With World Goth Day #15 occupied by Bob Metcalfe and the Ethernet, this year’s annual post has been moved to 2023-05-27 to coincide with an even older Goth event, Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT) = Wave Gothic Meet, a music festival that started life in Potsdam in 1987, an illegal event in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) = Democratic Republic of Germany aka Ostdeutschland = East Germany.
At WGT, there are two types of goths: purists, who regard 1987 as the starting date of WGT; and resurrectionists, who prefer 1992, when the event was revived in Leipzig in 1992. It has been held in Leipzig ever since.
In my career as a prison teacher, one becomes acutely aware that outsiders, those who live outside of acceptable social norms in a thousand or more different ways, find comfort in something excessive. One of the major appeals of Goth music, and its kindred variants, such as glam metal, is its immaturity. It is an attitude reminiscent of 14-year old girls experimenting with makeup: If a little is good, a lot is better. Why not? It is an experiment. In fact, life is an experiment.
Justin Quirk states that: Glam metal kind of drags rock back to where it’s supposed to be, which is the mental and hormonal concerns of 15-year-olds. He redundantly adds that at its best, Glam metal is profoundly juvenile.
An introduction to a large number of immature musicians is found an Alexis Pedridis’ article in the Guardian about Bound for Hell: On the Sunset Strip (2022), a box set from Numero Group that documents the nascent glam metal scene.
I do not read much fiction, but the latest novel I read (finished yesterday, 2023-05-26) is Stasi Child (2016) written by David Young (1958 – ) who has his crime fiction set in the DDR, in 1974. In a Telegraph newspaper interview 2016-, Young says the inspiration for the book series came after his indie pop band The Candy Twins toured Germany in 2007 and he read Anna Funder’s (1966 – ) non-fiction book Stasiland (2003) between gigs. Some of Stasi Child is set at Prora, a former National Socialist resort, on Rügen, an island in the Baltic Sea. Another major location in the book is Brocken, a 1 143 m high mountain, in Harz National Park, in northern Germany. The mountain is the traditional home of witches.
Today, it is 50 years (1973-05-22) since Ethernet was invented at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), in Palo Alto, California. This date specifically references a memo written by Bob Metcalfe (1946 – ). Ether refers to an omnipresent, luminiferous aether, that acts as a passive medium for the propagation of electromagnetic waves. In 1975, Xerox filed a patent application listing Metcalfe, David Boggs (1950 – 2022) , Chuck Thacker (1943 – 2017) and Butler Lampson (1943 – ) as Ethernet inventors.
Metcalfe’s law states that the impact of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes, initially expressed as compatible communicating devices in, later as connected users of, the system (n2). The law was first proposed in 1983-12, in a 3Com sales presentation, given by Robert Metcalfe. The law was popularized by George Gilder in a 1993-09-13 Forbes article which specifically associated it with Ethernet users.
Some feel that this law overstates the case, in that not all nodes are born equal. Specifically, reference is made to the Dunbar number, originally expressed as a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar (1947 – ), who devised the concept, places the limit at about 150, for people. In terms of this weblog post, I have stated that I will know that I am doing something wrong, if the number of readers exceeds 100. It is only intended for family and friends, with whom I wish to maintain stable social relationships. In addition, it allows for, say, fifty people to disown me (or the weblog), for various reasons, real or imagined. In terms of Ethernet nodes, it is easier to reach some in contrast to others. Indeed, most people place considerable effort in evading contact by spammers, and other forms of Internet lowlife.
António Madureira, Frank den Hartog, Harry Bouwman and Nico Baken have, in 2013, empirically validated Metcalfe’s law, specifically looking at how Internet usage patterns changed over time, See: Information Economics and Policy, 25 (4): 246–256.
Ethernet was commercially available, starting in 1980. It was standardized in 1983 as IEEE 802.3. New versions of Ethernet have increased bit rates, the number of nodes connected, and link distances, yet retain considerable backward compatibility. Ethernet has largely replaced competing wired local-area network (LAN) technologies, such as the token-ring and aloha networks.
An Ethernet connection is made using a cable fitted with a male plug connector at both ends. One end of the connector (most often a 8P8C plug) usually attaches to a device (such as a laptop computer) fitted with a 8P8C jack, while the plug, at the other end is attached to the jack of a switch. The term RJ45 connector/ plug/ jack is often used. The original (telephone) RJ45 connector featured a key that disallowed 8P8C connectors. These RJ45 connectors are obsolete, but continue to be referenced in the language. There are variations in the termination of the wiring inside 8P8C connectors, with two distinct flavours, officially known as T568A and T568B. These are defined in ANSI/TIA-568. I have never known anyone who uses anything but B.
Connector installation improves with practice. We use purpose built tools and a tester to ensure that cables function properly.
It can be difficult for people to obtain appropriate information about Ethernet connections, and Internet operations, more generally .
Many people I associate with are surprised that Cliff Cottage, our residence, is wired with CAT 6A Ethernet cable. Gratuitous advice: If it is too difficult to put Ethernet cable inside a wall, fasten it outside, immediately above a baseboard. We have done this in select locations. We have also allowed the cable to be fitted inside door molding.
We use a power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switch with 24 ports, that are fitted to our server rack. This allows us to send data and electrical power in the same cable. Users in our household each have a PoE UniFi Flex Mini switch with five ports, operating at gigabit speed. We also have three UniFi Wi-Fi 6 lite access points at appropriate locations in the house, so that all portable/ hand-held devices can connect to the Internet..
Note: The publication date is also World Goth Day #15. It will not have a weblog post devoted to it this year, but will return to explore Gothic architecture on World Goth Day #16, 2024-05-22. As compensation, a weblog post about Wave Gotik Treffen, a Leipzig music festival, will be published 2023-05-27.
This post is being published on World Bee Day, 2023-05-20, held on the anniversary of the baptism date, and potential birth-date, of Anton Janša (1734-05-20 – 1773-09-13). Later this year, one will be able to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his death, and in eleven years, the 300th anniversary of his birth.
On 2017-12-20, after three years of efforts, the United Nations member states unanimously approved a Slovenian proposal, and proclaimed 05-20 as World Bee Day, starting in 2018. Today is its fifth anniversary.
Carniolan/ Slovenian beekeeper Anton Janša, became the first beekeeping teacher at the Viennese imperial court of Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa (1717 – 1780). He completely revised beekeeping methods based on (scientific) observations, and laid the foundations of modern beekeeping. By introducing Carniolan beekeeping methods, he caused a real beekeeping revolution.
Today, this year’s Inderøy Walks opened at 11:00 at the Mosvik Museum. This is the 18th consecutive year that Inderøy Walks is being held. In 2023, there are 48 posts. 13 can be visited by wheelchair users. Twelve posts are accessible from a kayak (when the tide is favourable). This year, as last year, parking is available that allows one to visit several destinations/ posts on a slightly longer trip. As usual, Trish and I will be participating in the opening arrangement, but a day later to avoid the crowds. We have the posts downloaded onto our hand-held devices/ mobile phones. These are used to register a visit to a post. After a recorded visit, a post cannot be visited again for 22 hours, for it to be counted!
For us, Inderøy Walks is the closest we come to the spirit of Universal Athletics. In 2016 this weblog criticised the elitism of the Olympic Games in a post titled Universal Athletics. This was followed up with another post about a proposed logo and motto the next day. There was yet another post two days later, with a suggestion for a manifesto. The sequence ended with a post about parades, a week later. This weblog post is being published seven years later, with further suggestions for ending elitism, and the Olympic Games themselves, and encouraging everyone to become physically, mentally, emotionally and ethically strong, given their capabilities and the current situation.
In particular, my concern is that the pandemic contributed to a negative spiral where people became physically, mentally, emotionally and ethically weaker, at the same time as they are become less tolerant of other people.
I have no objection to people watching videos, listening to podcasts or even reading for inspiration. However, there is no need for the majority to watch the Olympics or other sporting events, either in person, or on screens, for entertainment. The goal of Universal Athletics (and of Inderøy Walks) is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate locally, in their own community, and to have fun. Spectatoring should be allowed in some situations. For example, it seems appropriate that parents should attend activities where their children, or other family members, are participating. This might even be extended to local communities, where some people participate while others work for the benefit of that community. These will be live events, although even here, there could be valid reasons why some people will need to see the events on video.
There is no need for any committee to organize events, internationally, nationally or even regionally. There is no need for any form of competition, except – perhaps – an individual attempting to compete against a previous incarnation of her-/ himself.
