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Oakland, CA

You are currently viewing archive for March 2009
Posted By Bakari

Reality is mind-bogglingly complex.


Within the past hour I have written/spoken/read about: over-population, food sustainability, relationships, work hours (I actually had to work 3 days this week!  I don't understand how people put up with this every week),  late fees, and bike repairs.  The last two, ok, because I'm at work right now, but still, so many topics there are in the world, and each with so many levels.  I watched a video about dolphins that blow bubble rings and then swirl the bubble rings around and break them into smaller rings before finally popping them, and how other dolphins have been picking up the technique from those who know it.

Someone painted an AR-15 assault rifle pink with a Hello Kitty.


My brain can't handle so much... everything.


I want to get in bed and cuddle and fall asleep feeling someone breathing next to me.


But instead I have to be at work another two hours.

Posted By Bakari

After being pulled over for driving too slow, I looked up a couple hypermileing websites in order to post the story among people who might find it entertaining, and possibly offer some advice as to how to avoid/deal with the situation should it happen again.  While there I found all sorts of ideas and suggestions I hadn't thought of and decided to attempt to make the truck itself more efficient to compliment my new driving style.  This number is totally arbitrary and baseless, but my "goal" is 25mpg.
The average fuel economy of all US passenger cars on the road (not trucks, SUVs, or vans) is only 22.
The overall mileage for all US passenger vehicles on the road is only 17 - less than I am getting currently.
(And that's "passenger" vehicles.  Technically my 5500lb diesel is classified as a commercial vehicle, even if I didn't use it for work)

Of course this whole exercise is more just for the principal than it is to save money, considering how much I spent on the project so far.

Completed so far:

-I built some homemade wheel "skirts" (wheel-well covers) to improve aerodynamics.  The current ones, intended just as a test (though I may keep them as is if they work well enough and hold up) is made of cardboard (the box my new computer came in), coated in layers of aluminum tape, and then painted and edged with velcro.  I lined the wheel well with velcro, and stuck 'em together, then taped over the seams with clear tape to cover the gaps of a less than perfect measuring and cutting job.

-I taped over about half of the grill (the engine runs too cold as it is) and the front turn signals to improve the aerodynamics of the front which stock basically looks like a multifaceted scoop designed to catch as much air as possible.

-The headlights come in a little scoop too, but since it's vital that the light not be interfered with, instead of tape I had covers custom cut out of thin Lexan plastic, which is totally clear, scratch resistant, flexible, and nearly indestructible (the same stuff my custom motorcycle windshield is made from).  I traced the headlights and brought the tracing to Tap plastics who were able to cut them for me in about 5 minutes.  I drilled holes in the corners and screwed them onto the grill so I can easily remove them if a headlight burns out.

-I ordered extra bright LED bulbs for the taillights and tun signals. They are brighter than stock but draw less power. The parking/brake/signal lights together use more power than the headlights, at 63 watts (parking) to 177 watts (brake) stock. The LEDs total 5.5 to 20 watts.  This power is generated by the alternator, which is powered by the engine, so any reduction in electric draw ultimately reduces drain on the engine.

(blog entry continued HERE)

Posted By Bakari

I was inspired partly by a book lent to me by the first person I ever went out on a date with
(almost a year ago already!)
and partly by the container gardening class I was brought to on Valentine's day by a more recent date.

Yet another person I dated recently is thinking of doing a similar project, and so I have some information and materials to offer her.

When I first jumped into this new experience of dating I wasn't sure what to expect - but rainwater collection was surely no where in my mind as even the remotest possibility.
We actually don't pay for water in the trailer park, (its included in the rent) and RVs use very little water anyway by their nature.

On the other hand, CA is in a drought (again), one never knows when the next earthquake (or revolution perhaps?) might cut off the municipal supply, and I have every intention of starting to (attempt to) grow food as my next project.

Since the trailer doesn't really have gutters, I started by applying a thick bead of silicone around the perimeter of the roof, except above the slide and the awning, so that the water will flow to the low areas.  More silicone on one side of the slide, and the awning has always drained to one spot anyway.

I built the spouts primarily from layers of aluminum tape so I could shape it precisely the way I needed.

