Sunday 29 May 2022

Is it scooter time?

 I've been thinking about getting a scooter for a number of years. With the petrol price set to hit R24/L in June, it really is crunch time and a scooter is looking like the most feasible way to commute locally.

image from Business Tech

My commute to work is around six kilometres each way. For this short, in-town driving, my Polo, which is 19 years old this year, does around 9L/100km (I get 5.7-6.5L/100km highway driving).

Driving to work and back, at R24/L, costs almost R20/day, which is around R400/month.

A 150cc scooter, gets around 2.7L/100km. It doesn't state whether this is open road or town driving. But, let's make it an even 3L/100km for work-home commuting. This is R9.40/day and R188/month.

Just on fuel, I would save R212/month on fuel to work and back. That's R 2,545/year just in fuel.

Car running costs are higher than that of a scooter in terms of servicing, tyre replacement, wear-and-tear, insurance, and depreciation.

Servicing is cheaper - although service interval (primarily oil change) is recommended at 2,000-3,000km (vs car at 15,000km or 1 year). At 260km/week to work and back, that's 9-ish months for me.

Tyres are R600-R850 each - and a scooter only needs two of them. Tyre replacement is 25-30,000km or 5 years.

[Of interest, a bus trip here in George is R12/trip. If you get on and off within an hour, you can hop from bus to bus. For most, it would be R24/day transport costs to work and back.]

Financially, a scooter makes sense. Practically?

For the most part, I transport my laptop, lunchbox and some stationery (flipfiles and notebook) back-and-forth to work each day. Some days, I need to use my bakkie, which I took over from my dad late last year, to drop or collect metal frames from powdercoating or galvanising. I also use the bakkie to tow the kayak trailer, which my small, low-slung Polo cannot do. The underseat storage space of a scooter should be sufficient - otherwise my backpack will do.

George has all-year rainfall with more in summer than winter. Even when it rains, the rain is often light and misty and there are more rain-free than sodden day. Winter here is mild, compared to the highveld, with high single digits into the mid-teens during the day. 

More days than not, a scooter is a good fit for work commuting. Of course, at only 6-odd kilometres each way, I could ride a bicycle. A scooter would be the time-saving, convenient option.

Where my car wins over a scooter is for transporting dogs. Sure, I've seen images of dogs riding on scooters, sitting in the footwell between their owner's legs, but I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with this for my girls. Also, I've got three of them, my Rusty and Rosy and my mom's Bella, that I take out daily to trailheads for our outings. The distance is too far to walk them from home to the trails, enjoy and outing on the trails and to walk home.

For a scooter, a hard-shell pet carrier (like a delivery bike carrier for pets), side-car or trailer would be the way to transport my indulged pooches. These are also useful for transporting groceries and other items, which make a scooter even more practical.

How well will a scooter fit into my lifestyle? I'm not sure. 

My mom is keen to ride a scooter around town too. She does a lot of zipping to PostNet or to the shops, so something quick and nimble would work better for her than a car.

My friend has offered to loan me his scooter for two weeks while he is away. This will give me a good chance to slot a scooter into my day-to-day and so see how well it gels.

I'll need to write a Learner's Licence again - almost 30 years after I wrote my first learner's licence (at 16 for the motorbike I rode to school and back). I've ordered the book and will get it on Wednesday. Doing the written licence now is worth doing now and will give me a two-year cushion in which to do the bike driver's test. If I decide to make the scooter move, I'd rather get the practical licence nailed after a few months of regular riding because two years go past in a flash.

I'll see what the next few weeks bring for me, but one thing for sure is that these fuel price increases are hitting us hard - personal transport, public transport, courier, goods transport and, as a result, cost of goods. 

Factory sale success

 I've got a factory sale on my YOLO Compost Tumblers at the moment. I created a Facebook advert for this and put it out there. 

I've found Facebook ads to be a hit-and-miss. The last one I did got many likes from dummy profiles and people completely outside of my target market. I once addressed this to Facebook - and got a response. The customer care person suggested that my ad was perhaps recruiting new customers. Hard to describe to someone outside of South Africa how I know my market and how I know when I look at the profiles of people that these people don't really exist. I left it.

This ad seems to have hit the mark with better-than-expected uptake.

The factory sale is well timed as autumn and winter are great season to get into composting. Lawn cuttings are at a low (less volume to deal with when you're starting out on a composting journey) and carbon-rich dry leaves are abundant - a key source of dry materials to 'balance' out moisture-rich kitchen peelings.

Over the past year or so, the factory has collected a bunch of tumbler shells that have blemishes of some or other kind. These are usually the same colour as the plastic and range from pre-heating marks to porosity, smudged logos or overcooking discolouration (darker than normal) inside. Blemishes have no effect on the structure and longevity of the shell. Purely aesthetic, like a scar or pimple on you. The factory passes on a good discount to me to move the units, which take up space, and to get back some of their spend on material, gas, and labour.