In previous posts, I was particularly concerned that an elite tried to make an artificial distinction between amateur and professional. One specific incident is of particular importance. Wa-Tho-Huk = Bright Path, in the Fox language, aka James (Jim) Francis Thorpe (1887 – 1953), who was stripped of his pentathlon and decathlon medals when it was discovered that he had played semi-professional baseball before the Olympics.
In 1983, 30 years after Jim Thorpe’s death in 1953, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his Olympic medals with replicas, after ruling that the decision to strip him of his medals fell outside of the required 30 days. Until 2022-07-14, Thorpe was listed as co-champion in both the decathlon and pentathlon events according to official IOC records. However, on 2022-07-14, the IOC reinstated Thorpe as the sole winner of the events.
One important characteristic is that he excelled at many different activities: ballroom dancing, baseball, football, lacrosse, the pentathlon (with the five events being long jump, javelin throw, 200 metres running, discus throw and 1500 metres running). The decathlon doubles this to ten events over two days. Day 1: 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 metres. Day 2: 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 meters.
By design, the Olympic Games were a means for the aristocracy and other members of an elite to promote their own interests. They have no interest in the well being or proficiency of ordinary people. Ordinary people are only useful for their ability to finance events, most often indirectly by watching television advertising, but also through taxation, when governments pay to host games.
With the pandemic, the Olympic games of 2020 were postponed to 2021. Because of social distancing and other prophylactic measures, there was no opportunity for any universal athletics in that time frame. Athletics should be fun, but should focus on people developing their own personal athletic potential, but with a sense of humility.
Previously, as word of the year, I have written about parkour, and its origins. Two other terms for parkour are freerunning and l’art du deplacement. Parkour seems to give the greatest freedom of interpretation, as does the term traceur, for a participant, rather than freerunner. In this post I would like to mention two video representations showing parkour, in a form only suitable for younger people, that were made twenty years apart.
The first video is Yamakasi, modern day Samurai, from 2001. The link shows a highlight from the film. Wikipedia explains that the Yamakasi are a group of young thrill seekers of different ethnic backgrounds who are all dedicated to parkour. They live in France in a banlieue, a ghetto especially designed for paupers and traditionally inhabited by immigrants from former French colonies. The motley group uses their sport to enjoy themselves without drugs and to gain recognition in a peaceful way. One morning, they are reported buildering, the act of climbing on the outside of buildings and other artificial structures, a portmanteau, combining the word building with the climbing term bouldering the east side of the Bleuets building in Lisses, France. This is the place where David Belle invented Parkour in 1990 and evading the police after that. Each member is introduced through his birth name and alias to the spectators of the film too: Zicmu (Ousmane Dadjacan, played by Yann Hnautra), Tango (Jean-Michel Lucas, played by Laurent Piemontesi), Rocket (Abdou N’Goto, played by Guylain N’Guba-Boyeke), the Spider (Bruno Duris, played by Williams Belle), the Weasel (Malik N’Diaye, played by Malik Diouf), Baseball (Oliver Chen, played by Châu Belle Dinh), and Sitting Bull (Ousmane Bana, played by Charles Perrière).
The second, much shorter video shows Nicholas Visintin, Italian national parkour athlete and parkour team technician, appearing on a 2021 music video, Animus! performed by the Italian band, Moonlight Haze. According to Chiara Tricarico (1989 – ), frontwoman and lyricist of Moonlight Haze, the title track was selected as their first single because it best represents their upcoming album’s essence. It is a mix of symphonic, power and epic elements, and a choice of words that encourages people to work hard and never give up. Animus has nuances of a Latin word for courage and willpower. To quote Ovid (43 BC – 17/ 18 AD), Animus tamen omnia vincit = courage conquers all things.
“While we were thinking about the meaning of the song, the analogy with a sport was the first idea that sprung to mind. Therefore, we decided to involve Nicholas Visintin – an athlete of the Italian parkour national team. We’ve been listening to the song together, surprised at how much its message matched the ethics of this sport perfectly: having a goal, overcoming obstacles and often falling and getting hurt, but always struggling to get up and fight till the end.”
When your task seems too hard Remember all the times You thought you would have failed but then you made it So if the path appears so narrow And the road is steep Go gather all your strength right from within (from within)
Climb way higher, free your fire Never looking down below Aim for the top, keep in motion Get ready sometimes to fall
Step by step, till the end Even if you’re afraid Just focus on your goal with no distractions (no distractions) What if I slip today? My efforts would be in vain My fear of heights is getting stronger …then you’ll try again!
Climb way higher, free your fire Never looking down bеlow Aim for the top, keep in motion Get ready somеtimes to fall
Light the embers, make it happen Dare to fight against the odds Be the one to shape your future Just unleash you inner force
“Animus tamen omnia vincit Animus omnia vincit”
Climb way higher, free your fire Never looking down below Aim for the top, keep in motion Get ready sometimes to fall
Light the embers, make it happen Dare to fight against the odds Be the one to shape your future Just unleash you inner force (Unleash your inner force!)
The purpose of this post is to encourage each individual to become physically, mentally, emotionally and ethically strong, given their current condition and situation. It is not my intention that someone who is 70 should act as if they were 20, or even 50. The New York Post had an article about seniors (all between 60 and 85) learning parkour, but with the main elements adjusted to a level that can be handled by those over 60 who have replacement joints or other medical conditions.
Hopefully, people will see their local environment in a new and challenging way, and envision the potential for navigating it by movement around, across, through, over and under its features.
Unleash your inner forces: physical, mental, emotional and ethical!
Planet Earth has always undergone transformations, sometimes having enormous effects much more significant than the current warming of the planet. A lot has happened in the 4.6 billion years (about 145 Ps= Petaseconds, in SI units). So, while we will never live on a perfect planet, there is a lot people can do to make it a better planet. Much of that behaviour means doing less. Each of us has a short period of time, perhaps 80 years (2.5 Gs= Gigaseconds), to make a positive impact.
For the past two months (2023-03 and -04), I have taken a sabbatical from writing weblog posts, allegedly to concentrate on a kitchen renovation. The renovation probably did not proceed any faster, but it was delightful to avoid deadline anxiety, which was the real reason for the writing break. Writing was taking up too much of my time. Thus, this post signals that I intend to be more moderate with my writing.
As is the case with most of my posts, much of this one was written months in advance of its intended publication date, sometime in 2024. When this post was originally written, it was for a celebration. Rail journeys to and from Inderøy would stop using Type/ Class 92 diesel powered railcars. Finally, the Trønder line, opened 1882-07-22, would be fully electrified.
Now, Banenor – the Norwegian government-owned corporation that builds out the rail network, claims it is currently working on part of that route from Trondheim to Hell or Stjørdal heading north, and to Storlien, heading east. That section of the line that continues north, between Stjørdal and Steinkjer, where Røra in Inderøy has a station, has been put on indefinite hold. The map, below, provides some clarification about the location of the routes mentioned. Inderøy is unmarked, but it is about 3/4 of the distance along the route from Hell to Steinkjer.
When 2023-05-01 arrived, this post was almost abandoned, because of this unpleasant fact. However, I decided to continue. The original two sentence, opening paragraph appears immediately below, and has not been changed.
One of the major goals Patricia and I share, is to reduce our environmental footprints. Much of this reduction will be associated with transportation.
On our last major rail journeys from Drammen (near Oslo) to Bergen, Patricia was sitting beside a grump, who was pouting because of his lack of internet access, instead of enjoying the scenery. I have promised to change my attitude. I will make notes with a pen on paper on future rail journeys, and use my smartphone to take photos, and will avoid connecting to the internet.
In my defence, journeys always seem too long. My concentration wains after a few hours. Thus, I have obtained a concession that most journeys will be restricted, generally, to an a duration of six hours (a day), but with the possibility of exceptions. This applies not just to trains, but also to other forms of travel.
That rail journey was on an electrified rail line, that obtains its energy from renewable sources. The Class/ Type 92 dielsel railcar sets in use from 1984 to 2022 were noisy rather than uncomfortable, and not really suitable for anyone (apart from athletes) to enter and exit. You can read about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norske_Tog_Class_92
Stadler, the Swiss train manufacturer, makes various models of FLIRT = Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train (English); Flinker Leichter Intercity- und Regional-Triebzug (German), multiple-unit trainsets. The Type 76, now used in Trøndelag, as a replacement for the Type 92, is a variant of these. It is 7.2 meters longer, with two drive bogies, compared to three on the other similar types, because of a generator car containing four power packs. Each power pack contain a 480 kW diesel engine and a generator that supplies electricity independently of each other. There is also a small battery pack that can be used to move the trainsets in and out of workshop buildings without starting the diesel engines.
