ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the November 8, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] sweet_sparrow. It also fills the "recreation" square in my 10-4-16 card for the Games and Sports Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Cassandra thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Just Over the Horizon"


Cassandra had a pronounced spring
in her step as she and Groundhog went
downstairs to the recreation floor.

She took her new cargo bike out of
the storage space that Groundhog
had rented for her, and then she
unlocked her old city cruiser from
the outside rack for him to borrow.

Groundhog let Cassandra set
the pace, because the cargo bike
was heavier than the cruiser.

Cassandra hadn't finished adapting
to her new bike, but she could feel
herself getting stronger already.

She pushed herself to her threshold,
where she could feel the workout but
could sustain the pace for half an hour
to an hour, more than long enough
to reach the community center.

Underneath her, the bike felt
solid and reliable, and it didn't
beat up her butt like the old one.

Groundhog kept up the pace
right behind her, and Cassandra
enjoyed having his company.

Onion City flowed around them
as they rode, a bustle of people
in cars, on bikes and skateboards,
walking along the sidewalks,
going in and out of doors.

Cassandra loved the diversity of
the city, and the quick swish of music
as they passed different buskers playing
guitar or drums or saxophone.

She felt as if something important
was just over the horizon, something
that could change her life, and even though
she did not know what it could be, she
wanted to rush downhill into it.

When they pulled into the parking lot
of the Jane Addams Community Center,
they were both breathing a little hard,
flushed with excitement and satisfaction.

A farm truck sat on the pavement with
a line of people waiting to peek through
the window and choose their produce.

"That was a good ride," Cassandra said
as they locked their bikes into the rack
that stood beside the main entrance.

"Yes, it was," said Groundhog.
"Thanks for loaning me your old bike."

"Thank you for suggesting this trip,"
she said. "I wouldn't have known
where to start without you."

"Come on, I'll show you to Reception,
and they can help us find a counselor,"
Groundhog said, and led her inside.

The building was beautiful.
Big glass windows and walls
gave it a bright, spacious air.
The front doors let out into
a large open hallway.

Another crowd of people
clustered around several tables
to pick up crates of fresh food from
Community Supported Agriculture.

The gymnasium, too, was walled
in glass. The reception area had
partially solid walls ventilated with
sliding glass doors and windows.

Groundhog leaned casually on
the window ledge and said, "Hi, we're
looking for a community counselor."

"Right this way," said the secretary.
"I believe he's free at the moment."

She led them to a warm beige office
with a cluster of comfortable furniture and
a china cabinet repurposed as a bookcase.
Paintings by local artists decorated the walls
along with an assortment of certificates.

A black man sitting at the desk
looked up as they opened the door.
"Hello, I'm Ethridge Ennis," he said.
"What can I do for you today?"

"I'm Cassandra Vogler and this is
my friend Groundhog," she said.
"I, um, was told to come here
for patchwork testing."

"In the interest of fair disclosure,
I watched the trial on television,"
said Mr. Ennis. "I won't pressure you
to talk about that if you don't want to,
but I can see why you would need
to check up on your life skills."

"Yeah, I'm trying to get used to that,
but it's still weird that people know of me
when I don't know them," Cassandra said.

"The more time passes, the fewer people
will pay attention to it," said Mr. Ennis.
"Meanwhile, here's a tablet computer
for you to take the patchwork test.
I'll show you to a desk you can use."

They actually had a whole little room
with a wooden study carrel and
an easy chair in the corner.

"Here you go," said Mr. Ennis. "Just
come back to my office when you're done."

Cassandra sat down at the desk
and began working on the test.

The questions were broken down
into sections, and they got harder
the farther she went in each.

Sometimes she didn't know how
to answer all the early questions,
but knew the later ones. Other times
she couldn't answer most of them.
A few of the categories were easy
for her all the way through.

Cassandra got the feeling that
her knowledge was patchy, and
it made her feel even less like
an adult than she had before.

She rubbed a hand over
her dry, itchy eyes and tried
to concentrate on the test.
The stress was beginning
to give her a headache, too.

Finally Cassandra finished
and dragged herself back
to Mr. Ennis' office.

"I'm finished," she said,
handing him the computer.
"I don't think I did very well."

