Embrace the Suburbanism 
Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 14:24
Posted by Administrator
That is it. I have now arrived as the stereotypical suburban father. I now drive a minivan.

Yes, we traded in Julie's 2005 Civic LX coupe for a 2014 Honda Odyssey EX-L, and let me tell you something. All the bad stuff people say about minivans? Screw that, this thing is AWESOME. It's comfortable, powerful, has a smooth ride, and is absolutely ENORMOUS. Two adult males sat in the third row and didn't complain about lack of space. Julie sat in the middle seat of the second row -- 7 months pregnant and between two car seats -- and said it was comfortable.

Feels good, man.
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Happy Birthday, Julie! 
Friday, 17 January, 2014, 23:11
Posted by Administrator
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, lovely Julie,
Happy birthday to you! :D
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Stuff and thangs 
Thursday, 5 September, 2013, 15:32
Posted by Administrator
Lots of new things.

First of all, Julie and I are expecting our second tiny human. She's nearing her second trimester right now, so there's all sorts of nausea and such going on, but things are looking good. Pretty excited here. As a result of this, and some unimpressive shoehorning, we have determined that my trusty 2008 Civic Hybrid can't fill the family sedan role. We will therefore be replacing Julie's 2005 Civic, which is even less appropriate, with a larger vehicle ... most likely a minivan.

That brings us on to the 2008 Civic Hybrid. Those of you who know me personally know that, despite referring to it as "trusty" in the previous paragraph, I bitch about it constantly. It's not the lack of power -- that's one of the reasons I bought it, because I was sure that I'd get myself in trouble with a powerful engine. It's the fact that, under certain circumstances, there's even less power. Given that this is my website and all, I'll elaborate.

Honda's hybrid system is called Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA. As with other hybrid systems, it consists of an electric motor that assists the gasoline engine, and a battery pack that provides power to that motor. It's different to the systems that other manufacturers use, but I'm not going to get into that; in the end, the IMA system provides "worse" fuel economy than other manufacturers' systems (air quotes because I average around 40MPG, which is pretty damn good).

There have been several lawsuits, including at least one class action suit, against Honda of America regarding the IMA battery in the 2006-2008 Civic Hybrid. Obviously, I could have joined the class, but I didn't because I wasn't experiencing the problems described by the suit. What I didn't realize was that I wasn't experiencing the problems yet. The problem in particular is that, under normal driving conditions, the IMA battery depletes itself completely, causing the gas engine to idle and run at a higher RPM in order to charge that battery. This also causes the IMA to stop providing assist altogether, as the battery can't provide sufficient current to the electric motor. The net result is that, instead of the already-low-but-sufficient-for-city-driving 110hp combined power output, the engine generates about 90hp, and the car can't get out of its own way.

I mentioned this every time I took the car in for service, and it was "addressed" with an ECU update, but the problem kept coming back. I mentioned it this morning as well, but this time the result was different: turns out, the IMA battery is going bad. Normally, this would be a tremendous "oh shit" moment because they cost $3000 to replace; however, Honda extended the warranty, probably as a result of the class action suit(s), so it's going to be replaced for $0. That makes me happy.

That said, I think I'm going to consider trading this one in as well. No better time than right after the hybrid system battery gets replaced, right?
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Only took 6 years 
Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 13:50
Posted by Administrator
...well, almost 6 years. As of Friday, we will have owned our house for 6 years. And, after all this time, we have finally acquired some patio furniture. Okay, that may not be as exciting as the title may suggest, but it complements our grill quite nicely. Eating outside may not seem like a big deal, but when you're as clumsy as I am, the threat of tripping while carrying barbecued meat up the stairs is very real and very scary.

I'm also pretty happy about the umbrella we bought to go with it because it doesn't have a crank. Again, not necessarily a big deal, but a simple pulley system is much nicer than a crank, which I tend to think of as quite failure-prone. Past experience, etc.

I just noticed that I haven't posted a link to the 2013 Auto Show pictures. This is because I haven't bothered to generate an album for them quite yet. I'll eventually get it up there ... won't take 6 years, that's for sure :)
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Silly hobby 
Tuesday, 19 February, 2013, 19:04
Posted by Administrator
Shaving can be a hobby.

No, really, hear me out. I know some folks think it's a chore. You have to waste valuable time trimming the excess hair off your face with tools and consumables that are expensive, lest you be perceived as a lumberjack/mountain man/grizzly bear/hobo. Hell, I used to think it was a chore. I hated monitoring that green strip on my Gillette Fusion to make sure it was still green, and I hated throwing the blade out and clicking another one on because, damn, those things are expensive.

Several years ago some guy posted a thread about wet shaving on a forum that I still frequent. I thought "man, how can this possibly be a good thing? That razor has one blade, mine has 5. Obviously mine's better." But the hype kept growing ... so, at the beginning of Movember 2012, I bought myself a small safety razor. I knew nothing about it, other than the vendor calls it a "heavyweight." It's definitely heavy for its size -- you'd expect it to weigh nothing, but here it is, heavier than its larger counterparts in the display case. I read up on the proper procedures and went to work.

Immediately, I noticed a difference. Yes, I had to do more than one pass with this new device, but my face was smooth, and I didn't nick myself more than usual.

As the weeks went by, I started experimenting with blades from other manufacturers. I heard that slant-bar safety razors were more aggressive, but the cut was smoother, so I went and got one of those.

...and, suddenly, I look forward to shaving. I look forward to seeing the difference between a particular manufacturer's blade in a straight-bar versus slant-bar safety razor. I look forward to seeing how many passes (and what types of passes) it takes to clear all the hair off, whether or not my mental map of my face is accurate based on the number of nicks I end up seeing, and then refining my technique to reduce/eliminate them.

So, there it is. I like to shave. How silly is that?
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