Dash Cams for the F150 and Escape

Whenever I hear about dash cams, I think about people in eastern Europe or Russia recording meteors and crazy crashes (the audio of some of those videos is probably NSFW.) But then I was at a party for one of Elijah’s classmates and a King County detective was talking about how he was installing dash cams in his car and his wife’s car. Huh? It turns out that there are groups of people who travel around the country basically putting you in a situation where you have no choice but to rear end them. With no evidence, the person in the rear is generally at fault because hey, you should have stopped. He said that Seattle is swamped with this stuff right now.

It’s highly unlikely that will ever happen to me, but you know how much I already enjoy doing timelapse video, especially on road trips so having a camera mounted nicely in the car was appealing. The fact that it might come in handy some day for insurance purposes was enough to push me over the edge.

I started with my truck and was lucky enough to find a video showing the camera I wanted being installed in a truck very similar to mine. It was super handy to see where the fuse box was, how to get the various pieces of molding off, etc. Here’s what I ordered:

While Dad was visiting, we got it all installed in my 2016 F150 without too much hassle and it has been working well. You can check the Amazon page to see samples of the video quality, but it’s plenty good for what I want. The camera itself works nicely and is low profile, especially compared to some of the other big suction cup versions. The wire exits the camera and is hidden all the way down to the fuse box so there isn’t anything dangling down or plugged into my cigarette lighter.

It went well so I decided to install the same setup in our 2013 Escape. The only difference was that the Escape used mini fuses instead of the micro fuses that the truck uses. Installation there was a little more tricky because of the goofy shape of the plastic around the rear view mirror, but I found a good spot for it and was able to run the wire down to the fuse box under the glove box. I can get free access to the Chilton’s website via our library and that came in handy for figuring out how to remove a couple pieces of trim. I also stumbled across a YouTube channel devoted to the 2013 Escape which will come in handy in the future.

I’m excited to go on a road trip and use this instead of the hacky/messy/annoying GoPro setup that I used to use. With the 64GB card, I could record 11 hours of 1080p video or even more than that if I use the timelapse mode in the camera.

In other countries, insurance companies offer discounts for dash cams, but that hasn’t been popularized here yet. Even without the discount, I do wonder if/when car manufacturers are going to build these in. It’s not a big stretch to imagine this as part of your rear view mirror mount or maybe even using some of the parking cameras that are already installed.

Disagreeing With Grace

When you give a speech, you’re advised to think about the one or two things you really want people to takeaway from your presentation because they’re going to forget 90% of it. My guess is that parenting is somewhat similar so I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the most important traits that I’d like to instill in my son. One that I’ve been pondering lately is the ability to disagree with someone without getting angry at them. I’m always pleasantly amazed when I witness or participate in a discussion where people take opposite sides and walk away smiling. Every discussion doesn’t require a winner. Isn’t it enough to just exchange ideas? How many people have changed your mind by yelling at you? Why do we wall think it will work on other people?

That’s one reason why I enjoy the “No Dumb Questions” podcast. I originally heard about it because one of the hosts is Destin from Smarter Every Day. I really enjoy Destin’s work but his co-host, Matt, is equally enjoyable. They’re not totally different humans, but they definitely disagree on a variety of topics and it’s extremely enjoyable to hear them hash out the different sides of a topic while remaining amicable throughout. I learn so much more than when two people are screaming at each other.

Matt recently wrote a good post for the Christian Post entitled Why Are We Suddenly So Bad at Disagreeing? and it’s a good read. You can guess some of the points but he makes a couple others that I had never considered.

I won’t spoil his fun and summarize his article, but give it a read if you’ve thought about that topic before too and also consider giving a couple episodes of No Dumb Questions a listen. If you have to pick one, give episode 29 a listen. They gave into requests to discuss gun control. I don’t know that I fully agree with either one of them but it was really enjoyable to listen to them have a rational, friendly discussion on a topic that seems instantly explosive.


Property Tax Lookup

People around here can’t get enough of paying taxes so our property taxes keep going up and up. I knew that much, but when I was recently asked how much property tax I was paying, I didn’t know. My property tax is rolled into my mortgage and the mortgage company pays it out of escrow. It felt hypocritical that I say “Everyone should look at how much tax they are paying when they file their taxes” but at the same time, I don’t know the amount of another huge chunk of taxes. Thankfully it’s easy to look it up.

There are plenty of websites that help you do this, but for King County, go to the department of assessments page and you get a lot of great info all in one spot.

I’m glad I looked it up because I still had a number closer to what it was when we bought the house stuck in my head. I think a lot of the increase that people see is because of the astronomical rise in real estate prices, but the continuous flood of approvals for tax increases doesn’t help either.

Wooden Cross

In August of 2016, Logan and I took down the two dying trees that were along our driveway. I saved a few pieces of the wood and attempted to cut them into tiny slabs. There’s an old saying that goes something like “logs rot and lumber dries.” Yes, you can leave a log to sit there and dry completely, but it’s better if you can cut it into very rough sizes and stack it up with room for air to move between all the pieces. It will drive more evenly with less cracking.

I finally pulled it out of the shed a couple weeks ago and stared at it … it wasn’t particularly beautiful cherry, but it seemed fun to use it for a small project. I remember Grandpa Martens making crosses out of the tree they took down in his front yard so I set off to make a cross as well.

The design emerged from some trial and error, but I ended up building a cross with 45 degree miters to fit all the pieces together. Then I sawed it in half in both directions to end up with 4 L shapes. I cut a rabbet into all of the interior sides and inlaid a piece of paduk, leaving the cherry a bit longer than the paduk. It was a tricky glue up but it held together. I finished it off with a couple coats of shellac. I think it will look a bit better as the cherry oxidizes and darkens over time.

Amazon Wishlists

Lots of people in my family use Amazon wish lists to share gift ideas. Amazon recently made it a bit more difficult to add stuff to wish lists from other sites so I thought I’d write up a quick guide on how to do it safely.

  1. First, make sure you’re using Chrome. That’s probably a good idea in general.
  2. Add the Amazon Assistant extension.
  3. You should now have an Amazon button in your Chrome tool bar. Click that and log in.
  4. Once you’re logged in, there’s an “Add to List” tab inside that Amazon menu and you can add your current age to your wish list.

But here’s the catch… when you add this as an extension, Amazon gets to see ALL of the sites that you are visiting and since you’re already logged in, they are building up quite a profile about you. If you go into the settings (click the Amazon extension and then click the little gear in the top left), you can click turn off everything in “Customize Content” and “Product Compare”.

That’s PROBABLY enough to stop them from tracking you, but personally, I just leave the extension disabled until I want to use it. To enable/disable the extension:

  • Click the Chrome menu button in the top right (three dots). Then click More Tools > Extensions
  • Toggle the blue slider for the Amazon Assistant extension.

I rarely add things to my list so it’s not too much of a hassle and I feel better not having them spy on me.