so-called (and often self-promoted) "professionals" around today, I can understand why you made this mistake.

I can seek a professional IT position and not compromise my ethics, Sir.

I would never ever take an IT-job that involved being an administrator or web-monkey, or something like that.

Good. That means more 1 more person is not competing with me.

I found it very hard to imagine a better IT-job (apart from maybe moving up to project manager or senior <whatever>). But I still wasn't happy. So with no hope of ever getting happy in the IT-business, what do you do? You take another job.

I respect that, and I'm happy that you left my field of work so that I will be less crowded out with people who are credentialed but have no real interest in the industry.


[ Parent ]
According to me... (none / 1) (#65)
by The Voice of Reason on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 04:50:58 PM EST

...being a programmer sitting on a chair staring at a computer all day counts as the 'lesser' job. There's no will-power in being an office-slave rotting away in a cubicle.

Also your job is probably going to India soon.

For a techie, a bad IT job is still head and shoulders above a good manual labor job. Period. Anyone who thinks differently is obviously not a real techie.

You say that as if being a real techie is something to be proud of. A good manual labour job is much better than a bad IT job.

[ Parent ]

Good > Bad. (1.33 / 3) (#68)
by FieryTaco on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:01:22 PM EST

First, a good job is always better than a bad job, by definition.

Second, for most people, their job is not their life. I've taken a job sitting in a box in front of a computer screen all day because it pays better than a job in a warehouse moving boxes or a job outside hammering nails. That extra pay lets me provide more for my family. It allows us to travel all over the world. It's allowing us to give our kids a broad range of opportunities.

The entire article is a bunch of romantic crap. Anyone who is getting their life philosophy from Stephenson and Gibson needs help in a serious way. As far as being a sex symbol, what a sense of humour you have. For every gal who checks out your ass I had a dozen who found the fact that I could provide a stable, secure life for them, and their future children, irresistable.

Don't delude yourself into thinking that every white collar working on the planet is some doughy, stooped, myopic maladriot. I've won regional titles in both power lifting and body building. Your health is dependant one all of your choices, not just what you chose for an occupation.

Regardless of all this, let me thank you and all the other people who prefer physical labor to white collar work. The world needs an underclass, it's good of you to volunteer.

[ Parent ]

Erm. (none / 1) (#92)
by BJH on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 08:22:03 AM EST

I was almost kinda sorta with you until you came out with this:

Regardless of all this, let me thank you and all the other people who prefer physical labor to white collar work. The world needs an underclass, it's good of you to volunteer.

And then I thought, with the greatest sincerity, "Shut the fuck up, you elitist prick".

So there you go.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

I agree (2.50 / 2) (#99)
by The Voice of Reason on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:35:27 AM EST

First, a good job is always better than a bad job, by definition.

Exactly, that's why a computer job is a bad job, by definition. Come back in 20 years when your wrists are fucked up, and you need to wear glasses through staring at a screen all day. Also come back in 20 years when you find you've spent your whole life in a single room, only ever venturing outside for brief holidays lasting mere weeks before you go back to the drudgery.

I've taken a job sitting in a box in front of a computer screen all day because it pays better than a job in a warehouse moving boxes or a job outside hammering nails.

I dunno, in my experience manual labour jobs pay more than office jobs. You get paid less because of the 9-5 hours, perhaps 40% less. Also at least in manual jobs you get some exercise and fresh air, and you come home and can sleep properly rather than lying about feeling like shit because you've been in a single position all day.

That extra pay lets me provide more for my family.

Provide what? Bigger TVs for them to watch? More food for them to spiral into obesity? A house in a gated community so you can shut them off from that nasty reality?

It allows us to travel all over the world.

I don't know of many office jobs that let you take months/years off at a time. Perhaps you meant you go somewhere for a few weeks, go to the tourist attractions, buy some t-shirts, take your fat kids to the local McDonalds, then go home again. That's not travelling, that's being a tourist on holiday.

For every gal who checks out your ass I had a dozen who found the fact that I could provide a stable, secure life for them, and their future children, irresistable.

Yeah, of course money is irresistable to women. Although they're interested in your money, not you. You'd be useful for them by providing for their kids and their lifestyle while they fuck other men. Welcome to chumpsville, population: you. Personally I pride myself on fucking other men's wives whilst they're at the office. It happens more than you think.

Don't delude yourself into thinking that every white collar working on the planet is some doughy, stooped, myopic maladriot.

99% is as good as 100%.

I've won regional titles in both power lifting and body building.

Everyone's a big man on the Internet. Although even then the titles can't be worth much, body-building and power-lifting have such different goals that no-one can be really good at either. You should read up on things you make claims about.

Regardless of all this, let me thank you and all the other people who prefer physical labor to white collar work.

Physical work is much more preferable. Whilst you get fatter, we get slimmer. Whilst you end up with serious health problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and early-death, we just laugh and dance on your graves (and collect your tax money, thankyou welfare state!).

The world needs an underclass, it's good of you to volunteer.

Depends what you mean by underclass. For me, pursuit of money at all costs isn't what I'd call much of a life. Some people think about other things. You can't take it with you when you die, all you have to look back on is a lifetime in a box. Some 'overclass'...

[ Parent ]

Yes. (none / 1) (#180)
by FieryTaco on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 12:20:13 AM EST

Come back in 20 years when your wrists are fucked up, and you need to wear glasses through staring at a screen all day. Also come back in 20 years when you find you've spent your whole life in a single room, only ever venturing outside for brief holidays lasting mere weeks before you go back to the drudgery.
I've been doing computer work for nearly 20 years and my wrists and eyesight are both just dandy. Now let's take a look at those factory workers, who having done the exact same thing for 20 years, are stooped and slow moving because every joint in their body is worn out. Look at those miners with the hacking coughs and having lost 50% of their lung capacity can't do anything active.
I dunno, in my experience manual labour jobs pay more than office jobs. You get paid less because of the 9-5 hours, perhaps 40% less. Also at least in manual jobs you get some exercise and fresh air, and you come home and can sleep properly rather than lying about feeling like shit because you've been in a single position all day.
You must have shitty experiences then. I work two-thirds the hours and take home four times the pay as the guys currently redoing the ceiling in my office. And I sleep fine thanks.
Provide what? Bigger TVs for them to watch? More food for them to spiral into obesity? A house in a gated community so you can shut them off from that nasty reality?
Education. Experience. Culture. An understanding of the world. The possibility to pursue their dreams.

Contrast that with an old neighbor of mine, four kids, two ex-wives. Both of his teenagers are illiterate. But hey, he's a manual laborer (house painter) so they must be in heaven. Not.

I don't know of many office jobs that let you take months/years off at a time. Perhaps you meant you go somewhere for a few weeks, go to the tourist attractions, buy some t-shirts, take your fat kids to the local McDonalds, then go home again. That's not travelling, that's being a tourist on holiday.
Maybe you should stick with the same job for more than a couple of weeks. Every job I've held started with two weeks paid vacation every year. If you didn't use it it carried over from year to year. And by my third or fourth year, I was accumulating four weeks paid time off. Taking two months off every couple of years is pretty nice.
Everyone's a big man on the Internet. Although even then the titles can't be worth much, body-building and power-lifting have such different goals that no-one can be really good at either. You should read up on things you make claims about.
I didn't claim to do both right now. When I was in college I was into power lifting. Now, fifteen years later, I'm into body building. I'm no Ronnie Coleman and never will be. But I'm in better shape than 99% of the planet's population, including all you manual labor types. I'm in the 90th percentile for power-to-weight, body fat, vo2max, bp, and rhr.
Depends what you mean by underclass. For me, pursuit of money at all costs isn't what I'd call much of a life. Some people think about other things. You can't take it with you when you die, all you have to look back on is a lifetime in a box. Some 'overclass'...
The underclass are the people who do the same unthinking thing day after day. The people who mow my lawn. Who clean my house. Who take direction rather than set direction. The people whose most future thought is which Seven Eleven they're going to visit to pick up their daily twelve pack of bud. There is a certain freedom in stupidity. But it's not for me or my family.

As far as taking it with me when I die, hah. I intend to die poor. The legacy I leave my children will be given to them during my lifetime so they can use it in their youth rather than in their waning years. Unlike the majority of manual laborers, I have access to great health care and if my children have to wait till I die, they'll be in their fifties.

It's obvious you have rationalized your lifestyle so you can have some semblance of pride in yourself. Enjoy.

[ Parent ]

You've proven me right. (none / 1) (#189)
by The Voice of Reason on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 02:25:51 PM EST

Exceptions don't make rules, they prove them. Most people who work at a computer have bad eyesight. Many of them wear glasses. They have poor posture from sitting down all they, their joints are weak, their muscles have wasted away, they have middle-aged spread, they're pale. They get out of breath easily going up stairs, they can't stand up for more than an hour at a time without getting sore. Their easy to beat in a fight as well.

You must have shitty experiences then. I work two-thirds the hours and take home four times the pay as the guys currently redoing the ceiling in my office. And I sleep fine thanks.

Again you've proven my point about rules. Office people don't get paid for overtime. This means when they have a deadline and they're in 16 hours a day, and they have to come in at weekend, they don't get paid for it. This makes them effectively slaves. Most office people don't get four times the wages of workers, they get about the same, or less. Your exception has proved my rule. Also remember than ceiling redoing can't be outsourced, office work can now we have the Internet. You office types have shot yourselves in the foot inventing that.

Education. Experience. Culture. An understanding of the world. The possibility to pursue their dreams.

You don't get that from money. Education is free. Libraries are free, the Internet is cheap, schools are free. Experience in what? Cars and boarding schools? Money doesn't get you culture, although that's such a vague term you'd have to define it more narrowly before we could discuss that. You don't get an understanding of the world by money, you get it by going to places and doing things, and by doing things I don't mean sitting in an office. Dreams? What dreams do you need rich parents for exactly? We don't live in the 18th century anymore.

Every job I've held started with two weeks paid vacation every year.

That's not a lot exactly. Saving them up just means you're in an office for years at a time with no getting out. Effectively a prison. With a manual job it's not to hard, if you want time off you just quit and have off as long as you can afford. Jobs like that are ten a penny, you don't need to invest years into them, you can take them and leave them as you like. Also there's no pressure, it's completely laid back. And it doesn't hang over you when you're at home, you can forget it completely.

But I'm in better shape than 99% of the planet's population, including all you manual labor types.

I'm willing to bet that the average labourer is in better shape than the average office worker. Exceptions don't make rules, they prove them, as you are proving time and time again. Also body-builders are rarely in good shape, they have too much muscle and too little fat, they put excess stress on the joints, are too heavy to move very far, and the steroids are the last nail in the coffin.

The underclass are the people who do the same unthinking thing day after day.

You mean like being locked in an office day after day, a slave to your material possessions, having the knowledge that if you lose your job, your entire life collapses because it revolves around the money you get from it? Knowing that everyone you meet might only be interested in your social standing, and that if you fall, they'll all laugh at you rather than sympathise with you? Knowing that if your wife leaves you for the next man with a bigger bank account than yours, she'll take everything you own and you'll have nothing left? No money, no family, no respect, nothing but memories of life in the office.

Who take direction rather than set direction.

Unless you run your own business in your own way, you're always taking direction from other people. You especially seem to take direction from other people, your life seems to revolve around worrying about what people think of you. You're a slave to other people's opinions.

The people who mow my lawn. Who clean my house.

You pay people to do that? A fool and his money, so they say. A sort of redistribution of wealth from people who clearly don't know what to do with it. I don't know what person would allow a stranger into their house to clean it, to get into their most private possesions. A very lazy person perhaps.

The people whose most future thought is which Seven Eleven they're going to visit to pick up their daily twelve pack of bud.

As opposed to people whose most future thought is which status symbol to buy next, lest the neighbours think they're poor or uncivilised? People whose goal in life is to make people think they're successful, for arbitrary values of success, no matter how much misery and stress it causes?

As far as taking it with me when I die, hah. I intend to die poor.

No you don't. People say that, but the accumulation of wealth becomes their entire life, and to die poor would be the ultimate failure.

Unlike the majority of manual laborers, I have access to great health care

So does everyone these days.

[ Parent ]

One thing. (none / 0) (#196)
by FieryTaco on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:18:39 PM EST

The exception does not prove the rule, it disproves it. That's the entire basis of the scientific process.

The rest of your comments are not worth responding to.

[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#271)
by The Voice of Reason on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 01:58:06 AM EST

Exceptions don't disprove rules, that's the most idiotic thing ever posted on this site, and that's saying a lot. It seems you are the biggest idiot in the world. I'm surprised you manage to remember to breath.

[ Parent ]
Short and Sweet (1.00 / 2) (#131)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:57:23 AM EST

Also your job is probably going to India soon.

The work must be done here. There's no way to bring an Indian here for the less-than-stellar wages of a field tech (as opposed to bringing in the H-1Bs for outrageously overpaid desk jobs). You're wrong. (Of course, the scumbags in management can still outsource, but outsourcing is usually a game of two companies trying hard to fuck each other over, hence it has a lifespan and then collapses.)

You say that as if being a real techie is something to be proud of.

You're correct. It is.

A good manual labour job is much better than a bad IT job.

Then find that manual labour job, leave my industry and never come back. Take all your paper credentials with you.


[ Parent ]
You're wrong. (none / 0) (#147)
by The Voice of Reason on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:44:47 PM EST

The work must be done here.

In the IT industry in general, no work needs to be done here, it can all be outsourced save a few janitorial-style computer maintenance jobs.

Then find that manual labour job, leave my industry and never come back

I have a manual labour job, I'm not in the IT industry, never have been, never will be. And it's not YOUR industry, you just happen to work for it.

[ Parent ]

Oohhhhh! {light bulb} (none / 1) (#174)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 10:19:06 PM EST

In the IT industry in general, no work needs to be done here, it can all be outsourced save a few janitorial-style computer maintenance jobs.

That's my line of work. "Janitorial", eh? Chances are, I'll still be working while many of the ladies here are pedaling their courier bikes. I'll take this "janitorial" stuff over whatever is spinning around in your mind anyday.

And for the record, it WAS my industry until the paper dweebs showed up and wooed the HR bitches. As these fops leave IT, I'm hoping sense will return, and resumes will be worth something again.


[ Parent ]
Meh. (3.00 / 3) (#14)
by transient0 on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 05:28:41 PM EST

I have no real objection to not being a real coder.

Admittedly, my work was mostly debugging and scripting web apps anyway.
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

Maybe that's all well and good (2.66 / 6) (#46)
by ksandstr on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:35:53 AM EST

However at some point there comes a realization that maybe your time and youth are better spent somewhere else than an intellectually and physically stifling office environment (and the cubicle? spit on the face.) doing things that are of no use or even interest to you personally and for which the pointy-haired boss ends up getting all the fame and the great big dotcom style stock options. In other words, being a computer janitor; no more than a relatively highly skilled white collar wage slave, your job readily transferred overseas. Worse, if your interest in programming and other geekly disciplines was rooted in a hobby, doing it for money tends to rob you of any pleasure you'd otherwise take in programming on your free time (if any).

Some people deal with this problem by taking a job completely unrelated to what they do as a hobby. That's actually what I recommend to younger geeks who still subscribe to the absurd idea that the employer actually considers you anything more than a fungible resource, something to be bought at the lowest price. Others, like myself, find a job where they can apply their real skills but where the actual work is simple enough so as not to carry over in your head after hours.

Knowing all this makes your stab here sound like the righteous indignation of a bucket-using newly minted iPod owner, who having realized on some level that his money could have been better spent on a 60e MP3/CD player and 340 bottles of beer (or around 40 grams of really very good pot), subconsciously decides that his good money must not have been wasted instead of owning up and eBaying the stupid thing. In other words: that you have learned to bite down on the pillow and like it and to weep quietly in your home afterward does not make what you do any more noble or holy. At the end of the day this sort of commitment simply does not matter. Your employer will give you the pink slip just the same while retaining that better dressed incompetent cocksucker in marketing.

Fin.
[ Parent ]

I need a bucket just for YOUR shit (1.25 / 4) (#130)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:48:22 AM EST

Like awgsilyari's postings (you know, the guy who studied computer science, yet doesn't like coding -- whatta fraud), there's so much wrong with yours that I'm having trouble on picking a starting point. Hmm, let's try:

Others, like myself, find a job where they can apply their real skills but where the actual work is simple enough so as not to carry over in your head after hours.

You're not a real professional, just a poseur who (likely) waved your paper creds in front of the nose of some HR dweeb and got the job that a real techie like myself should have had. I look forward to the day when even more of you drop out of the IT workforce, letting me back in as the man concerned with the job.

Real pros think about the job. I'm not talking about the dotcom trend of having your very life consumed for your work. That's just slavery. But real pros are connected to their tasks in a fundamental way. Their hobby became their job. Their job is their hobby. There simply was no other option.

Before my job collapsed into the outsourcing hell (which is just another form of slavery), I thought about work while not at work, and I consider myself and my performance to have been better for it. Real pros are very serious about their tasks, and will spend mental energy on them. If you don't understand or practice this, then you're not a real pro, and should probably seriously think about leaving the industry.

After all, you probably have my job, and I'd like you to give it back to me ASAP.

Let's now go over what seem to be your predictions of what I am like:

bucket-using

Since the outsourcing, yes, which is why I'm looking around for a real position.

newly minted iPod owner

I wouldn't be caught dead with an iPod. The only gadget I bought within the last 4 years was a thumbdrive since it's too damned handy.

who having realized on some level that his money could have been better spent on a 60e MP3/CD player and 340 bottles of beer (or around 40 grams of really very good pot)

No, music players are generally for teens, women or feminized men. If you're listening to music, you aren't reading or working.

No, I'm not a drunk. I probably consume about 12 beers a year.

No, I'm not a stoner. Pot is for losers.

you have learned to bite down on the pillow and like it and to weep quietly in your home afterward

This outsourcing thing is a bit like that, but I'm hardly weeping about it. When your employer starts admiring your anus for penetration, you simply make plans to go elsewhere. In a bad economy, that's apt to take some time. Simple.

And ... onward to your finish:

Your employer will give you the pink slip just the same while retaining that better dressed incompetent cocksucker in marketing.

What, didja just get the memo? Welcome to Corporate America. Since this is the new mode of employment, we workers should do exactly what was done during the dotcom era: Get as much as you can, and then run before the crash. After all, a normal salary interspersed with long periods of unemployment equals bankruptcy ... so if Corporate America really does admire booms and busts, it's up to us to take more than full advantage of a boom. Years of unemployment have to be covered, and the death of Social Security means that a vast hole awaits the retirements of the 30-somethings.


[ Parent ]
hahaha wow! (none / 1) (#153)
by Harvey Anderson on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 04:26:29 PM EST

No, music players are generally for teens, women or feminized men. If you're listening to music, you aren't reading or working.

I mean, do you honestly believe that in your heart of hearts?

I mean, can I please be excused if I have a music player for use while driving in my car or working out at the gym?

Please?

[ Parent ]

Yes, I Truly Believe (1.00 / 3) (#171)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:41:19 PM EST

I'm sure there are niche uses, but for the cost, it's just too expensive an indulgence. Indulgent men are girly men. This should stand fairly obviously to reason.

Of course, I do live in a society filled to the brim with people with far more credit than sense, so perhaps I'm missing the target. But of course, men who cannot control their expenses are ... basically shopping like a dame. We can't seem to escape that damning link between consumerism and gadgets, and having bitch tits and wearing panties. A properly manly man saves his money for important things like home, car, food, keeping the wife happy, and weapons.

An iPod is a girly item. Sorry, but that's just the truth here. For the 400 bucks, you should have bought a nice 9mm pistol.


[ Parent ]
dealing with money (none / 0) (#176)
by suntzu on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:08:23 PM EST

if you haven't learned to balance saving money with the occasional indulgence, you need to do some thinking about your cashflow management, considering that you claim to be a reasonably well-paid IT professional.

also:

A properly manly man saves his money for important things like home, car, food, keeping the wife happy, and weapons.

An iPod is a girly item. Sorry, but that's just the truth here. For the 400 bucks, you should have bought a nice 9mm pistol.

sorry, but indulgences like that are what seperate the excellent trolls from the forgettable ones. you had me going until that point...

[ Parent ]

Good grief. (none / 0) (#181)
by Harvey Anderson on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 01:15:19 AM EST

Let's take a step back.

You assert that any (most?) male in the population who owns an iPod is a girlie man.

Is it acceptable for a 'manly' heterosexual male to own an iPod providing he has a home, car, can indulge his wife's whims (a pretty positive view of relationships you seem to have!), and a few guns?  Or should he be socking away for a tank?

In other words, at what point does it become acceptable for a straight man to own an iPod?  I need to know because I don't want to buy one if it will make me a fag.

[ Parent ]

Sweet (none / 1) (#158)
by coryking on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 05:57:14 PM EST

You sound like a fun guy to hang out with.

[ Parent ]
right, real pros don't listen to music, ever (none / 1) (#161)
by suntzu on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 06:21:18 PM EST

i don't know if you got the memo, but all those old jokes about "real men use/don't use" a certain technology were funny because the whole "real man" archetype doesn't fucking care about technology. it's funny that you think music players are for feminized men, since there's a whole slew of grizzled manual laborers who think you're a feminized man for sitting in a cubicle and typing all day.

No, music players are generally for teens, women or feminized men. If you're listening to music, you aren't reading or working.

if i'm coding or reading, i'm listening to music while i do it. i'm sure the same could be said for most of the population, including most people i've ever worked or gone to school with.

No, I'm not a drunk. I probably consume about 12 beers a year.

No, I'm not a stoner. Pot is for losers.

your loss...

[ Parent ]

Gotta admit it ... (none / 1) (#170)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:34:16 PM EST

... that I'm not one of the population who can concentrate with all that racket going on.

But I wasn't indulging in cliches. Guys with iPods are generally girly men. If you happen to know what your own blood looks like, and also own one of the damned things, then congratulations: you're simply the exception that puts the rule to the test. That's all.

I knew dissin' the iPod would raise hackles on K5. Get a grip, ladies. The iPod is far less interesting once you realize that it's just a silly gizmo, and we'll always have YASG (yet another silly gizmo) coming down the line.


