Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Prius is a Lie


Hybrid Cake
You've heard it recently; "I was stuck behind a Prius on the way to work again"

A few yeas ago it was pickups, later SUV's we were getting stuck behind, now it's hybrids. It's not the Prius itself. They are a peppy car, maneuverable and quick. They can scoot up a steep grade as quick as any vehicle it's size, maybe quicker. And you really can't blame the drivers, though you want to, as they are well meaning but delusional. Who or what should we blame?

It's the Lie. 

A few years ago there was a popular meme on the internet, it was "The cake is a lie." It was used in random irc and discussion boards to indicate you are being fooled or having your leg pulled. It comes from a video game in which you, as a player, are promised cake, but it never materializes. The Prius is a lie. You believe the lie when you purchase a hybrid and then when you find its not real you ignore that fact and try and create the cake in your mind. The rest of us suffer from your delusion by getting stuck behind you on the freeway. Let it go, you can not get 50 plus miles per gallon. 

The engine used in a Prius is de-rated. That means it is not as powerful as it's full rated version used in other cars such as the Yaris. The Yaris can get 40 miles per gallon so how can a version that is not as powerful get better? It can not, don't argue, think. It's a hybrid, it runs on batteries part of the time. It can travel fifty miles and use a gallon of gas, technically it can travel even further using only a gallon. If you are running the engine to move the car you measure the distance you travel and fuel used in mpg or miles per gallon.  I have seen records of the early Prius going 26 mpg. The newer ones can do much better, maybe 35 mpg. When you switch over to batteries you no longer use fuel so you can no longer log miles on gas. You are now traveling on Kilovolt hours. You don't hear any one bragging about kVh in their Prius, but they should. Again, the newer cars do better in that area than the older ones.  

Am I being nitpicky? OH Hell Yes!!! We are now to the root of the problem. As the batteries age they lose efficiency. The drivers realizing that tend to take it easy on them. Climbing a steep grade with less power in gas, and batteries no longer at their peak, causes the drivers to hold back. Traffic is held back behind them. Long stretches on the highway can do this as well. Even worse are the "50 milers," those owners who actually do travel further than fifty miles using a gallon. They use all the fuel efficiency tricks we have known about for years. Including driving 55 in a 65 zone. Which would be OK if they stay in the slow lane but due to high tire inflation and rough roads from truck traffic, the slow lane is uncomfortable. So they move into the fast lane. We have name for these people but I won't repeat it now.

Just saying...    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cash Divide

Cash is a burden on our society.
The other day I was in a big box store and was selecting a line in which to check out. There was a "Fast Check" for 10 items or less with 2 people standing in line and there was a regular line with one person and maybe 30 items. I wisely chose the fast check lane. Wise I say, because it taught me a lesson, and any time you choose to learn is wise.

Getting to my point, the person in the regular line was out the door and the next person with a large cart of merchandise was half complete before we started checking. As you have most likely concluded by the title of this story, cash was the reason it was slow. Or to be precise the interchange of a cash transaction when one or both parties are mathematically challenged was the issue. Two transactions with cash took longer than the quick swipe of a card.

In the William Gibson novel "Neuromancer" published in 1984, society had stopped using cash and had adopted a token that could let the inhabitants exchange monies electronically. With current technologies and applications such as Square Wallet and Paypal Here, we are technologically at the point where this can be a reality. There is a coffee shop near my work where I can walk in and tell them to use Square. They see my image on the screen which validates identity and they can debit my account. I don't even have to get my phone out. It's also possible to accept a credit card at your garage sale from your neighbor.

Technology is here but society is fighting it. Change is difficult for those locked in their 18th century bunkers.