Log in

No account? Create an account
GM Dexos, API-SN, GF-5 and Your Motor Oil
So back in 2011 GM did something a little unprecedented by creating its own specifications and review board for lubricating oil that was separate from API (American Petroleum Institute - a review board on which a GM member already sits.) The certification an oil receives from that new board gets the label 'dexos1' or 'dexos2' (the manufacturer of the oil also has to pay GM for the test, and provide a royalty on every sale.)

This in itself was mostly harmless, except the fine print in some of the manuals (including my vehicle in 2014.) In these vehicle manuals, GM took it upon itself to inform its customers that if they didn't use dexos oil, it 'may result in engine component damage that will not be covered under warranty.'

That statement ran afoul of FTC laws, and the FTC put a bulletin out informing customers of GM vehicles that their warranties can not be voided UNLESS GM can prove that the owner did not utilize dexos oil, *or an equivalent*, and that said oil specifically caused the damage. Pretty tall order to prove that, as a non-dexos oil that meet or exceeds dexos1 qualifications (API-SN, GF-5 both come close and in some oils do exceed dexos specs) is basically the same damn thing. Not only that, but you could always flush your oil and put dexos in before you rolled it into a GM shop.

Furthermore, now that GM moved to dexos1 gen-2 (last year), to the best of my knowledge, there is no longer any 'synthetic blend' type dexos oils being manufactured. Synthetic blend is what was recommended for my car, and it is what I've used since I bought it. Of Advance Auto, Walmart and Autozone locally, none of them are carrying synthetic blend dexos1 oil. (Seems like I can still order them online - but I've never ordered oil online, and am not sure why I would be put in the position of needing to do so?)

General online research tells me that there's little to no difference between dexos and GF-5/API-S.

What do I make of all of this? I think GM found a way to increase revenue and put oil manufacturers in a position where, if they wanted access to something like 24% of the auto market in the United States, they had to pay to have their oil tested, and then pay royalty to GM for the dexos label. They then proceeded to use fear on their car owners by telling them if they use anything other than dexos-marked oil, they could ruin their 100k/10 year powertrain warranty.

Dehumanization in Organizational Contexts

"Such dehumanizing maltreatments are likely to have a detrimental effect on psychological wellbeing. According to self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), psychological wellbeing requires that the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are met. Dehumanizing maltreatments, however subtle, lead to impaired ability to satisfy these needs and may therefore directly contribute to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. In short, the scientific evidence does not support the view of everyday dehumanization as an innocent and inconsequential phenomenon; on the contrary, the evidence clearly demonstrates a range of significant negative consequences."

"A distinction between social and physical problem solving has been suggested at the neural level. Social reasoning about the mental states of others [empathy] is associated with increased recruitment of the brain’s “default” network and reduced recruitment of the so called “task-positive” network; conversely, “mechanistic” reasoning about physical objects appears to be associated with increased recruitment of the “task-positive” network and reduced recruitment of the “default” network (Jack et al., 2012). Although these two networks are involved in multiple processes and the specificity of their function is still under much debate, they appear to be frequently anti-correlated during conditions of “rest” (Fox et al., 2005) and during many standard cognitive tasks (Shulman et al., 1997)."

Of particular note:
"psychological wellbeing requires that the basic psychological needs of *autonomy, competence, and relatedness* are met."

It's been a rare thing among jobs I've held that autonomy is something that is respected. Only in the most menial of tasks (material moving, custodial) did I experience it (and this is something that is informing my current job search - I'm of the opinion at this point that the lower the pay and lower the demands, the better it's going to be for my well-being.) In any other case, micromanagement was generally the rule of law.

I don't think I'm alone in this experience, either - and part of the rise in anxiety and depression could very well be directly correlated to trends in our interpersonal (hierarchical) relationships, especially in the workplace.

As another thought, related to the second block quote...if your goal was to produce a society that was *as physically/materially productive as possible* and you believed that achieving that involved maximizing their 'task positive' neural network, you might be inclined to try and *reduce or eliminate their empathy* as much as humanly possible.

The moment a price is to be had for a luxury, it acquires exchange value, and labor is employed to produce it. A New York lady, for instance, having a nature of exquisite sensibility, orders an elegant rosewood and silver coffin, upholstered in pink satin, for
her dead dog. It is made; and meanwhile a live child is prowling barefooted and hunger-stunted in the frozen gutter outside. The exchange-value of the coffin is counted as part of the national wealth; but a nation which cannot afford food and clothing for its children cannot be allowed to pass as wealthy because it has provided a pretty coffin for a dead dog.

