Gavin Shoebridge – an electric vehicle nut, a keen environmentalist

                Electric Car Conversion Blog By Gavin Shoebridge

March 31st, 2014 at 12:27 pm

How climate change will affect your life.

The future: coming to a town near you.

Climate change is here, it’s getting worse, and human activity is to blame.

This is the consensus of the majority of the scientific community, who now believe that fact as strongly as they believe cigarettes increase your risk of lung cancer and heart disease. You simply can’t argue with those statistics, unless you have an agenda or are willfully ignorant.

There’s just no argument anymore. What you can argue about, however, is how intensely climate change will affect you.

A few days ago the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fourth major assessment on climate change, and as you might expect, the news ain’t good. The short story is that things are already getting bad, and we’re not doing enough to reverse it, slow it down, or even adapt to it. This means bad things are going to happen.

At this point I should point out the obvious to anyone who’s been following climate change for the last few years: we will not change our ways. If you think we will all get together at the next UN meeting and all agree to instantly reverse climate change then you are mistaken. I don’t want to offend you, but it’s true. We are heading one way and we will not change the direction. We’re in for a rough ride.
If you’re old then in a way you’re lucky: you’ve enjoyed the best half of the 20th century which was an amazing time to be alive! Technology, social progress, art, and prosperity. You saw it all. You were born at the right time and you should be thankful for it.
If you’re young however, things are going to get pretty crappy for you and your family within your lifetime.

Just take a moment to accept that pretty crappy fact. Take all the time you need.

Does this mean humanity will die out? No, of course not; we’re incredibly adaptable beings.  However with this adaption will come a change in how we live our lives, with our collective quality of life changing for the worse. At some point, some groups of people, living in some parts of the world are going to starve, fight, and die because of the effects of climate change. This is reality.

I’m sure you’ve already read the headlines how people in low-lying islands are already being relocated due to rising sea levels, and how impoverished people in Africa are starving more than ever, and how some cities are now experiencing lack of water as their reservoirs dry out with no solutions available.

Yes it’s tragic, it’s bad, it’s horrible – but it’s human nature to be more concerned about your immediate surroundings, which means those growing numbers of people dying of hunger & thirst seem like they’re another world away.

What you’re probably more concerned about is what’s going to happen to people like you, living in major cities in the USA, Europe, Australasia etc. What’s in store for folks like us within the next 30 years?

1: Rising food prices. This is the first thing you can expect to see in developed cities, and it will be well out of line with inflation. Meat will soon become a luxury good in your city, as is happening many countries. Simple grains and breads will also rise in price to the point where a large portion of your income will need to go straight to buying essential food items. This is because despite our ballooning global population, global wheat yields are expected to drop by 2% every decade. More people + less food = incredible demand. Think your weekly grocery shopping trip is expensive now? Prepare to pay a lot more month by month, year by year for the same things.

2: Some of your favourite foods will no longer be available. We’re already seeing this with avocados. At this stage you can still buy them, but their prices are skyrocketing. Soon, they will become so expensive that your local supermarket will not stock them, because no one will pay $12 for one. It will happen with other exotic fruits and vegetables too, such as what is happening to pineapples due to an increase in heatwaves, droughts, and severe storms. At this stage it’s only shortages on some items, not complete elimination so fork out more and enjoy these luxuries while you can. One day it such shortages will apply to some things you buy regularly today.

3: Unemployment, and lots of it. Yes, I know we’re still battling with record numbers of unemployed so this isn’t welcome news, but that’s just where we’re heading, so accept it. But why would we have an increase in unemployment in our cities? Simple: destructive storms, severe droughts, reduced agricultural yields, and the decreased availability of water will force hundreds of millions of people to relocate to find work. That includes your town. Yes, right where you are sitting. There will be less industry because of less money, which means less jobs, but a more desperate workforce (willing to work for less than you). Accept it because it’s already happening in first world countries like the USA.

