Monday, October 28, 2019

Thoughts about Transportation

A friend sent me a link to this nifty website San Diego's transit system is using to collect public feedback about how it should spend money allocated for transit improvements. You get 1000 "coin" and you allocate them to different projects, which all cost different amounts. I spent a little time reading about the options and the pros and cons for each and made an allocation - but I didn't submit it yet. I want to think about it a little more and maybe read up on some of the options. Any transit nerds out there who want to tell me what they think about any of the options are welcome to do so in the comments!


I am still enjoying driving the Tesla. We're planning to drive it over to Arizona for a visit soon. I'll report back in about how we find that experience. The drive over will be no problem: there are superchargers at all three spots we've been known to stop to break up the drive. I'll be interested to see how we find the experience of keeping it charged up for city driving (and a side trip we have planned) without our home charging set up.

I can definitely say that if you're considering an electric car as a commuting car - GO FOR IT. You won't miss stopping for gas! And even with a car with a relatively short range (e.g., ~120-150 miles), I think you'll get past range anxiety pretty quickly. Once you get in the habit of plugging in your car at night, you realize that 100+ miles range is actually pretty huge. I only plug in the Tesla every third night or so, and even that is only because we want to keep the charging in the "super off peak" hours. Our Tesla has a 300 mile range, but for daily use we only charge to about 260 miles. When I charge after three days I am almost never below 100 miles, and am usually at about 120-150 miles.


Speaking of the Tesla, a funny/annoying thing happened on my way back from my beach walk on Friday. I was driving out of Pacific Beach at about 4 p.m., so there was a fair amount of traffic. The main road out of PB does not have a high speed limit, and there were enough other cars around that no one was going much over the speed limit. At one point, I notice a big black truck riding my tail. It had raised tires and sometimes those higher vehicles tailgate almost by accident - they can easily see over a little car like mine, so there's a tendency to creep up. But this guy was driving somewhat aggressively and was clearly antsy. I couldn't really have gone faster even if I'd wanted to, so I assumed he just hated traffic and ignored him.

But then, when we got to the freeway on ramp, he aggressively pulled around me to get into the carpool lane ahead of me (I've got my clean air stickers, and leaving PB on a Friday afternoon is just about the only time I use them).

As he passed me, I saw the sticker in his window. It said "F*** your hybrid."

So I guess he was extra-pissed to be stuck in traffic behind an electric car.

I have never wanted to use the Tesla's rocket car acceleration as much as I did right then. It would have been delicious to zoom past him... but it wouldn't have been safe in so much traffic, so I didn't try.

I really, really don't get the mindset of guys like that. Fine, drive your big, gas-guzzling, jacked up truck. I don't know - maybe you have a reason you need it. I don't drive around judging other people's car choices. But why put a sticker on your car like that? That's telling me that you are an asshole, and also makes me suspect that your asseholeishness is the only reason you "need" that jacked up truck. People like that make me wish there really was some giant cosmic counter tallying up points to determine where we'll spend eternity.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Shorter Than You'd Think Edition

We're having really dry, hot, windy weather here: Fire weather. I don't mind the dry heat, really, but I hate the wind and the threat of fire, even though that threat is mainly in the more inland parts of my county. So far, the brush fires that have broken out in San Diego today (three, by my count) seem to have been quickly contained. People north of us have not been so lucky.

The biggest direct impact to me of the weather was that I decided it wasn't good rollerblading weather and went for a walk on the beach, instead. Hardly a hardship! The beach was beautiful and I'm glad I went.

Anyway, let's get to the links.

First, I'm running a free promo for the ebook of The Dodo Knight, by Michelle Rene. Go grab a copy from your favorite ebook source - and if you do, please come back later and leave a review! Getting more reviews is one big reason to run a free promo. This is an experiment for me, to see if a free promo can be a useful tool for eventually driving more paid sales. We'll see how it goes.

Next: I posted a new Where in the World at Adjusted Latitudes. Can you guess where that fish lives?

Now, for my other links. You'd think I'd have more after two weeks, but I've been really busy and not reading much. 

