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I’m busy writing an article, but …

I might not have a lot to say for the next few days, so I thought I’d drop by now with a handful of questions and a few mostly feelgood links.

The questions are for car guys and computer geeks. If your eyes glaze over at the very thought, feel free to skip to the linkage.

Questions, questions, questions …

1. Can an engine oil leak come and go? Before I bought Old Blue, I tossed a piece of cardboard under it to check for leaks. Pretty good for an old car; just a couple of drops in 24 hours. That’s mostly how it’s remained, but on two days recently, I’ve observed it dripping that much oil in minutes. I start to worry, then it goes back to hardly leaking at all. Bought some Bar’s and will see if that helps. But is this even possible? Could weather conditions or a stretch of bad road cause it? The Internet is silent on this matter.

2. Is my neighbor doing something sensible or dumb? A neighbor has a gigantomongous Dodge RAM 3500 truck. Crew cab. Six tires. Big, powerful, roaring thing. In every season and every whether, he lets it warm up in his driveway for 10 or 15 minutes before heading out. When he comes home for lunch he’ll leave it running the whole time he’s home, 30 minutes or so. I’m just curious, but is there any good reason to do that? I shudder, thinking of his fuel costs, but maybe he knows something I don’t.

Windows? Whazzup with that? Many times I’ve gotten error messages from sites telling me I’m using an obsolete version of Internet Explorer and I need to upgrade it. Today I attempted to try out the free version of a highly rated VPN and even though I know this VPN supports Linux, the site kept trying to download a Windows .exe file to me. Not the first time a DL site has “read” me as using Windows. OTOH, most DL sites not only “see” Linux, but may even point me toward .deb files for the exact type of Linux I’m using. What would cause so many sites to “see” W and IE when I’m actually running Firefox on Mint Linux? Answered!

And speaking of VPNs … My brain is sore — and little the wiser — from research. In your opinion, what’s the best offshore VPN for under $6 a month and why? Must work with Linux.


Okay, now to a little bit of linkage.

And thank you for your patience.

Cheers. And thanks for the answers. See you later, but posting may be spotty this week.


  1. Bear
    Bear February 2, 2016 12:39 pm

    Truck: The only reason I can think of to let it run so long would be to maintain the cab temperature. I’d rather wear a coat (or roll up my sleeves in the summer) than spend the gas money, myself. Or maybe he doesn’t have much faith in his battery or starter, in which case replacement would be cheaper than all the gas he’s burning.

    Windows: Are you visiting that site using a VPN or proxy? If so, the distant end doesn’t necessarily see what your browser reports, but what the proxy does (the idea being that proxy strips out your identifying heaader data and substitutes its own).

  2. Felinenation
    Felinenation February 2, 2016 12:40 pm

    Is your neighbor’s RAM truck a diesel? Diesels are often kept running like that.

  3. Joel
    Joel February 2, 2016 12:43 pm

    I’m just curious, but is there any good reason to do that?

    Only to keep the interior warm, which probably isn’t that big a need in your location.

    Back in the olden days it was commonly considered necessary to warm up an engine before putting a load on it in frigid weather, but materials technology has come a long way since the sixties. It was a questionable practice then and is completely pointless now.

  4. Claire
    Claire February 2, 2016 1:14 pm

    Felinenation — I don’t know. I thought of that because I do recall my ex-Significant Sweetie’s Isuzu diesel needing extra time to get the glow plugs going. This seems more than that, but I don’t know what type of engine the truck has.

    Warming up the cab seems unlikely, too, as the temps are often quite mild when he’s doing this.

  5. Claire
    Claire February 2, 2016 1:15 pm

    “Windows: Are you visiting that site using a VPN or proxy?”

    Good question. Sometimes I use a proxy and sometimes I haven’t. I’ve neglected to check whether I’m proxified or not when this happens. But I guess I can test out your theory right now by de-proxifying and going back to that same VPN site. Will report back soon.

  6. Pat
    Pat February 2, 2016 1:19 pm

    I’ve had Windows try to insinuate itself on my Linux Mint, but that was during my AdBlocker days. It seemed to bring in an ad for IE.

