Monday, August 8, 2005

Scenes From Burlington, VT #302

So I come home from work with my sixer of beer and I am ready to just relax. My roommate is watching some TV in her room and I have just sat down with my beer, when I realize that I have to go to the bathroom.

So I do what I have to do and open up the bathroom door and look to the right towards the open door of my room. The first thing I see is my roommate's cat, which I am not a big fan of. The cat's in my room, which I am even less a fan of. So I am about to lay down some justice on Herr Kitty, when I look up and there is a fricken bat flying around my room.

A quick note on bats: I know that they are one of God's creatures. And they serve their purpose in eating bugs and stuff. But that doesn't mean that I have to like them. One bite from one of those bastards is enough to traumatize me for the rest of my evening.

So, as I was saying, I am now in the doorway of my bathroom with the bat flying around in circles and the cat trying to catch it. Our cat is mental and just about the only exercise it gets is from chasing bugs(a rather large bug in this case).

So I yell across the hall to my roommate:

"Get out of bed and close your door."

To which she responds

"Why?!"

So I say again in a calm voice:

"Get out of bed and close your door."

Again she responds with:

"Why??"

A third time I say:

"GET OFF OF THE BED AND CLOSE YOUR DOOR."

And her response is:

"why??"

"There is a bat in my room."

And she shrieks (yes, it was a girly shriek) and slams her door shut.

So I am in the bathroom trying to figure out how the bat came in. My initial reaction is that the bat came through a gap in my screen. I have old windows and the screen that I have for the window doesn't even come close to being the right size. So that was a decent guess.

Now my mind switches to solution mode. I figure that if I can close my door, I can contain the bat and maybe it will fly out the window again. But what can I close the door with? Luckily I remember that I have a coat hanger under the sink to unclog my drains, so I break it out and like McGuyver, I start just bending it so that I can stop an impending nuclear reaction.

So, coat hanger in tow, I step out to pull the door close, when the bat comes flying out of hell and right at me. And like a little girl, I shriek and jump back in the bathroom. So now the bat is flying around the living room in circles and the cat is trying to catch it. I try to time the path of the bat so that I can leave the bathroom and get back to my room. No such luck. I make a move for the love pad and it comes right for me...back in the bathroom again.

So, like a hard night out drinking, I am figuring on spending the whole night next to a toilet. The bat at this point is flying back and forth from my bedroom and the living room. So I look around and then I realize something horrible. My beer is still in my bedroom. FUCK! This calls for desperate measures.

So I have my roommate call out neighbor friend and have him come over and open up the door to our unit and then the front door. I am yelling direction to my roommate through a cracked bathroom door to my roommate who is trying to relay direction to our neighbor.

So then our plan springs into action. I hear the neighbor open up the door to our unit. And then there is silence. He ties the door open. Then I hear soft steps up the flight of stairs to our apartment and see the door open through the crack of the bathroom door and then I hear footsteps beating ass down the stairs and out the door. About 30 seconds later, the bat flies out the door.

I wait a second unill it come back it? It's a risk, but I have to get the apartment door closed. I make a break for it and get out door closed in the nick of time to see the bat veering away from the closing portal. As I check the rest of the apartment, I see our back screen door wide open. Thus answers the question as to how the bat got in there. Turns out my roommate's friend left it open for most of the day.

Lesson #1: My roommate's friend and I are going to have a little talk on barn doors.

Lesson#2: Yeah, you definitely don't want me fighting the War on Terrorism

Monday, July 25, 2005

The post in which I mourn for 2 seconds...

BODY:
Russia's Biggest Spammer Brutally Murdered in Apartment

By the time you have finished reading this, I will have already come to closure on the issue and have started moving on with my life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Thanks a Bunch

I'd just like to thank all of my fellow bloggers who post things like "The Coolest thing of the day!" on their blogs.

Of course, these all link to a video clip that I am not really able to watch over my 28.8 dialup. So I shall continue to sit here and not see anything cool on the internet until you all start to be considerate of all of us unfortunate cave dwellers.

