Return of the “Available Next Year” Flying Car

This year is the 10th anniversary of 2008, the year we were supposed to see flying cars in the sky.

(HT: @BillHudge)

The 12 loyal readers of this blog know that a decade ago, during the year 2008, I decided to blog about a random topic for reasons I can’t exactly recall. The topic I decided to follow was “flying cars.” This was before self-driving cars had become a thing and before @realdonaldtrump had a Twitter account — in other words, the golden age of everything good.

By the end of that year, I had written 50 items — mostly short Tweet-like items. The best part of the exercise was that it spawned a small cadre (you 12) of flying car scouts who were far better than Google Alert at pointing me to news items on the topic.

In December 2008, I tried my best to declare an end to the experiment by posting a year-end “Top 10 Stories about Flying Cars in 2008 ” that once every few years still earns me a visit from some self-flying enthusiast either thanking or trolling me.

However, despite my efforts to escape the flying car beat, one specific brand of flying car (or, at that time, a “roadable aircraft”) has never gone away.

It was from a company called Terrafugia in Woburn, Massachusetts, or, “the little flying car that couldn’t say no.” (My suggested slogan, not their’s.)

In 2008, Terrafugia said its “roadable aircraft” would go on sale later in 2008 — “cruising you smoothly on the road and through the sky.” But, alas, 2008 came and went, along with 2009 and 2010 and 2011. (I did receive this comic strip update that year, however.)

In 2014, Bloomberg had a feature about Terrafugia with some awesome video supplied by the company and amazingly similar to their 2013 video. And their delivery date was “sometime between January 2015 and March 2016.”

All of that background to say that my #1 flying car scout just pointed me to news in the Daily Mail that reports “the world’s first flying car is set to go on the market with pre-sales scheduled to begin next month…According to manufacturer Terrafugia, which belongs to the parent company of Volvo, the Transition can fly up to 400 miles (640km) at top speeds of 100mph (160kmh).”

Okay, so let’s review: In 2008, the roadable aircraft from Terrafugia was due out the following year, which, according to some quick math, was ten years before today’s year, 2018.

But I’m still a believer because the Terrafugia company actually was purchased by the parent company of Volvo. And since I’m an owner of a Volvo, I’m hoping for some type of trade in allowance around 2020.

Embedded Photography from Getty (Free to Use)

I’ve mentioned this before, but here’s a great source of photography if you have a non-commercial blog or website.

GettyImages will allow you to embed their photos on your site. It’s like YouTube for photography.

Here’s how it works.

Here’s how it looks:
(Update: For some reason, it’s not working in Chrome according to one of the 12 viewers of this site.)

Embed from Getty Images

Note: RexBlog is my personal (and very-non-commercial) blog.However, the company Hammock Inc. (Hammock.com) has a usage and rights plan with GettyImages that is totally unrelated to this blog.

Interesting Pew Survey (2016 vs 2018)

Interesting data for political stats wonks.


(Update: Also see, “How Broad and How Happy Is the Trump Coalition?” Nate Cohn’s article mentioned below.)


Here are some fascinating Pew Research survey findings in the run-up to the “mid-year” 2018 election and backward look at 2016.

Why is it interesting?

The 2018 findings are from a tracking poll of the same individuals who participated in the 2016 Pew American Trends Panel. In other words, the same people who participated in 2016 also participated in this year’s panel. (Let me try again: It’s not a random sampling. It’s a survey of the same people who participated in 2016.)

While the write-up of the Pew findings is comprehensive, today’s NYT “The Daily” podcast has guest Nate Cohn of @UpshotNYT diving deep into the role of educated suburban women in both the 2016 and 2018 races.

Bottomline

Before this survey, the conventional wisdom has been that a core of “uneducated white rural male voters” is the key to Trump’s 2016 victory. While the Pew survey concurs that that demographic was a key member of the Trump “core,” it also reveals that educated women in the suburbs who were against Hillary Clinton were what sealed the deal for Trump. And, as this Pew chart shows, this cohort is the most likely voter to have become disenchanted with Trump.

Question of the Day: What is the Best Bicycle Rain Gear for Commuters?

