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About me and terrycolon.com

Interview of me at Existable

Interview of me at The Setup

Notes for Young Illustrators  Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

features1 archives1 cracked1

American History 101 2.0  The Fake But Accurate Story

Chartology Made Stupid  Connecting the Dots

Cosmology-Wiz  A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Dangerous Hot Air  The Truth About Inconvenient Global Warming

The Disunited States of America  A Preview of Coming Attractions?

Don’t Look Down  Everthing You Never Wanted to Know About Air Travel

E-Z P-Z House Selling  Redirect, Repackage, Relabel

Government Machinery at Work  How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Happy New Year  2007 in Review

How ESP Works  Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

Lights, Camera, Reaction!  The Periodic Table of Hollywood Plot Elements

Mess Transit  Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

Mysteries of UFOs Revealed  They’re Here, They Are, They Are, They Are

Money Blather  Your Guide to Economic Jargon, Lingo, and Gobbledegook

Not-so-Special Winter Olympics  Olympic Events You’ll Never See

Quick and Easy Housekeeping  Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

A Short Long Good-bye  It's the End of the Year as We Know It

Space Warps and Wefts  What Fabric Is The Fabric of Space Made Of?

Star Dreck  Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats  Our Deal With the Devils

Unnatural Empty Junkfood Words  Half-Baked Buzz Phrases and Overcooked Terms

Uranimals  Beastly Beasts

Welcome to the Burbs  Whatever it Is

Win Any Argument  Using Paralogic and Surreason

Winless Wear  2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Reader's Digest

The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh


Crash Course  Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents

Suck School of Comic Art  How to Draw Funny

Suck School of Comic Art - Graduate Course  How to Draw Funnier

Bernoulli, Coanda & Lift  What Is What and What Is and Isn’t Doing What

Better Than Sliced Bread  Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

Bikes Don’t Turn By Leaning  Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile

Billiards Bits for Beginners  The Shape of Cheating the Pocket With Throw

Changes that Changed Everything  The 10 Greatest Inventions of All Time?

Counter-Steering Made Easy-Peasy  Balancing a Bike by Turning

Folk Etymology  From the Greek Meaning “Fake it”

The Futility of Fashionable Foods and Fitness Fads  Is It a Paradox or Not?

Flying Made Simple  Understanding How Planes Can Fly Without all the Messy Details

How Planes Can Fly  The Correct Explanation of Lift For Non-Engineers

Moving Goalposts  It's Harder to Make Ends Meet Because We Keep Moving Them Apart

My First Car  How I Almost Ran Myself Over With a Jerry-rigged Jalopy

Notes for Young Illustrators  Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

Optical Illusions You Often Run Into  Don’t Worry, They Don’t Hurt

“Pass the Honey, Sugar”  The Processed Food Processed Food Haters Love

A Powerplant in Your Garage?  Dense Plasma Focus Fusion

Science Legends
Things People Know to Be True That Aren’t

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat  Three Card Monte Math Which May Surprise You

Unsurprising Yet remarkable  One Step at a Time to One Step Beyond

Works for Me  Prosperity Is As Energy Does

Bizarro.TerryColon.www  Goodbye, Earthlings

Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures  Another Search Game

Find the Secret Message  A different Kind of Word Search

Hollywhat?  A Movie Trivia Quiz of the Funny, the Obscure, and the Strange

Internetelepathy  I Will Read Your Mind

Mystic 8 Ball  Ultimate Mystic Service Answers Any Yes-or-No Question

99 & 44/100 % Pure Amusement  A Pop Quiz About Percentages and Probabilities

Superest Super Bowl League  What Is the Best Pre-Merger League at Winning the Big Game?

Terra Incognita  A Trick Tricky Geography Quiz

Unanimated Gif Monte  A Little Optical Illusion Fun

What Was That Nym Again?  Some Fun With Words

Webio-Bot Video Games and Animation

Whack-a-Bot  Quick, Get 'Em!

