What… did I do something wrong…?

August 17, 2010 at 8:23 pm (Personal) (, , , , )

Todays post we break routine a little bit in that I recount an occurrence of the day. Rregular programming will resume shortly.

If you follow my blog regularly you would know that I work for a BMW dealership. Today was one of those days where you can’t help but feel we still suffer from a bit of  “tall poppy” syndrome.

Sit down children while I tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a Space Grey 320 MSport that lived in a small village where there was a small flock of BMWs. Now Bip, as they called him was looking a little thirsty, so after his shepherd boy had his lunch, he decided to take him to the local petrol station for a drink.

Bip had been given a bath that morning so he was sparkly and shiny.

When they arrived at the petrol station for his feeding, there was a big scary Kingswood Ute there taking a drink too, so Bip carefully tiptoed around this monster as not to startle him because there was a free feed dish for him just in front.

The rest of the story is just not for children…

Now, this is a small petrol station, so maneuvring around the place sometimes is 50% limbo, 50% tango. Once I was around the Ute, I had to reverse to get to the pump. As I looked in my rear view mirror, I could see the driver of the Kingswood standing there sarcastically applauding.

How do I know he was being sarcastic? The rest of the story, well… tells the story…

So I fill up the car, finish up, wind on the cap, *click*. The Kingswood guy at this time is walking out from the shop paid, and we walk past each other. At this point I was expecting a confrontation (for exactly what I don’t know, but judging by the attitude…).

Anyway, I get to paying, and while I do I look out at my car. He drives out around my car of course and he looks like he death stares the car I drove… I pay no mind, he can’t possibly assault the car now.

While I’m driving back I notice a smear on the side window. Here I think “Dammit… a bird must have crapped on it while some of the girls at work took it out to lunch.”

Annoyed. But I know I can’t really help it as that’s the nature of the business.

I take a second look at the smear and notice it’s a little translucent. *click*

F@$#ing wanker spat on the car as he drove around.

So I drive straight into our wash bay… hose it all off… and smolder a little…

Help me dear readers, did I do something wrong? I drove around his car, to the free pump. Heaven forbid, gave him a slight obstacle to drive past. (I move as far over as I possibly can because I know that this Shell is a tight squeeze).

Spat on my car… seriously…
He didn’t even have the nerve to make eye contact with me on the way out of the petrol station.

I could cast dispersions on his $20 servo sunnies and beat up old Kingswood Ute… but that would just be sinking to his level…

Please set me straight if I’ve got it all wrong… because how it feels right now, it will take some getting over…

Permalink Leave a Comment

Repent, petroleum, for the end is near!

July 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm (Informative) (, , )

I realise that last post of mine was very doom and gloom. So here I offer you the other side of the coin.

As technology has shown, a definitive alternative is still a far way off. The world has invested so heavily in Petroleum that it is difficult to be weaned off it. This, as with everything that is difficult, cannot be forced and will take concentration, imagination and time.

So if you asked me right now what I thought were the most realistic alternatives are, indulge me a little.

1) The Diesel – this one isn’t new at all. In fact, this is something Australia is very far behind because of some distinct anachronisms. The main being the conception that diesels are exclusively the domain of trucks. But think about this, Trucks are primarily designed to haul cargo from one destination to another, day after day. Why is it that the connection to person cargo is so difficult to make? The days of the clattery, smelly, oily diesels are well and truly gone. Diesels can add sporting ability and emissions cleanliness, to the continuing advancement of their cause. Drive a BMW 123D or 330D and you’ll know what I mean. And then flick to the fuel consumption figures for icing on the cupcake.

2) Auto-stop start technology – No, this is not the “stare at the traffic lights while your engine is off, hoping not to hold up the queue while you start your car again”. This is the specific technology of automatic stop start. Where once the ECU senses that the car has come to a halt, switches off the engine and awaits the next throttle on command. This works because as outlined in previous posts, the most fuel efficient a car can run while it’s sitting in stop start traffic, is when it isn’t. This does not translate to turning your car off at the lights because, for a car that was not designed with this feature in mind, leads to much greater stress, wear, and tear; and this in turn culminates in the car being even less efficient in the long term due to its declining condition. There is no greater sign of the times than the venerable BMW M3 having this feature on the options list. The only thing that comes as more of a shock is when you’re behind the wheel when you first figure this out.

