Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Second Tank Blues

With no freeway driving, the 2nd tank of gas on the RED Versa got a dismal 22 mpg. So, nothing changed there. Our '97 Saturn station wagon consistently beats that with a large oil burning/leaking problem and a clutch computer bug that shifts hard at weird times. Needless to say, I am not impressed. Good thing I gots my bikes and I workses at home.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pipelines With Attitude

What a difference one "G" makes:

First, from the BBC:

Gazprom seals $2.5bn Nigeria deal

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

Okay, compare this new company with the 90s rap group NWA Wikipedia entry:

N.W.A (the initialism for: "Niggaz With Attitude")[1] was a Compton, California-based hip hop group widely considered one of the seminal acts of the gangsta rap sub-genre.

Suffice it to say that this will not go down as one of the better-chosen company names ever. However, in the gloomy world of petroleum energy this is about as much levity as one could hope to expect, so I will take it.

I found the first link via Talking Points Memo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Tank

Our first tank with the new transmission garnered 30 mpg. Compare that to 23mpg with our first ever tank (after buying the car). However, the new tank included a lot more freeway driving. Nonetheless, our best tank ever was 30 mpg with the original and that was on a highway-only road trip to California.

I am encouraged.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

End of Transmission, Start of Transmission 2

Our RED Nissan Versa has never gotten very good mileage; about 70% of the advertised EPA. I chalked it up to a lot of things, but in reality it sucked. In the last few months a strange clacking became more and more evident by degrees. When Ladybug took it in for service, she pointed out the sound. It turned out to be a problem with the CVT drive. CVT is a new type of transmission (continuously variable transmission) that uses belts instead of gears to allow the vehicle accelerate smoothly. It is supposed to be more fuel efficient. Heh.

Well, a problem with part of the transmission is a problem with the whole assembly, so they ordered us an entire new transmission on warranty. It took a week to arrive and it was a two day repair job (we got an Altima loaner car in the mean time; I asked Ladybug to bring home a Z car but no luck).

The new transmission is quieter and seems a bit more powerful at high RPMs than the old one. I am hopeful that our mileage will climb up a bit closer to the EPA value. I will let you know. Sadly we now know that any CVT problems when we exit warranty will result in big $$. Remember that when checking out new cars (assuming anyone will have the wealth to do so over the next decade or two).

Interestingly, since I started working at home, I don't drive nearly as much. I can also bike wherever I want instead of a course to work. I am soooo green. I am proud to be a drop in the bucket.

In every energy endeavor, the greenest thing you can do is to NOT do. Sadly, this is often not possible so it will be the reality of energy that drives us more than our own behavior, individual or civic. Sad, but true.


On another note, I joined the Facebook revolution after figuring out how to deal with the fact that you are essentially sharing every word you utter with everyone you've ever known or will ever know as well as potential employers, vengeful prosecutors, angry city council members, and every one else good, bad, or indifferent. I have the privacy ratcheted down as tight as is practical. My language is very positive and couched in the most generic, positive way. No politics and no religion.

Nonetheless, I am able to inject my personality enough to make it worthwhile. I am in touch with dozens of people I haven't spoken to in years and even decades and I feel enriched for the memories that has uncovered. On the other hand, it is a time eater and dozens of superficial relationships can't hold a candle to a few deep ones, so there are tradeoffs to consider.

I meant to do a bunch of stuff on our garden as well, but that didn't happen either. We have rows of pumpkins, broccoli, spinach (mostly harvested and eaten already), cucumbers, and onions. We also have a single red bell pepper plant that we hope survives until our wet, cool spell ends and two tomato plants in pots (Brandywine and Black Krimson heirloom varieties) which are coming along well. This is in addition to Ladybug's herb garden (♪ ♫ parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme ♪ ♫) which I will let her elaborate on as she is becoming quite the herbalist.

We also found some wonderful food at our local farmer's market so we've tried to divert most of our grocery money to our local growers and make the effort to eat whole foods instead of processed crap food. With any luck, the health benefits will trickle down to us. The prices are comparable and, at least with asparagus, the produce lasts much longer in the crisper than the store.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Sometimes we like to have a little fire in our beat up terracotta outdoor fireplace. Last night we got started a bit late (10pm) and, being in a hurry, I bought DuraFlame's new lower "carbon footprint" log.

Ladybug lit it up and it started going...really slow. She was able to coax a flame not much bigger than a candle and it was down to smoke within an hour...but not burnt.

We went to bed and got up the next morning. It was still 90% unburnt and still smouldering in the pit. At noon, after 14 hours of smouldering, I went out and threw a dry stick in there and started blowing to get it ignited. They were burning faster together, but after another hour the original log sat smoking more than ever. My neighbor came over to make sure our house wasn't burning down. I came out a while later on break from work, found more dry fuel and got my lung bellows really moving until there was a tornado of flame whipping up in the chmney.

That was enough to incinerate the rest of the log. I swear it was made out of candle wax. I've never seen a log last 17 hours without needing a relight.

Needless to say, the next time I need a chemical campfire log, I will be sticking with the demonic envirobasher version of the Duraflame. I can't image there being more carbon coming out of a hotburning log that is gone in 2-3 hours. The whole idea of buying green is an over-the-top marketing ploy anyway. If you want to be earth friendly, don't burn a log. Put on a coat or go to bed. We opted to enjoy ourselves for a rare treat instead. No problem.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Pollen Attacks!

