Monday, September 29, 2008

Of Cars and Nerds

I woke up to a light rain storm this morning. I was planning on it being a bus day because I've got some obligations to take care of today. It was just a bus day with a driving headwind and rain. And Coffee. Oh yes, I really needed the coffee this morning.

I put gas in my car for the first time since July over the weekend, and gave it its first car wash in over a year. I hung out with some of my car club buddies from days gone by. Although the places we went were within 5-6 miles of home, the whole point was to hang out and talk about our cars so it would have been somewhat pointless to ride my bicycle there. The club (which is more like a loosely-organized world-wide batch of Internet Forum Dwellers) is for Ford Focus owners. I still like mine quite a bit, and haven't seen some of these people in person ever, and some of them I haven't seen since 2005.

I know this is about bicycle-centric alternative transportation in Kansas City, but I still like my car. I've had it almost 9 years. I own it outright. I get cheap insurance because I rarely drive it. When I do drive it, it gets better than 35 MPG on the highway (thanks to some Engine Control Unit reprogramming by my friend Randy at FocusSport) and if I want to romp on it, the thing handles like it's on rails and it's pretty quick for a grocery-go-getter compact car. The ECU programming does things like disabling the alternator under certain circumstances to decrease drag on the engine as well as modifying the fuel and spark parameters for more efficiency. This means I have to put 91 or 92 octane in it, but as half a tank of gas lasts me more than a month, I'm not complaining much. I've actually ridden my bicycles more than I've driven my Focus this year.

There's also a ton of room if you fold the rear seats down. It's like a little mini-van. I actually write quite a few technical articles about Focus Tech Tips and Repair. Bet you didn't have me pinned as an automotive nut, did you? It's possible to really like your car, but to know when it's appropriate and necessary to use it. As it stands, this thing probably gets started about every other week when the weather is nice. You don't have to be car-free to be free from the Big Oil addiction. I use oil in moderation.

As for this evening, I'll find myself behind the wheel again, as I have to bring a bunch of video and sound equipment downtown for a membership and fund-raising drive for a local non-profit that I'm helping to get off the ground. Cowtown Computer Congress (CCCKC) is "a facility in Kansas City designed, built and maintained by technology enthusiasts of all backgrounds. Members represent all facets of technology ranging from digital art and design to robotics software development and information security. Incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in the state of Missouri, CCCKC will serve as a central meeting place for user group meetings, project collaboration and various networking opportunities for all those who share a passion for technology." It's inspired by facilities such as NYC Resistor and HacDC.

We'll be showing two documentary films (Hackers Are People Too and Graffiti Research Lab) at Harry's Country Club, then we'll go out and set up our own LASER Graffiti rig for people to try out. Bill from i-Hacked set this up at DefCon in August and I got to play with it in person. We'll have the same setup tonight. Weather permitting, it'll be outdoors in downtown Kansas City. If you're local and have even the slightest geeky inclination, you should come on out. Details in the link, bonus points for showing up on a bike.

Sorry I don't have much bikey goodness today. I do a lot more stuff than just ride my bike, and I write about things a lot more interesting than bicycles, if you know where to find me (hint: some of my writing is in print)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Noah,

My car, a Toyota Matrix, is like yours. It is amazingly handy to join my wife downtown after one of her meetings, throw my bicycle in the back and drive to dinner, then home together.

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