Posts in Category: comparative energy use, cars

Earthquake 1331 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 8:33:00 AM Categories: comparative energy use, cars Earthquake

13 June 2011

Now I've discovered how to work the Stats button I see there is only ever one pageview, and since I haven't found out how to disable the wretched blog's monitoring of my own vanity viewing, this means it's going to be quite easy to write entries cos I'm the only reader. One's ego is suitably deflated.

Anyway we have bought a car, a 660cc tardis, minute on the outside and like a cathedral inside.

After listening to her valiantly trying to describe it to him, I emailed my wife's brother-in-law, Dr Morrison.

Suzuki Wagon R is what my wife was groping about in her rather limited grasp of the English tongue to tell you. It is a Kei Car, pronounced, presumably by the Japanese, Kay, though given that you as a splendid Australian would pronounce that Kye, this information can only be of limited linguistical assistance. They are a Japanese tax dodge, limited to 660cc motors, 11 feet long, and 1.6 metres wide. - Feet? Metres? - Must have been an American giving the details. - We filled it with petrol to the very, very top, drove 44.8 kilometres, refilled it, and just managed to squeeze 2.03 litres in, so that's 62 and a third miles per gallon. Imperial gallon, not the curious measures used by American gentlemen. The man in the petrol station was disgusted with me for buying so little. (Luckily I had my rifle with me so I shot him.) It looks exactly like a box. Absolutely hideous. When we next c'llect you from the airport, bring a brown paper bag for Maggie to wear because she will be so ashamed. You will enjoy it though because the headroom is vast, sufficient for a short person like me to wear a busby in comfort. If we painted it red we could probably install a mezzanine, paint '186 Harrow and Wealdstone' on the front, and drive round London gathering passengers. Me, I can't *wait* for Peak Oil so that while I sit in misery I can chuckle at all the other people sitting in even greater misery in their Pajero or Land Cruiser.

Dr Morrison failed to respond so I mentioned the purchase to Mr Knight, who did reply:

Hurrah, you have a Suzuki Vagina.
At my last job I worked with an Indian bloke who drove one of these 'toasters'. Somebody asked him one day what it was called and in a thick Indian accent he replied a Suzuki 'Vagin Uh'. Excuse me, every body swore he said Vagina. He has been in NZ for a long time and is a lovely bloke but still has trouble with W's and R's. -
That's pretty good fuel consumption btw. - In other news we had an exciting 5.5 yesterday morning; we had at least 5 seconds warning as we both heard it coming. We had time to look at each other and ask "Is that a truck or an earthquake" then listen some more before it hit. We had shite weather this weekend, I hardly rode at all. That is all.

It looks, as Mr Knight has mentioned, like an electric toaster but:

Yea! we shall all (esp the children) call it a Vagin Uh henceforth. - I spotted your 5.5. I thought, 'That'll liven up their morning.' - You didn't have shite weather this weekend, because we had it all and there wouldn't have been enough left for you. We are still having it, too. They specially arranged it for the bank holiday. We did, however, manage a little tandem ride but I am finding all upright bikes give me sores on my sit-bones, so the long-talked-of recumbent tandem has to conjure itself into being. I also *need* to build a wet-weather-recumbent to cope with the trauma of exercise for when my wife chooses not to accompany me.

What neither of us knew was that my possession of a new microcar was not going to dominate our immediate conversations, because at lunchtime today I had a perky note to the effect that Christchurch had just had another 5.5:

I see you're having an eventful lunchtime according to eqnews.

Mr Knight was almost at once at his keyboard -

Yes, I was very scared. I may have to go and change my troosers. We had a mild foreshock and then a big *ucking 5.5 that *everybody* is saying was closer to a 6.0 and then lots of aftershocks of the aftershock that Geonet aren't bothering to report.
I was in an electronics store on Colombo street near the centre of town and *everything* ended up on the floor. It was like in one of those videos of an earthquake in a shop.
- Oh *uck, I've just come back into the office after another massive aftershock that seemed to go on forever. Sirens everywhere, dust etc. I saw a concrete building opposite flex and move relative to its neighbour. The traffic is now horrendous and I chose today to take the motorbike in rather than cycle. I'll have a look to see what it was. Geonet haven't posted it yet but the quake drum trace is much bigger than the previous 5.5 Still having big aftershocks, here's another one...