4: Taxes will increase rapidly. This will be to assist the swelling number of individuals who will require government assistance for food. The tax increases will also be in order to assist the increasing millions of unemployed, and it will be used to treat the millions of those becoming sick from poor nutrition and/or living in a reduced level of hygiene caused by a reduced cashflow. Therefore if you do have a job in 25 years from now, expect to pay a heck of a lot more in tax. This is unavoidable and it just means a poorer standard of living for people like you and me. High taxes mean people have less disposable income, which results in less consumption, which means businesses make less, which results in people losing their jobs. This adds to point number 3, above which makes points 3 & 4 a self-perpetuating loop.

5: Water shortages are coming for many cities; including yours. Some cities are already desperate for water, and things are getting the opposite of “much better”. With unpredictable seasons and longer drier spells forecast, there will be less water available. Water fees in your town will increase dramatically to cover the costs of new dams and reservoirs and to discourage water wastage. This means more costs for you.

6: Major increases in crime. In a city full of hungry, thirsty, unemployed people, crime will flourish. That’s not rocket science. Not everyone will be desperate enough to break into your home, but the percentage will noticeably increase. Expect more muggings, murders, and burglaries for cash & valuables. Desperate people do desperate things in desperate times, and this is apparent in many countries already. It’s going to get much worse, so you’re best to accept it now and plan ahead.

Sadly, climate change means that for many people, life in your town or city will probably never be as good as it is now

Now, take a deep breath and relax for a moment, while I try and bring some balance into this gloomy perspective.

Firstly, none of this will happen suddenly. You’re not going to wake up tomorrow with people shooting each other over a bag of flour or a container of water. As bad as things may get, I’m not convinced it will ever get to that level in our first world towns and cities.

Secondly, there are ways to plan ahead for climate change. You can think of it like an insurance payment for a happier life in the future. Let’s run through some solutions to some of the unpleasant & upcoming issues I mentioned above.

1: Beat rising food prices by growing your own food. It’s really the only way to help with your weekly food bill. This is something becoming more and more popular in cities where fresh fruits and vegetables are getting more and more expensive. Unfortunately if you want to make a real difference to your food bill, you’d better relocate to a house with an actual back yard. An apartment balcony just isn’t going to make a real difference in the future. This is something to worry about in the future of course, but with cities about to start swelling due to overpopulation coupled with climate refugees, city house prices are going to hyper-inflate within the next decade or two. Get in now – or should I say, get out now.

2: Shortages of luxury foods can only be mitigated by growing your own once again. As meat will soon become a luxury, it’s worth raising your own poultry or (if you have the room) rabbits, pigs, or sheep for meat. You’ll soon find the demand is still there, and you could fetch top dollar if you butcher and sell it yourself.

3: There are few ways to prepare for unemployment. If you’re with a partner then both of you should be prepared to live off his/her salary alone. Can you do that now? If not, why not? Find ways to trim your expenses. “But he/she doesn’t earn enough!” you say? Welcome to the problems of 2030. Learn to survive and thrive on a pittance. It could very likely be your only choice one day.

4: Taxes are a part of life; and really high taxes are a part of climate change. You can’t avoid them, so it’s best you know now, huh?

5: Water shortages are something you can plan for. Get a massive water collection system installed, and collect the rainwater off your roof. There are simple systems you can attach to your home’s downpipe. Have it fill a container the size of a car, and then filter the water before drinking it. When your local municipality announces water rationing for the 5th day in a row, you’ll be fine.

6: Install a fence around your home, and protect your vegetable patch. If you were starving would you steal all the apples off my tree? Of course you would, and I would steal yours if I was desperate enough. Put up a fence to deter thefts and to hide your vegetable plot from prying eyes. Stealing fruit from someone’s house might sound pretty comical today, but by 2030 I’m confident you won’t be laughing – especially when it happens to you for the 8th time.

______________________________________

Now at this point I can imagine you’re probably shaking your head at the absurdity of this blog post. You might even be saying, “This Gavin guy is a nutbar! Things will never be that bad! He needs rubber wallpaper!”, and to be honest I wish you were right. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just keep on living the way we’re living forever? If only climate change wasn’t real, if only food production wasn’t falling, if only we weren’t on track for 9,600,000,000 hungry humans by 2050. Ah, if only.

