Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

For anyone who has ever wondered what Halloween is like in Lima, Peru, I'll be back with a full report tommorrow.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to top last year's costume, but early reports have me dressing up as the Cristal Cerveza girl. Stay tuned...

Come From Away

I love Newfoundland. I really do. Aside from the beautiful landscape, the fantastic bastardization of the English language, the phenomenal amount of seafood, and the friendliest people on the planet; there’s just a different pace to life here that you simply can’t find anywhere else.

Case in point: the past week of my life.

One of the advantages of my Clark Kent job (beyond all of the other obvious advantages; you know, like the fact that they deposit a pay check into my bank account every two weeks) is that they’re oftentimes willing to listen to some of the seemingly absurd notions I have regarding potential PR opportunities vis-à-vis sustainable roofing technology. So when I came to them last summer with an idea for how we might be able to get our Vegetated Roofing membrane beneath the oldest green roof in North American, they were at least willing to entertain the notion.

Fast-forward 14 months, and I found myself bleary-eyed and boarding a plane for Deer Lake on a Sunday morning, with my eventual destination being the Viking sod huts of L’Anse aux Meadows, NL.

But before departing for Newfoundland, there were many, many details to iron out. And let’s just say that trying to do so with the laid back Newfoundlanders wasn’t exactly the most stress-free episode of my life.

With the help of a couple of engineers and veteran roofers, we were able to come to a pretty quick decision on the basic design for the system, while staying as true as possible to the original details. Needless to say, building science has come a long way in the past 1,000 years, but the same basic principles still apply when it comes to roofing: keep the elements out, while keeping the energy (heat) in. My thinking was that if we could figure out the basic design elements, things would be a breeze from there.

Oh, naïve mainlanders…

Shipping the materials to the island was a different story altogether. I was scheduled to arrive on site first thing Monday morning, so I called on Wednesday to make sure everything was still on schedule. Of course, when I called the Newfoundland shippers, ol’ Lorne greeted me like a long lost friend: “Ah geez buddy. I meant ta call yis dis week. The boat, she couldn’t comes in yesterday. The winds is too strong. You’ll have to check back wid me tomorrow, boy”.

When I called the next day, ol’ Lorne informed me that the materials wouldn’t be arriving in Corner Brook until Friday, meaning that they probably wouldn’t make it up to L’Anse aux Meadows (about 500 kms up the peninsula) until Monday afternoon. Of course, I was under the impression we’d be getting to work Monday morning, so I offered to pick up some of the materials myself when I arrived on Sunday, just so we could get started: “Ya know boy, any other Sunday would be no problem, but I gots me huntin’ trip this weekend, so there’s be no one here, buddy.”

My first lesson in the Newfoundland pace.

Complicating matters was the fact that the Discovery Channel (Daily Planet) had gotten wind of the project, and were planning on sending a crew out to film the entire production. The researchers and the producer were calling me incessantly in the days leading up to my departure, trying to learn as much as possible, in the hopes of having the crew out there with me for first thing Monday morning.

This soon became the most stressful episode of my young life.

Before Daily Planet could get anything in motion, they needed a filming agreement from Parks Canada. We were on the phone with Parks Canada Thursday afternoon, speaking to the appropriate person from the communications department. When we told her that the people from the Discovery Channel would be calling the next day to get the agreement ironed out, this lady from Parks Canada assured us that this was no problem, that she’d send it over just as soon as she heard from the Discovery Channel. When the researcher from Discovery called this same lady the next day, she was informed that the communications director was off for the next six weeks… Six weeks! It was incomprehensible to me how the lady we spoke to the day before could have failed to mention that she would be off for six weeks, starting the next day, but apparently, this didn’t seem like information worth mentioning. We eventually tracked down someone else to send the agreement along.

The next issue for the people at the Discovery Channel was that they needed to speak to the project manager in order to get a handle on the reconstruction schedule. Jim is the man to speak to on this project, and I have been communicating with him for the better part of the last year. Jim is the salt of the earth. You’ll never meet a better guy in your life. But he isn’t exactly in a rush to get back to you sometimes. So when the researcher from the Discovery Channel left 6 messages with Jim on Thursday, saying that she just needed to speak to him for two minutes in order to give the go ahead to the crew so they could get out there for Monday morning, it wasn’t until sometime on the weekend that Jim got a chance to call her back.