(Some of you might have seen a brief post about the Prez and the lofty perch we no longer stand upon, but I decided that it probably wasn't worth the effort, so I deleted it. I was right, but who cares? Stuff like that leads to talking points that are pointless and mental mass debation. So I write about this...)

Those in Oregon and southwest Washington were treated to (or victims of) a rare show yesterday. The second severe thunderstorm warning issued in the 25 years I've paid attention happened then. 1" (2.5cm) hail, heavy rain, high winds, a tornado warning, and definitely some funnel clouds were the order of the day for a city that gets about 1% of the thunder of an average Florida town. The local weather geeks have more info.

The biggest event we had at Rancho Snabuloso occurred at the beginning of the storm. I knew it was coming, saw the marching hordes of cumulonimbus on the radar, and the NWS warnings as things moved in. However, the menu called for barbecued chicken and I started early to avoid the storm. The sky turned gray and dark as I cooked and I hoped I would have time to finish. We erected a cheap plastic tarp shelter for the summer, so I weighed that down while I waited with some hope that the darn thing would endure.

My wildest moments came before the first drops of rain or the first clap of thunder. Wind ahead of the squall line began whipping up just as I was finishing the chicken. Our line of Douglas Firs and Pines in the back yard whipped into a frenzy and the air turned foggy and yellow with pollen and debris blown from the trees. Not knowing if this was a few temporary gusts, I hurriedly finished plucking the cooked chicken from the grill and ran it into the house. I am sure that pollen seasoning was prevalent on the plate.

I ran back out and surveyed the remaining chicken. The wind was getting crazier, so I removed it, put it on another plate, killed the propane, and brought it in the house. The wind whipped the entire time and the foggy/dusty yellow air continued swirling. I am still surprised we lost no branches and our cheap shelter survived unharmed.

I went in thinking that all hell was about to break loose, but the winds died down a couple minutes later. The rain began to fall and apparently most of the storm was spent by then with only moderate rain and a few close thunder rattlings. The temperature dropped from 85F (29C) to 61F (16F) within about 90 minutes (90 min). On TV, we watched a comma-shaped supercell with funnel clouds sighted pass by the Portland Airport and an informed weatherman gave good information while everyone sounded like gibbering idiots.

Ladybug and I saw some small trees snapped in half today while we were driving around the neighborhood. All in all, it was an interesting end to an early and somewhat humid heat wave.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Everthing You Never Wanted to Know and MORE!

Romance in France

A fun meme I got tagged with.....

Q. Is there anyone of your friends that you would ever consider having sex with?

A. I can honestly say NO!

Q. Sex in the morning, afternoon or night?

A: All of the above.

Q. What side of the bed do you sleep on?

A. The side which doesn't have all the books I'm currently reading..

Q. Have you ever taken your clothes off for money?

A. No...I'd probably have to pay the spectators now!

Q. Have you ever had sex in the shower or the bath?

A. Sure!

Q. Do you watch/read pornography?

A. Read HELL YES!...like some old quote goes "sex-fun to do; ridiculous to watch"

Q. Do you want someone aggressive or passive in bed?

A. Both, it's all good.

Q. Do you love someone on your blogroll?

A. Nope

Q. Would you choose love or money?

A. Love is the best, a little money not bad

Q. Your top three favorite kinks in bed?

A. It's all in the mind baby, all in the mind....

Q. Has anyone ever gone beyond your personal line of respect sexually?

A. Hmmm, not sure what you mean-never did anything scary kinky....but regretting I was with a couple of douchbags who were total jerks, yea. But ya live and learn!

Q. Where is the most romantic place you have had sex?

A. The beach, a nice B&B, a fancy hotel....

Q. Where is the weirdest place you have had sex?

A. In cars...I guess

Q. Have you ever been caught having sex?

A. Unfortunately yes, once, in the woods.

Q. Ever been to a bar just to get sex?

A. No, 'cuz I almost never went to bars...and didn't (still don't) understand "bar culture".

Q. Ever been picked up in a bar?

A. See above

Q. Have you ever kissed or had sex with someone of the same sex?

A. No.

Q. Had sex in a movie theater?

A. Does kissing & groping count?

Q. Had sex in a bathroom?

A. Yep

Q. Have you ever had sex at work?

A. Eww, no.

Q. Bought something from an adult store?

A. Oh yea

Q. Do you own any sex toys?

A. Yes, but hardly use 'em...

Q. Does anyone have naughty pics of you or are you on film?

A. Nope-Thank GOD!

Q. Have you ever had sex with someone and called them the wrong name?

A. Of course!...the funniest one is when I called him the name of the cat, then the dog..my kid...finally got to his...we ended up laughing so hard. Another guy freaked out though..it "meant" something evidently - yea, like my brain wiring is a little off!

Q. Do you think oral sex constitutes a form of intercourse?

A. Sure...sex is sex.

Q. What's your favorite sexual position?

A. All of 'em

Q. What's your favorite sex act?

A. Anything that gets me & mine where we want to go!

Q. Have you ever had sex with more than one person at a time?

A. Nope, but have thought about it...totally impractical in real life,(prolly wouldn't even want to honestly) but fun for fantasy!

I tag anyone who feels compelled to answer personal sex questions in the blogosphere!