*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Ford Transit Connect Wagon: the car for a family to do it all.

The car I should have bought, not the CRV I did: they cost about the same.  The thing about SUVs is that they are too big to drive well, but too small to be useful.  You should either get a wagon or a hatchback, because they are pretty useful, but small enough to drive well; or you should get a truck or a van, because they are big enough to be useful, if too big to drive well.

A note on drive-wheels, best to worst: AWD oriented to the rear, AWD oriented to the front, RWD, FWD.  I am hoping the AWD version they sell overseas comes here.  God, Americans don't like the right cars (and Canada is the same market).

This van fixes all my problems, except driving sporty: family van, low-cost stealth camper, cargo van, and more.  Let me explain:

- Fits more than four people well

- Fits in a standard parking space and is short enough to enter parking garages.  Is narrower, shorter, and not as long as the Dodge/Mercedes Sprinter, and isn't made by those unreliable companies, nor Fiat/Chrysler.  

- Unlike any other van in N America, the second and third rows fold flat!  Whether left in the car, or removed!  Look how they put a flat backing on the third row!  Bed space for tall people, like me.  Also long and wide enough to take 4'x8' plywood flat, which is the sign of a long enough truck bed.

I'd get dual sliding doors, because kids are clueless with swinging doors, and to encourage my kids to play door gunner... where it's safe enough.

Think I'd get a lift-gate, not barn-doors, because it keeps you out of the wet.

My stealth-camper modifications, that allow me to hold onto warranty and resale, and keep plumbing out of the vehicle?  I wouldn't want the smell of cooking or shitting inside of it.  

Cheap, to not very expensive:
- screen window covers
- insulated blackout window covers
- a huge black tarp and poles to make my own shade
- heated carpet and electric space heaters for when I have 'shore power', so I never worry about carbon-monoxide
- a second battery, isolated so that if used up never runs down the main
- small fans to move around air when sleeping, and maybe some reading lights and charging points
- a double mattress on the floor, and a removable double bunk above it, made from a couple of folding tables

Now I can park it anywhere and sleep for free.  But what if I wanted to turn it into a family camper for longer road trips?

All of the above, and some of:
- bike rack
- trailer-hitch
- hitch box, carrying a portable kitchen, privacy tent and an outdoor shower (toilet?)
- roof racks
- a canoe!
- a hard-sided roof tent

These modifications cost only $1000 to $5000 (CAD).  Sure beats $10000 to infinity for a camper-conversion.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Kindle: 'read everywhere'?

Any question from a headline may be answered, 'No.' You cannot always, much less easily, read Kindle content once you've moved abroad.

Wherein Antisthenes buys a Kindle Paperwhite
Whereat Antisthenes comments on a year of its use
Wherein Antisthenes' Paperwhite breaks just after warranty
Wherein Antisthenes has his first frustrations with transferring Kindle content abroad

There are three basic problems:
- E-readers are cheaply built
- you do not own E-books from retailers, only gain rights to them
- every bloody country has different rules on the content, making it troublesome to transfer

The results are:
- it's better to read E-books on your phone, blackscreen, than buy a dubious device
- OTH, real books are much more satisfying and memorable
- better you choose one commercial E-book source in one country and stick to it than try much to transfer
- or, as there are precious few left standing, use Amazon in one country, and Google Books in another

This applies to paid-for e-books only, of course.

There's little point explaining how I transferred my e-books initially from Amazon Japan, as they have changed the rules since, in a way neither better nor worse but nonsensical.  Nor is there much point in complaining that the sensible thing for Amazon to do with its app is allow multiple sign-ins, so that no matter which country content is paid for, the user can access it indefinitely without having to strip DRM (a process both illegal and troublesome) attempt to transfer it, or sign-out/in each time they want to access books bought from the other Amazon location.  In the end, Kindle loses any further business.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Crossover: CRV or Forester

Tried the Outback: too fucking big for the city.  It's down to the CRV or Forester now.  In short, the Honda's more reliable, but the Forester comes with better options at the price.  Also everyone has a CRV, and I do not like its few colour choices.

Here's what I'm comparing.

CRV LX $27678
- red or one in the greyscale
- cargo cover not included
- rack not included

Forester Convenience Automatic $27731
- multiple colours
- heated mirrors
- rack included
- automatic lights
- fog lights included
- power front seat
- hill descent
- cargo cover
- more mats included
- 17" better wheels

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

NDP response about refugees: Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Thanks for writing in. I could not agree more with your assessment of the appropriate role for Canada in dealing with this crisis. I believe Canada to be a nation built on principles of compassion, and increasing and expediting refugee resettlement while also providing increased relief on the ground is a fundamental expression of those principles.

Below, please find the party's outlined proposals for expanding our refugee resettlement program and increasing aid to agencies in the region. If you have any further questions or would like additional details, please don't hesitate to let me know and I'll do my best to answer your question.

Thanks again for writing in and lending your voice in support of the refugees. 

The challenge:
·         The crisis in Syria has generated more than 4 million refugees and displaced more than 7.6 million Syrians within the country.[i]
·         This is the largest single refugee crisis in more than a quarter century.[ii]
·         According to the UNHCR, more than 2,500 people have died this summer crossing the Mediterranean, trying to reach Europe.[iii]
·         The UNHCR is aiming to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Canada has resettled 2,374 to date, with a commitment to take an additional 8,926 by the end of 2017.[iv]
·         François Crépeau, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, has called for the West to resettle 1 million Syrian refugees over the next five years.[v]
·         Canada’s share of the global total, according to Crépeau, would be 9,000 Syrian refugees per year.[vi]

The NDP Plan:
·         Appoint a Syrian Refugee Coordinator to coordinate the resources of government departments to oversee processing, travel to Canada, and resettlement; and,
·         Bring in 10,000 refugees by end of 2015 and 9,000 a year between 2016 and 2019, making it a priority to keep families together.

·         Increase the number of immigration officials on the ground; and,
·         Work with provinces, territories, municipalities, and others to resettle refugees. 

    • Work with Turkey and other affected countries to streamline exit requirements; and,
    • Treat all refugees equally by ending Canada’s policy of discrimination on the basis of religion. 

    • Match Canadians’ humanitarian donations;
    • Increase aid to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees; and,
    • Help coordinate the response of the international community. 

·         Fast-track private sponsorships, with no cap; and,
·         Provide temporary resident permits for Syrians who wish to come and stay temporarily with family.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Canadian Federal Election: refugee resettlement to Canada‏

Sent to the Green, NDP, Liberal and Conservative candidates for my riding in the October Canadian Federal Election.

I am a voter in your riding, and will vote in the October federal election. I am asking for a clear statement of each candidate's position on increasing and expediting refugee resettlement in Canada, as well as aiding displaced persons abroad. 
Most Canadian citizens and residents have displaced persons in their family history. When I was a child over thirty years ago, the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Parties agreed to accept tens of thousands of Vietnamese and other Indo-Chinese refugees. It was a proud moment for Canada, and does honour to each party. I have now worked with the children of these refugees, and my children are in school with their grandchildren. My Vietnamese-Canadian friends and colleagues are some of the most grateful Canadians I have ever known. 
Canada should regain it's status as the most generous country in the world to displaced persons. According to the UN we are now fourteenth. Fewer than ten-percent of immigrants are refugees. We could double this number. Despite a recession, we are one of the richest countries in the world. We are one of the most multi-ethnic, and peaceful. If not us, whom? Let it be us. 
I hope I have permission to post your response on my Facebook page and other social media. 
Thank you.

I hope to have responses to add.