Webio-Bot Illusion  A Little Fun With Optical Illusions

Webio-Bot Invaders  Save the Planet

Webio-Bot Rerun  Getting Into the Net With the Web-a-Tron 9000

Webio-Bot Rescue  A Game Where You're the Hero

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Getting Into the Net With the Web-a-Tron 9000

Animated Optical Illusions

A Game Where You're the Hero

A Neo-Retro Video Game

Using Paralogic and Surreason


Is It a Paradox or Not?

How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

I Will Read Your Mind

Lift Explained


Remembering WWI As It Really Wasn't

Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile


Hover cursor over column to scroll with mouse wheel. Click on column to scroll with page up/down function.


Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

Taking the bus is the newest hot trend folks around the country are flocking to in droves. Okay, that's obviously a lie, but I need a catchy lead-in to this bit. Anyway, sheep come in flocks and cattle go in droves, and who wants to commute like livestock? For the sake of argument, or rather to avoid any argument, let's pretend the opening line were true.

Folks who've never ridden a bus will benefit from some tips on how it's done safely and effectively. Therefore we present this Bus Riding Primer for Dummies. Which is not to say you have to be a dummy to ride the bus, but you may be one if you follow our advice…

Read it all


Balancing a Bike by Turning

It's hard to believe some people don't believe counter-steering is a real thing. This despite the century or so of motorcycle racers doing it. For those readers unfamiliar with counter-steering, it is some­times stated as, "Turn right to go left." It might sound absurd, but it works.

The first thing we need to clear up is that counter-steering is not really about turning so much as about leaning and balance. Which means "turn right to go left" is misleading though accurate. I'll explain that in a bit.

If you read my article Bikes Don't Turn by Leaning you know why leaning a bike can't possibly make it turn. The reverse is completely contrary, turning a bike will make it lean. Which might sound somewhat inconsistant until you think about it for a minute…

Read it all


Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

There comes a time in life when one feels duty bound to pass on the benefit of one's experience to the younger generation whether they like it or not. Then one can retire and collect Social Security so the younger generation can pass on part of their income in return. Whether this is an equitable trade is debatable. After reading said benefit of one's experience and realizing how paltry one's contribution is, one might conclude there's no debate about it.

One might also realize calling oneself one or oneself sounds pretty stilted and stupid and one should cut it out forthwith. And never again say forthwith, either.

I was going to call this article, "Advice for…" but thought that might be doing the young illustrator a disservice. Truth be told, I don't know that I have any great pearls of wisdom to pass on. Or nuggets either as wisdom comes packaged that way, too. Experience is the name we give to all the dumb things we've done. Wisdom is realizing afterward just how dumb they really were…

Read it all


Come enjoy Whack-a-Bot, the video game that's endless fun for the whole family. Though you'll have to take turns unless watching someone else play if fun to you. Then again, the fun might not be endless, but the game can be. That's because, well, try it and see.

Play Whack-a-Bot


We've assembled only the very finest mystic forces, spirits, voices from beyond, signs and omens in the ultimate mystic service to answer all your yes-or-no questions. Sorry, oracles not included.

Mystic 8 Ball

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If you though Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were elusive, you ain't seen nothing yet. Nor are you likely to see them anywhere besides Terry Colon dot com. There are a dozen elusiver, mysteriouser creatures to be found hiding in the picture. Not the picture here, on the feature itself. For that you'll have to click on the link.

Elusiver Mysteriouser Creatures


You might go to the page and wonder, how did they do that? Though maybe the better question is, why did they do that? The how is pretty simple, it's just that most folks don't bother doing such things.



Simple Water Molecule Is Simply Amazing


Living things are mostly water. By weight a person is about two-thirds water. On the other hand, the simple water molecule is much, much smaller than long-chained fat and proteine molecules. By count 99% of the molecules in your body are water.

We all know plants get energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis and all that. But, do people get energy directly from sunlight? Well, if Dr. Gerald Pollack is onto something about sunlight and what he calls the fourth phase of water, maybe we do. Shine light on this structured water and it moves itself through a tube, it performs work, it has electrical charge separation. No chlorophyl involved, just H2O. Or in it's fourth phase, H3O2.

So then, what is a living organism really all about? Is it all a sophisticated way of organizing the work done by water into a higher order function? Is life really carbon based as they say, or water based? Is water alive? Or proto-living, if that's a real thing?