I was literally smashing my face against my desk in frustration.

We were obviously working on Newfie time. And it is something us mainlanders who come from away simply can’t begin to fathom.

But then I arrived in Newfoundland on Sunday afternoon, and suddenly it all made sense.

It made sense to me when I arrived at the site at L’Anse aus Meadows and tried apologizing to the project manager for the fact that some of the materials had yet to arrive (his response: “Don’t worry, boy. We’re on an island here. These things happen.”).

It made sense to me when I realized that all of the “Vikings” from the previous summer were hard at work, restoring the hut whitty by whitty, rhining each stick by hand.

It made sense to me when Jim invited me to lunch at the bed and breakfast he was staying at (Marilyn’s Hospitality Home) in Hay Cove because he knew they were having fresh Cod, and being from away, I just had to have some of Marilyn’s home cooking (the Cod with onions and scrunchions and bread pudding and fresh rolls and potatoes from out of the garden… all of it, right down to the fresh sticky buns for dessert, was out of this world).

It made sense to me when Marilyn asked at lunch if I’d ever had Turrs before (not only had I never had them, but I didn’t have the faintest clue as to what she was talking about), and then invited me for dinner that night because she knew that I would probably just be going back to the hotel for Mary Brown’s Chicken all over again (that night’s jigs dinner: salt beef, cabbage, turnip, potatoes, carrots, stuffing, bread pudding, and of course the Turrs, taken from the bay about 50 feet from where we were eating… absolutely unreal).

It took me all of about three hours to slip into this easy, laid back way of life. There I was, without a cell phone or email, with the producer from the Discovery Channel leaving frantic messages on my voicemail, and my mindset was basically… “I guess I’ll just have to give him a call later…” before sitting down to tea and sweets with the Vikings on their break as they wove endless tales about growing up in a town with a population of 60.

The thing is: things eventually get done in Newfoundland. They just happen at a different pace. Nothing is so important or urgent that it can’t wait for your conversation to be finished, or for your 3 o’clock coffee break to be over, or for after supper, or for the next day, or the next week... It’s about the most stress free existence one could ever imagine… But you have to be here to get it.

The people from Daily Planet are still leaving messages on my cell phone that still doesn’t get any reception. But I’m not all that concerned anymore. I know that when the people from the Discovery Channel eventually make it out to L’Anse aux Meadows, on Newfie time, they’ll understand completely.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Red States

I have no idea how accurate this is, but it seems close enough on most counts. Really makes you wonder why anyone would want to be grouped with the Reds...

Come on, Red States: it's not too late to join the Blues.

Thanks to D-Hibb for passing this along.

(By the way, if you missed Will Ferrell's classic version of W. on Thursday night, you can check it out HERE)

Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California , Hawaii , Oregon , Washington , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan ,Illinois and all the Northeast. It may even include Florida and Ohio , they are seriously considering it. We've given them until Nov. 4th to decide. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country. Since we're dropping the middle states we're calling it United America, or simply the U.A.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. You can take Ted Nugent. We're keeping Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. You get WorldCom. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get Ole' Miss. We get Harvard and 85 percent of America 's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama . We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms, and the highest concentration of pregnant unwed teenagers. Please be aware that the U.A. will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up, really we do, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire. We'd rather spend it on taking care of sick people, and educating our children.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines, 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT. With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy Redies believe you are people with higher morals then we Bluies..

Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow inMexico .

Peace out,

Blue States

Jack-O-Lantern Showdown




In the words of my good friend Mike D, this one is a no-brainer. I didn't think I'd ever live to see a NSFW pumpkin, but contestant #4 is clearly just that. And any time a vegetable can result in an official warning from your I.T. department, you are obviously bringing home the Jack-O-Lantern Showdown trophy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friday Diversion

The Friday Diversion is back after a six week hiatus. Let me tell you, editing a manuscript down from 450 to 350 pages is not the easiest thing in the world to do while you're trying work a full-time job. Now that I finally have some semblance of a life back, expect a little more love for the Blog.

