Archive for the 'Changing scene' category

Drunks KILL, cars don’t

Dec 23 2012 Published by under Changing scene, Dumb Americans

Drunk

Lets apply the same gun control logic to automobiles:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 10,000 automobile death, each year, due to drunk drivers.  So lets ban the automobile, as it is killing 10,000 plus people each year and that’s just drunk driving deaths. There are over 30,000 deaths each year related to automobiles yearly.

Looks like the automobile is more dangerous then firearms. Firearms kill around 7,000 (per the CDC) people per year, far less then the 30,00 killed by cars.

But then again it is not the car or the firearms that are doing the killing, PEOPLE kill PEOPLE. Whether it is an automobile or a gun, it all comes down to PEOPLE.

 

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Solar Park & ride

Sep 09 2011 Published by under Cars, Changing scene, Sloar

The park and ride, pictured above, is in Vacaville California off of interstate 80 at the Davis exit. The location is half way between Sacramento and San Francisco.   It is the first, location in California, to house a 440 volt quick charging  station.  The quick charge station will charge a Nissan Leaf from empty to 80% charge in just 30 minutes. The park and ride also has a very large solar array to supplement the electrical car charging done at this location. With several L2 charging stations.

Here the 440 level 3 charger, located under the solar panels,  beinging used to charge up a Mitsubishi i-Miev at a press event conducted at the  Vacaville California location. There are discussion and tentative plans to build over 300 of these CHAdeMo format chargers through the United States. Nissan has already build a CHAdeMo format L3 charging network through Japan, placing one every 40 or sol miles.

Will the every 40mile charging station work here in the United States or will EV’s just be around town cars. Oh do not forget the upcoming version two of the electric car where refueling will take less then 2 minutes.

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Phoenix Motor car Update

Aug 25 2011 Published by under Cars, Changing scene

Back in 2008 I wrote about Phoenix Motor cars. A small start up that was doing Research and development on electric cars. Original Phoenix Motor car had two models and sport truck and a sedan. If you visit their website it looks like they have drope the sedan. The sport truck is the only vehicle on the website. Plus they are ONLY doing fleet sales at this time . No private party sales. That is sad

I also had the opportunity to drive by their corporate offices in Ontario California. As you can see from the photo below

Phoenix Sport trucks waiting to be electrified, by Greg Powers

the lot is full of sport trucks. Lots of them for a small manufacture.  Well they are not really na automotive manufacture. They buy the rolling assembled truck for a manufacture in Korea. Then install the all electric drive train here in Ontario California.

The new policy of only doing fleet sales is reflected in the over wellming number of white sport trucks. The other strange thing is the trucks are sitting in a parking lot that is part of a lite industrial park.

phoenix Motor car sport truck, by Greg Powers

Her is another photo showing a side view of the sport truck.

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CASH Healthcare

Apr 14 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, unbelievable

Recently I need to get a cholesterol check. I was faced with going to our regular doctor and paying the yearly deductible and the co-pay of for the initial office visit, the lab test, then a follow-up Dr. visit to discuss the results,  get the new prescription, then getting the prescription filled.

Now the insurance i have is not the best but it is better then most and pays pretty good. Still I would be out of pocket several hundred dollars just to get my cholesterol medication refilled.

Instead there is the dark secret world of cash health care. Thats right cash, no insurance co-pays, not insurance forms, and no deductible. just cash. Over the years I have tried several  prescription  medications for cholesterol management. I ended up on Loped and Niacin. Well Niacin is over the counter and even the time release Niacin id OTC.  The loped is on marginal in reducing cholesterol.

So how do I manage this on my own with out spending tons of money on Dr. visits and prescriptions ever year.  First this to get a cholesterol test. The blood test to determine where my LDL and HDL values are. I already have copies form previous test that were ordered by my doctor, several years of test.

So we start calling around to get a cholesterol test, most places assume/require insurance and a Dr. prescription. Some lab want $200, $250 for a cholesterol panel.  But if you dig enough there are labs that do not require a prescription and will do the cholesterol panel for a little as $42 dollars. That is way less then going the insurance way.

