Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just a little arty shot of the Porsche and the Mini in the driveway.

Can a car make you happy?

Maybe not.

But it doesn't hurt.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

You do it electronics

A nagging problem here has been that the wireless router, along with the backup file server, is located in a very inaccessible spot, tucked under the stairs. I had been meaning for some time to
  1. Hard wire some Ethernet ports in the kitchen, so that I could connect to the router with a laptop without needing to crawl under the stairs (a necessity when changing wireless network settings).
  2. Add an Ethernet port in the basement, so that I could relocate the backup server.
I've never done any Ethernet wiring, but I'm reasonably clever. I went to CompUSA looking for Ethernet wall jacks, a punchdown tool, and some bulk Cat5E cable. They had all this stuff, but it was expensive and poor selection.

Then I remembered the Needham institution You Do It Electronics (or, to the initiated], You Blew it Electronics). Wow. They had exactly what I needed, and at excellent, excellent prices.

And subsidiary goodness: I actually got all the wiring installed and it works!

Tall web resources

The height site.


And (drum roll please) an actual tall blog. Kind of.

Poor, stupid (but not hapless or hopeless) Ford

Unlike GM, Ford seems to be facing up to the reality that the age of the gas guzzler is finally gone.

Also unlike GM, they have a reasonable passenger car and crossover range:
  • Fusion (aka Mazda6)
  • Edge (reskin of Mazda CX-7)
  • 500
  • Freestyle
What they're missing of course is a decent subcompact and a B-car. When are they going bring over the (no longer) new second-generation Focus, and what about the Ka and Fiesta.

I give Bill Ford credit for telling some truth here:

As you know, our response to the challenges to our business is the subject of ongoing speculation in the news media, on Wall Street, and in our own hallways and lunchrooms. That's to be expected at a time of great change in our industry and renewed urgency among all of us.

That's why I want you to hear directly from me how I view our situation. First of all, the company's top priority remains the turnaround of our North American operations. As I said when we released our second quarter financial results, Mark Fields and his leadership team are accelerating their efforts, and we expect to tell you in the next couple months what additional measures we will take. These measures may be difficult, but are necessary.

Secondly, I will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing landscape of our industry and review the best ways in which we should adjust. That's why I've hired Ken Leet to assist me and our senior management team in evaluating our business and exploring strategic options. You can read more on Ken in the news release below.

Contrary to speculation, nothing has been decided and we will not rush to judgments. I'm proud of the progress that our operating units and brands around the world are making. Nearly all of them have been through turnaround efforts and have improved as a result. They will continue to pursue the strategies that have guided their progress.

And, as we've said before, Ford Motor Credit Company is a strategic asset to Ford that generates solid profits and dividends. The automotive financing unit continues to have strong business fundamentals and provides key support for Ford vehicle sales worldwide.

It is prudent in a time of rapid change in our industry for us to carefully examine all of our options. In the meantime, however, all of us must continue to remain focused on doing our part to get our company on the path to sustained profitability and success.

Thank you for your continued support of Ford Motor Company.

Bill Ford

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More on Casual Male "XL"

A reference to Casual Male's target customers as tall but not fat.

Traffic safety program unlikely to work in Mass

In an attempt to reduce accidents followed by tailgating, Washington state DOT officials...

...painted dots 80 feet apart and posted signs telling drivers to stay at least two dots -- 160 feet -- from the vehicle ahead, based on the traffic safety principle of being at least two seconds behind another vehicle when going 60 mph.

Long backups developed Saturday, the day after the program began, when drivers slowed down because of heavy traffic and continued to maintain the two-dot separation, although that much distance was not necessary at slower speeds, said Lisa Mordock, a Transportation Department spokeswoman.

Can you imagine. People actually

(a) followed the instructions on a road sign
(b) maintained a safe following distance
(c) didn't cut each other off

Read the full story here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Poor, poor, hapless, helpless, stupid GM

Hummer ads fight 'misconceptions' (or, if you don't have a Wall St. Journal subscription, see the original press release).

It's enough to break your heart. GM brings out the Hummer H3 as a way to broaden the affordability and appeal of the Hummer brand, but at a lower price point. Gas goes to $3 a gallon, and suddenly there's a Hummer backlash. Now the 'affordable' ($30,000+) and 'economical' (20 MPG, if you get the lame 5-cylinder motor) Hummer is left out in the cold.

I mean the thing sure looks economical, compact, and environmentally friendly to me:

Plus you get the gunsight windows, high step height, and an interior that's so cramped there's no place for a spare.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Having a family

I was going to write about the tremendous walk that I took on Friday morning. My neighbor's field was completely mown and cleared, a full moon was setting over the treeline, and my friend the red tailed hawk was soaring high overhead.