  7. Claire
    Claire February 2, 2016 1:26 pm

    Bear — I de-proxified, removed the cookies from that site, went back … and it’s still thinking I’m on a Windows machine.

    BTW, the site is and it definitely touts support for Linux.

  8. Bear
    Bear February 2, 2016 1:44 pm

    Claire, I think I see what’s happening. You’re following the “free download” link to

    Right, and then clicking the penguin? There aren’t actually any download links for Linux. You have to click the Linux How To button to get instructions. There isn’t a CyberGhost app for Linux. You have to use native VPN protocols pre-installed (or install yourself), and create an account with CyberGhost.

    If you keep getting a Win executable, you’re clicking the wrong button.

    Take a look at the instructions and if you have trouble, email me privately

  9. KiA
    KiA February 2, 2016 1:56 pm

    Can an engine oil leak come and go?
    yes. oil thins out as it warms up. seals (rubber) shrink in the heat. leak volume could vary with temperature (more the warmer). maybe shorter trips do not leak as much? it could be pooling somewhere and pour down in larger amounts from time to time. also the blow-by varies with driving patterns. if the PCV system is (semi)clogged it would cause positive pressure in the crank and essentially force oil out of seals.

    Is my neighbor doing something sensible or dumb?
    i don’t know about diesel. i don’t see any good reason to idle a gas engine. during extended idling, there’s wear on the oil even though the odometer is not moving. it would cause mileage based maintenance to not be accurate. also the amount of fuel mixed with oil increases during extended idles. fuel in oil not only reduces lubricity, but also reduces the flash point temperature. on a positive note, a person that idles their car for a long time doesn’t care about that stuff.

    if your user-agent string is not randomized, my guess would be the website is defaulting to windows OS if it does not know what to do.

    i’m not sure what you mean by the offshore specific. most VPNs have nodes in multiple countries. do you mean a non-US based company?
    have you checked out PIA? their plans are $4.98, $3.33 and $2.50 a month for 3 months, annual and 2 year subscriptions respectively. they use openVPN, so linux is supported. they have a 30 day money-back guarantee. increased encryption/authentication is achieved via patch for openVPN 2.2.2. however they are US based.

  10. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed February 2, 2016 2:41 pm

    Diesels usually are turbocharged. After running them on the highway, its customary (with the big Mac style trucks) to let them run for a while to let the turbo cool down.

    Although, if its a diesel, you would certainly know by the tell tale diesel ‘rattling’ sound.

  11. RW
    RW February 2, 2016 2:45 pm

    For free proxies try;
    you have to put the addy in the box, and the one built in startmail, the above don’t work on all sites but one probably will. For freebies there are drawbacks of course of some kind. usually won’t work on my mint for some reason, used to. Can’t figure out but might be ublock. For paid accts, I have heard good things about cyberghost but have not used.
    There is no reason to idle an engine more than a min or two to warm up, just don’t push it for a couple of miles till up to normal temp. Extended idling wastes fuel and causes more wear, and especially on the larger engines will cause hot/cold spots in the block. Warming the glow plugs happens before the engine starts, the full size diesels don’t have glow plugs. After full power running like interstate, don’t turn it off for a couple of mins to allow the turbo bearing to cool, but no reason to keep idling.
    Sometimes leak makes me wonder if in an older engine the gunk/sludge build up might be sealing as much as the gaskets, if not too bad and if its old maybe watch but mostly ignore.

  12. Bob
    Bob February 2, 2016 4:49 pm

    Diesels run more efficiently when they are warm. They also need a load in order to get warm. Idling won’t do much, but it’s better than nothing.

    This is why you see the grill covers on semi’s in the winter time. With a wide open grill(radiator) they don’t get very warm. Some truck drivers run their engines for days at a time, especially in northern climates, and hardly shut them down until they get home for a day or two.

    Your neighbor may be overdoing it a little, even though it is very cheap to idle a diesel engine. Maybe he just likes to hear it run.

    Bar’s – Never could work up the nerve to put something in the oil for leaks. Used radiator stop-leak a few times, but it always plugged up the heater coil or something, and made me wish I had tried to fix the leak properly. If you are using synthetic oil, try switching to dead dinosaurs. It won’t leak as bad.

