Constant fueling

October 29th, 2009

~ Stop the Stations.

It’s been snowing in Albuquerque.  It snowed for about an hour then ended as most snows in Albuquerque end, short and white and then a spate of blue skies and warmer weather.  Thought you should know.

Yesterday I was talking a bit about birds.  They are constant fuelers.  It is why they can fly.  Bird bodies are designed with a very fast metabolism that needs a lot of fuel to keep aloft.  The bigger birds, less swift and less efficient, carry a lot of this fuel with them.  These are the heavy birds of prey, vultures and condors and eagles; the type of bird that eats carrion and needs fresh meat and can’t kill things all the time or can’t even find things dead to eat (all of the time).

The constant fuelers are the smaller lighter birds.  They eat seeds and nuts and berries and like robins a worm or two or insect on the wing (eats the wings too).  Eat a little, fly a little.  Fuel and refuel constantly.  These birds are sleek and swift and efficient.  The nature model of course was inspired by a certain ruminating about electric buses; those in San Francisco.  I rode the electric buses in San Francisco in the olden days, green things really painted green and cream as these were the Muni colors.  Muni stood for Municipal Railway which was what the streetcars were and the cable cars pretended to be and the diesel buses were not as they had no rails either overhead or underground or even surface with which they were meant to follow.

The “rails” of course were there for fueling.  The streetcars and the electric buses were electric.  The cable cars were electric too, cables under the street always moving 24/7 or something close; kept moving by great electric motors located at the center of the system.  You can see the motive barn and museum if you go to San Francisco today.  Wear flowers in your hair.  Electricity can be so very green when it’s falling water that keeps it flowing, like from Hetch Hetchy in the Sierras owned by the City of San Francisco – but, I forget myself.  This post is about electric cars, not water.

The human body carries about three days of water and 21 days of fuel around in it.  It’s a lot of weight.  The weight slows the body down, impedes mobility, makes it hard to walk and lift and glide across the surface of the earth or planet or wherever you think you are.  Weight is like that.  The Wright Brothers first flight was short because of the dearth of fuel on board; like birds the craft was designed to fly and land and refuel and fly again – short soaring, short flights of fancy, a flyer that ate small meals of petroleum jelly or something like that – not aviation fuel.

I guess you get the drift of where this post is going.  Planes and cars and trucks are heavy with fuel so tend to be very inefficient.  They need all the fuel on board to get to their destination before they leave.  Much of the energy consumed by these devices is used just to carry the fuel necessary to get to the destination.  Electric trams and constant fueling devices don’t have this problem, don’t carry the wasted weight.  They are like birds, light and free and swift of wing or at least of wheel.

Some may disagree with me, but this I think is the real lesson of 9/11.  Too much fuel aboard and all you’re left with is a bomb.  The inherent inefficiency of jet aircraft was clearly demonstrated by the trade towers demonstration.  Nothing too bad would have happened if the transportation devices were designed with constant fueling in mind instead of carry the load theories of fuel.  Now lets talk a bit more seriously about the advantages of electricity assuming a constant fueling apparatus.

EV (Electric Vehicle) fueling stations are not the answer.  Big batteries in cars are not the answer.  Fuel on board is not the answer.  There are two kinds of electric cars; efficient ones without big batteries and the wasteful ones that are designed to sell real estate and offer a whole new venue for point of purchase advertising schemes.  Electric cars don’t need stations.  Electric cars do need wires or virtual wires to make them run.  All this was proven in San Francisco.  The big diesel buses filled to capacity could not make it up the hills.  Electric buses with batteries could not make it up the hills.  Electric buses with wires along the way charged up the hills and down them and made everybody happy (so little noise, so little effort, so inexpensive to operate).

So why spend billions of federal dollars creating a network of stations that only entrench an obsolete technology, that of fuel on board?  Why spend billions subsidizing patents on super-batteries that are super heavy and super-wasteful in their very existence?  The Volt (as a concept car) is revolting.  It is wasteful and ridicules.  Real electric cars will be wired, perhaps wired with virtual wires only, but the electric motor (motive) part is so very cheap and easy without the battery and battery weight problem.
It’s not too late to stop the madness of the transportation system of the future.  Batteries are not really green; only their cost is green and in this case the green is just about the money.