Shaw, p. 22 (1889)

People have been thinking about how immensely screwed up our economy is for a long time.

pretty sure this week i reached my recovery limit. I failed my 3 sets of 190x5 on the bench Monday (I did 190x4/190x4/185x4) and then proceeded to fail my 115 seated strict press on wednesday, and have now failed a 185 bench today.

wednesday I had some really weird cramping in my left shoulder on both sets of 115 press (i didn't fail the reps, the cramping stopped me from doing a third set, though.) haven't had any pain or discomfort since, so no injury apparently.

so i guess my plan of attack is to drop the weight by 20lbs on all of my lifts and switch to a 4x6-8 set and rep range, with shorter rest periods. I'll increase the lifts 5 lbs every session until I get back to my current sticking point. This should give me some active recovery, and the extra volume should help with form issues and make the 5 rep max lifts easier when I get back to them.

going to do some assistance work (rotator cuff PT exercises and my hamstring exercises) and stretching on off days as well. Hopefully in a few weeks I'm back to pushing for new records, at least for a little while.

PRs and other stuff
Right now my lifts are at:

Bench Press: 180lbs 3 sets of 5 reps
Seated Overhead Press (strict, no back support): 110lbs 3 sets of 5 reps.
Low Bar Back Squat: 200-205lbs 3 sets of 5 reps
Deadlift: 210lbs 1 set of 5 reps

My body weight is right around 190lbs. Only +10lbs from around 3-4 months ago. I am back to overeating again, so I expect to hit 200lbs sometime in the next two months. Not really sure where I want to end up - but I don't really like dealing with a waist size that makes my pants uncomfortable, so about that time is when I'll start cutting again (and stop progression on lifts for awhile.)

Very close to a body weight bench press which makes me happy. But the real goal would be a body weight overhead press (and around a 300 1RM bench) and I'm sure those are at least a year or two away. Squats continue to be something I feel like I should be much stronger at than I am - 205lbs isn't as nearly as respectable at my bodyweight for a squat as a 180lb bench is. Have always been bad at them, for whatever reason.

I don't struggle with deadlifts at all. I feel like I could pull much more weight than I am (especially fresh) but with the program it's difficult. The lumbar feels like it's about to fail by the time I get to deads, and that one set is enough to finish me off. Do wonder what my 1RM would truly be if I tried it fresh, though.

On music:
Has been some more activity here, I may have mentioned it in a previous post. The person who commissioned me for his game finally received word from the label he wanted to get sync rights from for a few songs, and apparently dropped them my soundcloud and email. He thinks really highly of my work - I think the label would probably just laugh it off. I find it so hard to believe anyone thinks highly of what I do. But, I guess, some do - or they're really good at faking it, anyway.

I did a really dark, industrial piece at the end of last week for a friend who sent me cover vocals. That's almost up to 200 plays now on soundcloud, and without any advertising to speak of. In my view, that's actually pretty good, given I don't exactly have a lot of people following me and getting updates on new uploads. Those people are coming organically from word of mouth or by accident.

Still haven't sold anything though, and that's a bummer. Taking a little week hiatus from music right now - maybe by the weekend I'll feel more inspired, or maybe I won't. I should probably take this time where I'm *not* being asked to do work for others (and am refusing to *be inspired* because I wrote non-stop 12+hrs a day for about two weeks) to learn another song or two.

For Every Action
I often find myself wondering if Newton's Third Law applies in many more ways than merely just the physical.

When I was a testosterone poisoned teenager, I often swung wildly between degrees of bliss and long periods of depression. As I aged, that effect has been heavily blunted - I still experience it, but not nearly to the same level, and not nearly as often. I am smooth sailing at most times.

However, recently - the past month or so - I've noticed that any sort of strong creative inspiration that I act on (ones that, inevitably, include high degrees of flow) tends to lead to the exact opposite at its completion. All three of my most recent compositions have put me in the dumps, for no particular reason I can identify - all of the works are much higher quality than what I'm used to (though I did recently go back and look over Until Never and most of it is, honestly, a lot higher quality than I felt it was at completion.) In fact, they might be some of my best works yet, and unlike usual, I don't *want* to really change them. They may not be perfect (nothing in this world is, unless we're lying to ourselves) but they're exactly what they need to be.

