One wonders, as the economy shifts and companies are not investing in their employees for the long term, how many people will tap their creative powers for their own use rather than selling it to a company? Certainly you see a lot of that among 20 and 30 somethings in places like Brooklyn, Portland and Seattle as well as in folks in their 50s... my sister Corinne has turned in passion for art into a viable business by taping the imaginations of others.
Could you turn your passion into something that pays the bills?
Jim Gordon’s initial accomplishment in proposing a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod was unintended: He managed to unite Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, with William Koch, the conservative petroleum and coal magnate and GOP fundraiser. Both opposed Cape Wind, the plan to put 130 giant wind turbines six miles off land in Nantucket Sound.
Ten years later, Gordon is on the verge of starting construction on the nation’s first offshore wind farm. His plans have survived a regulatory gauntlet that included reviews by 17 government agencies, court challenges, and bitter public squabbles with opponents — funded in large part by Koch.
But just as he is poised to plant the first turbine, with blades reaching 440 feet above the water, the renewable energy industry has been shaken. The U.S. Congress has not renewed the chief tax incentive that has fueled development of wind power, and natural gas prices have plummeted, undercutting renewable prices.
A guest post from regular reader and commenter Roger
Fifty-four years ago this month I graduated from Zion grade school, valedictorian of Des Moines County, Iowa. (Zion grade school had about twenty students, three in my class, me and two girls.) I was not happy with this news, because being valedictorian required that I give a speech in front of a huge audience. I have a vague recollection that what I said must have been horrible and may have embarrassed many. My academic performance at the time had been based on a set of Iowa Standardized Tests given to every eighth-grade student throughout the state. Now the larger grade schools throughout Des Moines County, with tens or hundreds of eighth-grade students, realized what a terrible mistake they had made. Immediately, as reported later in the Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, they began to train their eighth-grade students on how to study for and take the Iowa Standardized Tests. Never again would their students be shown up by some hillbilly. :o)
Fifty years ago this month I graduated salutatorian from Sperry High School, which was not much considering that I came in ahead of just eleven others. (Sperry High School closed down right after I graduated.) Now I might have come in first, except that English, literature, and history were my downfalls. In spite of my shortcomings, the class of '62 voted me as the one most likely to succeed. I was terrified.
My dad, who had managed to make it through fifth grade, expected that I would graduate from college. He had little money, but was prepared to make sacrifices. I knew that I wanted to be an engineer, but I had not a clue what an engineer is or does. I knew nothing of college requirements nor of college life. I had never set foot on or near a college campus or into any business or industry where an engineer might be found. I had no friends or relatives who had graduated from college. And I made no attempt to find out.
My thought was to someday graduate from Iowa State University, some 200 miles away, so I sent for information. And then I realized that I was not ready for ISU. So I enrolled in a local community college. I liked the math, physics, and chemistry courses and was surprised that I could compete. My best friend at the community college, who was not the sharpest tack in the carpet, was planning to enroll in Electrical Engineering at Iowa State, so I did too, even though I had no idea what an Electrical Engineer does.
I did not own a car and could not afford one. Fortunately the valedictorian of our class of '62, who would inherit a large farm, had enrolled in Animal Science at ISU two years earlier and was happy to transport me. And fortunately he and my EE friend shepherded me along until I found my own way.
The going was tough but changes were coming. I had to struggle for every grade that the university reported to my dad, and which he carried around in the pocket of his bib overalls and proudly reported to every neighbor for miles around. ISU still had a foreign language requirement for graduate school, so I took one year of German, not knowing a single word of it the day I walked into a classroom full of students with four years of high school German under their belts. I barely passed, I think, because the instructors felt sorry for me.
It was probably in my final year, 1966-67, when a dropout engineer was elected student president at ISU. Following his election he turned hippie, grew long hair, and smoked marijuana on campus! He was expelled, but the damage was done. Sit-ins and riots followed and the neckties lost control, but that was after I had moved on.
I did not know the real damage until 1981 when I was hired as an Assistant Professor at The University of Iowa. I discovered that students now controlled the universities through a student-rating-of-instructor process. I had been taught that the letter grade C meant average and F failing. But not any more. While F still existed, it was never issued and D rarely. C practically meant failing and B was average. Instructors inflated grades, for to do otherwise meant suicide. I gave deserved D's and F's and the students protested. As a result, I was instructed to change the grades, so I quit.
Today, high school diplomas and college degrees do not mean a god-damned thing. Most undergraduate degrees are just an indication that students have survived binge drinking and hazing. Where I last worked, nearly all new employes are required to have Ph.D. degrees, and English is generally their second language. Certainly American universities are turning out some good Ph.D.s, but few are American-born anymore. Where is this country headed?
How much the average sedan costs per year to own and operate in the US according to the AAA metric.
Your own cost will undoubtedly vary, but getting rid of a car, keeping a car a long time, and so on can save a huge amount of money - effectively giving yourself a reasonably large raise. It becomes fairly easy to justify things like cargo bikes or trikes for local shopping if you can eliminate one of the family cars...