"Most people don't, but it's
rare for anyone to do badly on
every topic," said Mr. Ennis.

"I guess," Cassandra said.
She just wanted to lie down
and forget this whole bad idea.

"You seem tired. It's normal for people
to feel wrung out after taking a test like this,"
said Mr. Ennis. "Why don't you go relax
in the quiet room while I score this?"

He showed her to the quiet room,
which had a smooth hardwood floor
with a few easy chairs, a lamp,
an end table, a bookcase, and
a basket of fidget toys.

Cassandra flopped into a chair
and cuddled the chenille blanket
that draped over the back.

Exhaustion weighed her down
so that by the time Mr. Ennis and
Groundhog came for her, Cassandra
had her head pillowed on the end table.

"The scoring is done," Mr. Ennis said.

"It's a good thing that I brought something
to revive you," Groundhog said. One hand
held a protein pack with grapes, apple slices,
cheese, a piece of flatbread, a boiled egg,
and a little tub of peanut butter. The other
held a mug that he wafted past her face.

"Coffeeeee," moaned Cassandra.
"Give me the coffee and nobody gets hurt."

"Sit up so you don't wind up spilling it
all over yourself," said Groundhog.

Cassandra hauled herself upright and
claimed the cup, taking a deep gulp. "Wow!"
she said. "This actually tastes good."

"You're still trying to acquire a taste for it,
aren't you?" Mr. Ennis said, smiling.

"Yeah, how did you know?" Cassandra said.
She took another drink. It was dark and sweet,
without cream, but somehow not too bitter.

"I hear a lot of that in here," he replied.
"Anyway, this is what you get when
the café is run by the Coffee Club
and the Edible Art Cooperative."

"This coffee is definitely worth
coming back for," Cassandra said.
Suddenly hungry, she dug into the snacks.
"I don't know why I'm so hungry. I ate
before I left the apartment building."

"Thinking takes energy, just like
physical exercise," said Mr. Ennis.
"Your brain burns up all the blood sugar,
and so then you need to replace that.

"Did I pick the right things?"
Groundhog asked. "I wasn't
sure, I just made my best guess."

"It's great, thanks," Cassandra said.

The food was simple, but good,
the kind of thing that she tended
to grab when out riding, if she
ran out of what she'd packed.

When she finished the snacks,
Groundhog brought out a bag with
a chocolate donut also covered
in glossy chocolate glaze, with
multicolored sprinkles on top.

"You are amazing," Cassandra said.
She bit into the donut and reveled
in the rich chocolate flavor.

"You worked hard, and that
deserves a treat," said Groundhog.

After Cassandra devoured the donut,
they went back to Mr. Ennis' office
to discuss the results of the test.

"You did pretty well," he said, handing
her a tablet computer with the results.
"Exceptional on Personal Appearance
and Hygiene, advanced in Transportation,
Educational Planning, Emergency and
Safety Skills, and Interpersonal Skills."

"Wow," Cassandra said. "I wasn't
expecting anything like that."

"As I said, most people are good
at some things," said Mr. Ennis. "You're
intermediate in Food Management, Health,
Housekeeping, Housing, Job Maintenance Skills,
and Knowledge of Community Resources."

"So those are the ones that I still
need to work on?" Cassandra guessed.

"Well, you've got room to grow there," he said.
"A higher priority would be the sections where
you scored basic: Money Management and
Consumer Awareness, Job Seeking Skills,
and Legal Skills. The only category where
you didn't meet at least basic standards was
Pregnancy Prevention, Parenting, and Child Care."

"What?" Groundhog said, sounding alarmed.

Cassandra rolled her eyes. "I bet it's because
I didn't know where's the family planning center,"
she said. "Who needs it? I can get rubbers in
the ladies' room, or if I wanted birth control pills,
then I'd rather talk to a regular doctor."

"It's up to you to set your priorities and
goals," Mr. Ennis reassured her. "The test
is just to help you understand where
your strengths and weaknesses lie."

"What does that mean?" she said.

"It means, look at the list of topics and
think about what's bothering you right now,"
said Mr. Ennis. "What do you need to know,
that you don't know, and it's causing problems?"