Well of course it turned out to be a 6, so all the news channels switched onto overdrive and the earthquake minister flew down to hold everybody's hand. On the phone, Mr Knight told me that the aftershocks were more-or-less continuous, and all the interested nerds - which is me, given that I'm now the sole reader - can rush to the website to watch the seismic drum recorder. As before there's been lots of liquifaction, and the drains, all newly repaired, have bubbled up to the surface once more. Until someone mentions it, you don't realise that an air-filled drain underground, during an earthquake, is like a balloon in water, and as soon as the soil behaves like a liquid, the drains all float to the top.

Susie's Constant 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 8:30:40 AM Categories: comparative energy use, cars
Susie is revising for her physics NCEA, which is almost unlike an A-level, and has cheerily implored me to name a Constant after her. It was a modest request:
'There's Planck's Constant and Rydberg's Constant and I want a Constant named after Me.'
Luckily I can manage one. I was thinking about it on yesterday's ride because John has a Constant, correlating the number of wallets found with the number of years we have lived in New Zealand. John found the first one and we telephoned the owner who was so pleased to have it back intact that he gave John all the money in it as a reward for his honesty and then called once a week with his Bible, disclosing that he was a Jehovah's Witness. - Thereafter we were a bit more circumspect, handing all wallets in and foregoing any reward. In fact my police station visits were so regular that I became, in the words of the local station officer, a Serial Finder. Two weeks ago I found one Campbell Graeme Hearnshaw's wallet stashed between our fence and a tree. Yesterday I found Campbell Graeme Hearnshaw's second wallet, also jammed behind the fence. I was mystified. Perhaps we are not dealing with a thief. Perhaps Campbell Graeme Hearnshaw now stores his private documents in our shrubbery, guarded only by woodlice. Perhaps he's a Serial Hider. So I hopped onto the machine and, via Rocky River which scenic detour turns a two-mile ride into an eighteen-mile ride, went along to the police station and handed it in along with the bracelet I found on Sunday behind the sports shop.
There is a limit to how much Campbell Graeme Hearnshaw's belongings can retain one's interest on an hour's bike ride, so I fell to thinking about naming my new Sprint-Hour, Mile=Kilometre Law Susie's Constant. The Law is this: whatever top speed you can attain on the flat in miles-an-hour, is the same in kilometres-an-hour for an hour's solid riding.
The respective world records stand at more-or-less exactly 80mph for the sprint and more-or-less exactly 80kph for the hour. (It doesn't do to be too precise.)
1. I can hold 28 mph in a fast and furious dash for about a minute, though it was a bit faster when racing a pig dog who suddenly joined in on Wildman Road.
2. I can ride 18.55 miles in 57.58 minutes.
3. 18.55 miles is more-or-less exactly 28 kms and 57.58 minutes is more-or-less exactly an hour. Sort of.
We'll see if the sums survive Peer Review. And if they do, our family's going to be Dead Famous, inventing new Constants, cos here's another one.
We had that Ash Whitehead to tea the other day, an elite young New Zealand cyclist, who hopped on his bike and whipped over the Moutere Hills from Nelson in an hour and a half and, like Mr English before him, proceeded to eat every single thing in the house even though he's skinnier than this gentleman:
It takes me three quarters of an hour to drive from Nelson in the car, and I use four and a half litres of fuel doing it.
Since a litre of oil has the energy of 20 man-days of hard labour, it costs me ninety days' work to go to Nelson by car.
But it only costs Mr Whitehead ninety minutes' work by bicycle.
So that's the Car=Day, Bicycle=Minute Energy Law and because I'm rubbish at algebra one of the children'll have to work out the details and then they can have it as their Constant.
Of course this is all academic. A bloke across the road told me that 'there won't be an oil crisis, because I just read that with all the squids dying in the oceans more oil's being formed than we're using up, and anyway there's two types of oil, there's another sort naturally made deep in the earth's crust by all that heat and carbon.' I leave you to speculate on my informant's views on Climate Change, Social Security Scroungers (tr. the lower paid), and Whether All The Problems Are Because of Those Bloody Environmentalists, but I must remember to tell him about Davena's Constant concerning aerial cats, which is both more imaginative and more probable.  - Susie had observed that whenever you drop a piece of bread it falls butter-side-down, and Susie's friend Davena had observed that whenever you drop a cat it lands on its feet. So she proposes creating a Constantly Hovering Cat by the expedient of attaching a piece of bread by its butter to the cat's feet and pushing it off the table.
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