The reality however is most probably going to be exactly as I have outlined above. The only thing we don’t know exactly is when.

For the time being things are still good for most of us. Yes unemployment is still exceptionally high, but compared to the future, things are pretty darn sweet. So with that in mind, live your life to its fullest, enjoy being able to buy luxuries, and most importantly plan for the future!

Here are some final ruthless tips you probably don’t want to hear:
- Don’t have kids unless you can afford to support them into adulthood due to unemployment.
– Move to a place with usable land and prepare to use every square inch for growing food.
– Pay off your mortgage within the next 15 years.
– Save at least 10% of your income now. I mean it. Open a savings account TODAY.
– Take the 2 month challenge: live on half your income for 2 months (put the other half in your savings).

Share, praise, or even criticise this blog post – I don’t care – as long as you take at least some of these ideas onboard to benefit your future. You only have one future, so take control of it.

Now get out there and have a great day!

comments Comments (0)    -
February 27th, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Why are so many Christians so horrible?

 

Speaking on behalf of God? That's either brave or stupid.

Speaking on behalf of God is either brave or stupid.

I know I’m generalizing, but when you see images like the ones above, you can’t help but get the feeling all Christians are filled with hate and disgust for so many things.

Well, something many of you may or may not know, I too call myself a Christian. Though I assume I’m a bit of an abnormality: I love science, am “pro choice”, pro gay-marriage, a staunch proponent of research and discovery, and I truly detest my fellow Christians forcing their views onto others.  (As for my political views, well, I’m all over the place and I’ve found out that’s actually pretty darn healthy.)

Many of the Christians I know personally are great people, but it just takes 5 minutes on the Internet to uncover the nutters. These so-called “Christians” are so full of hate it blows me away. I mean, so much pure, unbridled hate, it’s almost cataclysmic.

I don’t know where they find this hate. If memory serves me correctly, the bible (especially the new testament) espouses the virtues of loving one another. So when I see people protesting abortion or gay marriage I can’t connect with them in any way. I don’t see them as Christians; I see them as whatever the opposite may be.

Do I think abortions are great fun and everyone should get one? No, of course not. No one enjoys having one. But to stop a child growing up in miserable poverty or being abused & neglected by drug-addict parents, I’d rather be terminated as a bunch of cells than live a life of misery – and very likely – crime.

As for the often-heard line about populating the earth, this isn’t Victorian England; we no longer need to “Go forth and multiply”. With 7.3 billion hungry humans on earth, it’s perfectly safe to say Mission Accomplished: God’s will has been more than done.

Now we’re at a different time in our species’ evolution: a time to use the intelligence He gave us to stop ourselves from destroying this spinning ball lost in the corner of the Milky Way.

I made this, and it's applicable to many situations.

I made this, and it’s applicable to many situations. Feel free to copy it.

As for gay marriage – my marriage is not threatened by the thought of gays entering wedlock, so why would I care? If you’re against gay marriage because it “devalues” marriage, then you need to start protesting the Kardashians, not gays.

Additionally, if your marriage is somehow threatened by two people of the same gender getting married, then something is seriously wrong with your marriage – and your insecurities. In which case, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your life and/or seek counselling.

In short, live and let live.

I encourage you to think about the following motto: ”If it makes you and others feel good and it’s not hurting anyone, then do it and enjoy it”. I’m confident that’s what Jesus would do.

If I’m wrong, then we’ll have lost nothing by being nice to each other. If I’m right however, hell is going to be full of people who didn’t expect to be there…

 

Tags: ,
comments Comments (0)    -
February 23rd, 2014 at 7:40 am

Hydrogen powered vehicles are a catastrophe in waiting

A compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle explodes.

A compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle explodes.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles pose serious safety hazards towards public safety.

No, I’m not being paid by the anti-hydrogen lobby (is there one?), I’m simply voicing my concerns at compressing and storing such a volatile fuel at such an intense pressure, then placing it in the hands of everyday drivers.

