I like things that are low maintenance. Something easy to please, does not require constant pampering, attention or gifts or things done "their way or no way". Easy-going, unselfish and usually a joy to be around. Subarus Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas sound like my kind of car.
My wife, my sons, and I drive cars based on the B5 generation (late 1990s/early 2000s) Audi A4 platform. Having previously owned exceptionally DIY-friendly late 1980s Chrysler K-cars and K-car derivatives, we initiallly needed some time to find our way around the VW/Audi engine compartment, but now these cars no longer seem so intimidating. Having access to superb online discussion forums at Passatworld.com, vwvortex.com, and several Audi enthusiast websites has helped immensely, and my Vehicle Control Diagnostic Software has helped me pinpoint problems efficiently.
German cars generally deliver a superb driving experience, but they are like spoiled children, requiring syntheic motor oil, Tier 1 gasoline, biennial brake fluid changes, and fastidious maintenance. VW/Audi cars have a specific weakness in rubber parts, such as seals, CV boots, and vacuum hoses. If you want a car which thrives on neglect, get a Toyota Corolla or Camry or a Honda Civic or Accord.
I retired from one of the "majors" in the appliance industry. The company I worked for had component managers for: elements, gas-fired burners, platform structures, maintops, electronic controls, etc etc. These engineers knew their components but it was up the to platform manager and program leaders to "mesh" these components into the proper package to provide a workable appliance. All too often, that did not happen with any real ease. Schedules were king and designs sometimes suffered due to unrealistic schedules. There did not seem to be the "systems" approach to an overall assembly of components. The products were safe but not very competitive with West European designs--at least when reliability was concerned. It seems to me we are looking at a very similar problem with the American Auto industry.
The explanation for the increase in gas prices is probably similar to the explanation of why Dogbert,(evil HR director), in the Dilbert comic strip, explains why he does such evil things. The answer: "Because I can". Evil needs no additional motivation. YES, I certainly am being judgemental.
The problem is not that "we are addicted to oil", the reason is that we are quite attached to the degree of personal freedom that we have available to us by reason of our high level of personal mobility. That is, we can jump in our car and go almost anywhere at almost any time. In huge sections of the developed world you can't do that. As Americans, we are indeed addicted to personal freedom. Of course, that does include the freedom to do things that some say is not good for us.
Of course, on some rare occasions even engineers may make mistakes. That is what separates us from MBAs; they always make mistakes.
I have to admit that I'm okay with profit and even a little bit of greed. I think where so many companies fall short is in their focus on the short term. Too many CEOs fear a quick exit, so they focus on the short term and ignore the long-term consequences. I don't understand why a bond of trust between consumer and automaker -- built over a long period of time -- should be deemed less profitable.
I guess you're right, Old Curmudgeon. Yet it does seem odd that the price of gasoline is moving at a different trajectory than the price of oil. By simple logic, at some point there would be some equalization.
Rob: I'm NOT a stock market maven myself. That's what I pay a financial whiz kid to do it for me, BUT it is my undestanding that there ARE speculators that will (hedge a) "bet" on just about anything that one can dream up, including where a fly will land at the airport in Singapore. So, it would seem to me that there also ARE speculators that can cause the price of gasoline & other direct petroleum distillates to fluctuate at will.
I agree, Old Curmudgeon. I'm confused by the :speculation" agruement. I can understnad speculating on crude and thus driving up the price. But can you speculation as refined gasoline? The price of crude is not the problem. The price of crude has only gone up about 5%, while the price of gas has gone up nearly 30%. And that's in Europe as well, not just in North America.
Rob: And that's another reason why there is so much dissent in the discussion about crude prices vs. gasoline prices. The price of crude for the past several months has hovered around the $105/bbl. figure, yet the price of gasoline continues to rise at a rate of at least a nickel a week, sometimes more. There doesn't seem to be a coherent explanation for this; one could make an argument that this flies in the face of the "Law of Supply & Demand" of classic Economics 101. It almost seems that it is more beholden to the Law of Expedient Political Rhetoric".
Festo's BionicKangaroo combines pneumatic and electrical drive technology, plus very precise controls and condition monitoring. Like a real kangaroo, the BionicKangaroo robot harvests the kinetic energy of each takeoff and immediately uses it to power the next jump.
Design News and Digi-Key presents: Creating & Testing Your First RTOS Application Using MQX, a crash course that will look at defining a project, selecting a target processor, blocking code, defining tasks, completing code, and debugging.
These are the toys that inspired budding engineers to try out sublime designs, create miniature structures, and experiment with bizarre contraptions using sets that could be torn down and reconstructed over and over.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.