3) Buy a car appropriate for your needs – This is something that everyone needs to figure out themself. Practical experience is the best tell of what is “appropriate”.
For me, this was highlighted in a recent stint that I had in a base model, petrol Mini Cooper. Every so often while driving I would flick to the average fuel consumption read out. If the roads were clearer I flick to the instantaneous consumption read out. It’s at first difficult to figure out what use the instantaneous read out serves, but you quickly learn to read, and by doing so this assists you in adjusting your driving style accordingly.
The greatest realisation was, that for my spirited driving style, and living in the geography that I do, the Mini is unsuitable for me. Firstly, it’s quite hilly around where I live, and climbing hills was not the little Mini’s forte. And this was just with me on board. You can only imagine how much it would struggle with a passenger  (it can’t fit more than 2 adults) and some luggage.
Just how inappropriate the Mini was for me was elucidated when I went back to work the next day. I compared the average readout of my base model Cooper, with that of a Cooper S. Now I know for a fact that the driver of the Cooper S drives cars like they stole it, so it was interesting to compare. Aside from driver difference, there is also the fact that the Cooper S has more power, so naturally, consumes more petrol in doing so. As you can guess by my tone, it turned out that the Cooper S had a lower average readout (only slightly). But rationally you would expect the car that innately consumes more fuel, being driven at least as hard, to consume more. Not so simple.
So aside from this anecdotal advice, here are a few guidelines.
The closer you live to the inner city, the smaller the engine your car should have.
The more highway driving you do, the bigger an engine your car can have – it will be able to run efficiently.
Although society is ever-plowing towards excess, the earth cannot take anymore of it.

4) Drive… Less. The definitive way to consuming less petrol. Cars are not a necessity, they are a convenience. And until we learn to work around this fact, cars can do nothing but keep on polluting the world.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The False Prophet come in auto form, the Hybrid

May 12, 2010 at 12:10 am (Informative) (, , )

The way Hybrid cars have taken over the greater automotive scene is highly reminiscent of the way Apple has taken over the world of consumer appliances. Buyers are taken in by the slick sheen, apparent user friendliness, and all the enticing promises given out in their advertising.

And much like Apple, the goodness that Hybrid cars purport is highly misleading. For the informed, they are merely another option to an endless supply of choices out there on the showroom floor.

They are not the answer.

My gripes over Apple I leave for another post. What I will get to today is the Hybrid car.

It is often said that the Hybrid car is the saviour from our bleak future, otherwise doomed by global warming. Along with the heated (hohoho) debates over global warming, there are great questions hanging over the head of hybrid cars.

It is a well known fact that car companies, when publishing catalogues and brochures – and other public relation flotsam  – they embellish on the technical statistics.
Acceleration times, Top speeds, cornering abilities, and lap times on the Nurburgring compared to some other German manufacturers, to name a few features are often slightly improved to increase appeal.

In our world of ever increasing environmental awareness, two new statistics are garnering much more attention than ever. Fuel Consumption (litres consumed per 100km travelled), and Carbon Emissions (average grams emitted per kilometre travelled). So with the above in mind, do you really believe the manufacturers paint the complete picture when it comes to these figures?

To be plain, auto makers are not strictly lying when it comes to publishing figures in relation to their newest models. These figures are the results of tests conducted in clinical conditions, so they may well be real, but are not in reality attainable. In practical conditions these figures are a long way away.

Toyota/Honda may suggest that their newest hybrid does Xl/100km and emits no more than XXXg/km of carbon in urban driving, but the same is true of any other car. There are the figures presented, achieved through clinical testing, men/women in lab coats and safety glasses et al. and then there is Frank doing the school run in heavy city traffic. You cannot achieve these figures unless you replicate the exact conditions apparent in testing.

