Tag Archives: 69

Berkeley Steps Over the Line

So I just heard that, if I’m hearing correctly, the City of Berkeley is trying to amend zoning laws to require military recruiters to obtain a permit and attend a public hearing if they wish to “locate within 600 feet of a residential neighborhood, hospital, school or park.”

Apparently Berkeley is worried about the national problem of pedophiles enlisting in the military and becoming recruiters.

Several protesters met just outside a Marine recruiting station, which I thought was really cool. In one fell swoop, the protesters get to conduct their protest and make known their desire to kick the Marines out of town, while at the same time thank the Marine Corps for fighting and dying to preserve their right to protest. It really touched my heart.

This has caused quite a stir, and I felt like I had to put in my two cents.

Berkeley's Naked GuyOkay Berkeley, we let you get away with “naked guy” once. But don’t think for a second we’ll allow it again! Look, nobody wants to see naked men running around town. The Marines must stay in order to prevent any other men from becoming foolhardy enough to take their clothes off in public again!

HOORAH MARINE CORPS!

Hypermiling Not Always the Answer – Consider the Alternatives

ABC’s Nightline recently ran a story on hypermiling in which they interviewed one Wayne Mitchell, engineer for the City of Chicago and consummate hypermiler. Thanks to my friend Mikal for the head’s up on the story.

Wayne drives a Toyota Prius hybrid. He drives a hybrid and hypermiles not for the money savings (like I do), but for the saving of oil. Says Wayne, “Oil is a finite resource.” He wants oil to still be around when his kids grow up.

Wayne has an 18 mile commute. It takes him nearly an hour to get to work. Hearing this, it made me quite grateful for my situation.

My recent move cut my commute of six miles and 15 minutes to two miles and five minutes. While I spend way less time on the road, a couple of things have occurred that reduce my overall mileage. First and foremost is the colder weather. Block heaters might fix that, but I’m just not crazy enough (i.e. committed) at this point to go through the bother. Second is the shorter distance. I have less opportunity to practice hypermiling techniques.

Both the Nightline story and my own experience in having my mileage reduced because I’m now closer to work got me thinking about what my goals are in regard to hypermiling. Is it so I can brag about my incredibly high mileage and make myself feel better by looking down on gas guzzlers, or is it to use less gas thereby costing me less money?

BegleymobileThe truth is, it has always been the latter. If it were the prior, I’d get rid of my V6 Sonata and get an Ed-Begleymobile. Or I’d move to Nephi so I can travel the 40 miles to work each day and get double the mileage I’m getting travelling just two miles. On the other hand, if I were truly committed to saving gas money, I’d probably get a bicycle and take that to work instead. Doh!

And honestly, if I had the money I’d be guzzling gas myself driving around in a Corvette for the road and a Hummer for off (the big and uncomfortable, but incredibly capable H1, not those wussy H3’s).

Anyway, back to the original point of my post. If you’re practicing hypermiling techniques to save money like me, start looking at the many other methods that are non-hypermiling related that can save you gas money:

  • Move closer to work, or take a job closer to home
  • Start riding your bicycle
  • Take mass transit, like the bus or train
  • Avoid driving unless absolutely necessary (no more leisure Sunday drives)

Finally, and it really pains me to say this, but a scooter (which you can often nab for sub $2,000 brand new) practicing hypermiling would likely slaughter the mileage ratings of any very expensive hybrid vehicle (a new Prius goes for the price of 15 scooters). Personally, I recommend getting a motorcycle. Your mileage will be half that of a scooter, but at least you won’t be, you know, on a scooter.

As for me, I do things only if they’re convenient. The hypermiling techniques I employ are easily done by anybody. I don’t take it further because, frankly, I’m too busy trying to enjoy my life to make it more inconvenient for me (which is why, unlike Wayne, I wouldn’t wake up an hour early, drive in a manner that frustrates everybody around me, or take the back roads and extend my commute just to maximize my mileage and save gas). Life is short, and I really don’t want it to suck any more than it already does.

For all hypermiling tips that I’ve tried over the past year, take a look at my hypermiling category.

Belicove’s Four For Friday

Due to the Beli-Blog being in the midst of updates that will make it more powerful than Superman (literally, being that Superman is not real… sorry to break it to you), Mikal has asked that I, Stu, host today’s Four For Friday, an honor for which I am more than happy to oblige to.

And now, the venerable FFF!

