Last year, as energy prices rose, I was appalled by fluffy and just wrong pieces in the popular media. I started counting instances where energy and power were mangled and gave up at fifty in less than two months.
This morning someone sent a piece in the Wall Street Journal on the end of the romance with cars. I don't know if the author needs to attempt to define things, but he manages to screw things up - one wonders if there was any proof reading by anyone who remembered any high school physics.
I realize he is only trying to make the point that there is a lot of power (at least on a human scale) available in a car, but why does he have to underscore that he doesn't understand what he is talking about?
Horsepower is not a quaint leftover of linguistics or a vague metaphoric anachronism. James Watt, father of the steam engine and progenitor of the industrial revolution, lacked a measurement for the movement of weight over distance in time—what we call energy. (What we call energy wasn’t even an intellectual concept in the late 18th century—in case you think the recent collapse of global capitalism was history’s most transformative moment.) Mr. Watt did research using draft animals and found that, under optimal conditions, a dray horse could lift 33,000 pounds one foot off the ground in one minute. Mr. Watt—the eponymous watt not yet existing—called this unit of energy “1 horse-power.”
In my 58 years I have never before seen a situation in which the media, in this case especially television news, pays as much attention to an ex vice president as to the sitting president. Could this indicate that despite words to the contrary, some of the media is having real trouble truly listening to a leader who is not a White Male? Would the same lack of respect have occurred if the elected individual were female, Oriental, Native American, Polynesian, gay, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Animist, or even as close to being an atheist as a number of the Founding Fathers were? I fear that it may also have occurred then, even though it definitely should not be happening at any time to anyone. In private people are so appalled by this situation that it comes up often in conversation. Why is too much of the media perpetuating this behavior instead of paying attention to the real story: why some parts of the Fourth Estate are not having their actions match their words?
Sukie has been looking for a front mounted basket for her Trek Trike. This place has a much wider selection than the local bike shops.
Past experience tells me you don't want to put a huge amount of weight on the handlebars. There are specialty bikes where the load does not move when you turn, but twenty pounds that do move during a turn is not particularly fun.
Our house is small, so putting people up overnight involves some folding beds Finding something comfortable and sturdy is the trick. Cots just aren't comfortable enough to do the job and a good night's sleep is especially important when someone has been traveling.
One friend happens to be just under 6'7. She doesn't complain, but our 72" folding beds just don't work. We searched for something with enough length, and finally found something that fit the bill. Cabela has a folder in two sizes. We went with the x-large ... 84" x 38". This was our first purchase with them and their service was very good.
The photo is deceptive if you are used to normal folding beds. 84" x 38" is approximately big - you don't think about it until you set it up. The frame is study and the mattress well supported. For occassional guest use it will probably last a lifetime. The mattress is thin, but comfortable enough for someone who like a firm mattress. King size sheets intended for a normal mattress fit with a bit of re-arranging. If you need fitted sheets we found a source that has something, but we haven't tried them.
One thing we've learned knowing her is there are a lot of common things that don't fit well. She is used to this, but it is a feature of having a body outside the 2σ adult population. You can identify dozens of problem areas besides clothing and I tried to get a bit of interest in the design of one, but nothing was that much better than the hammer and tongs solution of just using a box as a spacer. With the Internet as a connection tool, there is probably a business for clever designers who cater to small populations.
People criticize companies (often correctly) for green washing, but many people aren't entirely accurate about their own behavior. Polls frequently find that about eighty percent of Americans identify themselves as environmentalists, yet our energy use is about twice as much per capita as European countries that have similar standards of living and our levels of consumption are much higher.
Perception and reality are not strongly linked.
Companies fell over themselves trying to market to these environmentalists. There was (and is) a lot of green washing along with a few solid products. I was talking to someone who works with a large household products company that came out with a competent "green" line. Their initial marketing surveys suggested most people would pay ten to fifteen percent premiums so they went ahead with the new line which cost more to manufacture. What they learned was only a small percentage of people would pay any premium. Apparently this is common.
Perhaps a new term is needed. How about: green boasting
Sukie and I form a household of two and we have a single small car. In theory it can seat four, but that would only work if the two in front were under 5'6" and those in the back were short -- certainly less than 5'0". Effectively we have two seats.
People tend to buy a vehicle by thinking about a near worst case need. What if you have to haul six kids around --- minivan or SUV ... what if you intend to do some home repair and need to haul 4 x 8s ...., what if...? How frequently do you have these needs? The mix of family size, suburbia and work locations create legitimate needs, but I suspect many are buying over capacity.
About one percent of the time we need something larger That's where delivery, friends or car rental applies.
We just learned a friend will be visiting for a few days at the beginning of July and we'll need to do some driving with her. Since she is taller than 5'4", which is about the limit for sitting sideways in the rear seat, it is car rental time.
Do you buy a car or truck for the worst case scenario? I wonder how many people justify an extra large vehicle to cover under one percent of their transportation needs? Having fewer cars can save an enormous amount of money - given the cost of inconvenience, what is a good compromise? For us it would be nice to have something larger about two percent of the time, so we're close to 2σ (actually we're just looking at one side of the curve, so we're looking at z > 2).
If a large number of people decided to save money by getting rid of their largest car, one can imagine car rental companies doing well. Perhaps they could sell subscription plans. But a drop in the number of vehicles per household seems unlikely.