As always, here is some of the best reading I've come across in the past few weeks to help get you through to the weekend.

The Choice, by the editors of The New Yorker

A ringing endorsement for Barack Obama by the editors at The New Yorker. It's hard to believe that an entire editorial staff can agree on the same presidential candidate, but low and behold, here you have it. Such is the landscape of this particular political world.

The editors succinctly sum up how the Bush administration has been the worst since Reconstruction, they illustrate how electing McCain will give us four more years of the same, and they explain why Barack Obama is clearly the best best choice for president. It is time for a changing of the guard.

We cannot expect one man to heal every wound, to solve every major crisis of policy. So much of the Presidency, as they say, is a matter of waking up in the morning and trying to drink from a fire hydrant. In the quiet of the Oval Office, the noise of immediate demands can be deafening. And yet Obama has precisely the temperament to shut out the noise when necessary and concentrate on the essential. The election of Obama—a man of mixed ethnicity, at once comfortable in the world and utterly representative of twenty-first-century America—would, at a stroke, reverse our country’s image abroad and refresh its spirit at home. His ascendance to the Presidency would be a symbolic culmination of the civil- and voting-rights acts of the nineteen-sixties and the century-long struggles for equality that preceded them. It could not help but say something encouraging, even exhilarating, about the country, about its dedication to tolerance and inclusiveness, about its fidelity, after all, to the values it proclaims in its textbooks. At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.

Drunk and Dangerous at the Keyboard, by Alex Williams

A look into Google's new "Mail Goggles" program, which will essentially prevent drunk people from sending regrettable emails between the hours of 10pm and 4am on weekends by making them answer a series of skill testing questions within a limited time frame. Think of it as the email equivalent to the age questions you used to have to answer whenever you wanted to play Leisure Suit Larry as a kid.

13-year old: Hey Mom, what was the result of Watergate?
Mother: Richard Nixon resigned. Why?
13-year old: Just wondering...

Thanks to Flats for the link.

Late Bloomers, by Malcolm Gladwell

A look into creative genius, and why it comes to some so easy (and at such a young age), and why for others it doesn't culminate until much later in life. In comparing Picasso and Cezanne, and Ben Fountain to Jonathan Safran Foer (the fact that Foer wrote the first draft of "Everything is Illuminated" at the age of 19 simply boggles the mind), Gladwell assures us all that if we haven't gotten around to writing the next great American novel yet, there's still hope. It might just take a little more hard work, re-writing, and rejection than we'd like... Oh yeah. And it helps to have a team of people to support your late-bloomingness; financially, emotionally, and otherwise.

We'll go ahead and just deem this blog a late bloomer and leave it at that.

Ten of the Least Consequential Players in White Sox History, by Jon Bois

A strangely fascinating journey through the ten most irrelevent players in White Sox history, as determined by the guys at Mouth Piece Sports.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, by Jill Lepore

From the Annals of Democracy comes this history of ballot voting in the United States. We've come a long way since the days of viva voce (literally, voting with your voice), counting beans, or having to arrive at the polling station with a ballot cut out from the newspaper or worse yet, having to have every single candidate memorized so you can write each on a blank piece of parchment (spelling counted back then).

Amazingly, after all of the work that went into the voting reform, it seems as though the easier it became for people to vote, the less they did so:

By 1896, Americans in thirty-nine out of forty-five states cast secret, government-printed ballots. The turnout, nationwide? Eighty per cent, which was about what it had been since the eighteen-thirties. It has been falling, more or less steadily, ever since.

Let's hope that come November 4th, more of those American voices are heard.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fantasy Beer League

It's no secret that fantasy football/baseball/hockey/basketball has irrevocably changed the way we view professional sports. I can only speak for myself, but I honestly can't even fathom sitting down to watch NFL football hungover on a Sunday afternoon without my laptop by my side so I can track Chris Johnson's rushing yards and Quintin Mikell's tackles in the hopes that they help lead Frank Reich's Electric Groove to a week 8 victory over the likes of The 90210 All-Stars in the Natty Light Fantasy Football League. For better or worse, this is the sporting world we live in.

