Thoughts on the new plans to rollback fuel efficiency standards…

As the US continues to drop bombs on its war against reason as it relates to climate change, consumers need to act.

If the market demands cars with improved fuel efficiency, or electric cars, whatever rollbacks the Trump administration implements on fuel efficiency standards will not matter.

Automakers will be forced to comply with market demands.

Our dollars and decisions drive the market, not Trumps war on science and reason.

Screaming on social media doesn’t help, especially if you go out and buy a gas guzzling SUV afterwards.

Gas prices are rising. The petroleum industry and car manufacturers win if these proposed rules go into effect. In the long run, auto-consumers loose at the gas pump and via continued environmental degradation. But that doesn’t mean we quit and blame Trump.

Buy smart if you care about climate change–and don’t get sucked into the noise, such as the argument about safety as it relates to cars with better fuel efficiency standards. That’s crap.

Oh, and by the way, fuck you EPA. Remember, you make the rules we make the calls.

Road trip to Pittsburgh

Just returned from a road trip to Pittsburgh, we were there to see the Arctic Monkeys. Driving from Media it was a long trip. Never realized how many trees Pennsylvania has. I didn’t count, but there are a lot – you’ll have to trust me on this.

The concert was fun. Although I’m not familiar with all of their songs, I feel I heard them all before somewhere–there music is instantly accessible and supremely catchy. I even bought a t-shirt that I will wear every now and then.

Had the opportunity to run through downtown Pittsburgh as well. It is a beautiful city. Trees and green are interspersed throughout in an organic way. I’d like to re-visit with some more time.

The road trip put Pennsylvania into perspective. Two football teams, one on each end of the state, and tons of green in between.

Minimalist shoes – There might be something to this

I have a weird relationship with running. No, it’s not weird – I just don’t (or rather, didn’t) like it. I’ve always looked at it as a chore. Something I hate doing but must if I want to remain in shape. And I only ran when I felt the need to–and never doing it for a prolonged period of time. Lots of starts and stops with the habit. But lately I realized that it’s time again. I was eating too many french fries and late night snacks, hence, didn’t like how I was feeling. I put on my running shoes and ran for twenty minutes a day finding little joy during that timeframe.

Then something happened. I went to Hershey Park. Not the best place for a vegan to go but I went anyway. I was wearing my Birks (vegan of course). And realized during the trip that they weren’t ideal for amusement parking. Not good for water rides, and alternatively, not good for roller coasters or rides with dangling feet. I needed a pair of shoes that doubled for light water activities and were comfortable enough for walking around in. Hiking sandals.

So I DuckDuckGo’d vegan hiking sandals and was led to a brand that specializes in minimalist footwear. They are called Xero Shoes. After reading through their marketing fluff I ordered their sandals. The company began selling minimalist running shoes, which are running sandals. Weird, right? Apparently there is a barefoot running movement that claims the way running shoes are designed with a thick heal ultimately isn’t comfortable and does long-term damage to knees. I’m not a runner. I just wanted the sandals.

The sandals arrived. They were comfortable enough so I wanted to break them in. Since I was running and this was the purpose of the sandal anyway – I thought to give them a try. And wow, was I surprised. My 20 minute dread run turned into a 40 minute joy run I didn’t want to end. Same thing happened the next day. I wasn’t tired. It felt great. I adjusted my stride to land with my entire foot evenly as opposed to heal first.

I think there might be something to this minimalist footwear thing. For a shoe to be able to make running fun and an activity I actually look forward to – I’m willing to entertain the thought that maybe we’ve been wearing shoes wrong all along.

Back from Vacation

Recently visited Argentina for Spring break. We had a fantastic time, but it’s also great to be back. Below are some quick impressions on my experience there. I’ll have more to add in upcoming posts and photos are forthcoming.

Traffic

Traffic in Argentina is unbearable. A half hour drive in Buenos Aires can turn into a 2.5 hour exercise in patience. I like Septa (public transportation) – it’s relatively predictable and can be an easy scapegoat when late, as in Septa is having electrical issues again. But in Argentina, there really isn’t an excuse for being late. It’s just accepted, and I think traffic patterns have a lot to do with that.