Roberts Nominated to the Supreme Court

While Fox News spent most of the day fawning over Edith Clement, President Bush tonight announced his nomination for Supreme Court Justice in James Roberts. Shocking? Not really. If you read COAPJ like I do.

I am pretty sure that Roberts will pass his nomination and make it to the bench. What I am curious to know, is that if Roberts gets voted in, and if Rehnquist retires, will Bush have to nominate a centrist female judge to replace O'Conner? I think the Dems will eventually pass the conservative Roberts, but they may just filibuster another conservative.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Happy 4th Everyone

Just wanted to peek my head in and wish a Happy 4th of July to everyone (even the French). This is my absolute favorite holiday of the year, so I hope ya'll have a safe and enjoyable one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I want to move to Norway...

Seriously, I am thinking of emigrating to Norway, just for the free ski lessons...

"Needy immigrants settling in Baerum, just west of Oslo, can get a full range of services aimed at helping them adjust to life in Norway. Slalom skiing courses, dance and trips to mountain cabins are among the things on offer."

Monday, May 30, 2005

Comparing Constitutions

Here is a completely irrelevant comparison between the US Constituition and the EU Constitution:

First 175 Words of the US Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.
Section 1.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.
Clause 1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Clause 2: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.


First 171 words of the EU Constitution:

HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF THE BELGIANS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF DENMARK, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ESTONIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC, HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF SPAIN, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE OF LUXEMBOURG, THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF HUNGARY, THE PRESIDENT OF MALTA, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE NETHERLANDS, THE FEDERAL PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF SWEDEN, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND,

Number of words in the US Constitution: 4,600

Number of words in the EU Constitution: over 60,000 (when traslated to English).


Number of pages to the US Constition: 21

Number of pages to the EU Constiution: 328

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Tip for International Travel

When traveling internationally, I find that following the simple plan to be most effective:

1) If flying to Europe from the States, you will most likely leave in the evening and arrive in the morning. As soon as the plane takes off, start drinking....heavily. After about 4 or five whiskeys, combined with the altitude and the meal, you should feel nappy time sneaking upon you quickly. Give into the dark side and go to sleep. When you wake up, you will be in Europe with nothing but a slight hangover and a bit of dry spittle on your chin. At this point, treat it like another other Tuesday and start drinking coffee and proceed throughout your day. That night, booze it up again, and when you wake up, you should be all set on local time.

2) If flying to South America, you will probably have a day flight and will arrive some time in the evening. As soon as you land and drop your bags off at wherever you are staying, go out drinking...heavily. You will most likely be tired from your flight, so have a couple of drinks and force yourself to stay up until your normal bed time back in the states, only do it to the local time. When you wake up, you will have a small hangover, and possibly a Bolivian prostitute in your bed. Pay her, send her on her way, and the start your day like you do every other day, lots of coffee.

So there you go! Everything you ever need to fight jet lag.


*This has been a public service announcement from the proprietors of Gilly's World.*

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Learning the lesson the hard way

Much has been made of the entire Isikoff Newsweek story. If you happen to have been living an austere Ossama Bin Laden cave dwelling with no high speed Internet access lifestyle for the last week you can catch up here and here.

About 9 months ago, I wrote a post on the blogosphere as it relates to credibility and sourcing. The analogy and point I made is this:

In the Tour De France (and other professional cycling events) there is something akin to Roving Justice. If someone makes a failed breakout move from the peloton (the pack where everyone else is), and they are caught by the field, they are basically moved to the back of the pack. Other cyclists won't let the rider get back into place and the cyclist will be pushed to the rear. The unspoken rule is not to mess with the group if you aren't good enough to pull it off.

But the blogosphere can be vicious when it comes to those who try to play fast and loose with the truth. Fact checking and sourcing is mandatory to survive in blog punditry. With so many blogs out there looking to make a name for themselves, unsourced stories are pounced upon and those found lacking are as well pushed to the back?