To discover new electrified rail adventures, we bought ourselves two books, one in English and the other in Norwegian: The newly (2022-04-12) published 17th edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide, by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries; Ferie med Tog: Reiseglede langs skinnene = Holidays by Train: Travel pleasure along the tracks (2022), by Sigrid Elsrud.
It is not practical to make rail journeys everywhere. For the first time since the pandemic, Brock is taking flights, to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. He and Trish are still intending to take flights to visit our daughter, Shelagh, currently living in Oakland, California. However, these could mark the end of our flying career that began, for Patricia, in 1966, when she returned from Ireland and Great Britain with her sister, Aileen. To get there, they had taken a train across Canada from Vancouver to Montreal, then taken a ship to Cork, in Ireland. Most of our international flights have involved trips to British Columbia, to visit family.
If one intends to do less of something, the time involved has to be applied to other activities. Less travel means more of something else. That something else means more of staying at home.
We live in a rural area, and have no intention of moving. We have lived in the same house since 1989-03-01. Most weeks I drive into Straumen, our municipal centre, and back, 26 km (16 miles). Once a month, I extend this to 60 – 70 km (32 – 37 miles) by driving to one of the neighbouring communities of either Verdal or Steinkjer. Patricia has even more extensive driving habits, that may involve driving 100 km in a week. Weather permitting, we make a few longer excursions. In 2022, we spent NOK 10 758.84 on diesel for our Mazda 5, and drove about 8966 km. The fuel costs were about NOK 1.23/ km (US$ 0.20/ mile).
Since 2023-02-13, Buzz, our Volkswagen electrified MPV, has been providing this service. After 80 days of use, we had driven 2004 km, which amounts to an average of slightly over 25 km a day. We had provided Buzz with 526.2 kWh of electricity. This costs us about 1.5 NOK per kWh = NOK 789.30. The fuel costs per km are about NOK 0.40/ km (US$ 0.065/ mile), which is about one third of that of the Mazda 5.
We had driven more with Buzz than I had originally anticipated, but it includes about 700 km of excursions. This would amount to about 9 200 km a year, or almost the same as we drove the Mazda, in 2022.
Reducing transportation impacts may be necessary, but it is not enough to prevent climate change. In many areas we have decided to make do with what we have.
An example: In 2012, we bought a used 40″ HD television for half its 2010 new price (NOK 2 500 vs NOK 5 000). Its TV reception capabilities were almost immediately eliminated to avoid the television reception tax. Instead, it is connected to a media player that, in turn, is connected to our server. The media player uses LibreELEC = Libre Embedded Linux Entertainment Center, a just enough operating system, that supports the Kodi media player software. Both of these are open-source products. This screen will not be replaced until it stops working. It is gudenuf for our use.
This is mentioned because our primary substitute for international travel involves viewing documentary films. We will allow younger, physically fit camera crews to endure the dangers of capturing remote places, and enjoy them in our living room, up to a maximum of one hour a day, and up to several times a week. Five hours of viewing a week, should be enough for anyone. For those who think that we waste our time with television, our total consumption in 2023, ending 2023-05-05 is less than 40 hours! Yes, we keep a complete log of all programs watched.
We often refer to our residence as a cottage, rather than a house. Definitions are often personal, and my definition of a cottage is a residence that is compact, rural, close to nature, simple and charming. One further requirement is that it has to be practical. One cannot live in a cottage without adequate laundry facilities. Wikipedia tells us: “A cottage during England’s feudal period, was the holding by a cottager (known as a cotter or bordar) of a small house with enough garden to feed a family and in return for the cottage, the cottager had to provide some form of service to the manorial lord. However, in time cottage just became the general term for a small house.” The term has its origins in old Norse, kot = hut. The modern Norwegian kott refers to a closet. Related to cot is the Latin domus = dwelling/ house, and grangia = barn. In time the grangia became the grange, referring first to a farm, and then to a large house.
By compact, I mean that rooms are small, yet functional. Rural refers to a low population density. It is more difficult to specify what close to nature actually means, since so much of nature has been destroyed, or cultivated. Sometimes it is simply a brownfield area that has been left to rewild. Simple? One has to be careful about definitions here. Someone might object to calling a dwelling simple, when it is wired with Ethernet cables everywhere, and shelters about 20 different computers. To side-step this issue, I will define simple as the absence of unnecessary decoration. Similarly, I will not even attempt to define charm, except to say one knows it when one sees it.
For better or worse, I am not sure everyone can adapt to cottage life. My parents retired to a new, but similarly sized dwelling on Vancouver Island. They lived there for twelve years, then returned to New Westminster, and lived two blocks from the house where I had grown up. In contrast, I have no desire to reconnect with the bustle of urban life. Online shopping holds greater appeal than in-person shopping, although I value visits to places where I can see and touch wood, as well as plumbing and electrical components!
Before retiring, I would attempt to hire people to renovate parts of the house. It was no great success, because I felt the workers were always trying to take shortcuts or not being competent to do what I asked them to do. Our main bathroom is adequate, but it is not equipped with the pipe-in-pipe plumbing, I requested. The roofer did not know how to apply roofing paper, resulting in a leaking roof. The carpenter did not optimize the use of boards, creating unnecessary waste. Since I retired I have rebuilt much of the cottage myself, but keeping it simple. This year, and for the first time since the cottage was built in 1963, the kitchen is being renovated.
At one point I reflected on my personal dependency on Ikea, especially with respect to my office. It is not always appropriate to make everything. I use an inexpensive, black Ikea Råvaror folding chair (no longer available), with a back and seat made of plywood, without arms. There are no adjustments. This is useful when I make things at my desk. Arms on a chair would just get in the way. When that gets too uncomfortable, I work standing up, folding the chair and stowing it, and raising the sit-stand desk I bought in 2008. It is not from Ikea, but from a local furniture store. It measures 1800 mm wide x 1000 mm deep (72″ x 40″). Along the wall behind my desk I have installed a shelf above the standing height of the desk, and fitted it with three Ikea Moppe mini-storage chests that houses components and tools. Above that I have 4 (width) x 2 (height) Ikea Eket storage cubes, for equipment, books and other reference materials. I also have an Ikea Alex drawer unit, for storage of things, including those printed on paper. More recently, I bought an Ikea Elloven monitor stand with drawer. The top of it supports my 27″ AOC monitor, Logitech G Pro headset and Vertical mouse. Underneath, it provides space to stow my Logitech K860 ergonomic keyboard, while the drawer provides storage space for assorted writing implements. I also have a desk lamp with magnifier, which is sometimes necessary for electronic work. If I need greater magnification, I also have a stereo microscope. I still use my 2016 Asus VivoMini VC65, because I like it. I deliberately bought a monitor without a camera, but have a Logitech webcam, for those few occasions when it is needed. In terms of speakers, I have an Angry Birds speaker bought used for $5. The power supply it did not come with, cost more! It is not used often, because I share my working environment with another person. This is also why I have never considered a mechanical keyboard. In terms of plants, I not only have Phillis, a philodendron, but curtains made from Ikea Filodendron cotton fabric.
While the kitchen has some components from Ikea, especially the Vattudalen sink and Sundsvik tap/ facet. Most of the whiteware is international: The Samsung microwave oven, fridge and freezer were bought in Steinkjer, in 2021; The Electolux dishwasher and oven, and the Husqvarna induction stovetop were bought locally in Straumen, in 2023. I have come to accept a certain level of dependency on large corporations. Much of the remaining components and supplies came from Biltema = Car Theme, in Steinkjer. It is yet another Swedish chain, founded in Linköping in 1963, to provide car parts to the Scandinavian market. In particular, they have provided the material for the cabinets, made from 18 x 600 x 2400 mm = 3/4″ x 2′ x 8′ spruce shelving material, and the 25 x 600 x 2400 = 1″ x 2′ x 8′ oak counter tops. They have also supplied PEX plumbing components, and electrical installation materials. The drawer and sliding door handles have a more complex history. Originally, we bought some at Ikea, but these were discontinued. However, an identical model soon appeared at Biltema. These have become the standard handle used throughout the house. They also provide a sense of continuity. None of these parts are cutting edge, but they are gudenuf!
