Archive for 2023

Google Maps Directions in the MacArthur Maze are Dangerously Wrong

At this exact spot (see the photo of the start of the MacArthur Maze on Rt 80 coming from the north), Google Maps says “keep right at the fork” [when it is wanting you to take Rt 580 or 880] but that is TERRIBLY misleading and dangerous! It should be something like “Stay in the middle lanes” or more verbosely “Don’t take the left exit/HOV lane. Instead, stay in the second or third lanes from the left. If you get in the right 3 lanes (as is suggested by the phrase “keep right”) you will find yourself going over the Bay Bridge, sucker!”
This is a high priority fix because it’s on a major highway used by tens of thousands per day, and it’s on Google’s home turf.

There’s two problems with the direction. First, it says “keep right” when it means “don’t turn left”. The second is that another major highway intersection is just 200 yards further down the road, at 50mph, it’s impossible to change the required 3 lanes to the left!

That is what I reported to Google Maps Feedback tonight. (make your own updates by clicking on “Feedback” in the far lower right corner of your Google Maps directions on your computer).

Burning Man 2023 was Amazing! Stay Away From The News!

I am reminded that it is important to distance myself from news media. The media coverage about Burning Man was dumb. First, I’ll just say that it was an amazing, fantastic, terrific, wonderful event. My entire family (me, wife, and 8 year-old daughter) had a simply fantastic time. The “problems” that the weather created were a joy to behold. Remember that it is an extreme camping event in the best of times with typical daily temperatures sometimes above 110, daily temperature swings of 50 degrees, humidity hovering around 15%, daily dust storms and even dirt storms with winds up to 70 mph! Those are typical conditions! Every person there was EXPECTING extreme weather, that’s why we’re there! Every news outlet that created headlines with words like “troubled” “disaster” “descent into chaos” etc… are simply… dumb.

Here’s a realistic article about this year’s burn:
Most participants of the week-long extreme survival camping vacation event called Burning Man stayed an extra 1-2 days in paradise because of of unusually rainy conditions. The tone of the event became more “local” for 2 days as participants walked the temporary city instead of biking. On Saturday night, instead of the traditional burning of the man, members of Kidsville had a potluck party in their camp, making friends, burning their mini-man, and bouncing on trampolines. Participants relied on free-local coffee shops, bars, dance clubs, and wood-fired pizza ovens instead of biking across the city for other neighborhood’s freely offered events and services!

Going Solar

I got a solar panel kit for our Burning Man adventure THAT STARTS TUESDAY!

I got it firstly to power my CPAP, Megan’s medical equipment, all our crazy bike lights, and phones. After testing it out for the last 2 nights, I now have the very satisfying feeling that we can power all of our personal medical equipment and personal electronics without the power grid for a very long time!

Yay solar!

I got the very succinctly named “Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Portable Solar Panel with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller Foldable 100W Solar Suitcase with Adjustable Kickstand for Power Station, 100W Panel-20A Controller, Black” for $160

It’s 2 50 watt panels, a charge controller, kickstand, a good protective case (good for packing away the panels!), with 10′ of wire and a alligator clips to go on my battery.

My math says that on a deeply overcast day, this system will just barely provide enough energy to power my CPAP. On a sunny day, I’ll have oodles of energy to spare. Here’s the math:

You usually get about 75% of the power out of a solar panel. 75% of my 100 watt system = 75 watts. Wildly guess another 10% in losses = 67.5 watts captured on a sunny day.

There’s about 8 hours of great sunshine per day = 540 watt-hours per day captured


You’ll see in the photo that I’m charging at 1.0 amps at 10am on this overcast morning in the bay area. 1.0 amps * 12 volts = 12 watts. With 8 hours of sun that’s = 96 watt-hours

I measured with a Kill-a-watt that my CPAP uses about 120 watt-hours per night. My AGM  On a sunny day.

I have a 12 volt adapter for my CPAP so I don’t need to run it though an inefficient inverter. I also got a bunch of 12 volt accessory/cigarette-lighter to USB adapters to charge my electronics and my USB AA/AAA battery charger.

In 2021, I got a 35 amp-hour AGM deep cycle sealed lead-acid (SLA) battery f0r $120 to take camping. It has powered my CPAP for a max of 3 nights. The exact model is the very succinctly named “Interstate Batteries 12V 35Ah AGM Deep Cycle Battery (DCM0035) Group 24 Rechargeable Replacement Mobility SLA AGM Battery (Insert Terminal) Wheelchair, Trolling Motor, Scooter, RV”. It’s been great.

News Flash! Lee Buys a Box of Mechanical Pencils!

Is the Skilcraft Dual Action Mechanical Pencil a worthy replacement for the PaperMate Logo II?

Find out here!


We’re Going to Burning Man!

Our family is going to Burning Man! We’re staying in Kidsville. Our camp, “The Rocking” is at about 5:10 and E and 3/4 (or you could just say “between E and F”). We’ll be there something like Tuesday thru Sunday!

We’re bringing our dudded up bikes, unique and unusual treats for friends and neighbors (several kilos of Jelly Belly Flops!), and if I get my act together, a mobile light installation called Human Zoetrope!


Autistry Studios and Albany Unified School District

I spent the last year at Autistry Studios in San Rafael, helping students build all manner of things, many of which are now for sale at the in-person Autistry Makers Market store. It was really quite fun! (that’s my daughter showing off the Coasters!) The makerspace, coffee shop and store are at 850 4th Street, San Rafael, CA, in the former Copperfields Bookstore. Stop by for a great cup of coffee and wonderful gifts made by great people!

That position ended and I just started as an OT at Albany Unified School District!

Flynn Creek Circus

We saw the Flynn Creek Circus this weekend and it was awesome! Daring and thrilling only start to describe it! The space was so intimate and the acts fun! They are bringing their tent to various spots in California and Oregon now thru the end of the year. See them in person! (and tickets were quite affordable)

I really enjoyed Maxim Voronin’s contortionist and card trick act with his chair! He was so “firing on all cylinders!” Every limb, every finger, even his toes were  working to various ends, proving his mastery of multiple arts. I’m sorry I didn’t get any video of it to show you!

Curt 17601 Weight Distribution Hitch Installation Instructions

I just got a fancy hitch for my trailer. Here’s the installation instructions.
Curt 17601 Weight Distribution Hitch Installation Instructions
and an installation video.

East Bay Bike Party with Abigail

Today we introduced Abigail (and Megan, and I!) to the East Bay Bike Party! It was partly an introduction to biking, partially to biking and Burner culture. She loved it! She gave away a hundred glow sticks to a hundred smiling, gratitude-filled people! She told us how good it felt to give gifts :-).

Tomorrow we are going to a bicycling class and I believe she is now properly motivated! (Darn, in our neighborhood there isn’t a tremendous opportunity for an 8-year-old to go bicycling, so it’s taken a while to get her comfortable on a bike)

Free Wifi Hotspot on My Phone, Great Mint Mobile Service

For the past 10 years, I have been using PDANet as a free wifi hotspot on my phone instead of paying $10/month or so from my cell phone carrier. It’s been great. But I’ve been using Mint Mobile for the past several months and free wifi hotspots are included. Yay!

Mint mobile has worked perfectly well for me and it’s the least expensive provider I’ve used. And Ryan Reynolds (their front-man and a co-owner) is funny enough for me to give him some money.

Mint uses TMobile towers. When I was in Tilden Park, I didn’t have service where a friend with AT&T did, that has been the only time I had an issue.

Here’s a referral code for Mint Mobile that gives you a free month and me some $ as well.