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VW Scandal

To say that I am frustrated, angry, betrayed or flabbergasted by the news that VW created software to defeat emissions testing would be an understatement.

When I walked in to my local auto repair shop last week to have a nail removed from my tire, they dove right in – “Isn’t your VW one of those diesels?” “Yeah…” (I know them pretty well, so there were grins on their faces as they asked me)

So, yes, I’ve spent nearly the last 12 years being generally insufferable with friends and neighbors about how everyone should be driving a TDI because: less fuel, cleaner, and fun to drive.

And the “cleaner” tag relied on the new engines, my ’03 Golf TDI (RIP) was definitely only cleaner in some narrow definitions, but based on the the info published by VW and the EPA, I thought as of my ’11 Jetta Sportwagen, the “cleaner” label could apply as well.

Being a consumer requires information, one needs to be able to make decisions based on facts about a purchase. Short of letting me actually test the emissions of every vehicle I might purchase, we have to rely the manufacturers and governments to give us that information.

And this isn’t a state problem, it’s not even a federal problem. We need to align these standards globablly so there is no incentive to cheat in one locality or another. The comprehensive testing needed is expensive, but why not share that cost and certify emissions once for the global market?

It’s a good argument for open source software as well. Which manufacturer is willing to open up the source that literally drives the cars? This isn’t going to only be a problem of further fouling our environment, but one of personal safety every time you enter a car.

I WAS DRIVING 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.

Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.

This is reality, today.

So, I’m not planning on selling the car any time soon (who knows what it is worth on the market now, anyways) but the gesture that VW would have to make to their diesel drivers would have to be equally as monumental as their lies and deception for me to even consider another one.


Categories: General.

Holiday cleanse

It has been a meat-heavy diet for the past couple weeks. Commence vegetable soup!


Categories: General.

keeping the house cold

one of the consequences of getting a nest thermostat is that we keep our house a good deal colder than previously. we have it set at 62 currently, cold enough that holiday visitors have commented on whether our heat was working.


apparently, there may be some science to it. I’ve long been known for eating a ton of food and having the metabolism to match. as a teenager this was somewhat normal, but now as a mid-30 year old dude, it is slightly less endearing and more concerning for those around me. And yet, my weight has long hovered at a pretty normal place.


after reading this article, The Benefit of Being Cold, I’m wondering if there is some correlation to the many hours I spent freezing on the “mountains” of Minnesota training for ski racing and my metabolism.


so, maybe instead of layering up with the house at 62, I’ll take this sweatshirt off.

Categories: General.


foggy morning


foggy morning. I hopped on my bike to get some bacon, hash browns, orange juice and (just because) crumpets. an oddly warm day except when you’re riding in the midst of the fog.

Categories: Biking.

Been a Long Time

I just logged on to my blog for the first time in almost a year. So many events in my life and in the world to comment on, and yet, radio silence. I was prompted to dust off the blog and fire up this post with the mention of the Desk Publishing Machine on Daring Fireball. It seems that as our responsibilities grow, as does my search for simplicity and organization. I was attracted to the app because of its interface, which is a simple blank sheet on which to write.


Given my search for simplicity and organization, I guess it’s no coincidence that I’ve renewed my use of OmniFocus as well at work – I can’t say enough about it. Note to self, future blog post on how I’ve organized it around my job. Perhaps there are some other school administrators out there that will find that interesting. A good place to get started on this idea if you’ve read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and you need a little refresher, or maybe a little more info on how to craft OmniFocus to fit your needs, I highly recommend this episode of the podcast Mac Power Users featuring David Allen. (via Rob at Slay All Dragons)


Listening to hours long podcasts about productivity is actually a good way not to get anything done, but in this case it was worth it.


Another piece to my organization puzzle was the book I read after seeing the review in the New York Times: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I dug in to the book and finished it in one evening. I then promptly broke a few of the rules in the book by tending to a drawer of pens in our office that was driving me insane, before settling in to a weekend of organizing my clothes.


I haven’t followed everything in the book completely, and there still quite a few categories to work on, but for the items I have tackled, its been amazing. From the NYTimes review:


Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Yeah, the book is a little zany, but it’s worked so far.


Finally, a couple of grab bag items:


I’ve been on a search for a new pen. I’m back to a paper notebook and notecards as “capture” devices (see GTD by David Allen). The Best Pen from The WireCutter breaks down the current pen landscape. I’m not happy with their favorite – the uni-ball Jetstream – it’s actually too frictionless while writing. I’m trying the uni-ball vision elite 0.5mm and also the Pilot V-ball 0.7mm (I stole that one from my boss).


We read Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie for our SEED group, and while I haven’t quite finished, I highly recommend it. Best fiction I’ve read in a long time.


A few great albums from the past year:

  • Seeds by TV on the Radio
  • You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus
  • Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams
  • Syro by Aphex Twin
  • They Want My Soul by Spoon
  • Our Love by Caribou

I’ll be back soon – I promise.


PS – It was a little disheartening to look at my “People” Category in NetNewsWire and find that not one of my friends’ blogs had been updated in the past few months. If you’re still out their reading, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Categories: General.

Testing the Leaf

A colleague of mine generously lent her Nissan Leaf for us to test drive for the week. We need to answer two questions before we head down the electric car route:

  1. Will the range be enough for daily driving in our two car household.
  2. Is it cleaner than a hybrid or small diesel.

The answer to first question seems to be an unequivocal yes. Total daily driving for each of us is about 8 miles. Total miles driven in the household each day – about 16. It’s not much. We’ve ended each day with plenty of range on the Leaf. We can’t envision a day where it would be a problem.

The answer to question #2 is a little more difficult. I’ve heard anecdotally about the relative cleanliness of electricity generation vs. burning automotive fuel. I discovered one paper so far in my not-exhaustive research: A Roadmap to Climate Friendly Cars: 2013

Basically, in Minnesota if you don’t take in to account the manufacturing of the car, it is cleaner than the next cleanest option (a plug-in prius). If you do take in to account the manufacturing, it is less clean.

However, I imagine you can tip that balance on an individual basis by installing rooftop solar panels.

If we head down this path, my dear readers, you can be sure that I will blog about it here in excruciating detail… more to come!

Categories: Environment, Transportation.


Studio Neat — Glif

Studio Neat — Glif

This thing is pretty neato…

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Categories: General.