In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Author: Rick Page 2 of 326

VW diesel report: 2020

Happy New Year! I still use to track my fuel consumption. Here are the results of my driving in 2020:

  • I refueled 6 times.
  • The average distance I drove between fill-ups was 908.4 km (564.4 miles).
  • The average price I paid per litre of diesel was $1.03 ($3.89 per US gallon).
  • The total distance tracked in 2020 was 5450km (3387 miles).
  • To drive that distance, I used 329.49 litres of fuel (87.04 US gallons).
  • I spent an average of $56.34 for each refuel.
  • I spent a total of $338.04 on fuel.
  • That works out to 6¢ per kilometre (10¢ per mile).
  • My average fuel economy for the year was 6.0 litres/100 km (38.9 MPG).

Taking it a bit further, 6 fill-ups in 12 months averages out to a fill-up every two months. A pandemic certainly helps cut down on the driving!

Over this year, I’ve noted that my fuel economy, or specifically, the distance I can drive per tank of fuel has been increasing. To whit, I would typically reach 800 km per tank about 75% of the time. Now I find I’m reaching 900 km per tank about half the time. When I bought the car I recall being told that fuel economy would get better and better until the car was fully broken in at around 160,000 km, and I’m less than 1000 km away from that mark! I didn’t believe it at the time but it seems to be absolutely true.


Pictured is a graph from my phone. It shows the number of steps I took on the last five days of my holiday vacation followed by the first day of school this term.


Picking quarrels

Thirty-seven-year-old Zhang Zhan went to Wuhan from her home in Shanghai on February 1. She performed the role of a citizen reporter and posted interviews with residents and footage of the city to Youtube.

She was detained in mid-May and appeared at her trial last week. Charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” she was sentenced to four years in jail. It’s important to note that as far as I’m aware, what she reported was never disputed.

Welcome to China, where the laws are so ridiculously vague, that if officials want you silenced, they’ll certainly get their way. After all, how they and the government appear is far more important than anything as inconsequential as the truth.

Unknown author, “China jails citizen-journalist for 4 years over Wuhan virus reporting,” CBC News, December 28, 2020

A Strange Christmas

This has been the weirdest year ever. I’m only grateful that everyone around me is still well in these times of COVID. I haven’t written since August because it seems that I’d be writing all day, every day, or it’s just too much to pick though.

Christmas has been especially trying because mom had to go to the hospital and ended up staying for a week, partly because there was a COVID-19 outbreak in her ward. Not only did the outbreak have her stay there longer, but she had to self-isolate upon her release, but it would mean that I have to self-isolate as she can’t stay alone for that length of time. So we’ve seen no one, beside her health aids, since the Friday before Christmas, and we’ll see no one until New Year’s day.

The timing is so unfortunate, but I saw no way to avoid it. So as an escape, I watch a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation each day on Netflix.

So as it stands, I’m just starting the second of the two weeks in isolation. Last week was long. This week will be longer, I’m sure. I’m just glad everyone is well.

I’m hoping that you and yours are well, too.


The COVID Alert app icon

Federal government’s COVID Alert app is out for iOS and Android. I knew it was coming and have been thinking about whether I’ll use it or not. On one side is the government’s insidious gathering of information about us, and on the other is keeping safe and learning when I’ve been in contact with someone who has later tested positive.

It’s strength and weakness is that it’s a contact notification application, not a contact tracing application. That is, it will let you know only if someone you have been in contact with has later tested positive for COVID‑19. It will not let you know who that person is, when you were in contact, or where the contact occurred. All it tells you is that you really should go get tested to find out of you caught it from the person with which you were in contact.

The weakness is the very limited information you’re given. The strength is that you’re not laying your soul bare to the government. They receive very little information.

The main COVID Alert app page. Good news for me! I hope it stays this way.

How it works is your phone periodically generates a random code and transmits is via Bluetooth. Any phone near yours will record any codes it detects from other phones. If you some day are tested for COVID‑19 and the result is positive, you inform the app of this unfortunate occurrence. It then transmits this, with all the codes it has recorded, to a central server. All copies of the app periodically download this information from the server and your app recognizes its own code from any downloaded and marked as having been infected, it notifies you that you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Then you need to go get tested and see if you caught it.

No GPS data is used. It’s a clever solution to finding out if anyone you’ve been with has caught it, and at the same time protecting your privacy. But of course, you have to trust the application to do only what the government says is does.

I would normally not be onboard with this application, but COVID‑19 is serious. I believe there is so much about it that we don’t yet know, it could be far worse than we currently realize. So I did download and activate it. But at the same time, the Provincial and Federal Privacy Commissioners were consulted during its creation and Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says: “Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections. I will use it.”

The real tipping point to my decision to use the app is the fact that the source code is available on GitHub. If you have programming knowledge, you can download the code yourself and see what it does. I appreciate that level of transparency.

Get it from the iOS App Store or on Google Play. More information is available on the COVID Alert app page.

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