The traditional way in which we have measured fuel consumption for automobiles in America has been in miles per gallon (mpg). Since many countries are use the metric system, there has been a shift away from using mpg. Now this sounds like a great move, since the metric system is far superior to its imperial counterpart, but instead of simply converting miles to kilometers and gallons to liters, giving us kilometers per liter (km/l), we are now stuck with liters per hundred kilometers (l/100 km). It may seem like an insignificant difference, but there is a movement aimed at extinguishing mpg from the face of the Earth and replacing it with l/100 km. So if there’s people out there making websites and handing out pamphlets, there must be an obvious advantage to using the l/100 km system, right?

Proponents of the l/100 km system, or 100kers, try to confuse you by asking questions like, “Which saves more gasoline, going from 10 to 20 mpg, or going from 33 to 50 mpg?” Then they tell you that the answer is that the first option saves five times as much gas as the second. Upon hearing the correct answer, you are then shocked and upset, confused by why a 10 mpg change is much greater than a 17 mpg change. Instead of questioning why math is so dumb, let’s answer a better question: what is a consumption per unit system actually measuring?

Let’s face it, most people don’t know their mpg, let alone their km/l or l/100 km. When you ask someone what kind of mileage their car gets, the answer is something like, “I put $40 in there every two weeks,” or, “I can go three weeks before I have to fill up.” These answers are worse than useless, as we are not told the value of any variables in the equation.

Before we continue, let’s get a handle on what we’re measuring by calculating the mpg for an average car at the pump. Imagine that, after starting with a full tank of gas, you drove your Chevrolet Cavalier 300 miles, then decided it was time for a refill. After topping up, the display shows 10 gallons pumped. To find out how many mpg your car gets, you simply divide miles driven by gallons pumped (300m/10g) which gives us 30 mpg. What this number means is that for every gallon of gas you pump into your car you can drive 30 miles. Confused? No.

Similar to the previous example, let’s pretend that you drove your Cavalier 450 kilometers and then pumped 30 liters of gas to fill it up. Now to get your km/l you preform the same calculation as you would to get mpg, except you are dividing kilometers driven by liters pumped, which results in 15 km/l. However, if you’re a 100ker, you will divide liters pumped by kilometers driven, then multiply the answer by 100, resulting in 6.67 l/100 km. The meaning of this number is less obvious to the average driver, unless you are only driving in 100 kilometer increments.

So since we now have a grasp on how to calculate each of these measurements of mileage, let’s see if they are really that different. mpg measures miles driven per gallons used. km/l measures kilometers driven per liters used. l/100 km measures liters used per 100 kilometers driven. The third option is slightly different than first two because it is actually just the reciprocal of the second option multiplied by 100. The reason they use 100 kilometers is that dividing liters used by kilometers driven gives you a very small number between 0 and 1, as all modern consumer vehicles drive more than one kilometer for every liter of fuel they use. So if the third option is just the second one flipped upside-down, why all the debate? Let’s do some graphing. For the sake of comparison we are going to leave out mpg and use only kilometers and liters.

The graph above shows the mileage, or, more accurately, the kilometage of two vehicles. All vehicles plotted on this graph will show a straight line, unless they have inconsistent fuel consumption, which they don’t. The first line shows a vehicle which gets 4.5 km/l, likely a sport utility vehicle or large truck, while the second line represents a small sedan, showing an impressive 15 km/l. We can see that after driving 100 kilometers, the first vehicle consumes around 22.2 liters of fuel, while the second consumed only 6.67.

The confusion begins when 100kers compare the two lines on the graph and wonder why the difference in (km/l) is not the same as the difference in liters used. Basically, the amount of fuel used should not vary as you move along the graph. What they want is a graph which compares km/l  to liters used, but you can’t make that graph because there’s no way to know how many liters you are using unless you define how many kilometers you are driving. So we will plug in 100 km and graph how many liters are used every 100 kilometers as the km/l changes.

Now we have a nice graph which we can use to see how many liters we are saving as we adjust the km/l, just what the 100kers want. But why should everyone in the world use a system that is more difficult to calculate and less obvious in terms of daily use? At its core, the issue is that these people think fuel economy should always be used to determine how much fuel you can save when driving a set distance. What if you wanted to know how many kilometers you could drive with a set amount of fuel, or how many liters you will burn when driving any distance other than 100 kilometers? Apparently these questions aren’t worth asking.

The l/100 km method is also inconsistent with our fuel consumption language, since as fuel economy increases, l/100 km decreases. A vehicle that gets 2 l/100 km is twice as fuel efficient as one which gets 4 l/100 km. In addition, as fuel economy improves in the future, the number may drop below 1, which means that we could see hybrid sedans advertised with a fuel consumption of 0.33 l/100 km. Eventually we will switch to l/1000 km, all because of those selfish short-sighted 100kers.

So if you think that every motorist should do more calculations and use an ambiguous fuel consumption system which approaches zero as fuel economy increases, just so those who analyze fuel economy don’t have to do extra math, then go on, go the wrong way. We never wanted you with us anyway.

Beyond Boredom

There is no excuse for being bored. At every turn we are assaulted with an onslaught of optical and audible amusements. Video games, television, music and movies can easily keep boredom at bay, but at what price? Entertainment often pacifies our mind and neutralizes our imagination. As we all know, the deepest discussions arise during long drives and the most insightful thoughts flow forth from sleepless nights. Silence is a friend to the thoughtful, an essential ingredient in meditation.