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/24/15

Fourth Time’s the Charm


And now, an old 'Strange Deaths' spot illo from Fortean Times magazine of several years back.

A Pentacostal preacher who followed his father into the practice of handling snakes to prove his faith in God died after a timber rattlesnake bit him on the thigh during an outdoor service in Panther State Forest, near Bluefield, West Virginia, on 27 May. Mark Wolford, 44, pastor of the Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, West Virginia, had survived three previous bites. Praise the Lord and pass the rattle­snakes, brother, he had written four days before his death. His father had also died after being bitten – in 1983, aged 39. Serpent-handlers cite Mark 16:1718 as justification for their practice. It is illegal in some states, such as North Carolina and Tennessee.

Yes, I've posted this one before. But now it's in the archives so I won't do it again. Some people learn not to repeat things over and over until it bites them on the behind.

Filed under Snippets 4/21/15

Blue Light Special in Isle Three


Since I'm currently busy doing the 'Brickbats' art for an upcoming issue of Reason magazine, I thought I'd post an old 'Brickbats' spot from an old Reason magazine issue. Enjoy.

Georgette Prince was coming out of an Akron, Ohio, convenience store when a man pushed her back into the store, pointed a gun at her, and told her to get on the ground. When she did, he pulled her hands behind her and handcuffed her. Outside, another man pointed a gun at her 12-year-old son, Davonte, ordered the boy out of the vehicle he was sitting in, and forced him to the ground. The armed men were part of a SWAT team that was raiding the store as part of a shoplifting inves­tigation. SWAT team members and other members of the sheriff's office say their treatment of Prince and her son was "according to the book."

Who wrote that book? The Committee for Public Safety?

Filed under Snippets 4/16/15

The Other King of Rock & Roll


Other than all being rock and rollers of sorts, what do Paul Revere & the Raiders, Jan & Dean, The Sonics, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, Toots & the Maytals, the Stooges, the Clash, Lou Reed, Black Flag, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Sisters of Mercy, Bruce Springsteen, and Smashing Pumpkins have in common? OK, rather a vague question. Let's ask it this way, what song do they have in common? What song have they all recorded, along with about 1,600 other people?

"Louie, Louie" by Richard Berry. Check out the whole story of how he wrote the most recorded song in rock and roll history and hit pay dirt. Forty years later.

Just a little point of style: You almost always see it titled as "Louie Louie." But on the original record it was "Louie, Louie" with a comma. Which is right? Does it matter? You also see Rock 'n' Roll instead of rock and roll. Should you capitalize musical genres? As far as I can find, you don't need to, but many find it acceptable. As they say, close enough for rock and roll.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/13/15

Name That Beast

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Infrequently Answered Question #85: Is a muskrat a kind of musky rat? Is a crayfish a fish that is cray? Do groundhogs oink? Do woodchucks chuck wood?

A: While we might see rat and fish in them, they aren't the origin of muskrat and crayfish which are actually foreign words that have been Anglicized. Crayfish comes from the French écrevisse which isn't a fish but a kind of lobster. Though it may be a musky rodent, muskrat allegedly derives from the Algonquin word muscascus, meaning red.

A groundhog isn't some kind of pig-rat. Groundhog is another name for a woodchuck. The origin of woodchuck is not certain, though some say it is from Algonquin, wecyeka. Do woodchucks chuck wood? There you have me. All I know is there is no Wood­chuck Day.

Hardly that interesting, you say? OK, let's go off on an animal names tangent. How about a wienerdog. That's just a comical name for a dachshund. A wiener, short for wienerwurst, is a sausage from Vienna, Wienne in German. Still, dachshunds don't get no respect. They're silly looking. Short legs, floppy ears, long body like a hotdog.

However if you translate the name from German it might change your idea about the breed. Dachs is the German word for badger, hund is hound or dog. A dachshund is a badger dog, a dog bred to go into burrows and kill badgers. Takes a pretty fierce animal to do that for a living.

