Archive for August, 2005

Odor isn’t all there is to a new car

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

One wouldn’t think technology of automobiles change so much in 12 years but I’m still finding things about my 2005 Hyundai that surprise me. I knew and appreciated the good things about the Ford Probe I drove for 180,000 miles and it didn’t take 12 years to discover them, however, what is interesting about my Hyundai Accent are features I wouldn’t think need to be there. Why beep to warn me my seat belt is still fastened after the engine stops? I figure that out when I can’t get out of the car. I can’t insert the key (yes it still has a physical key not high tech remote) into the ignition unless the driver’s door is shut. Why? The door locks aren’t as automatic as the Probe – I could push those locks down with a simple hand swipe as I closed the door – locking the ignition key inside. When I step out of the Accent with my key in my hand I must insert the key in the lock and manually turn it to lock the door. I could turn the lock on the inside but if I do before I open the door, I can’t open the door to get out. So there. I’m not as likely to lock myself out of the car.

I like the little icons that light up as information or warnings. So far the only ones that stay on long enough for me to identify are the gas tank empty warning and the door open. Since I’m alone in the car the door open icon is on every time I get in or out and the passenger door hasn’t been tested yet. I tested the gas tank warning several times and in conjunction with that I’ve checked to see what my mileage per gallon comes to. On one trip I held the speed down to 65 mph or the limit and with windows closed, no a/c and very few stops and starts so in 399 miles I logged 39 mpg. Just to compare other conditions I drove with windows down,60 mph or the limit and kept up with the traffic at all times in heavy traffic (way over limit) no a/c and also very few stops and starts and came up with 29.3 mpg. On the last fill I meticulously kept the rpm below 2700, windows closed, a/c on when needed (at 100 degrees in this area, that was frequent) and made stops and starts every 30 miles (that’s my best in-town driving) and got 37 mpg. Hyundai claims 24 mpg in town and 35 mpg on trips so I think the car is doing fine. Experienced drivers tell me mileage gets better as the engine gets broken in. I hope the mileage goes up faster than price of the gas.

Newberry, a crator of glass

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

The past few days were an escape from telephones, schedules, and tasks undone. I accepted an invitation from son,Timothy, to go hiking somewhere in Oregon. He had no particular destination in mind but several alternatives to suggest. One was the Newberry volcano area in Central Oregon. He also suggested that we ask, brother, Michael, to join us. We all could use a few quiet days in a wilderness to appreciate nature and our own lives. Michael’s wife, June’s, schedule was particularly stressful so she ought to join us.

And there we were, in a shady site in Paulina Lake Campgrounds, looking over hiking trails and wonders of nature to peruse – wonders none of us had the privilege to see before. We agreed on a seven and a half mile hike around the shore of Paulina Lake and were off on a clockwise direction of the circle trail at seven o’clock on a very cool morning. The temperature was in the forties, a chilly change from the ninety degrees we left behind in Grand Ronde. At sixty three hundred feet elevation with clear skies, the temperature climbed to a sweaty level in two hours.

Hundreds of photos later and a herd of deer and a brood of ducks we arrived at the trail’s end, agreeing to a person, that we had enough exercise for the day. Nevertheless with tummies full of blueberry pancakes, sausage, and eggs we settled down and looked over other opportunities in the area. Paulina Peak drive and walk seemed intriguing — so we did it – drove a one lane road on a curving road of hairpin turns and breathtaking scenery of cinder cones and nearby mountains to the top of Paulina Peak. More photos, more ahhhing and ohhing, as we looked down on the lake and trail we traversed that morning. We impressed ourselves. Well, the hike was not much so we trundled back to camp and headed for the obsidian flow we could see from the peak.

It was a tougher hike over the ridge and into the flow but sadly as with all national treasures we could only admire the fabulous black obsidian, not take samples. It is not for pickup regardless of how many arrowheads or other sharp tools it could make. But it was a great hike up and over the edge of the flow. Hard on my knees. Reminescent of a South Sister hike I took with Thomas thirteen years ago. My knee was a pain to remember. But this time we did park ourselves by the campfire and discussed the full day of exercise.

Asleep in a tent with the fresh clean air to revive us we kept our cool in
a purely physical way and at dawn welcomed another leisurely breakfast
over the camp stove. Fried potatoes, onions, and eggs never tasted so
good. However we still had one natural wonder to view – Paulina Falls.
The spacious tent was dropped and packed along with all our individual
camping gear then we trapsed down hairpin turns for one fourth mile to
view the 80 foot falls. What a walk that was!

