Listen to Elon

I’m often critical of Elon Musk. Turned off by his egomania.

Disappointed in his juvenile comments from the bully pulpit of Twitter. One of the richest and most powerful men in the world attacking and mocking people who are unable to fight back.

I’m disappointed that a guy who claims he doesn’t care about money is so reluctant to pay more in taxes though his businesses have received billions of dollars in tax subsidies.

That said, I admire almost everything else. His work ethic. His companies, especially Boring and Starlink.

Elon Musk does much more good for the world than bad. He’s scientific and well aware of the risks of climate change. He calls for a carbon tax. Musk endorsed Andrew Yang and expressed support for his proposed universal basic income.

Though the headlines shout that Elon is a “free speech absolutist”, Musk himself says Twitter must abide by the laws of each nation. I doubt much will change in terms of Twitter policy in Canada or the USA.

In fact, I’m guessing Twitter will be better for me with Musk as owner.

Warren had me watch this recent interview. Elon defends his life and ethics quite well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

OVER the Handle Bars … 🚲

My Trek Checkpoint bike is still like new.

Today I flipped over the handlebars. First time ever, I believe.

I was wearing my helmet. But — happily — the Gymnastics training kicked in and I pulled off a shoulder safety roll with perfect technique. No damage. Helmet never hit the dirt.

What happened?

I was on level ground. Easy riding. INSTANT stop.

My fender somehow came loose and wedged behind the tire.

Weird. I’d never heard of this happening before.

It’s still on warranty so I’ll have the dealer fix it.

I don’t like Instagram

I’d avoided this Facebook social media alternative — until the pandemic. It’s very popular with outdoor recreation folks so I started posting near daily on @BestHikeVisuals.

Day 1 was November 9, 2020.

It’s shocking how limited Instagram is compared with Facebook. For example:

  • until recently, it was super difficult to post from a computer
  • Instagram images sometimes don’t show on browsers with ad blockers installed
  • you have no control over the sizes of thumbnails. They often look stupid.
  • Instagram videos are often poor quality and look bad when viewed from a computer rather than a phone

I’m up to over 300 posts now. And it is rewarding to quickly scan all of those. And there are some very good photos.

But many of the coolest influencers in 2021 are posting less to Instagram. Looking to TikTok and other social media.

Audible Originals

I’ve sent plenty of money to Amazon via my subscription to Audible.com.

This is probably my last year.

The IOS app is lousy.

Books are overpriced in my opinion. I pay about US $10 each by taking advantage of special deals.

In 2020 almost every audio book I want is available through my library — so long as I’m willing to wait a few weeks.

Like every subscription service, Audible has tried since 2016 to keep my business by including original content unavailable elsewhere. Podcasts. Novellas. Much of that is free for subscribers. Two books / month, for example.

But it’s not enough to keep me.

The Getaway by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, for example.

2 hours long. Not a bad little psychological thriller. But not enough to motivate me to stay on with Audible.

Zucked by Roger McNamee (2019)

Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Roger McNamee was early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. And an early investor.

A big Facebook promoter.

ZUCKED is McNamee’s intimate reckoning with the catastrophic failure of the head of one of the world’s most powerful companies to face up to the damage he is doing.

I’ve not heard any other critic as astute, nor as fair, as to exactly why Facebook is harming and even killing some of their customers around the world.

As Facebook is unable to police itself, governments should step in.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus bike tires

I put a Marathon Plus on my bike rear tire just prior to starting a 17-day Vancouver to Calgary adventure on the Trans Canada Great Trail.

And felt very confident.

However … it punctured day 17 on a paved highway. Only 30km from Calgary.

Rather than using a breaker strip of Kevlar under the tread, the Marathon Plus has a thick layer of springy SmartGuard rubber. Because of this, any embedded objects tend to get forced outwards rather than being pushed in, and it takes something special – a police stinger, maybe? – to cause a puncture. …

BikeRadar

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

why I can’t live in Europe

This is a repost from 2009. Having travelled Europe extensively in 2018 and 2019, my opinion is unchanged. 

Too much second hand smoke, too few toilets. 

I should live in Europe.

The trains are fantastic. There are dedicated bike trails everywhere. It’s easy to live without a car.

But I can’t live in Europe. 

  • It’s OLD
  • It’s EXPENSIVE
  • Banker’s Hours
  • People aren’t friendly
  • Smokers

=== It’s OLD

No need to visit the potentially gorgeous Sagrada Família in Barcelona. There are no plans to remove the scaffolding until at least 2026.

308565295_452c4ee086_b

I’m not sure how they ever made postcards of the great monuments of Europe. Photoshop?

Most are under construction. Constantly.