Urban centers would benefit from having more bicycle lanes. Buenos Aires is flat and super congested. It can be a prime bike riding city. Making it more bike friendly would go a long way in taking some cars off the road. This is a quick fix that could go a long way.

Fruits and Veggies 

Fruits and vegetables taste the way they are supposed to taste. In the US, we get them imported, and by the time we get them they are frozen many times over. But there, an apple tastes like an apple, and carrots are wonderfully big and orange. And when cooked on a grill as in an asado, vegetables become the most delicious thing ever, especially onions.

Vegan in Argentina

It’s tough to be vegan in general, but in Argentina – wow, it’s really tough, especially for new vegans. In the US we are spoiled in that we can eat some foods from packages. There, mostly every packaged food (including potato chips) contains some form of milk. Tofu, tempeh, and plant based milks are all very hard to find. The fresh fruits are so good there, one can argue that packaged foods aren’t really necessary, however, if accustomed to comfort foods like Chao cheese, get ready for cravings. Oh, and no nooch!

I’ll post some photos of our trip to La Boca when I have a chance.

We also had an opportunity to visit La Ventana, which is a wonderful tango and gaucho show. Tango music is just lovely. Didn’t take any photos of that though, no cameras allowed.

Overall it was a blast. Thank you Argentina!

#DeleteFacebook is becoming a movement: A Quick Guide to Deleting

Happy to see #DeleteFacebook is becoming a trend.

Deleting Facebook however isn’t easy. There are a few steps to it. Facebook so tangled with the web you have to cut strings as well.

Here is a #DeleteFacebook quick guide:

  1. Identify why you signed up for Facebook in the first place. If it is to keep in touch with family and friends, make sure you develop a new platform, like a blog. Creating this up front will help you quickly get passed any withdrawal symptoms you might have.
  2. Create a dummy email account and use that for all Facebook products (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp). Disroot.org allows you to create email accounts without connecting to you in any way. This is great for secondary accounts.
  3. Identify any apps that use your Facebook log in to log on, and change to your email address.
  4. Unlink apps to Facebook you have connected to Facebook.
  5. Backup and delete your photos from the site
  6. Remove your name from any photos you are tagged in
  7. Unlike any pages you liked
  8. Delete account
  9. Stop Facebook from tracking you – erase cookies and identify any browser plug-ins you could use

The deletion process takes two weeks once you hit the delete button. Make sure you don’t go back into your account after deleting or visit Facebook. If so, they will stop the deletion process.

This Reddit thread provides a step by step as well. This is what I used to help me.

Life after Facebook is rather rewarding. Don’t be afraid. Do it.

Using Big Data as a Weapon

We’ve blindly accepted Facebook terms and conditions for a long time. We are conditioned to just accept them at this point. We want to like things, they want our data. Ever wonder what happens to the data you provide as you continue to use the service?

Click on the vid below for a snapshot into how one company has used personal data that’s been harvested to manipulate the way we think.

Reddit and parameters of “Free Speech”

Reddit gets it.  They do not ask for your private information upon signing up, nor do their cookies follow you around the internet when you are looking for a recipe. Reddit is organized by topic, so you’re not going to see political posts when all you want to see are cute cats. And truthfully – it’s a happy place to visit and their alien is cute.

They have a feature in the New Yorker this week. The article highlights how the company is putting forth a real effort in cleaning up the conversation that takes place on the platform. Unlike other social-internet companies, the company isn’t claiming to be a bastion of “free speech.” They have rules and aren’t afraid to ban communities that violate those rules. On their approach to free speech:

“Does free speech mean literally anyone can say anything at any time?” … “Or is it actually more conducive to the free exchange of ideas if we create a platform where women and people of color can say what they want without thousands of people screaming, ‘Fuck you, light yourself on fire, I know where you live’? If your entire answer to that very difficult question is ‘Free speech,’ then, I’m sorry, that tells me that you’re not really paying attention.”

Maybe, just maybe they are on to something. Using the “Free Speech” shield doesn’t give the internet soldier the freedom to be a jerk or a perv. As we (the collective we – internet companies included) continue to work towards a healthier internet, maybe we should take out a page here and re-evaluate the concept of internet “free speech.” It’s surely not free in real life, maybe we should also acknowledge its parameters on the interwebs as well.