Why for blind drivers of course. I know I encounter at least one
everyday on the road.
Haven't you ever noticed the bumps on the steering wheel and the the
gear pattern indentions on the shifter? I hope you didn't think those
were for your comfort and aesthetic appeal? ;-)
Isn't that consistent across *all* passenger vehicles...??
I've never driven a panel truck or larger so I don't know about them, but
it's weird IMO that anyone would really *need* to look at the knob...
Ever notice that number of offspring is inversely proportional to IQ...?
(depending on what country they're from). I have a Saab that is up to
the left, and you have to pull up on a "ring" to unlock this gear. I
have a six speed, so if they go down to the right they'll be in sixth
gear. You "really" have got to rev it to move from that gear. ;-)
I've actually had valet guys ask me how to get it in gear, eventhough
it's displayed clearly on the knob.
You stories on learning how to drive a stick sound very "familar" to
I learned on a 65 Mustang with a 3 speed my dad had. It had a super
stiff clutch and took me a while to get the feel for it without
stalling. Then one day, the lightbulb just went on and I had it down,
and wondered why I was having so much trouble. I have mostly owned
sticks my whole life, with a few exceptions, and I love them. My
newest car (2004) is awesome with the new six speed. I can now
downshift on the highway without the gears revving too high. Once I
got this many gears, I wouldn't go back to 4 or 5.
BTW, my dad briefly had the fastest car I have ever driven. 71 GTO,
which had been special ordered from the factory for track racing. My
dad somehow came into possession of this beast. 500hp, hurst 4 speed,
true ram air, lowered suspension and longer front end, and no ac, of
course. Very dangerous car, and eventually my mom won out and made him
sell it. Damn chicks. ;-)
I do hear you. I remember the old days when I could work on my old 65
mustang and "actually" reach around inside the front hood. My current
car completely confounds me when I open the hood. Not one inch of
unused space. Old cars are fun to drive around, my wife and I have a
80 Mercedes 380 SL convertible that we tool around in when the
weather's nice, but when I want performance though, I will take my new
car anyday. It can actually corner and break without locking
up.(gasp!) It's actually faster than a lot of the old muscle cars. I
had this kid pull up to me the other day in an old cutlass and gave me
the "look". Wasn't even close, as I waved to him in my rear window.
Gotta love a turbo on the highway. I don't need no stickin 8
Yeah, 10 bucks could take me on a 4 hour trip to school, up the 101.
Those were the days. I did everything on my Bug except rebuild the
engine itself, and throw on the shitty primer paint job. What I really
want next is an old motorcycle I can work on myself, possibly restore,
like an old BMW R90s. I think if I won the lotto the first thing I
would want is a Vincent Black Shadow.
That'd be great, I envy people who can ride them (I don't a good enough
sense of balance, can't control one :p ).
Some of the little experimental cars (incl. solar models <g>) look very
interesting but sadly, they're just not suitable to today's roads.
Admittedly, tho' if I knew I would be living permanently in a very sunny
area, a Solar one would be interesting as a possible emergency transport.
((Yeah, I've also been looking at plans for Solar Ovens...seen too many
post-apocalyptic-genre SF flicks I guess <LOL!>))
Lots of people have been "hacking" their Toyota Prius vehicles to give
them higher gas mileages. One is to replace the standard batteries with
higher capacity (and higher priced) batteries, not sure if they use NiMH
or Lion or whatever, but it is something like that. Then they make the
car able to be plugged in. The car then runs off the extra juice for
much longer, until it gets down to about standard Prius levels, then it
goes back to hybrid mode. This has raised the gas mileage
significantly. I've also seen one guy add solar panels to the roof,
which was very expensive. I think they might have gotten up to
something like 100MPG or more.
The thing about these cars though, is not the fact that they use less
energy (its hard to say with the inherent energy used in making the
batteries, the heavy metals used in those batteries, and the plug in
costs), but rather get us away from being dependent on oil. But I
haven't seen anything about truly lowering energy usage. I think that
will come with a move to more local economies.
Wild stuff - I have to admit, I never would have thought of any of that.
Certainly if one lives in areas that are frequently knocked out by storms,
some sort of alternative transportaion would be a real boon IMO. I've read
that some current solar collectors work decently even in cloudy weather.
Some of those seem to come on a flexible surface of some sort. IMO, if
they're a reality, it'd be a benefit to have something like that that could
be plugged into the car or *any* portable power source or power supplement.