The factory sale has gone well with all but three units (one small, two medium) gone. This has been a good exercise to go through.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Days of Yoga

 I'm a week into my annual pre-birthday 'Days of Running' challenge, which this year is Days of Yoga.

I've committed to doing a yoga class every night. I'm following Lesley Fightmaster's classes on YouTube. Sadly, Lesley passed away about 18 months ago, but her legacy is her YouTube channel and the hundreds of classes she created and shared on YouTube. 

I've enjoyed a number of her 25-minute stretch or flow classes. This week I had to trade some yoga for map drawing for the Find It Checkpoint Challenge. Instead of doing a class, which I was really too tired for at 2am or 3am, I showed up on my mat for a few sun salutations and then crawled into bed. I figure some is better than none. Now that my event planning is done, I'll be back online with Lesley.

The one area that I'm really feeling the benefits is in my back in upward dog. My lower back was really tight (probably from too many solid hours spent at my computer) and has loosened up a lot already. 

I'll steadily do longer and longer videos and probably next weekend I'll hit a primary series class video. Been a while. For now, the 25 minute classes are getting me on my mat and I'm enjoying the calming - body and mind - of these classes before bed.

Find It Checkpoint Challenge - Postboxes

 Shortly after moving to George, I spotted an old postbox. Then I spotted another. I then started keeping an eye open for them. I've now seen and plotted 19 old postboxes around town (and one in Port Alfred when I visited family over Easter).

I fondly remember the days of penpals and writing to friends. Receiving a letter in the post was something special because the letter would be from someone who meant something to you. I went to boarding school for my first two years of high school - we did a lot of letter writing to friends and family and also between the boys and girls high.

When I started seeing the postboxes, I was reminded of this rhyme that we would write on the back of envelopes:

Postie, Postie
run like hell
to give this letter
to my pal.

Postboxes. Running.

The link is clear - a totally fabulous theme for a metrogaine / orienteering event. I've sat on this great idea for almost a year. The Find It Checkpoint Challenge is happening.

They're old, faded and forlorn. But they're still standing.

Two incidents led to the rapid creation of an open event. First, World Orienteering Day, which is now one-week long and no longer just one day, was coming up from 11-17 May. There are now two WODs each year in May and Sept. I've generally been organising one event each year for the past few years. Last year September, I planned an event on trails. I've been thinking about the postboxes for May but I've been too tied up with work to put in the planning.

Two weeks ago at parkrun, a lady whose barcode I'd just scanned said something to me like, "You look like Lisa" to which I replied, "I am Lisa". She moved to George four months ago. She said that she had participated in a number of my Metrogaine events in Jo'burg and followed this up with, "Are you organising any here yet?". Well, I'm a soft target and that was the nudge I needed to make this happen.

After the weekend slipped past, full of activities, it was do or die time on Monday night to draw the map. I had it done by 03h30. Tuesday night I put in the controls and tweaked elements and layout of the map. Wednesday night I exported map sections for the checkpoint cards and printed and laminated. Thursday evening I put out the checkpoints. 

With this event, participants download and print a map in advance of showing up at the start location - a supermarket parking lot. The friendly cafe* there has allowed me to put the first checkpoint location card and event info and map in their window.

At each checkpoint postbox, they'll find a checkpoint card. It shows the location of the next checkpoint. I also added in the actual running distance to the next checkpoint. At CP 11, the two course distances split. The long 12km course goes on to bag a few more postboxes while the short 8km course goes to the final checkpoint and then the finish.

The route isn't really navigationally challenging with direction change and interesting elements because the focus is on visiting postboxes within a reasonable course distance. But, without street names and being an unfamiliar activity, it is sure to keep participants entertained and stimulated. For sure, most participants will never have run around with a map in their hands.

This is the map. Participants fill in CP locations as they progress around the course.

Just this week it was announced that Big 5 O, a five-day South African orienteering event, will be hosted in the Plett / Garden Route region at the end of 2023. I am so there! 

If there is one thing that I miss from my old Jo'burg life, it is orienteering (and my orienteering friends). I'll look at hosting some navigation courses this side to drum up local support and get my eye into it again. I'm already so looking forward to five days of orienteering. 

For now, I'm serving up a bit of urban navigation running fun. I do this mostly because I so love drawing maps and planning courses, but also because I get such a kick out of other people thoroughly enjoying a new activity.

* The friendly cafe I mentioned above... This is where I saw the announcement just over a year ago for the City Nature Challenge - on their window. That event introduced me to iNaturalist, which stimulated my observation and new passion for fungi. Since then I have logged 565 observation and identified 218 species. I told them today what the effect of putting a small poster in their window has had on my life.