[ Parent ]
you seem to have a strange aversion to fun (none / 1) (#175)
by suntzu on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 10:50:47 PM EST

But I wasn't indulging in cliches. Guys with iPods are generally girly men.

you know a strange cross-section of guys. i'd say the rate of effeminite male ipod owners isn't much higher than the rate of effeminate males in general. or maybe i just know a strange cross-section of guys. also, the vast majority of people, male and female, have seen their own blood.

The iPod is far less interesting once you realize that it's just a silly gizmo, and we'll always have YASG (yet another silly gizmo) coming down the line.

depending on what you consider a necessity in life, 90% of computing, and indeed technological process by humans, is made to produce yet another silly gizmo. the reason we work on technology is to give ourselves longer more comfortable lives. bonus points if working on it is inherently enjoyable, but ultimately, everything, from the beefiest mainframe to the that metallic pink ipod mini is designed and built so that someone somewhere down the line can do less work or be more comfortable (or maybe be more productive, but you get the idea).

and just to get this out there, i don't own an ipod (and would probably get a rio karma if i were buying an mp3 player), but i have invested a fair amount of time and money in listening to music both at home and one the go.

[ Parent ]

Why your job was outsourced (none / 0) (#303)
by digitalquirk on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 09:50:44 AM EST

Your job was outsourced for a couple of reasons.

One, you are viewed as being no better than someone who enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles. That is, you don't have a real job that adds any real value to the company; they just want you to assemble the puzzle for them, then boot you out the door. What fun!

The other part of the problem is the elitist attitudes such as yours. This will prevent programmers from ever organizing and creating a union, guild, or whatever it is they need to protect their trade and get the recognition you think you deserve. Nobody will do it for you. Without organization, you have no real power to protect your trade, and all you will ever be able to do is sit there and bitch and whine about it while some 15 year old in India gets your job. Either that, or do what many of us have done and leave to get a real job, such as being a bicycle courier.

It's a shame, really...but it also highlights how important unions really are. Oh, but you're above needing a union, right? Hah. You only make yourself weaker as you lash out at the brothers you ought to be making alliances with. Good riddance to you and your industry then; that piece of humble pie isn't going to taste very good going down.

[ Parent ]
Okay, you're a nut. (3.00 / 9) (#57)
by awgsilyari on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:13:12 PM EST

"Coder" isn't a fucking personality type. It's a job. Being an engineer at heart, that's one thing, but "coder" is like "ditch digger." It's like saying that there is such a thing as a "true ditch digger."

I'll never give up CS, it's what I love. But I'd give up "coding" in a heartbeat if I could do wilderness guiding.

As to whether the guy had passion for what he did... I sure hope not. The number of programming tasks in the world that are worth getting passionate about are very few. Sorry, but I don't think being a cube slug in tucked away in some office somewhere banging out database back ends for some banking shit is anything to raise your pulse over.

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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Coders (none / 0) (#91)
by andr0meda on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 08:11:12 AM EST

There are coders. If you`ve ever enjoyed the bliss and fun of a lifestyle subculture called the demoscene, you know what it means to being a coder. But it`s not for everyone to become one, and certainly not to stay one. Anyways, you can be a coder without being a nerd too. And I would not say coding is quite the same thing as engineering.

Do not be afraid of the void my friend, is it not merely the logical next step?
[ Parent ]
Exactly my point (none / 0) (#106)
by awgsilyari on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 01:06:04 PM EST

If you`ve ever enjoyed the bliss and fun of a lifestyle subculture called the demoscene, you know what it means to being a coder.

As a guy who used to have ops in #coders on EFnet in a past life, I know what you mean, but that's not exactly what peahippo was referring to, I think.

And I would not say coding is quite the same thing as engineering.

That's really what my point was... Being a "coder" (in the sense he meant it) doesn't imply that you are an engineer, or a computer scientist, or anything else but a person who happens to know how to bang out code. It doesn't imply passion, or even that you are particularly good at what you do.

Like I said, I studied computer science because I love it, but I can't honestly say I enjoy programming for a living. I don't think there's a developer in this office who wouldn't rather be doing something else, if they could make enough money at it to maintain their current lifestyles.

Hell, if somebody applied for a position doing development here and claimed that there's nothing else they'd rather be doing, we probably wouldn't hire that person. Not the sort of people we want around here.

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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

just cuz you don't like it (none / 0) (#113)
by mpalczew on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 06:56:52 PM EST

umm, I like coding.  I too studied computer science, and you know what I disliked about it, not enough coding, just a bunch of talking about coding.

> I don't think there's a developer in this office who wouldn't rather be doing something else

that's sad, I would hope that it salaries eventually drop to the point where you pretenders go find something else to do.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]

You could never cut it here. (2.00 / 2) (#118)
by awgsilyari on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 08:43:30 PM EST

And I never said I hated doing it. I said that there are things I'd rather do, if given the opportunity. The fact that you find programming a computer to be the most fascinating thing in the entire universe is truly pathetic. Computer science? That's one thing. But writing code is a task better left for computers. Sometime in the future, you will be replaced by a very small shell script.

that's sad, I would hope that it salaries eventually drop to the point where you pretenders go find something else to do.

Being the obscenely unrounded person you clearly are, I think you'll find that there's a ceiling to the happiness you can achieve in life. Pretending? Hardly.

Get back to work, drone.

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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

where the fuck is here anyway? (none / 1) (#141)
by mpalczew on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:08:49 PM EST

> And I never said I hated doing it.
you said you don't enjoy doing it for a living. I never said you hated it.

>The fact that you find programming a computer to be the most fascinating thing in the entire universe is truly pathetic.

The amount of bullshit that spews out of your mouth is pathetic.  All I said was I enjoy it.

> Computer science? That's one thing. But writing code is a task better left for computers. Sometime in the future, you will be replaced by a very small shell script.

Computers aren't even close to being able to program themselves.  Do you even know what I do?

> Being the obscenely unrounded person you clearly are, I think you'll find that there's a ceiling to the happiness you can achieve in life. Pretending?

What did you get a degree in bulshit?  Somehow saying I like coding implies all this other crap.
Again you don't know anything about what I do other than that it involves coding.

Well if everyone at your work is so negative, I can see why you would never want someone positive to come around. From what I've heard I would never  want to work where you are.
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]

Talking past each other (none / 0) (#148)
by awgsilyari on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:46:29 PM EST

you said you don't enjoy doing it for a living. I never said you hated it.

I never said that. I enjoy it just fine. There are several other things I can think of that I enjoy more.

All I said was I enjoy it.

No, you said that CS was a bunch of bullshit talk and no coding. I think you missed the point.

Somehow saying I like coding implies all this other crap. Again you don't know anything about what I do other than that it involves coding.

Look, if you tell somebody they're just a "pretender" (which is what you did) you are going to get a pissy response.

Well if everyone at your work is so negative, I can see why you would never want someone positive to come around.

Nobody here is negative. But that doesn't mean that one guy wouldn't rather be climbing mountains, or another guy wouldn't rather be flying his airplane, or another guy wouldn't rather be designing compression algorithms instead of writing fax software. We don't hate our jobs, but we don't make them the centerpiece of life, either.

From what I've heard I would never  want to work where you are.

To each his own. But around here, the job is just the way we get money to enjoy life how we want, not the source of that enjoyment. Doesn't make us pretenders.

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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

two sides of the same coin. (none / 0) (#156)
by mpalczew on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 05:23:59 PM EST


>> you said you don't enjoy doing it for a living. I never said you hated it.

> I never said that. I enjoy it just fine. There are several other things I can think of that I enjoy more.

Right here
http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2005/3/19/133129/548/106#106
"but I can't honestly say I enjoy programming for a living"

> you said that CS was a bunch of bullshit talk and no coding.
I think I see where you misunderstand
No, I said my cs classes were a bunch of bullshit.

> Look, if you tell somebody they're just a "pretender" (which is what you did) you are going to get a pissy response.

why is it so offensive, you admit this isn't something you like you just do it for the money.

> Nobody here is negative

If your attitude is I'd rather be doing something else that is negative.

> But around here, the job is just the way we get money to enjoy life how we want, not the source of that enjoyment. Doesn't make us pretenders.

It does.  For alot of people that job would be a big source of enjoyment, but instead the salaries on those jobs are overly inflated due to the lastinf effects of the bubble.  Instead of salaries coming down to a reasonable level, especially for entry level jobs, those are getting outsourced.  

> instead of writing fax software

and you thought my job was going to be outsourced.

-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]

I tire of this (none / 0) (#159)
by awgsilyari on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 06:05:52 PM EST

I've been writing BASIC since 6, C since 11, assembler since 13, and dozens of other languages after that. I love programming. I dislike doing it for a living.

Calling me a pretender is like calling a natural piano player a "pretender" just because he doesn't like performing in front of an audience.

I don't know about you specifically, but chances are, you required training to do what you do. I was doing this before I took my first Communion. Who's posing, here?

and you thought my job was going to be outsourced.

Well, seeing as the company founders are staunch patriots (both with strong military-industrial backgrounds), that will NEVER fucking happen. Try again.

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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

psst, a hint. (none / 0) (#152)
by Harvey Anderson on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 04:21:46 PM EST

Don't combat 'raging egoism' by turning into a raging egoist!

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I know. (none / 1) (#160)
by awgsilyari on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 06:09:04 PM EST

I'm responding to a blatantly antagonistic remark. I only bust out with this shit on the internet, never in person, and only when provoked.

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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]
Fellow sceners! :) (none / 0) (#124)
by andr0meda on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 04:41:43 AM EST

As a guy who used to have ops in #coders on EFnet in a past life, I know what you mean, but that's not exactly what peahippo was referring to, I think. Aha it was you who was always idling then!? :p I was on #coders, #pixel and #trax when people were still kind of discovering the internet, early 90ies. I sort of helped launch PS`s demojournal, helped out 2squirrels when it was still little, and was pretty active on the newsgroups. We even banged out 2 crappy mega demos at the time. The music I did for demos got them into 4th, 3rd and 2nd place at various parties, and I attended lots of scene meetings and bbq`s in belgium and france. Good fun! I must say I miss it, that fuky jazzy sceneing. But real life has taken over and I don`t quite find the time to fire up one of my million pet projects.. ah well.. cheers, a0a / green ^ logic ^ aimhigher ^ insecabilis

Do not be afraid of the void my friend, is it not merely the logical next step?
[ Parent ]
That was a few years before my time (none / 0) (#136)
by awgsilyari on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:29:38 AM EST

I went by Alien2 and I wasn't there for too many years. Quickly moved on to other things, but I used to be pretty hard into it.

I think I've still got my 131 byte 3D starfield somewhere... At the time, I thought 131 bytes was still somewhat fat. Wonder if I could do better with an extra 10 years of experience under my belt :-)


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Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

My Point, You Make (1.25 / 4) (#129)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:12:57 AM EST

I'll never give up CS, it's what I love.

I'm not saying that people should stick to jobs where they effectively shovel shit. So I did say what you said above: a real pro sticks to his industry. Some coder going from a cubicle to a bike is not a professional. He's just another hack who took jobs away from the real techies like myself, waving his papers around to impress the HR pukes.

Good riddance to him and all his kind.

But I'd give up "coding" in a heartbeat if I could do wilderness guiding.

Yeah, Ace, like a fucking bike courier has the same sort of prestige, satisfaction, compensation, and/or overall quality of a wilderness guide. Which profession (courier or guide) is most likely to be labeled: "they're a dime a dozen", "this is only temporary", "we can always get another one to do the job", etc.

Get some perspective. You're only proving my point. This guy went from writing software, to performing MANUAL LABOR. Duh fucking duh.


[ Parent ]
I'm not following (none / 0) (#138)
by awgsilyari on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 12:44:25 PM EST

What exactly is you working definition of "real techie?" On the one hand you seem to be saying that anybody who would give it up for something else isn't "real," and on the other hand it has something to do with being replaceable. What exactly is it, then?

Apparently the quality of the code produced doesn't even enter into your equations, which I think is pretty damn weird. Do you mean that the person who writes the best code isn't a professional if he happens to have other interests besides writing code? Or are you claiming that such a thing is impossible? I know of several counterexamples.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Not Following? Not Leading, Either (1.00 / 4) (#139)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 01:48:11 PM EST

Your cognitive avoidance is just amazing.
  1. Guy writes software.
  2. Guy then takes manual labor job as a bike courier for half the money.
  3. Guy then claims to enjoy being a bike courier more.
Result: Guy is NOT a techie. Techies do tech work. That guy was only pretending to be an IT professional when he was sitting in his cubicle. Is this so fucking difficult to understand?

Of course, you're the dipshit who claims to have studied and liked computer science yet doesn't like to code, and in fact alluded to not thinking about work in your spare time. That makes you a fucking poseur. You're as bad a medical doctor who studies the Human body, yet doesn't like to deal with patients.

Please leave my industry and let the real professionals (like me) do the techie work. People like me love IT. It's remarkably apparent that people like you DON'T. Take your silly piece of paper and go. All you've done by your damned involvement is hyperinflate wages and give employers the weapon of superqualification to use against the real pros like me.

GOOD RIDDANCE TO YOU AND THE ORIGINAL POSTER.


[ Parent ]
Doesn't like to code? (none / 1) (#143)
by awgsilyari on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:22:29 PM EST

Of course, you're the dipshit who claims to have studied and liked computer science yet doesn't like to code, and in fact alluded to not thinking about work in your spare time. That makes you a fucking poseur.

What it makes me is a rounded human being. Again, I never said I disliked my job, just that I would give it up for certain other things.

I guarantee we'd never hire a "professional" like you. Why? Because you aspire to nothing more than the industry you've cubbyholed yourself into. It demonstrates that you do not want to expand your thinking and your skills. It shows that you can't apply your brain to anything other than banging out braces and semicolons. And on top of it, you're a raving egotist.

To give you some perspective, the development department in this company is made up of ex-NASA engineers, satellite communications engineers, ex-IBM project managers, coders who worked on X11 back in the 80's, and others. The VP of the department writes just as much code as the rest of us. Unprofessional? Hardly.

All you've done by your damned involvement is hyperinflate wages and give employers the weapon of superqualification to use against the real pros like me.

My wage is what it is because of the benefits I bring to the company. If you aren't being paid what you're worth, perhaps you should take it up with your employer, instead of whining about how others are paid more than you are. Not that you even have a clue how much I'm paid, anyway.

And as for being a "real pro," I've never held a job in my life that wasn't technology-related. NEVER. Can you say the same thing?

Anyway, who gives a shit what some bitter jerk thinks?

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

I'll never give up CS either. (none / 0) (#167)
by Russell Dovey on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 08:27:15 PM EST

I just can't resist the opportunity to get shot in the head, over and over, by some motherfucking 15-year-old in Brisbane who just discovered scripting exploits.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Well ... (none / 0) (#169)
by Peahippo on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:26:01 PM EST

... I suggest you close those holes before you make a new one (9mm in size) in the side of your head.


[ Parent ]
Well, I would, but... (none / 0) (#178)
by Russell Dovey on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:15:23 PM EST

...it's really Valve's responsibility to close the holes that allow haxxoring.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Ha (none / 0) (#71)
by Spendocrat on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:13:03 PM EST

Being an elitist about it doesn't make being a programmer any cooler.

[ Parent ]
Did you not read? you're repeating earlier comment (none / 0) (#237)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:42:39 PM EST

You miss something obvious There is a Stark difference: In doing what you love for a paycheck, to the beat of anothers drum. To doing what you love. If he didn't have the good benefit of being entirely freelance and doing only the jobs he wanted or running his own firm then it is very, very possible for a young man or woman doing what he loves to burn out on it in a job. JOB, it ain't spelled HOBBY for a reason. Signature
Signature
[ Parent ]
+1 FP, getting outside and riding a bike. (3.00 / 6) (#5)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 03:44:51 PM EST

It's something that I wish I had more time (and better weather) for in the course of my studies. Though I imagine you can get some really shitty winter days in Toronto.

As a cyclist myself, I have a few questions. I ride a Serotta with road bars and high end drive-train components. What kind of handlebars do people generally prefer in the courier business? I've ridden mountain bikes on long road rides before, and it just numbs my hands right up after about 20 miles.

Also, does anyone use bike shoes and clip pedals, or is it your regular old bike pedals and sneakers? I hear that mountain bike shoes are much more practical to walk around in, but I've never tried them myself.

My dad got some unpadded gloves recently and says his hands don't get numb anymore on long rides, vs. his old padded gloves. Maybe padded gloves aren't so good, I don't know.

One more thing - street clothes, or bike shorts?

I'm not a courier but... (none / 1) (#8)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 04:25:35 PM EST

I'm sure transient0 will give you his thoughts but I wanted to compare notes and opinions with you. I use my bike for exercise and to commute to work a couple of times per week.
  1. Numbness - you might want to raise your handle bars; I was getting tendonitis in my elbows and my hands felt like yours. I put in an extender that raised my handlebars by 3-4 inches and the problem went away. Additionally, I have the bad habit of riding "no hands" for a minute at a time which is poor safety but gets the blood back into my fingers.
  2. Pedals - I'm still using regular pedals although everyone tells me I should knock it off and get bike shoes and clip pedals. Which do you use?


How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
Re: I'm not a courier, but... (none / 1) (#17)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 06:27:47 PM EST

It was really bad when I rode with straight bars on a mountain bike. Now I just get it in my left hand, and I ride in the drops almost all the time. It goes away when I periodically stretch that arm on rides, reaching across my chest and over my right shoulder and opening/closing my hand a couple of times, then reaching down around the back of my left leg to do the same, repeating a few times. I am loath to change my bike's geometry in any way because the bike has me in a very comfortable riding position right now, left hand numbness excepted. It could have something to do with how I distribute pressure across each side (my right leg sometimes tires out early, for instance), but I don't have the equipment, money or the expertise to resolve such a problem.

I prefer bike shoes and clip pedals, hands down. It's a bit tricky to learn them at first, having to get into the habit of snapping out of one side before you stop, but once you get used to that, it is a lot easier on your legs than not having your feet attached to the pedal. Your pedaling style will likely change as a result of this, leading to a more efficient means of power application through the rotation cycle. The downside: road shoes are awkward to walk in. This can be remedied by just getting mountain bike shoes and pedals - the only real difference is that they're a bit heavier, but they are much easier to walk around in and probably won't go "*clack* *clack* *clack*" on every hard surface you walk on. I've used Shimano Ultegra, Shimano SPD-R and Look pedals (which I currently use) and I prefer the Look pedals, as they are easier to get into and out of and the design of the mechanism on the shoe is such that it can accept a lot of wear before needing replacement. Those are all road pedals, though - I don't really have any experience with mountain bike gear.

[ Parent ]

BTW, on road pedals (none / 1) (#18)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 06:44:02 PM EST

I've never used them, but Speedplay has some pretty interesting pedal sets. Their biggest advantage, in my mind, is that you can lock into the pedals on either side, as opposed to most other pedals, which are one-sided.

[ Parent ]
Looking at the website (none / 0) (#21)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 09:38:04 PM EST

those are one of the models the guy at the store was showing me. He loves them, but I'm kind of balking at dropping $220, plus shoes, when I paid $300 for the bike.

;-P


How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]

Check out Eggbeaters by crank brothers (none / 0) (#103)
by SnowBlind on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:11:55 PM EST

They are four sided entry. I have them on the fixed gear, as they are soooo easy to get into. Run under $100 for the basics, which I have.

Get crazy expensive too,  for the weight nuts. They make "platform" versions too for people who like flexy soled shoes.

I would put them on the road bike too, but I already bought some very nice Campangnolo pedals for it...

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]

I'll do that. (none / 0) (#121)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:41:47 PM EST

Thanks.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
Fad (none / 0) (#236)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:35:28 PM EST

Eggbeaters are fashion. The cleats wear far too fast and for a messenger so do the pedals. Recommended Daily Allowance: 1 Hour per day for 6 months before repair/replace becomes an issue. Pros use Time, less adept pros use SPD. Weight counters use Speedplay Frog
Signature
[ Parent ]
less adept or poorer (none / 0) (#244)
by transient0 on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 10:13:23 PM EST

i use SPD, but most of the veterans use time. really, it's the price point that's holding me back.

i've taken the eggbeaters for a spin, too. the four sided entry is nice, but they do seem a bit flimsy.
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

components/equipment (none / 0) (#11)
by transient0 on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 05:08:21 PM EST

i personally use MTB handlebars, though i am thinking of switching to triathlon. among couriers in general, road or time trial bars are definitely the most common, although MTB and triathlon are both pretty solidly represented.

if you have road, triathlon or MTB with bar-ends, you will find that you can counteract numbness by changing your grip for a few minutes when it begins to set in. Also, for ideal ergonomics, your handlebars should be about 2 inches below your seat height (a bit more if you are tall, but never more than 4 inches below). I wear gloves with minimal padding (leather and cotton). I have always found gel gloves uncomfortable, but i didn't notice any specific difference in regards to numbness when i switched.

as for clothes and shoes, I wear MTB shoes with SPD clips. They are actually quite comfortable for walking in. And I wear street clothes (plus a ski underlayer in the winter). Among couriers, it is about a 50/50 split between street clothes and cycling wear, but almost everyone wears clip pedals of some variety.

hmmm.. perhaps i should actually work some of this info into the main article....
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

numb hands: (none / 1) (#259)
by lastobelus on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 09:36:15 PM EST

I had problems with numb hands when I was a courier. I had problems with blood vessels popping in my knuckles too. Kind of scary, your whole finger turns purplish, and it hurts/itches like mad.

IME, any kind of gloves greatly increased the numbness problem. Padded gloves were the worst. The ones that exacerbated it least were the one piece neoprene ones. I only wore them when it was really cold.

Neoprene handlebar covers and especially neoprene brake lever covers helped somewhat. The brake lever covers make it possible to ride without gloves in much colder weather. That and wrapping your top bar with cloth tape.

[ Parent ]

Raynaud's Syndrome? (none / 0) (#269)
by DodgyGeezer on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:34:24 AM EST

You don't have Raynaud's Syndrome do you?

