Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Regressionist Transport

Here's the view from our new outhouse, looking out over the barnyard and pasture. The open seat beckons...

I never before suspected that using it would be such a pleasant experience. We now get to defecate to the sounds of singing birds, clucking chickens, and snorting horses, in addition to our own soothing sounds. It's just like playing the tuba in an orchestra.

We looked at a new car last weekend. Both of our current cars are just a little too convenient and reliable, which makes it easy to take frequent trips (usually inspired by cheap craigslist farm equipment). We really need to do something about that. I never feel good after driving for more than an hour.

When purchased, our new car will have a maximum range of about 20 miles, and a top sustained speed of around 10mph. It will have no airbags, crumple zones, climate control, seatbelts, or radio. Like the Toyotas in recent headlines, it will also be prone to speeding out of control. There's definitely some potential for steering problems as well. The car we looked at was afraid of stumps and house for-sale signs, so we decided not to make a purchase.

This is what our new car will look like.

I'm not quite manly enough to sell the other cars yet (and I suspect Rachel might veto that decision), but I am easing into the new transportation paradigm. An IEA official recently said that it will soon be unusual for people to travel 30km in a day, so I figure we're just getting a head start. Note that the IEA is notorious for their rose colored glasses when it comes to predictions of future oil supply.

I tend to suffer from a lack of self control, as I suspect many other people do as well. If there's a pack of cookies in the house, I eat them as quickly as I can (see -- I'm willing to sacrifice my own health for the benefit of my family!). The trick is simply not to buy cookies, because I'll rarely go through the effort of driving to the store just to purchase something I shouldn't be eating anyway. The same thing is true with cars. They're so convenient that they make it easy to go anywhere on a whim. Maybe they need to be a bit less convenient.

Some of you may have heard of Jevon's Paradox, which essentially says that when something becomes more efficient (he was observing coal powered steam engines at the time), it results in more energy use, because it's suddenly cheaper to do what you want to do with the energy. Owning a Prius, according to this paradox, actually encourages you to drive more because there's a reduced fuel cost. Maybe we should all buy Hummers (they'll be a collector's item soon -- even better!) to steer away from climate change?

My last post drew some concerns that I may be suffering from severe depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts (and this post will surely bring the men in white coats), but I would like to assure you that I am neither depressed nor suicidal (mental illness is still debatable). I actually find it very exciting to be dealing with our current TEOTWAWKI situations, particularly the converging crisis of energy and climate issues. My own actions alone will not make a lick of difference by themselves, but maybe I'll have some company someday.

I see industrial society's current course as suicidal, and would prefer to avoid suicide, even if it means giving up my god-given right as an American to worship the automobile. How about yourself? Most people I know seem to have a preference for the suicide (and homicide, as it turns out) option.

I took a day off of work this week to plow up a strip of our field for planting a new osage-orange hedgerow. As with most other things, I like to do the exact opposite of what other farmers are doing, like the farmer down the road who is currently ripping out his hedgerows with an excavator to make room for a big center-pivot irrigation system.

The weather lately has been wonderful, as evidenced by Henry's attire. (just click on the play button below -- for some reason this video clip doesn't show the first frame)

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