But when they set up your lab test draw, they warn you to only show the lab the work order that was e-mail to you.  Using any other paper work may result in additional fees to be added to your bill. strange but true so to get your $42 dollar test follow the instructions.

Once I have a base line I will continue to take the time release Niacin and supplement  with plant sterols. Plant sterols are supposed to be natures way of dealing with lowering cholesterol. This way I’m not dealing with the side effect of using a statin.

So in the end I will be paying cash, saving money and lowering my cholesterol naturally.

So the bigger question is how big is the CASH healthcare movement ?  and why is the CASH plan so much less expensive?

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Small City BIG Salaries

Below is a list of salaries for the small bed room community of  Upland.  Upland has a population of approximatively 77,000 people with an median household income in 2009: $65,330.  This is a small city is it only 15 square miles. So the city manager makes seven times the median income of the city. even the lowest paid position,  Fire Battalion Chief makes more the twice the the cities median income.

 

Position…Salary / Compensation (salary+benefits)

City Manager…$368,529 / $460,625

Police Chief…$229,724 / $306,621

Fire Chief…$170,698 / $242,390

Public Works Director…$177,030 / $236,004

City Clerk…$175,606 / $231,230

Finance Director…$168,659 / $225,418

Police Captain…$160,940 / $221,201

Community Development Director…$165,422 / $219,618

Police Captain…$160,940 / $219,175

Police Captain…$159,566 / $216,217

Assistant City Manager…$159,569 / $214,418

Human Resources Director…$159,230 / $214,132

Fire Division Chief…$149,066 / $211,156

Fire Battalion Chief…$149,363 / $207,787

Library Director…$150,269 / $202,742

Fire Battalion Chief…$143,830 / $201,274

SOURCE: City of Upland

 

Something is wrong when city salaries have ballooned to this magnitude. How can the city staff pay themselves these outrageous salaries. Why do normal human beings think this it is OK to take this kind of money.

It is because they think it is their money. After all if we need more money we will just TAX the population more. It is an endless supply of money.  Well it is NOT just an endless supply of money. We all work hard for our money to provide a good quality of life to our love ones.  So the public sector needs to get real and come back to reality and stop these huge exorbitant salaries. Instead of cutting programs and services cut your dam salary back to a normal salary.

Keep your hand out of my pocket.

 

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Tesla Model S

Mar 25 2011 Published by under Cars, Changing scene

I drove down to Newport Beach to see the Model S at the Tesla dealer. I had been invited to a special showing of the touring Model S. Getting there and seeing the car being rope off I was disappointed. Then to find out that we were not going to be able to touch or even get in the car was a real bummer.  Apparently this particular Model S is a concept Model S and not a production version.  The sale person claimed that the the concept car cost over two million dollars to build.  So no touching.

The real reason is the exterior and interior of concept are close to the production but not exactly the same. The exterior is about 90% the same, just some minor aerodynamics changes for efficiencies.  As for the interior there will be major differences. Seams the concept was built on a existing rolling platform.   So the concept still has a drive train tunnel. The production Model S will not, as the entire drive train is only 12 moving parts mounted around the rear axial. Sales staff said the will be considerable more room in the cockpit of the production Model S.

Good news is the 17 inch touch screen that makes up the center stack will be in the production version. This will be a full connected car.  The dealer/Tesla will push out updates to you car automatically.   Tesla also said there will be third party apps available for the car. Using a smart phone you will be able to check the stats of you Tesla, charge levels etc… Remember that two big investors in the start-up of the Model S were founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. It is rumored that an internet connect car was a stipulation of the investment.

Now the bad news. The touring of the concept model is a road show to get you to put down a $5,000 get in the queue deposit. The sale person said she would be happy to put it on your credit card. Definitely an upper crust crowd, no cash.  Mind you the 5 grand does not get you a relative position in line. It just gets you in the queue. What to put more money down or sign up for more options you move up the list. But the options are expensive.