I don't know if I have spontaneously developed this relationship with my creative work, or if there has always been a kind of up and down relationship with it I never noticed before. It's not predictable in the same sense as my bouts in youth - normally the 'dumps' end the moment I push through a tough strength training section and get my mind focused elsewhere - but they're still there, in the background noise, until enough time as passed, or I start another inspired composition.

I wonder - do the highs that the writing process some of these songs produce in me (and the flow) result in a sort of violent feedback on my psychological-emotional systems? I mean, I'm familiar enough with hangovers or other drug induced backlashes, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to draw a parallel here. One wonders the sort and amount of neurotransmitters that get released when I'm working on this extremely emotional music, and if there isn't a burnout period afterwords.

I gave up on reading the Drizzt novels at The Crystal Shard. Simply lost interest. TCS was the *first* novel Salvatore wrote, with the "Homeland" trilogy coming after the TCS trilogy, and it was not very good. This doesn't mean his works don't get better *after* the TCS trilogy, but I just know...the damn series is too long. He milked it for everything it was worth.

One can only read so many fight scenes before one thirsts for a more meaty story and character development, and some sort of overarching story line that drives one to keep flipping pages.

So, this post is a reminder to me to look into getting my hands on the Harry Potter books (I've caught the cinema series in piecemeal over the years, finally finishing it up this week thanks to SciFi - and I think it's time I read a series so popular) as well as the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin, yet another series I was made aware of by SciFi channel (but many years ago.)

And I thought some of my pieces were hare-brained

This is a fairly famous piece - Mussorgsky, Night on Bald Mountain - and I will premise this short post by saying that I actually do like a lot of this.

But around 5:12 I came to the sudden realization that...this work is *refusing* to complete a particular phrase or section and instead is quite happy to abruptly switch to different themes with wanton abandon. I find my favorite sections of this work are the ones that are longer - and more well developed.

I've done some quick reading to see what his intentions were, and it seems like what *we're* getting was edited and published by another man - how much of this Mussorgsky intended, it appears, we simply don't know (or, if we do, I can't be bothered to dig for it.) The editor and publisher was Rimsky-Korsakov, and *his* version - the one that's linked and is famous - was a smash hit in St. Petersburg at its debut. However, Mussorgsky was already dead at this point, and never even saw his own work performed. Quite sad.

(no subject)
This is a somber piece that I've been trying to put together for a really long time - close to a year. I never could get it off of the ground. The temp track for it was "Fortress of Regrets" from the Planescape Torment soundtrack, and it's meant to be a gift for an old friend of mine who has developed and ran a high-fantasy MUD game (the only game I still frequent) for two decades.

Whether I just lacked inspiration or couldn't quite make the very minor, regretful sensation work, I'm not sure. Seems to have worked this time, though. I feel like the brightness of the strings in the second section could be turned down a notch, but besides that, I'm fairly happy with it.


I would like to be more in line with this in the future in my own works, but trying to do chord substitutions and accidentals all the time while making it sound good is a pretty high difficulty task. I do think it's something which separates men from boys, though.

the egret
The past two days my father and I have noticed a white egret (not sure of the specific type - it's not a large variety, with a smaller beak that has no black tip, and dark legs) hanging around the house - which is fairly odd, given the time of year. I've been doing some reading, and as it turns out, they *will* rarely weather winters in Pennsylvania - but I'm not sure why it would've chosen our house (besides the fact we provide ample seed on a daily basis in a large feeder.) We're nowhere near a lake here, though the river is about a half mile as the crow flies down the hill.

Tonight I stepped out on the porch for some fresh air in the brisk 28 degree weather, and as I was standing on the edge looking around, I noticed in the darkness a white, ball shaped thing next to the edge of the porch. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was - I spent a good 30 seconds considering the possibilities when it dawned on me - could it be the egret? And I swear the moment that thought crossed my mind the thing sprang up and made me jump about foot backwards. I startled it, too, because it turned around and ran out a good 20 feet out before spreading its huge wings wide.

I am a bit concerned about its ability to survive if it sticks around here long. We've some warmer temperatures coming next week but I doubt they will last.