Rain gear vs. rain cape: My first fashion advice post in the history of this blog.

Recently, a friend of mine started commuting to work by bike. (That’s one more Nashvillian down, another 691,242 to go.) As it had been raining in Nashville for the past 40 days and 40 nights, he texted me to ask if I had a suggestion regarding rain gear. After trying to answer with a text message (something like, “just enjoy getting wet”), I realized that bicycle rain apparel is a highly personal and technical topic. Not quite up there with whether or not wear a helmet (I do), but still an existential matter that can’t be addressed in anything less than a few hundred words.

So here we go.

First, follow my grapefruit rule

No matter what style or brand of rain gear you get, you should be able to compress it into a nylon bag the size and shape of a grapefruit. That way, you’ll put it in one of your pair of yellow Ortlieb bike bags (or “panniers” ) and always have it handy. Now that I think of it, everything you have when cycling to work (except a laptop) should be able to compress into something the size and shape of a grapefruit (even better, a tangerine).

Rain cape or rain gear?

I. What is a rain cape? 

In Britain, the word “cape” means “expensive poncho.” As in, “Those Yanks will pay twice as much for a poncho if you call it a cape.”

Option #1 Rain Cape | Brooks | $120-$160 

| Brooks Cambridge Rain Cape |

I have a Brooks rain cape. Before doing ten minutes of google-research for this post, I  thought my Brooks cape was ridiculously expensive.

However,  my wife gave it to me as a birthday gift and threatened to divorce me if I ever again used a Hefty 55-gallon leaf bag (sometimes called, a Tennessee rain cape).

Brooks is the British brand of a company that makes leather “saddles” (which translates into American as, “expensive seats”).

Some people think Brooks saddles are over-rated and too expensive. As I’ve used a Brooks saddle for the last 5,000 miles or so, I have discovered that after about mile 4,000 of getting broken in, the value of a Brooks saddle starts revealing itself.

On the other hand, a Brooks “cape” seems to me to be a licensing deal with an Italian company — not something that is manufactured by Brooks. Nevertheless, it can keep a person dry in most situations. While I haven’t been in most bicycle situations many times, I have been in nearly every bicycle commuting situation at least once. For example, since my commuter bike (Jamison) is made of steel, I try to avoid the situation of lightning. (It only took one near miss.) Because my Brooks cape has kept me dry but not sweaty, I think it would be a good option, unless I was from Rhode Island (see next cape option).

Option #2 Rain Cape as a Lifestyle Brand | Cleverhood | $250

Note to my friend who asked for advice about rain gear. Don’t look at the rain cape on the right. I’ve advised people not to pay this much for bikes. But when you click over to Cloverhood, you’re going to discover they are a Providence, RI, product. As you are also a Rhode Island product, perhaps you know someone who knows someone. Ask for the RI native discount. There can’t be that many of you from such a small state. Perhaps they are having after summer sale?

II. Rain Gear

Rain gear is for serious lobstermen and all-weather bike commuters. It comes in various colors (black and yellow) but should always be yellow. According to this article in a long-ago Bangor Daily News about what real lobstermen wear, Tom Martin of Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island starts his day on the docks in $5,289 of lobsterman gear.

As this Flickr album will prove, I am no stranger to Bailey Island and the humor of its natives. (A native being someone who has at least two great-grandparents who were born there.) I can only imagine that Tom Marting of Mackerel Cove is still laughing that a “not from here” writer believed him when he said his rain gear cost $5,289.

However, I do suggest that New Englanders try out traditional lobster-person rain gear in the way I imagine real Mainers get theirs — as cheaply as possible.

Option 1 | Find some lobsterman gear in a garage sale and make up a story about it being the only thing to survive the Andrea Gail back during the “perfect storm” of 1991 — perhaps you found it after it floated to shore near Gloucester, Mass.

Option 2 | Turns out (according to Google) that there is Louis Vuitton rain gear that cost thousands of dollars; perhaps for those Mainers (or more likely, New Porters) who own a  Hinckley Picnic boat.

Option 3 | Or, (and this is my actual advice) Search for “Commercial Rain Wear” on Granger.com (like an industrial REI). They have hundreds of yellow rain stuff priced from little to a lot.