Blogging is truly revolutionary as a media concept these days in the simple fact that it regulates itself with ruthless efficiency.

Many of the consumers of these blogs are also competitors, which is something we don't see with mainstream media. Add into the mix the fact that there is no subscription fees to read blogs, brand loyalty can only be maintained by providing a superior (and accurate) product.


While the MSM has continued to mock bloggers as pajama wearing hacks with no editorial control, we have seen what can happen to MSM when it succumbs to the lack of editorial control that it claims moral authority over.

In reading the various posts in the blogosphere, I have seen a variety of reactions. Some people have thought of a Newsweek book burning exercise. Others are saying that the blood of those killed is on their hands. Never to be outdone, the Kos Kids are siding with the extremists and think that the Newsweek admittance is just a conservative witch hunt against the truth.

What do I think should happen? Nothing. Nothing will bring the dead people back. And nothing less than a front page cover story of a retraction and than explanation as to why the Editorial Board failed so miserably in their jobs to confirm this story will do anything to help Newsweek's credibility. But as I said in my analogy above, those who play fast and loose with the rules will be pounced upon viciously. A once somewhat respected periodical will be reduced to nothing more than a Supermarket tabloid.

In the days before blogs, there was no need for MSM to check itself. And there was even less reason for the competitors in the industry to try to and sniff out false stories. After all if they were all trying to discredit each other, it would lead to what would more or less be a price war where nobody wins. But blogs have changed that. There is now that independent (and widely read) observer to what MSM is and has been doing.

At some point, parts of the MSM will start to really understand blogs and the power that is the Internet (with much thanks to Google). And until they really catch on, I think we will see more of these self-important journalists pushed to the back of the peloton.

(Kos Link via LGF)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Good News You Missed

Arthur Chrenkoff brings his weekly Good News From Iraq segment to a whole new level with
href="http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/05/12/opinion/20050513_opchart.html">this.

H/T: Instapundit

Friday, May 13, 2005

After College, I Swore No More Tests

Untill I came across this one on Orge's site. Take if for yourself to see where it says you belong....

My Result said that I was an Enterpriser who believes in free markets, am aggressive on foreign policy and security, and am very little support for government help to the poor with a strong belief that individuals are responsible for their own well being.

So, it makes me sound like a cold hearted jerk...yep, that sounds about right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My Suggestion for Conclave

If the various restraining orders that the Vatican has filed on me are any indication, the Catholic Church really isn't interested in any of my kick ass ideas.

This week we saw the election of Pope Benedict XVI, so I would like to extend my congratulations to the Holy See for his landslide victory (Hell, I don't even think that Bush carried Texas with more than 2/3 the vote).

But in thinking about the entire process, something really bothered me...

You see, the Pope is about as close to God as you can get in human form for the Catholic faith. I'm not saying the Pope is God. But you have to imagine that when the Pope dies, he pretty much goes to the "10 Sins or Less" line at the Pearly Gates.

But with conclave, you have fallible humans electing someone to this lofty and prestigious position. Church law is fallible because it is written by man, and the process is fallible because it is conducted by men (sorry ladies).

And since the whole basis of Christian faith is based on the tenant of Free Will, you have to think that maybe these folks get it wrong every once in a while.

So I have a solution:

Instead of having the Cardinals elect the Pope, we should draw it out of a hat.
All of the Cardinals eligible to be Pope would put their names in the Papal Hat, and someone would shake it up, and then a name would be drawn.

Now, before you condemn me to Hell, I have a reason behind this. If you believe in God, wouldn't you want God to have a hand in all of this? I mean, leaving the leader of your faith in the hands of a bunch of fallible humans is a huge ass risk. So I think we'd all feel a little more comfortable if the "Hand of God" had a little more to do with the entire process.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

We'll look back on those days fondly.

