New Car time: 2020 Acura RDX

A while back, I began to consider the idea of moving on from a long term relationship, with my sports car, the Honda S2000 that I bought in 2008, and have lovingly cared for and driven since. It was still tons of fun to drive, a real sports car and perfectly balanced vehicle, but the sitting position, and my creaky, aging body were falling out of love.

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The Trek Century Challenge

About a month ago, I got a notification from Strava about a challenge for the month of July. Ride 100 miles, and you can earn a t-shirt, and some badging. If you complete 500, or 1,000 miles, you get an opportunity to win a slick bike, and a chance to tour their design center.

Since I have been riding consistently again, I figured why not, so I signed up. At the end of 3 weeks, I had a total of 96 miles, and feeling pretty good about myself.

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Time to retire

(My other blog that is…)

When I began my journey on the internet back in the 1990’s, I signed up with a small-ish ISP at the time, Best Communications. One of the “benefits” of their ISDN service was the inclusion of a domain for my email.

At the time, I had an English Mastiff, a giant of a dog, named Astro – from The Jetsons, and of course that domain was gone. However, there was a twist, the name of Astro before he was adopted by The Jetsons was “Tralfaz”. Surely, this was a meaningless name dreamt up by the scriptwriters to make the episode work, it was a good choice in the early days of the internet.

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Car Shopping

As I age, I am increasingly finding it less and less comfortable to fold myself into my current car, a Honda S2000. I wouldn’t have noticed this if I hadn’t spent a few months with the use of my Step Father’s Jeep Cherokee after he passed. A compact SUV, it was comfortable to drive, and I found that I enjoyed that.

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Waking up in a Libertarian US of A

Tossing and turning in a fever induced dream state, I dreamt that the US had become the Libertarian Utopia that I have read about. This is the summary:

Joe Conservative wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom. He flushes his toilet and brushes his teeth, mindful that each flush & brush costs him about 43 cents to his privatized water provider. His wacky, liberal neighbor keeps badgering the company to disclose how clean and safe their water is, but no one ever finds out. Just to be safe, Joe Conservative boils his drinking water.

Joe steps outside and coughs–the pollution is especially bad today, but the smokiest cars are the cheapest ones, so everyone buys ‘em. Joe Conservative checks to make sure he has enough toll money for the 3 different private roads he must drive to work. There is no public transportation, so traffic is backed up and his 10 mile commute takes an hour.

On the way, he drops his 12 year old daughter off at the clothing factory she works at. Paying for kids to go to private school until they’re 18 is a luxury, and Joe needs the extra income coming in. Times are hard and there’re no social safety nets.

He gets to work 5 minutes late and misses the call for Christian prayer, and is immediately docked by his employer. He is not feeling well today, but has no health insurance, since neither his employer nor his government provide it, and paying for it himself is really expensive, since he has a precondition. He just hopes for the best.

Joe’s workday is 12 hours long, because there is no regulation over working hours, and Joe will lose his job if he complains or unionizes. Today is an especially bad day. Joe’s manager demands that he work until midnight, a 16 hour day. Joe does, knowing that he’ll lose his job if he does not.

Finally, after midnight, Joe gets to pick up his daughter and go home. His daughter shows him the deep cut she got on the industrial sewing machine today. Joe is outraged and asks why she doesn’t have metal mesh gloves or other protection. She says the company will not provide it and she’ll have to pay for it out of her own pocket. Joe looks at the wound and decides they’ll use an over the counter disinfectant and bandages until it heals. She’ll have a scar, but getting stitches at the emergency room is expensive.

His daughter also complains that the manager made suggestive overtures towards her. Joe counsels her to be a “good girl” and not rock the boat, or she’ll get fired and they’ll be out the income.

His daughter says she can’t wait until she’s 18 so she can vote for change or go to the Iraq War.

They get home and there’s a message from his elderly father who can’t afford to pay his medical or heating bills. Joe can hear him coughing and shivering.

Joe turns on the radio and the top story is a proposal in Congress to raise the voting age to 25. A rare liberal opinionator states that it’s an attempt to keep power out of the hands of working class Americans. The conservative host immediately quashes him, calling him “a utopian idealist,” and agreeing that people aren’t mature enough to make good choices until they’re at least 25.

Joe chuckles at the wine-swilling, cheese eating liberal egghead and thinks, “Thank God I live in America where I have freedom!”

Fortunately, I awoke and the world was normal.

Going SSL/TLS

Recent announcements by Google that they would begin to de-emphasize search results to sites that aren’t protected by SSL/TLS encryption (that green lock you see to the left of your browser URL bar) weren’t surprising, but it was a eye opener.

This site (tralfaz.com), its sister site (tralfaz.org), and the Greytbros, as well as Barbara’s wordsbybarbara were all at risk of going essentially invisible. Continue reading →

Oops, caught again – VTA

Quickie. This morning on the VTA light rail train, the fare enforcement officer got on the train, and checked fares. The guy across the row from me had been nailed before. I think he is a security guard, and he uses an eco pass, but it is his girlfriend’s. The enforcement office scans it and it shows her name.

Oops.

The enforcement officer makes him get off and buy a ticket. One afternoon, the same guy got caught as well. I guess he plays the odds, and when caught, will pay the $2.

Another woman had an eco pass. But, part of the deal is that it needs to be in a holder with your employee ID badge. As it is assigned to a company. She had it in her wallet, and surprise no badge.

Two scofflaws.

I am waiting for the time I see an enforcement officer hand out a $287 ticket…

Douchebags – Transit Freeriders

One of the perks of my job is that I get an Ecopass, and thus free fare for riding the Lightrail. It is super convenient, and I get a little exercise in the walk to and from the train station. All good.

When I first began riding, I was wondering if they ever verify that riders have paid the fare or had used a Clipper card for the ride, as for the first 5 weeks, I saw not even one fare enforcement officer.

Since that long dry spell, I have begun to see them frequently. Usually at least once a week, or more often, they would get on the train and verify proof of purchase. Today, there were two, both on the way in and on the way home. Continue reading →