Brandon Evans

I learned a lot tearing this bike down and building it back up again, but the frame has always been a little too big for me. It was dropped off at Good Life today so that someone else can get more use out of it than I do now. Hopefully nobody just yanks that seat though.

I learned a lot tearing this bike down and building it back up again, but the frame has always been a little too big for me. It was dropped off at Good Life today so that someone else can get more use out of it than I do now. Hopefully nobody just yanks that seat though.

On our way back from Victoria we stopped by my parents in Red Deer for a quick visit before heading home. Slug had been running really well (slowly, but well) for us the whole time. Getting it inspected before purchasing it, the folks at Tony’s had thought it was in pretty good shape other than the usual things.

Well, about 10KM south of Red Deer one of the usual things happened and we had a big coolant leak. Not just steam, but it was dripping off of one of the exhaust headers. Up until now the coolant had been topped right up so it was strange to be empty all of a sudden, and the dripping was a cause for concern. Water-cooled Vanagon’s are notorious for problems with the cylinder heads, so I was worried there was a crack somewhere.

I called my dad to come take a look. I’m still hesitant to stick my hands too far into the engine bay, but thankfully he wasn’t. He quickly found that he could get a whole finger (!) into the coolant hose exiting the right cylinder head. How this hose hadn’t split open on any of the slow, hot mountain highways on our trip is beyond me, but it must have been the stop in Red Deer, long enough to cool down, followed by the quick jump up to highway temperatures that did it.

It would be pretty hard to find Vanagon parts on a regular day, but a holiday Monday was out of the question. Thankfully Canadian Tire was able to help us find something close to what we needed, with the right bends that we could cut down to match the head on one side and the firewall terminal on the other (that splits off up to the radiator and the heater core). Off we went, my dad driving us there and Wilma in tow. (Wilma! What a champ on the side of the highway. Monique made sure she was okay the whole time, and watched oncoming traffic. Feet from the QEII isn’t a fun place to be elbows deep into a car.)

After we got the new hose in place, which required figuring out the right and wrong ways to get the airbox out, we topped up the coolant and confirmed there were no new leaks. We also figured out that (note for other Vanagon owners) the temperature warning light just means that the coolant tank is below half full, not that everything is melting.

After that, Slug made it back to Calgary just fine. In addition to replacing the original fuel lines, another usual thing that should be done to any old Vanagon, now we get to look forward to replacing the rest of the coolant lines. We couldn’t have figured this out without my dad there to help us though. Thanks Dad.


Have just finished Stung!, one of two recent recommendations from (the other was Salt, Sugar, Fat). It was a slow start, but if you stick through the first few chapters (enumerations of newsworthy issues caused by jellyfish) it gets a lot more interesting. And depressing. The conclusion of the book, and I’m not ruining it by saying so, is thankfully not falsely optimistic. It’s clear from the scientific evidence provided that the oceans aren’t the same as they were and won’t be any time soon.

It brought up some interesting issues:

It’s not reasonable to expect fisheries to harvest seafood responsibly for the amount of demand that consumers create. This problem can’t be placed solely (or even mostly) on the fisheries and working class people that do the work and we must also criticize policy:

Something is horribly wrong when a group of animals that has dominated the seas for sixty million years begins to falter and disappear within a decade, despite the existence of a law that contains both the words “conservation” and “management” in its title.

– Carl Safina, Where Have All the Fishes Gone?

Turns out that the synthetic fibres that come off in the washer can make their way into the ocean where it’s eaten (colourful! shiny!). These tiny fibres get to be a serious problem when bioaccumulated and magnified up the food chain, potentially to us let alone the larger fish, where plastics cause direct and indirect problems like retaining other toxins. The purchase and use of synthetic fibres (as opposed to wool, for example) are consistent with a desire for a minimization of animal suffering, but it’s worth examining how these decisions have indirect effects on other animals.

Shifting baselines results in an incremental “lowering of standards” as each new human generation redefines what is considered “natural” or “normal” based on their own personal experiences. Each new generation lacks an understanding of how the environment “used to be.” This lower standard is now the new baseline for the next generation.

– Wynn W. Cudmore, Declining Expectations – The Phenomenon of Shifting Baselines

As Lisa-ann Gershwin points out this behaviour is likely a generalized reaction that people experience, which seems reasonable anecdotally.

And since I haven’t done any stack posts recently, I pulled some related favorited articles from Instapaper: