austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

But I found a driver and that's a start

At long last, Adrian Monk finished making sure the floor mats were aligned just so, and we were allowed to take possession of the car. They had indeed put a sign in the windshield to thank my mother for her purchase, and as we sat in -- I got the passenger side rear for the first ride -- our salesman explained that they didn't quite have the second set of keys to give. Apparently, the second set of keys for all the cars were kept in a particular office, and that office's owner was off that day, and the manager forgot to bring his spare key. It could be retrieved later, perhaps when the non-temporary license plates were ready to be picked up. And the sales guy started explaining all the features of the car.

One occupied us. While the car did not, per my parents' demand, have a navigation panel there was a screen to show the current climate-control options in place, the time, vehicle range with the current gas supply, current fuel economy, the outside temperature, and a few other bits of information. One of them was the Trip Time, currently registering 35 minutes. The sales person explained that the Trip Time was a count of how long the car had been running since it was first assembled in the factory. My mother asked how you reset it; he explained that it was impossible to reset. It just kept ticking up total vehicle running time and left it there for all to see.

My mother objected that this made no sense: who would possibly care about lifetime engine operating time except maybe during a service check? And I noted that the odometer mileage -- about 42 miles -- was not plausible for a 35 minute operating time. That's reasonable highway driving, but factory to transport to dealership was not done at highway speeds. The sales guy said, yeah, everyone pointed out this made no sense but that's how it was made. Besides, it was useful: if she loaned the car to my father or me, she could tell whether we'd gone on side trips with it. Again, she couldn't see how this could possibly be labelled ``Trip Time''. He explained the dual climate control settings again.

And so at long last and at pretty near 6 pm we started to drive home with a new car really nobody had expected we might buy. When my mother put the car in gear, the Trip Time reset to zero, making for a sensible definition of ``Trip Time''. We decided, in the end, not to bother telling the car guy how the ``Trip Time'' works.

Trivia: Morris Travers of William Ramsay's laboratory built in 1901 a hydrogen liquefier which he claimed cost a total of £35 to construct. (This was misleading, overlooking the value of borrowed or cannibalized equipment, and was probably claimed in order to irritate Dewar.) Source: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, Tom Shachtman.

Currently Reading: Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman. I already feel a great affection for this, based in no small part on Doctor Impossible remembering the time he held the Moon for ransom.

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