Electric Cars

You might think electric cars were a relatively new thing – but you’d be wrong.  The first practical, production electric car was actually built in 1884 by a man named Thomas Parker in London.

Sometimes described as the “Edison of Europe,” Thomas was a machinist by trade, but his insatiable curiosity lead him into chemical engineering where he developed improvements to lead-acid electric batteries and designed his own “dynamo” which is an electric generator using direct current.  Parker’s dynamo was capable of generating enough power to run the whole electroplating department at the factory where he worked – a first for the time which earned him a silver medal at the British Smoke Abatement Exhibition of 1881.

Thomas Parker (middle) in one of his electric cars.

After this, Parker started a partnership with Paul Bedford Elwell who ran a family factory producing nails and horse shoes.  Elwell-Parker began producing dynamos that lead to the first electric lighting in mines, the first electric trams – and the first electric cars.

As the world moved into the 20th century, electric cars were the preferred type of motorized vehicle with over 30,000 of them on the roads at the beginning of 1900.  But improvements in the internal combustion engine lead to gas powered cars having an advantage over electric with greater driving range and lower refueling times.   The rapid expansion of the petroleum infrastructure and introduction of the electric starter motor for gas powered cars meant no more hand cranking and demand for electric cars faded away.

But in the 1990’s electric cars started to make a comeback fueled by regulations on fuel efficiency and emissions.

In 1996, GM introduced a limited version fully electric car called the EV1 in Califormia and in 1997, Toyota launched a fully electric RAV4 (as well as the Prius hybrid).  Since then, the Tesla Roadster, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt have become best selling fully electric cars.   Doubt their popularity?  Then don’t go to Norway – 39% of all new car sales there are fully electric vehicles!

Manufacturers are stepping up their electric vehicle production too – Volvo announced in 2017 that they would be phasing out combustible engines beginning with the 2019 model year.  So next time you head to the dealership for a new car, you may be surprised at all the electric vehicles available to you!

Necco Wafers

necco-wafers-imageAh Necco Wafers.  You either love them or hate them and I’m betting until a couple weeks ago, you didn’t think much about them.  Then suddenly it was all over the news that Necco Wafers may disappear as the company that makes them was threatening to go out of business.  What will we do without our Necco Sweethearts at Valentine’s Day?  Necco Wafers have been produced since the mid 1800’s by the New England Confectionary Company which also makes Clark bars, Mary Janes and Candy Buttons – which I’m sure we all at least tried in our childhoods.  It looks like the end of an era…

Or is it?  The former CEO of the New England Confectionary Company, Al Gulachenski has announced that he would like to buy the company.  But the hitch is that he will only put up $5 to $10 million of the $30 million price tag.  He’s hoping to fund the rest of the purchase price buy setting up a GoFundMe page.  Check it out at https://www.gofundme.com/we-need-to-save-necco-wafers.

As of this writing, they’ve raised $3,880 of their $20 million dollar goal so there’s a LONG way to go to rescue the company from closing its doors and laying off hundreds of employees.  If you’d like to help save a memory, click on the link above and make a donation!

Simple Yoga

We all get stressed out sometimes.  And stress can lead to a lot of problems like snacking late at night and insomnia.  I’ve discovered a little basic yoga right before bed helps settle me down and lately has been the cure for my trouble with sleeping.

This isn’t the routine I’ve been doing because I can’t figure out how to share from my phone’s Yoga app to the old blog here – but this routine I found on YouTube looks pretty easy and relaxing.  So give it a try – I’m betting you’ll feel better!

Privacy Settings.

The internet is a great place – but if you’re on it a lot, you’ve probably left a lot of personal information in your wake.  Over the past 6 weeks, Facebook has been in the news because of the improper dissemination of personal information.  I know a lot of you read this blog through my plug-in to Facebook so I thought for today’s to-do, we’d look at our privacy settings.

This video from PBS does a great job of talking about privacy settings and why they matter.  It’s about a half hour but well worth your time to make sure you are aware of what you are making public – and what you want to keep private.

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day.  But did you know it was originally planned to be celebrated on March 21st – the first day of spring?

Earth_Day_HistoryPeace activist John McConnell first proposed a day to honor the earth at a United Nations conference in 1969 – and selected March 21, 1970 to be that date.  The idea was then picked up on by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who selected April 22, 1970 for a environmental “teach-in” on thousands of college campuses to raise public awareness of environmental issues.  The grassroots response was overwhelming – remember, in 1969 there was a huge oil spill off the coast of California, the Cuyahoga River burned and smog was a fact of life around factories of the time.  The envisioned “teach-in” snowballed into not only educational activities, but rallies with huge attendance figures in major cities across the U.S.

These activities not only helped raise the profile of environmental issues but also spawned the creation of the EPA, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and hundreds of environmental organizations.

Earth Day is now celebrated in over 140 countries around the world.  I celebrated by cleaning up my yard – how did you celebrate?  Tell me in the comments!


Top Movie Time!

I really liked finding out what the top song in the U.S. was on the day I was born last week – so we’re moving on to the top movie on the day you were born this week.  Mine is Bye Bye Birdie and I will confess that I have seen the stage version but not the movie.  Wonder if it’s on Netflix?


Find out what the top movie was when you were born here.  Check it out and tell me what your movie was in the comments!

Home Remedies

Home RemediesAs awful as this cold/flu season has been, I am proud to say I was not among the sufferers this year.  I think I avoided being sick in part because I used some home remedies to help keep me healthy.  I drank a LOT of tea with honey and lemon all winter and I really do believe it helped.

I also found some websites with all sorts of home remedies to try:

  • Do you know how many things you can use Vicks Vapor Rub for?  Check out this site!  From helping potty train your dog to getting rid of mosquitoes, make sure you have Vicks on hand.
  • Did you know Apple Cider Vinegar can stop hiccups?  Check out this article for more tips using Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • And from Acne to Warts, this website provides you with a whole library of home remedies to try.

Do you have a favorite home remedy?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Planning Ahead.

EmergencyThis morning I was thinking that in April the weathermen generally start talking about tornado season here in the Midwest.  Sure, this year we’re much more worried about snow storms, but one of these days Spring will actually arrive.  One of the things the news tells you about tornado season is that you should have an emergency plan.  I’ve never had one, but after the past year of watching almost daily news about storms, fires and floods, I’m starting to think it’s a good idea.   So my to-do for us all today is to make an emergency plan.

Ready.gov offers a lot of helpful advice for creating an emergency plan.  Plans will differ depending on a lot of factors but start by asking yourself these 4 questions:

  1. How do I get emergency alerts?  Via Local TV?  Your cell phone?  Weather Radio?
  2. What is my shelter plan?  Do you have a basement?  Have you looked around your house to see what space might be safest in a storm?
  3. What is my evacuation route?  How will you get to your shelter?  And where will you go after?
  4. What is my family communication plan?  How will you all know about watches/warnings?  And how will you all find each other if you’re not all at home?  Remember, in the aftermath of a tornado (or other widespread calamity) cell service may not always be reliable.

Ready.gov supplies this handy form to help you create your plan without forgetting anything important.  And you can even print out a wallet-sized card with all your most important info.

Now let’s all get our plans in place and be prepared for the storm season to come!