One of the main reasons I will continue to reduce the time I spend writing is because I want to spend some time doing other things. In 2022-06 I bought a CNC machine that still has not been used. I need to reassign time from writing to working in other areas. I need more variation.
For example, I want to construct a geodesic dome greenhouse, for the experience of making one. Afterwards, I may just give it away because gardening does not give me pleasure, and Trish does not want one. Similarly, I would like to use my CNC machine (and other tools) to construct a robotic lawn mower. Yes, I can probably buy one for less, but that won’t provide me with the satisfaction of making one. It may be based on a Segway Navimow, but with variations.
There is now less than five hours before this post will be published. I have made some corrections, eliminated some content, and added some more. I will continue to publish some posts, but not with the same intensity as before.
On 2021-12-24, a close relation, the one who had not taken tertiary business education, confessed that s/he had not heard of S-curves before s/he had come across the term in a YouTube video. This post is to help explain the importance of S-curves.
In a country like USA, understanding how S-curves function, can mean the difference between mere survival, and a life of luxury. Part of the reason for this is that residents are largely responsible for securing their own pensions, frequently in the form of an employer-sponsored defined-contribution pension account, popularly known as a 401 (k) after the internal revenue service (IRS) code.
That is because corporations, such as General Motors, with effective lobbyists, receive generous aid from the government when they encounter difficulties, while ordinary citizens are told to submit themselves to the vagaries of the market. It is not just the losers amongst the corporate giants that are treated generously. A winning company, such as Apple also receives help. For example, much of the technology used in the iPhone was developed under DARPA or military contracts. Mariana Mazzucato (1968 – ) explains in The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking the Public vs. Private Sector Myths (2013) that achieving advanced missions, including space flights, required “a confident ‘entrepreneurial state’ willing and able to take on the early, capital-intensive high risk areas which the private sector tends to fear.” More recently Mazzucato has written The Value of Everything: Makers and Takers in the Global Economy (2018) and Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (2021), that explain her concepts in more detail.
While cellphone producers like Apple and Samsung do not own many utility = functional patents with respect to their products, they do have a number of design = ornamentation patents. These have been the source of much litigation throughout the world, although often with different design forms being the focus of contention, in different markets. In the US, Apple has generally won these disputes and been awarded damages. In other countries, including Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, Samsung has won, although the winning side may have flipped at different court levels. A Wikipedia article examines these cases in more detail.
There is seldom a relationship between cost and price in market economies. O of the more interesting examples occurred in the resent past, in the form of a Covid testing service. In the US, the test kit this relative gets through his/ her employer has a value/ cost of about $1 000, for a device and a test. Douglas Coupland also complained about this in Trek, AlumniUBC Fall/ Winter 2021. Asked, What is your latest purchase? He replied, “Two criminally expensive COVID tests ($780 CAD in total) just to get in and out of Los Angeles for three days of business. Scam.” p. 60. Yes, one could buy a home test in Norway, at a cost of NOK 79 from Boots pharmacy = at the time, US$8.84, without the need for any special device. They are available locally, in quantity at 10 for NOK 599, although individuals are only allowed to buy 50. However, there was no need to go to this expense. They were available free of charge to residents at the local municipal service centre. Why? The Norwegian government realized that testing was an inexpensive way to restrict new Covid cases, so that hospitals and other front-line health resources can continue to cope. Making tests free, was smart because it eliminated an important barrier (price) to testing.
In essence, there are two ways of viewing this difference in approach. It can be viewed as American companies being indirectly taxed to pay for health insurance, while the second sees Norwegian companies as being subsidized. Neither is strictly correct, but good enough to encourage reflection on the organization of society.
In Norway, pharmaceuticals are subsidized, and the price largely determined, by the government. Thus, there is a built in safety net and other mechanisms that ensure most people can live a satisfactory life somewhere between the two extremes of survival and luxury. In the Nordic countries, an understanding of S-curves is not nearly so important as it is in the US or Canada.
Not everything is perfect. Currently, in Norway, we are experiencing a challenge with respect to electricity prices. Electricity, it appears, is no longer being considered as part of the infrastructure to be supplied to residents if not at cost, at an affordable price. After eight years of a conservative government, it is regarded as a market opportunity to be exploited. The cost of producing hydro-electric power is estimated to be between NOK 0.05 and 0.15 per kWh, which means that it could be supplied to consumers at less than NOK 0.20 per kWh. This past year, it has sold for over NOK 8.00, because of a European shortage and because companies can get away with it. Earlier, in 2021-02 the conservative government was asked to put into place mechanisms to prevent situations like this occurring. They replied that there was no need. The current Labour/ Centre party coalition seems unable to do anything, apart from provide some subsidies.
In San Francisco, where I have immediate family living, and in Vancouver, Canada, where I was born, the type of house I grew up in costs well over one million dollars, in local currency. Currently, the most expensive single family dwelling on the market for sale in Inderøy, Norway with 175 square meters of living space, six bedrooms, probably several bathrooms, and a double garage, has an asking price of about NOK 3.5 million or just under US$ 400 000. There are also financial mechanisms ensuring people have a down payment, and preventing people from overextending their income.
There are major problems regarding factual information. As I wrote this post, I felt obliged to comment about an Infowealth posting about insurance disruption: Since I am watching this about two weeks after its publication, I am uncertain how many others have taken up the history of insurance. Insurance, more generally, began in Babylonia at least 3 700 years ago, and has existed through all of the major historical periods since then, including the Middle Ages. Even in the US, many people point to the Philadelphia Contributionship, co-founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1752, 269 years ago. If one looks just at cars, then there were liability insurance policies issued in the late 1890s (that’s 125 years ago), and it was mandated in Ohio in 1925, which is almost 100 years ago. So, when the video starts off with “The history of the insurance industry dates back to a little over a half century ago” it is beginning with a factually incorrect statement. If you want people to watch your channel start off by researching your facts! While I am aware that even American presidents can get away with lies, some of us are concerned about truth. Thus, when someone starts off a video or podcast or article with incorrect facts, the author of that incorrect information will loose many viewers/ listeners/ readers for life, Infowealth.
In general, people like to discuss two types of growth, linear and exponential. Common for both of these is that they cannot continue indefinitely. So, linear growth is often replaced with a steady state. Exponential growth also ends up in a similar situation, but users refer to the growth picture as an S curve, because of its resemblance to that letter.
An S curve involves four stages each with a distinctive rate of growth. While many business analysts believe that each stage offers its own specific opportunities, there are no guarantees that any particular company will follow that curve. Theoretically, the first stage is an initial slow growth, during which the company develops products and attracts customers. This is followed by a period of rapid growth, with increased market share. During this stage a company typically invests in production facilities, and increased marketing and sales. It is during this period, that the company must be keenly aware of its growth ceiling and not over invest. At some point, growth with slow and the S curve will have a more gradual upward slope. At some time after this, the growth will end. In a best case situation, it will remain stable, but in many cases it will decline.
From a business perspective, inflection points are critical. These are places along the curve where internal or external factors, change the shape/ direction of the curve. Some of the factors influencing inflection points are listed below.
Technology: when a company’s competitors release a new technology or product, this may cause an inflection point for that company.
Values: initial core values of a company may change. Don’t be Evil was Google’s unofficial motto from about 2000 to 2015. In 2015, when Google became Alphabet, the motto was changed to Do the Right Thing. By 2018, this motto had all but been abandoned. Maintaining and communicating values is always hard work. Yet, because values are such an important part of corporate culture, they can trigger an inflection point.
Customers: Relationships with customers can be challenging. : As companies scale, maintaining a high level of customer attention and individual care can be challenging. This change in customer relations may change consumer behavior, bringing a decreased demand and eventually an inflection point.
Economic changes: Businesses may find their growth limited or enabled as the economy cycles through different stages.
Funding changes: Financial changes like new bank policies or government policies that affect subsidies, grants and loans can limit or enable a company’s growth, bringing an inflection point.
Infrastructure: New infrastructure can enable businesses to distribute much more easily, while changes in publicly maintained infrastructure may cause temporary or permanent additional costs.
Market saturation: If a company’s product was very successful in a certain market, demand for their product may go down when they have reached a majority of their possible customers.
Natural disasters: Natural disasters can change what resources and infrastructure are available over the long or short term, sometimes bringing inflection points for entire industries.
Regulatory changes: Additional regulations that impact a company’s production or distribution can slow their growth and cause a negative inflection point, while reduced regulations may cause a sudden growth increase.
