This may well be my last post here on WordPress, at least for a while. Really I spend far more time on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, so if you want to know what’s happening, those are the places to go. See you there!
Zooey arrived just after midnight on Saturday at Legacy Emanuel hospital. She was 6lbs, 12oz at birth — smaller than Lucas but very healthy. We’ve been trying to rest these past few days, and she’s been wonderful to have with us. Renee is doing well; this labor was much easier on her. Lucas is enjoying being a big brother. Renee’s sister Ashle is down from Seattle to help us out and family will be coming over the next month to see her.
Here are some pictures I finally managed to upload.
The US auto industry bailout is a very contentious issue, and for good reason. There’s no easy answer, no glib solution, if you have any idea of the complexity that is the modern automotive industry. Personally I feel quite conflicted about the whole deal; American makers have been making better cars as of late, and are doing some forward thinking things, but for the most part their cars are not to the standards of imports, and their focus is scattered at best with respect to innovation. To make matters wose, their “leadership” has been arrogant and self serving.
However, I’m not sure this is the real issue for the meltdown. In reality, there are many, but one very obvious one to me is the loss of trust with the customer. I watched by dad’s 1979 Plymouth Horizon literally fall apart in front of my eyes. His next car was a 1981 Honda Civic, which ran over 100k miles with few issues. Both my mom and my dad inculcated in me that I should buy Japanese cars, a heretical idea for the previous generation.
Growing up, I only owned one American car — a 1967 Ford Mustang, which was promptly stolen from out in front of my house after two weeks of owning it. From then on, it was Japanese all the way: a 1966 Datsun Roadster, a 1973 Austin America (the other exception, but hey, I was overseas), 1972 Datsun 240z, 1985 Nissan Sentra Diesel, 1989 Nissan 240sx, 1994 Honda Civic EX, 1994 Mazda Miata, 1994 Honda Del Sol, 2004 Mazda Protege 5, and most recently a 2009 Mazda 5. One theme among these cars was that they were inexpensive to run and repair, very reliable (well, except the Z), and pretty fun to drive. Oh, and Japanese. Looks like their advice stuck.
Truth is, when looking for our most recent car I didn’t seriously consider anything made by the big 3. I’m aware that Ford has a big stake in Mazda, but the 5 is made in Japan. The big 3 didn’t really offer anything comparable in the category. The only direct competition was Korean (Kia Rondo). If not considering buying domestic was true for me, I’m thinking it might be true for quite a few others. In fact, there are very few people I know among my friends who drive an American car. I can’t think of anyone offhand, but I’m probably overlooking someone.
As time goes on and my generation and subsequent ones gain in influence and wealth, and as gas prices go up, things will get worse and worse for Detroit. Unless they figure out a way to regain that trust (start up a new company, like Saturn or Tesla?, make insanely great products?) I can’t see themselves digging out of the hole. Next time I’m in the market for a full-size truck, maybe, but that will very likely be never.
It took me at least three times as long as the duration of the actual vacation, but I finally finished posting all 672 photos (and 22 videos) of our trip to the Yucatan peninsula, namely Isla Mujeres and Puerto Morelos. We had a blast, especially Lucas who still talks about Mexico (a place where the ground is sandy) months later.
Click here to for a slideshow of our trip.
The company I work for, Jive Software, unleashed a torrent of awesomeness today in announcing version 3 of the product I work on (Clearspace, now known as SBS). I’m not marketing person by any stretch, but I do appreciate it once in a while when it’s done well, and I think the video below shows that:
Stay tuned for more good things from Jive.
Are we seeing the end of boomer dominance of politics and culture? It certainly seems that way. My generation (33-45?) has begun to breed in earnest, and I think that is producing somewhat of a shift. We have entered the workforce, bought houses, settled down, and are looking to ensure a good world for our children. We who were raised on “Free to Be” and Sesame Street are taking to heart the idea that we’re all the same color when you turn off the light. We’ve voted out the very epitome of “i’ll get mine first” and voted in someone who we hope embodies very opposite ideals of sharing the wealth. Our current situation has many causes, but surely it is more due to the belief that the only true market is an unregulated market, a belief embodied by SUV-driving boomers, than it is by their children. I’m sure when we get our chance to screw our offspring we’ll do a solid job of it as well, but I don’t think this one of is of our making.
