Archive for April, 2007

Hydrogen Honda?

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , , on April 30, 2007 by consortiumoffools

Hydrogen is a gas that is combustible (see Hindenburg) and can be used to power cars. An article on MSN today (seen here) talks as if Honda is the first company ever to harness the power of Hydrogen. Ford did this back in 1993 with an Escort. Why is it that the Japanese companies are always credited with automotive ingenuity?

And a better question, why didn’t the article even talk about Hydrogen and its real-world ramifications? So what if two of these little cars are driving in SoCal?

Hydrogen (H2) is a plentiful element. It is found in so many substances, including the air we breathe and the water we drink. One thing that Honda doesn’t tell you is that Hydrogen is very difficult and expensive to break down into its basic form. There are many ways to do it, all expensive.

One way is via electrolysis. This means that an electric current is sent through water and the Hydrogen gas gets separated from the water (H2O -> H2). This method actually uses more energy and resources than the end result H2 can produce. So that method is out.

Another method is to steam reform natural gas. So to get a gas that is environment friendly, we have to use another gas that is not. The steaming process requires a lot of water. Not any old water, it has to be pure distilled water. We would have to use up our natural resource of water to create Hydrogen. We could also burn coal. One of the end results of coal burning is Hydrogen, but burning coal is counter-productive and releases toxic gasses and soot into the air. So there isn’t really a good way to get Hydrogen.

A major barrier between us and hydrogen powered cars is the major infrastructure that is in place. We have many industries that thrive on oil production. We have gas stations in every town in North America. We all own cars that suck down gas daily.

The final obstacle to overcome, besides actually getting H2, is overcoming the current administration’s choke-hold of America via oil dependency. We have gone to war several times to protect our oil interests, our nation’s leaders own stock in oil companies, and our vice president used to work for Haliburton. Where does this leave us? We’re going to use gasoline until there is none left to have.

But back to Honda and Japanese automobiles. They are seen as the pioneers of the automotive world, but all the major developments have taken place in the West. Sweden put the first three-point seatbelts in their Saabs, Ford created the first vehicle that anyone could afford. But I guess the automotive world has always been about implementation rather than invention. Look at my previous example of Henry Ford. He got the Model A and Model T out in America in the early 1900s, yet he didn’t invent the “horseless carriage.” A German did. And did Saab invent the seatbelt? They just put it in their car first. So here is our generation of implementation. Ford had an Escort with Hydrogen Cells in 1993, yet Honda is actually giving them to people in 2007. I still say Ford is better.

Brecas

Posted in Lazy Linguist with tags on April 19, 2007 by consortiumoffools

The New Mexico word for “brakes.”  It’s been borrowed into Spanish from English as a calque.  The structure has been adapted by Spanish for a lexical entry that shares semantic properties with the English counterpart.   i.e. English has  had  a huge effect on many Spanish words spoken in New Mexico, particularly Northern New Mexico.

I’m in the process of calling a bunch of auto mechanic and parts shops throughout New Mexico.  I have a list of 22 English automotive words and I have the employees translate them all.  I’m affirming what I already know: Auto Zone employees are either really cool and knowledgeable, or really useless jackasses.  No in-between guys.  Go into an Auto Zone and test my theory.  Dan tried getting some break pads and the guy didn’t know where they kept them.  Dan pointed across the counter to the huge rack of brake pads, then Dan had to squint to see the part numbers and still found the brakes before the employee did.  Maybe if Dan had called them brecas he would have gotten them sooner.

Brand New teaches us lessons

Posted in General News on April 11, 2007 by consortiumoffools

No, Mr. Lacey won’t be heading up Economics and teaching students about decimals and dollars, nor will Mr. Accardi be giving guitar lessons in the basement.

Their latest lesson is clear,

Don’t Drink and Drive.

I just attended their concert this past weekend, and Jesse Lacey started out his song Limousine with a statement explaining, “This is not a happy song. It is a sad song about an accident that happened near our house.” The song is an amazing one, and I suggest you download it. Better yet, go buy their latest CD, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me.

Here is the news article: here

It always seems like an ok option to drive home after having a few drinks, but the consequences are not worth the risk. Have one of your friends drive you home. Oh, and one more thing, have the friend who’s driving you put in this CD. It’s great to jam out to while drunk.

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

The Legacy of a Pontiac Bonneville

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , , on April 5, 2007 by consortiumoffools

Bonneville 1

She came off the assembly line in the motor city in the summer of ‘64. She had gleaming white paint and a white vinyl soft top. She was laden with all the options of the day: power steering, air conditioning, heater, even an am/fm radio. She was 19 feet of American engineering and passion. Her huge frame had presence, yet a hint of grace. She rolled down the streets of Detroit with the power and prestige a Kenya Ivory White Brougham Edition 1964 Pontiac Bonneville deserves.
I saw the Bonneville 42 years later in front of an Albuquerque mechanic’s shop whose owner knew little of the car’s history. “Well, the engine and transmission have been rebuilt and it’s on its third paint job,” said Mechanic Ed. It was true. The car was no longer white. She was now a dark charcoal grey. She had gone from sleek Detroit muscle to secretive mob boss status with the addition of pigment. I loved her. I bought the Bonneville immediately.

The Bonneville and I started our relationship in August 2005. I wrote Mechanic Ed a check for $2,750 and gleefully took the title.

Everyone thought I was insane. I already own a cute little commuter car, why would I need a tank? The truth is that I have always wanted a 1962 Bonneville. I own a book called “Detroit Muscle” that has huge pictures of every car built in Detroit from 1950 to 1980. I saw a picture of a Bonneville in it when I was 10. I was half-heartedly looking for one since then. When I saw the 1964 parked on the street, I knew that was the car I wanted.