Is a dachshund a terrier? That I don't know. Terriers were also bred small and fierce to go into burrows and kill. Which might make them terrors, or terrifying. Which isn't why they're terriers. The term derives from Latin Terre, earth, because they hunt underground.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 4/11/15

Time for a Debt Jubilee?


We all know about the seven day cycle called a week. Comes from the Bible. The seventh day is the Sabbath day, a day of rest, a reset day. There's also a Biblical seven year cycle. The seventh year is a Sabbath year, called the Shemitah, a reset year. Then there's a seven-seven year cycle, a sort-of super Shemitah every 49 years. It marks a Debt Jubilee, all debts are forgiven, wiped out. It's a super reset year.

We don't bother with that sort of thing now-a-days. But maybe it's not a bad idea. It would be one way to wring out excessive debt in the system built up over time. With a debt wipeout every half century we couldn't run up massive debts the next generation is on the hook for. Give it a modern spin and call it the Social Justice Cycle.

Still, mightn't it lead to irresponsible borrowing if people knew their debts would simply be wiped out? Yes, if lenders were stupid enough to give long-term loans in year 48. If everyone knew the great reset was scheduled they'd plan so they wouldn't be left holding the bag. One can imagine how it might make lending and borrowing more responsible, not less.

The Debt Jubilee is something in the way of Biblical central banking. —That Yahweh, He thinks He's Janet Yellen.— Believers say this seventh seventh year comes along whether we like it or not. Debt forgiveness or default, same result. Unless I'm mistaken, September 2015 is supposed to be the start of such a year. Is that when the Shemitah hits the fan?

Yep, I wrote this whole thing just to get in that bad pun. Or did I?

Filed under Talkin' Bout Money 4/7/15

More Fun With Flags


The five interlocking olympic rings flag symbolizes the peoples of the world getting together in peaceful sport and games. There's one ring for each continent: Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. Wait, that's seven. Who'd they leave out?

Antarctica is certainly missing. Nobody lives there. Or rather, there's no indigenous population. There are no Antarcticans and no Antarctican olympic team. Not even for the winter games which you'd figure they'd be pretty good at if they existed. The Antarcticans, that is. The winter games exist, despite most folks not really caring that much.

I guess the other missing continent is Australia which is all one country. Still, it is a continent so why the snub? Then again, why should one country have a ring of its own?

All the same, Europe and Asia aren't really separate continents in any geographical sense. It's pretty much an ethnic division between white folks and other-than-white folks. But the Olympic ideal is bringing people together, not dividing them. So make it one continent. There's already a name for it, Eurasia.

Now we're down to four continents and four rings. But that's the Audi logo. Can't have that. Maybe we can let four rings represent the four continents and the fifth ring be the leftover non-continental bits. That sort-of works. On the other hand, who the hell cares? Let the games begin! Uh, next year.

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 4/4/15

As the World Turns Upside Down


The Earth's magnetosphere is sort-of like a protective force field against cosmic radiation and high energy particles emitted from the sun. Don't look now, but the Earth's magnetic field is getting weaker. It's lost about 15% of its strength in the last 150 years. The pace of the weakening is increasing, the last quarter century accounts for a third of that loss.

At the same time the Earth's magnetic poles are moving. Also at an accelerating rate. Could be the magnetic poles are going to flip, or are already starting to. The poles have periodically flipped in the past and those who study these things say it's overdue to do it again. Rapid Geomagnetic Reversal Possibility: Confirmed

The sun has gone quiet as well, sunspot activity is much lower than anticipated. Some solar scientists posit we're entering another grand minimum, like the Maunder minimum that accompanied the Little Ice Age.

Is there a connection between these three things? How weak will the Earth's magnetic field get? How long does it take the magnetic field to flip? What happens while it does? Will a grand solar minimum be a good or bad thing during all this? Other than compasses being pretty unreliable, it's hard to imagine.

Could it be Sir Isaac Newton's calculation for the end of the world in 2060 was not so crazy as it seems? I make no prediction on that score. Maybe you should consult the Mystic Eight Ball. Should the phenomena start wreaking havoc the information in this Fun Facts & Trivia entry might turn out to be not so trivial. Or fun, either.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/2/15

Fun With Flags


People like flags. What exactly the appeal is I couldn't say, but you can't deny people like flying them, wearing them, and sticking them on things. All the same, in my view there are only a handful of national flags that are both visually appealing and distinctive.