Despite it being at least ten years late, it’s great to see some traction in funding renewable energy in the US. Better late than never. But my optimism always fades a little because I know what renewable detractors will counter with: “what good is solar when the sun doesn’t shine and what good is wind power when the wind stops blowing?” Now I’m aware that those are largely specious arguments, but common knowledge points otherwise. Which leads to the rather obvious question: That’s great that we’re investing in better, cleaner ways to produce power, but why not throw a dime to schemes to conserve it too. And when I say conserve, I mean more than switching to CFLs. I mean, literally, conserving energy by storing it, kind of like a battery.
Flywheels are one simple, relatively cheap way to do this. You build a huge, heavy flywheel, bury it in the ground, and set it in motion. Energy generated is stored in the flywheel, and when energy is needed it is tapped from the flywheel. Voila, you’ve decoupled generation from demand. Easier said than done, but a definite possibility. Another simple, effective solution uses gravity instead of inertia. Use some energy to pump water or lift a heavy weight uphill. When you need it, let out some water or let the weight down. There are plenty of other ideas out there, but the point is, we should be spending some of that 800 billion dollars seeding companies that are developing this area, instead of focusing purely on cleaner power generation.
One fairly promising solution is A Better Place. Their big idea is to use plug-in hybrid vehicles as energy storage mechanisms to offload the grid during peak generation hours. I’d love to see this succeed, and it may on a small scale (in the short term at least). Definitely something to keep an eye on. Japan and Denmark are forging ahead in this area, so we should know in the next few years how it’s working.
Of course, one can’t complain too much about spending on renewable power generation technologies. I truly hope a little of that money goes to researching enhanced geothermal, as well as solar towers. As has been stated many times, the government isn’t generally all that good in picking technologies, but they can be the ultimate angel investor, and give worthwhile ideas (and some that aren’t) a hell of a (critical) jump start. Perhaps if we’re lucky, clean power generation will be so successful that conservation is an afterthought (kinda like Quebecers with James bay). Of course that’s what they said about nuclear, and that didn’t work out so well.
Multiple eggs, please meet multiple baskets, because we’re gonna break a few along the way. Better to get started sooner rather than later, as we’ve already put off doing the right thing for far, far too long.
Judging from what I see here:
There are more than a few members of congress who equate cycling with golf. Next time someone gets to work and does their shopping on a golf club, please let me know. Sooner or later people need to accept? figure out? that the bicycle is as legitimate a mode of transportation as any other, more so when you take the environment into consideration.
… shall keep us from riding in.
Spent a few minutes equipping my MTB this weekend with an extra rack and deflating the tires to 40 PSI.
My history with this week’s weather:
Monday: More snow than ice, until Ladd’s Addition’s east roundabout. That place is an ice rink. Go down twice on the way in at that spot, and once on the way home (in slo-mo no less). Luckily nothing injured but my ego. No hat, just the helmet. No booties(!) Ears and toes thaw around noon. On the way home a couple in an SUV roll down the window at the intersection of Lincoln and 39th and tell me I’m a hero. LOL.
Tuesday: A mixture of ice and dryish pavement. Much faster this time, but much more traffic. Ladd’s is still very slippery, and I head home later meaning it’s darker. Stay upright despite a few close calls. Figured out my thin Ibex hat fits under my helmet and break open a new set of booties (a xmas gift from my dad). Ears and toes much happier now. Only my fingertips are slightly cold.
Wednesday: I think I have this thing figured out. Studded tires arrived yesterday (it was a struggle to get them on), along with a Planet Bike Blaze to go with the Superflash. Set it on flash this morning, and hit the pavement. Well, actually, hit the ice. Deliberately. I’m hoping it will make the studs last longer. Very weird feeling riding on ice — you can feel the tire squirming about and the studs catching and keeping you upright. Came in at about 80% speed, as opposed to Monday which was more like 50%. Amazingly, the studs work as advertised. Stayed upright and never felt like I was going to lose it. Made a funny metallic hum over the metal section of the Hawthorne bridge. Toasty when I arrive; perhaps a bit too much so. We’ll see how the ride home goes.
Thursday: Ride home went fine, but damn those studded tires are heavy. Felt them coming up Lincoln. The streets were largely clear last night and this morning, so this morning pulled out the touring bike and hung the MTB up on the hook. Very little ice on the roads and not that much slush made for a quick, painless ride in. Only point of interest was the heavy snow falling from the sky. Given that it’s in the mid to upper thirties all day, the ride home should be fine, just wet.