Saturday, December 28, 2019

On Improving Delivery Infrastructure

You've seen the trucks strung along for miles on the open road. Long lines of 'em bringing goods to the masses. Watching them, I had some thoughts on how to improve things...


  • Reduce conflicts: give them their own lane, accessible only to trucks;
  • Improved eficiency: them to couple together a longer string of trailers, so that only one truck is pulling many trailers;
  • Improve energy generation systems: design them with a hybrid drivetrain system, like maybe the diesel engine actually drives an electrical generator, and the traction motors are instead electric;
  • Improve safety: the driver can manage the energy but instead of rubber on asphalt we could install some kind of rail system to guide the rig to avoid traffic conflicts, the truck/trailers will be steered by these rails;
  • Give the truckers a horn that they can honk at cars at intersections.

I'm shocked no one has ever thought of this before.

Monday, December 2, 2019

On Moving to Natural Gas...

I called our gas company a few years ago about switching from home heating oil. Here's how the conversation went.

<Cheerful voice> "Hello, thank you for calling XXXXXX! How can I help you?"

"Hi, I'd like to switch to natural gas from home heating oil. Can you help me?"

"Yes sir, I'd be glad to! Please give me your address."

"1212 Anywhere Lane, Middletown CT"

"Thank you! Give me a moment here...<tap, tap, tap, tap, tap>...yes sir, I think we can help you! We'd be glad to have you as a customer!"

"Ok, I see you're advertising some specials, price reductions on boilers, etc...?"

"Yes sir! Let me get a total here...please stand by...Ok, we can switch you to natural gas and we'll sign you up, install the equipment, give you a state rebate for the switch, and give you a reduction for your first year's for annual delivery. How does that sound?"

"Excellent! So what's the cost to switch?"

"Ok, sir, stand by by for a moment...<tap, tap, tap, tap, tap>...OK, total initial investment will be $283,432.68."

"Um...what?"

"$283,432.68."

"Did you say Two Hundred and Eighty Three THOUSAND dollars?? That's a joke, right?"

"Oh no sir! Thing is, we do not have a main going down your street, so we'd have to extend the main to your street. Fortunately, there's one just around the corner, so we'd do all the work, get the permitting, perform the street work, and then once that main is down your street we'd attach your house to it and now you're heating your home with efficient, less expensive natural gas!"

"So I'd have to pay for all the construction cost for installing a main down my street?"

"Yes sir! Would you like me to place the order now?"

"Um, no....but if I did, would I get a rebate or cut of the sales for all the other homeowners that then tap into the line I just paid to have installed?"

"No sir, sorry. Are you sure you don't want me to place the installation order now?"

"Um, yes, thanks."

"OK, sir, I understand, but if you change your mind please do call us at 1-800-XXXXXXX! Thanks for calling!"

Bah-doom-BASH!!

Friday, March 29, 2019

On Driver's Schools

A buddy asks..."So you've driven 43 (or whatever) race tracks...how many have you been upside down on?" And I reply, "TWO! What's the other one?"

The other one was...Hallett Motor Speedway.

I did my two driver's schools at Texas World Speedway in 1984 (1985?) so signed got off for the Regional license. But I learned that as long as you're on a Novice Permit they can't block you from a driver's school which is the best frackin' track/butt-time value on the planet...

So I entered the Hallett driver's school that next month. I don't remember the exact name of my instructor for that third school - I wish I did, 'cause I want to have a beer with him - but he knew I was signed off and he was just baby-sitting me and was all about having a good time and pushing me to go faster. At some point he convinced me - either he really believed it, or he thought I'd get the joke - that I could do Turn One (counterclockwise) - at Hallett flat out.

So, of course, being all piss and vineger, after a couple laps I tried Hallett Turn One flat out. Until I got halfway through Turn One, then decided I couldn't do Turn One flat out, and then bailed out, and then realized that wasn't gonna work either.

But yeah, too late. I ended up backwards, driver's door to tire wall at a good clip and the car popped up off the ground and began rotating, along with the view out of the windshield. I see sky, then grass , then sky, then tires, then THUMP I'm on my head. A couple more bumps and it settles down and gets mostly quiet. I'm confused, trying to figure out where I am...

I shake it off and realize the world isn't as I intended. I reach down to grab the lever to release the belts and the very instant after I move that lever I remember I'm upside down and the science of gravity takes over to move my...a-hem, midsection...into the solidity of the steering wheel and I remember getting hit there hurts...trying to scramble sideways out an open window while hoping there's no fire...some guy in whites, out of breath, runs up to me (huffing in between breaths "are...you...ok???") while I'm still upside down, asking me if I'm okay...and there's this strange smell of fuel and hypoid gear oil (I still hate the smell of that stuff today...)

I'd just wrecked my ride home.

After some moments of time, which seemed like an hour but were more like 3 minutes, I'm watching some wrecker guys trying to roll over my primary (only) street car off a tire wall while I look up the hill at both my school instructor (on his scooter) and my then-girlfriend who came with me with her hands across her mouth...then I look to my right to some guy standing next to me, looking at my car all up against the tire wall.

I look over and give him the "hey" what's up eyebrow flash. He turns to me, points to the car, and says, "that you?" I look down at my driver's suit, then at the car, and then back at him and respond, cleverly, "yup".

He looks over to the car, then to the tire wall, then back at me, and says, "You know, no matter how far back I move that wall, you guys always seem to find a way to hit it."

Turns out he was the track owner.

I had no response.

Funny part is, if'n I'd not have bailed out in the middle of that turn, I probably actually coulda done Turn One at Hallett flat out...oh, well.