The Chinese Curse, “May you Live in Interesting Times” and “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens) seem to sum up 2020 frighteningly well. Here in North America, the crisis grows ever more ominous each day and we have a smorgasborg to pick from, health, jobs, finance, debt, justice, equality, foreign relations and many others; pick your passion. Peaceful protests that turn into violent looting arsonist mobs destroying any good that remained. Citizens giving up their liberty for perceived security based on hope and trust in politicians that are wrapped up in the same smorgasborg of issues. Technology will save us the people cry, or will it just shift jobs and cause systemic unemployment and uncertainty? What a world we live in today! I wish I had the answers to give you (see below and let’s chat in our community forums).
On the other side of the coin, we also live in the best of times. This crisis has brought out millions of unsung heroes, not just the health workers but good everyday common people. The silent majority who help each other, bring food, take care of a friend and family that is there for each other; those that donate their time, skills and passion in millions of small countless ways. We have found new companionship in strangers, build stronger family ties, found who our real friends are in times of need and even found peace with oneself. We have learned the citizens of Earth are not only incredibly connected globally to each other but those bonds are deep, long and fragile.
Humans have incredible talents in creation and innovation in times of need. Plato said “Necessity is the mother of invention. A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.” Today we all have critical needs, we need balance to return; our spinning top is on it’s side, let’s hope and pray the Chinese Curse, “May you Live in Interesting Times” soon passes.
For those that never read A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (free@Project Gutenburg), it is a classic and one I would recommend. The old English it is written in is tricky today to read smoothly but it is well worth the effort. Here is the first paragraph of the book:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
Before I finish off this week’s Inspiration Friday, I wanted to mention that I teach, mentor and do presentations on Financial Literacy. While Financial Literacy is not motorcycle related I feel I should share some generalized “nuggets of wisdom” to help my readers during these times of uncertainty.
- Pay off any and all debts as soon as possible and do not take on any more debt. This includes anything you cannot pay cash for, mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, new cars, anything you owe or will owe. Buy only what you need right now, save cash as much as possible, protect your investments, be frugal. No one knows what the next 12 months will look like, 30 million Americans and 5.5 million Canadians are collecting jobless benefits. Economic stimulus $6 Trillion in the USA (added 50% of total gov’t debt) and $350 Billion in Canada (added 50% of total gov’t debt) so far in 5 months. All this debt has to be repaid by taxpayers either by higher taxes, devaluing the currency or raising inflation (interest rates). Being on the wrong side of debt today could be disastrous for your and your families future.
- Re-skill, upgrade your education, look to the future jobs. Telecommuting is “fun and cool” right now, but the big picture is companies are learning, very quickly, this is a GLOBAL job market. Without the high overhead costs of downtown office buildings and retaining local employees, companies are “laying off” local workers while looking internationally as labor rates are DRASTICALLY cheaper. To compound this further, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotic technology will create less demand for “human” workers in repetitive and direct contributor jobs. Don’t be the one with job skills that are not needed anymore or your job has been sent overseas! Use this free time wisely.
- Investments. If you are luck enough to be invested in the stock market, take a financial risk-assessment test today. How did you feel about March’s 43% stock market crash? With a 40% rebound in the market, your equities are now overweight in your portfolio, time to re-balance and get ready for when the stimulus runs out and a 2nd and 3rd wave comes.
Now for some really incredible “It was the best of times” news I wanted to share from BMW that will inspire manufacturers to product even better motorcycle models for us riders!
Precision work in the wind tunnel: 3D rider model being used to optimize the BMW S 1000 RR aerodynamics
The FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) may have been forced to take a break from racing for a few months, but work has continued where possible at BMW Motorrad Motorsport. In the wind tunnel, for example, engineers have been fine-tuning the aerodynamics of the BMW S 1000 RR in the BMW Group Acustic Wind Tunnel. An important role in this work is being played by BMW Motorrad World SBK Team rider, Eugene Laverty (IRL) – in the form of a 3D model.
Aerodynamics play a key role in determining the top speed of a World Superbike. Even the smallest of details can make a big difference here. The goal is to keep the aerodynamic drag as low as possible. The BMW Group Acustic Wind Tunnel in Munich (GER) has everything the BMW Motorrad Motorsport engineers need to test and develop aerodynamic updates for the RR used in WorldSBK.
However, to simulate the flow conditions as realistically as possible, it is not enough to simply position the bike in the wind tunnel by itself. Out on the racetrack, there is also a rider on the bike, creating his own air resistance, even if his riding position has also been optimised aerodynamically. For that reason, the whole package of motorcycle and rider is used in the airflow, which is generated by the wind tunnel’s 2,600-hp electric motor and can reach speeds of up to 255 km/h. To make this possible, BMW Motorrad Motorsport has turned to an innovative method: 3D scanning.
“Eugene was here in Munich with us before the outbreak of the crisis. He was trying to find the ideal sitting position on the RR and, while he was in that position, we took detailed measurements with a 3D scanner,” said BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers. Detailed measurements means every individual glove finger, every contour of the helmet, every seam in the leather overalls, every crease that affects the aerodynamic drag and with it the airflow. “Based on the data from the 3D scan, we created a plastic model made of two halves. It took about a week to get all the details right, however our 3D Eugene was then ready for action,” Bongers added.
Since then, the plastic Laverty has been providing a very important service. He has racked up over 50 test runs in the wind tunnel. “Using a 3D model like this allows us to work more efficiently on development of our RR,” explains Bongers. “While a real rider must travel to get here, the plastic version is available at any time for testing in the wind tunnel. This means that we can evaluate and implement updates even faster.” Another major advantage of the 3D model became particularly apparent during the enforced break. While WorldSBK riders Laverty and Tom Sykes (GBR) were unable to travel to Munich due to travel restrictions, plastic Laverty was waiting in Munich, ready to get back on the RR in the wind tunnel.
So, what does the real Laverty make of his double? “He’s just a few shades paler than my Irish complexion,” said a chuckling Laverty, referring to the light plastic used to make the model. “All joking aside, it was a little unusual to sit on the bike for so long and to be measured from every angle with a 3D scanner. However, the result is awesome. I can do my bit to make our RR faster without having to be in Munich in person. It’s not every day you get to see yourself as such a detailed model. It is fascinating what is possible with modern technology, and the BMW Group is leading the way in many areas in this regard.”
Following the break for the crisis, it has now also been possible to measure team-mate Sykes in Munich. His 3D model will soon also see action in the wind tunnel. The next races for the optimised RR, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the real drivers will take place on the first weekend in August. The 2020 WorldSBK season, which was suspended after the opening round in Australia, will resume at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.