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Driving Fallacies and Traffic

January 10, 2013 1 comment

Many of us commute to work via highways or freeways–supposedly uninterrupted channels of traffic flowing smoothly to their destination.  The reality, however, is a often a nauseatingly congested, stop-go-stop sweaty barnyard of honking maniacs trying to make time on their morning commute.

There seem to be a couple of presuppositions that contribute in a big way to these flutserclucks.

FALLACIES:
1.  You are in direct competition with other drivers. Don’t pad your wilting ego with the disillusioned idea that you have ‘beaten’ someone who wasn’t racing you.  It’s not a race. There are no winners.
2.  Preventing 1 car, 2 cars or 15 cars from merging in front of you will get you to your end destination faster.  Once moving at proper highway speeds, the distance of 20 cars (let’s say 400 feet) will take only seconds.  Keeping one or two people from merging ahead of you can only save you tenths of a second.

TRUTHS:
1.  Slow downs (accidents aside) happen most often at points where two streams of traffic are forced to merge. 
2.  Your actions can affect the column of traffic behind you.  Slamming on your breaks or coming to a stop will cause the driver behind you to act accordingly.  This reaction can echo back through the column indefinitely (unless there is a gap large enough to buffer the following cars).  This is reason YOU have found yourself in an infuriating gas-beak-honk scenario for the last 15 minutes.

RETHINKING OUR GOALS WHILE DRIVING:
The goal of driving is to propel the vehicle forward.  Instead of measuring the distance to the traffic ahead, think about keeping the vehicle rolling forward.  Isn’t that what we pay those high fuel costs for?  Preserve that forward movement instead of rushing ahead to stop.  (Laws of Physics and Inertia teach us that starting the motion of an object is most difficult–maintaining motion, comparatively easy)  Maintaining a steady flow can be achieved by creating space between you and the traffic ahead.  This space will ‘soak up’ the erratic starts and stops of other drivers and allow you to travel at a constant speed.
These gaps in traffic will inevitably be filled by others, which is not upsetting once you realize that their action doesn’t impact you arrival time by more than a couple of seconds.

BENEFITS:
1.  Wear and tear on your car:  Stopping and starting is hard on your brakes and your vehicle, not to mention the fuel savings of maintaining momentum. 
2.  Wear and tear on your patience:  Changing your focus will do wonders for your mood and level of stress and road rage, making the quality of your experience that much better.  If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.
3.  Space to accelerate:  When you have space ahead of you it makes changing lanes much easier; you have room to accelerate so you can catch those gaps in traffic. 
Drive with an understanding of the fact that we are all connected. Our actions impact those around us.
Not convinced?  Consider the impact on traffic if you were just to stop in your lane, get out and walk away.

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Food System

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

For those of you who have not seen the documentary on the industrial food system FOOD INC, see it.  It does not try to shock the audience into an emotional response against meat. In fact, it is not anti-meat at all.  It does however shed some light on an industry that does not want light shed upon it.

This clip from the film is a wonderful overview of some of the issues and the ideas.  The farmer being interviewed, from Polyface Farms, is Joel Salatin.  I think he challenges the red neck stereotypes to which we might be prone, and certainly proves himself a very intelligent, well spoken expert in his craft.

Notable highlight from the Video:
-” A culture that just views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic, inanimate structure to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter will probably view individuals within its community, and other cultures within the community of nations, with the same type of disdain, and disrespect, and controlling type mentality”  (Joel Salatin)

Pay particular note to the events at 3:15 of the video. (Point to follow)

Q: How did you react to the slaughtering of the chickens?

Having shown this to many, and witnessed hundreds of reactions, it seems that we tend to be horrified by the act of slitting the chicken’s throat.  Yes, it is a brutal act.  How many of us are more than willing to order wings at a restaurant, but don’t want to be shown the consequences of such a decision?  How disconnected have we become from the effects of our food eating habits?

Green Idea #3

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment

The ubiquitous coffee tray. Cardboard life savers in a crowded work place sea of people streaming through corridors and hallways, elevators and stairways, hands filled with bags, phones, papers, tablets and other assorted necessities–these hearty helpers make the impossible possible.

How many of these trays does your work place use on a daily basis?

What if instead of simply tossing these trays into the recycling we actually took them back to be Reused?  Tim Horton’s will gladly accept these trays to be reused (at least this has been my experience as I shovel a 60 tray stack through the drive-through window, all but smothering the unsuspecting coffee lady).

While these trays are generally already made of recycled material, think of the energy and resources saved by reusing instead of recycling.

Who are we kidding anyway, we’re headed right back to grab another coffee anyway….let’s cut out the middle man and get those trays to where they need to be: helping the low man on the totem pole sent to pick up coffees for the team.

Green Idea #2

January 13, 2009 2 comments

Conserve: Waste not, want not

Many of us use various products sold in squeezable plastic tubes (especially hair products, creams and such). We have all undoubtedly shaken, squeezed, and stamped the last remaining bit out of such tubes, or so we thought.  

Take a pair of scissors and cut that tube in half after you have convinced yourself there is nothing left.  You will be pleasantly surprised to see just how much is left inside.  And, if you’re anything like myself, you won’t have to traipse into work with an unmanageable mane of hair because you didn’t have the foresight to purchase a replacement tube before the last one ran absolutely, one hundred percent bone dry.

Categories: Green Ideas

Green Idea #1

December 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Puns aside, the environment seems to be a very hot topic today. Everyone seems to want to make a difference, provided of course that we do not have to sacrifice anything.  Though we may not see the effects of our actions, every bit does help.  Movements such as One Million Acts of Green try to trace the effects of seemingly miniscule contributions.  So in this series of posts I thought I would suggest some things that could make a difference in our conservation of resources and don’t require sacrifice. I welcome comments or better yet your own suggestions.  Without further ado…..

Green Idea #1

Fill your empty freezers with ice.  Now many of us have freezers that are largely empty.  By filling these empty spaces with ice, the freezer has to cycle on less often because the ice will maintain the temperature in the freezer better.  Fridges are in fact cooled by the cold air of the freezer. The coolant devices actually only cool the freezer, and the freezer in turn cools the fridge. The ice in the freezer helps to retain the cold better than just air, thus conserving energy.  In olden days people had ice boxes, which were nothing more than a wooden box that had a huge block of ice above the ‘fridge’ part.  The cold air would descend, cool the box and thus your food.  Pretty rudimentary, but little has changed in 60 years.

Reuse big yogurt containers, coffee cans or whatever you have, fill them with water and leave them in the freezer.  Don’t use containers made of glass! As the water/ice expands it will shatter glass.

This is win-win proposition. You cut down on the energy consumption. The environment wins and you have more money in your pocket.

Categories: Green Ideas
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