Podcast Favorites: Coverville!

Sitting here wondering what I’m going to write for this blog next when it hits me (in my ears) — Coverville!

Even though I don’t listen to every single episode of this excellent podcast, I’m going to put it at the top of my list as my favorite. How is that possible? Brian Ibbott pumps out several 40+ minute podcasts each week. With such a prolific output, I just can’t keep up!

I will confess that I skip some episodes simply because I’m not in to the particular artist or artists being featured. That is not, however, a Bad Thing. In fact, I would call it a good thing for you, my reader. It means that Brian does a good job of “covering” various styles and genres of music — virtually guaranteeing you will be able to find an episode you really dig.

As I write this, I’m listening to episode #553! I encourage you to search through this extensive catalog — every single episode is still available.

RANT: Pick Up Your Dog Poop, Please!

While working from home the other day, I observed from my office window a gentleman walking his small dog on the bicycle trail which runs behind our house. First, they walked by in one direction, then a few minutes later they came back through, obviously heading home.

The dog was at the end of one of those retractable leads and the lead was reeled all the way out, allowing the dog to go far off of the trail. Our yard is fenced, so the dog was in the middle of our neighbor’s yard, which has only an “invisible fence” for their own dog. Being a dog, it naturally determined that the middle of our neighbor’s yard was a good place to poop, and so he did. No big deal.

The gentleman waking the dog, however, did not have with him any means for picking up after his dog. So he left the poop in the middle of our neighbor’s back yard. What a jerk.

Many ideas ran through my head. I could have run out with my own scooper, picked up the poo myself and disposed of it. Or, I could have scooped it up, followed the rude man home and depsoted the poo on his yard. Maybe I should have opened my wiindow up and yelled at the man, “Hey! Pick up after your dog!” Perhaps I should have called the police. It is, after all, against the law in most cities (including ours) to not pick up after your dog — a law that is very difficult to enforce.

Instead, I let it slide and went about my business. Still (as evidenced by this post), it bothers me that some people with dogs just don’t get it. Owning and caring for an animal is a big responsibility. Being a good dog owner reqires picking up after it. At the very least, you should carry a plastic bag with you while you walk your dog. If you don’t like the idea of getting that close to your dog’s mess, pick up a proper scooping device to carry with you.

Your neighbors will thank you, I will thank you and you’ll feel good knowing you aren’t a total idiot and complete jerk.

Deja Vu?

OK, I’m at a restaurant, writing other posts for this blog. The table next to me when I sat down consisted of a family of 5, including Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Dad and child.

I was at my table for awhile. That family finished their meal and left. Who was the next party to be sat at that very same table? A family of 5 including Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Dad and child. Weird.

Here are the differences I observed between the two parties. The Grandpa and Grandma appeared to be older in the second party. The child sat between the parents in the first party, but in the second party, the child sat next to the wall. The child in the first party was male; in the second party the child was female.

Here are the similarities I observed between the two parties. The parents and children in each group were approximately the same ages. The entire party sat on the same sides of the table — the grandparents together on the far side (relative to my position) and the family of three on the closer side. The men sat on the outside part of the booth and the women on the side closest to the wall.

Chaos is strange.

The Electric Vehicle “Range Problem”

The Idea
Nothing radical here, really. I simply propose that electric vehicles be designed around a standard “battery sled” to be mounted on the bottom of all electric vehicles. This sled would be quickly interchangeable with a new sled at stations along the highways.

The Business Model
The model would be the same as the propane tank exchange which is common here in America. The spent sled you drop off at a station would either be recharged on site (best) or shipped to a charging facility. The vendor would be responsible for charging and refurbishing the sleds.

The Mechanics
A sled station would be similar to a car wash. You’d pull in to a bay and pay for your new sled at the entrance. You would then pull on to a track, place your drivetrain in neutral and power down. The track would pull your vehicle forward through two stations inside the bay. The first station would remove the spent sled and the second station would place a new sled on your vehicle. As you exit, you would simply power up your vehicle and drive off.

The vendor would service and recharge the spent sled using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind generation. They could utilize specialized fast-charge equipment capable of charging sleds much faster than your own, home-charging system.

At home, you would have a home charging system capable of overnight charging for day-to-day driving. For most of your short-range commuter travel, you would simply recharge the same sled over and over again. This sort of charging may also be offered at each parking space around town and billed via a parking meter system.

Problem Solved, Sort Of
The main thing holding back wide spread adoption of electric-only vehicles, in my opinion, is the long charging times required after your batteries run out. Gasoline and diesel are convenient sources of energy because you can fill up your tank in a matter of minutes and drive another 200 to 400 miles. With current electric vehicle technology, you can drive about 200 miles before you have to stop and charge for 8 or more hours. That makes long trips impractical.

The replaceable battery sled is the only way to get the same level of convenience as a gasoline or diesel vehicle in an electric-only one. Now the only problem is implementation. Which comes first, the sled or the station? In reality, you need both at the same time and in enough numbers to make the solution practical.

If only I were a billionaire. . .