Real wires (like the Muni buses and the streetcars had) are probably unnecessary with the technology of today.  Two alternative approaches come to mind.  The first is predicated upon the microwave (beam and dish) transfer of electricity.  The distribution point puts the power out about eight inches above the road and each car has a receiving dish or two that automatically homes in on each frequently spaced transmitter.  The second approach is based on Tesla theory of resonance.  Electrical energy crosses open space by being charged with the appropriate amplitude and frequency.  The bottom line is that wireless electricity is not a new concept nor is it fantasy.  It would not take billions to make it work.

I don’t know how I feel about the future of cars.  They cost too much and the fuel costs too much too.  Trains are so much better and electric trains are the best and meg-lev electric trains are better still.  Is this something that Cramer or Oprah or Paris Hilton has to tell you?  Can no American think for themselves?  Are the experts merely clueless or are they too sold out to make anything really matter?

I grew up with electric trains.  Lionel promoted the third rail (subway) system.  Gilbert kept the rails at two.  I learned everything from this.  Neither Tootsie Toys, nor Dinky Toys, nor Matchbox, nor Hot Wheels ever needed a tank of gas.  These metal cars moved by an unseen hand that pushed them forward across the floor.  Maybe there’s a lesson in that too.  Fueling stations are so obsolete.  If you don’t believe me just fill up on a tank of gas and contemplate what the word “tanked” really means.

This post was originally going to be about slot cars and slot car racing.  Slot cars were electric too, fast things that moved on tracks and by remote control and Wow! were slot cars fun!  That was back in 1965, a toy car I guess; but more, a model.  And so this post ends like another Uncle Wiggly story, no ending at all really, just a teaser for another new beginning.  You can run out of gas; your battery can go dead – but electricity can run you along almost forever.

[2009.10.29 / Thursday – Constant fueling]

Played for a sucker

October 28th, 2009

~ Illusion and waste in a modern America.

I have no idea who Marsha Thole is.  She is not a friend of mine.  Evidently she wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Albuquerque Journal that someone read, others read – I didn’t.  What I did do is pick up on the story in the Letters to the Editor section a few days later (today) and since the letters meshed with the Empire of Illusion (a book that I am reading) I took interest.  In fact, I have taken enough interest as to write this post; which writing posts lately has not seem interesting enough to be worth the effort.  I guess you have noticed.

In fairness I might say that it is raining today in Albuquerque.  It is raining enough as to keep me off the roof and that the roof work (I remind you) is about rain and leaks (leeks too) so it is not good that I am off the roof, but it is good that I am posting.  Marsha Thole may disagree by the time I’m finished with this.

The general idea here is that nobody in America wants to be a sucker.  W.C. Fields was right in his summarization of popular (or media) thought in America, “Never give a sucker an even break”.  I was raised with this mantra; not by my family, but by the media.  Everywhere people (media published people) were extolling the virtues of one-up-man-ship and the fears associated with being a loser.

The concept was that America was an egalitarian place; probably the only egalitarian place on the planet.  Everywhere else (according to this myth) everyone was always being cheated; fairplay was impossible; the privileged and various elites accompanied by various crooks and corrupt officials (and they were always accompanied by these nere-do-wells) always had the upper hand and always used that upper hand to make a mockery of the equality that Americans took for granted.

We must be careful about what “equal” means.  It is a concept.  It means such things as “equal before the law” (not “after” the law).  It means an “equal opportunity”, an “equal chance”, “equal pay for equal work”.  It means of course that there is or should be an “equal playing field” at the outset and it also means of course that there never will be an “equal outcome” to anything – because equality never really means equality.  Real equality is socialism, altruism, Jesusonian idealism and just another word for “sucker”.  And every true American fears more than anything being a sucker.

The concept of equality exists in America to appease the collective guilt that would (and does) arise naturally from participating in and supporting an inherently unfair system.  Altruism is based on the reality that equality does not and cannot exist in an imperfect world – end of discussion.  But altruism holds out the hope, even the promise, that being unequal will not lead to a life or a life experience that is unfair, unjust, monotonous, unfulfilled, wasted, or even wanting.  Altruism is the opposite of capitalism and greed.  True altruism requires the individual to be sensitive to and aware of the shortcomings of others and to desire, to be virtually consumed with the desire, to alleviate the real life needs caused by these shortcomings.  Altruism is never conditioned by convoluted arguments and impractical applications or inventions – it is always simple, and in being simple is always direct.

Sounds like Congress, doesn’t it?  Sounds like George “W” doesn’t it, or Ronald Reagan or LBJ or even FDR?  I think not.  Altruism transcends partisan politics and labeling; it transcends national identities and boundaries.  Altruism is universal as a concept and flourishes mostly where there is the most need and need is not what America is all about so it is no wonder that altruism enjoys such little value as it seemingly does in America.