  13. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed February 2, 2016 5:50 pm

    Oh dear, I missed the bit about the Bars. I would NEVER, repeat NEVER use that stuff to stop an oil leak. Its supposed to plug a small hole, right? Well many of the passages for oil in an engine are just that….small holes. Holes that you absolutely positively do not want to plug.

    I *have* used it a time or two to stop a radiator leak, and it didn’t help, and clogged up passages in the radiator.

    I have no idea of what could be an intermittent leak. They either leak or they don’t (for me). As was mentioned earlier, the warmth of the engine can affect the leak amount. Also the PCV partly clogged is worth checking.

    Take an eyeball at the engine…..where is it glisteny and fresh? Up top by the valve/cam covers (likely), or way down low for a oil pan leak?

  14. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed February 2, 2016 5:52 pm

    had your oil changed lately ? loose oil pan plug or not quite tight oil filter, maybe.

  15. Publicola
    Publicola February 2, 2016 8:27 pm

    Fluid leaks can come & go, as folks have said.

    Letting a car idle was useful back when most vehicles were carbureted. Had to do with the way carbs worked, & letting them warm up a bit before putting a load on them was desirable. With fuel injection it’s not necessary to do that, unless you just want to keep the inside temp different from the outside temp, but it does have some disadvantages other than increasing fuel costs (the cons were outweighed by the pros with a carburetor). If it’s a diesel then it’s slightly different – not as many cons, but not usually real helpful.

  16. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair February 3, 2016 3:38 am VPN is $108/year if you can figure out how to buy gold globals.
    Why? I like Ray, and he uses my Truledger code.

  17. Mark
    Mark February 3, 2016 5:02 am

    It sounds to me too as if your neighbor has a diesel. Idling them is common and the warmup extremely so. When I got my first diesel, an ’85 Mercedes 300TD wagon, another Mercedes owner (you become part of the old boys’ club immediately upon purchasing a Mercedes, apparently) struck up a conversation with me and told me about a friend of his in Alaska who had one without a block heater. He said he basically didn’t shut it off between November and March, 24 hours a day. At idle they use far less fuel than gas vehicles.

  18. KenK
    KenK February 3, 2016 9:18 am

    Usually agree with you Claire but the thing the SB is a big fat target and so the scrutiny is gonna be commensurate. I am trying to go cold turkey this year in eliminating my sports junkie passtimes and step 2 is admitting that pro sports are expensive costly time sucking things that I can do better without. No more bread & circuses for me. Now I excercise, lift, & shoot as my sports and I can do this in private too if I wish.

  19. Laird
    Laird February 3, 2016 10:24 am

    I don’t know much about diesels, but I do know that if you pull into any highway rest area at night you’ll see a lot full of diesel semis, all with their engines idling. They can’t all be ignorant, so I assume there must be some rational reason for it.

    Interesting video about the eagles. Even if you could own one (illegal in the US) and train it to attack drones, the military/NSA ones are too big so I doubt it would work. And of course if you tried it against a nosy neighbor’s drone you’d be hauled into court (just as if you tried shooting it down). Interesting, but impractical.

  20. Shel
    Shel February 3, 2016 12:24 pm

    Since what your neighbor is doing makes no sense with a gas engine, it’s probably a diesel. The logo will be on the front part of each front door; if it’s a late model it will look something like this I’m no mechanic, but my understanding is that it’s more critical to warm them up before driving. If, however, he isn’t towing anything substantial, then his warm-up time seems more than really necessary. With the high compression of diesel engines, there’s more wear and tear on the starter, so if it will be only a short time before driving again, then it may be better simply to let it idle. I don’t know what that time limit is, but his lunch time seems a little on the long side. I suspect he’s just babying it, which is fine if he can afford it and it makes him feel better.

  21. Claire
    Claire February 3, 2016 7:00 pm

    Everybody — Thanks for all the comments and advice. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply properly. And Bear, good detective work. I’ll be in touch.

    BTW, I got a glimpse of the neighbor’s truck going by today. Didn’t see any Cummins logos, but what you guys are saying about diesels does make some sense.