But is it conceivable that fantasy could change the way we drink beer?

My buddy Foley sent me the following email late this afternoon, and I gotta tell you: I'm all in. Where do I sign?

My buddy Joe and his idiot friends have come up with an absolutely glorious idea, which is the modern day extension of the Fantasy League for beer. A full blown spreadsheet is attached, and the rules are below, but the basic idea is sheer genius. Find a bar with 100 beers (this one has 104), have a draft, similar to any fantasy league, and draft the beers that you must drink for the evening. Nobody goes home until they have done their part, and every beer on tap has been accounted for. I truly believe this is blog worthy material. And I’m so in when we attempt this amongst our own collection of stupid friends.

(1) Each ath-a-leete will be responsible for drafting their beers for the evening in advance of the night based on a pre-determined draft order

(2) As a group we determine whether we are taking the wall down in half pints or pints (likely dependent on number of participants)

(3) Once beers are drafted, each ath-a-leete can consume them in any order, as long as they consume them (please think, while it may Seem like a good idea to leave the Neustadt 10W30 Brown Ale to the end of the night I'm not sure that is a great idea)

(4) Post draft trades are allowed including multi-beer deals (e.g. one Maudite Strong for a coors light & blue light)

(5) Moustaches are encouraged

(6) If a beer is unavailable then the person gets a free pick and can select a substitute of their choice.

The possibilities are virtually endless.

As a side note, I'll have you know that Neustadt 10W30 is brewed about 15 minutes from my parents' place (in the birthplace of John Diefenbaker), and it is quite delectable. Clearly a sleeper in this year's draft.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Medieval Times

I'm posting this about a week late, but I don't care.

Last Friday night, my buddy Sneeze decided to celebrate his 29th birthday Chip Douglas style by heading out for a night of merriment and mirth at "the finest restaurant in town": Medieval Times.

I can't even remember the last time I was so excited for a Friday night. And despite the fact that they didn't exactly let us battle it out like they do in The Cable Guy (bonus: best basketball scene of all-time), they still dressed our boy Sneeze up in a king's outfit of crown and robes, and we still got to call our server a 'wench'... Believe when I say that that never gets old.

There were two supreme highlights of the show for me. The first was when they began announcing all of the birthdays about two-thirds of the way through: "Happy 9th birthday to Timmy! Happy 7th birthday Samantha! And happy 29th birthday to Mike Ogilvie!!!". That slayed me.

The second highlight was the gigantic beers they were selling. Apparently, if you buy one of their massive souvenir mugs for $24, you can get it refilled with suds for only $7. Some quick math told me that if I was planning on drinking as much as I hoped, this souvenir mug would be a good investment. Three big-ass Steamwhistles later, and it was pretty obvious that I'd made the right decision.

So this combination of highlights got me thinking: could this be a new trend in birthdays? You know, doing the things you used to do for birthdays as a kid, except this time around, doing them with massive quantities of alcohol?

We were throwing around ideas while at the bar after the show. Pounding back PBR at the local bowling alley is fantastic any day of the week, but it's even better when they let you eat hot dogs and popcorn in the party room. Drunk go-carting is a no-brainer, and mini golf where the low score on every hole has to shotgun a beer would be equally awesome. I would totally do the McDonald's birthday party with everyone high on zoomers, and even though I was never the biggest fan of Laser Tag, throw in a little LSD and you could really be on to something.

But at the end of the day, I'll take a good old fashioned house party for my birthday. Pin the tale on the donkey, duck-duck-goose, spin the bottle... I'll take all of it while under the influence. Call me old fashioned, but I just like to see people getting as inebriated as possible while in the comforts of a safe, friendly setting. Like the one below:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Your Prime Minister

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is worth a million. How a country as great as Canada can elect a leader like Stephen Harper is beyond me.

All you need to know about how much Stephen Harper cares about you as a Canadian can be found in his official policy regarding the death penalty:

* Has recently changed its policy so that Canada will no longer fight to reverse the death sentences of Canadians facing execution in foreign countries.

Nice work Canada. Thank God for the minority government.