Way too many flags are hard to tell apart. Like all those striped flags, mostly made of three horizontal or vertical colored bands. Europe is full of non-distinctive striped flags. I mean, if you can't tell what it is in a black and white picture it's not all that distinctive.

The best European flag is the UK union jack, both visually appealing and distinctive. I'd go so far as to say it's the best national flag in the world. Though the union jack is really three flags in one, all explained here.

The Japanese flag is very good distinctive-wise, though perhaps a bit sparse. China's is OK, but they miss the boat by not having a dragon. How could they pass that up? Turkey and Switzerland have good flags, though they are basically the same idea: a big white religious symbol on a red flag.

The US flag is distinctive, but too busy with all those stars and stripes. With the blue panel in the upper corner it looks like a flag within a flag. Overall rather lopsided and ungainly. Plus it just looks wrong facing right-to-left.

Let me offer a new design for the US flag. To be less busy we lose the red stripes. Or are they white stripes? Whatever, ax the stripes. Fifty stars is a lot of stars. I get that they represent the fifty states, but states don't mean much since now-a-days the federal government runs the show.

So we're left with one white star on a blue field. Not that great. Besides, blue is not very inclusive, think of all the colors left out. Can't have that. Let's go with black and white. White covers the entire light spectrum, black makes all that color diversity pop. This leaves us with a white star on a black field.

Five-pointed stars on flags are a dime a dozen, plus too many communist countries use them. So let's swap out the star for something else. Since it's supposed to be a democracy we need some­thing to represent people, like a human head. But it has to be generic, no ethnicity or sex. The flag should also have something to remind all foreigners that the US of A is the most powerful country on the planet. I think I've got it. Now, that's a flag…

Mouseover to see the new, improved US flag


Filed under Odds & Ends 3/31/15

More More Fun All Over

device greenspot zapper spiral squiggle bot flyerbot mexican redgreen twins doctor catbot

Half a Dozen Side Trips Through the Web Portal

  1. Need a joke flyer, take a joke flyer
  2. Don't cross this Mexican pedestrian at the pedestrian crossing
  3. Do-it-yourself you never thought to do yourself
  4. One is not like the other — Oh wait, it is
  5. Don't tell Elaine Benis what doctors write on medical charts
  6. If you don't like cute cats catnapping cutely the link is optional

Try as you might you'll be hard pressed to find a link between the links. They're just various collections of various things, and one video, that made me smile. Though these days I guess you're supposed to say diverse instead of various.

Filed under Top Tens & Other Lists 3/28/15

England, Where No Legal Activity Goes Uninvestigated


You can tell I'm busy doing other things when I trot out a rerun of an old illo spot from days gone by. This one's an early Brickbat from Reason magazine. You're not surprised, right?

"In Wales the Gwynedd County Council has informed Jeanette Gordon-Crawley and her husband, Gordon, that they are under investigation for smoking in their own home. A council official says a neighbor complained she could smell the smoke. 'We can't see how smoke from our house could possibly get into the house next door,' Gordon-Crawley said. A council spokesperson told a local newspaper, 'We are duty-bound to investigate.'"

Filed under Snippets 3/27/15

Is It “Toward” or ‘Towards’?


Here's another question, should you move toward the light, or towards the light? While both mean the same thing and are OK in casual use, for writing in America use toward, no S; in Britain, towards. I don't know how they move in other English speaking countries. Though wherever you might be, if you're not ready to meet your maker, move away from the light.

The same rule of whether or not to tack an S on the end applies to other directions: forward, backward, upward, and downward. For any British readers that's forwards, backwards, upwards, and downwards. The same goes for afterward/afterwards. This hasn't always been the case. In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer used toward. Americans mostly used towards up until 1900.

Another difference that really makes no difference between American and British English is quote marks. Americans use double quote marks for a quotation or dialog where the British use single quote marks. For a quote within a quote Americans use single quote marks and the British use double quote marks. From a logical point of view the British use makes sense. After all, a quote within a quote is a double quote, thus it gets double quote marks.