Cheap Oil. I remember those days. From cheap oil we got cheap gas. Well, cheap in comparison to now. I remember being in the South in the late 90'S and being able to pay less than 90 cents per gallon in South Carolina. In Vermont, these days, it costs me about $2.17 a gallon. The price of a barrel of oil has been bouncing around the $50 mark for several months now, and there is no indication that it will fall any time soon in fact, most experts are looking for the price of oil to increase consistently from this point out.

So what's going on here? Well, the unfortunate answer is that the market is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: finding the equilibrium price. With the growth of the global economy (especially in Asia) the demand on petroleum has gone up with the amount being produced staying steady. And when demand outstrips supply, prices go up. There are three basic geographical components to this:

Asia:

Unless you think the growth of the Indian and Chinese economies are just fads? This is a trend that will be maintained without any signal of reversing itself. As China moves itself from an agrarian economy into an industrialized one, it will continue to consume more petroleum in order to run its infrastructure. Indian growth has to a larger extent been a technological one (whereas the Chinese growth has more largely come from manufacturing), but the result has been the same: an increase in consumption of energy.

Europe:

A strong component to the new European Union has been the dispersal of developmental funds. Where Western Europe has a new playground for cheap labor in the Eastern part of Europe, any move to the East to produce goods and services will increase energy consumption in that part of the world. Are you willing to bet that as Europe strives toward being a global economic power bloc that it will do so only in an energy conservative manner? Neither am I.

Another aspect of this is that Europeans are used to paying prices that Americans would balk at. $6 for a gallon of gas? They're used to it, we're not. Then again, Europeans have altered much of their societal habits when it comes to transportation so that the amount of gas that they typically consume on an average basis is lower than their American counterpart.

The United States:

We love energy! And we use a lot of it too! The US uses more energy than any other nation on Earth (we also drive more of the global economy than anyone else too, but that is another topic for another day). From the late 60's and early 70's you saw a demographic change in terms of how and where middle class American started moving. Suburban sprawl became a thing of the present as more and more Americans sought out the American dream by moving to the Burbs. Of course, they still had to get to work. So we started driving further and further to get to work and spent more and more time in cars. As our ability to produce more petroleum hasn't increased much in the last few decades, we have continued to use more and more oil (part of this is natural as our population has increased and another part is simply our choice to drive less efficient cars).

There has been a recent turn in the automotive industry to produce more efficient cars. Not surprisingly, it has been foreign automakers that have beaten the Big Three automakers to that punch. Honda has several different models that follow the hybrid model

and are able to get over 40 mpg. This last year, Ford introduced the Escape Hybrid, which uses hybrid technology and is also able to be driven in what they call All Wheel Drive? But the problem for the United States is that while these new model vehicles are a start in reducing oil consumption, the percentage that these models are to the market is so small that they have made no discernible change to the amount of oil consumed on a daily basis.

As the global economy continues to grow, the demand for energy will continue to grow as well. And as demand grows, so will the price for fuels.

I don't see there being any dramatic change in the consumption habits in Asia, Europe or the United States. The only thing that would drive such a change would be an energy crisis on the scale of what we saw in the early 70's. The problem with that is that to correct such a crisis, there would have to be rapidly enacted reforms and self imposed behavioral modifications that I don't think that either the American people or the American people are able to handle. Continued strains on production abroad will force both consumers and businesses to pay more for what is considered a necessity.

The irony is that if tomorrow gas dropped to $1.00 a gallon, consumption would only grow at an even faster rate than it is now. Non-renewable energy is funny that way.

Monday, April 11, 2005

White House Fun

Well, being Easter and all, the White House is having its annual Easter Egg Hunt on the White House Lawn. It's a tradition going back decades.

Rumor has it that this year's winner will be sent to Iraq to hunt for WMDs.

Subscribe the NYT or NUCLEAR WAR!!!

It's Saturday so of course North Korea is threatening the US with nuclear war. God, Kim Jong-Il is such a drama queen. Not a week goes by that he doesn't threaten someone with a nuclear weapon that he may or may not have. If it wasn't for the fact that I still have 6 years and 60,000 miles left on my Hyundai warranty, I'd say we get the hell out of S. Korea and let them deal with the wacko.