On a side note, is there any chance that the Conservatives get elected in a two-round voting system?

The two-round system (also known as the second ballot or runoff voting) is a voting system used to elect a single winner. Under runoff voting, the voter simply casts a single vote for their favourite candidate. However, if no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes, then all candidates, except the two with the most votes, are eliminated, and a second round of voting occurs.

I don't think there's any way that people who vote Liberal / NDP / Green are voting Conservative in the second round of voting in their respective ridings. And considering the Conservatives only recieved about 35% of the national vote, I really think the two-round system (completely different from the U.S. two-party system, which might be the worst political system this side of dictatorship) would go a long way in better reflecting the proportional vote.

Is it time for electoral reform in Canada? It's certainly something to think about.

Canadian Election - Vote Today

Be sure to express your democratic right today. It really is the least you can do, considering that hundreds of thousands of people have bravely given their lives so that you can have the privilege of having a say in your country's future.

But first be informed on where each party stands on all of the issues. Click HERE for a quick and easy breakdown of everything you need to know.

Happy Balloting!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Public Service Announcement... Don't Vote

"I've never fought a war on drugs. I've never done shit on drugs besides played Halo 2."

I think this is a pretty solid message, and all of this applies to Canadians who will be voting on October 14th.

The only thing I don't understand is why there's a cutoff date for Americans to be registered to vote. That makes absolutely no sense to me. If I wasn't allowed to register at the polling station on election day (as is customary in Canada), I don't think I would have ever been able to cast a ballot. I'm not organized enough to mail in the $100 Rogers rebate that has been sitting on my desk for 3 months - how the hell would I ever manage to register myself?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The U.S. Vice Presidential Debate

By no means am I the second coming of Tim Russert, but the question needs to be asked: Was that the most lopsided debate in the history of televised politics?

I'm still waiting for Sarah Palin to make a point... or to outline the plans of her party... or to answer one of the questions put forth by the mediator. I think Joe Biden put it best when he said: "Gwen, I don't know where to start."

The discrepancy between the two candidates abilities to expound upon the ideas, plans, and policies of their parties (and to reference those idea, plans, and policies with historical data and relevant facts) was almost staggering.

I don't doubt for a second that Sarah Palin is an intelligent woman, or that she is infectiously charming, or that she has done remarkable things in her life. She is most certainly a breath of fresh air in the political landscape, and is probably the most likable VP candidate in the history of American politics. And I don't doubt for a second that she understands the plight of the average, middle-class American family. But those virtues alone do not qualify her to serve as vice president of the United States of America. Saying that she is qaulified is like saying that because I can sing the national anthem and I played house league hockey as a kid, I should be the assistant captain of the Canadian Olympic hockey team. The notion is absurd. In both instances, we are completely out of our depth.

My girlfriend made an interesting point, arguing that maybe the Republicans wanted someone in there who didn't know what they were talking about. Because when you get right down to it, there's no way to defend what has transpired in the past 8 years under the Bush administration. And when facing that reality, maybe your party's best play is the "no speak a da English" card.

But even if you somehow manage to separate yourself from the sins of your party's previous reign (doubtful), I think at the very least, you need to have some kind of a plan moving forward. And from what I could gather tonight, the Republicans have absolutely no clue what that plan entails, because Palin's responses rarely strayed from the hollow, non-specific, cliched catch-phrases we've become far too accustomed to in politics ("we're going to fight for America"; "we have to fight for our freedoms"; "at the end of the day, as long as we're all working together for the greater good, it's going to be OK"...).

Or what about: "(You create jobs) lowering taxes on American workers and on our businesses. And you build up infrastructure, and you rein in government spending, and you make our -- our nation energy independent." All of this sounds great, but without an actual plan for how to achieve these sprawling ambiguities, it means nothing.

A few more random thoughts regarding tonight's debate:

- About halfway through the debate, I openly wondered just how drunk the group of us would be if we were doing a shot for every time Palin mentioned the word "Alaska". The same game could have easily applied to Biden for using the word "fundamental".

- How funny is it that the debate was sponsored by Exxon Mobil? I'm pretty sure Biden scape-goated them half a dozen times.