In short, Honda’s FCX Clarity (and other hydrogen fuel-cell cars) require hydrogen to be compressed to five thousand PSI, whereas the upcoming Hyundai Tucson-ix35 FCEV, and the upcoming Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) will be using hydrogen compressed at ten thousand PSI.

Ten thousand pounds of pressure per square inch… Let that sink in for a moment.

Allow me to put it into perspective: each of your vehicle’s tires are inflated to around 35 PSI with boring old air. Yet, if one of your tires burst near you, you would likely be seriously injured, or even killed.
Now, let’s quadruple that pressure and add a flammable gas: your barbecue’s propane cylinder, which is compressed to a whopping 128 PSI. If that exploded it could obliterate your house (and everyone in it).
Next step up the ladder: compressed natural gas (CNG). The moving image at the top of the page shows a CNG vehicle exploding into flame with approximately 3000 PSI in its tank (although probably less than half that, as it had been venting for some time before exploding).

Despite this very real risk to public safety, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai all believe that it’s a sound & logical idea to put a tank of hydrogen gas under your vehicle and compress it to 10,153 psi. That’s 700 bar, or 70 mega-pascals.
To put that into perspective once more, the Titanic is currently sitting 12,500 feet (3.8 kilometres) under the Atlantic ocean, where the pressure on the sea floor is a staggering 5,500 PSI. The research vessel strong enough to visit the infamous shipwreck has a window 7 inches thick to handle that pressure.

Double everything, and you have the standard operating pressure of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

If a 10,000 PSI fuel cell vehicle was to explode, it could theoretically remove half a city block and all the people in it. Even when making the storage system out of incredibly strong carbon fiber, a public catastrophe is only ever a severe crash away. And let’s not forget road debris.

Road debris punctured the floor of this car, narrowly missing the driver & gas tank.

Road debris punctured the floor of this car, narrowly missing the driver & gas tank.

Vehicle crashes, punctured tanks, and building fires pose heightened risks for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Even a well aimed bullet by a crazy nutter with a gun (there are a few of those) would turn a family sedan into an instant landscaping tool.

I won’t turn this into an “electric vehicles versus hydrogen” debate, because there are enough of those on the internet already. Additionally, I don’t want to turn this into a debate about the inefficiencies (meaning high costs) of running & maintaining a hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle. Nor do I want to turn this into a debate about the lack of hydrogen infrastructure. This is purely about my concern for public safety.
Aside from a few foil-hat-wearing keyboard ninjas, I’ve never met an educated person in real life who, once knowing all the risks, costs, and problems, honestly believes hydrogen is an intelligent replacement for gasoline or diesel in our everyday vehicles. With every layer you peel away from the dream of hydrogen, the nightmare becomes more and more apparent.

On average the USA alone has 17,589 vehicle crashes every day.

On average the USA alone has 17,589 vehicle crashes every day.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are a hazard, and in terms of public safety alone, they are not logical. While gasoline is also a dangerous fuel and vehicle fires are so common they no longer make the daily news, gasoline or diesel vehicles do not need to pressurise their fuels to fit them in the tank. When a gas or diesel vehicle explodes, yes it makes a Godawful mess, but it will not take out the entire neighborhood.

I can only assume there is serious money involved in convincing the public to begin investing in hydrogen, because driving 22 lbs of hydrogen gas at 10,000 PSI through a city street is pure lunacy.

I will take no pleasure in saying “I told you so” when the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle explodes, but I can tell you it’s certain to happen eventually if these vehicles are rolled out in high numbers. There will no doubt be panicky recalls and months of press briefings, but for those killed, it will be far too late.

My heart sinks at the very thought.

Folks, please drive safely; and whenever possible, drive electric.

Tags: , , ,
comments Comments (7)    -
January 12th, 2014 at 2:51 am

Toyota Cancels its Hydrogen Fuel Cell Program

Hydrogen fuel cells have always been a gamble. From alarmingly high running high costs to a lack of refilling stations, the fuel has never really had a chance compared to battery electric vehicles. Yet, while others rush ahead with better batteries, some car companies such as Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota are still desperately trying to make fuel cell cars work – and then somehow get people to buy them – in the not too distant future.

