Monday, November 16, 2015

Motor Monday: Automotive Militia Purposes

Not militia purposes of the sort that call for combat, more the ones such as those the Organized Militia are called for, and ones that the unorganized militia are eminently capable of. Disaster recovery, aid delivery, and other such similar things. Pretty much breaks down into 3 main categories, all of which I'm looking at in my search for a new car.


Vehicle archtype: Rally Car
Examples: Focus RS, Subaru WRX, most AWD or 4wd cars with decent engine power
Function: Deliver people or supplies in a hurry over bad roads or very gentle offroading at good speeds, (mostly) regardless of conditions. Get someone to the hospital, deliver something important. Also probably able to get other cars unstuck from minor issues like snow/ice thanks to AWD, and maybe tow the smallest of trailers. Better than most cars, but mostly just fun to drive.


Vehicle archtype: SUV
Examples: Jeep Wrangler/unlimited, Suzuki Samurai/Jimny, Hummer H1
Function: Go places, move stuff. Able to climb rough stuff, it's unlikely to get stuck and good at doing such things as dragging trees out of the road, hauling vehicles from ditches or clear of where they're stuck, and moving people and things through sometimes awful terrain. Usually able to haul at least medium trailers. Some larger models overlap with trucks in places, and certain exceptionally c-capable vans may be considered in this region


Vehicle Archtype: Pickup Truck
Examples: Ford F series, Ram trucks, toyota... seriously, fullsize and larger trucks
Function: As SUV, but with less people space (usually) and a lot more hauling capacity, both internally and externally. Larger footprint is harder to manage off road, but the power is retained for such things as hauling debris out of the way and freeing trapped vehicles. Occasionally more capable examples will show up in the news following disasters doing such things as fording floodwaters and such with a load of supplies from nearby towns. Larger examples can excel in towing enormous loads, which are often used as an advertising factor. Curiously, often get better fuel economy than

Compounding the problem are not always classified vehicles;

Questionable Utility

Vehicle examples: Light Trucks, Crossovers
Problems: Both are lesser versions of above classes, smaller, sometimes cheaper, and lacking most of the actual capabilities. Crossovers tend to be functionally minivans with a facelift, while light trucks are analogous to things like the el camino and el ranchero of old, with sport versions attempting to gain the capabilities of a full truck but usually failing fairly miserably (ex, sport versions of light trucks have no fuel savings over there larger counterparts, precious little cost savings, and far less room). OTOH, there's basically no light trucks left in the states new production, if you're looking at that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day

Thank you to those who served and fought. (Thank you to those who served and didn't fight, too, but that's a different day).

Let's all do our part in helping to protect the rights they fought for. Now if you'll excuse me, I've a drink to buy for a veteran, among other things

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Themetweak: Still fixin' it

Made aware of people having problems with light text on a dark background. My eyes are damn sensitive and don't much care for more bright whites with black text than I already get at work/etc, but I almost never see the darktheme on my blog anyway. Might as well cater to the people who've had to deal with the remnants of my edgy teen darkness phase and change it to something not predominantly black.

Still tweaking it around, gonna see if I can find something else with a little more character, but for now this will do.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Motor Monday: Car Shoppin'

Got hired on full where I'm working, with a tidy little raise now that the contract agency isn't taking a cut out of my check. My car is, however, in the process of dissolving out from under me. It's late 80s/early 90s steel, and I'm up in Wisconsin. The two do not get along well.

This means it's time to go shopping! Car shopping. Thankfully, I can drive stick, unlike most of my generation, so I've got some fun options available that other people don't. I've got some basic criteria to narrow the field; Approximately 30 mpg highway, AWD or 4WD preferable, and above-standard performance; This can take the form of hot hatches or similar, cars with some extra zip, or smaller trucks or SUVs that offer actually capabilities such as towing and/or offroading. Max price is $30k, but less is preferable if I can get it. Unfortunately, there's an added complicating factor; I'm a pretty big guy. Tall and broad shouldered, I often either can't fit my legs into a car, or I'm wedged into the door when it's shut. I'd love to get something like the Elio, which is cheap and performs decently by virtue of light weight, except it's basically vaporware at the moment.

Below are a few I've tested out that I actually fit in.

The Subaru WRX is one of my top contenders. Good ratings for reliability, performance, and user happiness. It's got AWD, and they actually work pretty decent when taken lightly off pavement being rally cars. They're a little spendy, but it's just because they include a lot of features that are upgrade packages on other cars in the class (and that AWD adds a bit). They've got a nice roomy trunk, although the newer models that get fuel economies where I want them aren't available with a hatchback for some reason. Test driven them, and they feel mighty nice, and I FIT very comfortably. I wouldn't be going for the STI package, because more power and expense than I have a use for, but it sure looks pretty.

Next up, and the car I actually learned to drive stick for, is the Ford Focus ST. 2wd and fwd only, but darn near $10k cheaper and a lot more subtle with its extra power. Rowdy handful and great fun to drive, with decent space inside and enough room for me to fit. Unfortunately I can't go for any of the higher packages that come with more sporty seats, because I have big muscley manlegs that are wider than the seats allow for when they have the racing wings to help hold you in place.  Still, very solid contender.

Ah, ol' reliable. A truck. Big ol' truck. Probably a Ford truck. There's a formerly beat to hell Ford Ranger at the family business, if we can get a functional engine in it again, it'll be a new truck (everything ELSE has been replaced). But, it's still 15 years old, and offers... less performance in every conceivable way than the modern generation of trucks. I'd lean towards a light truck, but they've gone the way of the buffalo as fullsize trucks shrink slightly, yet retain their capability in ways light trucks never hoped to achieve. Toss on all the options I want and a shiny new one goes just a bit above my price range (and below my favored MPG), but it'll have the specs I yearn for across the board. Thankfully, decent trucks have been a thing for a while, and even going back several model years they've still got pretty fair fuel economy. A couple aftermarket extras to improve the aerodynamics and load distribution and I'll be set with a pre-owned, and still have money to spare for a nice truck gun safe. Gotta have the slightly extended cab, though, to make sure I FIT in the thing. Going to be way harder to find a place to park than my current compact car though.

In testing, I've determined beyond any shadow of a doubt that... I do not fit in Hondas. There is no car made by Honda that I can comfortably fit into, driver's side or passenger, front or back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tech Twednesday: better space exploration through non-newtonian propulsion

Away game crosspost.

This is very interesting. A lot of hype and wild claims have been made about this being proof of warp drives (on the last go round of these). I'm not sure I'd go that far, but this does have substantial implications and applications if it's true.
First, there's plenty we don't know yet, so I wouldn't count out finding a way to interact outside of established newtonian physics. Quantum mechanics is completely separate and similarly well established. Perhaps we've stumbled onto a quantum thruster. Perhaps there's further realms of knowledge we're just getting a first glimpse of.Second, even if it's not warp, reactionless thrust (that is, being able to push something along without pushing against something else) will be our ticket to the stars. Nuclear reactors are practically old hat by now, able to produce substantial amounts of juice for very long times without refueling. Fusion reactors are being attempted (i believe i saw some German scientists trying to get one running in the moderately near future) and will be even better, allowing refueling with the most abundant thing in the universe. If we can work out what part of this EM drive is doing it, we can scale it up, and vastly increase our space reach.