Scaling issues: Some companies may have internal decision-making challenges when they begin to scale, as founders and leadership work to hire, supervise and provide for a larger group of employees.
Slower innovation: New companies or products that are built on new technology may face challenges to their rate of innovation as they scale and their development process changes. If innovation doesn’t meet customer needs or keep up with competitors, this can cause an inflection point.
Trends: The rise and fall of trends often causes inflection points for products perceived as luxuries or items that gain viral popularity.
The challenge with this sort of information is that the world is in the middle of a makeover, an unpleasant one described as a climate crisis or global warming. The challenge is that consumption has to be reduced. I remember, some years ago now, that in some Californian population centre, there was a need to reduce water consumption. My imperfect recollection, was that they recommended that everyone reduce it by 10%. This, of course, is utterly unfair. The swimming pool owner who changes water weekly, will only have to miss one week out of ten to align him/ herself with the regulations. Someone, who is already using minimal amounts of water will have much greater difficulties.
It is my opinion that as the climate situation imposes greater strains on the world, there will be a need for strict rationing of resources. Money won’t be able to buy everything, because it is far too unequally shared. One sees this with road pricing. There is a group of people where extra charges have absolutely no effect on behaviour.
Technocracy, despite its limitations, is the organizational model I seek out in times of crises. It accounts for everything not in terms of dollars/ euros/ crowns, but in terms of energy units, joules (J) or Watt-hours (Wh), with 1 Wh = 3 600 J = 3.6 kJ. Every product has all of its component energies, baked into an energy price. In an egalitarian Technate, the social organization, each person receives an equal share of the energy resources, that can be spent as desired. In less equal systems, this share varies.
Technocracy will be described in another post, originally intended to be published 2023-03-11 at 12:00 (EST), but currently postponed. Its future publication date will be announced, after it has been determined.
At the start of Putin’s war in the Ukraine (2022-02-24), we reconsidered our general purchasing strategy. We didn’t want our purchases to support companies in countries lacking democratic governments, made with non-union labour or without workers on the boards of directors. Note: I still retain my union membership in Lektorlaget, a teachers’ union. Most of the time, we try to find suitable companies. Suitable is a relative term. Depending on product category, characteristics vary, but with a geographic component. For eggs and milk, geography involves two neighbouring farms. For EVs, computers and hand-held devices, the geographic range has to be extended, to include not just Europe, but also North America (Canada and USA) and a few countries in Asia (notably, South Korea and Taiwan, but also Japan). These conditions exclude Chinese vehicles, and Tesla.
On Friday, 2022-05-20, we received an email from VW about the pricing of their new 5 passenger ID. Buzz. It had a base price of NOK 495 000 = USD 50 000 = CAD 70 000, or about NOK 200 000 less than expected, and almost in our price range. At the time I was not quite sure how to convince Trish that we needed one, because it was at least NOK 100 000 more than our original budget. However, even third place candidate Stellantis, came in NOK 75 000 over the limit. In addition to the advantages shown in the specifications, one practical advantage of the ID. Buzz, is its considerably more space for passengers and for goods. That is because it was designed as an EV from the ground up, which the others were not. In addition, many of the options on the competitors are standard equipment on the ID. Buzz.
There are certain features that I appreciate on assorted EVs. For example, on the Fiat 500, there are Easter eggs = artwork/ design details etched into the vehicle. I found these an attractive addition. It may not quite be personalized, but it is a step away from commodification. On the Hyundai Ioniq 5, there is bidirectional charging capability that allows the car to provide power to a house during a power outage. I think especially of it as useful for keeping food in a refrigerator or freezer at an appropriate temperature. The VW ID. Buzz had this too.
The colour history of our cars from 1986 to 2012 shows two red cars, followed by two green cars, followed by two light blue cars. For years, I have talked about buying a yellow car. Volkswagen made some vehicles that I admired in Saturn Yellow. My parents owned a 1974 Volvo 144, in Kanaro Yellow. Trish and I rented a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit in Sunbrite Yellow to use on our honeymoon, in 1978. All three colours were close to signal yellow.
Even before May, I had already made the decision, subject to a veto by Trish, that I wanted a yellow car, potentially a special order, painted at the factory. If after-market solutions were needed, then a white vehicle would be purchased that could either be painted, or covered with a yellow wrap.
On Saturday, 2022-05-21, I showed Patricia the same photo of the interior of a Volkswagen ID. Buzz, that appears at the top of this post. This attracted her to the vehicle. When asked to explain in more detail what attracted her, it was the brightness of the interior, and especially its use of yellow colour. In addition, she felt the cabin felt roomy, with large windows.
I agreed with all of these points. In addition, I appreciated that the console occupying the space between the driver and passenger was removable, to create a passage between the front and rear seats of the vehicle, or to carry boards 2 400 mm long inside the vehicle!
On Sunday, 2022-05-22, I sent an email to our local Volkswagen dealer saying that we wanted to buy an ID. Buzz. On Monday, 2022-05-23, this was followed up by telephone calls and additional emails. We visited the dealer on Tuesday, 2022-05-24 and attempted to sign a contract, without success because of internet connection issues. Finally on Monday, 2022-05-30, a contract was signed. Our May goal was met.
The agreed price of the Buzz was NOK 572 000 = US$ 57 000, as long as the vehicle arrived in Norway before 2022-12-31. Fortunately for the Norwegian state, the vehicle arrived after that, allowing them to collect almost NOK 42 000 in assorted taxes, for a price just a hair under NOK 614 000. Obviously, people can discuss if this is an acceptable price. People in other places are having to pay considerably more. One worse case situation in Europe is the Netherlands, where consumers would have to pay €81 000 = NOK 850 000 = USD 85 000 for an identical vehicle. (These exchange rates are approximate, but were valid on 2022-05-30.)
When the ID. Buzz was offered for sale in Norway it was available in standard white, pearl effect black, metalic grey, blue, green, orange and yellow, and two-tone variants of the last four, with white on top, and colour beneath. We have chosen the two-tone yellow variant, referred to in our contract as Pomelo Yellow, but also called lemon yellow and lime yellow in assorted publicity materials. This is not a signal yellow, but yellow with a significant green tinge.
According to Volkswagen, ID stands for intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies. All of the various models are EVs, built on the Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten = modular electric-drive toolkit = MEB-platform. ID vehicles are powered by an APP 310 permanent magnet brushless electric motor. Motor and gearbox are parallel to the axle. Maximum torque is achieved at low speed, allowing use of a single speed gearbox. The motor and gearbox weigh about 90 kg. The motor is produced in Kassel, with rotor and stator produced in Salzgitter, both located in Germany.
Sandy Munro has torn down, and in other ways evaluated, the Volkswagen ID. 4. Information has been presented in six videos, starting on 2021-04-07. The most interesting one is the wrap up with Alex Guberman, released on 2021-04-19. One important point that was brought out was the need for a planned transition from one vehicle to the next. This resonates with me because I never mastered the transition from a Citroën Evasion to a Mazda 5.
Volkswagen Group’s next transition is to the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), a modular electric vehicle platform. It was announced 2022-07-15, as part of a new strategy, to use a single battery electric vehicle (BEV) platform across all the group’s brands. Its introduction is planned for 2026. This will be too late for our Buzz, but is probably a sensible approach for Volkswagen to successfully compete with other brands.
lnterestingly, the Buzz has artwork added to the vehicle, much like the Fiat 500. In addition to assorted smilies, and Buzz shapes, there is a drawing of an umbrella found under the rear window wiper blade. There is also V2G charging capability. Our dealer stated that an electric trailer hitch was an essential item, in Norway. We had intended on ordering it anyway.
In contrast to other car dealers that want to maximize optional equipment, I found our local Volkswagen dealer often suggesting restraint. For example, we were also advised against electric rear sliding-door openers, if only because they operate too slowly. Yes, at times, consumers can want too many features.
On 2022-06-27, it was announced that there were battery issues with the ID. Buzz at the battery supplier according to Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. Some battery packs contain cell modules that may result in a voltage drop, reducing driving range and – in a worst-case situation – posing a safety risk . These quality-related deficiencies were discovered at the un-named supplier. Around 500 vans were manufactured with the bad cell modules. None were delivered. ID. Buzz production resumed 2022-07-04.