The Bonneville has the feel of a pirate ship. She’s huge and dark. The word “drive” is not qualified for this car, I have to navigate her. I have to plot out courses. Parking is a job for Chuck Norris—only the confident and brave can even attempt it. The old girl seems menacing and dwarfs modern cars. The car looks and feels like something out of this world. She’s solid and low to the ground. The doors are heavy, the dash is streamline, the front and rear seats are ancient couches. There are no cup holders, no rear-view mirrors, and no GPS. The car is hardly a car by today’s standards. I feel important and commanding while piloting her.

We got off to a rocky start. The Bonneville and I had different ideas of how a car should be driven. I wanted to drive fast and show off, but she wanted to slowly prowl the pavement. I wanted her to start up immediately and be ready to go, but she wasn’t easily stirred from slumber.

Our first incident happened three days after I bought her. I thought that everyone needed to get a ride in the beast. We were on our way to pick up my friend Kelsey, when the Bonneville promptly decided to stop running. The car died in Kelsey’s parking lot. “Really good buy,” said Kelsey when she saw the beached whale. Thanks Kels, you’re a big help.
I couldn’t figure out why the Bonneville wouldn’t start. I turned the key in the ignition, pulled on the choke, and tapped the gas pedal. Nothing worked. It wouldn’t catch. I was frustrated. My latest investment seemed like a stupid mistake. Why did I buy this damn thing? It’s just going to break down. That’s what cars from 1964 do, they break down.
I regained my cool and had Kelsey drive me to Auto Zone in her defiantly able Volvo. On the way I called a few of my friends to see what they thought. Everyone suggested something different. I remember Mechanic Ed saying something about spark plugs, so I bought some spark plugs. We went back to the Bonneville and I painfully put in the spark plugs. Then I tried starting it. Still nothing. Maybe it was a bad starter. Maybe there was a fuel problem. I went back home.
On the way back, I thought of something. Maybe she’s just out of gas! No, that would be stupid. The gauge is on full. Then again, it’s been on full since I bought the car. I just thought she had a magical gas tank. I had my roommate take me to get a gas can and some fuel. We went back to the deserted Bonneville and pumped it full of its life-blood. I tried starting her up. Nothing. Oh man. I tried again. Still nothing. Come on! Ok, one more try. She started up like one of her long lost sisters at Talladega Race Way- roaring to life and with the will to perform. “This whole time! It was just gas!” I yelled. My friends just rolled their eyes.

My new friends would have been more understanding. Since I bought the car, I got initiated into a special society of oddballs. I now was an owner of a classic car. I was equals to old men who collected cars and the local vatos in lowriders.
I met one such man recently. He was both an old man and a vato. I met him on the side of the road. I was driving my Bonneville and noticed another Bonneville on the side of the road. It was a 1962, just like the one I originally wanted. But it was not restored. It had original paint, which means original rust. It had ratty seats and motor problems. “What’s up, ay?” the gentleman inquired. “Hey man, what’s wrong with your Bonneville?” I replied. He wasn’t sure, but he was working on it. “That’s a nice ride, ese. My name is Johnny,” he said. We talked for about half an hour while we tried to fix his car. “Maybe it’s out of gas,” I joked. We became friends immediately. It was like we belonged to a club of Bonneville owners. We just had an understanding. He got his car running and bid me adieu. “Later brother,” he yelled. I knew I would see him again.

People in other old cars wave at me as if we are old pals. A baby blue 1964 Bonneville in better condition than mine honked at me in December. I waved like every guy in a car does, I lifted a few fingers on my left hand that was gripping the top of the steering wheel. I was with my brother at the time. “Who was that guy?” he asked. “I have no idea,” I said.

In the past few months I have been trying to sell the old car. I thought that she was becoming more trouble than she’s worth. She’s huge and difficult to deal with. Each outing is a mechanical adventure. I have to make sure I drive her when I have free time because she could break down at any moment. I have to plan out stopping in traffic because she takes so long to stop. But after getting one offer I decided not to sell her. The reality of losing her set in.

I love this old car. I couldn’t get rid of her. How many people have a car that is twice as old as they are and still works like a champ? How many people can say they are driving history? I can, and I do not want to give that up. The car has nostalgia. I feel like I have traveled back in time to the 60’s. A time when big American muscle was the trend. A time when cars were judged on size and performance instead of gas mileage and resale value.

The Bonneville is more than a car to me. She is more than a possession. She is part of me and helps define me. I am the guy in that huge old car, and I like that. She’s a unique piece of machinery. When I see her I swell with pride. “Yeah,” I tell old dudes, “She’s mine. That charcoal grey 1964 Pontiac Bonneville with the white top.”

BonnevilleBonneville LightsBonneville Butt

The Cheap and Easy

Posted in General News on April 4, 2007 by consortiumoffools

No, I’m not talking about your mom, I mean this web site.

I want to start my own web site, yet managing time can be difficult, especially when hanging out is top priority.

I downloaded some web site creating software of questionable legality and proceeded to confuse myself. The idea of creating a web site is simple. Just make a thing, then have a side thing and links to various profound other things like lemonparty.org. But when I sat down to do it, I found out that there are way too many buttons in Dream Weaver to comprehend. I still don’t fully understand photo shop.

So here I am, posting meaningless lexical units in a forced manner to appeal to masses that don’t exist. Disregard the previous sentence. Whenever I hear “blog,” I think of faux-intellegent paragraphs stuffed with jargon. Thus the name of my blog, I guess. The internet is one large consortium of fools.