I swear, the guy threatens war over the stupidest little things. Like last week. I got a call from Kim Jong-Il and it went something like this:

KJI: He'woh. Is this Gilly?
Me: Yes
KjI: Your kitty had defiled its litter box! You will..
Me: What?
KJI: I said your kitty has defi...
Me: I heard you the first time, but how did...
KJI: You will....
Me: how did you know?
KJI: we just know! you will empty this box of death or we will declare NUCLEAR WAR!!!!
Me: nuclear war?
KJI: Yes
Me: on my kitty?
KJI: Yes, No!!! On you.
Me: On me and my cat?
KJI: No!!!! On America
Me: Um, ok, I'll get right on that...
KJI: And your cat food....not good for kitty's coat. You will switch to MaoMix or you will have NUCLEAR WAR!!!!
ME: Mao Mix?
KJI: Yes. It's very good. I use it on my cats and the are as happy as those cats on the television commercials I don't allow my people to watch...very happy.
Me: Ok, Kim, I trust you.
KJI: Very happy...
Me: Um, ok, yeah, happy. I got to go and fix that 'litter box of death" so I've got to let you go...
KJI: Change it or you will have NUC...
Me: Yeah, Yeah, I got you the first time, nuclear war....bye. click

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Won't this day ever be over?

God, I hate April Fools Day. Another day for lame people to try and pull even lamer pranks...

Like participating in an Easter Egg Hunt, or going Trick or Treating, this day should not be celebrated by anyone over the age of 7.

Please spare me lame pranks and fake news. Here's one for ya':

"I've got diarrhea, and I'm wearing your underwear...April Fools!"

No thanks...keep the shorts anyways, and thanks for playing.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Scenes from Burlington, VT #238

I have a neighbor in my apartment complex who is about 9 years old. And every day I see him hanging out with whom I can only assume are his two friends, his dog and a snow shovel.

Now, it might seem mean to consider his dog one of his only friends, but I have to believe that the dog isn't even really on his side, and is kind of forced to hang out with the kid. The snow shovel is the thing that kind of throws me though. Over the last week or so, we have had incredibly warm weather (if by incredibly warm, you mean 45 degrees). Thusly, most of the snow has melted away, so there really isn't anything to shovel. And in my infinite kindness, I have given the shovel the name "Scrapey".

At first I thought the kid was trying to use the shovel to clean up after the dog, but after seeing the dog do it's business on the lawn, and then watching him, the kid and Scrapey walk away, I concluded that the shovel meant a hell of a lot more to the kid than cleaning up after the pooch.

So the kid, the dog and Scrapey are out playing today and I am watching this unfold from my back deck. The kid starts scooping the water on the ground and I thought "Hmm...maybe he is trying to get the water to go into the sewer. No such luck, he was shoveling the water uphill, so that it would come right back down to him and reform the same puddle. That seemed a lot more of a self occupational activity than an actual chore.

And the thing about me saying that the dog wasn't much on the kids side? The dog lays down in the puddle...

Yeah, this place rocks the house....

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Post in Which I solve all of Gemany's Problems*

* Well, the problem they are having today.

Nearly a quarter of western Germans and 12 percent of easterners want the Berlin Wall back.

Those wacky Germans! I think the last time we let them have an opinion, it led to the Second World War. All seriousness aside, I think I see their point:



The Berlin Wall was breached on Nov. 9, 1989, paving the way for the unification of Communist East Germany with the West on Oct. 3, 1990. But billions of euros (dollars) spent rebuilding the east have failed to prop up the depressed region, which is plagued by high unemployment and a shrinking population.



But I have a solution! I think they should build another wall! Only this time make it about 3 ft high. And it should have those little gates that allow wheel chairs to pass thought (we have to be considerate of the handi-capable).

This would certainly put a lot of people back to work. And by only making it 3 ft tall, you could still have conversations with people on the other side.