On 2022-07-22, it was announced that Herbert Diess (1958 – ) would stop working as chief executive officer (CEO) of Volkswagen AG on 2022-08-31, to be replaced by Oliver Blume (1968 – ). Severe software-development delays set back the scheduled launch of new Porsche, Audi and Bentley models. Unsuitable software also postponed the debut of some ID models, and some customers are still unable to access over-the-air (OTA) updates.
Volkswagen’s software unit, Cariad, was underperforming. In 2021-12, VW overhauled its management board. Diess had some responsibilities removed, but was given the major task of turning around Cariad. Transforming VW into a leader in electric-vehicle production, requires an emphasis on software solutions. Hardware is not enough. This did not happen. In addition, Diess failed to build alliances within the company, especially with its labour leaders. Thus, he became increasingly isolated.
In preparation for delivery of a vehicle we had an Easee Home charger installed on 2023-01-04. It has 3-phase wiring, with 230 V and 32 A, offering the potential to produce up to 11 kW of power. We expect this system to provide most of the vehicle’s energy. This is a Norwegian product, made in Stavanger, by a company owned in large part by immigrants to Norway.
Buzz (as in Lightyear) is the affectionate name of this vehicle. While it should not be treated as a toy, it should not be treated solemnly. Driving and riding in it should be fun, but it should be done safely and with purpose.
On 2023-02-08, we received word that Buzz had arrived at the Volkswagen dealership in Verdal. We agreed with our salesperson, Tormod Olsen, that we would pick up the vehicle on Monday, 2023-02-13. The 13th has significance , especially, in Trish’s life. In chronological order, she was born on 12-13, her nephew was born 11-13 and we married on 01-13.
There are certain items that I have no intention on selling. Cliff Cottage, our residence since 1989-03-01 is one, as is much of its inventory. I expect Cliff Cottage to be used as a holiday residence, a place where my descendants, friends and family will be able to relax and enjoy a form of solitude close to nature. Buzz is another. I expect that he will be able to meet the land transportation needs of people when they come to stay at Cliff Cottage.
As noted in a previous weblog post, within a decade, 2033, solid-state batteries are expected to mature, offering over a million kilometers of transportation service. I envision Buzz lasting a century. He has been bought with that intention. The next milestone on his path to venerability will be on 2053-02-13, when he turns thirty. At that moment, he becomes a Norwegian veteran car. I will not be present for that event. Our son, Alasdair, will be quickly approaching seventy, while Shelagh, our daughter, will, at sixty three years and ten months, soon be reaching the upper limits of what could be referred to as middle age.
2022-05-01: Our challenge, during May, was to find a replacement vehicle for our diesel powered Mazda 5, turning ten on 2022-10-19. In Norway, over 80% of all vehicles sold are battery electric vehicles (EVs), while another 10% are hybrids. Those still driving ICE vehicles, realize that they are fossils. They may refer to the vehicles, the drivers or both. Readers are free to select their own variant, but I have elected both, if only because choosing an EV requires a mindset open to change. Such a mindset is helped by volatile diesel and gasoline fuel prices, with some consumers complaining they have paid NOK 30 per litre (US$ 12 per gallon). Prices bounce. On Monday 2023-02-13, the price was slightly over NOK 18 in the morning, but over NOK 25 in the afternoon. Rather than increasing the wealth of oil investors, I would prefer to pay a premium for a vehicle that uses renewable energy. EVs are sweetened with financial and other incentives provided, in our case, by the Norwegian government.
Yet, there is a certain amount of time pressure in finding something suitable. Government incentives are being reduced. Currently, Norwegian EV purchases are exempt from value added tax (VAT). Effective 2023-01-01, VAT will apply on that part of an EV expenditure that exceeds NOK 500 000. The government claims that there are vehicles available that cost less than this. There will also be a weight tax, NOK 12.50 per kilogram gross-vehicle weight that exceeds 500 kg. In addition, EVs have their official weight reduced (for tax purposes) by the weight of the battery, which can be up to several hundred kilos.
Many Norwegians feel they need to buy more expensive and heavier vehicles. Narrow, curvaceous, steep mountainous roads demand good handling, power, energy and braking capacity, preferably with generous amounts of safety equipment onboard, should an unfortunate event occur. Utility trailers, the ubiquitous Norwegian replacement for a pickup, also require power and energy. Ideally, the vehicle is under five meters in length and two meters in width, with a low centre of gravity. Range is another desirable attribute, not so much for the daily commute, but for the weekend, when Norwegians travel to areas of natural beauty and low population density, that typically lack built-out charging facilities. These features add to the price of an EV.
Throughout the world there are different ways to categorize vehicles. Wikipedia has an article about car classification that attempts to explain these, and to compare and contrast the various systems in use. In Europe, vehicles are classified into segments, most often by size, from A (mini = city) to D (large = American mid-size). E, F and S are used for executive = American full-size, luxury and sports vehicles, respectively. In addition, J-segment (sports-utility) vehicles were originally vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive. Now, this requirement seems to have been dropped. Vehicles in this segment offer elements of on-road passenger cars with some off-road features, most notably raised ground clearance and higher seating, the H5 measurement. The segment is currently dominated by crossovers, with a more luxurious interior, but with a conventional exterior appearance. M-segment (multi-purpose) vehicles are often described as van-based passenger cars, but include other taller vehicles as well. Both the J- and M-segments are further divided into small and large groups.
The American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies many passenger cars on the basis of a vehicle’s total interior passenger and cargo volumes. An exception involves SUVs, that are classified as light-duty trucks, resulting in more lenient regulations compared to other passenger cars. Light-duty trucks are classified based upon their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Heavy-duty vehicles are not included within the EPA scheme. In contrast, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) separates vehicles into classes by the curb weight of the vehicle with standard equipment including the maximum capacity of fuel, oil, coolant, and air conditioning.
Increasingly, there are challenges with these segment designations, especially their conflation of comfort level and size, as well as the exemption of SUVs and pickups from environmental standards. Personally, I have never understood the appeal of a limousine, with an excessively long yet low body style. They do not even make particularly good lowriders! The Hyundai Staria is a much better luxury vehicle, combining a van exterior with a more luxurious interior, a cruise ship lounge inspired interior that uses hanok, a traditional Korean architectural style, to provides a sense of spaciousness and to connect the outside to the inside.
To put things into perspective, the vehicles we have owned in Norway fit into the following segments: Subaru Justy (B), Volkswagen Golf (C), Citroën Berlingo (M-small), Citroën Evasion (M-large), Hyundai Matrix (M-small), Mazda 5 (M-small). Two-thirds of all vehicle purchases, and all in the new millennium, were M segment vehicles. All of these vehicles were front-wheel drive, although the Justy also could use 4 wheel-drive, when needed.
The J segment is the category that sells the most vehicles in Europe. Regardless, Patricia and I seem to be dedicated M-segment people. In addition, after 36 years of driving front-wheel drive vehicles, we prefer them, when given a choice between front- and rear-wheel drive. We have no need for four-wheel drive, as we can now just avoid driving when whether conditions are at their worst. It is difficult to believe that since our marriage in 1978, at least some of our preferences have merged.
Within the M-small segment four families of vehicles had been investigated, on paper. Unfortunately, they were not available to drive, or even look at, so – initially – no conclusions could be reached. These vehicles could all carry five passengers and lots of goods.
On Tuesday, 2022-04-03, we attempted to see some Stellantis M-segment vehicles in Verdal. In this segment, Stellantis produces: Citroën Berlingo Multispace, Opel Combo Life, Peugeot Rifter and Toyota Proace Verso. We visited both a Peugeot dealer – who theoretically also sells Citroën products – and an Opel dealer. They could only show us cargo vans. Despite this, after a few days we received an offer on an Opel Combo Life, at NOK 445 000, but this was missing the colour option we wanted – a yellow vehicle. That would cost at least another NOK 30 000, bring the cost to about NOK 475 000.
On Thursday, 2022-05-05, we sent an email to our preferred Hyundai dealer, asking when an electric passenger version of the Hyundai Staria van was going to be made in Europe, and available for sale in Norway. The reply was that it would not be available until at least 2024, putting it outside of our timeframe.
We also contacted appropriate dealers about Mercedes-Benz EQT, Nissan Townstar and Renault Kangoo EVs. All of these would be made by Renault. We were told by multiple dealers that they would arrive in Norway, about 2022-11. Checking websites on 2023-02-01, they are not available. These were designed simultaneously as both as an ICE vehicles and EVs. They entered production in 2021 as an ICE variant. While these vehicles three years more modern than the Stellantis models, they are still designed with multiple sources of power in mind, making them less desirable than a product that is EV only. We were told that the Nissan Townstar EV would have a price starting of about NOK 370 000. With a little optional equipment, these will cost about the same as their Stellantis equivalent. The gasoline version has a starting price just under NOK 500 000.