A small point to illustrate, the fuel consumption stickers on the cars that I work with with a 3 litre inline six present about 9l/100km in extra urban (or highway) cycle and 11l/100km in urban (or city) cycle. But when you jump onboard, and start driving (and subsequently sitting in traffic), the car’s own onboard readout displays nearly 14l/100km and no matter how much attention you pay to your accelerator pedal this figure will stay largely the same.

It is often easier to work in extremes, so I present you a case. You fully load a Prius with 4 adult passengers, and a full boot of luggage driving around in an urban environment with traffic, you will find fuel consumption will be nothing short of fishy.

One thing that really works against the hybrid’s favour is also the same thing fully electric cars still haven’t made it to mainstream (for different reasons of course).

The batteries.

You may sing the praises of the hybrid upon the high mountain tops, but you can’t hide it under the carpet. Production of the batteries in the first place is highly energy intensive. Then you have the problem of disposing them after their use by date (so far this has been found to be about half a decade). And for the earlier models – hybrids have been around for the greater part of a decade after all – they may have well gone through half a dozen batteries already.
Aside from how much this will hurt your pocket, saying that this is a small price for benefit fuel economy is nothing but short sighted.
It’s reducing one problem for sure but creating an entirely different one.

Decrying the modern petroleum car in this stop start world is missing the point entirely. It’s like using a Bulldozer to thread a needle and saying that it’s too inarticulate and industrial – but what you need to do sort of falls into the range of movement, so you persist anyway.

There is nothing you can do for the petrol automobile if you place upon it the chore of stop/start commuting. The problem is our mode of usage and in the end, our dependancy.

Cars don’t poison the world. People poison the world.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Lifes Affirmation/Forgive and Forget

June 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm (Personal) (, , )

I stumbled across one of those things that you just can’t be told enough…

banquet2009 064

So what do you think? Did the driver make it out alive?
He lives to tell the story
read about it here, http://www.edgeofsomewhere.com/Journal/trauma-t1571,
disbelieve it here http://gallery.me.com/textbound#100114,

Being this close to death always teaches the person who goes through the experience a new found appreciation for life. The most wonderful thing is that the man who went through this all carries no malice towards the driver of the truck whatsoever. It’s just heart warming how people can live through these moments and carry no enmity whatsoever, any lesser man/woman would be livid as soon as they woke up from their hospital visit, suing for compensation, sticking pins in voodoo dolls etc.

Mum accidentally cut off someone in traffic one day through sheer lapse in concentration and the man she cut off then decides to go road rage. He caught her up at the next set of lights, verbally abused her, and he even dared to lay his hands on the car mum was driving at the time. It sickens me that the world takes small inconveniences so seriously as to lash out like this. Don’t be angry at the inconvenience. Be thankful that you live to be able to abuse the person that wronged you… I can only hope you were having a very bad day Mr. Road Rage or else I’d expect you to lead a very exemplary life.

There are so many more important things in this world. Can you not let someone go for a small mistake? A small mistake that you yourself may have fallen victim to at one time or another. Or can you honestly claim that you have never made a mistake in your life? It is very depressing to be brought up on every mistake that you make in your life, and this helps no cause than to cement your own ego, this treading on other people. Put the pride away.

This is by no means an excuse to go keeping on making mistakes as you see fit, not to have standards. One mistake is one thing, but the repetition of such things is less forgivable. Be the best you can be in this world of despair and selfishness because clearly no one else is going to bother. Set a path so that others may follow. You cannot change the world, you can change only yourself.

Alas, all these things are human, our self preservation is what’s most important yes, but you must realise it’s human to make mistakes, and it should be so to forgive them. Find it in your heart to forgive, because this is letting it go. Not holding on to it and not letting it fester inside of you. It will only rot you from the inside out. Having a forgiving nature is difficult, but let that be something to aspire to.

It is said many many times over you don’t appreciate anything until it’s taken away. Why does this have to be so? Must it be human nature to take the things we have for granted? You shouldn’t have to have your life snatched away before you appreciate it because I assure you, some of us we will never see it coming, and that will be the real tragedy.