But the rhetoric gets ahead of me.  Marsha Thole evidently fears that she and others like her are suckers.  They fear that they are working harder and getting less than the poor, the welfare cheats, those born less lucky or less rich than she (but of course she will deny being born “rich”).  She attributes all failure to “bad choices”, as if equality died at birth or even before birth in the case of most of those born to most unwed or unwanted “moms”.  Marsha Thole cannot see the blessings and the advantages that she was born with, that she garnered from the fortunate lives of others.  She cannot see the advantages that she has daily received from the exploitation of other nations, their resources, their labor pools.  She asserts that what she has is hers alone, accomplished by what she alone has done.  She is so very, very wrong.  She has done little or nothing in the greater scheme of things; she has failed to even help her self except at the cost of the attempted ruination and the successful exploitation of others.  And these multitudes of others she does not even know; she cares not that they exist.  She just sees everything as “I” and “My” and “Mine” and fears that she is the sucker not getting an even break.  She’s sad, so sad.  And she Op-Ed’s her sadness.

In reality “bad choices” is owning too many houses, being a landlord or landlady, earning more than $100,000 per person per year (and maybe that’s too much).  Bad choices is doing nothing with ones life except for buying things, buying cars that are excessive, taking too many trips to nowhere and flying first class and eating too well and staying in hotel rooms regularly that are too nice.  A very bad choice is having ones own jet, or having one available, and actually flying in it instead of using it to deliver food to Biafra or medicine to Botswana or someplace not better.

Bad choices is being in the top 1% or wanting to be in the top 1%.  The worst choice is staying there, thinking you deserve anything that the wealth has brought, thinking that you don’t deserve what the hoarding of the unfair wealth will bring.  Being rich is never better; it’s a suckers game; these people don’t deserve an even break.  Give them all the money and be happy for it.  Money becomes worthless when people stop doing things for money.  We get closer every day.

Americans live in the only eco-system based on cash; and we think we are all so “green”.  We do not understand green at all.  Green is not about money, making more of it, being carbon neutral as we squander away our lives.  Green is about leaving berries or worms for the next bird (if you’re a bird); not paying others to build your nest; not expecting to be born owning every feathered nest in town.  America needs a government and a Constitution because most Americans do not have the intelligence of birds, at least those in America in power don’t and those in America that support the power such as it is (don‘t).

On page #127 Chris Hedges presents a twist on the nature of human nature.  He quotes Christopher Peterson who seems to forget that free will exists.  Chris seems rather confused about so many things; but it is clear that he is in it for the money, green guy, not a bird-brain at all.

Who are the real suckers here?  America.  Can you hear me now?

[2009.10.28 / Wednesday – Played for a sucker]

Reconsideration

October 11th, 2009

~ Lincoln Logs, Lego’s, and glue.

I never played with Lego’s.  I played with bricks, with American bricks; they were made of wood blocks with pegs – they were made before Lego’s and plastic but otherwise they were about the same.  The scale of magnitude was of course different.  But this post is not about the differences between Lego blocks and American bricks.

I liked Lincoln Logs too.  You (one) could build houses.  Really ‘log cabins’ like Lincoln, the President; like the one he lived in except nicer, bigger, better roof.  You would take the toy logs and assemble them and build (construct) a one room or maybe two room castle and then put on the roof, maybe using the red or yellow end things and the green slats and then you (one) would marvel at the cabin and look through the door and windows maybe and feel really (really) good about accomplishment and progress and ones ability to be “just like Lincoln” or maybe like any proud owner (builder) of a “cabin in the woods”.

It was like that with bricks, but only better.  I built towers and pyramids and battleships and tanks like my brothers taught me.  We played at war.  Airplanes bombed the armored cars and the Long Toms and everything was made of bricks and the good part was the bricks cane apart and that was why the bombs seemed like they were real or the cascalading fire of explosives (bricks thrown by hand against other bricks assembled) seemed to recreate the carnage of real war and real destruction and reconstructed the fruitless, pointless, purposelessness of real war – build it just to destroy it; but, you don’t really have any idea of what I’m talking about because you never played with bricks.

Lego’s (the Lego blocks) were not like bricks.  They (Lego’s) snapped together with a cold and scientific efficiency.  They held together, they were plastic (not wood) and hence were immortal in the sense that plastic is endlessly recycled and bricks made of wood may rot or burn or warp with water or just waste away someday – dust to dust; it is the transformation thing, not the recycling thing, but who knows about those things anyhow?