"I'd like to learn more about food," she said.
"Housing is probably a good idea -- I'm just
staying with Groundhog for now. I definitely
want to explore community resources,
because I'm new in the area."

"Those sound reasonable," said Mr. Ennis.
"I'm a little concerned about job skills, though."

"I, um, actually have a job," said Cassandra.
"I mean, I started out running errands as
an odd job, and then my neighbor Gyre
who's a courier offered to train me."

"Nice work if you can get it," said Mr. Ennis.
"All right, I agree that job-seeking skills aren't
a high priority right now, and your trainer will
presumably cover job maintenance skills.
Is there anything you feel a need to add?"

"Yeah, my original reason for coming here
was to ask about classes on bicycle safety
and repairs," she said, looking around for
brochures, but she didn't see any. "I need
to get a new license, my old one lapsed."

"Those are popular, so you won't have
to wait long until they come up," said Mr. Ennis.
"Event schedules are available at the front desk.
What about your basic categories? I won't
pester you about the pregnancy stuff since
you seem satisfied with your skills there."

"Money management, well, I don't have
much yet, so that's not urgent," she said.
Cassandra checked the tablet again.
"I'm really not up to handling legal stuff
this soon. I think I'd rather work on
those topics as they come up."

"Okay, it's your choice," said Mr. Ennis.
"I'm just here to help you think it through.
Ideally, I recommend that you choose
one or two goals to work on for now.
Don't try to do everything at once."

"Yeah, if I can remember what
I picked," Cassandra said.

"Would you like some worksheets
to take notes on that?" said Mr. Ennis
as he brought out a stack of paper.
"I have plenty of looseleaf pages, and
even a whole workbook on goals.
Or I could email you the files."

"Both, please," said Cassandra.
"I brainstorm better on paper, but
later, I like to look things up in
electronic format to review."

She took the paperwork that
Mr. Ennis offered her, and
gave him her email address.

She worked on the forms
for a while, nibbling on the end
of the pencil that she held.

Groundhog leaned over to see
what she was writing down.

"I'm sure the community center has
classes on food and cooking, and we
have some at home, too," he said. "As far
as housing, I could show you the rental website
for the Skylark Apartment Building once we
get home. Community resources, well, you
can cover a lot of that just by asking for
the handouts at the front desk here."

"Okay," said Cassandra. She
jotted down a list of goals that
she wanted to work on, and then
fleshed out biking and housing plans
in more detail regarding steps to take.

"I've got a meeting in a few minutes,"
Mr. Ennis said as he handed her
a folder to hold everything. "Let me
give you my business card, and then
you can call me if you have any questions
or if you want to explore actual counseling."

Cassandra took the card, but then said,
"I don't know, I'm pretty messed up but
my experiences with counseling have
all been ..." She trailed off with a shudder.

"Then I'm sorry that my field has treated you
so poorly," said Mr. Ennis, and he looked
like he actually meant it. "Considering what
you have come through, anyone would be
shaken by that. Struggling with it doesn't
make you weird or sick, just human."

"Well, that's new," Cassandra said darkly.
"Usually shrinks just say it's all in my head."

Mr. Ennis snorted. "Then they're idiots,
and you shouldn't listen to them," he said.
"Even though you haven't told me much
about yourself, just what I heard during
the trial and observing you today tells me
that you have plenty of practical challenges.
You're probably coping as best you can,
but if you want help, it's available."

Cassandra picked at the corner of
his card, making a tick-tick-tick sound.

"I'll think about it," she said, which was
as far as she could get without having
a panic attack, even if Mr. Ennis seemed
much nicer than the shrinks she'd met before.

"That's all I ask," Mr. Ennis said, and
shook their hands before they left.

Walking back to the reception desk,
Cassandra looked around at the area
and thought it seemed like somewhere
that she would enjoy spending time.

She just hoped that she could afford it.
Community centers usually had at least
a few free classes, but those might or
might not be the ones she needed.

The secretary happily gave them
stacks of brochures and flyers and
a copy of the master calendar.

She also directed Cassandra's attention
to the work-trade program they had for
people on a tight budget. That allowed
visitors to exchange volunteer hours for
the fees typically charged in some classes.

