Thursday, July 03, 2008

one car leaves the house going 50mph...

I’ve done a bit of back-of-the-envelope mathematics in some sort of vain attempt to conjure a reasonable idea about gas prices, the World oil supply, drilling, and prospectin’. From what I’ve corralled, and I’m going to round the scary numbers to make the math prettier, we import about 10 million barrels of crude oil per day. It obviously comes from a number of countries in varying amounts so I’ll just deal with a few of the rebel and unstable countries we like to castigate, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, in order to demonize either them, our use, or our own insecurities. Combined they account for about 25% of our daily imports (about 1m from Venezuela and 1.4m from Saudi Arabia per day, respectively.) In order to eliminate our need for either Hugo Chavez or the House of Saud, we need to somehow either increase our own production (or buy from someone else) or simply reduce our use. There’s a thing called CAFÉ, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, standard that notionally applies to corporate fleets but can be used as a simple measuring stick of what’s going on out there. The average on-the-road fuel economy for cars is sitting at about 25mpg and for light trucks it’s about 20mpg. My premise is this: build, sell, and own more fuel efficient cars (and trucks, if you must.) In order to offset that 25% of imported oil we could increase our economy for cars to 31mpg and light trucks to 25mpg and be done with it. No need to wait ten years for drilling the oceans or ANWR in hope that it will alleviate the problem sometime in my late fifties. If that seems like too much to hope for then how about everybody carpool to work once a week? It almost seems like everyone carpooling once a week would work out to each person who’s riding alone in a car saving 20% of their Monday – Friday fuel usage (more math). Twice a week? Now we’ve got 40% savings Monday – Friday.

On a lighter note…

We went to see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at Wolftrap last night and took advantage (?) of the Metro Transit Authority’s bus service from our Metro station to the venue. What happens is this: you pay $3 for the roundtrip fare with buses departing every 20 minutes from West Falls Church station. It’s about a 15-minute ride to Wolftrap and the bus deposits you right at the entrance to the massive amphitheater. The theory, and it worked better last year, is that you don’t have to deal with the mass of parking and traffic and you can just flounce on and off a bus like a celebrity. Last year there was a different system involved between the buses, the traffic cops, and Wolftrap. Last year they would actually stop all the traffic leaving the park and allow the buses to drive straight out onto the exit road – it saved loads of time. This year they seem to be making the buses wait in line just like every other car so the advantage is seriously diminished. Anyway, what the Eleven was laughing about upon arrival is the bus driver passing along, and passengers hopefully understanding how, the return ride rules apply: the buses, all of them, will leave the venue 20 minutes after the show or at 11pm, whichever comes first. We immediately put forth the idea that the driver actually should provide real examples to some of the concert goers who looked, and probably were, confused. Maybe before you can exit the bus you have to answer some word problems, things like this:

Driver: “Suppose Lyle Lovett finishes at 10:15pm. What time are the buses departing?”
Rider #1: “11pm?”
Driver: “Incorrect. You need to find a friend who understands directions.”

Driver: “Let’s say Mr. Lovett ‘finishes’ his show at 10:45pm but he hasn’t played Closing Time or If I Had a Boat and you love those songs - you came for those songs. So, you know there’s at least one encore coming – as always at these things. What time is the bus leaving?”
Rider #2: “When will he finish playing If I Had a Boat?”
Driver: “What? You need to hang around the other guy who’s confused. When will he finish…Jesus.”

Driver: “Okay, someone help me out here. The former Mr. Julia Roberts decides he’s dog tired and only plays about ninety minutes and walks off the stage; the house lights come up, you look at your watch, and it’s only 9:20. When does the bus leave?”
Todd: “9:40pm.”
Driver: “Great kid. Let me ask you one more. Ol’ Big Hair finishes playing If I Had a Boat and it's now 10:55 – that’s for Rider #2 over there – and that’s the encore, end of show. Lights up and people start heading out. What time does the bus leave?”
Todd: “11:00pm, but me and the two confused riders latched to my ‘don’t get lost’ rope are going to have to haul ass through sidling suburban crowds, roller coolers, and assorted lawn chairs in order to see your smiling face.”
Driver: “Well said” [fist bump]


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