This different quote mark usage makes me wonder, are air quotes in Britain done with one finger per hand?

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 3/25/15

Qu'est-ce Que C-est?


Here's a spot I did for Fortean Times a while back. Don't have the text to go with it. Must have something to do with mastodon bones found under Paris or something. Or is it a wooly mammoth? What's the difference? I don't know. This is Snippets not Fun Facts and Trivia. In any case I liked the pic, so here it is for all those who missed it in the magazine.

If you really want a story to go with it, here's one for you. A Borg Jean-Paul Sartre and a mammoth are in a café on the Left Bank in Paris. The mammoth says, "I think I'm going extinct." Sartre says, "It doesn't matter, existence is futile."

Filed under Snippets 3/23/15

Cheesy Computer Terry Tip


I use a Mac with one of those low profile keyboards with white keys which are easy to see in poor lighting conditions. Not an issue if you're a touch-typist. I'm not. The downside, white keys get dirty pretty quickly. Not any sooner than my old black keys really, but it shows more so it seems quicker.

I can tell which keys I use most by dirtiness. The letter S mostly. Which seems likely what with how often it appears in English plus command-S, save. Next dirtiest are D, E, command, and spacebar. Shift gets a lot of use, but it's pretty clean. I guess my pinkie finger just stays cleaner than my other digits. Must be the dainty way I keep my pinky raised while drinking tea or something.

Another smudgy key is Z. There aren't that many Zs in English so you can guess why that Z key gets a workout. Command-Z, undo, anyone? Man, I must make a lot of mistakes I've had to command-undo. Though if you've looked at the site closely you may have noticed some things I should have command-Zed but didn't.

Anyway, the propensity for white keys to look dirty induced me to clean my keyboard more often than before. With bad results. Three keys stopped working, U, J, M. Three keys grouped together. I think I shorted them out with cleaning fluid that seeped through the crevices.

So I bought a new keyboard. To prevent the cleaning/shorting-out problem noted above I keep it in a plastic sleeve. Which is actually a plastic bag English muffins come in turned inside out and slipped over the keyboard. When it gets worn out I simply slip on a new one. Maybe that's kind-a cheesy, but it beats a dirty keyboard where some keys don't work.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/18/15

We've Never Felt Better about Tajikistan


One from the second batch of "Brickbats" spots I did for Reason magazine back in March, 2007.

"Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmonov has banned state employees from having gold teeth. Gold and silver crowns are considered a sign of affluence in Central Asia, and some reports indicate up to half of all current government workers will have to resign or have their gold teeth replaced. Rakhmonov says the move will improve the country's image abroad."

Filed under Snippets 3/16/15

About Time, Too

X-Y Axis Plot Flow Diagram Chart #7Timing Is Everything


Been too long since I added one of these chart bits. Which would put this chart on the righthand side of itself. How it fits top to bottom is for the reader to decide. It might be too much of too little.

Filed under Chartology Made Stupid 3/14/15

Your Commute May Be Costing You a Quarter of a Million Dollars


I decided to split off part of a previous post and develop it a bit because it's one of the most economically nutty things people do every day for their entire working life: Over-commuting. This has two parts, too far to go and too much vehicle.

The average commute is about 25 miles. But it's a round trip, so 50 miles a day. 250 miles a week. Times 48 weeks is 12,000 miles a year. The IRS allows 51 cents a mile for driving costs. Let's say 40 cents a mile. That's $400 an month, $4,800 a year to commute. If you pay $1,200 a month rent, that's four months worth. At $800 a month rent it's half a year's worth. If you moved to walking distance to work you could pay $200 more rent per month and still save money. Maybe eat lunch at home instead of at McDonald's and save another $100 a month.

Plus it takes time to commute, so you're spending both money and time. If you really enjoy that daily hour of alone time in the car, you can still do that sitting in the driveway. Save some money and pollute less. It's a good thing.