"Hey, Hans! How's the weather over on your side?"

"Not bad, Helmut. You should be expecting a little rain later today."

Brilliant Idea, you say!

"But Gilly, since we already know you're the smartest person in Vermont, how would you pay for this wall?"

Easy. They would be able to sell advertisements along the wall, just like they do for the outfield fences at Little League baseball parks.

"This part of the Wall is brought to you by 'Zimmerman Urinals: Wouldn't using a Zimmerman Urinal be more comfortable than this wall?"

Plus they could use it as a tourist draw:

"Visit Beautiful Deutchland. 1000 years of history...and the world's longest billboard!"

Man, do I rule.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Could you narrow that down a couple of hundred million?

From the Bitch Girls:

Hunter Mark Smith welcomes wild birds on to his property, but if he sees a cat, he thinks the "invasive" animal should be considered fair game.
The 48-year-old firefighter from La Crosse has proposed that hunters in Wisconsin make free-roaming domestic cats an "unprotected species" that could be shot at will by anyone with a small-game license.

His proposal will be placed before hunters on April 11 at the Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearings in each of the state's 72 counties.
...
Smith's proposal has horrified cat lovers, but is seen by others as a way to stop cats from killing wild birds.

University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife ecology professor Stanley Temple, who trapped more than 100 cats and analyzed their stomach contents during a four-year study, has estimated that between 7.8 million and 219 million birds are killed by rural cats in Wisconsin each year.


Between 7.8 million and 219 million? I mean, if it were 219 million, I might move to Wisconsin just for the sport of it. But 7.9 million? Doesn't really motivate me to make the drive...

Friday, March 11, 2005

Energy Undependence (the next Bushism?)

In the summer of 2003, after the start of the Iraq War, I became very interested in alternative energy. Being a news and politics junkie, I had given much reflection to the causes and effects of the foreign policy issues facing America and the string of events

that had led us to this point in our history. I began a self taught crash course in the basics of fuel cell technology, and even pondered going back to school to get degrees in electrochemical engineering so that I could pursue a career in developing hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.

My thought at the time was that because of dependence on foreign sources of energy, the US was not self sufficient enough to be able to sidestep fluctuations in energy indexing due to external political events. I scoured my basement and the neighborhood and

scrounged up enough parts to build myself a rudimentary wind powered electrical generator. It worked, somewhat. Living in Illinois, I had more than my fair share of wind, and I was able to move some electrical current with my little (and I do mean little) device.

The entire exercise was more or less to prove a point that it would be possible to make enough electricity to attain hydrolysis, and therefore be able to separate the hydrogen from oxygen in water and get hydrogen fuel. I am sure that most of us remember this experiment in high school chemistry class.

As time passed, so did my desire to endure another 5-7 years in a University. But my desire to see the US more energy independent has never waned.

Last week, I found an article by Fareed Zakaria claiming a bold idea,driving a car that could get 500 miles per gallon of gasoline. On the surface, you'd think it was either science fiction or something out of the Sierra Club. But as I read further, and did some of my own research, I began to slowly warm to the idea that this could be a possibility?

The premise behind the 500 miles per gallon of gasoline idea rests in a couple of different components mixed together. The first is the hybrid car technology. This technology is currently available and has been gaining speed over the last few years. Essentially, your car uses both electricity and gas to move you down the road. At slower speeds, your car would use an electrical battery to move the car. When you needed a boost of speed or get to a higher speed, say on the highway, your car would switch from battery to gas seamlessly. By mixing the two technologies, your car would use less gas overall. Imagine all the time you spend in stop and go traffic. The propulsion responsibilities would be solely run on the electric battery, and not gas. There are other things that make this happen, like regenerative breaking, but I'll let you read about them here.