"This looks good," Cassandra said as they
walked out. "Bike repair is an ongoing activity
rather than a set class. Bike safety runs on
a quarterly basis and the summer session
is scheduled to start in a couple of weeks."

"I'm glad this worked out so well,"
Groundhog said. "I hoped that
this place would appeal to you."

"It really does," Cassandra said.
She loved the big, airy building
and the smiling people who filled it.
The brochures were stuffed with
all kinds of interesting opportunities.

Outside, they waited while a large bus
loaded people with arms full of produce,
and another bus with a lift unloaded
an entire wheelchair basketball team.

Then Cassandra and Groundhog
unlocked their bikes from the rack and
rode back the way they had come.

Once again, Cassandra had that feeling
that something wonderful was waiting
for her, just over the horizon, but now

she had a better idea what it could be.

* * *

Notes:

Cassandra Vogler -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long brown hair habitually worn in braids. Parts of her hair tend to bleach out to a more golden tone. Cassandra is an only child, with no cousins or even close friends her age. Tall for a girl, she tends to hunch down in attempt to hide her true stature. She is gawky and awkward in her body.
Having just turned 18, Cassandra demands that people treat her as an adult woman and quickly becomes belligerent if she feels that people are treating her like a child -- because to her, being a child is associated with people being free to hurt her. Now that she's an adult, she wants to learn how to defend herself. She dislikes coffee, but insists that it's an acquired taste and she's determined to acquire it.
Her family belongs to the Evangelical Methodist Church. When Cassandra's superpower manifested, her parents first put her into suppression therapy, which spurred several unsuccessful attempts to run away. Later they found a clipper to remove her Flight ability. That loss has left Cassandra with chronic pain, and a deeply conflicted identity crisis over whether she is still "really" a soup with her power crippled. She is more at risk for lashing out than for regressive types of teen rebellion.
Origin: Her superpower emerged at puberty. Her parents immediately started trying to make it go away.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Artist, Good (+2) Birdwatching, Good (+2) Bookworm, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Helpful
Poor (-2) Hostility Issues
Powers: formerly Average (0) Flight
Motivation: Escape from parents.

Ethridge Ennis -- He has sorrel skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair buzzed very short with a thin beard and mustache. He wears glasses. Ethridge works as a community counselor at the Jane Addams Community Center in Onion City.
Qualities: Master (+6) Emotional Intelligence, Expert (+4) Community Counselor, Expert (+4) Optimist, Good (+2) Approachable, Good (+2) Physically Fit, Good (+2) Sports Fan, Good (+2) Tidy
Poor (-2) Nearsighted

* * *

“She had the feeling, the tingling, lingering sense that something or someone life altering was just over the horizon. She had no idea what it was, but she wanted to rush headlong to bring it to her.”
Mandy Nachampassack-Maloney, Autumnal Dancer

Skylark Apartment Building in Onion City is old and full of character. Its advantages and disadvantages balance out to a rate that is neither bargain nor extravagant.

The basement is the recreational floor with the more physically active function spaces. The exercise room has treadmills, free weights, punching bags, and assorted bodybuilding machines. The auxiliary gym is subdivided into two 40x20 courts for handball, racquetball, and related games. The game room includes shuffleboard, several dart boards, pool tables, air hockey, foosball, ping-pong, and a few pinball tables. The small yellow room at the end of the hall is used for yoga, aerobics, dance practice, and other freestyle activities. Social dances usually take place in either the main gym or the social hall. The kitchen is used to bake pastries for Jack's Magic Beans, which has no kitchen of its own, just a basic coffee bar and display cabinets. The side entrance is actually the main entrance for this floor, and the handicap-accessible entrance for the whole building, whose smaller front entrance to the ground floor has steps. The side entrance is convenient to the building management office in the center; to the computer lab, locker rooms, and the building's sole elevator to the right; and to the classroom and social hall on the left. The small gray square immediately to the left of the elevator has indoor bike storage that residents can rent.

This is Cassandra's cargo bike.

Biking threshold may be described as anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold. This is a sample training plan for cyclists. Take a look at training zones to estimate the amount of effort in a workout. Cassandra is young and strong; by the end of the summer, she'll be fully adapted to the cargo bike and courier work. Here are some calculations and exercises for biking.

