Bad science in the New York Times

The “cell phone electromagnetic fields are giving you cancer” people have a new target: now it’s hybrid cars that are going to kill you. The NYT gasps: While Americans live with E.M.F.’s all around — produced by everything from cellphones to electric blankets — there is no broad agreement over what level of exposure constitutes a health hazard, and there is no federal standard that sets allowable exposure levels. Yeah, that may be because nobody’s ever managed to reliably, scientifically demonstrate a negative health effect from everyday electromagnetic fields applied to human beings.

Rite of passage

Last night, the spouse hit a kerb. Didn’t think anything of it. This afternoon, she went to drive to the museum, and discovered we had a flat tire. I tried re-inflating it to see how badly punctured it was. Once the pressure reached around 10psi there was an audible hissing noise, and the tire went flat in about 5 minutes. So, no going anywhere on that. Hence, I have just changed a tire on a car, for the first time in my life.

Minnesota thoughts

It wasn’t too bad when the wind stopped–only about -3 to -6 Celsius. When we arrived in Minneapolis, it was actually slightly above freezing. I managed to screw up my back somehow en route. I’m not sure how. I think it was a combination of nasty airplane seats, improvised pillows, five hours of journey, and cold gray weather. We managed to rent a Prius. The logic was that although it isn’t 4 wheel drive, on icy roads it’s better to know exactly how the car will handle and how effective the brakes are.

Ouch

At the weekend I cleaned the windows. A downside to a 2-storey house that I hadn’t considered is the difficulty of cleaning the windows on the upper floor. Rather than clamber on the roof or try to handle an 8m ladder, I bought a dispenser of window cleaner that attaches to the hose and sprays suds quite a distance. You then leave them for 15-20 seconds, and hose off. It did an adequate job.

Queer eye for the Prius guy

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks are more likely to drive hybrid cars, according to a survey. Because, you know, wanting to save the environment and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil so we can save the lives of troops abroad is so gay.

Prius filter hack

Looked at the air conditioner filter in the Prius. Saw that it was encrusted with filth, covered in tufted seeds (dandelions?) and had collected a few leaves too. Checked the price of a replacement filter: $19 for a regular one, $35 for an electrostatic. Went to Target, got a 3M electrostatic filter for $4, cut it to fit the Prius’s filter holder. Job done. Surprisingly, Reader’s Digest ranks Austin as the 8th cleanest city in the USA.

Dallas

It appears I have located another job within IBM. What’s more, it’s one that’s entirely suited to my skill set, in the technical sales part of the organization. My appetite has come back with a vengeance. On Saturday we went on a day trip to Dallas. Kind of insane if you look at the map, but [rothko] had a business meeting, and I didn’t want her to have to drive for 8 hours given her tendonitis.

It is better to have filed and lost than never to have filed at all

I decided it was time to wax my Prius. No, that’s not a euphemism, though I sometimes use it as one. The poor car had become really dirty, so I lovingly hand-washed it, dried it, polished a few small scratches, waxed it, cleaned the windows, and used some other cleaner on the black plastic bits. It’s odd to have an ongoing relationship with a car; even odder than owning one, which in turn is somewhat stranger than driving one.

How the universe works

This is how the universe works: The day when you decide “Oh, to hell with it, I’m not going to bother shaving!” is the day when the VP will decide he wants to meet you. I’m back in Austin. The second flight was delayed, but not too badly. I sat and listened to This American Life, which I had downloaded to the Zodiac 2. One episode was about people who love their cars entirely too much, and I’m starting to understand that—it was good to see the round butt of a Prius again.

Separation anxiety

The story so far: some unknown git cracked the rear drivers-side light assembly on the Prius, scraped the upper surface of the bumper at truck height, and disappeared quietly without leaving any insurance details. So, the car is in for repairs. While they fix it, the insurance company (GEICO) are paying for a rental car. The temporary car is a Chevrolet Cavalier, the sedan model which starts at $15,175. We’ve got a deluxe one, with the optional CD player and automatic transmission.