One Good Thing

I have learned a lot of information over the past decades, though probably not as much as I learned in my first couple of decades.  Young people are (or at least they can be) information sponges.  They draw in knowledge (whether they like it or not) although squeezing it out of them is hardier than you might expect.  In my case, I was a leaky sponge, never reluctant to share the facts (as best I knew them, though often incomplete)(who, after all, remembers the exact Wednesday a treaty was signed in the eighteenth century, or even if it was a Wednesday? And even if it was a Wednesday in America, it was already Thursday in China, so whose clock are you going to use? For that matter in the eighteenth century, clocks all over America, and much of the world, had a local time based on “high noon” when the sun was at its zenith, and everyone else’s clock be damned!  It wasn’t until the railroads needed a coordinated system of time keeping that “time zones” were officially created [by Sir Sanford Fleming if I remember correctly, or at least he had something to do with it].)

Take that Stephen Hawking!  Now THAT was a BRIEF History of Time.  But, returning from my time travels…

One good thing I have learned in the past few years is that if you manage to do “one good thing” in a day, it was probably worth your effort to have done that one thing, and the rest doesn’t count.  Doesn’t count against you, doesn’t count for you, it just doesn’t matter all that much.what else you did or didn’t get done.  If you did one good thing in the course of your day, you’ve probably accomplished more than most people have in the same span of time.  (You see, time was not just an irrelevant side trip, after all.)  For that matter, time isn’t really “measured” in days.  Time is a continuous succession of moments, and of rushing forward events, usually mostly forgotten even by those involved in those events.

We have developed a system of sleeping once a day, in most cases and most places, so we think of a day as a significant unit of time.  That’s essentially not true, because while we slept soundly in our beds, folks in Australia, Hong Kong, and Madagascar went about their daily business on the same day that you won’t get around to until “tomorrow”, when in fact, tomorrow was happening all the time you were asleep.  You just weren’t yet awake to notice that it was happening.

Wherever you are, you are at the leading edge of time. You can never go backwards in time.  You can only go forward.  You can accomplish the illusion that you have traveled back in time.  You can leave Chicago, fly Westward and land in Denver before the time you left Chicago, according to local time in Denver.  Regardless of what they call the hour in Denver, however, back in Chicago, time has passed and it is later in the same day.  Another time travel illusion is to fly Eastward from Tokyo to Hawai’i such that you arrive on the day you left but much earlier in the same day (I’m not about to run off to an airline schedule to prove it to you, besides all you need is a military jet fighter [and maybe a refuel or two along the way] at super-sonic speeds, this trick/illusion is relatively easy to do.)  But it is only a trick.  Time “flows” ever forward.

As far as we know, this is shown every moment in the relative movement of the stars and planets.  They never take a little nap while you are asleep.  They are always right exactly where you would expect them to be based on where they were yesterday and the days before that.  The whole universe flows, and as far as we know, it is all powered by gravity, the relative attraction of any one body to any other.  But that’s worth a separate discussion some day.

Meanwhile, it’s one of my favorite sayings (and I do mean MY favorite sayings because I made it up myself), “Tomorrow has already happened, you just haven’t seen it yet.”

Better Mileage from your PRIUS (Toyota Hybrid)

There is a beautiful, young lady, named Jennifer Pahlka Image … she now works for the White House and hasn’t added anything to her blog or Flickr page since 2011, so presumably that’s when she joined the White House and therefore has been consummately cautious ever since by posting nothing at all (not even pictures of her lovely your children).  But back in 2011 she did have something to say about the disappointing mileage she was getting from her (then, new, I gather) Prius.  She was a little cynical about the “rating” (from the EPA mileage testing) that said it could/should get about 60 miles to the gallon in the city (according to their “testing” criteria). She indicated her mileage was more like 40 MPG, so I thought, for all those who were also this disappointed I should post a little bit about what I have learned about driving and mileage maximization in my 2008 Prius, myself.  (Oh, yes, she was complaining about the back end design of the Prius suggesting that it looked like it had been “bitten off” and was, therefore, somewhat ugly, so my comment started with a reference to my little “Priscilla Prius'” butt.  Here’s what I said:

“I love my prius too much to mention its butt in public, but I bought my 2008 prius in 2010, so it was very affordable, and despite the fact that my wife had been driving a Ford hybrid (bought new in 2008, and only getting about 29 mpg in town), I am getting 50 to 51 mpg. It’s not that hard, but it is kind of a “trick” of getting into good driving habits, which, by the way don’t work in “ordinary cars” or in the “Mercury hybrid”. It’s something called surge and coast. You speed up to a couple of miles above the speed you want to go, then lift you foot completely off the accelerator and GENTLY push it down again, the car then goes into “all electric” mode and the gas mileage indicator jumps to 100MPG (a slight exaggeration, but hey, she’s a proud little car and wants to share her good news). Combine that with always easying off the accelerator (even to zero accelerator) when approaching a red light, (even a whole block away, or more) when you know the traffic won’t clear ahead of your by the time the light changes. It works very nicely and I’ve hardly ever had anyone honk at me for slowing as I approach a red light. Since you are only getting 40 MPG this could give you a 25% boost. The money you save isn’t that much, but if every prius owner did that, it would be a significant amount of oil imports we could avoid.
Love
Stafford “Doc” Williamson”

I hope lots of people read this, maybe even Jennifer, herself. It seems like a technical guru at the White House who knows a little bit more about saving gas in a Prius would be a good thing, wouldn’t you think so too?

P.S. the picture of Jennifer is stolen from her own post about “Code for America” summit of 2013, so apparently she has posted something on Flickr since 2011.

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