To start with there is the “Signature”  edition. It will cost you 40 grand down to order the “Signature”, but you will one of the first to get a Model S Tesla.  Plus ALL the “Signature”  edition model S cars will be the 300 mile version of the battery pack, which is a $20,000 upgrade. In addition the the battery upgrade the “Signature”  edition will also be the highest trim level. So this is not the $50K Model S, it will be more like $100K.

So what about everyone that does not to sign up for the “Signature”  edition? Will, the first non-”Signature”  edition cars to roll off the assembly line will also be the 300 mile battery pack version. So if you want a reasonably priced Tesla Model S, like the advertise $50 price point, you are going to be waiting a long time. Maybe another 24 to 36 months.

But like the sales person said it is a “luxury electric Car” . She said it with a BIG smile.

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Chevy Volt Test drive

Mar 17 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Cars, Changing scene

My wife made a visit to the local Chevy dealer to check out the Chevy Volt.  Thought they may have one on the show room floor. To my surprise that had several on the lot. so we started look at a few that were on the lot. A salesman approchased and invited us into the show room to look at and drive  the Volt.

So here are my first 10  impressions.

  1. I like the concept car/ show car styling a lot better, the production version is dumbed down a lot
  2. No leg room in the back seat when the drivers seat is move back all the way. I mean non, not any, zero, so forget about using the back seat if the drive it Tall like me 6’4″
  3. Do not like the painted center stack of buttons. Overwhelming at first maybe it grows on you.
  4. Loved the multiple display screens and the total glass dash
  5. The electric motor provide tons of  low end torque.
  6. Front grill in not a grill so do not make it look like one, get daring and create something different
  7. It is EXPENSIVE compared to the Nissan Leaf, but cheaper then the Tesla model S.
  8. Dual power plants revealed the wifes “Range anxiety”
  9. Drives like any other car
  10. Very quite aka no tailpipe.

So bottom line, Would I buy this half electric, half Gas powered car? Not for me but my Wife loved it. So I guess we will be buying one in the next 12 months or so.  How is that for a positive answer. But I would still like to see the Nissan Leaf.

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Using 163 Light Bulbs?

Jan 20 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff

Do you have 163 60 watt light bulbs on for several hours a day.  Will if you are running a single speed 2 horse power pool pump, that is how many 60 watt light bulbs you have on each and every hour the pump is on.

 

The average 2HP single speed pool pump uses 2000 watts per hour. Most people run there pump atlease 3 hours a day, most likely 6 to 8 in the summer.  So for the average summer month you are spending $50 to $60 a month, based on Southern California rates. It could be costing you more as you move up to a higher rate tier when you consume more electricity in the summer.

How does this happen. Back in the 70′s and 80′s pool pump horse power was king. The pool salesman would upgrade you to a better, higher, horse power for the same cost and you though you were getting a better deal. More power, ya!

So,  do you really need all that horse power to jam the water through a pool pump and filer. NO, you do not. So the pool industry came out with a two speed pump to save you money on electricity.  One speed to clean your pool and get that pool sweep running. With a slower speed to circulate the water and get your turn rate. Did it save money?  You bet!  But now there is even something better.

The Pool industry has a variable speed pump. The pump can be programed to run at almost any speed you want. And here is the dirty little secrete! As you decrease the pump speed, by reducing the revolutions per minute (RPMs),  the pump gets more efficient and uses LESS ELECTRICITY. Are you with me?

The normal pool pump runs at or above 3200 RPM, that will use 2000 watts or more of electricity per hour. A variable speed pump can be run at 1100 RPMs and only use 156 watts or less per hour. Sometime 145 watts.  BUT BUT what about my water turn rate, will it turn over in 6 hours? NO, so you run the pump longer. BUT that use more electricity, right? NO, not  at the lower RPMs.

If you run your single speed pump for 6 hours, that 12,000 watts of electricity.  If you triple your run time to 18 hours with the variable speed pump you will only use 2,772 watts of electricity. That is less then what one and one half hours of the single speed pumps electricity usage.