Some kids just never got it.  They wanted permanence, not building blocks.  They wanted cities, not Lincoln Logs.  They were model builders; believed that models should never die, thought that each accomplishment was forever; the kind of kid that wanted a trophy for everything.  You know the type.

This kind of kid liked glue.  They preferred “airplane cement”, as if airplanes were really made with cement; never understood ‘lift’ and weight and what really made flight possible; lighter than air; folding paper pages into wings and launching them and watching them glide to earth (or the floor) – we played inside as children, cold days of autumn, five airplanes for a nickel, maybe more.

The real name of course was modeling cement, for use in making models – but most all the models were really airplanes then; ships and submarines were rare, nobody cared about model tanks except the German kids and most of them liked sports cars better; Mercedes Benz, a Chevy convertible, a Cadillac if you could stand to paint it pink or gold – as in solid gold Cadillac – now that was a real car.  Cultural literacy means that you’re still with me.

So “that kind of kid” applied airplane cement to everything.  He would glue his pancakes together if he could.  Maybe it was the vapors.  Maybe glue was sniffed without really sniffing, like trying Mary Jane and not inhaling, Bill Clinton was an airplane cement kind of kid – thought you should know.

These kids would glue Lincoln Logs together.  They just didn’t get it.  They didn’t understand the discovery, experimental nurture nature nature of life.  They wanted trophies and awards and things set in cement and set in stone and things never changing and sought to make everything glued together as if glue was the answer and as if Lincoln Logs and Lego’s should be used only once and then be set aside and plastered with blue ribbons (or red ones) as if they were exhibits at some county (or State) Fair.  Du Pont would make you happy.  Du Pont made airplane glue, other chemicals, one sniff and you knew; childhood should last forever.

This kind of kid has taken over.  She or he can be found on every block.  They are the “leaders” now.  They find their solace only in fixation; they see the flexibility of life as needing glue, glue will fix everything, bond things together, make things “stick”.  Do it once, then forget it.  Make a decision, then “stick” to it.  It’s a world of sticky notes, small pages stuck to larger ones because the larger pages can’t stand alone without getting lost; color outlines, pages flagged with pages with page flags flagged.  It is like a war in Afghanistan.  It is only glue and the glue people that hold it together.

So Obama won the Peace Prize.  And dynamite is the mortar for all the bricks.  And glue will make every Lego better; and where do these kids come from that are so fond of glue?  Silliness has come of age.  Silly people buy silly stocks.  Silly notions about the economy abound.  Silly hopes substitute for serious considerations.  It is silly putty that is now such a good substitute for glue (and glue was such a bad substitute for it all).

I have a dream.  The dream is that the Nobel Prize Committee will reconsider.  They will take back their prize.  They will apologize for their haste.  They will admit that they were just being silly, like kids with glue, some things stick together – others just don’t or shouldn’t or just aren’t a “forever” match.  Let’s face it kids; Obama is not a Peacemaker, doesn’t have it in him.  He likes war too much, likes deaths in Afghanistan, likes troops in India and Italy and Germany and probably France.  O-bomb-a.  It is his first or middle name; war stuff like glue; it’s a part of the guy, can’t dissolve it, it’s a sticky situation almost forever.

So, George Walker Bush got 9-1-1 in his first nine months as president.  Obama got the Peace Prize near the same point in his.  Which one was more unexpected?  Which one was more undeserved?  Which one will lead to the greater calamity in time?  Of course these kids are not fit to be Presidents.  They are like Peter Pan; they don’t believe in growing up, they want Neverland forever.

I favor reconsideration.

[2009.10.11 / Sunday – Reconsideration]

Two weeks and a Cement Roof

October 2nd, 2009

~ Time flies when Chicago is not the town.

The news is that Chicago is a musical, not an Olympic city.  It figures.  Even Eisenhower could not bring the Olympics to Kansas, Truman couldn’t bring them to Missouri, LBJ couldn’t bring the games to Dallas or even Fort Worth or Houston.  San Antonio would have been a good choice, but then again the Alamo might have caused too much intrigue.  An Olympic city must be big.  Maybe the Teheran Olympics would be a good exchange for nuclear power.  But with Obama behind the “Teheran Olympics” there are certain to be other, even better options in the political world of paydirt.

