We will not go back to normal

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

We will not go back to normal nor should we. Normal never was. Our pre-Covid-19 existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, depletion,extraction, the exploitation of nature and man by man for ever greater profits.

We should not even long to return to this so-called “normal”. We have been given the opportunity now to create a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and Nature.

Normal, in fact, has not been for a very long time, probably not since the beginning of the industrialized age, the so-called industrial revolution, followed in the 1970s by the so-called “green revolution” in agriculture, which was not green at all and certainly was not good for most, also not as far as our food was and is concerned.

Greed became normalized and has been for a very long time already, probably ever since people ended up with someone lording it over the majority.

And then, after all the upheaval of the two world wars and the aftermath we ended up with the consumer society that wend from bad to worse and we arrived today at a stage where were consume the resources of our Planet in such a way and at such a speed that even renewable resources, such as wood, cannot be renewed fast enough.

Products are being manufactured in such a way that repair no longer is feasible and we have to constantly buy the same product, not even, necessarily an improved version of the same, over and over again every couple of years of even less, leading to a mountain of waste that destroys our environment.

And we want to go back to “normal”? Really?

We should take this opportunity, now, to create something better, something sustainable. A new system which will benefit all creatures inhabiting the Earth and not just a few individuals who become super rich by exploiting both man and Planet.

© 2020

Going back to so-called normal after pandemic would be madness

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Instead of waiting that everything goes back to “normal” after the pandemic and all this economic madness restarts would it not better to consider doing things differently? To make things better rather than going back to “normal” because this so-called “normal” was not normal at all. Rather the opposite. But then again the system is not broken either, it was designed this way not to function properly.

How about instead of building ever more car parks to create parks and playgrounds.

Instead of more and more consumption to design and manufacture products again – yes, I did say again – that can be repaired and create a repair economy to boot, that is to say shops that specialize in repair of those things that we cannot fix at home.

Instead of events experience and instead of everyone for himself a spirit of Ubuntu, a together rather than competing against each other.

And there are so many insteads that the list could go on and on, to be honest. I think we can all add a fair few of them to this small list that I have put together here.

The truth is, and most people, I am certain, would agree, that the so-called normal we have had for so long was anything but normal. What is normal with shop till you drop and buy crap only to impress others and also stuff that gets tossed a short time after. That is keeping the economy, the way it has been designed for the last how many decades, but normal it is not.

Products have been designed, in capitalism, ever since World War Two or not long thereafter, to have but a limited lifespan and more and more they can no longer be repaired, not even by specialists. We are, thus, forced to buy the same product over and over again simply because after a couple of years they are broken and cannot be repaired, because they have been designed that way.

There was a time when most things could be repaired, often by the tinkerer at home even, or tinkering was not even needed but just to know how to repair or replace a switch, for instance. A simple screwdriver was sufficient to open the things and repair could commence. But that was not to the liking of the capitalists.

The point is that is we have to buy the same products over and over over time because they keep breaking and can't be repaired means that manufacturers do not have to be innovative and do not need to design and make new products, better products, but can just keep making the same over and over.
However, what this pandemic has also shown us is, and this is a great irony, that the world's economy is in danger of collapsing simply because people are only and have only been buying what they really need. It proves the point that nothing of the normal was ever normal.

So, do we really want to go back to that kind of “normal”? I would think that we truly and honestly consider the options the answer, from the majority, would be a no.

© 2020

Bicycle servicing

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I don't want to put anyone out of business but I cannot understand this thing about bicycle servicing. Some people seem to believe that their bicycle needs an annual service – from a specialist – just like their car does and often it is also being touted in such a way.

Anyone with a bit of common sense – I know that that sense is rare nowadays but nevertheless – can service his or her own bicycle. The exception where, frequently, a mechanic is required, is changing bearings and such. Everything else, including a full service should be in the capabilities of a user or, in case of a child, his or her parent(s). That is what makes owning and using a bicycle such a great thing, namely not having to have a specialist to hand for things like service and repair. Then again I am well aware that many people today do not even know what to do in case of a puncture to a tire. I know of people who have thrown the bike and got a new one because they did not know it could be repaired or how. Sad world we live in nowadays.

Servicing a bicycle is not really something, bar, as said, anything to do with bearings, that one really has to consult a physical expert for in a shop or such. If you really are stuck with something there is nowadays always the Internet and YouTube and there are also some good and cheap little manuals to be had on bicycle maintenance and servicing.

The main part of maintenance and servicing of a standard bicycle is keeping it more or less clean (says he whose bike is currently encrusted in mud which, I know, is not a good thing) and chain, and other moving parts, well lubricated by means of oil. While WD40 or 3-in-1 is fine as a very quick and temporary fix and for easing things if should never be used as a long term measure as it is not a proper lubricant.

If you want to look after your bicycle(s) yourself well a good toolkit should be obtained. The few little spanners (wrenches for our American cousins) that sometimes come with a bike or that you can cheaply obtain to be put on a bike are not what I am talking about but a kit that has all the right tools for every possible type of Bicycle and job in hand, including a chain tool. The latter you will want and need in order to repair, or shorten a chain.

While it is true that you should give your bicycle, whether you use it daily or just occasionally, a once over at least once a year. You could call it a service if you like.

The most important thing to check for – and probably replace too – is your brake pads. In fact you should check those frequently because depending on the quality of them and on how and how often you apply the brakes they do wear and some quite quickly.

The next thing is your chain and its tension – if you do not have a bike with a chain tensioner as with the derailleur system such as Shimano, that is. It should not be too tight but also not too lose. Theoretically a tensioner keeps the chain at the correct tension anyway so you don't have to worry about that in that case.

Two items, or three actually, you have to have on your bicycle to make it road safe (and that by law) and that is lights (front and back) and a bell. Check that those are in good order during your “service” too.

If you have never considered servicing your own bicycle there are some small and larger good books available and today you can find a lot of how to videos on YouTube, often even on the channels from bicycle manufacturers and stores.

In the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic and people trying to avoid public transport the bicycle is seeing a renaissance and many people have begun to dust off their bikes and headed for the bike shops – the few that are open – to get their bicycles serviced. However, with the time on had for some if not indeed many in all honesty money can be saved and the bicycle still being safe with doing the “restoration” and servicing oneself.

© 2020