You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Must Be Nice…

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on October 9, 2008

TTAC’s Justin Berkowitz lets us all know how great it is to telecommute. Yep, I’d love to go three weeks between fill-ups too. There’s no real reason for me to go to the office on any given day, but the lack of a VPN and a dumbass policy that contractors have to work onsite keeps me making that long drive everyday. Oh well.


“How Far Can You Bounce?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on October 2, 2008

Words fail:

As Dykes hesitated for three hours on the ledge while police unsuccessfully tried to reason him out of taking his life, teenagers who had gathered below shouted “Jump” and “Get on with it,” according to police and witnesses.

Once he did, they ran up and took pictures. Robert Cormier, call your office! (ok, maybe words don’t entirely fail…)

The “Google Generation”

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on September 6, 2008

Glenn Reynolds, linking to a news on memory function research:

And yet, I often have trouble remembering more mundane things, and always have. Seems like the storage part is easier than the retrieval part. (In high-school, we used to joke about Write-Only Memory). This might prove a major handicap if people live longer, requiring some sort of memory training. Or we could do what the Google generation does, and not try to remember anything, since you can just look it up . . . .

And “remember” it more accurately and in much greater detail. I have very good memory overall, but I’ve long found that I get the details a little wrong, which can be a big deal. Better to find it in the hive mind, with proper allowance for common sense and the trustworthiness of the source.

Japan Going [Somewhat] Electric

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 27, 2008

The thing is, we have the technology already to build electric cars, or most other known alternative energy sources. All else being equal, modern manufacturing technology can make almost anything available in large numbers and efficient enough to be workable (if not necessarily economic) for a given mission.

But all else isn’t equal – there’s a huge infrastructure (gas stations, qualified mechanics, aftermarket components and even general public knowledge) supporting hydrocarbon fuels, and effectively zero infrastructure for any alternative. If you live in a large city, there may be half a dozen hydrogen stations. You can plug your EV into your garage at home, but what about the office? That’s a serious problem because all extant EVs are lucky to get from home to office before they need to be plugged in.

The US doesn’t do big public infrastructure projects anymore (reality: our road infrastructure, including a lot of the oil industry, was jump-started by government policy 70+ years ago) so it’s not clear how we’ll get from here to there. And before anyone comments, yes that is definitely a separate issue from whether we should. Anyway, Japan is attacking the issue head-on:

Utility Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has announced the development of new electric stations that could charge an EV enough to run for 40 km (26 miles) in five minutes, or up to 60 km (40 miles) in ten minutes. The company sees them in, for instance, supermarkets. The government is helping build the infrastructure as well: The Kanagawa prefecture, the region adjoining Tokyo, is providing 150 recharging stations in an effor to fulfil the Japanese Government’s announcement that half of the new cars sold in 2020 will be electric.

Simple Question

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 21, 2008

Information Week:

Would you pay $100 for a handheld gadget that can only check e-mail?


Mount Vernon Too

Posted in Addison, Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 21, 2008

Vicky has a nice post about this past Sunday’s excursion to Mount Vernon. I also noted the fake stone, though for some reason I’ve always thought of the mansion as having clapboard siding. According to the signs, George Washington was fascinated with faux finishes of all types, and actually I’m curious now about the faux walnut finish on the pine board interior paneling.

2009 Honda Fit

Posted in Four Wheels, Going Green, Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 20, 2008

AutoblogGreen has a first drive report on the ’09 Fit. Along with scooters, the Toyota Yaris (available as a 5-door for ’09) and various hybrids, the ’08 Fit became a leading indicator of the gas price crunch. Underappreciated by buyers for the first half of the model year, then sold out for the second. The automotive press appreciated it from the beginning, though, and it sounds as if the solid handling and refined (for a microcar) ride and NVH have been successfully retained in the new model. While I know the best economic option is to keep my existing car, this one (along with the Fiat 500, which will hopefully come across the pond next year) is on my shortlist should I need a replacement.

2009 Honda Fit

2009 Honda Fit

Update: Car and Driver has their first drive posted, and they confirm what I’ve been reading on sites like TOV – the new Fit will be more refined and less teenager-y, but with the same downtown parkability and sustainable gas mileage. Perfect!

It’s Not News, It’s…

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 5, 2008

Andrew Sullivan on why the press is blacking out the John Edwards love child story:

Mickey makes his case for an unsqueamish press. I think the reason the MSM is leery of this story is because someone else has actually claimed to be the father of the child in question and because Elizabeth Edwards is extremely sick, and this story would be an horribly traumatizing question for a cancer patient to deal with. And there’s enough to this story already to bar any near-future public office for Edwards.

So, yes, occasionally the press is humane. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

I mean, come on. The story may or may not be true, but it’s awfully convenient that the MSM has grown its new conscience over a story concerning a likely Obama VP nominee (check the LA Times’ priceless silencing of its bloggers) and not, say, Larry Craig.

Solar and Fuel Cells

Posted in Uncategorized by Stacy McMahon on August 2, 2008

I’ve been annoying my wife for awhile now with my pie-in-the-sky plans to go “off the grid”. Actually I don’t care about going off the grid, but since the DC area is projected to start having California-style rolling brownouts in a few years, I think a backup plan would be helpful.

I can’t build a wind turbine in my yard (damn HOA) but I can cover large parts of my roof with solar cells. Difficulty: the sun shines for maybe half the day on average, but I need power all night too. My answer: divert power while the sun is up and use it to generate hydrogen. When there’s no sun, use the hydrogen in a fuel cell stack to generate electricity. Also use hydrogen to run other motorized equipment.

Turns out great minds think alike. The good folks at MIT have been developing a cheap catalyst that can be painted onto the electrode in the electrolyser, and greatly increases its efficiency. Very helpful with the low and variable output of solar cells. My off-grid dreams may come true afterall!