Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Car Stuff


Today I had my hair cut. The barber was a VW van enthusiast who had a beautifully restored vehicle parked in front of the shop.

I remarked that the recent popularity of VW vans were remarkable given the low tech of the air-cooled engine.

I wondered if there was some new technology that made such nostalgia easier to bear. Nope. For purists like the barber, he just gave up on having functioning climate control. Good for us Oregon has a temperate climate.

He did say that some people had placed Subaru engines with radiators into VW vans, then wiring up all the normal controls.

All this made me think of my years with a 1971 Super Beetle. Good times and several breakdowns.

The peak of the conversation came when the Barber told me he had goosed a Beetle over 100 mph on a quarter-mile track with improved gearing and carburation, and a few other tweaks – keeping the original engine displacement. Of course, this guy was from southern California.

And the haircut was good, too.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The World Keeps Spinning: Skateboarding

About ten years ago skateboarders began to ride the train to the zoo, then roll down the hill past our house. 

Our neighborhood association, composed of grumpy, old, white men, immediately declared the end to life as we knew it and began haranguing the police to arrest anybody with a skateboard.

I did see a police cruiser from time to time at an intersection, the officer always looking angry and bored. I also learned that the city asked a skate organization to suggest better behavior from skaters and disseminate information about how not to be a pain in the ass.

Eventually a public culture evolved -- motorists learned to be patient and skaters generally adhered to the rules on the above sign. 

Although I have been inconvenienced when driving by youths having a rip-roaring good time, I instinctively side with the skateboarders. The notion that once one is inside a car all pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, and anyone else, must yield so the driver may get to her/his destination as quickly as possible is problematic. 

We need to reevaluate where the car fits into our landscapes. We have sacrificed so much that is pleasing in our urban life to the automobile. Always giving the car primacy has been responsible for so much blight.

Let's share the road with all who would play upon it. If that means chilling out for 30 seconds, I say so be it. 


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Change is Difficult

Change is difficult, if not impossible, as nobody uses cash anymore. My life is such that the few transactions each month I do in cash stand out as oddities -- everything else is on the card or mobile payments. 

Parking in Portland has its own app (Parking Kitty). When I go to Hood River the parking meters accept coins, which I do not have, and I generally skip paying for parking. I do not like this as I am a follow-the-rules guy. 

Now the meters in Hood River are serviced by apps. I just installed ParkMobile and look forward to meeting my obligations.

I still have a small container on my shelf filled with change, but I've never remembered to bring the coins when I leave Portland. I used to stock my car with change and singles but I've given away that vehicle to a kid. 

I note the changes in my life and try and accept them with grace and equanimity.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Friday Cat Media

Now that chilly weather is here, I get office lap time with Stuart.

One of the advantages of being almost 56 years old is that the notion of not doing something because “people” would find it inappropriate almost never applies. At one point I might have felt that I was posting too much about cats but who cares, cats are fun, and the internet supports me on this. 

Checking the media feed.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

I Went To A Sports Bar

Last week I went to a sports bar and had a beer. Unfortunately I ordered a vegetarian burger (Impossible) thus blowing my cover.

I wasn't in Portland, otherwise I would have been fine. 

For the duration of the meal I pretended I was a sports fan. When I got up to leave, at some crucial juncture in the game, the servers looked at me with pity.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Musical Theater Night

A bit of cultural literacy I missed, tonight we are watching a stage production of the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar."

I will answer all questions.

Postscript: This was a rock opera in the sense everything was sung, unlike a musical where the actors recite lines of exposition between songs to move things along and build drama. The result was that I missed out on many of the dramatic moments because of not being familiar with the details of the story. Still, I loved the dancing and excellent music. And I did have enough knowledge to understand the ending -- crucifixion.  

Thursday, September 30, 2021

My Productivity Explained

Productivity Hack: If there is an obstacle to seeing a screen clearly, remove the obstacle. 

All my life I’ve had this notion that if I could only devise an excellent system, I could be tremendously productive.

Earlier these thoughts expressed themselves in experimenting with different notebooks and pens, now it is about computers, tablets, and phones.

I used to thrill to read the website Lifehacker to learn what tech high-level people used to be productive. Some liked to hang out on the couch with a laptop, while others enjoyed the latest in mobile technology.

I must admit that for all my deep thinking my setup resembles a workspace from 20 years previous. I use MS Office for most of my tasks which makes a high-powered gaming desktop PC the tool of choice. Double screens make things easy on the eyes. And as of 2020, a Logitech webcam with built-in microphone is a convenient way to Zoom without looking too shabby.

Other gear includes child-made mug for holding pens, a stand for my phone so I can talk hands-free, and the ubiquitous Pilot G2 Limited gel ink pen with 0.7mm point.

Legal pads and post-it notes are used—some habits are just too hard to break.

For the special note, I use ramen-themed post-it notes when the message really counts.