Tag Archives: budget issues

Moving things from storage to garage is upsetting the cats

There was an old female Siamese cat living at my parent’s house when we packed everything up and put it in storage, and now that we have some room in the garage. Well the cats can still smell that now-departed cat on the boxes and are trying to mark the boxes as “theirs”.

The bad thing about moving the stuff to the garage leaves me without a place to work out of the weather with the cold weather bearing down on us. The Good Thing about this is it will save us $231/month. And that doesn’t count the months when checks coming in and the money going out didn’t match up and the cost went to $275.

Now that I have valid ID again I can donate plasma again and start to make some money to finance the Bucket in whatever form I build it out as. And that extra $200 will take a huge load away from the budget and back into the bank account. The plasma company adds to that, but I haven’t checked to see how much they pay this year and checking Google comes up with a subscription page that requires a login to read. That doesn’t raise any red flags, nosiree. But since I need to have a donation center that is not too far away from the house in terms of travel time this seems to be my best choice.

And I have to get to bed early because I need to get up early tomorrow.


Waiting in the rain on a Wreck-Free Sunday, and cargo bikes

Well we got a Sprint Cup NASCAR race a bit out west of WoaB World HQ in the Beautiful Suburbs of Hell, well we would if it ever dries up. This makes 3 rain delays in 7 races, something of a record, or working on some kind of record. I wouldn’t call this a “Good Record” though, I like to actually see a race when the race is supposed to be run. Rain delays are by definition not on time. We are now almost 2 hours late getting started on this because the track is not drying out even with the jet driers and the Titan air broom “sweeping” the water off the track. It’s so cold and humid that the track is just not drying out. So we wait.

While we wait out the rain delay have I told you the good word about the Goddess? >slap< NO RELIGION! Yes, ma’am!

I love my new cargo bike, as soon as I can get the one tiny glitch with the steering ironed out. Everything else is great except the tie rod hitting the tire on left turns, but the replacement still hasn’t come in from the supplier so that the interference problem can be fixed. I really want this bike to work well, as I will be demonstrating it as a replacement for a golf cart at the place I go camping twice a year at CMA. I really think that cargo bikes and trailers behind regular bikes can replace their aging fleet of golf carts for hauling stuff around the 101 acre campsite in southeast Texas. If the steering doesn’t work then it will look bad for the dedicated cargo bike. Obviously I want cargo bikes and trailers to look good for this.

I have been re-evaluating my choices for building my T-bucket hot rod as my budget has been drastically reduced. The engine I really want to install is the GM LS375-525 crate engine which puts out 525 HP, weighs 515 lbs., has a 2 year warranty, and costs about $9K complete. What I’m looking at is buying a used cop car and using the 4.6 Modular SOHC 2V engine and transmission, which have been selling about $1K at auction around here. This will get me the whole shooting match, engine, transmission, rear axle and brakes in one package, for less than the cost of the crate engine. The bad parts are there is no warranty, everything is going to be covered in dirt, rust, and grease, and the old suspension brackets are going to have to be cut off the rear axle before it can be used. Also the 4.6 2V is rated at 250 HP and weighs 600 pounds, less than half the power and almost 100 pounds heavier than what I had selected when I thought my budget was much larger. This will still give me a quick car with almost-decent gas mileage, as the T-bucket will still weigh less than 1800 pounds compared to the more than 4000 pound car it was pushing around before. The wheels and tires should also be usable (well I will probably have to replace the tires before putting it on the road, but if they hold air they could be used to roll the car around the shop).

Also on the T-bucket I have been looking at a fabricated aluminum frame that will slice about 100 pounds out of the completed car, but my welding skills are not close to being up for that, and neither are any of my welders capable of welding aluminum. Well, maybe the oxy-acetylene torch if I could find a set of the cobalt welding goggles that let me see when the base metal starts to puddle, but those are hard to come by even here in the Metroplex. Still the costs are similar because the sections are cheaper for the aluminum frame than the steel frame.

PSA, Opus

Why state DOTs are running out of money, Wreck-Free Sunday

I was reading this week about several state DOTs that don’t have the funds to maintain the roads already built, much less build new ones, because they lack the budget. There are several reasons for this state of affairs.

First and foremost none of the states having budget issues has raised their gas tax since 1993 with the exception of California. Some of them haven’t raised the gas tax since 1987. In the meantime the fleet fuel efficiency has gone from 14 MPG back then to almost 26 MPG now, or about 50% better, while the retail price of gas has gone from around a buck a gallon to $3.50 as I type this, meaning the percentage of price covered by taxes has been reduced by 2/3.

Second, we have about twice as many cars on the roads as we had back then with a much lower Passenger load factor. In TX the load factor is so low now that the only thing that could make it lower would be cars driving around by themselves, somewhere around 1.07 people per car. Add to that the cars are bigger and heavier than they were back then and you get more wear and tear on the roads with no extra money to pay for it, and also more and bigger cars need more space than before and more new roads.

Something that could help that would be a larger mode share from bicycles. I know I’m preaching to the choir in this blog, but for those that get directed here by search engines I’ll make the list. Bikes are much smaller than cars on the roads, you can get about 8 bikes in the space of one car. Bicycles do less damage to the roads than just leaving them sit, one trip in a sub-compact car does as much damage as 1100 bicycles, one luxury SUV does the damage of 8000 bicycles, using the AASHTO formula comparing a fully loaded touring bike to the cars having a single 180 pound driver and no passengers. Had the increase in vehicles been covered by bicycles instead of SOV, the lowered emissions of the newer fleet would have improved air quality as bicycles are pollution-neutral and the bikes would have taken up far less space on the roads than the cars. One place that has seen all of their traffic increase covered by an increase in bicycle mode share hasn’t had to build a new street in a decade, just regular repaving as they age. This would be Portland OR, of course.

Something else that would help is making gas taxes a percentage of the price, not fixed per gallon. That way as gas prices went up and consumption went down tax revenue would hold instead of dropping like a stone in a still pond.

A third thing that would help would be a “road space tax” levied on new vehicles (bicycles included) that would pay for the space to drive that vehicle, based on the road space it needs. Bicycles use a lot less space than cars, and tons less space than SUVs so the bicycle tax would be much less than the tax on motor vehicles and would also establish a monetary right to the roads because bicycles’ space would be covered, and would also allow for increased pushing for segregated bike infrastructure as “we” would be paying for it, so long as the tax wasn’t the only source for bike infrastructure as car taxes have not been the sole source for motor vehicle infrastructure.

Now go out there and think of more ways to pay for roads, because they don’t come free…

PSA, Opus