[ Parent ]
After reading the symptoms, no (none / 0) (#270)
by lastobelus on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 03:03:44 PM EST

I don't think so. My numbness problem comes from the "funny-bone" nerve. Anything that involves tensing or repetitively moving my elbows causes it. For example, jogging is actually worse than cycling.

I went to the doctor the first time the deep blood blister happened, because it was quite scary. But they told me it was...a deep blood blister. :)

so, hopefully I'm safe from a future of lupus.

[ Parent ]

What do you wear? (none / 0) (#15)
by pinkcress on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 05:32:15 PM EST

Exercise gear? Some form of uniform?

---
damnit all these 'facts' getting in the way of my writing - turmeric
RTFA (none / 0) (#73)
by bpt on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:49:52 PM EST

Street clothes:

As far as general gear goes, it's about a fifty-fifty split among couriers between those who wear cycling shorts and jerseys (or weather appropriate equivalents) and those who wear street clothes (of which faction I am).

--
Lisp Users: Due to the holiday next Monday, there will be no garbage collection.
[ Parent ]
Hah (none / 0) (#197)
by pinkcress on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:27:11 PM EST

Ooops. Missed that bit somehow..

---
damnit all these 'facts' getting in the way of my writing - turmeric
[ Parent ]
I just have to say (1.50 / 2) (#20)
by Resonant on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 07:12:44 PM EST

When this moves to vote, +1 FP. Entertaining and interesting read. I need to find a job like that and learn how to live off the paycheck. :)

"I answer, 'This is _quantitative_ religious studies.'" - glor
-1: holy fucking shit you're gay n/t (1.04 / 23) (#23)
by Peter Wyckoff on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 09:44:14 PM EST



Yeah, well (2.83 / 6) (#25)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 09:49:46 PM EST

With proper therapy he'll recover. Unfortunately, you'll still be an ass.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
ok (1.50 / 2) (#26)
by Peter Wyckoff on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 09:50:33 PM EST



[ Parent ]
fuel deductable (3.00 / 7) (#29)
by problem child on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 10:10:25 PM EST

Here's a story about how that came to be.

Here is a related link that works (none / 0) (#235)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:31:13 PM EST

http://www.messengers.org/ifbma/mca2003.html
Signature
[ Parent ]
This is a really good article... But... (1.64 / 17) (#30)
by givemegmail111 on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 10:10:59 PM EST

...I can't find it in me to +1FP something that promotes bicycle riding on busy streets. In my experience, bicyclists are the biggest hazzards on the road, as they can never decide whether they're pedestrian or traffic. They want the privledge of using the roads, but they don't want to obey traffic laws. They'll block traffic and then shoot through red lights. I'm sure there are plenty of perfectly good law-abiding bicyclists out there, but you say yourself that all couriers get hit at least once in a year of working. That professionals have this many accidents says a lot about the safety of bicycling on the street.

I do commend you, though, for not having the arrogant attitude about cars that a lot of bicyclists have. At my old school there was a yearly protest of idiot bicyclists riding down the street together blocking traffic to promote the message "We're not blocking traffic". Very obnoixious.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!

cars suck, dude (2.00 / 5) (#35)
by fourseven on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 12:00:42 AM EST

really, they're quite overplayed. and they're the biggest hazards on the road, not bikes. check the stats..

[ Parent ]
Cars and bikes both suck (2.00 / 2) (#48)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:57:26 AM EST

But at least car drivers don't think they can run red lights through a crowd of pedestrians as long as they are shouting "GET OUT OF THE WAY GET OUT OF THE WAY!" or making "WOOOWOOOO" noises.

Get on the damn subway like sensible people.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Those arnt cyclists. (none / 1) (#100)
by SnowBlind on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:41:19 AM EST

Those are pedestrians on wheels.

A cyclist does not blow red lights or use the sidewalk, they act like any other vehicle. That includes slowing down for stop signs, but not always stopping if there is no cross traffic, just like a car...

Unfortunately, cyclists are far and few between, jackasses on bikes are far more common.

2 problems arise: Bicyclists don't obey the law and the cops don't enforce.

Roads are designed to kill cyclists, even the so called "bike lanes" which treat us like special traffic, which we are not.

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]

I would *so* shoulder-check one of those fucks (none / 1) (#101)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:56:20 AM EST

Not because he's being an ass, mind you, or even because he's trying to plow right into me, but if I'm in New York, chances are he's a New Yorker, and it's common knowledge that an angel gets its wings every time you fuck up a NYCer.

[ Parent ]
There are retards everywhere. (none / 0) (#67)
by awgsilyari on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 05:33:04 PM EST

That professionals have this many accidents says a lot about the safety of bicycling on the street.

Or maybe it says something about statistics -- the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to have an accident. This is basic fucking mathematics.

Maybe if you spent 8 hours a day driving, your accident rate would be higher as well.

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Quite right... (none / 0) (#72)
by givemegmail111 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:25:04 PM EST

I'm not sufficiently motivated to look up statistics on taxi drivers, but it wouldn't surprise me if the rate was similar. The difference is that car accidents in city traffic usually cause more damage to the cars than the passengers. The car protects you. If you're on a bike you're in significantly more danger of death or dismemberment. A car-car accident (on city streets) is much less dangerous than a car-bike accident. A least for the bicyclist.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
[ Parent ]
Actaully... (none / 0) (#104)
by SnowBlind on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:28:11 PM EST

The most dangerous thing to a cyclist, in terms of raw injuries, is other cyclists.

Specifically the jackasses who ride AGAINST traffic.

Deaths? still cars, but suprisingly low.

Ref: Effective Cycling by John Forester

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]

Deaths (none / 0) (#115)
by givemegmail111 on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 07:55:30 PM EST

Deaths? still cars, but suprisingly low

Maybe in numbers, but not in percentages.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#134)
by SnowBlind on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:17:31 AM EST

I think that is what I said. Cars cause 12 percent of injuries on bikes, and are responsible for about 40% of deaths.

MOST of those were done while the person on the bike is performing an illeagal manuever, such as riding against traffic, cutting across trafic, running lights.

There are horror stories about cars killing cyclists from behind, but remember, the CAR DRIVER is at fault, not the cyclist.

Act like a car, and the rates are no worse than motorcycles.

In other words, bicycles have a high Darwin corralation. Act stupid, you will die.

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]

I think he meant... (none / 0) (#205)
by Insoc on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 12:06:18 AM EST

that when a car hits you, it is a lot more likely to kill you as opposed to other things.

[ Parent ]
Car-Junkie. (2.00 / 2) (#224)
by ScooterBooter on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 08:52:31 AM EST

> ...I can't find it in me to +1FP something that
> promotes bicycle riding on busy streets. In my
> experience, bicyclists are the biggest hazzards
> on the road..  

Indecesive cyclists, perhaps.  When I ride, the entire lane
is mine every time I feel that it'd be safer
if I enforce my right to be there.

You sound like a car-nut.  You sound like you think the roads were
made for your internal combusion vehicle -- and no
other vehicles are worthy of the wonderous asphalt.

My apologies if I've mis-interpreted your statements,
but .. I don't like what you've written.  Please hear
me out.

Under law -- here in Canada, anyhow, bicycles are vehicles - just
like your car/truck.  If I want to take up an entire lane on my bike,
anytime, anyplace -- I do not violate any law if I do so.

I'm tired of motorized-vehicle users that think they have
more of a claim to use the asphalt than any 'cyclist does.

Taxi drivers in Toronto are amongst the worst 'cycle-haters, in my experience.

> as they can never decide whether they're
> pedestrian or traffic.

This means nothing.  It's a cute rant, but it means nothing, based on nothing.

> They want the privledge of using the roads, but
> they don't want to obey traffic laws.

Privilege?  I think you might be confusing your requirement to
be licensed to operate a motor vehicle with the rights, regulations
and expectations placed on pedestrian, bicycle and
other forms of transportation.

Specifically, I mean - driving a motor vehicle is a privilege,
not a right, we agree.  Any citizen can walk or operate a bicycle
without holding a license to do so.  This suggests that there
IS a "right" to operate a bicycle granted to all citizens.  Even
on the roads.  Any time of day, at any speed.  Even the whole
lane.  Even if it slows your motor vehicle down.

Please Note - I'm suggesting there might be such a right,
not claiming it.  (I live in Toronto, ON, Canada.. your
rights may vary.. based on where you live.)

> They'll block traffic and then shoot through red lights.

.. and if they are stuck by another vehicle that has right of way, the cyclist will lose.  S/he will likely have to pay her own health costs, repair costs to the innocent vehicle and traffic fines.

Same as any motor vehicle.  

Rant, rant, don't you?  Got any point?

> I'm sure there are plenty of perfectly good law-abiding
> bicyclists out there, but you say yourself that all couriers
> get hit at least once in a year of working. That
> professionals have this many accidents says a lot about
> the safety of bicycling on the street.

Agreed.  Riding a bicycle, regularly, in a busy urban centre
is dangerous.  

So what?  Speak your mind, man.  If you're going to conclude
something -- do it.  Don't make weak, whiny statements.

> I do commend you, though, for not having the arrogant attitude
> about cars that a lot of bicyclists have. At my old school
> there was a yearly protest of idiot bicyclists riding down
> the street together blocking traffic to promote the message
> "We're not blocking traffic". Very obnoixious.

I can admit -- that is obnoxious behaviour.  

Can you admit -- that the point of that ride is to show that the
bicycles are "traffic" -- with as valid a claim to utilize the
asphalt -- at their speed, as any motor vehicle?  

[ Parent ]

re: wrecks (none / 0) (#225)
by emaline on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 12:39:19 PM EST

I wonder how many people who drive a car 8 - 10 hours a day in a full-time position can go an entire year without a single accident.

[ Parent ]
The author is wrong (none / 0) (#234)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:24:33 PM EST

Not all couriers get hit once a year, not even close. Rookies can get hit a few times in their first year, or, worse, they hit things. The authors perception is from the vantage point of "Rookie" and few veterans will take the time to burst the bubble of a rookies romanticized outlook on their perception of danger. Mainly because they don't want to talk to rookies, and because he will learn or be gone soon enough by a veterens very different timetable.
Signature
[ Parent ]
well, not quite (none / 0) (#242)
by transient0 on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 09:54:20 PM EST

i never actually said that anyone gets hit once a year. i said that everyone who has done the job for more than a year has been hit at least once. which, if you actually parse the sentence, means that i'm essentially saying every rookie gets hit in their first year.

and, at least in my company, i haven't really experienced the elitist attitude you imply for the veterans. it took about a week before i started to get to know people, but after that everyone was very friendly, whether they had been at the company for a month or for ten years.
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

Personally... (2.85 / 7) (#31)
by jd on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 10:12:22 PM EST

My experience with "unskilled" jobs is that employers reckon on there being more people interested than there are jobs, so generally don't look at how to make the job worthwhile or attractive.

Having said that, you've obviously managed to carve a good niche for yourself, which - ultimately - is the only worthwhile thing to do. Those who work for money work for misery. Rich misery, sure, but they'll never enjoy either job or money. Those who work for the love of their job are typically poor but happy. The problem there is that the cost of living isn't paid by happiness.

So, congrats on making it work for you, but I'd advise anyone else thinking of such a career shift to at least check that it's doable first.

Cost of living (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by Miniluv on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 10:26:38 PM EST

Its been my experience that most jobs people do because they love them pay the bills. Very few people actually love jobs like picking tomatoes, scraping gum off the sidewalk, or giving blood.
I've always believed that one should always view pay as either enough or not enough. Then decide on a value for enough that meets you requirements for material happiness (and we all have that value, nobody can be happy with literally nothing), and then find something you love to do which pays enough.
Thankfully the vast majority of jobs pay enough for the people who want to do them. It seems that humanity has this innate knack for balancing personalities such that a person who wants to do non-profit community outreach also eats like a hummingbird, and is never home so that studio apartment is just perfect.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
Ah, the memories... (3.00 / 14) (#34)
by ktakki on Sat Mar 19, 2005 at 10:29:33 PM EST

I was a bike courier in Manhattan back in 1979. It was a summer job I had between freshman and sophomore years at college, so I only rode for about four months. I got the job, by the way, by opening the phone book and cold-calling. At about my sixth or seventh call, I got an offer over the phone, so I went to work for the Bionic Messenger Service.

The office was a tiny cubbyhole in a building on Broadway near 49th St., run by a dispatcher named Avalino Ramos, a rumpled looking guy who looked like he slept in the office. His favorite phrase was "holy seeit" ("holy shit" in a Newyorican accent). The rest of the crew were black and Puerto Rican kids my age and younger (I was nineteen at the time).

This was before fax machines and the Internet, so everything went by courier. About 75% of what we carried were documents, though sometimes you'd get a suspicious looking package going from one apartment building to another, and it was pretty much understood that you didn't want to get stopped by the cops on those runs. We didn't have pagers, either. Just a roll of dimes and a payphone on every streetcorner.

I got car-doored once (by a lady stepping out of a Checker cab on the street side instead of the sidewalk side), and run off the street once by an asshole in a Lincoln. That last incident sticks in my mind after all these years because, after I wiped out hopping the curb, two kids came running down the sidewalk and one of them launched into a flying kick, cracking the windshield of the Lincoln (I think they had just seen one of the kung fu movies that was playing in Times Square at the time). The asshole in the Lincoln (with Jersey plates, of course) sped off.

I never wore a helmet except for that one day when Skylab was supposed to re-enter the atmosphere. That day I wore a hardhat.

The money was pretty good, actually. I split the waybill 50/50 with the company and kept my tips, so I'd come home with between $75 and $125 per day for between 4 and 8 hours of work (not too bad for 1979). I was in pretty good shape anyway, so I didn't really see any physical benefit. The downside was that at the end of the day I would be covered in a fine layer of soot from car, truck, and bus exhausts.

If I didn't have to go back to school, I would have kept working as a bike messenger, albeit at one of the better companies, like Good Flash (their couriers made up to $200/day). Riding in the winter would have been a cast iron bitch, but that's what always set apart the dilettantes like me from the pros. It did, however, prepare me well for a future job: driving a cab (delivering packages was about 25% of the workload).


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

Excellent. (none / 1) (#88)
by yem on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 02:26:23 AM EST

That last incident sticks in my mind after all these years because, after I wiped out hopping the curb, two kids came running down the sidewalk and one of them launched into a flying kick, cracking the windshield of the Lincoln (I think they had just seen one of the kung fu movies that was playing in Times Square at the time). The asshole in the Lincoln (with Jersey plates, of course) sped off.

I never wore a helmet except for that one day when Skylab was supposed to re-enter the atmosphere. That day I wore a hardhat.

Awesome - thanks for posting :-)



[ Parent ]
those were the days ... (2.66 / 3) (#36)
by ccdotnet on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 03:35:08 AM EST

I was a (motorcycle) courier on and off for 3 years. Not exactly the same as doing the miles under your own pedal power, but there's plenty of overlap so your article has brought back a lot of good memories.

Couriering was hard work - after 10 hours you arrive home both physically and mentally exhausted. 12 years of IT consulting later: fatter, saner, better off, but there are still things I miss about being on the road. You've summed up most of them well - nice work.

Toronto... the memories... (none / 0) (#38)
by elgardo on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 05:22:35 AM EST

The details of Yonge St, Bloor W building, St Claire hill... *sigh* Articles like these remind me of my days in Toronto, how I miss them...

Hos (1.00 / 11) (#39)
by xpac on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:30:09 AM EST

Who's the hoe holding your bike in the picture?

If you liked that pic.... (1.00 / 3) (#43)
by n8f8 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:19:05 AM EST



Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Intern for $10/hr (none / 1) (#40)
by n8f8 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 08:47:06 AM EST

I'm hiring an intern for an R&D project for about $10/hr. (soon to be posted here) Flexible hours so nothing would prevent someone from riding a bike to work. I think there a lot of better jobs to be had where you can see the real world and code.

Of course I make way more than $10/hr, I run 2-3 miles a night ans live a block from the beach where I'm learning to surf. Oh, within reason, I set my own hours. I wouldn't trade programming for a living for just about any other job.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

jobs where you can see the real world and code (none / 1) (#93)
by YetAnotherDave on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 10:18:10 AM EST

I'd say there are more coding jobs that let you 'see the world' than courier jobs.

You geerally  have to live in a major urban center for both coding work and courier work, and only one has paid vacations. :)

From my experiences with a summer job mapping bike routes thru the downtown core, I'd also like to point out that the 'riding all day' fitness factor is somewhat offset by the 'sucking exhaust all day' factor.  Blech!

The best thing about my coding job is that it's interesting, but restful enough that I can go there to recover from the stuff I do for fun  :)

Just a footnote - on the rare chances I am driving thru downtown instead of on one of my bikes, I never worry about the couriers.  They know what they're doing, and they generally make eye contact to make sure you know they're aware of you.  It's the assholes in SUVs with over-tinted windows that scare me, both driving and riding.  Random, last-minute, unsignalled lane-changes should be punished by public floggings.

[ Parent ]

Don't take it personally (none / 0) (#239)
by KrispyKringle on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 08:38:25 PM EST

You seem to take it personally that the author chose not to pursue a career similar to your own (and to mine, if it makes this sound less critical). There's no need to defend your choices by pointing out that you also see "the real world" or get excercize; that's a given. Among other things, the author admits that he was of "medium level" talent, so that well could have factored into his choice not to pursue coding.

Just a thought.

[ Parent ]

You are not a programmer at heart (1.84 / 13) (#41)
by JosephK on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 08:47:22 AM EST

He may have been a programmer, by virtue of his job description, but he was certainly not a programmer at heart.

True programmers love to do it. Would you ever seriously entertain a story from a gear-head who loved to work on his old cars who suddenly "saw the light" and decided he now cares only about jigsaw puzzles. Of course not. Because it doesn't happen; if someone loves the zen of automotive maintenance, then it's in their heart. PRogramming, because it was supposedly financially lucrutive, has attracted a lot of posers in the last 10 years. I say enjoy your new life; it's clearly more suitable for you.
HTML is Dead.
Sad Facts (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by n8f8 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:04:05 AM EST

What I have had the hardest time dealing with over the years is the quantity of CS grads who enter the field because they think they can make a lot of money and find they don't like staring at code all day. They usually wind up moving to a different career or becoming work impediments in QC/CMMI type jobs.

Now that I am in a position to lead projects and recruit people I find that there is heavy competition for people with talent and desire. Finding that diamond in the rough is difficult. Microsoft sniped the few I managed to find. HR at my company just doesn't grok the difference between a body on a contract and someone capable of doing the job well.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]

Stock code? (none / 0) (#282)
by mrt on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 03:14:55 AM EST

HR at my company just doesn't grok the difference between a body on a contract and someone capable of doing the job well.

If your company is listed, can you tell me it's ticker code. I would like to take a large short postition.




-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]
Here's the truth (3.00 / 9) (#47)
by transient0 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:46:07 AM EST

I love programming. I derive great pleasure from it. I went to school for Artificial Intelligence because i was fascinated by neural network research, not because i was looking for a fat paycheck.

but, upon entering the workforce, i discovered that the elements of coding that i loved were largely absent from most jobs available to someone of my admittedly mid-level talent. And also, my temperament does not really suit me to an office job.

So I have left that behind. I still code, but i do it for fun and for open source projects. So if you want to call me a hobbyist rather than a professional, i won't object. But please don't call me a poser.
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

reply (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by JosephK on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:35:08 AM EST

Not so much that you're a poser; that was meant generally. But, as you said yourself, you may not have the disposition for it. It's the difference between knowing how to do something and loving to do it. I suppose if you weren't confident in your skills, you may have sabotoged yourself by not applying for the jobs you really wanted, hence got the crappy corporate paper-shuffle jobs (it sounds like). What I'm driving at is that it took me 5 or 6 jobs and plenty of time contracting before I got where I want to be in terms of programming professionally. I suspect if you love it enough you'll be back for more sometime; maybe even before too long.
HTML is Dead.
[ Parent ]
I'm a chemist turned programmer turned chemist (none / 0) (#61)
by lukme on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 03:17:38 PM EST

I became a programmer/software engineer because I enjoyed coding and algorithm development. Additionally, I have always enjoyed chemistry - my lunch discussions revolved around chemistry and science when I was working as a programmer.

So what is the problem with taking some time off?




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
so then... (none / 1) (#62)
by suntzu on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 03:25:04 PM EST

are you saying that if you're truly a programmer at heart, that the only profession you'll ever truly enjoy is programming? does a love for programming imply a certain cap on how much you can love doing any other job? can you only call yourself a programmer at heart if programming is the clearly the single most loved job in your professional life?

because that sounds like the bias of one person who just happens to have one single professional love.

on a more general level, different people love programming for different reasons, and there are parts of the programming skillset that should be transferable to other occupations. i say "on a more general level" because there may not be significant overlap in the courier example, but many of the enjoyable properties of coding can be found in any job where a complex and mostly deterministic system must be implemented and debugged. not all complex systems are implemented with silicon and software.

your attitude strikes me as being just as elitest and irritating as that of the people who think programming is simple rote work to implement something that's already been designed.

[ Parent ]

There is a stark difference (none / 0) (#233)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:15:49 PM EST

In doing what you love for a paycheck, to the beat of anothers drum. To doing what you love. If he didn't have the good benefit of being entirely freelance and doing only the jobs he wanted or running his own firm then it is very, very possible for a young man or woman doing what he loves to burn out on it in a job. JOB, it ain't spelled HOBBY for a reason.
Signature
[ Parent ]
You have it backwards (none / 0) (#302)
by digitalquirk on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 09:17:21 AM EST

Would you ever seriously entertain a story from a gear-head who loved to work on his old cars who suddenly "saw the light" and decided he now cares only about jigsaw puzzles.
You have it backwards. A more accurate analogy would be it's like a story about a jigsaw puzzle lover who suddenly "saw the light" and decided he now cares only about fixing cars.