The second premise is an unsourced statistic that says that most people only drive 20 miles a day. Now, I probably drive a little

less than that during the week to and from work. For this type of driving, it was proposed that you plug your car into the electrical outlet in your garage and during your commute, you would only use a charged battery. Now this idea came around during the
late 90's and failed for a couple of reasons. First of all, people thought that all it would do would be to run up your home electrical bill. Secondly, it just didn't seem like you could get all that far on a battery. And the third point was that it didn't seem logical that you could get the power and performance out of a battery driven automobile. And I will concede those points.

The third part of the puzzle was what is called E85 and Flexible Fuel
Vehicles
. Flexible fuel vehicles are those which can not only burn gasoline, but also Ethanol based fuels. It costs about another $100 to make your car capable of using Ethanol.

Ethanol is an alcohol that is derived from starches, mostly corn. Currently, there is an Ethanol fuel that is available in the Midwest (they had to do something with all that corn) that is 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline. The name? E85 (they not only grow corn in the Midwest, but they are clever with their naming conventions too). Cars that have the Flexible Fuel tank and lines can use both

regular gasoline, as well as E85. It doesn't make a whole lot of difference to the car. In fact, E85 burns cleaner than gasoline because is has a higher oxygen component.

Now, the 500 miles per gallon of gasoline figure comes from the idea that if you use hybrid technology (which gets you a higher mpg because part of your distance uses battery), plus the plug in feature, plus using E85 (which only uses 15% of the gasoline that gas does), you will get this amazing distance out of a gallon of gas.

The biggest problem with this concept is that you are not getting 500 miles per gallon of fuel. So people shouldn't expect to put $2.00 of E85 into their tank every other week and expect to be fine. It just wonꊰ happen. But what would happen is that you would be using less petroleum based fuels (you know, like oil, which is located in a pretty crappy part of the world).

So I had to ask myself, how much would a gallon of E85 cost in comparison to regular 87?? Well, I did the research so you don't have to.

I called a couple of service stations that carry E85 and asked them the prices for a gallon of each:

FairFax Mobil Mart
Fairfax, MN
E85: $1.79
R87: $1.90

Phillips 66
Rockford, IL
E85- $2.01
R87- $2.09

Speedway
Hillard, OH
E85- $2.15
R87- $2.15

In each of these stations, the price of E85 either matched or beat the price of Regular 87 Octane. Not too shabby. And before you start complaining that I am cooking the books, feel free to look up any of those stations if you wish.

Now, I don't have much faith in Americans plugging in their cars at night. But I do have faith in both hybrid technology and E85. If there was a major push by not only the Administration, but that American consumer as well, we could slowly start to diminish the amount of petroleum needed to be imported on a daily basis to get us where we need to be (which for me is either work, the beach or the bar).

500 miles per gallon of gas? I don't see it as a commonplace thing. I think that with current hybrid technology, you could only push it to about 100 miles per gallon of gas. But if it were to only cost me $100 to have the option on my new car, I would consider it.

For more information on the project to make this reality, visit the obviously biased link here (pdf).

Monday, March 7, 2005

Quote of the Week

From Arthur Chrenkoff-

It might help that, as I wrote yesterday, George W. is built from a different stuff than his father. Bush Sr. might not have finished the job even if the rest of the world was with him; Bush Jr. might finish the job even if the rest of the world is against him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Thursday, February 3, 2005

State of the Union Speech

A-

It was much better than the speech he gave last year.

He had a lower number of points that he covered, which allowed him to go further in depth on each of them. Last years call for a ban on steroids in pro sports was just lame when you are still in the middle of a war.

He looked confident when he entered the chamber and started with a great reference to Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Ukraine. There was more speech and less applause than last year's, which I actually enjoyed.

He still pronounced it "nucular". But, what are you going to do?

At one point I think he was singing the "Social Security Boos". Buy his argument was a decent place for him to start selling his plan.

The call for more DNA evidence and better trained defense lawyers brought everyone back into the fold.

Was it me, or was he calling for a velvet revolution in Iran?

Obviously, the most powerful parts related to Safia Taleb al-Suhail. Bobby Jindal was there, purple

finger in the air. The hug that she and Byron Norwood's mother shared nearly brought me to tears.