The press release from AAA
ORLANDO, Fla., April 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AAA released the results of its annual 'Your Driving Costs' study today revealing a 1.9 percent rise in the yearly costs to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average costs rose 1.1 cents per mile to 59.6 cents per mile, or $8,946 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.
"The average driving cost for 2012 is up due to relatively large increases in fuel and tire costs, and more moderate increases in other areas," said John Nielsen, AAA director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. "Those increases were offset by a decrease in depreciation resulting in an overall increase of 1.9 percent."
In-depth findings of this year's study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the 'Your Driving Costs' brochure which is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at the AAA Newsroom.
"Some driving costs fluctuate at different times during the year, such as what we have experienced with fuel prices since the middle of February," explained Nielsen. "However, AAA's use of a consistent methodology for its study allows an accurate comparison of driving costs from year to year, and the figures can reliably be used to compare different categories of vehicles."
Nielsen continued, "AAA understands that high fuel prices are a real concern for consumers, and those in the market for a new vehicle may want to be cautious and determine projected operational costs based on varying levels of fuels costs. To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA 'Your Driving Costs' brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.
Fuel Costs Up 14.8 Percent The cost of fuel had the largest percentage increase from 2011 to 2012, rising 14.8 percent to 14.2 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. The average cost of regular grade fuel (used by most of the study vehicles) rose 16.6 percent, from $2.880 to $3.357 per gallon. Several vehicles included in the 'Your Driving Costs' study had increases in fuel economy, resulting in the overall average fuel cost increase being slightly less. The fuel costs in the 2012 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2011.
Tire Costs Up 4.2 Percent The cost of tires ranks second highest among the factors that rose from 2011 to 2012, increasing by 4.2 percent to one cent per mile on average for sedan owners. The rise in cost can be attributed to higher costs for natural rubber, and the increased cost of oil used in tire production and transportation from factory to distributors across the country. A collateral factor is a trend for manufactures to equip new cars with premium-grade tires rather than mid-grade tires.
Depreciation Drops 4.9 Percent Depreciation costs were up slightly in 2011, but for 2012 the trend has reversed with depreciation falling across the board by nearly five percent. This change may be a consequence of reduced new car sales over the past few years, which has resulted in a relative shortage of good used cars on the market, driving up their value. This is good news for those in the resale market as their vehicles will retain a greater portion of their purchase cost.
Maintenance Costs Up 0.7 Percent Maintenance costs are slightly higher in the 2012 'Your Driving Costs' study with an increase of 0.7 percent to 4.47 cents per mile on average for sedans. Factors contributing to the increase include higher prices for oil and more manufacturers now requiring synthetic or synthetic-blend motor oils. Although the use of these oils often comes with extended service intervals, the higher cost of the oil combined with increased maintenance operations at each service (which adds to the time required) can combine to increase overall vehicle maintenance costs.
Insurance Costs Up 3.4 Percent Average insurance costs for sedans rose 3.4 percent (or $33) to $1001 yearly. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographical region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record. For 2012, this group saw a small increase that offset a decrease experienced in 2011. Quotes from five AAA clubs and insurance companies representing seven states showed across the board increases for all sedan sizes, with large cars having the biggest increase.
62nd Year of 'Your Driving Costs' Study AAA has published 'Your Driving Costs' since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.
Driving Costs are also affected by how well your vehicle runs. Performing regular maintenance not only ensures fuel-efficient operation but can help prevent costly vehicle repairs that can add to your total ownership cost. For more information on ways to keep your vehicle in top condition read the owner's manual and visit AAA.com for vehicle care information, automated maintenance reminders and repair facility locator tools.
The 'Your Driving Costs' study analyzes the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and tires. Fuel costs are based on $3.357 per gallon (average price of gas for October 2011-December 2011/AAA Fuel Gauge Report) and Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings weighted 60 percent city, 40 percent highway driving. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. These ownership costs are assumed to be on a purchase of a new vehicle, depreciated over five years. Finance charges are based on five year loan at six percent interest with a 10 percent down payment. Your actual operating costs may vary. Refer to page three of AAA's 2012 'Your Driving Costs' brochure for a list of vehicles and assumptions used in the study.
To conduct its study, AAA's auto buying and repair experts compiled detailed driving costs for small, medium, and large sedans. Driving costs in each category are based on the average costs for five top-selling models selected by AAA. By size category, they are:
Small Sedan – Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
Medium Sedan – Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
Large Sedan – Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.
Though not part of the AAA composite average, SUV and minivan information is also included in 'Your Driving Costs' to help buyers estimate operating costs for these types of vehicles. Selected models include:
SUVs – Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner.
Minivans – Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
But also cool. I imagine these will be rather expensive, but a neat idea. It isn't a project yet - it looks like they are still in the design engineering phase and are trying to sense how big the market might be.