- What the hell is an "all of the above" approach to climate change? I'm totally using this as a defense in indefensible situations from now on. As in:

- Were you just checking out that girl's ass?
- I was simply taking an "all of the above" approach to her.

- I love it when people say that terrorists and dictators hate America because they "hate what we stand for, with our freedoms, our democracy, our tolerance, our respect for women's rights..." I understand that some people might not agree with those values, but I find it hard to believe that they'd hate a country simply for that reason. I mean, I don't agree with guys wearing speedos, but I don't hate Portugal for it.

- Why is it that I work in a field related to sustainable energy, and I hadn't heard the phrase "clean coal" until tonight?... Oh yeah. That's why.

- Are the Castro brothers still considered "dangerous dictators"? At this point, don't people just think of Fidel as one of those eccentric, fun-loving, somewhat-senile uncle-types?

- What would the Vegas odds have been on Biden being the first to cry tonight? A thousand-to-one? A million-to-one?

- Is there any chance that Palin and Biden are having an affair? There appeared to be more than just a little flirting going on up there.

And finally: Everything you need to know about the American Presidential election in 4 YouTube clips:

A link to the Tina Fey as Sarah Palin (speech with Hilary) on SNL - I'm not allowed to embed the SNL clips. Their lawyers are good.

A link to the Tina Fey as Sarah Palin (interview with Katie Couric) on SNL - Almost 1 minute of Fey's routine is taken verbatim from Palin's real interview on CBS


The most recent SNL skit (the VP Debate) pretty well nails everything mind boggling about Thursday's debate. From the drinking game reference to the utter confusion regarding the gay marriage question (I still have no idea where Biden stands on that one), this is absolutely perfect. I also love the fact that Queen Latifa prefaces the proceedings by suggesting that as long as Palin didn't completely embarass herself, the debate would be considered a draw. The allusion to Biden's main goal (not annihilating Palin) is phenomenal, as is the "Joe Biden is better... than that".

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2009 VW TDI

I come from a Volkswagen family. The car I learned to dive stick on was an old VW Rabbit with a wonky transmission (it was devoid of 1st gear, 5th gear, and Reverse). When I drove across the continent with a couple of buddies in the summer of 2001, we did so in an '89 Golf Diesel that had more than 415,000 kms when we set out. There was a brief period in my life when I was driving around London, ON in a not-overly-masculine VW Cabriolet that I had on loan from my dad. And the first car I ever bought outright was a '99 Golf that I drove for five glorious years. Hell, we even invited our family VW mechanic to Dornochapalooza this year.

So when it came time to masquerade as an adult and purchase a new car (I was getting flak from my boss about having to park with the dish pigs and greenskeepers whenever we'd play at swanky golf courses for charity tournaments), there was little debate over what I'd be shopping for.

What most people don't realize about the new Super Clean Diesel is that, where gas mileage (45-50 mpg on the highway; 1,100 kms per tank), efficiency, and emissions are concerned, it is actually in the same ballpark as the Toyota Prius. Taken from the recent piece in Popular Mechanics entitled, New VW Jetta Diesel Tops Prius in Fuel-Economy Marathon Test:

It appears clear, no matter what the driving conditions, that the Toyota Prius will return around 44 mpg—if driven with a sane right foot. That's impressive, and that means the Prius remains the most fuel-efficient car on the market. The Jetta falls short in pure city driving, but it does meet (and barely beats) the Prius when it comes to highway fuel economy in our testing... When it comes down to which of these two popular efficient cars is more fun and more comfortable to drive everyday, it's an easy pick: We like the Jetta TDi, and the fuel-economy numbers in the real world for VW's new player make it—gasp!—a legit Prius fighter.

Not bad for the descendant of a car that had a sawed-off hockey stick to prop the hatchback door up with, and that used to require daily push starts every morning, the result of which invariably leaving the unfortunate pushers in a cloud of black soot.

Now, about that whole decision to buy a station wagon...

To read more about the 2009 VW TDI:

Popular Mechanics explains how the new TDI is "super clean".

MotorTrend's review, complete with all of the technical details which might as well be written in Swahili for all they mean to me.