Permalink 2 Comments

The Myth of the “Girls Car”

June 11, 2009 at 9:50 pm (Informative) (, , )

The term is often bandied about in front of me as I own one of these questionable cars. There are a few cars that this tag is leveled upon, but let me get something straight, through their development, none of these cars so labeled were ever developed to be female oriented. The image that was made of them was largely manufactured by the public receiving them and always as a result of being largely misunderstood.

First I address the super-compact car. The Mini, the Fiat 500, the Renault Twingo, the Suzuki Swi….. err… Twin. In any country that suffers with congestion on an epidemic scale, small cars are the solution. Japan has their Kei Cars that are barely bigger than a mail box, and Europe treads down the same automotive evolutionary path. The traffic problem there is very real, it’s like Epping Rd. at peak hour at ALL times of day. The one defining difference is that the Europeans crave style and cannot live with something as utilitarian looking as the Japanese offerings – if you don’t know what I mean let me show you a Fiat 500,

Fiat 500

Compare this to a Daihatsu Move

Daihatsu Move

Differences in styling notwithstanding, these cars are one in the same in their intent. Both will fit 2 adults and 2 children, while sipping petrol like a sensible Japanese person sips sake, or like an Italian sips his/her latte. They are not intended in any way shape or form exlusively for females. They address the problem of congestion, and packaging, and anything else you read into it is… misread. Their basic principles are of economy and practicality, but these characteristics are feminine right? Only for those egotistically inclined. So now I move on to cars that were made specifically FOR females.

Throughout history there have been two of such notable cars. There was the Dodge La Femme, and the Volvo “Your Concept Car”, and if these cars prove anything, it is that sexism is not dead. If you are a feminist in any sort of way, be warned, the following images may be deeply disturbing.

Dodge La Femme

Article One, the Dodge La Femme. The story goes that in the 1950’s, as car ownership was commonplace in America, car makers needed special models to entice fickle new buyers, and what better market is there than women? Thus it came equipped with a makeup compact, matching purse and umbrella and all the places to hold them Oh and the cigarette igniter was replaced by a tube of lipstick. Lastly you could have it in any colour you’d like so long as it was pink and white – with requisite period chrome trimmings.  With a car aimed at a market of eager young females, it flopped. Production ran for 2 years and the concept has never been revisited since. I am no chauvinist so I am not surprised.
So what about that Volvo I talked about? This one was much less patronising (kind of).

Volvo YCC

Volvo, in 2004 asked a team of females to design a car that would best suit their needs, so it was not a car designed by men for women as was in the case of the Dodge(y) La Femme, but a car designed by women, for women. The car itself as a production model has not seen the light of day, but a few of the technologies it employed are beginning to see implementation. On the mechanical side, It was one of the first cars to showcase self – parking self – driving (stopping at least) technology, features the infamous run – flat tyres and guess what guys? an Automatic Gearbox with a sequential “manual” shift (no… that doesn’t count I’m afraid).
On the inside, it was designed with fully customizable interior in soft colouring and even a ponytail notch in the headrest… yes you read that right… for your ponytail. One of the more notable features is that it has a hatchback with a fully flat rear floor. Shopping bags anyone?
Strangely enough, this car designed by women is not so much perfect for women but seems perfect for the consumer in general, as this sector of the market only view the car as an appliance, ultimately it is only a practical proposition. The Volvo doesn’t even have a conventional bonnet, as opening the bonnet was not determined to be of the owners interest. So with this, at its most elemental, we can conclude that a girls car is, an automatic (as in automatic everything not JUST transmission), hatchback, never mind how it looks…
What is the conclusion here? That men are only allowed to like cars as cars and women must like an appliance?

Pull your head out… if you are an enthusiast, all these things go out the window as these such impracticalities colour the experience of the car. The car you own is a form of self expression for enthusiasts. Not a form of self extension.

Don’t even get me started on “Gay Cars”.

Permalink 2 Comments