So what would happen if we could look into the future? Well, I have the solution. Here’s a screenshot from a news website from the year 2029 – that’s just 15 short years from now. And just look what the future brings…

Toyota cancels their hydrogen fuel cell program

(Click to view the news story in full fize)

Toyota cancels their fuel cell plans, Tesla is thinking of buying Toyota, a hydrogen-powered Honda FCX Clarity explodes and kills 54 people. Could this be the future we have to look forward to?

Time will tell…

(A warning for idiots: This is satire)

Tags: , , , ,
comments Comments (1)    -
October 27th, 2013 at 8:47 am

Random creations

Over the years I tend to make and accumulate some random images and sometimes, when the planets align, I think they’re funny/interesting enough for the world to see.

The problem is, I have nowhere to put them so that everyone can find them – so I’ll just chuck them here. Hope some of them make you think and/or smile. :)

Don't talk to me before my coffee

Don’t talk to me before my coffee

 

I'm a kiwi living in Slovakia

Representing myself: I’m a proud kiwi, proudly living in Slovakia

 

How I look before my morning coffee

How I look before my morning coffee

 

A cat flying a plane

Our cat Elwood finally got her commercial pilot’s licence.

 

Liberace cat

Our cat is also a realistic Liberace impersonator

 

Holy Cat - Saint Elwood the First

Our cat is also a saint. Saint Elwood I to be precise.

 

Her majesty the Cat

Queen Elwood IV – Her Majesty the Cat

 

Milf

I wasn’t expecting “Milf” to be breakfast conversation

 

The problem with sticking to left or the right in politics

The problem with sticking to left or the right in politics

 

Lunik IX

Lunik IX in eastern Slovakia – Google it…

 

Me wearing an ushanka - russian hat

Me wearing an ushanka, a traditional Russian hat, in the snow.

 

learning the slovak language made easy

I wish this book existed! It’s an awesome idea!

 

Public toilet problems as a man - when your member touches the seat

Most guys know this unpleasant feeling.

 

Extroverts need attention

Please extroverts, no more “Selfies” on Facebook. I beg you!

 

Dolce and Gabbana are going to prison for tax evasion

Dolce and Gabbana’s new “Tax evasion” range

 

Meanwhile in Bratislava - medzitym v bratislave

Meanwhile in Bratislava: The summer heat!

 

Computer repair people will know this feeling

Computer repair people will know this feeling

 

Einstein quote

I noticed that Einstein’s quotes got much better after the the Internet was invented.

 

Facebook is Criticisebook - or Criticizebook

Got a good idea? Might be better to keep it to yourself. People on Facebook can be nasty.

 

Parents - Not everywhere is suitable for your children - childfree areas in restaurants might be a welcome solution

I wish I didn’t have to make this, but I feel that parenting standards are falling.

 

Driving in Slovakia is fun

Driving in Slovakia is fun! :D

And there we go, all done! I hope none of those images offended you, as my intention was purely to entertain.

If I find any more random amusing images on my hard drive, I’ll chuck them up here. :D

Feel free to share any of the above images above if you want!

Tags: ,
comments Comments (0)    -
October 12th, 2013 at 1:00 am

New Plymouth Council Elections Done and Dusted

New Plymouth City is Sick and Empty

A sick and empty city: Let’s hope we’re not too late to save it.

I can tell from the statistics that this website has been read and referenced quite intensely before and during the New Plymouth District Council elections. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I played a reasonable part in bringing about change in New Plymouth’s council.

The elections have just finished this evening, and in short, the mayor Harry Duynhoven has been voted out in a way that could only be considered humiliating.
He received only 7677 votes, and is the first mayor to be booted out after only one term since 1956!
This means we now have a new mayor, none other than Mr Andrew Judd, who some might remember is a “Saver”, not a spender. Thank God for that!

