J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Category: Lifestyle Experiments (Page 1 of 6)

No Car Update: Month 16

Not my car. Probably not your car either.

So we gave up. Or gave in. After more than a year without a car, we decided to get one.

We knew we wanted a hatchback. You can fit anything in a hatchback. One time we purchased a bunch of furniture at IKEA, pulled our Fiat 500 into the loading zone next to a guy in a Ford F-150 (that’s a biggish pickup truck, for you European readers). He gave us a dubious look until we popped the hatch, folded down the back seat, and loaded in those flat-packs no problem. I think we got a tiny nod of appreciation.

After reading too many reviews and watching too many YouTube video reviews, I narrowed it down to the Yaris, the Prius c (both Toyota), the VW Golf or eGolf, and the Honda Fit. I created an account on TrueCar to get some estimates. I also called a few dealerships directly to get some lease quotes.

That’s when things started going south.

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Lyft (and Uber?) Drivers Don’t Know Where They’re Going

Logan Green of Lyft (photo by JD Lasica)

As part of an ongoing no-car month¬†experiment (not owning or leasing a car for the last eleven months), I’ve relied heavily on the freelance taxi/ride-sharing service Lyft. Overall my experience with Lyft has been good. The drivers are generally courteous, friendly (but not too friendly), and drive safely. In turn I try to be a good rider, being ready when drivers arrive, not slamming doors, and tipping (which Lyft allows in-app; their competitor Uber doesn’t). I like most of the drivers I meet, and I almost always give 5-star ratings.

But here’s the thing–if there’s any complexity to a pickup or drop-off location, most Lyft drivers will get it wrong. Lyft drivers rely almost entirely on GPS, and even though GPS navigation is a miraculous invention, it fails consistently with large buildings, detours, poor cell-service areas, and even some straightforward locations (GPS often ignores the street I live on and directs drivers to one block away from my house).

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New 6-Week Experiment: Living With a Disability


On the evening of Dec. 9th I stepped off my skateboard the wrong way and broke my foot (three fractured metatarsals — see above). Thinking it was just a bad sprain, I took a Lyft home and rested on the couch, watching my foot swell up to alarming proportions. Come Monday: doctor’s office, x-ray, a compression splint, the threat of screws and surgery. But after many scans and tests, I managed to dodge a bullet. No surgery required, just six easy weeks in a cast.

So, it’s my turn to learn. What’s life like with reduced mobility?

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Things I Regret KonMari’ing

Where did you go, little Peavey 8-track mixer? I miss you!

Where did you go, little Peavey 8-track mixer? I miss you!

About two years ago I wrote about applying the KonMari method to my stuff. Since then I’ve had time to reflect on the process. This is a quick update¬†on my post-KonMari insights.

Regret

There are a few items I regret getting rid of. This is something Marie Kondo does mention in her book, but maybe underemphasizes. For me, the list is as follows:

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Hair Regrowth Update 2016

Logo for Rob's hair regrowth/eBook site

Logo for Rob’s hair regrowth/eBook site

Two-and-a-half years ago I received an email from a young man named Rob who was developing a hair regrowth technique based on intensive, long-term scalp massage. He had read my post Modulating Testosterone Levels (For Men) and had some thoughts about DHT and hair loss. Rob agreed that male hair loss resulted from DHT shrinking/inactivating hair follicles, but he disagreed that hair loss had anything to do with circulating levels of DHT. It was the accumulation of DHT in the follicle due to reduced blood supply and calcification of the scalp that caused the problem.

This theory matched my intuitive observations. My own hair loss, starting in my early thirties, hadn’t coincided with raging male hormones, but rather with an unhealthy period of my life that included too much alcohol, many late nights, a high carbohydrate diet, significant weight/fat gain, and most likely lower levels of testosterone and DHT. Just an n=1 observation, but the idea of a direct correspondence between hair loss and circulating DHT left something to be explained. I was intrigued by Rob’s idea.

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Eight Months Without a Car, Cost and Convenience

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The eight-year-old’s bike.

Back in February when Kia and I turned in our leased Fiat 500 and decided to do a “one-month experiment” of living without a car, I suspected that the experiment might last longer than one month. But eight months? No way. I was sure we’d have another car by now. But it turns out there are a few advantages to not having an expensive hunk of metal to care for, including:

  • On average, it’s cheaper (about $150/month less).
  • It’s great to not worry about your car (will it break down or get stolen/scratched/dented/broken into/ticketed).
  • We save time on car maintenance and paperwork.
  • All three of us are fitter, stronger, and leaner (details below).
  • I feel more physically and socially connected to my neighborhood.
  • Our carbon footprint is reduced (though still high — we sometimes fly on airplanes).
  • I get to use my phone like a magic wand to summon friendly drivers to my house who arrive within minutes and take me wherever I want for a reasonable price and I don’t need cash not even to tip (thank you Lyft).
  • Local grandparents have been great sports about having to drive a bit more (thank you!)
  • Given our situation (we both work from home, our kid goes to school three blocks away, our neighborhood has a Walk Score of 91/100, local car-sharing options), we’re pretty much the ideal family to NOT own a car.
Our neighborhood Walk Score

Our neighborhood Walk Score

Costs

Back in February I calculated our average cost of car ownership at $440/month, as follows:

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