Heck, what about using something like that as part of the structure of an
ultralight airplane of some sort?
And, of course, useful for homes as well.
That's the question that never seems to get answered - how much raw energy
goes into the different forms. But also, how much is used over the
lifetime of the thing (I tend to own things for a really long time...except
dwellings...) IOW, if the car lasts for 15 years, then, including energy
used in construction and fuel refinement and so on, would a petroleum-based
combustion-engine vehicle use more or less energy than an alternative
I think alt. energy has a huge potential in terms of being green but also
in terms of economics, the post-oil economy, but of course I am probably
just dreaming ;)
I think Edgar is right... instead of larger "infrastructure", we'll move to
"local" infrastructure. A couple of examples:
1) Waste water treatment. Eventually, I think that 80-90% of all waste
water will be treated on site and recycled. This will impact large
municiple waste water treatment plants.
2) Energy. Residential fuel cells, small scale fusion reactors and other
advancements will mean most energy is produced locally, rather than
regionally. This, too, will impact energy companies in ways we can't
imagine. We're still a decade (minimum) off, without a major breakthrough.
I'd be interested in seeing what you find out. Also, check out:
http://www.tsaugust.org/Renewables.htm#Engineering . Click and download the
PDF. Very interesting. The stuff that's most interesting is the physical
requirements for the use of renewable energy (some many square miles of land
for wind, so many square miles for biomass, etc). I'm not sure how accurate
these guy's numbers are, but even if they're off by a factor of 10, most
renewables appear to be useless on a mass scale.
The challenge with "off-grid" is usually based mostly on climate. The most
successful examples seem to be in the southwest--moderate temperatures and
plentiful sun. Every time I try and find something to move off grid, the
financial aspects keep it from happening...particularly since I'm in the
upper mid-west where winter hits hard and cold. I'm not prepared to spend
my life logging (wood) for a fuel source. And, I know, from doing the math,
that other options don't cut it when we have 30+ days of sub-zero weather
with 50% cloud cover. Fuel cells would be the primary way of moving off
grid. I'd be interested in seeing how to build your own...
I fully understand the issues as you presented them...but that's not the
problem. Sunlight and average temperature (over months) make a huge
difference. There are available tables for average cloud cover over
different cities and parts of the country. For example, St. Louis has about
50% cloud cover (on average, IIRC). This means that you need to factor that
into your PV panel requirements from day one. Combine that with the fact
that the summer season there has 90% humidity and little wind for 5 months
of the year, you see that using PV to provide power for cooling isn't
feasible. What's the alternative? Wind? The summer season in St. Louis is
low wind (higher winds in the winter). OK...so we go with a ground source
heat pump, powered by PV panels. Sure...that's the ticket, right?
Well...our heat pump draws 50 amps to get started. So, you'd need to get a
pretty good battery system to make sure it works. Next, let's look at super
insulating our houses...can it be done...yes, but there go most of the
windows and natural light*.
I'm not against alternative systems, I just haven't found that the
trade-offs are worth it. Until the costs and other significant issues get
resolved it's only for those few who have significantly different priorities
(ie, they're trying to prove something to themselves, or sometimes others,
or what to disappear, or something like that--note there's no value
judgement in having different priorities).
I'm pulling for you, but it's a hard road.
I'll try and find it--but there was a guy who went completely off grid. He
researched it much before he went off grid and ended up picking a spot in AZ
because of cheap land, plentiful sunshine, relatively moderate year-round
temperatures. He had PV and solar water heaters, plus a windmill or two.
He also went with low voltage light fixtures and other things to reduce his
consumption. In the end, he still had to run the generator occasionally to
keep things humming. And this is someone who knew well in advance what
needed to happen to go completely off grid.
* Odd thing... I remember being in graduate school and our resident
"environmental" professor was a ball of contradictions (aren't they always).
He would argue one day that you could build a super-efficient house in St.
Louis that required minimal heating and cooling. We'd argue that nobody
would want to live in it because of the little natural light and ventilation
available. The next day, he'd talk about using maximum natural light and
ventilation. When we pointed out what he said the day before, he'd get mad
and start swearing at us... there was no pleasing the guy.
All in this sub-topic sounds like good stuff to me.
Whatever the masses do, is IMO not the point when it coems down to trying
to live one's own life. I personally am not convinced that non-oil-based
energy is useless on a large scale - some states are already using it), but
regardless, nothing wrong with being as off-grid as possible, IMO.
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