Monday, January 09, 2006

You win some; you don't win some

Usually when we don't get something there is much stamping of feet and throwing of toys out of prams; I don't take rejection well. I also don't like missing out on a no-strings forty grand, which would have got us a lot further in our mission.

As you may recall (see a previous blog), we applied for some funding via the Shell Springboard initiative.

Well, ho-hum, we didn't make the shortlist. And it's hard not to be disappointed. But they were just so gosh-darned nice about it, and on top of the fact it was free to enter, with a really easy entry form and all, I really can't do much more than shrug and put it down to experience.

And I really recommend any out there who may be eligible to give it a go next time. As they wrote to us:

"We do hope that you will continue to follow this first, pilot year of the Shell Springboard fund and perhaps respond to future requests for entries.  Your application remains confidential and will be disposed of securely after the first winners have been announced.  Therefore, should you wish to enter in the future, the independent assessors will have no record of your previous application.

Updates will be available on the Shell Springboard website where you can also subscribe to our mailing list and find links to other funding sources that may be of help to you."

I think we will. And we'll pop it on the website under funding or whatever category we have for such info.

The only frustration is that we can't find out why we made the cut, which makes it hard to do better next time. My only fear is the 'widget from Wigan' factor, where such monies ALWAYS seem to go to tangible 'things', where we are just a little too virtual for judges to get their heads around. 

They do seem to like an invention they can see getting designed, prototyped, made and sold for a tad more than it costs to make.

So, as I told them we will, we'll be monitoring those who did apply and get featured, and happily put their stuff on our site if it falls in our re:mit.

Least we can do.

Here they are so far:

Man and machine

The tragic deaths of the cycling group at the weekend brought into
sharp focus for me the conflicting dilemmas of being caring parents,
letting one's kids roam free, engaging with environmental desires and
plain practical issues.

When I was my boys' age, 40 years ago, I went everywhere by bike, and
on my own. Today I would not let them near the road yet, and when
(if) we do as they get older, it will be with a parent at either end
and all the various protections imaginable, from helmets to
reflective gear, etc.

Not that this would have made a whit of difference in this case.
Likewise a few weeks ago, when I dropped them off at a remote pub for
a night hike with their Cub lodge. 20-odd kids and several leaders,
all with head lamps (literally) and bright yellow jackets, walking a
few miles mostly over farm land but also on the roads. I was not
awaiting their return at ease, having driven back and seen various
folk hurtling, legally, at 60mph down single lane A & B country roads
in the pitch black, vision good to the throw of of their headlights,
which of course do not travel round corners. And reflective jackets
don't generate light forwards as do oncoming cars.

It's a similar story in more urban settings. The stories I read of
cycling in the city do not make for happy reading.

And I'm afraid to say that, no matter what the system of power (even
if only distilled water exits the pipe), without a force field around
the bike, if a vehicle has mass and exceeds walking pace, in this day
and age I don't see how the two can safely coexist in the same zone.

Which means the car rules. Unless we can find a way of bring its
speed to a safe level remotely in the presence of such other traffic.
And that of course ignores the fact that pavements can be, and
sometimes are, mounted.

Our thirst for travel in vehicles has all but crushed our right to do
the same under our own steam.