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Saturday, March 19, 2016

On the True Cost of Obsolescence, as Measured in Dollars and Common Sense

Forgive me Lord for I have sinned... twice in as many days, three times if you count coveting my neighbor's bike.

"Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it... if you live." (Mark Twain).

Bikes certainly have changed since the days of Mr Twain, then again, what hasn't? The longer we live, the faster "things" change, which is just another way of saying the faster things become obsolete.

Obsolescence is by design, nowadays, and you won't find better examples of what I'm talking about than in the corporate "communication" and "recreation" industries. I'm talking personal computers and smart phones and the Adult Toy Division of recreation manufacturers... ATV's, toy haulers, Motorcycles, road and mountain bikes, etc..

We are now victims of "planned obsolescence," as the lifespan of the products we spend our hard earned money on grows shorter and shorter every year. It's not that the products wear out so much as it is that they are phased out. I need not look further than the tips of my fingers or in my shirt pocket for perfect examples of perhaps the premier "primary offender," Apple. 

Canyon view out Goldie's rear Imax Window

Remember the first iPhone? It was a marvelous jump from flip phones, so sleek and comfy and fashionable. They sold like hot cakes. But then what happens? Yep, the diabolical and greedy bastards went and improved on it, to the point of making the new one a necessity. What true American could live without Siri? It's like having a personal attendant at the push of a button, and now, you don't even have to push the button anymore. Just say, "Siri," and your iPhone magically wakes from slumber. "Good Morning, Mark, what can I do for you." Lordy.

Yes, Siri's there to answer all my questions, research resource material, read my emails to me while I'm busy driving. She'll even take dictation for a reply, and send it. So there I go, off to get in line at the Apple Store... a "massage parlor" for ego driven suckers. Not long after I spent a small fortune on my iPhone they did it again, they made a better, more indispensable one. Where and when does it end? Bankruptcy Court and Never. Even Monastery Monks would find the implicit sexual innuendo of modern marketing difficult to resist. Oh the endorphin rush of consumption and keeping up, sucking at one of Apples highly polished "tits." Are you a hold out like I was? Ha. Remember this: Everybody has a weakness to be exploited, and it's only a matter of time till "they" find yours.

Canyon and Lasalle Mountain View out Goldie's Side Imax Window

I take great pride in attempting to employ a fashionable degree of modesty and resistance to the marketing merry-go-round. But hey, I'm only human, and, unlike Jimmy Carter, readily confess that I bought Playboy for the photos and hardly ever read an article. 

When it comes to the new smart phones, those sleek, sexy, fondle-able objects of desire that have become permanent fixtures in the palms of our children and grandchildren, iron feet turn to clay. Why they have the World Wide Web on a short leash, give you turn by turn directions to where ever, connect to GPS satellites for location within inches, and, wait for it, will soon be capable of detecting a heart attack and act as a defibrillator. Try to tell any senior geezer that's not worth a thousand bucks?  

Canyonside Campfire Ring...
Admittedly, I caved to the iPhone. But I have withstood the temptation to jump on the full suspension mountain bike bandwagon with stoic resolve. It was easier when I was young and tuff. In those days I could handle the abuse of ruts, rocks and craters that would today leave my undies soiled and wet with pee. Only when seemingly everyone else in the whole wide world had upgraded their bikes three times and after the advent of rear suspension did I even consider upgrading my rigid, non-shock absorbing Stump Jumper to something with front shocks. I broke two frames riding hardtail and proving my manhood and once nearly died, all for the sake of trying to take the long washboarded road to higher consumer consciousness. 

It wan't until my "cool" hiking/biking friends caved to full suspension, and my Bobbie App, the tightest person I know, bought a fully suspended "Lush" mountain bike, that I even remotely considered squandering the equivalent GNP of most third world countries on a freaking bicycle. When Satan would lure me into a bike shop "just for a fun peek," the "sticker shock" alone was enough to send me running. Tell me, dear reader: when is it ever a good time to drop 3 to 5 grand on a bicycle, hmmm? Never!!! They must think we're crazy. Or so I thought. Sadly, even granite yields to the forces of erosion over time.

But not yet. With zero disc material remaining in my L4 and excuses aplenty, I stood firm and resisted. I made do with old, butt slamming, spine jarring 29'er hardtails. I'd stand on the pedals as much as possible, over and through the most torturous terrain, taking my tight-wadded punishment like a man. But secretly, I knew time was running out; for Christ's sake, I hit 65 years of age last October and I'd like to make this body last another 5 to 10, you know? 

A previous boondock, before finding a more treed canyon camp with a view of the LaSalles...

But then, a few days ago, after a particularly rough ride in the Klondike Bluffs north of Moab—the kind of ass-pummeling ride that blisters butt cracks and hands, and leaves one unable to straighten the grip-curl from fingers for 24 hours—I decided to take a day off and head into town for a walkabout. Just the thought of getting back on that hard tail 29'er sent shooting pains to my sphincter. 

I strolled Main Street, stopped for coffee and Pumpkin/Almond muffin, went to the Visitors Center to get Bike Trail Maps, then crossed the street to peruse watercolor paintings at an art gallery we never miss. But I couldn't find it, it had disappeared. A senior moment? A brain bleed from yesterday's rough ride?

No. Low and behold the gallery was gone, and in its place was a Bike Shop (insert Jaws music here).

To be continued... 


  1. 65......you're a youngster. You could always go for the cheaper option and buy a suspension seat post.

    1. Dave, I tried one of those years ago. 1 inch of travel, then BAM, the recoil slams you. Worse than nothing at all :)

  2. Mark, go full suspension, you'll never regret it! I got tired of having my ass kicked by my hardtail about 6 years ago, bought a full suspension Santa Cruz and I have never looked back. Go for it!

  3. I thought after Anza that Siri was no longer on speaking terms with you?


    1. Well, she is a female... and thus misunderstandings crop up frequently.

  4. Today's technology is just growing in leaps and bounds, to keep up would put us in the poor house.
    I have a feeling that you deserve full suspension and will enjoy it immensely.

  5. I have avoided Apple and cell phones in general.

    Now about that iphone that can detect a heart attack and act as a defibrillator. If the federal government can force Apple to give up the encryption key to their smart phones then I don't think I will be in that market.

    A defibrillator provides shocks to the heart to stop it so that it can start rhythmically contracting again. If the Feds get their hands on something like that then you are a dead man when ever they decided you are taking up too much space on the planet and not buying enough 'stuff'.

  6. This is my first time reading your blog and I truly enjoyed it. You're much braver than me opting for a full-suspension.

  7. No way I want my phone talking to me, or I it unless it's swearing. Not an "i" person. Bad enough on the droid when I can't figure out how to turn off the annoying sounds of notifications. Like I can't live without those. Being a new droid it's different than the previous, and first, cell bought five years ago. But you're right, we all have a breaking point for the "I want/need". Sounds like a bike in your future. Did you ask Siri?

  8. "Try to tell any senior geezer that's not worth a thousand bucks?"

    I wrote a GREAT comment about this that didn't make the cut. Can't remember what I said now but it was so GREAT that Mark didn't publish it. HA


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