[ Parent ]
as a taxpayer... (1.00 / 8) (#45)
by /dev/trash on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:35:07 AM EST

I'm slightly taken aback that you think a student loan is an obligation you can just not pay nack.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
Why are you taken aback? (3.00 / 5) (#50)
by angelo on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 11:03:26 AM EST

One, he's Canadian. Two, unlike what most Americans may or may not believe, Toronto is not an American city. Three, he didn't say he wasn't paying his student loan.
lowmagnet.org
[ Parent ]
as a student, (2.16 / 6) (#54)
by the ghost of rmg on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:27:31 PM EST

i'm slightly taken aback that someone working toward becoming a highly productive member of society has to pay back loans for doing so in the first place, but even more so that some little right wing twit like yourself would see fit to complain that they are not paid fast enough.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
What? (none / 1) (#69)
by Spendocrat on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:05:13 PM EST

Where in this article does it say "I'm not paying off my student loan."

[ Parent ]
I'm sure you meant: (none / 0) (#216)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 11:42:05 PM EST

"As an anti-altruistic Ayndroid..."

[ Parent ]
Both of them here. (2.28 / 7) (#51)
by DildoSpandex on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 12:02:55 PM EST

I'm a programmer, but I always fantasized being a courrier, just because of the spandex.

I'm gay and exhibitionist, and I once had a job I biked to, and no one objected when I coded wearing flashy spandex (blue is my favourite, but I also have yellow and light gray. I don't like black, it makes me look like a funeral director and you can't show-off well).

Plus, I'd always volunteer to do urgent errands downtown, just for the sheer pleasure of walking into an impressive office lobby, wearing tight flashy outrageous spandex, flashing my package and ass amongst those 3-piece suits types.

My favourite was the tax department. The office was always late for the income tax deductions, so I'd gladly rush them the cheque to their cash, where I would stand in line, legs apart, right in front of a huge, impressive fiftysomething matron who would inevitably keep a fixed stare on my spandex-clad cock.

Most of the time, I'd take the opportunity to go to the bank, but at the head-office branch. There is nothing like the feeling of walking, provocatively dressed, into a fancy marble building...

Unfortunately, there are no gay couriers; in all the few times I rubbed shoulder with them, none ever triggered my gaydar even though they looked hot (but why hide your crotch under baggy pants???), so I did not have the experience of impromptu quickies in the many nooks and crannies of office buildings... :(

there are two openly gay guys at my company (nt) (none / 0) (#52)
by transient0 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 12:07:21 PM EST

nt
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]
+1FP (2.40 / 5) (#53)
by LilDebbie on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:04:23 PM EST

Golden, and by golden I mean showers.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
in atlanta... (none / 1) (#55)
by durkie on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:37:21 PM EST

it seems like there very few couriers that would also describe themselves as bikers. i can think of one maybe 2 couriers i've seen with clipless pedals, let alone spandex. i've also seen people riding timetrial frames with a downward sloping toptube, but with bigass cruiser bars. argh. it seems like a perpetually hip business, where you have to know someone to get in, and thus its culture of old steel track frames, trucker hats, cutoffs, and a couple tattoos is maintained...

that's a an outsider's perspective though. there are only a few companies in the city, and i've never been able to land a job.

Atlanta is a bit different (none / 0) (#102)
by kidzatrisc on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:11:11 PM EST

I worked as a messenger in Atlanta one summer years ago. I just cold-called all the courier companies in the yellow pages and got hired the next day. There was only one spandex/clippless messenger that I knew of, everyone else road in street clothes -- they just worked better for me. Atlanta is too spread out to really need many bicycle messengers but it works out that the culture is fairly non-competitive and supportive most of the time. Lots of characters.

Riding was the most fun job I've ever had, but I don't do it anymore because of the risk level.

 

[ Parent ]

Atlanta? They ride horses, not bikes. (none / 1) (#232)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:10:51 PM EST

Atlanta according to our own, is a backwater. That is the case in many southern cities where the car rules. At last count there were between 20-25 bike messengers in Atlanta. Compare with Houston, which fairs slightly better at about 50 messengers but is a much larger city. Compare with Toronto, which while smaller by 2 million than Houston has a far more deleloped central core and supports between 350-500 messengers by season. Compare with NYC, the most developed urban area in North America which supports 2000+ bike mesengers. The level of competion and sophistication determines the same in a cities riders.
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[ Parent ]
Advice. (1.32 / 28) (#56)
by dxh on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:03:04 PM EST

Sorry to be the one to say this, but it needs to be said.
  1. Grow up.  You apparently have issues and have some trouble with being a grown up and having a grown up job.  It seems like you still want to be a kid for the rest of your life riding you bike around with your buddies.   The best this little job is doing is to prolong your childhood.  Thats nice and all but eventually your gonna have to grow up, and while your wasting your time with this gig, the rest of us will be getting valuable job experience in the real world and be 10-steps ahead of you.
  2. Get a real job.  Do you really think that you can raise a family or save anything for the future with this job?  Do you expect the rest of us in society to pay for your living when a) you get hurt b) you get too old to do this job.  This job sounds nice now, but your obviously smart and wasting your potential.    
Making less money than you could potentially make  is only "noble" if your doing it for something that serves a higher purpose, such as teaching or doing charity work or something... doing something like this is just simply an act of selfishness and the lack of your willing to such it up and be an adult.

There. I said it.  I bet your parents wanted to say the same things to you. :)

come on... (2.71 / 7) (#60)
by suntzu on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:42:00 PM EST

it drives me nuts when people try to act like "living up to your potential" is a moral imperative. there's absolutely nothing "wrong" with what codejack's doing, especially as he's already noted he doesn't have a family to support.

there's nothing wrong with "an act of selfishness" when it comes to choosing your job. for 90% of people, their choice of job is an act of selfishness, they're just trying to optimize cash flow instead of total happiness, which is just foolish (though there is certainly a great deal of overlap since the bills have to be paid somehow).

another thing: when someone can do a legitimate job that there's a demand for, full-time, and not be able to save enough to live or retire on, it's an indication to me that market forces are failing to do what they're supposed to be doing.

the one who needs to grow up is the one who thinks they've figured out the best way for everyone else to run their lives.

[ Parent ]

Market forces don't obey the social good (none / 1) (#79)
by stripes on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:29:36 PM EST

when someone can do a legitimate job that there's a demand for, full-time, and not be able to save enough to live or retire on, it's an indication to me that market forces are failing to do what they're supposed to be doing

All market forces are supposed to be doing is lowering the price of a product (package delivery) to the cost of producing said product.

Market forces don't care about retirement, or even "earning enough to live on". To the extent that people care about it they will avoid jobs that don't pay "enough", but only if they have better options. If your best option is crappy, it is still better then your worst option, so you will tend to take it. If enough people that can do job X can't do any job that pays enough to retire on, then job X's wage will fall to that value.

Unless, of corse, you impose a minimum wage. Unfortunately that tends to destroy jobs rather then make everyone in them rich. Bring minimum wage over current currier wages and the price of moving packages goes up, which will tend to reduce the number of packages that get sent that way, and that reduces the number of people needed to move them. Or it will increase automation in that sector (in this case, maybe spur the move to using encrypted traffic and drastically cut the number of people employed moving packages). For example increases in the minimum wage in the USA caused McDonalds to start using increasingly automated kitchens thus cutting the number of people needed to staff a McD's.

Unfortunitly economics is no more man's plaything then physics.

[ Parent ]

mostly agreed, i think (none / 0) (#82)
by suntzu on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 11:02:00 PM EST

maybe "supposed to" was a bad word choice. more specifically, i meant that in as much as we rely on market forces to provide us with what we consider desirable economic outcomes, market forces fail to provide us with this specific desired outcome (allowing everyone who works a productive full time job to live and retire decently).

i agree that instituting a higher minimum wage isn't necessarily the best solution. i was just pointing out the failure of the unchecked open market to provide what most people would consider an ideal outcome.

at any rate, that was more of a tangential quibble with the attitude of the poster to whom i replied, since he seemed to think that what codejack is doing is sponging off of society.

[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 1) (#90)
by Znork on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 04:01:20 AM EST

"All market forces are supposed to be doing is lowering the price of a product (package delivery) to the cost of producing said product."

Of course, the prevalence of intellectual monopolies like patents and copyright in the free market has already more or less disabled those forces, which means that prices are not falling at the rate they should as cost of production falls. Without that kind of monopoly interference causing tens to thousands of times markup in price perhaps it would be easier to live on lower wages.

[ Parent ]

Unemployment (none / 0) (#108)
by Lacero on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 03:09:16 PM EST

I think people care more about unemployment figures than poverty figures, so the minimum wage does have a long term positive effect on everyone.

[ Parent ]
Market Forces (2.00 / 2) (#105)
by NoBeardPete on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:53:32 PM EST

What market forces do is to match supply and demand. If there's more demand than supply at the current price, prices will rise, demand will drop, and more supply will come online, until they are matched. If there's more supply than demand, prices will drop, more demand will be created, and some supply will go offline, until they are matched.

For most jobs, there is some approximate number of people who should be doing that job in order to meet demand in a balanced fasion. If too many people are in the field, wages will tend to drop until some of them are shaken out. If there are too few, wages will rise as employers engage in bidding wars for them.

This is sometimes unfortunate, but also important. If there are too many people trying to do too little work, how else would you convince some of them to go do something else instead? We don't have a centrally planned economy, there's no Office of Courier Affairs to look at the numbers and decide there's a glut of couriers.

I would guess that the following is the basic reason couriers make so little. There is a constant stream of people who are attracted to the job for a variety of reasons who don't much care about the low pay. Thus, there is a constant oversupply of labor. For most jobs, lowering the pay would shake some of these people out, rebalancing the situation, but for couriers it doesn't really work out that way. The job sounds, from most accounts, generally fun and thrilling. It's _cool_. Because there is a steady stream of people willing to do it for low pay because of the other perks, employers will offer low pay, counting on the other perks to keep people coming in.

How do you propose supplementing market forces to fix this problem? Some outside force (most likely the government) could insist on a higher minimum wage, or on higher benefits for bike couriers. This would presumably increase the supply of couriers, as more people are attracted to the field (which is now both very very cool, _and_ pays pretty well), while reducing the number of packages sent, as businesses are discouraged by higher shipping costs. So now there are more couriers and there is fewer work, so they will be sitting idle most of the time. In order to continue paying couriers the legally required rate, the courier companies will have to become very selective about who they take on. Realistically, this will mean either, 1) you won't be able to find work as a courier unless you have some strong contacts in the field already, 2) bullshit hoops will be set up for potential couriers to jump through, just to discourage and weed people out, or 3) couriers will be expected to give under the table kickbacks of some sort to their bosses, probably doing extra unpayed work.

There are other options, I suppose. The government could follow the dairy model, and commit itself to sending as many bogus packages as it takes to drive the price up to a certain predetermined level. This seems like a terrible idea. They could follow model of the rest of agriculture, and just hand over a bunch of cash to courier companies in the hopes that some would trickle down to actual workers. Given how much this has bettered your average migrant fruit picker in the US, I'm hesitant to assume it'd help the average bike courier.

Ultimately, I'm not sure there's much that can be done. A whole bunch of people want to be bike couriers, and apparently aren't really turned off by low pay. What can we do to stop these people from getting what they want?


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

potential (2.66 / 3) (#142)
by trav on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:17:32 PM EST

How many people here have what it takes to be a bike courier, and enjoy it? This guy is living up to some serious fucking potential if you ask me.

[ Parent ]
yeah, that's a good point (n/t) (none / 0) (#157)
by suntzu on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 05:43:08 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Shut the fuck up (2.11 / 9) (#64)
by The Voice of Reason on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 04:36:37 PM EST

There's nothing 'grown up' about being an office drone sitting in a box all day whilst your body rots away and the real world passes you by. Human beings are not designed to be sedentary. By working an office job you are damaging your body. Human beings are not designed to stare at exactly the same thing all day every day, amongst the same few people. By working a 'real' job you're fucking yourself over in the long term.

As for raising a family, that's what welfare and benefits are for. Let the fat, weak office drones pay for everything so you can get some fresh air and exercise. A lot of people do low-paying manual work and raise families. Not every family needs a 50" TV and giant house, and a constant supply of doughnuts.

[ Parent ]

you have no soul. (none / 1) (#75)
by CAIMLAS on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:19:17 PM EST

To use the catch phrase, "Man was not made to sit indoors in a cubicle all day shuffling papers!" (or any various variations thereof). Your soul suffers from being in such a synthetic environment, and your body is unhealthy from lack of daily exercise. Even if you work out, you're not fully compensating for the lack of physical fitness.

What is so "grown up" about working in an office anyway? What is so fucking noble about being "grown up"? You might see it as a higher aspiration to work in a comfortable office and make more money, but many people falsely think that is what life is about, and end up dying early after a short and unsatisfying life due to some sort of chronic disease brought on by their sedentary, unfulfilling life.

This goes doubly for a job

What kind of job do you work? Are you even working, or are you still in high school or college? I guarantee you that once you get into the office environment, you will loath it for one reason or another: fluerescent lights, irritating co-workers, corporate operating system "standards", paper work, procedures, a hawk-like boss or manager, or simply being un-busy due to lack of work. Something will get you, and it will breed discontent.

Doubly so if you're not making what you think you should be making, as not only are you sitting around wasting your time, youre not getting paid for it. At least in a "manual labor" job, you're doing honest-to-god work, and have something to look back on at the end of the day and say, "I drywalled a house", or "I laid a foundation". It's no small wonder that people in desk jobs often start hobbies which involve growing things, making things, or something else that can prove to be equally as rewarding.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

agreed (none / 0) (#97)
by Cackmobile on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:14:05 AM EST

I work in an office now but did manual labor for 5 months. If the pay was the same I would go back to labour straight away.

[ Parent ]
Lighten up, Francis. (none / 0) (#94)
by rpresser on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 10:32:15 AM EST

Do you really think that you can raise a family or save anything for the future with this job?

Where is it written that raising a family or saving for the future are moral imperatives? I share almost none of the author's positive traits, but I will be damned if I will accept your implicit assertion that non-breeders are criminals.
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"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
[ Parent ]

Also some advice (none / 1) (#117)
by Ptyx on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 08:36:17 PM EST

Get some wisdom and understand that life is not about behing ahead of others.
-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 0) (#201)
by SnowBlind on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:53:11 PM EST

Actually, I am not sure he really did this at all. There are several "tells" that make me wonder if he did this for a day, or just sat down with a courier and talked to one of them.

There are parts of your anatomy that will suffer greatly if you ride like that after riding at even club levels (5 or more hours a week). Either that, or he has sitbones of steel.

Some other things too, that he describes about the bikes,  makes me wonder.

Lastly, HP-UNIX does not run on p-100's, sorry. It runs on a RISC processor.

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
[ Parent ]

what makes you think this is fake, specifically? (none / 0) (#213)
by emaline on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 04:14:25 PM EST

I registered here just to ask you this -- what other things besides his sitbones makes you think this is fake?

I started commuting to work by bicycle last summer and it was most definitely -not- my sitbones that hurt the most when I struggled up the last mile of hill home.  And since my bike was my main and only method of transportation, I was getting way more than five hours a week in the saddle.  Still am.

[ Parent ]

What "club levels" are these? Amatuer (none / 1) (#231)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:01:18 PM EST

You should consult your LBS (or find a better one) and have your fit checked. If you are "suffering" at certain contact points from a mere 5 hours a week in the saddle you are grossly obese (no fit can account for that) or your bicycle is not properly fitted to your size format. His description of rest cycles compares well with the experience of many in the first week of the first year that you will carry the title of "Rookie". His jaunt into the land of courier was short and by his own admission. His time of "9 minutes to Bloor" is a very slow time even stopping for all redlights when compared with a veteran that also stops at all redlights. (He also stated that he believed it safe to "blow" lights, a very rookie sentiment) that and the fact that we get many temporary visitors from cubeland make his story sound far more genuine than not to someone that would know and not assume. Damn right HP-Unix runs on a RISC, and it's locked awway where he wouldn't ever see it. All he could've seen would be the cheapest possible terminal that a company could provide a dispatcher. These days thats not even what you or I would call a "terminal" its instead an old pc you can get in good running condition for $50 and configure as a terminal.
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[ Parent ]
thanks for defending me, but (none / 1) (#243)
by transient0 on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 10:04:00 PM EST

i object that the statement that my opinion regarding red lights is an explicitly rookie belief.

i didn't suggest that it is uniformly safe to run reds, i said that there are SOME lights it is safe to run, particularly single lane one way affairs that cross busy streets like yonge where oncoming traffic can be seen coming a long way off. and i know plenty of veterans who would agree with me.

as i said, first you learn to ride safe, then you learn to ride fast.

and yes, certainly those p-100s are just terminals. my apologies if i was ambiguous in the article.
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lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

couriering doesn't hurt your ass... (none / 0) (#258)
by lastobelus on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 09:06:51 PM EST

...that much, because you are getting on and off the bike very often. You're rarely on the bike for more than 10 minutes at a time.

[ Parent ]
hypocricy (2.50 / 2) (#219)
by PaulBaumbay on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 03:18:04 AM EST

Do you make the same statement to the 50-year-old guy behind the counter at the convenience store? When you are at a restaurant do you pull the bus boy aside and tell him that he should grow up and stop trying to support his kids by clearing your dishes and refilling your water glass? You should be thanking this guy for taking this job. In this society in order for someone to have more, someone has to have less. That's how capitalism works. There must be workers willing to clean your pool and change your oil. If all workers made the same amount of money as you do, and I am assuming that you make more than the minimum, you wouldn't be able to afford that the underwear your wearing or the sandwich you ate today. It's simple economics. Yeah, this guy seems smart, but maybe he likes his job. If there weren't a need for it, he wouldn't be paid to do it. Obviously, this guy could do many jobs; maybe he could even do your job, but criticizing someone for following the career path of their own choosing and taking a job that isn't "noble", because you feel it's childish and not productive enough is an extremely naïve view of our world. Next time you go out to buy whatever it is that the great job you have lets you afford, take a look around and imagine a world without cashiers, stock boys, janitors an bike messengers.

[ Parent ]
Asshat. (none / 0) (#223)
by ScooterBooter on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 08:01:47 AM EST

Oh, cripes.

People actually tried to respond to your bollocks-post.

Folks, please be honest and call an ass an ass when one posts..  

Peace,
Scott..

[ Parent ]

The author considered this. (none / 0) (#230)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 05:49:29 PM EST

A. It is a real job in a multi-billion dollar industry and if he could combine what he learned with what he's trained in he could make far more than a close-minded automaton like yourself by selling better net-dispatch software to that industry or any of a number of very widely used applications. B. He clearly stated at the beginning that he considered his current responsibilities before undertaking his adventure. It was also apparant that he intended his adventure to be short-lived. C. A & B are both blindingly apparant to anyone with Grade 2 reading comprhension skills. Your response would give a prospective client the impression that you are not in a competitive way for your rote manner of absorbing information coupled with no ability to apply it beyond your own centricity. D. Your last paragraph is extremely short-sighted. Making less money to expand your knowledge and experience base is noble as you can become a better person for it and thereby all those around you will be bettered as well. E. Your own father would be proud....if he were an 18th century Englishman working for a smarter man at a counting house. Join us here in the 21st century, or go rot in Florida, dinosaur.
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[ Parent ]
Two types of people (none / 0) (#304)
by digitalquirk on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 10:02:33 AM EST

There are, quite apparently, two types of people in this world. The first type is a slave to money. They can never have enough, they always have to be a step or three ahead of everyone else, and will do anything (at the expense of friendships, their health, etc.) to get there to feed the allmighty dollar that they serve. They admire boring stiffs like Donald Trump; these are also the guys who are getting a coronary bypass in their 40's. This best describes dxh.

The second type sees money as a tool to attain the things they need to survive. They do the minimum it takes to attain a positive cashflow so they can eat, have a place to sleep, wear clean clothes, and do the things they enjoy doing...but money does not rule their life. They are not slaves to money; rather, they make the money work for them. They have no desire to be better than anyone else; they only desire to truly and fully enjoy life to the fullest before their time here expires. These people tend to be more rounded, healthier, and happier as human beings, and best describes transient0.

I honestly feel sorry for people who are a slave to money. Bow down before the one you serve...you're going to get what you deserve.

[ Parent ]
born coder (2.83 / 6) (#58)
by viisii on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:14:15 PM EST

What can one say to people that are born "coders".
The man wanted a change thats it. There are bands out there that take a break from their music, sometimes up to 5 years.
 He never said he didn't code when he got home or on weekends, he just said a made a career change for a bit.I personaly have been in the IT industry for 8 years and guess what...I had a two year stint of manual labour the House Removal & Storage industry in between.Guess where most of my clientel comes from now?
You might be a "born coder" but you cannot critisize someone for wanting and making a change. I think some of the comments on this story are from people who are afraid of change or doing something different, or maybe people who think they are special because they code.

Take a break it clears your mind.The old Zen saying goes "from one thing learn a thousand".
You never know what inspiration or business opertunities you would get..... or maybe you should just keep taking orders and doing your job.

Sorry if this came out a bit rash but I dont ussualy respond to comments on forums.

It's true (none / 0) (#128)
by rusty on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 08:57:47 AM EST

Programming will eventually drive all but the absolutely most fanatical nuts after a while.

Nearly all programmers should take a break and do some other job for a while at least every few years. If you are not known to the general population by your first name alone (Linus, Alan, Bill...) this advice applies to you. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Factual inaccuracy: (1.41 / 12) (#59)
by a beautiful goat on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:31:10 PM EST

I was a coder not unlike yourself.

I, sir, am not a coder. You fail it. Lol. Coders should be totally banned from the internet they're just total jerkwads.
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arrrrrr!
Er (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by trhurler on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 03:26:03 PM EST

About weight loss:

First of all, you almost certainly packed on some muscle and lost some fat. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. As such, expecting dramatic weight loss from such a job is not realistic; expecting dramatic changes in body fat probably is more realistic.

