Living Really Green in the Big City

Living Really GREEN In The Big City – How a Middle-Aged Man Does It In Central Phoenix

Until he retired at age 50, John was well-employed and spending his money on the usual middle-class things: cars, TVs, computers and so on.  Then he bought a fixer-upper house and began to question his lifestyle.  He had become addicted to his computer games and his TV.  So, he unplugged the computer and limited TV usage to viewing movies on VHS tapes.  Most significantly, he began a crusade to limit his consumption of electricity, natural gas, water and gasoline.  Today, he uses little more electricity than enough to power one refrigerator, only three therms per year of natural gas, about two “units” of water per month, and rides one of his bicycles, uses public transportation or walks to get around Phoenix.  How he got there is the subject of this story.


[to be continued]

Toyota’s Safety “Brake-To-Idle” Cannot Work If Computerized

The brake-to-idle safety feature required by Federal Regulations to be on all newer cars CANNOT work if it depends on the existing car’s Computer(s) to detect two conditions and control the throttle; a separate and independent device is required

In simplified form, this safety feature reduces the engine speed to idle if the brake and the accelerator (gas pedal) are depressed at the same time.  To work, two conditions must be detected and one operation must be accomplished.  The two conditions are the gas pedal position and the brake pedal status; the operation is the closing of the throttle to idle position.  If these things depend of the car’s main computer, then the feature cannot work if that computer freezes or otherwise crashes.

Computer crashes or freezes were the cause of Toyota’s sudden unintended problems a few years ago (not floor mats or driver error).  When the computer malfunctioned, the driver had, except for brakes and steering, almost no control over his or her car, especially over the engine or the transmission.  In most cases, the brakes were not powerful enough to stop the car.  The driver could not shift the transmission into neutral or turn off the engine.  The crashes were often deadly!

It seems to me that if the main computer has serious problems, it may not be able to detect the position of the gas pedal or the depressed status of the brake pedal and may not be able to cause the throttle towards closure.  Or, it may not be able to compare the positions of the gas pedal and the brake pedal and perform the operation of closing the throttle.

If, however, the feature uses a separate and independent “computer” or some sort of ultra-reliable logic processor, then the feature may work.  I will do further research and report back later.

Note that I recently bought a 2013 Toyota that has this feature but was not told about it by the dealer’s personnel.  As a result, I was almost struck in the rear when I changed lanes and could not accelerate because I was resting my left foot on the brake pedal (a safety habit I use to reduce my reaction time in case of emergency).  Now I have to keep my left foot off the brakes to avoid activating this so-called safety feature while losing my ability to be a safer driver by resting my left foot gently on the brakes when a situation appears to require prompt braking.  So much for governmental regulations!!

More to come …