Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Word Power

Here's my new most-useful word:


Websters: Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

I saw it used in the context of Paris Hilton being sent back to jail. All of America is feeling schadenfreude about her self-inflicted woes.

It's not a particularly good thing to derive pleasure from the woes of others, but I s'pose it's human nature. In fact, the opposite is probably better - feeling compassion or empathy when we see our fellow humans suffering. (And hopefully all of us are capable of feeling compassion and empathy when appropriate... but maybe not towards poor little Paris.)

But it put me to thinkin'. And I've got to confess - I feel a certain amount of schadenfreude when those Hummer and F350 commuters are pumping $3.50 gas. I feel it when I see the bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic on I-84, State Street, Eagle Road, etc., every weekday.

Motorists probably have the same reaction when they see me floundering along on a triple-digit-hot day, or in a downpour. Or when they see me repairing a flat tire by the side of the road. Their feelings may be merited when I'm fixing that flat. Other than that, what they are feeling is pseudoschadenfreude. Because I may not relish the single-digit or triple-digit temperatures, or the downpour, but taken in measured doses I enjoy the variety that they provide. And they make me appreciate the perfect days. (And no matter how bad it gets, it's better than being totally dependent on a motor vehicle.)

(Pseudoschadenfreude - isn't that one of the ingredients the meth-cookers use?)


db said...

It's one of the best words in any language.

And yeah, whether or not it reflects poorly on me, part of the enjoyment of biking is seeing motorists feed what ails them. I'm not car-independent by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that my fill-up every 2 to 3 weeks is way below the norm here.

Speaking of fixing the bike, I need to learn how to replace a broken spoke. Go figure - on Saturday I rode 100 miles in the Bob LeBow ride with absolutely no mechanical problems. On Monday, I rode about 7.5 miles to work, and busted my first spoke. Aye carumba! (Although, I appreciate the fact that my wheel chose a much more convenient time/place to fail. What a great bike.)

Bikeboy said...

If your spoke isn't on the cassette side of the rear wheel, it's cake. Just get a replacement spoke the same length and with the same threading, and put it back. You can get a spoke wrench for $6 or so... Park makes a nice little triangular-shaped one with 3 different size wrenches. (If the break is on the cassette side - and for some reason they are, more often than not - you'll need to remove the cassette, obviously.)

Tighten the spoke until the wheel rolls true again. (You might check the rest of 'em, just to make sure there aren't some other loose ones.)

Since I'm a fat boy, I break my share of spokes. Although I must've built myself a nice wheel, because it's probably 2.5 years old and it's been at least 6 months since I busted a spoke.

Bikeboy said...

Oh... I've got RESPECT for anybody who rides 100 miles! I did it - once. Just to see if I could. And that was probably 12 years ago; don't know if I could do it again, unless Howie Mandel had $1 million in a briefcase that he'd give me if I completed the job.

db said...

Thanks, Bikeboy. I, too, am not sure if I'll ride another century, but I'm glad I did it once to confirm that I was able. I'm more impressed with the fact that you've built your own wheel, though.

It turns out that I didn't actually break the spoke, but the spoke nipple (heh-heh, I said 'nipple'). So it was a matter of replacing that and re-tightening.

I'll do it myself next time, after watching the guy at Bikes2Boards do it for me. There's nothing like a bike shop to make you feel stupid, but these guys don't flip me a bunch of attitude. And they're very helpful.

Wish I'd thought to get that Park spoke wrench on Monday when I placed an order with Nashbar. :0