Second, most men pack on fat in their stomach region underneath the abdominal muscles rather than over them, and this is unbelievably hard to get rid of. Odds are that you COULD, but I doubt a regimen of pure cycling would do it. I have no idea why it works this way, but I know that it does. Still and all, you're most likely in better shape than 99% of humanity, so I wouldn't worry about it too much:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

weight loss -> weight gain (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by greenplato on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 01:31:13 AM EST

I have a female friend that went from an office job to work as a messenger. I am not privy to her weight, but I will note that her body experienced a dramatic change in shape. She had the average flab that comes with a sedentary lifestyle, but dropped all of it in six months to have a body composition you would expect in a competitive athlete. As far as muscle goes, the huge powerful thighs are obvious but messengers also develop massive trapezius, rear deltoids, lats, and tricep muscles from supporting their body and bag (and cargo) while riding.

Alas, three years on the messenger scene and she has developed a massive beer belly. All of the other messengers in her tribe have similar bulges from continuous over-consumption of alcohol (but still, as you said, in better physical condition than 99% of the general population). Like the article mentions, the freedoms of the lifestyle allow plenty of latitude for sleeping off a hangover on a tuesday, or a few beers for lunch. Additionally, I think that many of the messengers that I have met drink heavily as a coping strategy for dangerous and stressful working conditions. But that's just a hunch.

[ Parent ]

There is no free lunch. (none / 1) (#163)
by skyknight on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 07:54:01 PM EST

Living in a society of affluence, unfitness always finds a way.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Bad News: (none / 1) (#162)
by skyknight on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 07:52:40 PM EST

It's the beer, soda, and skipping breakfast that are doing it. :-)

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
i dont wanna be a jackass... (none / 0) (#290)
by keylaeris on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:28:40 AM EST

but muscle is more dense than fat.

a lb of feathers weighs just as much as a lb of platinum.

[ Parent ]

I wonder about your real identity (1.00 / 9) (#66)
by DarkEye on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 05:30:18 PM EST

in the article you say you're a girl, and post a picture a girl holding up a bike. but your kuro5hin registration lists you at a site for and e-mail for a guy (Frank is a male name, the last I checked).

Why? (none / 0) (#74)
by TheMgt on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 07:00:43 PM EST

in the article you say you're a girl

Where in the article does it say this?

[ Parent ]
huh? (none / 0) (#76)
by transient0 on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:24:59 PM EST

the girl in the picture is my wife.

i have a penis.
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lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

lesbian? (none / 0) (#83)
by Effigykill on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:33:22 AM EST

Personally I assumed the girl in the picture was a lesbian, until I followed the links to the LSD book. Cool article.

[ Parent ]
Great story. (none / 0) (#70)
by skyknight on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:07:04 PM EST

Thanks for sharing.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Nice article. (none / 0) (#77)
by creature on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:55:15 PM EST

I enjoyed this. I'm actually considering doing it now. Maybe when I've finished my degree I could do something like this for a couple of months. Could be fun.

Most excellent (none / 0) (#78)
by kinrowan on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:19:48 PM EST

One of the best I've read on kuro5hin. Come back soon, and write more....
--kinrowan
I wish I could do something like this... (none / 1) (#80)
by CrackHappy on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:36:42 PM EST

Growing up into an adult, my experiences with cycling were both memorable and enjoyable.

I vividly remember a time when I made a wrong turn coming home from school.  I was heading down a long, steep hill and turned left on the wrong street.  This street ended about 50 yards after I turned onto it.  The end of the street consisted of a guardrail and a dirt slope leading down to a gully.  My brakes weren't all that good, I wasn't paying that much attention, and needless to say I didn't slow down anywhere near enough.  My front tire impacted with the guardrail and I somehow simultaneously leaped off the pedals and spread my legs far enough apart to clear my handlebars.  I then landed on my feet and skidded down the slope about halfway before falling on my keister.

I have still not been able to account for how I did that.  To this day I have never fallen off a bicycle.  

That does not mean that other people didn't fall off the bicycle I was riding.  

About 10 years ago when my youngest sister was 9 or 10 I was giving her a ride on the handlebars of my cousin's bike in Eugene Oregon.  We were only travelling at 10mph at the most.  I was screwing around and not paying attention, again, and managed to run into the curb.  She fell off the front and scraped her forehead on the sidewalk.  She still has a faint scar above her eyebrow.  :)  Something to remember me by...

I am sorry for the rampant nostalgia.  I will attempt to keep it in check.  Down Boy!  

Unless something amazing happens, I do not know if I will ever be able to ride a bicycle like I did in the past.  The reasons:
- I have a genetic condition that causes my lungs to collapse either randomly or under stress.  i.e. if I exercise too hard it could collapse.  This first happened when I was 19, in my left lung.  After the 3rd collapse my doctor operated and "fixed" it.  This is by removing about 10%-15% of the "bad" parts of the lung and stapling the rest together then covering the entire lung in a very strong antibiotic.  The antibiotic causes the lung to scar on the surface which then bonds the lung to the chest cavity wall.  Essentially that lung should not be able to collapse again.  However, my right lung has not had a problem yet and I would prefer not to take stupid chances.
- March 2003 I had testicular cancer.  The cancer is "cured".  This means they removed the cancerous testicle and followed up with a very invasive surgery to remove a good portion of the lymph nodes in my abdominal cavity.  I have a nice 19-inch scar from my sternum to my pubic bone.  One of the results of the second surgery is a strange chronic pain in my right thigh.  It has gradually decreased over time, but without my medications it makes it difficult to walk.  I Hope  that it will disappear eventually.  The pain as far as I can determine must have been caused by the epidural I was using for the first four days of my hospital stay but none of my numerous doctors has been able to effectively diagnose it.  So we are just treating it with Neurontin / Gabapentin and elavil.  

It is still possible for me to ride a bicycle but I must be careful as if I strain that right thigh too much I must pay the piper the next day.  

It is kind of ironic that as a bicyclist I am afflicted with the same disease as the most well known bicyclist today.  

I am also a coder albeit not that experienced a coder yet.  I am the lead developer for my company developing in a proprietary system as well as using open standards to build out our web presence.  I have been using ASP / IIS 5 and JS primarily along with the MSXML4 COM object to do data processing and transformation in the 3 tier system.  I recently did a full code review and standards compliance check.  I still haven't gotten the applications I have written to XHTML 1.0 yet but I will get there.  For the near future I am developing most new projects in ASP.NET and .NET Framework 1.1 and cannot wait for 2.0 to come out.  My personal preference would NOT to be developing any of this in a Microsoft only environment, but I have not been able to make any headway on that front.

To make a very very long story as short as possible I wish that I could truly bike again.
Wherever you go, there you are. You want to email me, take the two periods and everything between out.

No Alanis... (none / 0) (#246)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 01:07:09 AM EST

"It is kind of ironic that as a bicyclist I am afflicted with the same disease as the most well known bicyclist today.  "

... that's coincidence.

Sorry about your trials in life though.

[ Parent ]

Thank You (none / 1) (#81)
by banffbug on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:55:17 PM EST

I recently gave up my job slaving away at retail department store hell for a bicyle courier job here in calgary, about a month and a half ago, and won't turn back. Great timing for an article on a website i've been reading for years, here's my tidbits:

Route planing and communication with your dispatcher are the most valued skills, followed by safe fast riding. You should have fun working too, or else the day quickly becomes a chore. To stay mad at yourself for bad routing leaves you prone to more errors, and to rack your nerves because of some asshole driver that makes it dangerous for you to earn a living gives no inner satisfaction. Stop to expain a close call when you are at fault and don't book it from the scene, blow a kiss instead of giving the finger back to some horn honking mr./miss. Important, and act professionally instead of kicking in doors and mirrors. Just remember, shit happens once in a while.

Most courier companies in Calgary have a wear what you want dress code, and only one (mine) has a manditory bike helmet policy on top of a leased uniform, allowing West Direct to charge its clients more competitively. Of the other companies, I'd like to say 20% of the bikers wear helmuts, but i think they'd need us included in the count to make that happen. Most communicate by radio, but pager or text message systems are everywhere, and some companies run blackberrys with 85-90% of comunications by email.

The vast age spectrum of employment spans from inexperienced teenagers to able 50 year olds biking for fun, money, exercise, and thrills. No one gets fired because you work as a contractor, not an employee, so you're not fixed to an hourly rate. Survival of the fittest demands that those who can't cut it quit because the job won't pay the bills. The first week is hell, you mess up a lot, but as you learn the city better, and you will, quickly, the days start to form a familiar rhythm as you watch the minutes between deliveries roll by.

One misconception by office workers is that a bike courier is insanely happy to be inside from the winter storm, and appreciates being delayed for an extra minute of heat. It does no good, because by the time i leave the building after riding to the 29th floor and back down the elevator at lunch hour every pore i own is letting water vapour escape. I actually enjoy the cooler weather with snow, just hate the offices.

courier / calgary (none / 0) (#299)
by steve keene on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 09:10:19 PM EST

Drop me an email, I'd like to talk to you about couriering in Calgary. steve @ homepagedomain dot net

[ Parent ]
A similar but shorter experiece (none / 0) (#84)
by Plastic Jeebus on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 12:57:11 AM EST

After I got my CS degree I was pretty tired of writing code. So for a few months, I worked as a pedicab (bicycle powered taxi).

The hours were sweet (three nights a week) and it didn't really bother me that I was only just making rent + bills. In fact, even though I was perpetually broke during those months, I was happier than ever. I was also in the best shape of my life (hauling 500-800 lbs of drunken flesh is teh best exercise evar!).

Courier culture and pedicab culture sound like they have a lot of overlap. In fact, one of the guys that rode for my company also worked as a courier. Even the gender ratio is the same. I think the only difference is the bike preferences. Multiple gears are a necessity when you're hauling 800lbs of drunken flesh. Weight is of no concern since it's essentially noise after you attach a cab to your bike. Locks aren't needed since you rarely leave your cab and if you do, someone will usually watch it for you.

These days I'm a code jockey. I could still pedicab since most of the work is on the weekends, but I just don't have the will to risk my life without the financial necessity hanging over my head.

To those of you bitching about dangerous bicyclists: you're mostly right. BUT. Cars are equally to blame. As a pedicab, you have to be even more careful since you're carrying other people. I was threatened many times by asshole taxicabs and other drivers -- just for being on the road. It's a small percentage of cars that are assholes. The same applies to cyclists.

-- The second coming was scheduled for 2000, but the mother aborted.
a quick way to lose a thumb (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by greenplato on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 01:08:24 AM EST

I have also developed a skill I previously thought unique to high school girls. I can type out text messages on the phone keypad as fast as my thumb can move without looking, and even while riding through traffic.

Mere mortals should not, under any circumstances, challenge a messenger to a thumb wrestling contest. Spending so many hours each day punching in text messages and spinning the scroll wheel on the fancy Blackberries allows messengers to develop thumbs that are as fast as a mongoose and as strong as a bull.

For some reason I tried to thumb wrestle one of Washington DC's jolly couriers. He pinned me instantly and damn near removed my thumb.

San Francisco (none / 0) (#87)
by exppii on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 01:54:01 AM EST

Unemployed in SF, bike for fun but nowhere to go ('cept north). This has piqued my interest. Do I just go cold-calling from the yellow pages, or would someone like to give me some tips on who's good? Actually, going down to Market St. and asking around seems like it might be a good idea. Do I need to get my own cell phone before I start?

You must be out of your mind. (none / 0) (#96)
by Adiabatic Expansion on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 10:57:15 AM EST

Toronto is a postively flat city compared with San Francisco. Have you any idea how difficult biking through the city at top speed all day is going to be?

I dunno, maybe you're used to it because you live there, but speaking as someone who's both visited San Francisco extensively and rides frequently, I wouldn't last half a day.

[ Parent ]

Hehe (none / 0) (#114)
by exppii on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 07:26:14 PM EST

Well... I do know there are a number of couriers who work here, from reading newspapers and such. I read an article about those who used fixed-gear bikes without brakes, and how this was a particular challenge in heavily-trafficked and hilly san francisco. Personally I'll stick with brakes.

I read recently that 2% of workers commute to work by bike here.

Anyway, it's certainly done. Like I said, if someone knows who's good to contact locally, I'd be interested.

[ Parent ]

Go for it! (3.00 / 2) (#203)
by skizzybiz on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 08:11:16 PM EST

I'm a programmer turned messenger who's on his way back to being a programmer after getting a broken leg. If you can afford the serious pay cut (i.e., you can live on $1100/mon), then it's totally worth it. Beautiful weather year round, aside from the occasional rainy week like this week, and despite what the other guy says, the hills make it fun, not insane. :)

You don't need a cell phone -- all the companies around here supply you with your radio/phone/pager. Just go through the yellow pages, or do like I did and solicit some advice from the messengers hanging out at either 1 Post or the statue at Market and Battery. I worked at Pro Messenger, which is one of the lowest-paying companies, but they hire just about anyone and have high turnover from all the rookies who quit or fuck up after a few weeks. Their bikers also service the entire city, so expect a lot of climbing from the day you start. Most of the other companies service a smaller area -- the legal companies go mainly between the courthouse and the financial district, for example, but you'll have to have some experience before they'll hire you. Western is a good option, as they start out the rookies on short board, meaning nothing past Van Ness. You're gonna be competing with a lot of people wanting messenger jobs now that the rainy season is just about over, but give it a shot anyway.

One big difference here over a lot of cities, from what i can tell -- a lot of the companies give you the option of working for hourly wages, which makes things a lot easier while you're learning the chops.

You'll see a lot of messengers riding fixies, but they're mostly working for the legal companies that don't send them all over the city. I'd been doing some fixed gear bike touring through the mountains before I came to SF, so I thought I could handle it -- but after 2 weeks of high-intensity riding, I thought my knees were going to burst at the end of every day, and I got one of my geared bikes shipped out here post-haste.

Finally, watch those damned streetcar rails. I broke my leg when I slipped on one of them back in one of those days in December when it was pouring all day long. I've been riding my bike daily for years now, but I was riding in other cities where I didn't have to content with the hazards of slick metal everywhere I went. Always cross them perpendicularly on wet days, even though it's incredibly tempting to do otherwise when you have to cross them 20 times a day.

[ Parent ]

"Streetcar" = "trolly"'? (none / 0) (#238)
by KrispyKringle on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 08:21:06 PM EST

I caught my front wheel in a trolly track in my city while riding between traffic nearly parallel to it. It's possibly the worst way to wipe out, because your body continues to travel crosswise to the track, while the front of the bike just stops. I whacked my chin on the bumper of the car in front of me and collapsed in a heap amongst the (fortunately stopped) traffic.

I was, quite honestly, amazed at how many people stopped to ask if I were OK (aside from some deep-ish gashes in my legs and my bruised chin, I was fine).

[ Parent ]

Not a trolley (none / 0) (#240)
by skizzybiz on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 08:40:40 PM EST

It was a streetcar track on Market St -- virtually no traction when it's wet, and I must've reflexively leaned into a turn when I was going across. Stupid. My front wheel came out from under me and I was down in a split second. At least I'd checked the street before crossing to make sure I wouldn't be run over in the case of this happening.

[ Parent ]
Regional language differences (none / 0) (#250)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 09:36:21 AM EST

I would agree that Streetcar (almost) Trolley in this context, but you do seem to be talking about something different.

Are you talking about an actual rail or a differently paved surface on the road?

Curious pedants want to know!

For the record, I'm not fond of trolley tracks, either, although I've never broken anything. :-P

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]

Nice. (none / 0) (#251)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 09:55:57 AM EST

Little did I realize that the equals sign is some sort of auto-format tag.

grumble.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]

Yeah, I was talking about the rail [nt] (none / 0) (#276)
by KrispyKringle on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 12:44:52 AM EST



[ Parent ]
This is the information you require (none / 0) (#229)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 05:31:29 PM EST

http://www.messengers.org contact info, company lists within
Signature
[ Parent ]
how do you deal with winter? (none / 1) (#89)
by circletimessquare on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 02:49:51 AM EST

say what you want about canada, but one observation trumps all positive ones: spring, summer, and fall are all packed into july

how you can spend a toronto winter on a bike is beyond me

if i were canadian, i would be in love with the idea of global warming


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Cold ok. Don't like snow (none / 0) (#247)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 01:14:16 AM EST

I'm not a bike courier, but I live downtown Toronto and prefer to cycle than drive.  I go all year, except when the roads are snowy.  -25?  No problem.  I can bundle up against that.  Snow?  Pain in the arse.  +30?  Much worse than the cold (sweaty sweaty  sweaty).  I'm not Canadian either... so I think you'd be okay ;)

[ Parent ]
What the hell (none / 0) (#95)
by tuxedo-steve on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 10:53:37 AM EST

I'm a between-jobs coder who loves cycling and you've made this sound rewarding enough to justify giving it a shot. Anyone got any good suggestions on how I might find a bicycle courier job in Melbourne, Australia?

- SMJ - (It's not just a name - it's a bad aftertaste.)
Hmmm. Think carefully about this. (none / 1) (#179)
by Reisender on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:39:40 PM EST

I was on a motor for Central Express, a smallish Melbourne firm. They were losing all their pushies to attrition and not replacing them. There was one guy we took on after the change in policy but that was because he was just an insane worker and all-round good bloke. I'd give Central a miss if you're looking for work on a pushy. Also, for pushies, Central was one of the better places to work. It was my understanding that it was one of the few companies that was still paying a percentage to pushies. Dart and the rest had moved to wages which is generally a bad thing for pushies. I can't stress enough how bad a decision this would be if limited to the short term. My first 2 months meant I was getting home, straight to bed, dinner after a couple hours sleep then returning to the land of the dead until it was time to go to work again. And this was on a motor and I was in relatively good shape! I dread to think what it would be like on a bicycle. Also, your first couple of months is spent screwing up and barely breaking even with bills and rent. Learning who the customers are and the idiosyncrasies inherent in many missions (special entrances, security procedures, mailroom locations) means your job count will be shit at the end of each day. Because of your slow arse, the dispatchers won't risk hotties and triples on you either and you'll be limited to low paying standards for much of the initial period. Having said that, my time on the motor was the best I've spent. There is nothing to compare it with in improving your riding skills. You'll learn inner city Melbourne like you wouldn't believe, it'll make you as hard as a fucking nail, and (for pushy work) you'll likely be in the best shape of your life. The downside is the plummet in social status (YMMV of course though) and the dreadful state of your bank balance. The pay can be good but expenses incurred in bike maintenance and fines use up much of that. Of course, this is not such a consideration for pushies and is why they do the best, financially speaking, of the types of courier work out there. It's been a while since I even lived in Australia but I recall seeing heaps of ads in the Herald-Sun for motors, cars and van work but not so much for pushies. Just try cold-calling them. Open up the Yellow Pages and start at the start. God luck whatever you do. It'd be an interesting chapter in your life and that's more important than anything else.

[ Parent ]
CM (none / 0) (#275)
by crazney on Thu Mar 31, 2005 at 12:02:39 AM EST

Come to Critical Mass, last friday of the month at 5.30 at the State Library, there are a couple of messangers there that you could talk to. David.

[ Parent ]
Pedals (3.00 / 2) (#98)
by phraud on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:25:49 AM EST

You actually ride with clipless pedals, not clip pedals. Time's and Shimano SPDs are clipless. Also, the post about having 2 bikes because you may break something. Learn how to fix stuff on your bike. I used to ride all the time when I was younger. I lived for mountain biking, so I got a job at a local bike shop and became a mechanic for awhile. Nothing on a bike is difficult to fix with normal tools except maybe the bottom bracket, or maybe a threaded headset. Its rare that the BB will fail, especially in the city where your not submerging it in muddy water. Also, one of the main things I would do if I were a courier would be to make sure your hubs are tightened properly and are lubed up real nice. Worn bearings, or hubs that are tightened too much will crate a lot of drag that you will have to overcome with your legs and lungs. Also, if you aren't going over rough terrain very much (maybe you are, maybe you aren't), you should think about riding without suspension. If your shocks are set up too soft, they will be absorbing some of your energy instead of transferring it to the road. Last thing, your article is inspiring - I have been thinking about dumping my office job for some outside work, but HOW do you ride all day long in Toronto!? Its like 32C + 100% humidity in the summer, and blowing, wet snow in the winter.
You create your own reality. Leave mine to me.
clip vs. clipless (3.00 / 2) (#107)
by transient0 on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 01:43:46 PM EST

Yes, I understand the difference between clip and clipless pedals. The thing is that using the term "clipless pedals" to describe pedals you clip into has got to be one of the worst naming choices ever, especially considering the fact the toe clips have virtually disappeared. The practise of using "clip pedals" to describe what were formerly known as "clipless pedals"is gaining ground and I opted to use that terminology in the article so as not to unnessecarrily confuse the reader.

and i do personally do about three quarters of my own bike work, but i stand by my suggestion of second bike. there are any number of things that can fail on a bike that may require a few hours to properly fix and it is really nice to have the option of riding a secondary for the rest of the week and then fixing the primary on the weekend. furthermore, even if you are doing your own labor, parts can be expensive and it is nice to have the option of waiting until the next paycheque. and of course, there is always the possibility of damaging the frame itself or having your bike stolen.

I admit that toronto is pretty hellish in july and august when the heat and humidity are high, and pretty hellish in january and february when the streets are covered in snow and ice, but the other eight months of the year it's not too bad at all...
---------
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]

Toe clips are still common (none / 0) (#116)
by drivers on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 08:23:03 PM EST

You'd be surprised. I recently started going on bicycle club rides, and many riders are using toe clips. "Clipless" is a stupid marketing term though.

[ Parent ]
especially for fixed gears (none / 0) (#166)
by greenplato on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 08:25:48 PM EST

In DC most couriers use toe clips (the ones that I know anyway...) on their pedals. Most ride fixed gear bikes for the simplicity and the cool or retro factor. I think the toe clips are a combination between utility and vanity.

Utility because clipless shoes add one more set of moving parts and one more thing that will make the metal detector go beep. Vanity because only a rookie courier wears anything but tasty Pumas.

[ Parent ]

So, if I wanted to do this (none / 1) (#183)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 08:05:43 AM EST

If I wanted to get clips as a compromise between nothing and clipless pedals - exactly what do I need?

Is this okay?

Or these?

Do need special pedals to support the clips or would they work with my current pedals?