=== It’s EXPENSIVE

broke-guyA sample of prices from December 2007:

Gallon of unleaded gas: $8.08
Gallon of bio diesel: $6.06
Wireless Internet: $6 for 30 minutes, $32 for 24 hours
Vienna public transport, 24-hours: $8.40
Berlin public transport, 24-hours: $8.97
Seat reservation, Brussels-Frankfurt train: $4.41
Overnight parking, Hotel Helvetia, Lindau, Germany: $14.40
Leopold Museum, Vienna: $10.30

see more

I recently heard that a basic hotel room in urban Finland costs US$400 / night.

There are very few pressures to bring prices down in Western and Northern European countries. You need a HUGE salary to afford to live there.

=== Banker’s Hours

Recall when the only reason we hated bankers was that they worked only 10:15AM-11:45AM. And 2:15AM- 3:45PM ??

Most businesses in Southern Europe still close in the middle of the day. Many are required to close by government legislation.

Shop keeps sometimes seem disappointed if you find their store open.

sorry-we-are-open

I’m surpised any commerce happens at all.

The tradition of siesta may have worked well in the small village decades past (when wives were stay at home chattel) but it’s bloody inconvenient in 2009. Especially for a tourist.

In the Dolomites of Northern Italy they have incredibly helpful tourist information kiosks. But they close from Noon Saturday until Monday morning. … The majority of tourists arrive by train from big cities further south, about Noon on Saturday.

In Andorra la Vella, the only city in the country of Andorra, none of the internet cafes were open on a Saturday morning. Not even 24 Hour Internet. (I did them the service of removing their “OPEN” sign. But my Swiss Army knife did not have the power tools required to remove the 24 Hour Internet sign.)

=== People aren’t friendly

Picture an arrogant, rude European.

disdainful

That’s my preconception.

But when I finally found, in the summer of 2009, an arrogant French bus driver, I couldn’t stop laughing.

As he chastised me, the ignorant, smelly American tourist, I couldn’t help chuckling at his stereotype manner and accent. He seemed to me a Hollywood comic actor spoofing the role with a phoney accent.

Ever since I saw the wonderful 1967 Sidney Portier film, To Sir, with Love, I’ve had another bias … A disgust with the British class system.

Even today I picture a subculture of profane skin head soccer louts. And uncouth, unwed teen mothers. Spending their meager dole at the pub rather than at the dentist.

I did see them in Scottish pubs. But sucking fags outside the door of the pub. Smoking in restaurants and bars was banned in the United Kingdom July 2007. Thank God.

Infants and children are allowed in pubs, however. Drunks care for them while Mom and/or Dad step out for another smoke.

… To be fair, I was very surprised how friendly the Scots were to me, another dumb tourist. Far more friendly than any of the other 5 Western European countries I visited.

=== Smokers

The single biggest reason I could not live in Europe.

They are shameless. Unrepentant. Totally oblivious to others.

The phrase “second hand smoke” has never yet been translated into Italian.

They smoke indoors and out. I could not enter any cafe or restaurant. In fact, a guy lit up in the airport restaurant in Bilbao, Spain. There were no signs saying he couldn’t.

Worst of all, it was clear to me that smoking is still cool, in Europe.

smoker-cafe

I can’t live in Europe.

It’s uncivilized.

too much SMOKING in Europe

One thing North America has done right is to reduce smoking.

I hate visiting Europe for this one reason.

Eduard Benko. Romania, 2009

According to the World Health Organization, 21.9 percent of Americans smoked tobacco in 2018. In comparison, the average smoking rate for Europe was 28.7 percent.

When you look at the approximate number of cigarettes smoked per person per year, the picture is even more striking. Out of the 20 countries that smoke the most cigarettes, 15 of them are entirely or partially in Europe. The United States is 68th on the list. …

From U.S. surgeon general warnings to campaigns by groups like the American Cancer Society, the messaging has been clear since the 1960s: smoking cigarettes is bad for you. And it’s worked. About 96 percent of Americans believe smoking cigarettes is at least somewhat harmful to your health. …

Why Do So Many People Smoke Cigarettes In Europe?

Obviously the EU has to educate, educate, educate … and legislate.

Here’s my nearest grocery store in Stuttgart. Nothing but nicotine products while waiting in line to check out.

I HATE loyalty programs

In fact, I’m loyal to companies that don’t have loyalty programs.

What a waste of time. 😕

“If you have a rewards card, please swipe it now.”

“You’re not a member. Would you like to be?”

“The loyalty club comes with bonus points, an upgrade, vouchers and a free coffee. After you buy 10.”

“You don’t want to join? You should join. It only takes a moment. You’re still not interested? Why not? (What’s wrong with you?)”

Let’s ban all loyalty programs

click for larger version

Sadly … I caved. I am now carrying a Tim Horton’s loyalty card. 😕