David Roberts at Vox tackled the California public safety power outage issue, and his posts about these blackouts and the potential ways to improve the situation are a good introduction to the issue. As I type, it looks like a PG&E transmission line was the cause of the Kincade fire.

I, for one, will be perfectly happy to have earthquake spoilers delivered to my phone. (Note to self: you still need to download that app....)

Here's a write up of  a really interesting study about how to make teen girls' social media feeds more nourishing. Really, I think it is good advice for all of us.

In recommended listening:

Krista Tippet's interview with David Truer about the Ojibwe language is wonderful.

Matt Yglesias' interview with Ian Millhiser about the courts is also really good.

I haven't decided who I support in the Democratic primary, and I won't really even try until much closer to the California primary. But I love the tweets from people excited to get a call from Elizabeth Warren - even famous people get excited!

I think this is cool and wonderful:

And of course, here are some bunnies:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Thinking about Climate Adaptation Edition

I had a particularly good rollerblade today. I made a conscious decision that when people stopped unexpectedly in front of me, rode their bikes down the middle of the path instead of keeping right, and generally just were oblivious to the other people on the path I would slow down or stop, cheerfully say "no worries!" when they looked up in surprise at the existence of another person using the public path, and continue on my way. I would not grumble or grit my teeth, I would be cheerful! And it worked. I was genuinely not annoyed. There's a life lesson in there for me if I care to take it, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the links.

As usual, I assume you can find your impeachment news on your own, and I'm focusing on other things.

Badmomgoodmom sent me a link to the article I've been wanting to read about the blackouts up north. SDG&E has been doing public safety blackouts for several years, and I was wondering why none of the ones down here have ever been such big news. This LA Times article explains: SDG&E is just better at handling the hot, dry, windy weather conditions that cause such high fire risk and prompt public safety blackouts. They have upgraded the infrastructure to be less risky and to have more microgrids so blackouts can be more targeted. This is no doubt due at least in part to the fact that we had big, devastating fires a decade ago, and so SDG&E is ahead of PG&E in adjusting to this reality. I suspect it is also due to some good planning by some people within SDG&E, and I'd love to read their stories.

Watching the news from up north has made me adjust how I think about the solar panels we want to get, though. I had been thinking of them mostly as a "good climate citizen" thing to do, with the potential to save money down the road. Now I am also thinking of them as a climate change adaptation. We wanted to get them this year to take advantage of the tax rebate, but aren't sure we'll have the cash we need. That was the downside of buying the more expensive car! But on the other hand, we're going to drive that car to Arizona for Thanksgiving and that is not something we could do with one of the cheaper electric cars.

In somewhat related news... here's a write up from a chemist about this year's Nobel prize in chemistry, which was for Lithium ion batteries. If you're curious why this was such a big improvement over previous battery chemistry, check out this post.

Updated to add: I meant to include a link to this NY Times interactive graphic about the change auto emissions since 1990. Enter your metro area and see how you've done. San Diego did so-so - emissions per person up 5% since 1990. LA did better: emissions per person down 2% since 1990. But compare us to Phoenix: emissions per person up a whopping 86% per person since 1990!

This article about how San Diego is changing its scooter regulations was interesting. I have noticed an improvement, both in terms of not having to step over scooters when I'm walking around and in terms of not having to deal with rude scooter riders when I'm out rollerblading. I'd say that if the scooter companies can't make things work here, they're in trouble. Our civic leaders have mostly been pretty welcoming of scooters, and looking for ways to make it work.

I found Jim Hines' post about adjusting to being widowed deeply moving.

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's conversation with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about loneliness was really good and thought-provoking. One thing it made me think about was how the sort of changes to cities that some urbanists and climate activists want - like more walkable cities and  the superblocks in Barcelona - might have impacts on health in more ways than we might expect, by making our cities feel more like communities.

This made me happy to see. Good for World Center Kitchen:
This is awesome.
 I know my husband has shown me the original video but I can't remember what the song is. If I can find it again I'll update this post or put it in the comments.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Lingering Effects of Fevers

Petunia turned 10 last week. Both my kids are in the double digits now, and in most ways the intense years when we had babies and toddlers about the house seem very distant.

