Idle Musings while doing 72mph

Candidates for the office of Sheriff really like the colors yellow and black.  Passing through several counties on the way from Homeland to the highway I saw quite a few campaign signs on the side of the road, in pickup trucks, and on billboards.  I don’t recall a sheriff campaign poster that wasn’t yellow and black.  I began to wonder if it’s a rule.  Or maybe they just all like the Steelers.

I thought of this one before I left, but mused on it for most of the trip.

How many electrical devices really use 120v these days?  In our van we use a voltage converter from the 12v DC coming out of the cigarette lighter to 120v AC, max 360W.  The boys plugged the X-Box in it during this trip, and I figured the X-box uses about 280W (volts * amps = watts, it has a stick on it with volts * amps, I forget the numbers now).  One house circuit can support 20A, at 120v.  That’s 2400 Watts.  We could probably power every single digital device in our house off of one 20A circuit… if it weren’t for AC to DC converters.  And that’s just calculating from the AC watts… if we only used the power coming out the DC side I’m sure that would go down.  My laptop converter, for instance, is rated for 2.4A at 110V on the AC side (264W), but puts out 18.5v at 6.5A (120W) on the DC side.

We’d still need 110/120 for toasters, microwaves, blenders, food processors, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other kitcheny high-power things… but every other room in the house could get by on DC power… probably at considerable power savings.

Here’s another one I thought of while I was in Homeland:

I’ve been cruising through news articles lately at about 72mph, too, since I’ve found an application called ReadAir, which pulls RSS feeds down to you so you can see the title and a summary.  Then you get to click on the ones that interest you.  One of my feeds I read alot is Digg.  Digg is a collection point for news articles, and people comment on them.  Comments almost invariably lean towards the liberal viewpoint.

I’d really be interested in knowing more about commentors’ demographics.  How long each day do they devote to commenting?  In order to comment you have to find the article on the Digg website, go read the article, then come back to Digg and comment on it.  Comments can reach into the hundreds.  Who writes the 57th comment?  Or the 285th?  What are they thinking? "I know there have been 284 comments, but they’re all missing the point."

Sure, a handful of them are advertising Viagra, but they’re mostly legitimate people trying to express their viewpoint… to people they can’t see and who don’t care what anyone else thinks, unless they agree and then they comment they agree (and I’m sure the original commentor says, "Oh that’s a relief, this guy named asskicker54 agrees with me").

Or they get a reply that argues their point and you get the back and forth "No it isn’t!", "Yes it is!" perpetually.

I could run out into my back yard and shout who I want to win the presidential race (nobody), but what good does it do?  How much time to people devote to reading the 284 comments in order to add the 285th?  It is mind-boggling.

This is one I thought while driving:

Interstate Profiles:  In most chatrooms you see people that come in and leave, and you have the opportunity to look at the people in the room, right click on their name and see their ‘profile’.  Some information that usually includes things like age, sex, location (also known as A/S/L in early pre-profile chatrooms and was the standard question for anyone that came in).  Yahoo has profilesAIM has profilesMyspace has profiles.  Wouldn’t it be cool if as a car passed you (even though you’re going 72mph) their screenname came up on your screen, and you could check out their profile.  You’d see a status perhaps something like "LATE FOR WORK, SORRY!! :(" or maybe "I carry a .357".  Or you could send a directed message, "Hey bub, you cut me off."  Profanity filters would be mandatory, of course.  There are always ways around those (on poker sites people space the words out "D A R N  Y O U" or get creative with punctuation "d.ar.n you!"… my kids wonder why I won’t let them play multiplayer games on the internet)

Probably would be too distracting for city roads, but whenever you pull onto an expressway you have to choose your profile and status.  Maybe it would be a voice recording.  You’d be able to set how much you let people see, and I expect most people would probably set theirs to private, but it would be more fun to see a ‘Just Married!’ or other car with shoe polish messages on the screen to see more about them.

Probably a little ‘Big Brother’ but if it were voluntary I bet a lot of people would do it.  Interstate Social Networking.

Once cars start driving themselves a little more it is a no-brainer, though.

Distraction Warning: A related one, sort of, is to install yellow lights on the back of cars, somewhere around or above the third brake light.  Whenever the car detects a cellphone being used the yellow light lights up so you can expect random and erratic behavior from that person, like speed changes of up to 20 mph.  Not that I passed a woman talking on the phone one moment and she zoomed past me the next only to pull in front of me and slow down, or anything.

Gas Prices:  I was wondering what some affects of high gas prices would be… what industries would really take off due to gas prices and which unexpected ones would get hit?  One unexpected industry to take a hit might be Hollywood.  Which is kind of ironic, since they’re the people most likely to be telling us not to use as much oil, to save the polar bears and keep the planet cooler and all (I read the other day Al Gore’s house uses the same energy as 12 ‘average’ households, heh… that’s down from something like 24 houses last year, though).  How would people see movies?  Pay per view, Blockbuster, HBO/Showtime, etc.  Oh, and don’t forget the internet, with sites like Vondo where you can download the movie. 

Moving:  I have decided to move.  No, not my house OR my blog.  My office.  Lately I’ve been commenting how the kids hanging around me during the day when I’m working is fairly stressful as they tend to forget about the quiet hours, or can’t have their friends who aren’t in school over to do things they want to do (like play video games).  Teresa asked me this week if I’d rather have my office in the school room, upstairs, and I think it’s a grand idea!  No water above me… no wrestling boys in the kitchen making it sound like an earthquake… no more getting interrupted all the time…  I’ll be like Mr. Brady in his home office!

Only caveat… I have to move the bookshelves… sigh.  Here we go again.. 🙂

Okay, two caveats… I won’t be near a TV.  I’m thinking of snarking a little of that economic stimulus check we’ll be getting (eventually, curse you TurboTax!) and getting a TV card for my computer.  But then I need a cable connection.  If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.

Internet Enforced Human Rights:  Another one I thought of over the past week.  Brought to mind by someone reporting on a protest in a distant land, I think it was the Tibetan monks protest.  He was arrested, and used the site twitter.com to post a quick note, "Arrested."  Nearly instantaneously the people who knew he was there were calling consulates and embassies to make sure he was released.  More and more events will be reported real time, from anywhere in the world.  More and more common lives are being broadcast on the screen.  It will be harder and harder to teach intolerance and hate based upon ignorance the more the Internet spreads, and the deeper it reaches into countries.

We need to make sure technology can spread.  Make sure that sanctions against dictatorial nations don’t include technology that would let the population teach themselves.

Last, but not least… Stranded By the Roadside:  I hate passing by someone pulled over on the side of the road, hood up, car occupants sitting away from the car on the grass, someone digging in the trunk, people walking away from a car on the side of the road.  I want to help them so badly, but the only time I’m on the road is when I’ve got somewhere I need to be, and I want to get there.  Not to mention the move ‘The Hitcher’, which I’m sure has convinced an entire generation not to stop for people on the side of the road. 

Some day when I’m insanely wealthy and have managers looking after all my businesses I think it would be interesting to just drive around and help people stuck on the side of the road.  And I’m not just talking about the cities during rush-hour.  I mean all over.

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