The tape feeds into a funnel (mesh covered to keep out the crap), which goes into the pipe.

On the slide side its basically just a long piece of straight pipe,

cut around 2/3s down and rejoined with a flexible connector so that it can bend around my bedroom window. 

The awning side was more of a challenge as it has to go around a number of various corners and through narrow spaces to get to the storage barrel on the other side of the house.

Instead of trying to measure and cut and join a whole bunch of short plastic pieces, I used flexible aluminum dryer vent. 

(Due to the character limit on this free blog space which piggybacks on my business website, you will have to read the rest on my original blog, on MySpace.  The best pictures are yet to come!)

Posted By Bakari

I've been driving around 50-55 on the freeway for the past few months, managed to get my '83 diesel f-250 work truck from and average of 15mpg, up to 19.5mpg (this is with various loads of furniture, boxes, dirt, appliances, etc in the back)

Last night on my way home, going 50mph, some cars merged very slow, and instead of accelerating to pass them, I slowed even more to let them in, but they were going SO slow I just moved to the left instead.

As I accelerated gently back up to speed I noticed a cop behind me, and just as I put on my signal to move back to the right, he moved to the right without signaling.
So I stayed where I was, and waited for him to pass on the right, still not having accelerated up to speed yet.

After a couple seconds, instead of passing, he pulled back in behind me.

And lit up the red and blues.

After answering a bunch of questions (last thing I ate was ice cream, 2 strawberries, and 2 almond cookies, I am not under the care of a doctor or dentist) I did a balance test, and when I passed that, took my first ever breathalyzer.

In an area where everyone goes 75, why would anyone drive slow unless they were drunk?

I told him I drive slow in order to save gas (and I was going particularly slow while I waited for him to pass - I didn't point out that he hadn't used his turn signal).
He said that I was going 20 under the limit.
I wasn't sure how pointing out that the "limit" was a MAXIMUM limit, not a minimum, would be taken, so I was just mostly quiet and agreeable.

No ticket. 
I actually found the whole ordeal rather amusing, but I hope this doesn't become a pattern.

Posted By Bakari

I was doored on my skates today for the first time ever.

I've been skating in traffic regularly nearly as long as I've bicycled in traffic (15 and 17 years, respectively) and this was my first accident involving an automobile.

I had thought I was going slow enough that an impact would be negligible...
I had thought I left enough of a gap from the parked cars to avoid suddenly opened doors in my path...

It happened so fast that I didn't realize what was happening until I was already in the air

I don't care much for the pain or blood or risk, but I have to admit there is something very intriguing, almost fun, about a first hand demonstration that this body one identifies as "self" is as subject to the basic laws of physics as any inanimate object.
One moment you are a person, with feelings and experiences and goals and relationships
In the next you are velocity and mass and angular momentum.

The way the door caught me, just on the edge, I went off at an angle, feet first somehow, I twisted and spun and ended up right in the middle of the street on my front with my head pointing the direction I had come from.
Got up quick in case there was any traffic coming, assured the apologetic driver that I was fine, and finished my commute to work (where I discovered that our first aid kit is badly in need of restocking - I have a napkin and tape on my arm at the moment)

And on that note:

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition's Spring series of free urban bicycle safety classes are set and online sign-up is open. Just go to: to sign up (or call 510.533.RIDE) and please be sure to tell all your friends about these great classes. Classes are scheduled throughout the East Bay.

The bicycle safety classes include a Day 1 Street Skills class, 3.5 hours classroom course that teaches the basics of safe cycling, riding in traffic, equipment, crash avoidance, rights and responsibilities. Adults 14 and over. No bike needed.

The Day 2 class is a 6.5-hour on-road course that provides an opportunity to put into practice what was learned in the Day 1 Street Skills class (a prerequisite), including emergency maneuvers and riding in various traffic conditions, to test your knowledge of vehicular cycling skills. Bicycle required for Day Two.

Class are taught under the direction of EBBC's lead certified bicycle safety instructor Jason Agar and his team of certified assistant instructors. And this June we are also offering our first bicycle safety class taught in Spanish.