This week, Petunia got sick, and those early years seemed much closer. For my newer readers, when she was a baby and a toddler, Petunia often got unexplained fevers. They'd usually last for three days, and she was pathetically miserable for those days, wanting mainly to be cuddled while she watched TV or slept.

She saw a bunch of specialists. We had tests to rule out cancer and cystic fibrosis and rare infections. In the end, the diagnosis was the equivalent of a shrug and "eh, that's just the way she is." And that diagnosis was right. As she got older, it became clear that she just has a stronger reaction to minor infections. I started to notice that often when she'd get one of her 3-day fevers, I'd lose my voice. Neither Pumpkin nor Mr. Snarky would show any sign of illness. My hypothesis is that there is something different about Petunia's immune system - perhaps a stronger innate response (your innate immune response is what causes you to spike a fever when you're fighting off a bug), and that whatever that difference is, she inherited it from me.

Sunday night, Petunia was complaining that her stomach felt weird. We thought maybe she'd done too many cartwheels in the backyard too soon after dinner, and sent her to bed with our fingers crossed. Monday morning, it was clear she was sick, but also clear that although her stomach hurt, it wasn't a stomach bug (phew). She stayed home for the day with my parents, who were in town for her birthday. By Monday evening, I had a better understanding of what she meant when she said her tummy hurt - because mine felt a little weird, too. So I stayed home with Petunia on Tuesday. Sadly, I spent most of the day working and not cuddling her on the sofa like she wanted me to.

Petunia's back to normal now. She woke up Wednesday morning feeling fine. I, on the other hand, am still feeling a bit worn out. Perhaps I should have blown off work and cuddled on the sofa on Tuesday.  If I had, I'd have had much rougher days yesterday and today, so I still think I made the right choice overall. But I find myself thinking back to the old days, when I'd sit on the sofa with Petunia's little feet pushed into my side while she watched Cinderella and my laptop balanced on my lap as I tried to work. It is objectively better now - I don't have a gnawing worry about what the fever means, for instance - but those were sweet times in their own way.

Next week, I'll get another chance to reflect on the legacy of those early fevers. Petunia had to have her blood drawn frequently when we were ruling out scary things like cancer, and she developed an unusually strong hatred of needles and shots. We had just about gotten her back to normal child levels of shot hatred when Pumpkin started fainting when she got shots. Pumpkin has never minded shots, but she hates fainting and so has started worrying about shots.  She'll still get them, but she complains and insists I bring our own stash of sugar to revive her if she faints, because doctor's offices always offer orange juice and she hates orange juice. The fainting really freaked out Petunia, too, and she's back to panicking at the mention of shots. So the yearly flu shot is a struggle. This year, I heard that FluMist is approved for pediatric use again. My kids could get their shots, but it will be so much easier to get them FluMist. We've got appointments for next week. I, on the other hand, got my flu shot yesterday. I have to say, it is a much nicer experience without two whining children in tow!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Oops I Don't Have Many Links Edition

Another Friday, another great rollerblade outing... this really is a wonderful time of year here.

Petunia's birthday was this week, so I've been busy with celebrations and visiting family. I went to my Feedly board where I save interesting links to share and found nothing! That is probably a reflection of less time reading articles in general, but I've also spent a lot of my article reading time catching up on the impeachment news, and I don't think I need to share that kind of article. If I find a particularly interesting or insightful analysis, I'll share it but I'm sure you are all capable of keeping up on the news on your own!

But I did write up the Cape Breton leg of our vacation, so that's something.

And luckily, I did have a few links saved in my Twitter favorites:

This article about how reflective pavements may cool cities but make pedestrians feel hotter is interesting.

Could we move to a four day work week?

And I had to drive to work, so I have some recommended listening: I thought Ezra Klein's conversation with Danielle Allen about democracy was really interesting and useful.

Here's your weekly bunny:

Happy weekend everyone!