Media reports indicated that the Volkswagen ID. Buzz was expected to be available in Norway by the end of May. On 2018-02-05, I had publicly sworn not to buy another Volkswagen product, because of Dieselgate. Despite that, I contacted my local Volkswagen dealer, and discovered that NOK 700 000 was the salesman’s best guess at a base price, perhaps more. Totally out of our price range.
Here is a comparison of the specifications for these three available product families in alphabetical order: Renault, Stellantis and Volkswagen. The best value is in bold. Power = 90/ 100/ 150 kW; torque = 245 / 260/ 310 Nm; battery (gross) = 45/ 50/ 82 kWh; range WLTP mixed = 300/ 280/ 418 km. Dimensions = length x width (excluding mirrors) x height = 4486 x 1919 x 1893/ 4403 x 1848 x 1878/ 4712 x 1985 x 1937 mm; wheelbase = 2785/ 2716/ 2988 mm; ground clearance = 180/ 164/ 143 mm; trunk capacity = 775/ 597/ 1121 litres; trailering capacity = 1 500/ 750/ 1 000 kg. Renault excels in terms of ground clearance and trailering capacity, but Volkswagen exceeds at everything else.
On 2012-10-19 we purchased a Mazda 5 that cost NOK 275 000, which involved an almost NOK 50 000 discount, as the model was being discontinued. Before we first started looking at vehicles in 2022, we set the maximum price at about NOK 400 000. The only vehicle we found within this price category, that we liked, was the Renault Zöe. We drove one and concluded that it had acceptable characteristics including various types of driver assistance, power and range. With these options, its price was NOK 310 000. However, its small size would require that an additional larger vehicle be available for some purposes, effectively meaning that we would be unable to dispose of the Mazda 5. This was not an ideal solution.
Stellantis multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) = Citroën e-Berlingo/ Opel or Vauxhall e-Combo Life/ Peugeot Rifter were designed as ICE vehicles in 2018. They were updated to include EV versions in 2021. Unfortunately, equipment has not been significantly updated for the 2020s. For example, only halogen headlights are available. No LEDs, and not even Xenon lights, are offered. With far too many long, dark nights, Scandinavians are willing to invest in vehicle lighting. One of the reasons we bought our Mazda 5 was that it came equipped with Xenon lights.
Electrek estimates the current price of a battery pack for an EV at US$ 132/ kWh (or about NOK 1 300) down from US$ 1 200 in 2012. One of the main challenges with a Stellantis MPV is its limited battery size, 50 kWh, in contrast to a VW ID. Buzz with 83 kWh (gross)/ 77 kWh (usable). Thus, the 30 kWh extra capacity is worth about NOK 40 000.
The ID. Buzz is also equipped with vehicle to house (V2H) bidirectional capability. This means that it can power electrical appliances and tools in off grid settings. During a power outage, the vehicle can be used as a power source to keep the electrical system in a house running. Since, our house may soon be equipped with an additional storage battery of 30 – 100 kWh capacity, the Buzz will be able to drive to a public fast charger to bring more electrons back! It may surprise some readers, but we experience electrical power outages about once a month. Sometimes they last only a few seconds, and most are under an hour in duration. It is still an inconvenience. Currently, many houses use wood stoves to provide warmth during longer outages, but these are ineffective at cooking meals, and useless at keeping food cool/ frozen or providing lighting. The V2H capability has been written about in a previous weblog post. It is assessed a nominal value of NOK 20 000.
Vehicle autonomy is often categorized in six levels. These are often coded as: Level 0 – no automation; Level 1 – hands on/shared control; Level 2 – hands off; Level 3 – eyes off; Level 4 – mind off, and Level 5 – steering wheel optional. Volkswagen claims that ID. Buzz will in the future be able to operate at level 4. In 2022-04, it started testing of an autonomous ID. Buzz AD prototype with Argo AI on public roads. The vehicle already comes equipped with some level 3 capabilities, such as autonomous parking. This is an important, especially for older drivers. The current autonomous driving capability is assessed a nominal value of NOK 20 000.
One issue with the Stellantis MPV is its use of halogen lighting. LED headlight use less electrical energy and run cooler. They produce a whiter and brighter light of 3 000 to 4 000 lumens, in contrast to the yellow of halogen bulbs at 1 000 to 1 500 lumens. LED headlights cast a larger and brighter light pattern on the roadway, so it improves driver situation awareness, while halogens cast a smaller, yellowish light pattern. Unfortunately, many oncoming vehicle drivers suspect that a LED outfitted vehicle is using its high beams, when they are not. LED lights are more durable, but more expensive and complicated to repair/ replace. LED lights are small and provide vehicle designers with a greater opportunity for design creativity. In Norway, retrofitting halogen with approved LED headlights costs a minimum of NOK 20 000. This is the value that will be assigned to LED lighting.
Not everyone in the automotive press is enthusiastic about the driveline on the ID. Buzz. With 150 kW of power, and 310 Nm of torque, its top speed is limited to 145 km/h, with an official acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h of 10.2 s. If this is too little, one wonders how they would react to 100 kW of power and 260 Nm of torque with the Stellantis MPV. Its top speed is 130 km/h, with an official acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h of 11.7 s. I do not expect to drive over 120 km/h, so the additional top speed is not particularly useful. Locally, the speed limit is 90 km/h, although the new highway to Trondheim is expected to have a speed limit of 110 km/h. There are some test sections with limits of 120 km/h, which is the maximum speed in Sweden and Finland. Denmark has motorways allowing 130 km/h.
Some of the extra power in the Buzz will compensate for the extra mass of the vehicle. On the other hand, the Stellantis MPV is fitted with front-wheel drive. Perhaps this is the only feature that I appreciate more on the Stellantis MPV than on the VW ID. Buzz. Rear wheel drive could be regarded as an acceptable price to pay for owning an iconic vehicle. It is difficult to find out what additional power and torque in a driveline actually costs, but- after deducting the value of front-wheel drive – will once again will use NOK 20 000 as its nominal value.
This total of NOK 120 000 more than accounts for its increased value of the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, in relation to a Stellantis MPV. In addition, the larger space for passengers and goods, and its iconic aesthetics, have not even been taken into consideration, in terms of assessing its economic value.
For the past twenty years, I have admired Volkswagen’s minivan concept vehicles. It began in 2001 with the Microbus concept, presented at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. Unfortunately, despite an attractive design, it was environmentally unfriendly, using a 3.2L V-6 engine of 172 kW and 320 Nm. Production was scheduled for 2003, until it was deferred and then cancelled in 2005.
In 2011, a smaller Bulli concept was presented at the Geneva Motorshow. It was electrically powered with a 85 kW motor producing 270 Nm of torque using a 40 kWh battery giving a 299 km range. One significant difference, compared to the 2001 concept, was the use of conventional back doors, rather than sliding doors.
On 2015-09-20, Volkswagen announced that it had deceived the public about the emissions from eleven million diesel vehicles, using a software detect device that engaged full emission control only when the vehicle was being tested. On 2015-10-12 Volkswagen announced that it would accelerate electric vehicle development.
On 2016-01-05, Volkswagen presented the Budd-e at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Los Vegas. It was built on a MEB platform, with two motors producing 225 kW of power. The 101 kWh battery had an estimated range of 375 km.
This was followed up on 2017-01-08 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with the ID. Buzz, described as a versatile, zero-emissions, all-wheel drive vehicle for the future. All-electric driving range of up to 435 km, with 275 kW of power from two motors, seating for up to eight with two luggage compartments, ID. Pilot, automated driving mode, while the driver’s seat can be turned 180 degrees to face the rear, head-up display projected information, and fully autonomous driving capability.
The production model of the ID. Buzz is very similar in appearance to the concept vehicle, but currently lacks many of the proposed features. The initial model released in Europe is also shorter. In many publications directed towards people working in the automotive industry, the ID. Buzz is referred to as a Lower Premium vehicle. This seems to indicate that some initial steps are being taken to separate vehicle specifications, and passenger comfort features in particular, from vehicle shape.
This story is being told because, in our rural, Norwegian existence, Trish and I are dependent on a vehicle to thrive. We have chosen to live about 13 km from the economic centre of Inderøy, which has opted to place a sawdust burning, central heat distribution service at the centre of the village.