The point is that America, and the American president, does not carry much weight anymore.  My guess is that word is leeking out (or leaking out) about the deficit, the debt, the fact that America cannot and will not pay its bills.  I buy aluminum foil in big thick rolls at home depot.  I try to buy it, that is.  The fact is that Home Depot is short on aluminum; no futures or future it seems.  All the metal worth watching is heavy metal it seems and Home Depot doesn’t sell heavy metals; the company is in enough trouble trying to sell the light weight stuff.  Anyway, that is why I sought out a manager to manage my question about aluminum foil and tin foil hats and maybe it is only the vinyl sinkers that will kill you which is why I think that screws are better and that deck screws are the best; but hey, I’m over sixty now and I might have learned a thing or two in life.

The manager had a lot to say.  He offered to drive all over Albuquerque to find me aluminum so that I could buy it.  I was ready to buy six packs of coke so I could smash the cans flat and use them on my roof.  Things were not that desperate he assured me.  There really were at least twenty rolls of aluminum in all of New Mexico at Home Depots disposal, Lowes maybe had eleven more.  Thirty rolls of aluminum is a lot for any state given the recession and all.  Business is pretty slow and all.  It takes a lot of electricity to make aluminum.  You can’t afford to just have the metal hanging around, unused, waiting for buyers in stores that don’t have buyers that want to buy aluminum or other metals or maybe lumber even.

Anyway, the manager said the Home Depot is in for big changes soon.  It makes sense.  The company grew on the back of an economy that no longer exists.  Mail-order wood might be the answer.  Pay in advance for a two by four or two, have UPS deliver each bag of cement, join “paint of the month” club and you are sure to have the colors on hand that you might need come February.  His point (and mine) is that retail could look a lot different in the future; in the very near future.

Lumber stores used to be pretty much local.  Hardware stores always were.  You could buy chain without going to one.  Then “big box”  came  to town.  Prices were cheaper because the selection was less; odd size bolts were out; informed advice was out; the shopper was on her (and his) own and big carts could do all the work because one could no longer drive their pick-up truck to the pile of lumber in the rear.  Life changes.  Loading docks went the way of Palomino horses pulling dray wagons.  So let it be with Caesar and with Home Depot if it needs be – the truth will be interred with the bones.  Do I digress?

Should I be looking to the President for help with my new roof?  I don’t think he would understand it.  He is more used to roofs made of oil, like over the White House; big oil roofs, big Texas “T”, asphalt and tar and put up the whole La Brea tar pits up there if the house will just stay dry and the leeks (leaks) will stop and the rains will stay on the plains (in Spain) where they are supposed to.  The drip-drip-drip of the Chinese water torture is an evolutionary acquirement; it is rooted in the madness of a leaking (leeking) roof which should not be farmland and if it is farmland should not take the concept of drip irrigation way too far.  But, I was talking down the oil industry and trashing the concept of tar and feather roofs (assuming that birds land on them or even live in your neighborhood).

Maybe some day I will post about “virtual beach” and my back yard and why I ended up with a lot of sand that was good to have to mix cement and make concrete which is what I use to make my deck and make my roof which is flat, but waterproof; because concrete is better than dead dinosaurs (tar and oil and gasoline) anytime.  Which is not to say all my roof is flat (just the flat part – the deck part).  Most of my roof is tilted, which is like a slope, which is like good for water to run-off, which brings up the issue of water rights and water harvesting and maybe what the White House is doing to conserve water because the Southwest getting more water is more important than the Olympics going to Chicago; I just know that you saw that one coming.

If you grew up politically near one of the largest lakes in the world it is unlikely that you worry much about water.  In Chicago they still think that “wet and dry states” is about prohibition and rum running and bootlegging and alcohol.  In New Mexico we got news.  Much of Afghanistan too is dry; which is why (I guess) that Obama doesn’t understand Afghanistan and every time someone says “dry” he thinks it is about the fact that the Taliban doesn’t drink alcohol and then the conversation just goes nowhere as the Army Command drifts off to the Officers Club (to get a drink) and now you know why we’ll (meaning the USA) will never win this war and why the White House roof will never leak until there is no more oil in Texas (which may be far too soon).

Anyway, this whole post is a little like a metaphor; but is more like reality, a lesson, a how to treatise on how to make a better roof (details perhaps tomorrow).  The point is my roof is working and the President maybe not.  My roof is keeping the rains at bay; his roof is leaking badly.  In my corner of the desert life is good, we’ll harvest the rain maybe, all good things take time.  Rio means river; and all rivers originate in rain.  Somehow the President should have known that.

[2009.10.02 / Friday – Two weeks and a Cement Roof]