  22. parabarbarian
    parabarbarian February 4, 2016 7:44 pm

    You use Cotse for email, right? They offer a socks5 proxy over ssh tunnel as part of the Internet Shield package. I connect to a server in Chicago but they may have servers outside the US you can connect to. IIRC their data center in in Amsterdam

  23. jesse bogan
    jesse bogan February 4, 2016 8:49 pm

    OK here is a take. Diesels will burn veggie oil, but it solidifys in the cold. So, once running some fuel circulates back to the tank, keeping it warm enough to remain liquid. So only one changeover per day on the cold start in the morning.

    A lot of things can change oil consumption and leakage. Best to track the actual consumption over time. Check the oil once a week (or whatever makes sense for your driving habits) and see that it goes X miles before adding a quart. Over time you will be able to spot trends or increases… As long as it stays stable all is OK, no matter how many drops you might see.

  24. jc2k
    jc2k February 5, 2016 8:12 am

    Claire, they’re not based outside the U.S., but I’ve heard nothing but good things about Private Internet Access. As I understand it, they have VPN servers all outside the U.S. but they base themselves here because they aren’t required to log access and usage. I think you can get signed up for about $3 a month and you can pay in just about any way you can imagine (including bitcoin and any major gift card – like Target) Also, not sure if you’ve checked out Protonmail.

  25. Claire
    Claire February 5, 2016 8:14 am

    “As long as it stays stable all is OK, no matter how many drops you might see.”

    This is a good point. Thank you. So far it does appear that the leak isn’t causing any problems. That’s one reason I’m hesitating with the Bar’s. Don’t want to risk turning some small deal into a big one.

  26. Shel
    Shel February 6, 2016 9:46 am

    I was wrong about where the “C” goes on the newer Dodges; it actually is on the front fenders just behind the headlights. FWIW, on the older Dodges, for the 24 valve engines, the logo will look like this and will be where I predicted the other to be, on the front door. On the still older (up to mid 1998) the bottom line will read “Cummins Turbo Diesel.” If the truck isn’t a diesel, the emblem will simply say “RAM 3500″ and not have a bottom line.

    The exhaust on a diesel pickup will be large, 4″ diameter stock or 5″ diameter aftermarket (rarely 6”) and will be easily seen behind the right rear wheel. It doesn’t come straight out the back.

    Especially if he has an older one, he might be running biodiesel of one type or another as Jesse Bogan said. It’s a smart move if he is.

    Once trivia details get started, they won’t stop. I’m sure you understand.

  27. Claire
    Claire February 6, 2016 9:59 am

    Thanks, Shel. I’ll have to get a better look, but I do believe there are logos on the front fenders. And I’ll look for that tailpipe. The truck is very new — no more than 2, at the most 3, years. This is interesting.

  28. Historian
    Historian February 9, 2016 3:47 am

    I own diesel vehicles, some newer, some older. (1981 to 2006)

    We warm up for at least 5 minutes prior to operation and cool down for at least 2 minutes, usually 4-5, before shutdown. Cold starts in cold weather do stress both the engine and the starter, and if in a secure area we do leave them running for brief stops. Diesel engines are much more efficient than gasoline but that comes at the price of much higher operating temperatures, especially the turbodiesels.

    It is a very good idea if you want long lasting diesel engines to warm them up and cool them off so that the engine parts have a chance to reach thermal equilibrium and the lube oil gets nice and runny and gets everywhere it is supposed to prior to running them hard, and here in the mountains all roads out are hard running. Turbochargers in particular get very hot, reaching temps over 1100 degrees, and cooling them off after running so that the lube oil does not get cooked is essential. People who ignore this necessity buy new turbos frequently. This is especially important for my `1980s series Volvo TDs and the 91 Dodge TDs. Synthetic motor oil helps with both starting up and cooling down but is not a panacea.

    Hope my long winded explanation helps, Jackie! (BTW I will be interested in your choice of more secure comms.)

  29. Claire
    Claire February 9, 2016 6:37 am

    Thanks, Historian. Also, for others who’ve mentioned it earlier, yes, my neighbor’s truck is a diesel.

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