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]

Not sure (none / 0) (#191)
by drivers on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 03:06:50 PM EST

I don't really use any clips at this point. I have platforms right now that have a rubber surface and when they get wet my feet slip off the pedals when I start pushing hard and make me almost lose my balance. I'm planning on getting some platforms with the metals spikes before this weekend. I started using a clipless system (shimano SPD) but I was too worried about falling all the time. In fact at one point I stopped on a bike trail and unclipped my right foot and then fell on my left side, scraped my hand and knee and left a nice chainring shaped wound in my calf that is still visible. So I decided clipless is not for me (yet). I took out the cleats of my bike shoes and just use the bike shoes for the advantage of the stiff sole. To be honest I don't notice the efficiency of the shoe so much as I didn't want to use my nice white street shoes.

Those power grips seem pretty weird. From the description it sounds like it's a pain to get in and out of and heavier than the other ones. Looks like you'll have to look at your pedals and make sure they are ready for clips to be added. Most of the toe clips I saw last weekend may have been like those plastic cages that are also on the site. When racers/pros used to use toe clips/straps like that they would cinch it up real tight and then you had to remember to bend down and loosen them up before you came to a stop. (I think.) So that is why a clipless system (emphasizing the free from the clips they used before) probably makes more sense for them. But I don't ride at that level so I'm going to keep trying to find what works for me.

[ Parent ]

Toe clips (none / 1) (#204)
by skizzybiz on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 08:17:38 PM EST

Cages, all the way. The point of toe clips is not only being able to pull your foot up, but keeping it anchored in place with your toe pointing downward. You can get plastic cages if you're skimping, but those strap things won't keep your foot really anchored, and they won't let you stand and point your feet downward. By the way, toe clips can be a real pain in the ass, even though I use them a lot myself. If you really need to walk on the shoes that you're biking in, then go for it. Otherwise, clipless pedals are much easier to get in and out of, won't scrape on the ground when you're starting out, give you much better power transfer, and give you the ability to pull/push all the way around the pedal stroke.

[ Parent ]
Where do you go for parts/mechanic? (none / 0) (#248)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 01:19:25 AM EST

For the 25% of the work you don't do, where do you go?  What about parts?  New or used?  MEC?  And have you seen that bicycle guy who sprawls all over the sidewalk in summer opposite Trinity-Bellwoods Park?

[ Parent ]
Best bike store in TO (none / 0) (#254)
by rodentboy on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 02:25:21 PM EST

Cycle Solutions!

They have one store at Parliament and Carlton and a bigger store in Kingston Rd north of the beaches.

That guy you mention in front of Trinity-Belwoods is probably a chop-shop, so if you don't want to support bike thieves give it a pass..



[ Parent ]
Not Applicable (none / 0) (#228)
by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 05:29:31 PM EST

Professional messengers always have 2 bikes or more, usually similarly equipped. Repair can't replace overnight. Messengers that fail to keep 2 rolling don't last and are eliminated by winter in a placelike Toronto 99.9% of the time. And yes, if a Toronto -Summer- frightens you, you'll never make it through the year. Stay inside.
Signature
[ Parent ]
The bicycle (3.00 / 7) (#109)
by rodentboy on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 03:53:28 PM EST

To me I would say that the bicycle is the best human invention ever.

Unlike the car which isolates you from your environment, the bike immerses you in it. The bike does not abstract away your physical nature, your muscles and lungs, it augments them perfectly and rewards you with a sense of true speed you can't feel trapped in a vehicle.

It is an essential prosthetic that no one should be without.

It's funny that you should write this right now. I've been lucky enough to live a year in Vancouver. The north shore mountains call me like a siren like from my bedroom window. There's nothing like waking up on a nice saturday after a week of coding under fluorescent lighting, and looking out across the water and knowing that at least you can head out and ride the best trails in the world. It's good either way: ride alone and really get in the flow or enjoy the camaraderie of challenges well met among friends.

I'm moving back to Toronto now, we are going to have a nice house in a great neighbourhood and I'm going to a great job, but I was blindsided by the sense of loss. I just can't shake the feeling that I had something in my grasp that I'm letting slip out of my fingers.

I better end this before it degenerates even further. Thanks for sharing.



Fixed-gears and more on messenger culture (none / 0) (#111)
by estance on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 05:03:04 PM EST

Tons of messengers here in Boston. Check out fixedgeargallery.com for some great rides.

Here's another great article on the messenger counter-culture. It is based in the Boston but undoubtedly mirrors other urban scenes.



EI and couriers... (none / 0) (#119)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 10:17:39 PM EST

You are most certainly allowed to claim Employment Insurance in Canada as a Bike Courier.

See Here
See Here

As well, you are also covered under Workers comp.

See Here.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Awesome (none / 0) (#120)
by mintee on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 10:27:46 PM EST

Awesome read... Good luck on your future travels.
-The Lazy Writer
just be careful (none / 0) (#125)
by jcarnelian on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 04:54:50 AM EST

I am an occasional bicycle rider and a frequent driver, and I just have to say: be careful, ride conservatively, obey traffic laws, but don't assume that anybody else obeys traffic laws.  

I try to be pretty aware of bicycles, and I still have had two near-collisions with bicyclists, plus have had bicycles almost run into my door several times.  Drivers do make mistakes, even if they are aware of bicycles, like bicycles, and even if they try to pay attention.  Bicycles can be damned hard to see, too.  And in a collision with a car, bicyclists are going to lose.

I wish we had more bicycle-friendly cities, with safer bike lanes and cars banished from many roads.  But until that happens, just be really careful: this is a really dangerous job.

Don't be afraid - vehicular cycling (none / 1) (#192)
by drivers on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 03:23:57 PM EST

I guess it depends on what you mean by being careful, but you might want to read up on vehicular cycling. With VC you don't have to be constantly afraid because you position yourself where you can be seen and act in a predictable manner.

[ Parent ]
My career after an I.T. meltdown (2.75 / 4) (#126)
by cetaceous on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 06:47:39 AM EST

I stopped working as a sysadmin a few years back, I got a part time job not long after at a local marina looking after hire boats and teaching people to sail which was a hobby of mine since childhood.  Not long after starting there I was speaking to some friends at the yacht club who are ship masters (or captains in oldschool).  The more I spoke to them about what they did, the more i realised it was for me. I've known these guys since i was a kid but for some reason never realisticly considered doing what they did, it just seemed too good to be true.
Anyway they put me in contact with a shipping company based here in Australia and just over two years ago I was accepted as a trainee deck officer, or officer cadet, which is essentially the bottom rung of a ladder that ends at captain.
The company agrees to pay all my training costs including my accomodation whilst at university in tasmania for 1.5 to 2 years as well as a basic wage(25-30k AUS) during my cadetship which lasts just over three years.  During my training I've had to spend 18 months at sea on various types of ships in the company's fleet which ranges from a few passenger ships to chemical carriers.
I've travelled all around Australia and Asia loading, carrying and discharging cargoes and generally just having a ball, staring out a panoramic window ten stories up looking out over the ocean for two four hour shifts per day, with only the interruption of having to fix positions every half hour or so on a nav chart.  Without trying to sound too much like a dolphin huggin hippy, doing this job has made me realise just how amazing and beautiful the world is, I get to see dolphins, whales, sharks etc etc pretty much daily when I'm at sea as well as a whole lot of other cool and freaky stuff that I guess you could attribute to weather anomalies.
And if chatting up receptionists is your thing, on a passenger ship there can be around 2000 crew, including stewards/esses, gym instructors, lifeguards, hairdressers, beauticians etc etc, and they all have to share cabins.  Not the officers, they get nice big double cabins just incase they want to take their spouses away with them, which alot of companies allow.  (then there's the passengers, which alot of companies do not allow fraternising with but they still expect officers to dine with them several nights a week).
All that aside, when i finish my cadetship and become third mate, I can look forward to a annual wage of somewhere between 60 to 110k (aus), depending on the type of ship, with six months leave annually (six weeks on, six weeks off).
The cruise ships pay less and the leave ratio isn't as good but they are pretty desparate for trainees at the moment, particularly from anglo countries like Australia, USA, UK and Scandinavia.

I guess this comment applies more to the previous story, oh well.

I'm seriously tempted (none / 0) (#133)
by nebbish on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:16:28 AM EST

I love cycling, and now I live closer to work I even miss my old 13 mile commute on my bike (I walk now). Having said that, the cut in pay and London traffic are offputting.

Still, you've tempted me to at least check it out.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

I really enjoyed this. Thanks... EOM (none / 0) (#135)
by Yaroslav The Wise on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:29:16 AM EST



Dot Matrix Printers (1.14 / 7) (#137)
by omegageek on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 12:14:57 PM EST

News of the death of dot matrix printers is exaggerated. They aren't going away and aren't likely to anytime soon. You can't print multi-part forms on a laser or inkjet printer. Remember that the next time you keep the white copy, give the customer the yellow copy and file the pink copy...


Digital Rights Management? Hell no! The only person with any rights on MY computer is ME.

Ahh the Chum Hill (3.00 / 2) (#140)
by mitd on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 01:52:18 PM EST

I grew up in Toronto, right around Yonge and St. Clair and I remember the 'Chum Hill' oh so well.

Every Saturday I would grab my bike and head to a little church located at the bottom of 'the hill' to pay my paper route bill.

It was during these trips that I learnt the secret of a successful ascent back up the hill. I would gather all my strength under the railway bridge then I would leap aboard my trusty CCM , pedal madly for about a block and a half, and stop right in front of the Summerhill Gardens restaurant. Ah the Summerhill Gardens where they knew me by my first name always gave me a seat by the window where, without asking, my Strawberry Milkshake and Cherry pie would arrive at my table.

My window seat afforded me an excellent view of the topless 'Ports of Call Mermaid'. Sometimes I would get lucky and there would be a pair of midnight prankster painted nipples on the usually nipple-less mermaid. Milkshake, pie, and nipples life doesn't get much better for a 12 year old paperboy and the 'Chum Hill' ... hey no problem, no standing on the pedals, -- no sweat!

Thanks

MitD


I think like a child in order to act like an adult.
-- MitD

Torquer vs. Spinner (2.66 / 3) (#144)
by Mr.Surly on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:33:23 PM EST

I shift down as I pass under the bridge's shadow. I'm a torquer, not a spinner.

I'd assume that "torquer" refers to keeping the bike in a medium gear going up a hill and just pushing a lot harder on the pedals, while "spinner" means to downshift and pedal really fast.

Back In The Daytm, I had an 18 speed mountain bike frame with slick 100# tires.  And no car.  It was my only form of transportation.  After riding for a couple of years I discovered:

  • Never, ever stand on your pedals.  Use your leg strength to push through it, and don't downshift too much.  I guess I'm a torquer.  Always fun when your main bracket decides to give up it's bearings, that roll down the hill behind you.
  • Red lights are completely optional, and are only used to determine the direction traffic might be going.
  • Lane directions are also optional.  Lane splitting is allowed, even if it's against traffic flow.
  • "Close calls" with vehicles is subjective.  To you, it wasn't close at all.  To the soccer mom, it was way too close.
  • You can ride more precisely than most people can walk.  Try telling a pedestrian you just rammed that you were riding just fine, but they were weaving all over the place.  People refuse to believe that they're sloppy walkers.
  • Friendship means picking small rocks out of someones back after they wipe out.
  • Cops don't care if you just nearly got killed by a car who didn't (and was legally required) yield the right of way to a bicycle.
  • "Bike Path" is a euphemism for "Geriatric walking path" (where they walk 4 abreast), or "Dipshits on mopeds / gas scooters", or "People walking vicious dogs", or "Other cyclists who are rank amateurs".
  • People in cars don't care if you're legally allowed to use the entire lane.  Even if you're keeping up with the car in front of you.

  • Legal when you want it... (3.00 / 2) (#146)
    by mgarland on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:43:17 PM EST

    • Red lights are completely optional, and are only used to determine the direction traffic might be going.
    • Lane directions are also optional. Lane splitting is allowed, even if it's against traffic flow.
    • ...
    • Cops don't care if you just nearly got killed by a car who didn't (and was legally required) yield the right of way to a bicycle.
    • ...
    • People in cars don't care if you're legally allowed to use the entire lane. Even if you're keeping up with the car in front of you.
    heh... Ok ... so you're in favor of the laws that are in your favor but don't think it's important enough to follow laws that make, say, running red lights illegal?

    -matt

    [ Parent ]

    Exactly (none / 1) (#149)
    by Mr.Surly on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:51:59 PM EST

    If you follow the rules of the game when noone else does, you will lose.  In this case, losing involves injury or death.  Fuck the rules.

    Considering the "Cops don't care" portion of the equation, I have no problem making up my own rules, if the established rules are ignored.  If others (cage drivers) can ignore rules, why can't I?

    [ Parent ]

    Simple (none / 0) (#186)
    by Anonymous Hiro on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 12:52:51 PM EST

    Ignore the rules up to you, but remember: few can ignore the law of physics.

    It's easier for a bike rider to get killed than a driver in a 1 ton metal cage.

    Whether you are right by law or not is often not that important - you could be right, but you could be dead right...

    [ Parent ]

    That's why you ignore the rules (none / 0) (#286)
    by usr on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 01:44:18 AM EST

    You have to give in a terrible lot in cases where you would be right by law, simply because you would be dead at the same time. If physical laws constantly don't allow you to apply the human laws in your favour, after a while you will care less and less for those human laws. At the same time you will think more of those physical laws. Eventually you will end up with something like "if it does not make me get hit by a car it is right", which, of course, is what the drivers are complaining about: their instruments of mobility are simply too heavy and strong for such a mindset, they only see the freedom and not the danger and express their secret envy by driving even more dangerous for cyclists.

    [ Parent ]
    licensing and enforcement (3.00 / 2) (#150)
    by jcarnelian on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 03:22:53 PM EST

    Yes, cars will occasionally fail to yield the right of way and do other stupid things.  Those actions are rarely deliberate, however.  You, however, deliberately ignore and flaunt the rules of the road, putting yourself and others at risk.  You ride against traffic, ignore red lights, and weave in and out of traffic.  When something happens to you, it's no accident. Maybe you don't care about your own life, but if you get yourself killed on your bicycle, you are ruining someone else's life as well, even if that person will be found completely faultless legally.

    What we need is licensing for cyclists, just like for any other moving vehicle, together with strict enforcement of traffic laws against bicyclists.  People like you should simply not be permitted to participate in traffic.

    [ Parent ]

    I'm fine with that. (none / 0) (#151)
    by Mr.Surly on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 03:36:15 PM EST

    Guarantee me that everyone will be enforced equally.  I'm not sure I buy your "Ignorance is okay" argument.

    On a bicycle, following all the rules to the letter will likely get you killed, as it pisses off people in cars.

    And cars don't "occassionally" do stupid things.  When I was riding every day, I'd see something stupid done by a car driver.  Every day.  Stupid as in: If I were following the rules, they would've killed me with their stupidity.  My favorite: Swerve into the bike lane at the last instant, slam on the brakes to make a right turn, because I don't want to wait for the cyclist to pass the turn.

    [ Parent ]

    ride/drive defensively (none / 0) (#154)
    by jcarnelian on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 04:52:47 PM EST

    Stupid as in: If I were following the rules, they would've killed me with their stupidity.

    You correctly observe that even if you follow all the rules, you would still get killed.  Well, I have news for you: it's the same for drivers.  If I just blindly followed the rules of the road, my little economy car would get crushed by the next truck or SVU.

    Your responsibility isn't just to follow the rules, it is to drive/ride defensively.  That is, you should follow all the rules and then still assume that everybody else constantly breaks them.  Only that way does traffic function reasonably well, because everybody still makes mistakes.

    My favorite: Swerve into the bike lane at the last instant, slam on the brakes to make a right turn, because I don't want to wait for the cyclist to pass the turn.

    It's unlikely that the driver "wanted" to collide with you.  More likely, you were going down the bicycle lane very fast and the driver didn't expect you to get to the intersection so fast.  In fact, when he started the turn, it may have been impossible for him to see you coming at all.

    Simple solution: slow down to the speed of traffic next to you (and wear bright clothing).  The fact that drivers have to yield to the bicycle lanes on right turns doesn't mean that you can ride down the bicycle lane at any speed and expect things to be safe and clear for you when you get to the intersection.

    Guarantee me that everyone will be enforced equally.

    Enforcement against bicycles is currently pretty much non-existent compared to enforcement against cars, and the cost of getting a ticket on a bike is negligible compared to a car.  So, I don't understand what you are complaining about.  Yes, enforcement should be "equal", and right now, it is not.

    [ Parent ]

    I don't need answers ... (none / 0) (#155)
    by Mr.Surly on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 05:15:07 PM EST

    ... nor did I ask for them.

    I'm quite capable of successfully navigating traffic on a 2-wheeled vehicle, be it a motorcycle or bicycle.  I have been doing so for years.  Of all the "close calls" that I've had, easily 97% of them were because of other people acting stupidly.  The other 3% was when I was being inattentive.  Being that I have both 4-wheel and 2-wheel vehicles, I find that cars tend to lull you into complacency.

    You correctly observe that even if you follow all the rules, you would still get killed ...

    You seem to imply that there are risks either way, which is true. However, nearly all the cars will ignore certain rules. Even if every cyclist followed the rules, it wouldn't make a difference, because I'm not worried about being hit by a cyclist.  

    It's like boxing with a guy who's allowed to kick you in the nuts.  You will lose.

    [ Parent ]

    adjust your attitude (none / 0) (#288)
    by jcarnelian on Sun Apr 17, 2005 at 11:56:52 PM EST

    You seem to imply that there are risks either way, which is true. However, nearly all the cars will ignore certain rules.

    So will nearly all cyclists.  What's your point?  That it's OK for you to violate the rules because a 2 ton vehicle than can kill you is doing so as well?

    Even if every cyclist followed the rules, it wouldn't make a difference, because I'm not worried about being hit by a cyclist.

    Following the rules yourself will reduce your risk of getting hit by a car because it makes you more predictable.  Add a good measure of defensive riding (rather than your aggressive style) and you might actually end up being fairly safe.

    ... nor did I ask for them.

    No, you were merely whining and complaining about drivers, instead of asking what you yourself can do to improve the situation.

    People like you are the reason all cyclists (myself included) have to put up with so much shit.   You need to adjust your attitude, for your own safety and for the reputation of cyclists in general.

    [ Parent ]

    This is really sad (2.00 / 2) (#168)
    by greenplato on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 08:45:26 PM EST

    It's unlikely that the driver "wanted" to collide with you. More likely, you were going down the bicycle lane very fast and the driver didn't expect you to get to the intersection so fast. In fact, when he started the turn, it may have been impossible for him to see you coming at all.

    What?! Are you the official spokesperson for the automobile driving population? Is it really the cyclists fault every time? I can't understand why else you would want to make excuses for the dangerous and antisocial behavior of some drivers.

    It happens plenty. I spent two years commuting to work by bicycle, twenty miles roundtrip each day. I did this in rain and hurricanes and snow and flaming frogs falling from the sky and orange terror alerts. There was nothing more dangerous to me at all times than impatient drivers looking for a way to teach me a lesson.

    I don't know if you understand how if feels to be merrily pedaling along in a bicycle lane next to speeding two-ton blocks of steel. Suddenly, the vehicle next to you slams on the gas, vrrrrrrrrooom, to pass you then comes into your lane to slam on the brakes to make a turn. There is no excuse you can make for people that so willfully create a dangerous situation.

    When it happens, you can't go around them on the right, you'd get pancaked; can't go around on the left, you'd get run over, so your options are to go over them or under them.

    A situation like this gave me the pleasure of putting my arms through the back window of a Chevy Blazer. 26 stitches on my hands and forarms. The bastard drove off, not even stopping.

    In conclusion: you don't know what you are talking about. Punk.

    [ Parent ]

    IAWTP (none / 1) (#184)
    by Mr.Surly on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 12:04:24 PM EST

    You didn't say it as nicely as I would have, but: YEAH!

    Remember: Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

    [ Parent ]

    ride defensively (none / 1) (#289)
    by jcarnelian on Mon Apr 18, 2005 at 12:11:49 AM EST

    I don't know if you understand how if feels to be merrily pedaling along in a bicycle lane next to speeding two-ton blocks of steel.

    I do, because I ride a bike as well.

    (Let's not even get into how cyclists behave around pedestrians--getting hit on foot by 200 pounds of flesh and steel moving at 20mph is no fun either--that alone is a reason why you must observe the rules of the road.)

    Suddenly, the vehicle next to you slams on the gas, vrrrrrrrrooom, to pass you then comes into your lane to slam on the brakes to make a turn. There is no excuse you can make for people that so willfully create a dangerous situation.

    I don't see anything "willfully dangerous" about it.  The guy wants to make a right turn and is slowing down or stopping to do so.  Assuming there are cars behind him, obviously, the following distance from the car behind was sufficient for him to stop safely and initiate the turn because otherwise, the car would have slammed into him.  You, however, are a tiny speck, several car lengths back, impossible to see out the back window and nearly impossible to see in the rear view mirror.  Even if the guy thinks about bicycles, he can't see you.

    Your problem seems to be that you think that on your bicycle, you can just kind of weave through traffic and keep going when cars are stopped.  In some situations you can, but most of the time, it is prudent not to.

    I guess the problem is that cyclists have created this idea that they can get through stopped traffic when noone else can, and that's why we have bicycle messengers.  Largely, that is simply not true.  If you ride safely and legally, you won't be much faster than traffic; the only advantage that a bicycle has is that you can dismount and walk when things get really bad.

    [ Parent ]

    uh-huh, sure... (2.33 / 3) (#257)
    by lastobelus on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 08:31:18 PM EST

    ... so it's fine with you that I ride a minimum of 6 feet from the parked cars AS THE (canadian) LAW REQUIRES?

    That means, of course, you WON'T be able to get by.

    And it's fine if I wait in the left turn lane to make left turns?

    etc. You're lying of course. When I was a courier and in a bad mood sometimes I would ride by the "rules", just to provoke the drivers and blow off some steam. Drivers FREAK OUT when cyclists ride by the rules.

    On another note, a courier on a bike is an entirely different vehicle than an auto. Completely different mobility, completely different acceleration/deceleration, compeletely different visibility...having the same rules makes no sense at all. Except to car drivers, of course, who think driving a car is their god-given right.