Q1 – Big Oil, Big Spill: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this week to decide whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages to fishermen and other victims in connection with the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill that ruined more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline in 1989. Exxon’s position on the matter is that a ship’s owner should not be “vicariously” liable for the reckless behavior of a captain, and that punitive damages greater than $25 million are not justified because the spill resulted from an accident. Attorneys for the fishermen and other victims contend that Exxon bore responsibility for the accident because the company knowingly put a drunk in charge of an oil tanker. What do you think? Based on what you just read or know from the longstanding case, should Exxon Mobil be made to pay the $2.5 billion in punitive damages?

Q2 – Racism: Do you think you could be friends with a racist?

Q3 – Criminal Background Checks: Most cities and towns have their fair share of controversy, but Eagle Mountain, Utah, seems to be a magnet for suspicious characters. Back in the late 1990′s, voters learned that a candidate for Mayor had previously been convicted of tax fraud and served time in a minimum-security prison.
In 2003, the town’s Mayor told his police and his wife that he had been forced to drive to California at gunpoint. After learning he lied about the incident, police charged the then Mayor with filing a false report to police. Last year, Eagle Mountain’s Mayor was charged with seven felony counts of misuse of public funds. Now, someone whose Real Estate license was recently pulled by the State of Utah over allegations of Real Estate Fraud is running for Mayor, and a sitting councilwoman was recently charged with a second-degree felony for apparently accepting a $10,000 gift without reporting it to the city. Do you think candidates for public office should be compelled to submit to criminal background checks, with the results of such checks made publicly available; or is a candidate’s previous criminal prosecutions and adjudications no one else’s business?

Q4 – Food: Can you eat something with a texture that is visually unappealing. What about food that smells bad but taste good?

God Responds to Ernie, Uses Loophole to Avoid Suit

As you may remember from my last post, God’s wrath was diverted from me thanks to the antics of a certain Nebraska legislator. Our pal Ernie originally filed a lawsuit against the Almighty, blaming him for all sorts of bad goings on in the world. Well, a response shewing forth god-like wisdom was sent — effectively shutting Ernie down.

The 11th Commandment

Reportedly, God straightened Ernie out by explaining that just because He gave man the gift of free agency, it does not follow that He is therefore responsible for the actions of man. In other words, Ernie’s suit is non sequitur (I always wanted to use “non sequitur” in a sentence… yes!) The response further states that the defendant is immune from earthly laws and the court lacks jurisdiction.

So there ya go Ernie. But I somehow get the idea that this isn’t going to get you out of a pretty nasty sentence come judgment day.

Stu Gets Reprieve as God Gets Tied Up in Lawsuit

Wow. Things sure have turned around recently. You may remember that I was convinced some greater power was out to get me. Well, things quite suddenly started working out, leaving me wondering just what was going on.

The $600 I owed UVSC? Turns out my wife’s financial aid adviser is just incredibly lazy. When my wife called her (which, in and of itself is quite a task, since they are “so busy” all the time) to see if there was anything we could do to reduce the tuition we owed, the answer was more swift than Jamie Gold’s exit from this year’s WSOP:

“There’s nothing we can do.”

Well, after a quick call to a friend who happened to be a financial aid adviser at the same place, a simple search on my wife’s profile quickly yielded a scholarship that not only paid for the remaining tuition owed, but resulted in a $350 excess that we were able to bank!

Furthermore, my shoulder and bicep seem to have healed up without any problems so I hit the driving range at Cascade Fairways, the lost Netflix DVD managed to make it back to the Netflix warehouse, I found a new place to get free air for my car tires, and I just went out and got me some contact lenses for the first time since 2002. Life suddenly got much better!

So what happened? Had the gods grown bored with me? Was I not entertaining enough for them? Did they feel threatened by the publicity brought about by my blog post? Frankly, I didn’t really care. I was just happy that things were getting better.

Then I found out that Nebraska legislator, Ernie Chambers, is suing the Almighty Himself. Well, I can understand the hassle getting sued would cause… enough to divert attention from me. But as for Ernie, suing the very being who holds your eternal judgment in his hands? Not the brightest thing he could’ve done.

Whatever I did to deserve the run of misery last week, let me just say that it’s nothing compared to what our pal Ernie is gonna get. Ernie, it’s been nice knowing you. Enjoy your immortal life in Hell!

Ernie Sues God, Ends Up in Hell