Friday, February 20, 2004

More random thoughts from the Buckeye state

Let's just say I'll be happy to get back home to Atlanta. This is a work trip, so I shouldn't expect too much excitement, but Blue Ash ain't the most fabulous place in the world. So I'm left to ponder the little things around me.

What an attractive air dam you have on your grille. Ohio is one of those states that have both front-end and back-end license plates on cars. Driving around this morning, this question occurred to me: How much gasoline is wasted in states that have front-end license plates? Bear with me here. Having a license plate on the front of the car disrupts - to some small degree - the aerodynamics of the car; the less aerodynamic a car is, the more air resistance it creates as it moves; the more resistance created, the more energy needed to move the car; the more energy needed to move the car, the more gas consumed. If the state required a 4 foot by 4 foot steel plate to be attached to your grille, there would be an obvious increase is gasoline consumption per vehicle. So requiring a license plate that is something like 14 inches wide by 8 inches tall also has some effect on each car's fuel consumption. And now I'm wondering how much of an effect that is. Here's a hypothetical: Assume there are 2 million cars in the state, and each car averages 10,000 miles a year and normally gets 20 miles per gallon. If the license plate on the front reduces fuel efficiency by one-tenth of one percent, that means those cars would now get 19.98 miles per gallon. For those 2 million cars driving 10,000 miles each, that's an extra 100,100 gallons of gasoline per year. Significant? Maybe not. But these are the kinds of thing that get my mind working.

But I've never worried about technicalities. Driving up I-75, I passed a tanker truck with the following label on the back: "TECHNICAL ANIMAL FAT. NOT INTENDED FOR HUMAN FOOD". I get that some fats aren't made for eating, but what's this "technical" term?

MOTORISTS ADVISED TO DEPART TRAVEL LANES AT DESIGNATED EGRESS POINTS Also on I-75, there were signs posted at the end of construction zones that read "RESUME LEGAL SPEED". I know what they are trying to say - this is the end of the construction zone, so normal speed limits are back in effect. But "RESUME LEGAL SPEED"? That implies that I shouldn't have been driving the "legal speed" up until this point. In the construction zone, they post lower speed limits, which are - during those zones - the "legal speed." Poorly-worded road signs piss me off. There was another sign near Dayton that read "MAINTAIN PRESENT LANE". Why not say "STAY IN LANE"? Americans are generally very stupid, so I don't see why the highway department writes in anything above a third-grade level. I do miss, however, the signs along I-285 merge lanes that read "TAKE GAP GIVE GAP". I never figured how I was supposed to do both. I either took the gap or I gave it away, right?


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