richardthinks (richardthinks) wrote,


First, RAGE.
The Netherlands has really awesome public transport - it's a complex system including trains and trams and boats and buses, and it works (although at every stage it could have better signage for the newcomer to understand what the hell's going on).
And over the past few years they've added a truly amazing ticketing system to it, where you can get a smartcard, load it with money, and then use it on EVERY BIT OF THE SYSTEM NATIONWIDE. One card could take you by bus to a ferry to cross the river to the train station, to take a train to a different city, to a tram at the other end - all little municipal systems unified! 
EXCEPT after trying it for 2 days I've concluded cash is better in every regard (for me the user).

Because the tickets cost the same either way, but with the card you have to pay in advance and may never use all your prepayment. And it's inconvenient and tricky to track what you're spending, and when the card runs out you're illegal. And you have to check in AND out of every vehicle, and if for some reason the check out doesn't register, you'll be paying for time you're not there, which is like someone left the plug out of your account until all the money's gone. So that's a risk. And sometimes the check-in is on the platform, not the vehicle, so if you check in on the platform and then change your mind (wrong platform/wrong way; see tram disappear around corner, don't want to wait etc) you might be haemorrhaging money and not know it, and not be able to do anything about it because the system says "yes, you've already checked in - now get on your tram" instead of "OK, I can check you out again, no charge."

In short, it's prone to user error, stressful, more costly on aggregate and more prone to system failure. So even though I've paid 7 euros for a card, I won't be chasing that bad investment with more money. The card will just stay in my wallet with one emergency fare left on it, while I pay cash again.

I had some time off. Now I'm back in the archives. It's a weird sort of masochistic pleasure. The minute I find something I could happily lose myself in for a few days I have to back up for air and ask "should I really be wasting hours doing this mechanical data entry stuff? Why do I really want/need this information?"
And then it's refocus the project, and then go again. I was convinced for a month that I urgently needed to do a big quantitative task, but I had no idea where the data were. So ANXIETY: maybe they don't exist. Now I've found them it's ANXIETY: I probably didn't really need them anyway. MONTH WASTED. Or not. Who knows, really? ANXIETY what should I be doing? The shortest path is one I've sneered at a bit when others have done it. Who actually needs historical research anyway? QUESTIONING THE VALUE OF IT ALL.

OK, done whining. 
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