A food desert is an area where it's difficult or impossible to get healthy food. These often occur in cities, especially the poorer neighborhoods. Take a look at food deserts in local-Chicago. Terramange-Onion City is better off, but that's because they're put more work into fixing the problem. There's more to it than building grocery stores. Community Supported Agriculture, produce trucks, and selling food at hubs can all help. L-Denver uses bicycle distribution of fresh food, a popular solution in T-America. Farmers markets are useful too. Here is a lesson on food deserts.

Farm stands offer another way to sell fresh produce, and in T-America they often use an honor box system. Some give away free seedlings so people can grow their own food. Bus stop farm stands make shopping convenient. Some cities have a whole network of markets and stands. Search for farmer's markets and stands near you.

A farm truck or trailer moves produce to where the shoppers are. Peek inside to buy produce.

The Jane Addams Community Center is named after Jane Addams, a Chicago social worker. This is the entrance. See the first floor plan and the second floor plan. Here is the entrance hallway. A nearby CSA delivers food for pickup here. This is the entry to the gym. Much of the administration area has sliding glass windows and doors. When open, they provide access; when closed, they provide a quiet workspace. The community counselor has a private office. The administrative section has several small rooms including this study room, which is often used for people taking tests or doing other paperwork. The quiet room has a box of fidgets. The café has a counter for ordering.

Community Supported Agriculture allows people to buy shares in a farm and get boxes of food during the crop season. This has its pros and cons. Understand the benefits and disadvantages before getting involved. Similarly, food buying programs purchase fresh or preserved food en masse and distribute it in boxes to buyers. Search for a CSA near you. Here are some in the L-Chicago area.

Community counselors look after the mental health and general functionality of the community as a whole. They form the front line of support through mental health education and walk-in care for noncritical mental issues. They also treat the vulnerable, such as homeless people, who may be unwilling and/or unable to access other services. A key reason why T-America functions better is simply that people have widespread opportunities to solve small to medium problems before anything blows up into major trouble that may not be fixable. Most towns there have at least one community counselor keeping an eye on the big picture, and larger populations have more.

Person-centered counseling focuses on the whole client, not just a diagnosis, and supports people in solving their own problems rather than relying on an expert to fix things for them. Because of this, a person-centered treatment plan features the client's own goals, rather than goals imposed by a therapist. Think about how to make a treatment plan.

Here is an effective cycle of treatment which incorporates feedback. The My Life Wheel is a good illustration of social services in T-America, where people look at available resources and choose what they would find most helpful.

Mental wellness is more than the absence of mental illness or injury; like physical health, it spans positive behaviors and their benefits. T-America teaches the skills of mental wellness so that people tend to stay psychologically healthy, and it also normalizes the idea of getting periodic checkups to prevent problems and keep up with the latest news on mental health. It's proactive about promoting mental health. Browse some apps for mental wellness and a wellness workbook.

Life skills are the basic techniques needed for everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. This assessment tool measures how well children or teens are progressing toward independent living. This assessment focuses on people with disabilities or other challenges. Browse a manual of basic life skills. T-America encourages teens and new adults to measure their fluency in life skills, so they can fill any gaps before those cause serious trouble. You can pretty much walk into any community center or community clinic there, and they'll either have someone who does that stuff or they can tell you where to go for it. There are many more ways to improve your life.

Here's an overview of Cassandra's skill levels:
A Money Management/Consumer Awareness (basic)
B Food Management (intermediate)
C Personal Appearance and Hygiene (exceptional)
D Health (intermediate)
E Housekeeping (intermediate)
F Housing (intermediate)
G Transportation (advanced)
H Educational Planning (advanced)
I Job Seeking Skills (basic)
J Job Maintenance Skills (intermediate)
K Emergency and Safety Skills (advanced)
L Knowledge of Community Resources (intermediate)
M Interpersonal Skills (advanced)
N Legal Skills (basic)
O Pregnancy Prevention/Parenting and Child Care (incomplete)

In T-America, it's easy and cheap to find healthy fast food. This protein pack is typical of what you'll find at a cafe or snackbox vending machine. These are often made with locally-grown ingredients including seasonal fruit. In many places, subsidies or co-op programs keep the cost under $5. You can also make your own.