There are certain circumstances in which the mind is permitted to wander, but they only come to pass once one has crossed the threshold of boredom. Sleepovers are a great example of this. As children, we all knew the adventure of spending a night at a friend’s house. For some reason, our friends’ toys always seemed more interesting than our own, so much of the day was spent enjoying the things that our friends found tiresome. But once the Sun had descended and the house was still, it was time for the real magic.

After making camp in the living room and watching an R-rated movie, the television was turned off and, after a few moments of silence, the conversation would begin. Conversation like this can only happen once all avenues of entertainment are exhausted, once boredom is no longer an option. Dreams, fears, love and weakness are exposed as we confess our deepest longings to each other.

Another situation that allows for the transition beyond boredom occurs when children are dragged off on a family camping trip or brought to their grandparents’ house for a holiday dinner. Entertainment is scarce, forcing children to use their imagination and environment to find excitement. Basements become dungeons, sticks turn into swords, dolls transform into audiences and younger brothers become slaves. When children don’t have toys, they make toys. This behavior is another example of restriction fathering invention.

In many ways our minds function as distinct bodies with muscles and a digestive tract. Our minds need input (food) which can be anything from rock concerts to romance novels, or even blogs. Obviously, some of this brain food is nutritious and will promote a healthy, robust mind. Video games would rank as something like mental McDonald’s – it will keep us alive, but just barely. If we were to exclusively consume lower forms of input, our minds would decay into lethargic dependence, only craving the next dose.

Our minds also require output (exercise) such as composing music, painting a picture or writing an exam. These mental workouts can vary in length and intensity, with some offering more benefits than others. The more intense exercises, such as writing an essay or organizing an event, would be the metal equivalent to weightlifting or long-distance running, while activities such as writing e-mails or having a casual conversation, would be akin to a mild walk or chair aerobics session.

Too often our brains are oversaturated with low quality input and never stretched by high intensity output. Most of us don’t even know what it’s like to be bored – to have a hungry mind. This is why boredom should be embraced, not avoided. Boredom forces us to exercise our minds, to stop cramming it full of nutrient-stripped waste and be creative.

Put your brain on a diet. Get bored.

Engine House

Despite the vast entertainment and luxury that can be found in urban environments, many of us long to escape, to get away, to a more peaceful and natural setting. There is something in us that can be satisfied only by a raw experience with the strength and tranquility of nature. Exploration and adventure are inescapable aspects of human imagination. Indeed, we long to travel the world, see new sights and overcome challenges, but we are restricted by our affection for comfort. This is why camping exists.

Camping is a diluted simulation of primal existence. Depending on the age and taste of the participants, the comfort level of a camping experience can range greatly.

To some, camping is a way to escape the grasp of technology and tedium. Hoping to renew their spirit, these hardy folk tend to employ tents and sleeping bags rather than more inviting facilities. The grass is their floor, the trees are their walls and a nearby bush is their lavatory. A flint-lit flame guides them by night, enchanting and entrancing with gaze lost deep in the flicker.

For young people, camping is as much an escape from society as it is from sobriety. Often unable to recall the origin of various bruises and swellings, the young camper is usually too intoxicated to be concerned with sleeping arrangements or niceties.

After years of hard work and stress, camping can be an attractive lifestyle choice for the aged. They are often observed piloting enormous bus-like vessels, known as recreational vehicles, down the highway. RVs vary in size and complexity; they can be as large as a log cabin and are extravagantly furnished. Satellite television and leather upholstery ensure that these campers must never endure a moment of silence or discomfort. An RV attempts to combine the transportation capabilities of an automobile with the habitability of a house. Unfortunately, when combining these two, the RV’s inventors decided that the exterior must be painted with a design that does not resemble an automobile or a house. It usually has strange arcs and waves splashed across a beige background. Whatever your opinion of this design, if somebody asked you to paint their house or their car, you wouldn’t choose something like this:

Now it’s obvious that sleeping in a king size bed while watching television could hardly be considered camping. At some point camping loses its essence, ceases to be camping and becomes something else. Thick-skinned pioneers may say that it ends when you bring shelter or matches, some say electricity or plumbing ruins all of the fun, while others contend that sleeping in anything bigger than a tent is the stake in the ground. Whatever the case, it’s clear that there is a camping chasm between survivalists and seniors.

By now you’re probably thinking that there should be a word to describe this comfort-coated camping, and you’re right.

Miles Prower

Cats do not consciously control their tails. To observe this, simply do the following:

  1. Find cat.
  2. Subdue cat.
  3. Hold tail of cat firmly in hand.
  4. Observe movement of tail in relation to cat.

As you will see, the motion of the tail often does not coincide with the cat’s disposition. Usually the tail swings and swirls in random directions while the cat itself lies motionless. It’s hard to imagine a use for this strange attribute, but then again, it’s also hard to imagine a use for a cat.

Plotting Prudence

A $200 computer can do almost everything that a $2,000 computer can do, yet it is one tenth of the price. A Toyota can do almost everything that a Ferrari can, but you can own seven fully loaded Camrys for the price of a 458 Italia. It’s true that a Ferrari outperforms a Camry in almost every area, but is that extra performance worth so much?

This phenomenon is present in every category, from studying for a test to cooking a meal. In anything which we invest time, energy or money to get a result, we will find that we get 90% of the value for the first 10% of the cost.

Of course, the value on this graph is in relation to functionality, not luxury or aesthetics. A painting which has received countless hours of detail is much more beautiful and meaningful than a doodle on a napkin, though they may depict the same scene. Likewise, a meal, when cooked with care for a loved one, conveys the appreciation and love not found in microwaving a frozen burrito. However, if you are going to make an investment or purchase for the sake of necessity or functionality, the efficient choice lies somewhere around the 10% mark.