Of course, the cost per mile depends on what you drive and what it cost. A $30k car kept for ten years will cost you $3k per year. That's just the purchase cost. A $10k used car bought once every five years costs $2k per year, you'd save $10,000 in that ten years. Two $5k used cars saves you $20,000 over the same timeframe. Plus you could get cheaper insurance and save a bit there, too.

If you bought a car with a loan add the interest. A $30k car bought with a 5% loan adds to the sticker price. That's 5% per year, so more like 15% over the loan term, or another $5,000. This makes the purchase cost $3,500 per year. Is that new car smell really worth an extra $250 a month? You can get a can of Febreeze for 5 bucks.

I can understand why a contractor needs a pickup truck, but why do so many people drive SUVs? For the off-road capacity they use never? For the hauling capacity they use twice a year? Groceries don't weight so much you need a pickup. Just why are these gas-guzzling behemoths so popular?

Americans average 15,000 miles driving a year. At 25mpg that's 600 gallons of gas. At $3.50 a gallon that's $2,100 a year. You can easily find a car that gets 40mpg which would use 375 gallons of gas a year. At $3.50 a gallon that's $1,312.50 a year, $785.50 less. That's $7,855 in ten years. For hauling you could rent a trailer a couple times a year for less than that.

Then again, if you walked to work you'd drive only 3,000 miles a year, use 75 gallons of gas costing $262.50 a year saving you $1,837.50 a year in gas alone. You might get ten years out of that $5k used car and save another $3,000 a year on the purchase price. Can't use an extra $4,837.50 a year? How about $48,375 every ten years? How about $193,500 by the time you retire? Invested in a well-managed portfolio, it could easily top 250 grand. Can't use $250,000 for retirement? Then keep on truckin'.

Filed under Talkin' Bout Money 3/12/15

Rat Race Against Time

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Time is money.

Or so the man said. This is obvious to any wage-earner being paid by the hour. And when paying a repairman by the hour, painfully obvious. Though we always say time is money, being equal means we could put it the other way round, money is time. (You don't need to be a math major to see if a=b then b=a.) So, what's the difference, you ask? Think of it like this, you work to get money, but if had money you wouldn't need to work. Money buys you leisure time, or retirement.

We tend to think about what something costs in dollars and not in time. People don't like wasting time, but they don't mind wasting money even though the saying says wasting money is wasting time. Every dollar wasted today is a dollar less for retirement.

Think we aren't wasting buttloads of money every day? A 16oz bottle of drinking water for a buck equates to eight dollars a gallon. For water, for crying out loud. A daily four dollar fancy coffee costs almost a thousand dollars a year. Fast food lunch, $6; home-made lunch, $1. Hey, they don't call us consumers for nothing.

When you stop and think about it, there are likely dozens of things we could change or cut back on saving thousands of dollars a year and still live quite comfortably. Mr. Money Mustache says we could all retire in our thirties. (Though with ZIRP, maybe later.) Instead we're living a Will Rogers gag line…

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don't want to impress people they don't like."

Let me add one more tidbit, according to MIT, "an average worker needs to work a mere 11 hours per week to produce as much as one working 40 hours per week in 1950." The middle-class life of 1950 could be supported by working two days a week now-a-days. Middle-class folks in the 50s weren't exactly living in shacks and eating gruel. We could easily be saving half our income, $25,000 a year on average. $250,000 in ten years. Half a million by age forty-five. Where does the money go?

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 3/10/15

Daylight Savings Time Time


It's that time of year when the time of day changes. Spring ahead, even though it's not spring yet. DST is supposed to save energy. Nice thought, but some studies show the opposite. What we do get is a lot of sleep-deprived folks on Monday following the change with an uptick in driving and work accidents. Hope you haven't scheduled surgery for tomorrow.

At least they haven't tried anything more radical, like switching to a decimal clock. Ten hours, 100 minutes per hour and 100 seconds per minute. Afterward, when computers take over and go all binary on our butts there will be 1010 hours, 1100100 minutes per hour and 1100100 seconds per minute. And just what time will we have to wake up each morning during Binary Daylight Savings Time to serve our computer masters? Whatever the time might be by the clock, it'll be too late.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/8/15