See the ingredients and directions for making Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Banana Donuts.

Making coffee drinkable requires understanding how to make a great cup of coffee. Methods include pour-over, French press, and drip coffee. Here are some tips for brewing good coffee. Adding a pinch of salt can take off the bitter edge. Learn how to enjoy black coffee.

There are actually two different concepts described as "coffee club" -- a subscription to different beans, or a group of people who love the brew. The cafe actually combines both, for maximum enjoyment of coffee and company. You never know exactly what will be on offer each day, but it's almost always worth the trip. Buying in bulk, often through private arrangements with the producers, helps keep prices low. Socializing over coffee is fun and easy for many people. Unlike L-America where coffeehouses have become places where people go alone or with friends, T-America typically offers friendship booths or a community corner for meeting new folks and chatting up strangers.

Edible art spans all manner of fanciful food and makes life more beautiful. Popular offerings include pastries, cakes, bento boxes, and other goodies. Beautiful things and cooking can both increase happiness. Look at some simple ways to beautify your pies or explore expert pastry decorations. There are casual and professional methods of decorating cakes. Similarly, see the basic and advanced bento techniques.

Mental fatigue and decision fatigue result from difficult headwork. Refresh yourself with a break and a healthy snack. While it helps to include some sugar, too much will make you spike and crash, which is not fun. Eat a mix of things, such as fruit and protein, for more balanced energy. Also, nutrients do more to revive you than junk food.

Goals may benefit from a workbook or other recordkeeping. There are apps to help you work toward goals. Here is a checklist and a worksheet for two goals.

Work-trade is one of several options for people who don't have much money but want to do things. Some bike programs let you earn a bike to ride, or even earn bikes to fix up and sell. Exercise programs may let people staff a desk in exchange for sessions. Some CSAs offer a work-trade option for people who can't otherwise afford a share.

The Jane Addams Community Center owns a regular bus which can seat 36 passengers plus 2 wheelchairs or 40 passengers. See a floor plan and the interior. They also have a wheelchair bus which seats 10 wheelchairs or 28 passengers. See a floor plan and views with the seats down or folded up.

Wheelchair basketball has specialized parameters adapted from conventional basketball. There are many ways to make a group more inclusive and encourage recreation among people with special needs. Here are some tips on adapting activities for people with disabilities. Why is this relevant to the current storyline? A facility that welcomes people of diverse races, classes, and abilities is more likely to appreciate superpowers than one full of only rich white ablebodied people.
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] artsyhonker
Your picture of Cassandra's cargo bike is of an electric, or more accurately electric-assist bicycle.

It has a Bosch electric motor on the front crank, which means that of the various types of electric bicycle (rear wheel drive or front wheel drive), it will feel most like an ordinary bike. Many electric-assist bicycles of this style measure the pedal torque and can be set so that the motor kicks in at a cdrtain level of resistance, meaning the rider can decide how hard they want to work. It's also possible to use this style of electric assist to reduce knee injuries, or avoid exacerbating existing ones. When I get an electric-assist bicycle, it will probably be of this style, though I'm waiting as long as I possibly can as the technology is still improving. It is usually possible to ride such bicycles using only the motor and not pedalling at all, but the range is much reduced.

Most electric-assist bicycles have brake levers that turn the motor off while you are braking, to avoid damage to the brakes or motor and to make stopping easier and safer.

Electric-assist bicycles are popular with elderly people in the Netherlands and other countries with a strong cycling culture, and are a good way to keep active despite joint conditions or low energy if "regular" cycling is too hard to be enjoyable or safe.

The bicycle in the picture is also belt-driven rather than chain-driven. This allows use of a grease-less transmission system, which reduces maintenance and means the chance of grease on clothing is reduced. Most of the belt-driven systems use a Kevlar belt drive. These do mean that the bicycle will need internal, hub gears rather than external, derailleur ones.

Hub gears require less maintenance than derailleurs, but when they do go wrong they usually require specialist attention to mend. There are different types of internal hub gears: I can't tell from the picture what kind that bicycle has.

