The joys of good inventions

I can sound like a luddite sometimes, and it would be fair to say that I have mixed feelings about modern technology. I am very fond of the internet, and of the things I own, the netbook I’m typing this on is of particular value to me. Not that I own much hi-tech stuff. There are some kinds of technology that seem to be made purely so that someone can sell you a new thing. Many of them do nothing for me. I get far more excited about inventions that have genuine impact, aren’t just a faster version of an old thing with more bells and whistles than I have any use for at all. Technology that uses less energy than old ways of doing is a win, technology that enables new creativity. If they make 3d printers that run on old food packaging, then, and only then will I be wildly excited about them.

It’s snowing here today. As a child, snow was a source of fear. I was born with my feet pressed back against my shins, as a result my ankles are dodgy and I spent my childhood falling over a lot. Snow, ice, even frost, increased the risk of falling, and I never really enjoyed snow as a consequence. This stayed with me right up until 4 years ago, when my brother discovered and introduced me to a thing. Microspikes. Also known as fell runners crampons. A rubber upper that slips over the boot or shoe, and on the underside, chains and little metal teeth. They’re designed for those gloriously mad people who want to run over mountainous terrain in adverse conditions. Lightweight, fairly low tech, but absolutely life changing. I can walk in the snow without any need to worry, and that makes it possible to enjoy the snow rather than being mired in fear.

Every year, elderly people, especially women with brittle bones fall on slippery surfaces. Broken hips are an all too frequent outcome, leading to long hospital stays, wrecked confidence, and terrible physical pain. Many never really get over it. Add to the list of campaigns I want to start, one to get microspikes and similar things given to all pensioners as a matter of course. They’d pay for themselves in a single winter, not just in unoccupied hospital beds, but also in the well being, happiness and self esteem of the people affected.

If you’ve got a person with confidence or mobility issues who is likely to suffer in the ice and snow, consider making the investment and getting a set. Being kept in for long periods by bad weather is so isolating and demoralising, and the freedom this little bit of inspired invention gives a person, is incredible. They aren’t totally fall proof, but I’ve walked over steep and ice coated hills in them and never so much as lost my footing.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “The joys of good inventions

  • Wendy Stokes

    Brilliant advice! I’m always falling over in the snow! More on the way according to the long term forecast.

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    I have something similar! The ice beneath the snoiw here is treacherous, and it’s usually concrete under that, while trying to cross busy roads. I slipped once, and it was painful. I walked everywhere like the proverbial chinese women with bound feet – my weight FULLY on top of my feet, tiny steps. Then I slipped again one night at 3am, on the grade/lawn area in front of the house. Iced grass, with innocent snow on it. I lay there for 20 minutes, not sure I could get up. Nothing broken, but nasty fall. After that, I got the slip on traction things. Still careful 20 minutes on the ground in 4 inch deep snow at 17degrees was NOT pleasant. I am all for these things, and tell everyone about “Don’t wait until ~after!~” GOOD FOR YOU!

  • Tim Holland

    They looked pretty expensive for the very occasional use they’d get in Uk; cheaper version reviews say they fall apart easily. I go for green wellies with good tread and thick socks

    • Nimue Brown

      It does indeed depend a lot on use – where you live may well be a factor, people on ungritted hills who cannot get cars out this time of year may benefit. For me, walking is the primary mode of transport anyway, and of course for anyone who does want to run in all conditions, they come in handy…. and how far you have to walk is an issue too, I can do a mile or two in wellies, but not ten….

  • silverbear

    I share your feelings about technology. I happen to heartily subscribe to Peak Oil Theory and often as I am perusing different concepts around the subject I often wonder to myself what the world might look like if we had collectively invested all those millions of years of stored solar energy into technology that would be of more benefit to mankind than say, a belt that vibrates to help a person lose weight or a video game system that helps them keep it.

    I love tech too though. There are times I cannot wait to check out the latest blog post or pass remarks with a friend over long distances. Even still, I am proud of myself that I have been spending less time on the internet and more time with other pursuits, a trend I will be continuing. As always, a wonderful bit of information to file away in the old organic computer bank.

  • David Baltzer

    I too am a great believer in microspikes. I’m 6’7″ and a bit awkward. With my high center of gravity, ice has always been a terror for me. Living in Minnesota means that I must deal with that terror for at least 4 months out of the year. Microspikes do the trick. The only problem is while shopping you have to take them off when you enter shops (not a problem). It’s trying to slip them back on when you are going back outside that’s the problem. Most shops here don’t offer customers anyplace to sit, and I for one am not at all good at standing on one foot while trying to slip the microspikes back on each shoe (it’s that awkwardness and high center of gravity issue again). So, once we get microspikes issued to all seniors, we need to work on getting every retail shop to provide a bench by the front door.

  • Bryn Ravenwood

    I’m 4’7, 2-feet shorter than David, and every bit as terrified of slipping and falling. Because of my disability, falling for me means a trip to the emergency room. Sounds like those microspikes are something I need to invest in! My front and back porches are both wood, well wood and snow don’t mix, so I can’t go out until it’s all off the steps. I’m one of those stuck indoors that you spoke of, although I don’t mind it.

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