    Re weaving in and out of traffic: if you'd spent any time on a bike and had a clue, you'd know weaving traffic, and particularly, riding between the lanes, is SIGNIFICANTLY safer than riding beside the parked cars. I once talked to a bike COP about this (who was a professional cyclist when he was younger) who told me that getting doored represents 80% of reported cycling accidents in Vancouver. 80%. Where YOU want us to ride (for your convenience) is the LEAST safe place for us to be.

    In short: you have no clue. Besides: do you not realize a future generation will come who regards you (and all car owners) with the same disgust our generation has for slave traders and plantation owners? Just choosing to use a bicycle instead of a car automatically makes me a far more morally good person than you, regardless of how many car-oriented traffic laws I break.

    [ Parent ]

    Can someone please explain.... (none / 0) (#164)
    by Yaroslav The Wise on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 08:10:46 PM EST

    Why it is not recommended to stand on your pedals? Sorry for the noob question.

    [ Parent ]
    Weight bearing (none / 0) (#198)
    by rodentboy on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:36:28 PM EST

    When you stand on your pedals you have to bear your own weight as well as turn the pedals for forward movement.

    On a long smooth uphill it is generally better to keep your weight on the seat and compensate with a lower gear.

    There are some advantages to standing on the pedals for off road riding. In fact riding off road with all your weight on the seat is a newbie mistake and a good way to get bucked off the bike. In that case if you hit a bump at speed with all your weight on the seat the frame will transfer the bump directly to your body and you will get launched, but if you are bearing some of your weight on with your legs then you have the option of soaking up the bump with your legs. In that case think of your legs as 'active' shock absorbers.

    Standing on the pedals is also justified when acceleration is more important than the energery savings you would get from sitting. You can get a quick burst by standing on the pedals.



    [ Parent ]
    also (none / 1) (#212)
    by transient0 on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 02:25:05 PM EST

    when you are riding clipped, you nearly double your pedal power by pulling up as well as pushing down. and it is a lot harder to do this effectively while standing.

    but rodentboy is absolutely right about using your legs as shock absorbers. you should absolutely stand on your pedals when going over rough terrain. your knees are better suspension than any you can find on the market.
    ---------
    lysergically yours
    [ Parent ]

    Also, if your bike is in crap condition... (none / 0) (#217)
    by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 12:12:17 AM EST

    And the chain has a tendency to slip, it's not a nice experience for it to give way when you're going fast and jumping with all your weight onto one pedlal.

    Of course, this isn't the real reason not to stand, but it's why I don't feel comfortable standing all the time.

    Can't be that good for the bike, either.

    [ Parent ]

    ...it's also MUCH easier (none / 0) (#256)
    by lastobelus on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 08:12:01 PM EST

    to thread the crosswalks when you're standing on your pedals. :P

    I really should break this habit. I haven't been a courier for 5 years and it's so unseemly a thing to do for someone who's 40.

    but...it's SO much fun...the way they cluck and hiss...

    [ Parent ]

    There's got to be more to it (none / 0) (#266)
    by exppii on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 05:09:31 AM EST

    Watching the Tour de France, plenty of bikers stand and pedal on their way up the mountains. I've been wondering about this-- I prefer staying in the saddle but is the some recipe for optimal efficiency/max workout/etc?

    [ Parent ]
    Of course there is more to it (none / 0) (#277)
    by rodentboy on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 01:26:33 AM EST

    Did you ever notice how for some people, I know for me at least, that it is a lot less tiring to run up 4 or 5 flights of stairs than to slowly walk up?

    Maybe some of the out of the saddle cimbers on the tour are more efficient that way because they have more fast twitch, maybe they train their anaerobic systems more, maybe they were trading off efficiency for some tactical advantage vs their opponents, who knows?

    For the mythical average rider though, what I said is true, it is more efficient to stay seated and use a lower gear.



    [ Parent ]
    Someone who talks about (3.00 / 2) (#182)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:50:14 AM EST

    running red-lights and lane-splitting into oncoming traffic has no right to complain about other people failure to yield the right of way.

    How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
    [ Parent ]
    I love that (3.00 / 3) (#193)
    by rusty on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 04:31:04 PM EST

    That right there is the root attitude of the mutual hatred between bikes and cars on the road. Bikers, especially in cities, just love to be sticklers about the rules, but only when it's to their advantage. When they feel like it, whooshing right through that red light or stop sign, making illegal turns, etc etc etc is just fine. Drivers see enough of that shit after a while and start pretending bikes just aren't there, and if they get themselves hit it's their problem.

    Bikers need to decide en masse whether they're going to follow the rules or not, and start enforcing it amongst themselves. Until they do, every bike on the road is at risk because of the assholery of some of them.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    Yes. (none / 0) (#195)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:04:16 PM EST

    My one big bike accident was when I deliberately ran a red light. My fault and that one bad decision cost me a scholarship and, literally, rewrote the book of my life.

    Since then, I've been a stickler for obeying the laws.

    Heh. Just think - if I had made the right choice then, you'd be calling me "Major Porkchop D. Clown, USAF".

    How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
    [ Parent ]

    Would've you been flying the BUFFs? (none / 0) (#200)
    by wiredog on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:45:39 PM EST

    Or a fighter guy?

    Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
    Phil the Canuck

    [ Parent ]
    Well, I don't look a thing like Tom Cruise so, (none / 0) (#202)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:20:32 PM EST

    so I assumed I'd end up flying a hercules or similar or (dread the thought) end up with a ground job. The accident washed me out before I ever got to flight school, so I'll never know.

    OTOH, I did get my honest-to-god "hero flights" in a T-37 and a T-38. Finest 30 minutes of my life.

    How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
    [ Parent ]

    Chicken/Egg? (none / 0) (#285)
    by usr on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 01:24:06 AM EST

    Drivers don't respect cyclists' rights because they can. thanks to the pure force of 1.5 tons of steel. most times not even noticing. when there are so many occasions when you simply can't afford to claim your rights becausse of safety issues then it is just a matter of time until you start compensating in situations where those safety issues are not as applicable.

    [ Parent ]
    myth: writing off your food expenses (none / 1) (#145)
    by doviende on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 02:39:31 PM EST

    you mentioned that you attempt to write off $10/day as food expenses, but i don't think you're allowed to do that.

    my brother is a bike courier and my mom is a professional tax account at a large tax firm, and she has (as yet) been unable to find any canadian case that references this supposed ability...EXCEPT for a case that specifically says that you're NOT allowed to write off your food expenses.

    IANATA, but you should probably consult one before trying things like this, unless you want to play the "will they audit me?" roulette game.

    Absolutely (none / 0) (#227)
    by 340Txdecader on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 05:20:31 PM EST

    Not in the States. It wouldn't do to take any action that would perhaps be seen as fair and equitable for a group that though useful, is already marginalized by uninformed public perception. In Canada however all it took was for one citizen to take on the enormous task himself. After (easily) proving that persons in this particular position had a caloric intake of twice and sometimes 3-4 times that of most workers due to the high aerobic and consistent anareobic activity required of them changes were made to alow this deduction. $11Cdn per working day for food of any sort, allowable to those working as bike messengers or foot messengers. (non-motorized) This was recently amended to $15Cdn per working day deduction. It made sense, that's how it happens up here.
    Signature
    [ Parent ]
    took a lot of struggle (none / 0) (#300)
    by nubeli on Tue Jan 17, 2006 at 06:07:51 PM EST

    I worked with Wayne Scott last summer, the guy who took on the government on the tax deductions. I think it took him about 18 years to finally have it that couriers can deduct. There was a lot of government waffling and stalling, as is always when they don't want to give up an income. He won a few awards for his determination, namely Hometown Heros and others. Simply, a great guy.
    Herb -- nubeli
    [ Parent ]
    You can deduct food... (none / 1) (#280)
    by mr mighty on Sat Apr 02, 2005 at 02:41:19 AM EST

    This link to the CCRA gives their opinion on several court cases. Scroll down to Alan Wayne Scott v. The Queen (Federal Court of Appeal, July 23, 1998). The relevant bits are:

    The Court requires that a deduction for food and drink must be matched by a corresponding business deduction for fuel in the same type of business. We will apply the case accordingly.

    After giving this case due consideration, we think that the only class of taxpayers entitled to deduct a portion of their "extra" food and beverages as a "fuel" expense would be couriers who deliver by bicycle or foot.



    [ Parent ]
    How the hell... (none / 1) (#165)
    by Russell Dovey on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 08:19:04 PM EST

    ...do you go up steep hills on a single-speed bike?

    "Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

    Yeah! (none / 0) (#172)
    by yem on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:43:23 PM EST

    particularly since the single-speed bikes I've seen so far appear to have a very high ratio - no compromise.

    [ Parent ]
    two part answer (3.00 / 2) (#173)
    by transient0 on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 10:03:43 PM EST

    1. you don't. when choosing a gear ratio for a single speed, you take into consideration the steepest hills you are likely to climb. if you are going to be riding somewhere with lots of steep hills as well as significant flat areas, a single speed is a poor choice.
    2. training. once you build up a little extra leg strength and learn good pedal technique, you would be surprised at how steep of hills you can climb in a high torque gear.

    ---------
    lysergically yours
    [ Parent ]
    That's the sort of answer I like: (none / 1) (#177)
    by Russell Dovey on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 11:09:29 PM EST

    2. Sheer brute force, noodle-legged wimp!

    :D

    "Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
    [ Parent ]

    ouch (none / 0) (#187)
    by trav on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 12:53:51 PM EST

    The idea of having a single gear that works for hill climbing and then for descending those same hills seems crazy to me.

    I rode my bike to work yesterday and went up a rather steep hill at about 10 mph.  Then I went down the other side at about 32 mph.  Even in my highest gear I'd still have to peddle pretty fast at 32mpg, any lower gear would just be too fast.  And there's no possible way I could get up any hills in that high gear.  Being stuck with one gear in the middle somewhere would mean ascending hills would be harder, and descending hills would be harder since you'd have to go at a slower controlled rate.

    I'm just a wuss I guess.  Aside from the problem with hills, fixed gear sounds intriguing.

    [ Parent ]

    Speeds (none / 0) (#190)
    by Xptic on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 02:25:59 PM EST

    As a biker, I know what you mean by changing gears to maintain a specific RPM range no matter the speed.  However, the point of a single speed bike is to cgoose a speed and RPM range you are comfortable with.  Then you dial your bike to that gearing.

    You may be going fast downhill and slow uphill, but you'll stay within a fairly narrow margin.

    Having clips and pulling up as well as pushing down helps tons.  Also, dumping the rear freewheel allows you to use your legs downhill to slow the bike.

    [ Parent ]

    Fixed Gear is (3.00 / 3) (#199)
    by SnowBlind on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 06:44:14 PM EST

    a "religous" experence. You are one with the bike. You fight it, it fights back. You relax and it is an extension of your body. People either hate it, or love it.

    Going up/down hills is much more like running, it is harder than running on flats, even going down hill.

    I run a 30/17, and can do 7% grades. Up hurts, down hurts more. For safety, I wimp out and have a front brake, or the downhill would be murderous.

    as an added bonus, you are godlike when you get back onto the geared bike... your pedaling action is nearly perfect and you spin smoothly. People actually ride up and ask how I got such good form.

    Fixed baby, fixed.

    There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
    [ Parent ]

    Fixed myself (none / 0) (#210)
    by nolageek on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 11:25:17 AM EST

    Been riding fixed myself for about 7 months. Love it. Can compare it to the difference between automatic and manual auto transmission. Feel like I'm part of the bike.

    [ Parent ]
    Wait a second... (none / 0) (#214)
    by uberleet on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 04:16:02 PM EST

    You post to bikeforums, don't you? I remember you (or the person I think is you) discussing your (or his) conversion to fixed. Good to hear you're still riding fixed.

    [ Parent ]
    bikeforums! (none / 0) (#215)
    by emaline on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 06:10:37 PM EST

    yay for bikeforums! I am getting a fixed gear bike soon, the Mark V, because of that place. (The specific bike because of that place, a fixed because I have wanted one for a long, long time)

    [ Parent ]
    39/15 (none / 0) (#226)
    by MoxFulder on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 02:17:39 PM EST

    I use my fixie to commute and everything I can. I built it a couple months ago, and then didn't even TOUCH either of my geared bikes for another 6 weeks. A truly wonderful cycling experience. By the way, the other day I actually rode my road bike. I started going downhill and tried to resist. I totally freaked out when the bike freewheeled, before recovering and hitting the brake :)

    "If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
    --Calvin and Hobbes


    [ Parent ]
    You know, back in the day (none / 0) (#208)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 08:52:04 AM EST

    when all we had were single-speed bikes I rode a bike up and down steep hills, riding no hands because I was throwing newspapers.

    And I liked it!

    Doesn't mean I'd do it again, though.

    ;-)

    How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
    [ Parent ]

    You pull (3.00 / 2) (#261)
    by cgenman on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 02:54:27 PM EST

    If you don't cycle heavily you may not know this, but when you're clipped in to the pedals, one of your feet pulls while the other pushes.  This is quite a bit stronger than just 2x your normal strength, because when you're only pushing down, you wind up standing up, showing that there is energy there that could be used if there was a counterforce.  This is why serious riders tend to stay in their seat.  

    There is also the aspect of hitting a hill as fast as you can.  If someone is a trained cyclist and hits a hill going faster than you, they will have an easier time maintaining that speed in a higher gear.  Add to this that they're outputting more than 2x your power due to the counterpull mentioned earlier, and that they're going faster and so need to maintain this for less time, and there you have it.  Twice the power at twice the initial velocity over half the time makes Jack a fast hill climber.
    - This Sig is a mnemonic device designed to allow you to recognize this author in the future. This is only a device.
    [ Parent ]

    KE & GPE (none / 0) (#268)
    by DodgyGeezer on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:29:21 AM EST

    To add to this, let's remember that:

    Kinetic Energy (KE) = 0.5 x mass x velocity^2

    Gravitation Potential Energy (GPE) = weight x height

    KE is proportional to the square of velocity, yet the energy converted to GPE going up a hill is a linear.  So hitting a hill as fast as you can will mean you have to add less energy to get to the top.  Of course, it's kind of relative because there's probably a point on the hill where all your KE would naturally have converted to GPE and from that point on GPE comes from energy conversions in your muscles.  So if it's a long steep hill then that point could be near the beginning and you only gain a little by hitting it fast.

    [ Parent ]

    training (none / 0) (#284)
    by usr on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 01:13:04 AM EST

    i used to be a complete torque freak. never had a single gear transmission, but once i really wanted to find out how much my legs were worth and i just kept going in the highest gear of my 21 gear mountainbike which i think was 50 /13 at the time. guess what, my friend spinned up the hill in the lowest gear at the same speed, no problem so far. but guess what, after that fun event i had to replace my bottom bracket (something middle priced from shimano) because the axle was severely bent. just to give you an impression of what training can do - i don't even consider myself a physically strong person.

    [ Parent ]
    Reports From The Front (none / 0) (#185)
    by CheeseburgerBrown on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 12:21:37 PM EST

    Articulate and engaging reports from the front lines of anything are the music of the Scooposphere.

    Thanks plenty.


    _____
    I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weeke
    how about a report from the front lines of... (none / 1) (#218)
    by a beautiful goat on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 02:42:22 AM EST

    erm... erm... sitting at my computer desk? lol.

    lol.
    ---
    arrrrrr!
    [ Parent ]
    ha (none / 0) (#188)
    by auraslip on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 02:05:02 PM EST

    i make more money delivering pizzas
    124
    magazine subscriptions (none / 0) (#209)
    by JosephK on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:24:08 AM EST

    Ha!

    "The truth is, I make more money selling magazine subscriptions than I ever did as a software engineer."
    HTML is Dead.
    [ Parent ]
    i did something similar (none / 1) (#194)
    by hildi on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 04:51:36 PM EST

    after working in an office for a long time.. i decided to get a job doing something outdoors,
    something with plants or maybe something with
    more action and labor.

    ----

    oh wait, nobody ever hired me. welcome to the real world hippie.

    Just because (none / 1) (#241)
    by HardwareLust on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 09:00:59 PM EST

    you are entirely too lame, ignorant or stupid to get a better job doesn't mean the rest of the world is.  Grow up.



    If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

    [ Parent ]
    ah. yes. grown up (none / 0) (#245)
    by hildi on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 11:47:34 PM EST

    someone who thinks all unemployment is because of stupidity, ignorance, or laziness.

    very mature.

    truly someone who understands how the world works.

    [ Parent ]

    So is it like... (none / 1) (#206)
    by naitha on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 01:03:12 AM EST

    Grand Theft Auto: Biking Toronto


    "To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also."
    -Igor Stravinsky,
    I'm guessing (none / 0) (#207)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 08:49:38 AM EST

    yes, but without the hooker-based healthcare system.

    How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
    [ Parent ]
    actually (3.00 / 4) (#211)
    by transient0 on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 02:21:33 PM EST

    that part is pretty accurate.

    but the grenades are a lot more powerful in real life.
    ---------
    lysergically yours
    [ Parent ]

    I am a bike messenger in San Francisco. (none / 0) (#220)
    by PaulBaumbay on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 03:44:47 AM EST

    I've been a bike messenger for about 6 years here in San Francisco. Here are some of my thoughts.

    Transient0 captures messenger life aptly. Of course, being a "lifer" I differ slightly with his take on the courier lifestyle. Maybe it's a different economy down here in SF.

    Being a messenger is indeed one of the most satisfying jobs I have ever held. Before I became a messenger I was a firefighter, laborer, a student, and a nurse in a hospital. I've performed a litany of jobs before I found the one that suited me. Through it all, I've always been into cycling. So, on a whim I landed a job as a bike messenger. Now, I gat paid to play my favorite sport. In fact the job satisfaction I got inspired to start my own messenger service. Now I work for myself.

    I still consider someone with less that a few years as a courier to be a rookie. There are quite a few skills to be picked along the way. Even after my 6 years I am still learning new things. Being a bike messenger is an amalgamation of many jobs. I am a paralegal, process server, bicycle mechanic, customer service rep, dispatcher, and athlete. In my case, running my own company, I'm also a salesman, office manager, accountant, access database programmer (barely), web designer, and graphic artist. And I still manage to ride my bike every day.

    Just as there are there are crummy programming jobs, there are crummy messenger jobs. Conversely, good messenger jobs are pretty good. Of course, Transient0 is right in claiming that there exists a wage ceiling for messengers vastly disparate from those of their programmer "counterparts." There are bike messenger positions, mostly with attorney service companies, that pay between $40-60kUSD a year. These are real jobs not crummy independent contractor positions either. That's not bad for skilled labor. I bet someone could raise a family on that. I know messengers that do.

    As to the bad reputation that messengers have, I just have to laugh. For every crazy rookie messenger, splitting lanes the wrong way down a one-way street, and knocking down old ladies on the sidewalk, there are 24 professionals that aren't even noticed. OK, so that is by my assertion 4%, which I guess is significant. However, the best-paid messengers rarely ride like idiots and rarely get in accidents. There are flukes, such as getting doored, but mostly messengers are in control of their own fate. And as to the perceived danger posed by a reckless bike messenger, when was the last time you've heard of a bike careening off the road onto the sidewalk, killing 10 pedestrians? Never!

    I am proud to do what I do and I'm good at it. As for me, I feel that I am a productive member of society. I own a house and keep up on my mortgage payments. I live with my wife and 11-month-old daughter on Potrero Hill here in San Francisco. Hey, did I mention that I'm a bike messenger?



    Doors? Hunh? (none / 1) (#222)
    by ScooterBooter on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 07:29:37 AM EST

    The original Poster (transient0) says:  

    > The second time was a door prize. As i rode
    > north up Yonge, someone opened the door of their
    > parked car directly into my path. This one was
    > very scary, as the fall sent me rolling across
    > three lanes of busy traffic, but both my bike
    > and my person came out of it unharmed.

    Then Paul, you say:

    > There are flukes, such as getting doored, but
    > mostly messengers are in control..

    I just don't understand this.  I've had crashes too -- and I sympathize with both of you.

    Two pro messengers claiming that dooring is a fluke - or unpredictable?  

    I strongly disagree.  

    It's one of the things you *MUST* scan for while riding in an urban space.  Morons in cars with doors than can open are a disaster waiting to happen.  

    If you don't scan the parked/stopped vehicles you're passing, you're not riding safely enough to avoid injury.  Look for heads.  You see a human head?  You get outside of door range.

    I ride outside of door range when I see anyone in a stopped car.  I don't care if I have to assert myself into a whole lane and enforce my right to that space.  I take it and it's mine -- and I'm safer because of that.  

    No offense intended, guys..

    This just makes no sense to me..

    -- Scotty.

    [ Parent ]

    re: avoiding doors (none / 1) (#255)
    by lastobelus on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 07:59:00 PM EST

    you're riding 8 hours a day. You scan when you can, but you can rarely afford to ride slow enough for scanning to make a difference. You try to take the space when you can, but that's dangerous too, especially late in the day when all the frustrated assholes are trying to get home. Mostly what you do is ride between the lanes, which couriers quickly learn is actually the safest place to be (though it feels/looks scary). Of course, drivers get pissed off at that too. Well guess what? Both times I got doored in my messenger carreer I WAS between the lanes: I got doored by people opening the LEFT door in a car paused in traffic (NOT at the curb or in parking lane) So there you go. But seriously: what is scanning the cars going to do when you're riding 30+ k? It'll make riding more dangerous, not less.

    [ Parent ]
    Sometimes it's unavoidable (none / 1) (#263)
    by PaulBaumbay on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:34:41 PM EST

    No offense taken, Scotty.

    The fact the several professional messengers claim that being doored is difficult to avoid should at least lend some credibility to each of our statements, don't you think? I don't know how many messengers or urban-cyclists you know, it sounds as if you are one yourself, but I say that that if you queried them about this issue, a great many of them would aver that the chances of having this particular accident occur in an avoidable way is slim. Yes, sometimes it is obvious when a passenger or driver may be about to open their door. Most urban cyclists worth their salt will notice this, and don't have a problem in this situation. I'm glad to hear that you are aware of this, too.