The voice of New Plymouth has obviously spoken, and spoken loudly. But what about the other councillors? Well, I have more good news if you’re a ratepayer in New Plymouth: We have a whole bunch of “Savers” as councillors now, while kicking out a bunch of “Spenders”.
It was the smart thing to do as, let’s face it, it’s not 2007 anymore and the boom-time is well and truly over. The city’s voters have clearly wised up to this, and are feeling the global financial crisis hit them in their pockets.

The new “Saver” councillors are Murray Chong, Len Houwers, Keith Allum and the “Spenders” that have been kicked out are Sherril George, Phil Quinney, and of course Harry Duynhoven.

Some others have made it into the mix, but most importantly, New Plymouth District Council now has a much stronger number of “Savers” at the helm.

This means in the future we can look forward to much more sensible spending, less wastage, and fewer massive multi-million dollar art centres.
It means we can find intelligent ways to bring the city centre back to life (city-wide free parking on Saturdays, anyone?).
Also it means we can start asking local firms to take care of local works instead of contracting Auckland and Wellington firms to come here and do the work for no financial gain. I’m guessing the fancy new multi-million dollar German playground which was authorised this year is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Not only that, a local firm could have made the famous decorative road sign for much less than $80,000. And what about that $70,000 coloured pole outside the library? And why were the council’s flowers changed again, again this season!? Why not just buy some permanent plants and leave them there?

Yeah, you can see whey they got voted out…

So, congratulations to the new mayor and councillors. Yours is not an easy job, but this time it will be made easier by the fact you have a major advantage compared to the previous bunch of councillors: You know what the majority wants.

I’m happy to have played my part, and I’m delighted to see that this site helped many make the right choice. :)

Tags: , , ,
comments Comments (1)    -
October 6th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Would Wood Look Good on my Laptop?

 

How to make your laptop look like wood

That laptop is so boring even the cat can’t stay awake.

I went crazy recently and made my laptop look like it was made of wood. I didn’t think it was going to work out, but it looks seriously awesome now it’s done. Let me run you through how I did it, and feel free to click on any pictures to view them bigger.

Let’s start with my laptop. It’s a boring Acer… Inspire, or Insight, or Infection or something. It works fine and does what it is designed to do, so I can’t really ask for more than that. The problem is that it just looks so dull.

Wooden Laptop 1

Start with a roll of fake wood laminate.

Go to your local hardware store. The massive chains should stock some fake wood. It’s actually a plastic film but some of the designs look really real. I chose a similar colour and texture to our existing furniture. I bought two metres of the stuff.

How to make your laptop look like wood

Roll out enough to cover the lid, plus a bit extra.

When you roll out your laminate, don’t forget to leave enough to wrap around to the screen side as well. I didn’t measure it exactly, I just made sure I had more than enough. Before you peel off the laminate’s sticky cover, make sure your computer is really clean. Get out some window cleaner and rub it all over with a clean cloth.

Wooden Laptop

Start with the top first, it’s the most satisfying part.

The fake wood film is quite sticky, but don’t worry if you make a mistake or get an air bubble – you can just peel it back off and reapply it again. I did this a couple of times until I got it right. Pay attention to your webcam – you’ll probably have to cut a hole for it.

Wooden Laptop

Looking good so far!

The corners in the laptop are the most difficult part. The laminate is slightly flexible, but corners have to be done carefully and slowly. Mine aren’t absolutely perfect when you run your finger over them, but you don’t notice when sitting down because the wood-grain effect has so many natural shapes and lines in it.

Wooden Laptop

This part is easy to do badly, so take your time.

You’ll need to take your time at the keyboard part, as there are lots of lines and holes to cut around. The fake wood is really thin and easy to cut with a sharp knife, which makes it easy to see the shape & lines if you press down on it.

Fake wood laptop

Easy! Just take your time, and have some fun!

The finished product was well worth the €3 for the roll of fake wood, and it took me about an hour to slowly cut the shapes out. I chose not to cover the base as well, as the base has heaps of air vents and I couldn’t be bothered cutting them all out!

Still, combined with a nice wood-grain background, I’ve created a pretty good looking piece of useful art. In fact I reckon it looks so good I don’t know why computer makers don’t offer this design as an optional extra.

 

Tags: ,
comments Comments (2)    -