Being me, a lot of my time wasting is done on a laptop while I'm simultaneously keeping my daughter from doing something really bad like, choking on something she should not have had. Sometimes, she sleeps, which takes even that minimal responsibility down to a very low level (viz. keep an ear out and an occasional eye on the baby monitor). Moments like this aren't quite as free-wheeling as my retired and still single days, when I would be going, why am I not climbing up a trail somewhere, but they're pretty good. Because I have time to think about unimportant things. Like sharing.
I may have briefly mentioned a really funny set of photos, commentary and responding comments when a guy took a bunch of pictures of people on bicycles in Nieuw Markt. He didn't understand a lot of what he was looking at (like, folding bicycles, and, Nieuw Markt is surrounded by what we would call in English a "rotary", if only people in America in general knew what they were), and his attitudes towards what he was looking at are the stuff of college undergraduate honors seminars taught by an anthropologist (ah, for the days when I got college credit for hanging out with Stevan Harrell and a small group of other students and talked about interesting things like the Cultural Revolution, or Manners). I'm going to drill down on the shared bicycles bit.
Sure, there were a lot of kids on bicycles with adults. But there are also a lot of people riding bicycles in Amsterdam (or A'dam, as the Cool People write) with someone sitting on the rack. I've never been entirely certain _why_ (where is their bicycle, I always wanted to ask. I now suspect that they left it a couple stops back on the tram because they didn't have the fare for the bike, or they weren't riding far once they met with a friend or whatever), but the guy taking the pictures was correct in noting that women are "driving" bicycles with men riding not quite as often as the reverse, but it isn't particularly uncommon. Fortunately, a Dutchwoman who was in one of the photographs (in high heels, which I'd find a whole lot more shocking if I didn't keep finding myself on my bike in a dress and nice shoes these days) wrote in to explain that in general, the owner of the bike drives (my term), unless there's a really substantial difference in size. People are picky about their bikes.
So that's kind of interesting.
I bought a Honda Fit. My husband bought a Honda Odyssey. For a while, when he had the van and I was still driving my Subaru, I couldn't get him to leave the van at home for me and T. to use, because he hated the amount of road noise in the WRX. Part of the Fit purchase was, is it quiet enough for him to use as a commuter car. It was. But the Fit is really still my car and the Odyssey is still really his car. We trade. We share. It's all good, since we negotiated to buy cars the other person liked as well. Now our arguments about who drives devolve into debates about my ability to maintain a consistent speed, and whether his driving is likely to make me carsick. If we've just been out to eat and he had a margarita on a mostly empty stomach, life is grand. I drive. He's happy. Otherwise, the debate can get ugly, so I sympathize with people and their my-car-I-drive strategy.
Back when gas was over $4 a gallon, and looking like $10 in the future, a number of people who had more than one adult in their household, and one or more cars per driver, found themselves in a situation where the rational vehicle use for the household required people to drive each other's cars. Sometimes people were willing to do this. Sometimes they were more willing to carpool or ride public transit than they were to swap cars. That struck me as a little odd at the time, but this is really what price theory is all about. What's it worth to you?
Today, I ran across Peak Oil crap (ahem) quoting Asimov's Bathroom of One's Own (that's not really what it's called and furthermore, there's a Heinlein story/essay/something or other with a title very close to that) and mentioning some play "Urinetown" which was inspired by an American backpacker encountering European pay-to-pee toilets (never mind that those have, in fact, existed in the US at points in the past and, for all I know, present), all of which more or less added up to oh my god the world is ending if I don't have exactly the kind of toilet facilities I expect to have all the time for free for my exclusive use.
I remember when my family went on vacations to the Captain's Inn on Whidbey Island, when it was still a teeny tiny little inn with shared bathrooms down the hall. It was really exciting for my parents when they added cottages with their own bathrooms, which was shortly followed by the discovery of Whidbey by out-of-staters who promptly overbooked and overpaid and made things difficult for cheap bastards in Seattle looking for a family weekend out of town. My parents found this en suite bathroom really exciting because it meant they only had to share that bathroom with their four children, not some significant fraction of the rooms on the floor. When my dad built the upstairs on the house and added another bathroom, we were mostly excited about having a dedicated shower (my dad objected to us showering in combos because of the risk to the wallboard) -- there were still 6 people sharing 3 bathrooms and let me tell you, when 6 people come back from 2-3 hours of religious stuff with minimal access to the facilities, that's not the best ratio. We always mocked houses that had a 1-1 ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms (and we were sharing bedrooms in that house). Houses with more bathrooms than bedrooms were completely incomprehensible to us.
I feel like I'm constantly suffering from gear-grinding culture shock in my own country. Who expects to have their own bathroom, unshared by anyone? It _sucks_ living alone. There's no one to make listen to you when you want to rant about your day. So _what_ if you have to share the sink? I chauffeured people around when I was driving a CRX (not a typo -- I do mean the lovely little two-seater from back in the day). And I do mean people, which I shouldn't admit to because it was illegal to have more than 2 people in that car at once, but I did that, too.
So I have this conversation with one of my broker/financial advisors/who knows what they call themselves now. This is the new guy, who is still dumb enough to suggest I sell my remaining Amazon stock, write covered calls, blah, blah, bleeping blah. I've been down this particular road over the last decade enough times that I go straight to Cold Anger and I'm pretty sure this guy is smart enough to pick up on it. I'm pretty sure because he asked point blank how we could have a better relationship. I suggested we gossip a bit about the markets. It was awkward, at first, but he really tried hard. I was pleased with that, altho like most broker/financial oh never mind, his idea of a sense of humor would probably play better with some jackass conservative Republican, as opposed to me, who, if I identify as anything, would probably identify with anarcho-socialism.
Oh, wait, did I post that? Whatever.
Partway through the conversation I mentioned that I really like my Fit (Yeah, We Know You Do Shut Up Already), but I wished it had been available with more options, and even what's available now is not as much as I want and I'd be willing to pay so why isn't anyone selling this to me? There was a segue off to the Smart Car, which the financial whatever called a Stupid Car because he thinks it should get a Lot better gas mileage for the teeny tiny seems unsafe factor. He was actually fairly cagey about how he worded this; I suspect he was concerned about my reaction. Smart guy, altho not smart enough. He assumes that they aren't selling that well, because there are plenty on the lot he drives by. I mention the kei car and Japanese regulations as described on the wikipedia page and whether anyone might be looking to sell more expensive small cars. At some point he brought up TaTa motors because another client bought the ADR which he thought UBS had a sell recommendation on, but there's new research out and he'll send it my way.
We also had a little discussion about the springtime flooding and credit crisis affecting the planting season in the midwest. I pointed out the probable downstream effect on meat prices (down when more animals are slaughtered, rather than feed them too-expensive feed, and then up later when the supply drops -- I know this from the drought in the South during the early 2000s); he wasn't interested. I'm not sure if this is because he knows more about commodities than I do, or less, but I have a theory.
After I got off the phone (A. woke up from nap #1), I went digging for information on Honda sales and Smart car sales and didn't get very far (interruptions), but I did run across one interesting assertion: many Smart cars are sold to households as a third car.
Because if it's not mine, and it's not yours, but it is ours, then we can probably share it.
Who am I to mock this? I've ordered my Townie with the kid seats so I can yank the Bike Tutor off the Bianchi so I can get it back as My Bike. I don't like to share, either. I'm trying to figure out what to put the Bike Tutor on, so that we _can_ share. And it's looking more and more like a Pure Trek Men's 3 spd. Not his. Not mine. Ours.