    But there are many instances where the close proximity to cars is unavoidable, such as when splitting lanes during rush hour. Lastobelis posted a comment in this tread that seems to affirm that when one rides for a living, 4-8 hours a day of pedal time, the chances of running into a door increase. However, riding safe for me means slowing down in potential danger situations, so that when the unavoidable comes, I'm not totally screwed.

    The last time I was doored was in spring 2002, which I am proud to say was also the last significant accident I was involved in. Before that I've had some bad experiences with wet train tracks and people who pass on my left only to cut me off to make a right.

    You say Scotty, that all one has to do is scan for people's heads in parked and stopped cars. In my particular instance an SUV passed me and suddenly stopped. I was moving about 10mph, not all that fast. I swerved over to avoid a minor collision with the spare tire. Before I knew it, a passenger in the SUV had flung her door open and I smacked into it. Ouch.

    If I had suddenly swerved out into the next lane over, I would have to had done so blindly, which given the tight and busy conditions in downtown San Francisco, would have been even more dangerous. I would have been hit from behind for sure.

    I swear to you, Scotty, this happened so fast that there was no time to react. I agree that one can indeed avoid getting doored in many instances, just as one can avoid hitting pedestrians by not riding fast on the sidewalk, or getting a red light ticket by basting through in front a cop, but the when the conditions are right, running into an open automobile door, in my professional opinion as a seasoned bicycle messenger, is one of the most unavoidable flukes an urban cyclist has to deal with.

    I hope this clears up any confusion you may have.

    [ Parent ]

    Thanks for writing. (none / 0) (#221)
    by Coram on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:16:54 AM EST

    Loved it. It felt like the beginning of a William Gibson story. All you needed was a chip in your head and a nervous-system debilitating bike alarm.

    --
    judo ergo sum
    The paunch... (none / 0) (#249)
    by mbmccabe on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:28:41 AM EST

    I guess some people are just biologically destined to a slight roundness of tummy, no matter how much exercise they get.


    I've been 5'8" and 140lbs since before high school...very lean! ...but with a small paunch that sounds similar to yours.

    4 years of MDK level training with the high school swim team did absolutely nothing to remove mine.

    This would seem to affirm your theory. :-)

    Exercise, eating and age (none / 0) (#267)
    by DodgyGeezer on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:22:06 AM EST

    A lot of people who start exercising increase their food intake (as they should).  However, increase it too much and you reach a status quo and not much changes from a weight loss perspective.

    It's rather coincidental, but I was reading about something similar in Dr. Tim Noakes' "Lore of Running" last night (great book BTW).  

    "Patterns of body fatness are established already at age 25 [...].  Futhermore, even quite high levels of physical fitness (running more than 64 km per week) cannot prevent a remorseless increase in body mass index (approximately 0.5 kg per metre per decade) [...].  [P.T. Williams] calculates that, to maintain the same body mass index with increasing age, runners would need to increase their training distance by 23 km per each decade.  This would mean that an athlete running 64 km per week at age 30 would need to more than double his weekly training distance to 133 km per week at age 60 and 156 km per week at age 70, a physical impossibility at that age."

    Yes, it's to do with running, but I'm sure there are parallels.  And to put those numbers in to perspective, 64 km per week is quite a lot of running.  133 km per week is a huge amount and most amateur runners in the last weeks of marathon training won't even come close to that amount, whether they're 25 or 60.  My marathon training will probably peek at around 80 or 90 km per week, but I'm not sure yet where I'll find the time for that, or the time for the eating it will bring on.  But I think that takes me completely off-topic ;)

    [ Parent ]

    A bit romanticized... (none / 0) (#252)
    by EminemsRevenge on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 11:01:56 AM EST

    or maybe it's because you're Canadian.

    Here in Amerikkka, well, in NYC at least, courriers are the dudes who work for UPS or FedEx...we are messengers, and considered virtually sub-untermensch by most of the rest of the business world.

    i was a foot-messenger, one of the best, because on a good day i could make $200, but this was pre 9/11. YOU are a coder and i am writing a Joycean novel, yet in NYC we would be dismissed as human garbage, in fact, even BEFORE 9/11 we would have been Jim Crowing it on the freight elevators...the yupsters with the auld stick-up-the-butt syndrome always felt themselves somewhat Uber, even though most of them are mindless cubicle monkeys doing everythang by rote!!!

    It's great to see that there are other sons of Eshu out there enjoying the feel of the open road...we are the last cowboys on the urban prairies
    Keep on rocking for a free world---
    It's because we're free here. (none / 1) (#253)
    by 340Txdecader on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 02:24:05 PM EST

    In Toronto, the largest city in Canada there are perhaps 3-4 buildings where a messenger uses the freight elevator and it is usually a matter of efficiency. The only security checkpoint you pass through (with everyone else) is at Old City Hall. There is 1 building that requests you sign in, but you don't have to. Nowhere would anyone dream of requesting your identification for entry. We're seen in many different lights, some love us, some hate us (for a lack of something to hate or self-hatred, the usual reason one hates a diverse group)) but no one would question the fact that we're needed, we're a fact of the infrastructure, we're part of what keeps it all rolling and 99.999% of all commercial enterprises utilize our services in the downtown and for twelve miles in every direction from it. Even a large number of households have accounts at or a particular aency they call on a cash basis. We do a job that needs doing and have the same right as everyone else which here in Canada means we are entitled to the same access that anyone else has. We also have the same access to health care, EI, workers comp etc. We're treated by and large with the respect we deserve and the large majority of our community return that respect without a second thought as it should be. In NYC and every other major US city we are marginalized by property managers, law enforcement, the people we share the roads with and many others. We are forced to use freight elevators, leave govt ID with a simple security gaurd in order to gain entry to some places (a violation of law in almost every state), leave personal property unattended and unsecured for same, wear uniforms that cross the line between Independent contractor and employee while having no benefits of either work classification, Insurance is attainable but most available policies won't cover on the job accidents (what good is it?), submit to search and sometimes seizure without due process, sometimes by security who are not registered peace officers. Yet NYC and many other major US cities would stop in it's tracks without foot and bike messenger services. All this was true before 9/11 although since then most of the policies of discrimination are enforced in the name of "security" Before 9/11 the concerns were different, most made no secret of the fact they had these policies to further a class system on a society that claims to have none. They would give examples of theft or vandalism or intoxicated behavior, some we're real many weren't. In making these policies that marginalize a specific group based on occupation they help themselves to create more such examples to enforce their class system. That's what happens when you marginalze a group and fail to recognize the rights of an individual, they go into decline. Chicken or the Egg? No, because we don't have here in Canada even 1 percent of the troubles that such policy makers claim are the basis for their actions. We're a vital industry and if the front-line worker doesn't make what he/she should it's more a reflection on the individual or the general economy than the industry as a whole. We're respected for who we are and what we do just as everyone should be. And it works. the land of the free...don't make me laugh, even if you can afford freedom you do it at the cost of anothers with the methods you've put in place. It's not too hard to have that freedom by respecting others and gaining their respect in turn but in many American places these days that is going agains the grain and the plight of the messenger there is a long-lived example of how and why. I jumped ship, in a few months I'll have dual citizenship and I'll likely only ever visit the states. When I do I'll use my US passport to aviod being harrassed by people taught that fear of the unknown is the equivalant of security.
    Signature
    [ Parent ]
    off-topic (none / 0) (#260)
    by transient0 on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 10:16:38 PM EST

    the gear on your website looks pretty slick, but the design and code could use a little work.

    if you are interested in getting it a facelift, i could probably be convinced to work in trade.
    ---------
    lysergically yours
    [ Parent ]

    BMX? (none / 0) (#262)
    by MrLaminar on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 04:47:38 PM EST

    Amazing story, really enjoyed reading it.

    I have an 18-gear Peugeot mountain bike, but I used to ride a Pacific Street Styler BMX back in the day (which got stolen by a sly fox albaniz0r).

    Reading about the fixed gear bikes, I was wondering what their advantage is over BMX bikes? AFAIK, BMX bikes are always fixed-gear bikes.

    "Travel & Education. They will make you less happy. They will make you more tolerable to good people and less tolerable to bad people." - bobzibub

    they're full sized? (none / 0) (#272)
    by emaline on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 10:54:55 AM EST

    Unless I am completely mistaken with what people mean by "BMX bikes".

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah yeah (none / 0) (#273)
    by MrLaminar on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 03:28:40 PM EST

    I know that, thanks. Of course it is more difficult to ride a BMX bike on a steep slope, or on rough terrain. For casual city usage though, I was wondering whether I should buy a BMX or an MTB. Somehow I find a BMX more "compact", what with its small frame and small wheels.

    OTOH, maybe it just looks silly :-)

    "Travel & Education. They will make you less happy. They will make you more tolerable to good people and less tolerable to bad people." - bobzibub
    [ Parent ]

    Stability & height (none / 0) (#278)
    by exppii on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 01:45:54 AM EST

    The angular momentum of big wheels makes them more stable. Maybe not a huge problem unless you like to ride without hands. Height seems important to me. I wouldn't be so comfortable riding with cars if I were low to the ground. Otherwise, I guess it's just a matter of comfort.

    [ Parent ]
    Not quite fixed.. (none / 0) (#281)
    by mindstrm on Sat Apr 09, 2005 at 06:18:04 PM EST

    They are single-gear bikes.. but they will still freewheel.

    A fixie, you can't just stop moving hte crank and coast.. you ahve to keep pedalling.


    [ Parent ]

    Why on earth would you want such a thing? /nt (none / 0) (#291)
    by skyknight on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:11:56 PM EST



    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    Messenger are my daily eye candy (none / 0) (#264)
    by Madisson on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 01:57:19 AM EST

    I am working as a "coder" (not exactly but it doesn't matter) myself and I moved some time ago from europe to the states for this new job. It was my first visit to the US and I instantly noticed the bikes messenger with their their tattoos, their flashy bags, their striped socks and their (sweaty) attitude. I though they were pretty cool, much more that the suits I was working for. We don't have this in europe and I didnt consider this as carreer before... but after a summer being locked up in cubicle in Philadelphia I though about it quite a lot! I even chatted with one of the messenger in an elevator : he was making more money than I do! I would happily resign from my shitty company and work as a bike messenger for the summer - and even for less money than I am doing right now - but I am afraid that my visa doesn't allow me to work for anybody else than my shitty company... That's the best job I can imagine (during summer anyway : I don't understand how the messengers are ridin their bike during winter : being on 2 wheels on an icy road looks like suicide to me but maybe there are some tricks am not aware of). Thanks again for the story. Didn't know this website before. I am considering posting a story myself (the theme will be : are american women lovable? - that's a real problem here according to me...) Keep it spinning, Madisson.

    Biking on ice (none / 0) (#283)
    by usr on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 12:42:26 AM EST

    I'm not anything like a courier, but i grew up commuting on bike all year, and never stopped.

    Cycling on icy roads is really no problem, just don't expect to ride as fast as on a dry road. Your senses are so much closer to the road than in a car that you will automatically adjust speed to what you can control. when the time comes that the streets are coated in ice i actually feel much safer on a bike than on foot.

    snow obvbecomes a problem when it is higher than the lower position of the pedals.

    the biggest danger of winter besides cars gone out of control is the salt, it will inevitably hurt your bike as other posters mentioned before.

    [ Parent ]

    Biking to work (none / 0) (#265)
    by Ronniec95 on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 04:15:45 AM EST

    Why not combine the money of being a coder with the thrill of cycling? Cycle to work!!! It's great, you get (depending on how far you live from work) about 2 hours of exercise a day (typically in London,UK), cuts those kilos right off, and you get the money too :) ...

    Unfortunately I got hit by a car last week (hit and run by a stolen car), so I kind of wont be participating in this regime for a few months.

    Oh well back to being, just a coder!

    Being a Cycling Ambassador (none / 0) (#274)
    by nubeli on Tue Mar 29, 2005 at 10:08:38 PM EST

    I enjoyed the article. I'm a year-round cycling commuter in Toronto, with an appreciation of the Yonge Street hill. I wonder if the author has also taken the much larger hill further up Yonge, before Sheppard (the Butterdome it's called, I think?)

    I ride a touring bike as my main beast of burden -- actually it's a Bianchi Axis cylocross that I picked up last fall in D.C. and it seems to have weathered well this last salty, slushy, icy and cold winter. I've been fairly fastidious about keeping it greased and clean and yet the salt still gets in. I also put on a layer of Turtle wax after seening the mechanic at the Community Bicycle Network do it. It seems to keep the rust out of many places.

    I'm a pack rat so I need panniers to carry my lunch, cables, tools, books and so on. I actually didn't realize I was a pack rat until I rode around with a friend who squeezed everything he needed into a camelbak (but when things broke down he always came to me for tools). To avoid numb hands I prefer drop bars (they keep my wrists in the least stressful position) and I keep the tops of the drop bars at slightly above my seat level. I'm of the Rivendell philosophy that believes in comfort first (I've adopted all their attitude without the ability to purchase their expensive bikes). To another comment posted here: 2 inches below the seat level is really too low for the average person. I've also recently acquired a second-hand Brookes saddle. After a bit of riding it has been broken in and now it is the most comfortable saddle I've ever had - no more numb butt!

    For clothing I usually wear courier-esque clothing. Shorts that are so long that they can be accused of being flood pants. Bike shorts as underwear. Jersey topped with a t-shirt or some other nice shirt. Helmet (a must). Since last summer I now swear by SPD's with MTB shoes; I even rode them all winter.

    But enough about that...

    While reading this article I was thinking about some of the differences of your courier job with my previous job as a Cycling Ambassador with the City of Toronto. I was one of ten cycling ambassadors hired by the city in a annual summer program to promote cycling in the entire city of Toronto: from the badlands of Etobicoke to the asphalt of North York and the endless subdivisions of Scarborough. We don't ride as hard or as much as bike couriers but we do see the entire of the city. During the four summer months of the job we rode around 150 km per person per week, gave out thousands of cycling maps, and talked to hundreds and hundreds of people.

    I liked the unionized pay, the exercise, and the chance to participate in city cycling policy. I didn't like that the job was sometimes repetitive, boring, and I was often annoyed by the bureaucratic rules we had to follow.

    I, however, can't really compare the two jobs. I was once a bike courier for a week -- not quite enough to see what it was really like. I quit to take up a job as a landscaper because averaging $5/hour as a courier with a lot of standing around waiting for more deliveries just wasn't my thing. I'm sure I didn't give it a chance.


    Herb -- nubeli
    good story (none / 0) (#279)
    by YelM3 on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 04:34:00 PM EST

    Nice article. I'm just started my first full-time coding job, so I didn't really want to read it, but I'm glad that I did. For future reference, opening a fire-door on a staircase generally just sends a bored security guard up to close it. No one will be evacuated without quite a bit more :)

    "caucasians over-represented" (none / 0) (#287)
    by usr on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 10:09:42 PM EST

    "Interestingly however caucasians are considerably over-represented."

    Ever noticed how there is a huge lack of not european looking guys in professional cycling? There are riders in the Tour de France who come from places like Bolivia and Kasakhstan, but not a single one who's not roughly caucasian.

    I have no idea why that is, but i guess the reason to the overrepresentation mentioned in the story.

    Maybe something about lack of identification figures for the youth, immigrants concentrating on urban areas or something along those lines.

    job (none / 0) (#292)
    by hunters8 on Tue May 03, 2005 at 12:49:55 PM EST

    My experience with "unskilled" jobs is that employers reckon on there being more people interested than there are jobs, so generally don't look at how to make the job worthwhile or attractive,too. SE

    usefull (none / 1) (#293)
    by keleyu on Sat May 14, 2005 at 09:14:08 AM EST

    this article is very usefull for me

    good (none / 0) (#294)
    by yonyoo on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 06:04:01 AM EST

    I liked the unionized pay, the exercise, and the chance to participate in city cycling policy. I didn't like that the job was sometimes repetitive, boring, and I was often annoyed by the bureaucratic rules we had to follow.

    Statistical Danger of Bikes (none / 0) (#295)
    by dogeye on Fri Jun 10, 2005 at 03:57:09 AM EST

    "The neglect of pedestrian and bicycling safety in the United States has made these modes dangerous ways of getting around. Pedestrian fatalities are 36 times higher than car occupant fatalities per km traveled, and bicycling fatalities are 11 times higher than car occupant fatalities per km." - www.penbiped.org/puchertq.pdf

    Bikes are a dangerous way to move around. Too many elements out of your control.

    -Ryan the ballroom dancer and Infrared Sauna guy.

    Good story (none / 0) (#297)
    by soart on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 11:05:50 AM EST

    Thank you for the good story!
    机票打折机票
    like (none / 0) (#298)
    by soart on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 11:36:47 AM EST

    I like the story!
    机票打折机票
    Living the dream (none / 0) (#301)
    by digitalquirk on Thu Feb 09, 2006 at 09:01:31 AM EST

    Like you, I, too, lived the Office Space dream. My specialty was COBOL programming, which I absolutely loved, along with healthy doses of C, DCL and SQL. I did remarkably well when taking my 3 year Information Systems course in College, graduating with an A average despite the fact that I had 3 work study p/t jobs (including peer tutoring). While in College, as well in the years leading up to it, my Miele bicycle was my main mode of transportation, rain or shine, even in the winter. Riding on snow is not all that challenging as the tires tend to cut through snow and slush and grip the pavement underneith. Ice patches can be dicey, however...

    My career started out all peachy. The company I worked for was privately owned. I worked 7 1/2 hours a day and pretty much set my own schedule; usually coming in early and leaving early. I could wear what I wanted except on days clients would come to visit. They were a "Goal" oriented company, which meant that as long as the work assigned to me was completed on time (or ahead of schedule, as was usually the case), I received my salary. I wrote some very elegant code, and documented meticulously. I could write an entire program or system in my head while driving to work, and could accomplish things others thought was impossible. As such, I earned a reputation as the guy who could do anything with a computer. Often, I went above and beyond what was expected and wrote systems that ended up saving the company a lot of money. By working extra hard Monday to Thursday, I usually managed to get a half or even a full Friday off. I loved my job; I was living the dream. I could not imagine doing anything else...until the shareholders bought the company.

    Let me tell you something about shareholders. Nothing sucks the life and value out of a company faster than shareholders. Their single-minded drive to extract every ounce of profit out of a company, without respecting the other dynamics of what makes a company what it is (the people), will drive a company into the ground quite fast. Suddenly, I was required to fill out complicated forms describing how I was spending my time every minute of the day. I had to attend stupid, worthless meetings to hear some guys talk about "Downsizing" and "Restructuring." Creativity was viewed as a risk, so I was no longer permitted to be creative, which made my actual job very dull, boring, and repetitive. Backstabbing became rapant, as I discovered that my work was being wiped out after I'd completed it. This did not look good when I'd be playing a game (to make up for the loss of creativity) after finishing some boring mundane tasks, and have my boss stop by wondering what happened to my work. After that, I learned the value of backing up to my trusty zip drive.

    I survived rounds one and two of layoffs mostly by remaining invisible. It wasn't difficult to BS the time reports and to pretend to be interested in their stupid meetings. Just like in the movie, I actually did about 15 minutes of work a week; spending the rest of my time trying to look like I was busy. There was no incentive to do more; indeed, to do so would invite more knives into my back. I drank far too much coffee just to get through the day. All this took its toll. I'd get home after work every day, exhausted but unable to sleep. I was putting on weight and topped out at 260 lbs. I was in my 20's, and was starting to experience chest pains! There were people in their 30's and 40's in my industry dying from heart attacks, thanks to the sedentary lifestyle and corporate burnout.

    The final straw came when the cost of living had my expenses outstripping my income; it was time to come out of hiding. I managed to negotiate a raise, but I was advised that I wasn't working for General Motors, so it was expected that I would get certification that would end up costing me at least as much as my raise was. The next day, the company announced that they would be raising the price of their products and services due to the "Increased cost of doing business." Never mind the fact that they had just laid off a bunch of people and relocated out of the city for cheaper rent.

    As expected, I got hit in round 3 of layoffs a few months later. However, mine was to be "Temporary," and I was advised that I would be called back. I took advantage of this time to search the job market. It turned out that all the work available was 3 and 6 month contracts, and I was competing with people with twice the industry experience, thanks to the massive Nortel layoffs. A short while later, they called me to ask me if I could recover a system for them. Turned out that they put some student on my job, and with all the backstabbing going on, a system they depended on got clobbered. Ironically, this was one of the "Extras" I did for them in my early creative days. I certainly didn't leave my zip drive, so I told them if they wanted to hire me back, I could have it restored in a few hours; otherwise, they could find the source code and documentation in a file and their student could have it back up and running in a couple of weeks if he was a fast typer and didn't make too many mistakes.

    One thing led to another, and I found myself in a two year contract with a well-known big blue three-letter company. Things weren't much better, though I did lose 20 lbs. At one point, I got so fed up with the back-stabbing and shit that goes on in that industry, I actually sat down, poured myself a very strong and very tall drink, and set to compose a resume and cover letter to apply for a position on the assembly line for a well-known big two-letter company. When I got the call, I terminated my contract early and went without hesitation.

    The work was very physically demanding. I lost 20 lbs. in the first month, bringing me down to 220 lbs. (at 6'4", that's not bad). For two months, I had to run my hands under cold water every morning to get them to work. Like you, insomnia left for good, and I felt great. No stress. When I left work, I really left work! What's funny is I never actually watched Office Space until a couple of years ago (I was busy with my first born at the time it was in the theaters) and identified with it immediately.

    It's coming up to four years soon, and although there are some that think I took a step backwards, I have to say that I honestly don't think there's a future for computer programmers in North America. All the good work is going to outfits in India, and there's plenty of free code on the 'net. When you do need work, they hire you for 3 months; you do the job, then you get to play the job hunt game again. There's too much backstabbing going on for programmers to organize a union and protect their trade; this is made worse by the attitude seems to be that a computer programmer (or coder) is nothing more than someone who likes to do jigsaw puzzles.

    Thanks for your story; it was quite inspiring. I think I might rebuild that old Miele and start riding my bike into work to lose that last 20 lbs. to get to my target healthy weight.

    A Coder in Courierland | 304 comments (291 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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