The hiatus is over but as with all adventures, memories will persist with a great deal of pleasure.

Shaving up the profits

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

According to the manual the gas tank on my Hyundai holds ten gallons. So when the gage on the dashboard shows one quarter full, there should be at least two gallons left to drive on. Somehow at the pump the tank takes more than eight gallons. Has deregulation reached from the trucking industry vehicles to the gallons of liquid delivered? I remember when there was a scandle about pumps set to deliver less than a gallon but the tabulator’s dollar per gallon required full price. State auditors had inspectors spot checking the pumps. Now with the cutbacks in all government areas are the inspectors considered unnecessary?

In my experience gages are quite accurate allowing some miles to go
while the arrow rests on the E mark. I had one rental agreement at the
Atlanta airport stipulate that the gas tank was to be brought back empty
– any gas left in was the rental’s benefit. I dare you to drive through
that city and judge which exit off the six lanes will bring you immediately
to a filling station. It had been miles back that I had access to an easy-off
easy-on station. I ran on E all the way through the city – which I admit
seems far longer than it probably is – but the motor was still running
when I stopped in the rental return lane. That tank must have had fumes
left when the gage read E. My sweat level was way up.

Last week in my own Hyundai I was running with the little red pump icon warning me of a low gas. I went the last seven miles on fumes and hopes that the white line of E gave me a little leaway. I was close to home and fear of being stalled on the highway was not the threat it was in a strange city. I did make it to a gas pump. That fill was over nine and a half gallons. Little gas was left. So what happened when the gage read nearly one quarter of a tank and the fill took over eight gallons? Similar fills happened with my old car so suspicion isn’t new.

Maybe the gages on older pumps get out of sync? Maybe they are tampered with? High gas prices are criticized and complained about a lot lately. We want our taxes lower too and so we vote to cut taxes which cut services from the governor’s office to the city manager. Honesty in measures whether in gas gallons or meat pounds would be appreciated.

The feather knows

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Would you believe a feather could remind me how much technology has gone forward in just half of my lifetime? Forty years ago there were no seatbelts to hold us in the car when we were rolled over like three of us were in our Mazda truck in1988. But then there were no automatic turn signals either in those dear dead days beyond recall as the old song goes. How did we turn corners without losing an arm? A feather brought all that to mind as I explained the odd shape of the leading flight feather from a Canada Goose. Probably the five thousand or so kids that came through McNary National Wildlife Education Center are the only ones who had it brought to their attention.

Well just so you know, the vanes at the top five inches of that particular species’ feather are very narrow almost as if an afterthought. Old mother goose doesn’t even realize it as she leads the V of geese across the sky in migration. Well maybe she does; she’s wise enough to hold onto her man for life. The leading edge has narrow vanes to make it easier to cut through the air. You can tell air has weight and pushes against you. Try holding on to a palm tree in a hurricane. Cars are designed for the least wind resistance engineers can figure for that solid rectangle of metal and plastic – not just to look sleek but to render the best gas mileage. But we’re talking feathers here. Each feather as it overlays the next has wider vanes as they progress across the awesome wing.

Vanes are the parts of the feather that protrude along the shaft from the quill to the end. The quill is the hollow part of the feather after the very tip is cut off. The tip grows out of the bird about the same way and of the same stuff as each one of our hairs. That cut end is what was used to sign the Declaration of Independence and to write it as well as writing all the letters, love and political, that have clued us into our history. We can thank our lucky stars that the quills and ink escaped the stoop shouldered monks and made the world go around. My grandmother wrote with a flourish. How many of you thought to save a hand written letter from your grandmother? How many of your grandmothers even write letters at all?

If history needs handwritten proof we might question whether we’ll know our history in another fifty years.

Whose right to privacy

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

Today my broker advised me to unload my stock in sash and doors. Why, I asked? Houses are going up all over and surely will need more doors than ever. Ah, but look at the law of the land, he says. The Supreme Court will soon have the deciding vote to overturn Roe vs Wade. So what, I say? We don’t want abortions anyway. Well that’s as it may be but Roe vs Wade is based on citizens’ right to privacy – not just a woman’s right to have an abortion if her life is in danger or if a 14 year old girl is raped. There is no gender in the concept of a citizen’s right to privacy. It includes kings and knights of the castles and all the not pregnant females in the USA.

Since doors cannot be closed for privacy why put up doors at all?

When the grocery cart is filled with chicken wings, we will all eat crow.