But something else wonderful happened on Friday. My wife and son came back from a week down on Cape Cod. I couldn't make this trip, due to the pressures of work. It was just so wonderful to see them and smell them and hold them. I mean things are nice and quiet around the house when they're gone, but it's a quiet that gets old fast.

So it is wonderful to share this life with a family of warm, caring, wonderful folks!

A recent trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence -- a simple thing all by itself!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Over the past few days my neighbor's field has been hayed. The racket that the machinery makes is incredible, but when the grass is down, the whole look of the field changes.

I really appreciate that my neighbor keeps his field in active cultivation. It provides an excellent habitat for birds (I saw my friendly red tailed hawk this morning) plus air and light. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides an incentive for keeping land in cultivation. Chapter 61a allows cities and towns to abate property taxes on land in agricultural use.

Something simple that I like.

The best car in all the world...

My Alexander Technique teacher and I were talking cars the other day. She said that she owns the bestest car in all the world: a first-generation Toyota Rav 4:

Why? Because of the "styling".

But she also said that she used to own a car that was also the bestest in all the world: 1963 Dodge Dart.

I concur. The chirr-chirr-chirr of the starter, the gimcrack chrome trim, the fake wire wheel hubcaps with fake knockoffs, the square speedometer, pushbutton shifter...

A really tall bike...

Yao Ming's Gunnar Rockhound:

I'm not sure that Yao's bike is that much bigger than mine, even though he's 10 inches taller than me.

By the way, I've been out riding on my tall bike a few more times. After 25 years, I have to say it takes a while to get used to riding with cars. The roads around here are narrow, and the drivers are...well...not particularly skillful or considerate. But I have a little loop that I like first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I posted to all four of my blogs tonight

Not that they were great posts, but I did it. And it's not even 9:00.

Something simple that I like!


Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting article (subscription only) on the problems at Ford's Premier Automotive Group, Jaguar in particular.

Ford has done a singularly inept job managing the european nameplates it's acquired over the past 15 years (Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover). Volvo has lost all of its signature features (safety, good load capacity, and rear wheel drive) and now sports an expensive, bloated, gas guzzling SUV model. Jaguar styling and engineering have vanished, leaving only the legendary British quality to go along with re-hashed Taurus styling jobs.

The only company that's done a worse job is GM's trashing of SAAB.

Tall bike

Twenty-five years ago, I used to ride a bike a fair amount. I had a Univega Viva Sport bike that I purchased around 1981. It was a low to mid-range Japanese road bike with a Chrome-Moly butted lugged frame, Sun-Tour drive train, no-name cranks and headset, and Dia Compe side pull brakes.

In order to ride the bike, my Dad fabricated for me a 14" seat post turned from billet aluminum (solid). There did not exist at that time seatposts longer than about 8 inches. The bike was never that comfortable, because the handlebars where way below the level of the seat.

Anyway, recently I decided to try to rehabilitate that bike as a more relaxed cruising/commuting bike. I found that the selection of seat posts and stems was much greater now. This is what I came up with:

The work I did on it to bring it back to life (it had been sitting in a series of barns and garages since the mid 80s):
  • Disassemble, clean, repack, and adjust wheel bearings. Old-style cone and cup bearings in 27" wheels.
  • New tires (Conti Gator Slicks) and tubes. The selection of tires for old-style 27" rims is pretty limited. I may switch over to 700c wheels at some point, along with long-reach brakes.
  • Clean and lubricate chain.
  • Replace seat post, seat, and handlebars with MTB units. Switch shifters to indexed SRAM MTB shifters. These worked perfectly with the Sun Tour Vx derailleurs on the bike.
  • Install a taillight and buy a Gilo helmet.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the variety, quality, and low price of bike components nowadays.

How's the riding part? I would say tentative. It's hard to get used to riding with cars, and I quickly determined that the original saddle was no longer compatible with my 25 years older behind.

If you're 205 cm tall, how much should you weigh?

After many years of weighing about 250 pounds, I recently decided to lose some weight. It was a lot easier than I thought, and now I'm down to 215 pounds. But I don't really know if I was overweight before or not, and I don't know if I'm underweight now.

250 lbs215 lbs
BMI27 (overweight)23.2 (normal)
Tall BMI26.1 (overweight)22.4 (normal)
Dr. KoopIdeal (232-255)Underweight
People's ChoiceOverweightIdeal
Devine Ideal WeightOverweightIdeal

So clearly, everybody except Dr. Koop (a bit of a pudge himself) thinks I was overweight at 250, and pretty much at a good weight at 215.