I thought his ending was excellent. IT was powerful, direct, and inspiring.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Random thought of the day

When you're 8 years old, one of the worst things that can happen to you is to get cooties from a girl.

By the time your 80, you're probably pretty happy to get cooties for someone. At least it would mean

that you're still getting some.*

* By some I mean sex.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Global Warming My Ass

It's -11 in Burlington, VT today.

Any colder, and Al Gore would be holding a press conference berating the President on not signing the Kyoto Treaty.

Then again, I am suprised we haven't heard John Kerry demand that Bush "get tough" with Canada for sending us their cold air.

I invite any Global Warming activist to come up here and get me some Dunkin Donuts coffee in their underware. It's easy to be a hippy when you are warm and in your house.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Why Apple is good for America

I'll be upfront. I don't own a MAC. Used them before, sure. But I don't own one and I don't plan to in the next 5 years (or how ever long before my Dell decided to die). I have never used an Ipod. Seen it. Heard lots about it. Even seen the commercials. But I've never used and Ipod.

But I think Apple is great for America, and here is why.

It's about capitalism, free markets, and competition.

If there has been one thing Apple has done poorly with over the last 20 years, it has been its ability to market itself to the population as a whole. The Mac OS is stable, easy to use, and visually attractive.

So attractive that Microsoft decided to rip much of it off and sell as its own invention.

Mac users are a strange, cult like bunch. Many tell me that they will never go back to the digital slavery that Bill Gates commands.

So, why would I ever switch from a PC to a Mac? That is the question that I ask. And I have found no answer. What is worse is that in all my years of television commercial watching, Apple has never given me an answer either.

The vast majority of Americans over the age of 30 first got to know computers from their work place.

Those of us under 30 may remember using the Apple IIE in the classroom. But wholesale everyday use of the desktop computer was mostly a business affair because of the prohibitive costs involved. It took about 10 years for that transition from work related PC use to home use take become a necessity. The evolution of the Internet to bring mindboggling amounts of pornography to your home computer had much to do with that. And in that time, a large portion of America became entrenched in MS product usage. There was no need for PC users to buy a home computer than wasn't compatible with what they were using at work and there was even less a desire to learn how to use a new operating system. Especially one whose major selling point was better visual graphics/visual editing.

And outside of the Mac OS, Apple had never been able to bring in newer technology/products that would give anyone the need to take more interest in the company's technological advances.

Until the IPod.

When marketing a product to a potential client base, the most important thing is to show the customer why they need to have your merchandise. The goal is to establish a beachhead in the customers' minds as the importance of your product to their everyday lives. And just as having 10 years of PC work related experience gave home users a reason to buy a PC for their home, by Apple making the IPod a personally important product to have, they will give people a reason to look at their Mac OS as a viable home computer option.

The introduction of the MiniMac is another step forward for Apple in breaching the wall Microsoft has built for itself around the consumers?buying habits. By making a computer that already fits all of the peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse) that the consumer already has, it makes it easier for people to just try the Mac platform. And being just $499, it is priced at such a point that some people will buy it just to give it a chance.

All of this goes back to one of the main pillars of capitalism and open markets: competition.

Competition leads to innovation. But when the MS platform is run on over 75% of all of the computers in the world, there isn't much need to make better and more stable products. By combining humans' love for music (IPod) with a viable and competitively priced product for home/work usage (Mac), Apple is finally looking to give people a viable alternative to Microsoft based products. If Apple can continue to incorporate their products with open standards technology (tech that is OS platform neutral) it should be able to continue its slow erosion of the MS Empire on our daily lives. And in the end, if that happens, MS will be forced to make better and more stable products. Everyone wins.

Who knows, maybe someday I'll own a Mac. But until that happens, I will continue to root for the underdog. It can only make the PC better, and that is great for America.


Update: I was just rereading the MiniMac page. I want one. Bad. IPod too. Accepting

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