Why does an electric-assist bicycle have gears at all? I believe one reason is that it's more efficient, and also cheaper, to run the motor at a constant speed and have the gearing change than to have a geared motor. I could be wrong about this. It also means that if the battery runs out of juice, it's still possible to put the bicycle into a very low gear and make slow, but steady, progress toward your destination. In areas with adequate public transport, another option might be to lock up the bike, take the battery somewhere else and recharge it, or just swap it for a fully-charged battery.
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] artsyhonker
Aidan figures that the bike will raise Cassandra's income enough to support itself, despite the expenses.

Almost certainly, though of course it depends on the economic context. (I go with hub gears because I like a coaster brake, which won't work with derailleurs, and because I don't always have the physical ability to do much maintenance. I'd rather have something I can take to get serviced once every 1000 miles.)

Another thing she'll probably want is a subscription to the Onion Security service so she can park it in top-notch bicycle garages around town.

Probably! Though another nice thing about the kevlar belt drive and internal hub gears is that rain doesn't really matter. Still, security can be an issue.

I was surprised that bicycle didn't come with a spoke lock. I keep the key for my other lock attached to the key for the spoke lock, which means I can't ride the bike away without having both keys. In some cities it's also possible to register the bike by serial number so that if it does get stolen, and it turns up, the police know who it was stolen from.
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] artsyhonker
Current economic context: teenager making good pocket money from running errands for neighbors, in training as a courier.

Future economic context: after training, a bonded courier in T-America can make quite a lucrative living from carrying sensitive materials, although the low end is basically cheap package delivery. Anyone with superpowers can command considerably more; Gyre specializes in lightweight valuables carried in gyrfalcon form. Cassandra can do heavy hauling or lighter packages; flexibility is an asset.


Yes -- I meant the wider economic context in terms of how common bike theft is, how strong the trade in stolen bikes is, and so on. If it's economically worthwhile to drive around in a van stealing bikes, a wheel/spoke lock is less use, because it doesn't lock the bike *to* anything so you just break the other lock, then pick up the whole bike and deal with the spoke lock later. But to do that you probably need to be fairly organised, and know you've got some kind of fence to sell the stolen bikes to.

Those didn't come up when I researched the most secure portable locks for bicycles. Nor did I have any luck finding their security level in comparison to other categories of lock when I tried searching for that just now.

They aren't, by themselves, much help: they don't lock the bicycle *to* anything. But they mean an extra step in lock-picking/breaking before a thief can ride the bicycle away, they're difficult to break without risking damage to the rear wheel, and they're not very heavy. I fit cheap ones to all my bikes, so I only have to carry one additional lock. If you're going to carry two locks (and I'm in London most of the time, so I'm going to carry two locks), having one of them as a spoke lock saves a lot of bother.

As with other locks, there are reputable and less-reputable brands, and you tend to get what you pay for. But my goal is generally "make my bike more of a pain in the arse to nick than that other bike over there" rather than "make it impossible" -- this is what insurance is for. I suspect they're uncommon enough in North America that they probably don't make it into various American lock-security rating systems, but I understand that they're standard on bicycles in the Netherlands and in Japan.
artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] artsyhonker
That would make sense. Having lots of high gears is more sensible for touring/racing on relatively flat terrain, where it's possible to build up a lot of speed. Anything stop-start, hilly or involving significant cargo, I'd favour low gears over high ones. In fact, when I swapped my 3-gear hub for an 8-gear one, it was primarily because the old 3-gear hubs just don't have a low enough low gear for me to manage if I need to accelerate quickly (e.g. when there is a lorry behind me and the driver is impatient) -- heavy Dutch bike, heavy human, I tend to carry a lot, and I sometimes attach a trailer with yet more stuff on it.

Another good use of low gears (and electric assist!) is hilly terrain. I don't know what Onion City is like in that respect.

There are people working on an electric bike motor that can charge the battery by riding, but so far I'm not convinced by them.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-02-24 04:31 pm (UTC)
mirrorofsmoke: Text icon: I can't believe we're still protesting this shit. (Default)
From: [personal profile] mirrorofsmoke
I cheer this story! :D

Also edible art. SQUEEE!

I want to try making those donuts.

-Nyuu

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