So what about the pool sweep it will not run at that low flow rate. So you program the variable speed pump to ramp up to maybe 2000RPM and use anothe 1000 watts of electricity to keep the pool clean. Onky for an hour or so. Your still way under 12,000 watts of power.

So save some money and get a variable speed pump. Do they cost more? Ya a lot more.  But you just missed a Southern California Edison rebate program that paid you $300 to install a variable speed pump. I’m sure there will be more incentives. Just keep your eye open. Once you get a variable speed pump you will only be using 2.5 60 watt bulbs per hour not 163. And that save you money and is good for the environment.

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Google TV let down

Oct 07 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff, Google

Wednesday October sixth was a real let down!

Logitech and Google started releasing a bunch of information about Google TV recently. Google luanched a more informative website http://www.google.com/tv/ early in the week.  That was the first sign of the letdown. DVR functional would only be available to Satellite customers. BUMMER!!!

Then on Wednesday (10/6) we get the first detail look at the Logitec Revue. The first thing I noticed was the connections on the back were limited to HDMI In and Out. So how was this going to work with OTA (over the air) broadcasting? well it is not, BUMMER!!

I was hoping  that the Logitech Revue device was going to be able to get ANY internet content.  Thats mean stuff like HULU! But several reporters reported no HULU at launch. Plus it was missing from all the screenshots. Another BUMMER!!

And the cost of the Logitech Revue is $300 dollars. Thats is a $200 dollar premium over most to the rest of the market. Like Apple TV and Roku which are both selling at the $99 dollar price point. So the cost is a real big BUMMER!!

On thing that is interesting about the Logitech Revue is it ability to control other devices like a digital cable , Satellite box, or a A/V receiver.  The Revue has an IR blaster and two connections on the back for IR out. I guess IR control is a no brainer for a company like Logitech that makes all the Harmony remotes. Plus you can use your smart phone (iPhone or Android)  to control the Revue over WiFi with a Logitech App. That is cool.

But the BUMMERS out number the cool factors, so I canceled my pre-order. I will sit on the side line a little longer to see who comes out with the set top box that hits the sweet spot. I thought it was going to be Google , but they missed by a long shot. My one hope is that this is just the initial release of Google TV…. Maybe better features are still coming

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Dumping Cable TV

Sep 03 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff

We have dumped the Cable TV feed. Just got tired of all the games the cable provider was playing and the cost. We still get internet through cable but no Cable TV.

At first it was a tough. You know Cable TV withdraws.  Not being able to watch all the shows you get hooked on. Plus with the Tivo you were always able to keep a nice stock of shows to watch at your convenience.

Well after some digging on the internet and services like Netflix Watch Now we were able to make it through the first few months. Watching the LOST series filled up a lot of TV viewing time.  The six seasons of  LOST added up to  over 100 episodes.  Most of LOST was streamed over the Netflix service.

We are stilll streaming a lot of content form Netflix. There a lot of great show to watch Like Dr Who,  MI-5,  Dexter and more. We have also been exploring several of the cable networks wed sites , like USA network, SyFy and History. These networks release full episodes any where form 1 to 7 days after it airs on Cable. The problem here is they only keep the 4 most recent episodes and you can not easily record then for time shift viewing.

Another great web site for content is Hulu. There is a lot of content, some of it old, mostly episodes of previosu seasons or just the most recent 4  episodes.  But if you look around you will find some gems. Just the other night I found a DIY sires called Cool Tools. There are not an current episodes but there are three full seasons of shows.

Hulu is also starting up a paid service for $9.99 per month called Hulu Plus. I would be happy to pay the money if they gave me better access to current cable shows. After looking through the info on the Plus service it did not seem to offer much for the money. But is it early and the service is not in full release yet.

So we have survived the first 90 days of NO Cable TV.  Give it a try it is easer then you thing, plus you save a boat load of CASH.

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