The high roads are open

Jun 25, 2011 | | 0 comments |

As much as I love the long, cool spring and cool summer so far, it did mean that the high mountain passes were all still snowed up. Two days ago one of the best roads around here was finally opened up and today we rode the Monte Cristo pass. The ride was spectacular with 10ft snow banks either side of the road where the augers and ploughs had cleared it away. It was an interesting comparison to our first ride up there last year which was in the first week in May, to completely clear roads. We went from 35°C down in the valley to 10°C up on top between the snow banks. There were some slow moving pickup trucks and a swarm of crazy slow Hardly Ablesons that we dispatched in fairly short order and after that it was basically 40 miles of traffic-free, police-free bliss. We stopped for lunch in a tiny little place called Randolph which, according to a plaque in their town centre, has increased in population from 480 in 1896 to 490 today. Not your typical Mormons. Finished the day by reversing the route and riding back over the pass for a second helping. Lovely.

Too much choice.

Jun 22, 2011 | | 0 comments |

My favourite local burger restaurant (#CrownBurger if you must know) recently installed a new soda machine. It's a Coke Freestyle. Now I love technology but this is taking the piss.
Rather than a row of dispensers, there's a single nozzle and a touch screen where you can choose one of 134 different drinks (133 flavoured, plus water). Getting just plain Coke or Diet Coke is actually pretty difficult.
First, you're faced with a screen with 19 icons - the different "base" drinks. Once you've found the one you want, you're presented with all the variations of it.
These are the ones you're offered for diet coke:
Diet Coke
Diet Coke lime
Diet Coke vanilla
Diet Coke orange
Diet Coke cherry
Diet Coke raspberry
Bear in mind you can have those flavours in regular Coke, Coke zero and caffeine-free Coke too. And Sprite with all its variations. And Fanta. And so on and so forth.

This is bad on all accounts. First, there's just too damn much choice, and getting a simple drink is no longer simple. Second, Americans, for the most part, when presented with this much choice, either can't make a decision, or decide that the exact combination they want isn't in the machine. Result: the line for the drinks machine is huge now. Third, people of a certain age haven't a fucking clue what the machine is, much less how to operate it. And fourth, because it all comes out of a single spout, it doesn't matter what you think you ordered, you're getting remnants of the last five people's drinks mixed in with yours.

Still - if you want some fun, press the 'water' button then look for the three water drops on the top-right of the display that form a triangle. Tap them in sequence, clockwise from the top, twice, and you'll get into the technician's service menu. From there, you really can have some fun .....