While public transport can be arranged, we have not used it for many years. Instead, we use a 10-year old multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). It is sufficiently large enough to carry (up to) seven people and/ or lots of goods, including building supplies. It can be fitted with roof racks and can even pull a 1 200 kg utility trailer. Yet, this Mazda 5 has not been a faithful friend, breaking down more than once, first on Saturday, 2013-08-10, returning to Inderøy from Bergen, 1 400 km away, ten months old, after being driven a total of 12 030 km. We were forced to wait until Thursday 2013-08-15 for repairs to be made, allowing us to continue our journey home.
Two MPVs were part of my childhood memories. One of these was a Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi, owned by the Bibby’s, on the laneway behind my childhood home. It was appreciated as a practical vehicle, for transporting goods, but mainly people, usually Florence (1908 – 1990) who sat in the back, driven by one of her sons, less often by her husband, Pat (1912 – 1990). Yet, at the time, this was probably not my favourite MPV on the laneway. That honour would go to Alf Fenton’s (1902 – 1995) Hillman Husky. It too was an MPV, but in a more compact format.
From 1954 to 1965 Rootes Group produced the Double Duty Hillman Husky: You pay for one car, but have the services of two. It was a Commer Cob van with Hillman badging, factory-fitted side windows and fold-down rear seat. It was intended to be a full commercial vehicle as well as a passenger vehicle, an MPV before the term was even used. The interior was basic or, to be polite, minimalistic, with rubber floor coverings, minimal sound insulation, a minimum of instrumentation and, a minimum of everything else. This was not only appropriate for its intended usage, but a necessity to keep the price low. This avoided competition with more luxurious wagons. The Husky was slightly old-fashioned. Even when the Husky was updated, it was always behind the latest developments. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, there have been no attempts to revamp the Husky.
In many ways, the Volkswagen Type 2/ MPV/ van/ bus/ minibus/ Transporter mirrored the Husky. It too was more functional than fashionable. It too was minimalistic. Yet, unlike the Husky, it still lives on. Its latest incarnation is the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, which will be the topic of three future weblog posts.
Ben Pon (1904 – 1968), Dutch importer of Volkswagen vehicles to the Netherlands, is credited with the initial design idea for the Type 2. His 1947 sketch was inspired by a flatbed parts-hauler seen while visiting the Volkswagen plant. This ultimately resulted in the Volkswagen Type 2 that started production on 1950-03-08. It was available in two versions: The Kombi, with side windows and removable middle and rear seats; and the Commercial, a panel van.
The Type 2 was authorized on 1949-05-19. The first vehicle came off the assembly line on 1949-11-12. The first MPV, designated a Microbus, dates from 1950-05. Since the Volkswagen’s model year starts on 08-01, and ends on 07-31, these were 1950 models! While the first T1s were built at Wolfsburg, production moved to a purpose built factory at Hannover, in 1956. The models were under continuous development. This distinction between commercial and passenger vechicles carries on to this day. Sales of Type 2 vehicles is undertaken by specialists in this area.
Paul Niedermeyer has put the Type 2 into its historical perspective, incorporating personal experiences starting in 1965. The assorted van/ bus generations are generally coded T1 to T7, with the first three generations retroactively named. They had the following production years, in Europe: T1 = 1950 to 1967 (17 years); T1 = 1967 – 1979 (12 years); T3 = 1979 – 1991 (12 years); T4 = 1990 – 2004 (14 years); T5 = 2003 – 2015 (12 years); T6 = 2015 – present; T7 = 2022 – present. This system of generational designations, was only adopted after the introduction of the T4, but applied retrospectively to the T1 to T3 generations. Only the first three generations were based on the Volkswagen Beetle/ Type 1.
To gain insights into the various models of Volkswagen Type 2 MPVs produced, a first stop could be Wikipedia. The production of older models often continued outside of Europe after the introduction of newer models in Europe.
The original T1 was appreciated for its versatility, especially an ability to transport goods and people in varying quantities, depending on the need. At the time people commented on its roomy interior, conventional rear-wheel drive, and less conventional air-cooled engine. It was regarded as easy to operate and maintain. In North America it was seen as a cost-effective alternative to a station wagon.
Roger White, curator of road transportation history, Division of Work and Industry, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, says, “For many people, the VW Microbus [= T1] became the symbol of protest with Detroit’s overpowered cars and society in general. It was a way of thumbing their noses at the establishment. It became popular with people who were rejecting mainstream American culture. It was their way of saying, ‘We don’t need your big V8 cars.’”
Because of its relative low cost, owners began to adapt the T1 to meet their own specific needs. One such need was for a camper, outfitted with beds, a table, kitchen facilities ( such as a stove and sink), and sometimes even a toilet. Volkswagen contracted with Westfalia to make camper conversion kits. These were exported to North America, starting in 1956.
While this Volkswagen MPV has participated in numerous historical events, such as the Woodstock music festival near Bethel, New York in 1969. It has been used to transport countless surfboards as well as an infinite number of hippies.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Some individual vehicles have had a significant impact on people. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., two pieces of what was a green T1 are on display, a side panel and rear hatch. They contain a message from Esau Jenkins (1910 – 1972), “Love is progress. Hate is expensive.” This 1966 VW Transporter took African-American children to school and adults to work on the Sea Islands near Charleston, South Carolina. While Esau Jenkins drove, Janie Jenkins (1929 – 2016) taught passengers about the South Carolina constitution, and their rights.
As a teenager in the early 1960s, I remember talking to an old man, possibly seventy, in New Westminster. He owned an old car. Unfortunately, my memory is not reliable, but I believe it was a 1904 curved-dash Oldsmobile. It was about sixty years old: not just old, but outmoded and obsolete, for the technology underpinning the vehicle was no longer in use or usable. Regardless, it was venerable, the oldest vehicle I had ever seen.
Model A Fords were produced from 1928 to 1931, a fact I can recall without having to look it up. In the 1960s, two of my neighbours were into them. Being into something, means that whatever that something is, doesn’t come with commitments. One neighbour was more of a parts collector, than a mechanic. No driveable Model A ever emerged to quench his obsession. The other, Patrick, managed to restore one! With that challenge met, he was able to sell the vehicle, and move on to greater things.
A Model A was only half the age of that venerable beast, previously mentioned. Models As were slightly over thirty years old. They were old and outmoded, but not obsolete. That is, their DNA could be found in every internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle produced since the 1930s to this day. Now, every model A is over ninety years old. They are just as outmoded as they were in the 1960s, but no worse than that. Their lineage lives on, in today’s ICE vehicles.
A similarly aged car in 2023, would have started its career somewhere between 1988 and 1991. Apart from some safety equipment, there is not much that distinguishes it from a more modern vehicle. It is old, but not outmoded, and definitely not obsolete, just yet.
Soon, all ICE vehicles will be obsolete, regardless of their age. This is because drivelines are being transformed, to use motors powered by batteries. Unfortunately for new ICE vehicle owners, but not for the world, CO2 production has led to global warming, so that even brand new ICE vehicles must be made obsolete. I have absolutely no desire to own any vehicle dependent on combustion. Following the Pandemic, it has not been possible to buy most EVs without waiting. It is common now to wait nine months for a car delivery. The ID. Buzz, now has a wait list lasting 18 to 24 months. Many consumers are aware of the impending climate crisis, wanting to do their part. While not everyone is moving at the same speed, an increasing number of people expect their next vehicle to be battery electric.
If one really wants to see people living in the past with a passion for obsolete vehicles, one comfortable way is to watch an episode of Rust Valley Restorers (2018 – present), filmed at Tappen, British Columbia, near Shuswap Lake. In the tenth episode of its fourth season, the last vehicle restored is a 1964 Pontiac Parisienne, 9-passenger station wagon. There are some vague similarities to a Volkswagen bus: two tone colours, with a white top and bright green underneath. Some people may regard it as attractive, but I find it far too low. It also makes a terrible noise, whenever its engine starts and is in operation. It may offer exhilaration, but no fun.
I cannot recall any Volkswagen MPVs or vans in Mike Hall’s collection at Tappen. With the exception of a Sunbeam Alpine, there were no cars that captivated my heart. In my childhood there were lots of cars on the laneway from the 1950s. Yet only four cars attracted me sufficiently for me to want to own one: two Nash Metropolitans, belonging to the two mothers of the boys obsessed with Model As, Alf’s Husky, and Pat’s Volkswagen microbus!