I now know better than to estimate the time moped projects will take. A quick half hour job turns into a frustrating afternoon after just one or two minor speedbumps. And that's what happened today.
One of my tires went flat last week, but instead of just replacing the tube, I ended up buying new wheels, tubes, and tires, because my old ones had spoked rims that weren't quite as straight as they once were, and didn't quite have as many spokes as they once had.
To ease into the work, I decided to do the front wheel first. Taking off the back wheel requires removing the belt, chain, brake cable, and then you have to take the transmission out of the hub. The front wheel should only require removing the brake cable.
But after pulling off the front wheel, I realized that the new one didn't fit in as a drop in replacement. Its hub was too skinny and the brakes didn't line up properly. Maybe, I thought, I could take apart the old wheel, take out the hub, and replace the new wheel's hub with it.
So I cranked down with two wrenches (and a hammer to get it started), and pulled the hub off the old wheel. As soon as the first ball bearing came out and bounced on the ground, I suspected that I'd crossed the point of no return. Half a dozen more ball bearings flooded out of the hole where the axle was and scurried to various hiding spots around the garage.
So I was at the point of no return. If life had a rewind button, I'd skip back to buying the new wheels and just get a tube to fix my flat. Six bucks, half an hour of monkeying with the moped, and I'd be back on the road. But once the ball bearings crumbled, my only option was to go forward, way out of my comfort zone.
Getting to the point of no return, for me at least, is half luck and half skill, if you can call it that. I rush into projects with very little consideration for plan B. A hacksaw is just as likely as a tape measure to be the first tool I reach for when starting a project.
So I'm prone to it, but enough chance is involved that a lot of times I don't expect to get there. Like when we explored Airman's Cave in Austin. We weren't terrible prepared, but we didn't expect it to be the hardest thing we'd ever done in our lives (which it was).
The beauty of the point of no return is that you have no choice but to succeed. You buckle down and do really hard things that really stretch your abilities, because you have no other option.
When we found ourselves eight hours into a one way cave, our only option was to make the eight hour trek to right back when we started. What else was there? Sit there and die? When the ball bearings fell out of the old wheel, it became impossible to put it back on. My options were to figure out how to combine the good parts of that wheel with the new one, or to leave an expensive and inoperable moped in my friend's garage. And really, that's not even an option. The air conditioner I pulled from my RV has long overstayed its welcome in his garage. I can't imagine asking to keep the moped there, too.
My friends and I had planned on riding our mopeds together to the park, but I told them to go ahead. I spent the next few hours battling away with the moped. The front wheel situation finally came together, the back was easier than expected, and after a serious effort with the pneumatic grinder, I even got my new handlebars on.
If I'd left myself an out somewhere in that three hour ordeal, I probably would have taken it and gone riding with my friends. But instead I burned my bridges and worked through a really hard problem. And now I don't feel as though my wheels are going to collapse under me as I ride, which is a really nice feeling.
The picture isn't actually my moped, but it's the same kind of wheel in the same garage. Close enough. Unfortunately I messed up the brakes when I put on the new wheels, so now my moped is terrifying to drive!
I'm writing 1000 words a day every day, which means I'm writing roughly 10 blog posts per week. I'll write a post about that some time. Thinking about making the outtakes available for a monthly subscription. The two best will be posted every week, which should really up the quality of posts!
Assuming a little test tomorrow goes well, I'm going to have an AWESOME post on Thursday for anyone who works while they travel.
@Brian You could always wait for the bonus (+EV is +EV), and then put most of your savings into a CD or something. Not the most efficient vehicle, but you could shield it from you for a few years.
Appropriate difficulties. I love that.
I've been thinking about this since you mentioned quitting a job with very little savings and having that work out really well because you had all this motivation. And here I am, planning it out so I have as much saved as possible. On the one hand it seems silly to quit before getting a basically guaranteed bonus, but at the same time I wonder, is accruing more cushion really good?
I think it is the Tibetan monks who pray every morning that they may encounter the "appropriate difficulties" during that day that they need to develop their practice. Kind of awesome. Who prays for difficulties?
Good job on staying extremely productive with the writing!
You're writing style flows very well; it's easy to read yet still engaging.
I have a question though: How much time a day do you spend reading? I think the more someone reads the better their writing can potentially become.
While, I understand what you're saying, I agree with Calvin. I hate when these unexpected disasters happen especially if/when preparation could have prevented it.
Case in point, my computer broke last week and spent days trying to isolate the problem.
Then again, I have learned a lot from reaching points of no return and having to solve the problem. And they always occur inevitably. It's just not always pleasant.
Alexander the great, follows a similar strategy. His first battle was when he was seventeen. He crossed the river with 20,000 men to fight the persian king only to find 150,000 soldiers waiting to pounce on them. When he saw that he burnt all his ships :) - point of no return
Hey Tynan, I know what I'm about to ask doesn't relate at all to the post, but just had a quick question:
when you first started your nomadic traveling, how much money did you have? How much did you have, use to buy equipment, then how much spendable money you had when you first landed in the foreign country?
Would mean a lot to answer, thanks
I have often credited my period of bleak finances with getting through many points of no return. I'm thankful that financial prosperity is mine again. But when there wasn't much money and something needed to be fixed, either because I passed the point of no return or because of usual wear and tear, not having money to take it to someone else forced me to be creative. And that has been a good thing for me.
I've been writing 4,000 words a day in anticipation for a blog I'm starting this week. It's a nice, productive feeling to just let my fingers off the leash and let them write freely. I end up with some garbage content to sift through, but also a lot of topic ideas to go into further. I don't aim to hit 4,000 words or anything, either, but instead I just give myself a half hour or so to just write whatever is on my mind and it always tends to end up around there.
On this one, I differ because I have, apparently, a lower tolerance for frustration. In the situation you described, I would end up doing something radical, like scrapping an otherwise-fine vehicle.
An important part of my growing up has been all of the "daily" things, including maintenance. I'd rather fix the spokes (or get them fixed) one time, then go have fun. Another time, I'll change the tube (replacement on hand, with any luck). Other times I'll maintain the brakes or whatever. In between, I'll do business and have fun.
I love San Francisco so much that it's almost a problem. When I think about taking a trip somewhere, my next thought is, "yeah, but there's so much awesome stuff going on right here, too." Of course, no city is perfect. San Francisco's faults are common to most big cities: parking is a pain traffic gets unwieldy during rush hour.
Enter the moped. I used to think that "moped" was another name for scooter, but it's not. Considering that mopeds, with a few exceptions, haven't been mass produced since the 1980s, it's not all that surprising that no one knows what they are anymore.
A moped is actually a hybrid between a small motorcycle and a bicycle. They were originally designed for the motors to assist in pedaling, not to completely take over. As small engines became more powerful the need for human power diminished and eventually they were replaced with scooters.
Reader Daniella just sent this to me, which is quite cool -
I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin a bit back, and I was very impressed with it. This was my second attempt at reading it - the first time, I didn't think it was worth reading since the language was hard to get through and the book was mostly anecdotes that I wasn't getting much from.
What I didn't realize was, the book was written at two very different time periods in Franklin's life. He wrote the first half as kind of a rough set of notes just for his family. Then about 10 years later, he finished it.
The second half of the book is where the gold is. Well, there's a number of interesting points in the first half, but I found the second much more practical and enlightening. Also, he cuts down on the slang and the English modernizes a bit for he second half. I'd recommend it.