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."



"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!"