First Snow in Somerville

 Out my window this morning, the sun began to beam down on the thin inch of snow which held a layer over most things. As it did, the snow melted and came down in slushy chunks on the lawns and roofs below. It will be a somewhat wet Halloween but that's the smallest reason why one might call this Halloween odd. This Halloween is odd because of COVID. In a different universe, I might be giving out candy to kids in the neighborhood and wearing some sort of get-up. Instead, such action is not only frowned upon but enforced against by statute. The pandemic has certainly shifted my mindset towards all sorts of activities. The new abnormal has not however stopped me from thinking about the future and decisions in my life. I have been thinking a bit about where I'll be living in 8 months as well as about what sort of professional development I want to focus on. In only a few weeks, I'll hopefully see my family so that might help me think these things over.

41 Million Used to 18 Million New

Best selling car of all time? Toyota Corolla

Close-ish second? The Ford F-series truck (which is sorta false because the F-series is really a bunch of different engines they put in the different body styles which are mostly similar, it's complicated)

A lot of Americans use a motor vehicle daily to get wherever they need to go. I am fortunate to be currently borrowing my mom's Jeep to get to work and back. As of late, I have been looking at purchasing a vehicle of my own. In my search, I am considering vehicles that are not a truck nor a sedan. I am looking at crossovers and SUVs. This is a type of car that a majority of Americans are buying in the 2010s. Around 70% of new car sales in the US these days are trucks or SUVs. Most cars sold however are used cars, not new. In fact, in the last few years the used car volume is about double that of new cars and represents a market worth about 120 billion USD annually. In 2018, 41 million used cars were sold compared to 18 million new cars. 

The 2008 global financial crisis had a severe impact on the US auto industry in terms of new vehicle sales. In 2008, the industry suffered an 18% decline in new car retail sales, followed by a 21% decline in 2009. This changed a lot about the auto industry in the US. Although the primary cause of the 2008 recession was issues in the financial industry, it had spillover effects across the economy.

Generally, most people buy a used car because they either do not want to spend the higher amount for a new car OR they simply cannot afford a new car. Additionally, some folks would like to use a vehicle until it has internally broken down to a point where buying new is the only option because this way of using a vehicle is both more environmentally friendly and more frugal. Most cars built today, treated with some compassion can drive for between 250,000 and 300,000 miles before a major component, such as the engine block or transmission, suffers from an issue which is so immensely costly to outright replace that another used car or buying new would be a better option.

Today amid the novel COVID-19 pandemic, used cars are flying off the shelf parking lot. Many buyers are urban dwellers who have suddenly changed jobs in a despite need to make money. These new jobs which have come and gone during the pandemic induced economic shifts can often mean the new employee has to commute in a new fashion. And if this commuter does not want to take public transit, or if public transit is not available for this new job, only one option remains typically; a used car.

So how much have used cars jumped up in sales? Some places are at over 200% sales from last year alone. I walked by a used car lot in Somerville, MA, and found that the proprietor had recently purchased over $100,000 in new inventory (~ 20 cars at an average $5000). He shared this fact with me proudly. In a bad year, such as after the great recession, it may have taken him a full year to sell that inventory and make between $50,000 and $100,000 in profit. However, now they expect to sell these ~20 cars within the next few months and purchase a lot of fresh used cars soon after that. Where do these used cars come from? Well, obviously they come from new cars that were once owned. The original purchasers of new cars will typically sell them to a dealer in a trade, sell them to a used car dealer, or sell by themselves. The third option is usually the best moneymaker for the original owner but can involve a lot of time and effort so they cut their losses in time and energy and work with a dealer or used car salesperson.

By the time I finally figure out what sort of used car I would like to purchase, maybe cars will be obsolete? I feel like I'm the type of person to research this whole deal to oblivion so perhaps I'll cut my losses when the pandemic seller's market calms down and get a decent crossover vehicle. Who knows? Well you will if you keep reading this blog by then.

until then...   

Reading other Blogs

Welcome to my blog, now leave and go read some other blogs. I should get back into posting here more. And part of why I say that is from reading another post, on another blog.

"There’s a story about an art teacher that split their class in half. They told one half of the students that they’d be graded based on a single piece of work, and the other half that they would be graded on the quantity of work produced.

The half that was being graded on quantity ended up producing higher quality pieces.

By iterating and learning from their mistakes they actually ended up producing better work than the students that only had to produce one piece.

Quantity leads to quality." - Chris Mytton

This has me thinking now about what I am afraid to learn more about, because failure is a risk. Instead, I need to cherish the mindset that failure is necessary sometimes for success. 

Electrical Switches; BJTs, MOSFETs, and Relays

MOSFET usually come in a TO220 package.

Relays are often sold as plastic potted boxes with leads extending from one side.

BJTs often come in a TO92 package but can sometimes be packaged as TO220

On circuit breakers, light switches, and kitchen appliances, opening or closing an electrical contact is a mechanical action bringing together pieces using an applied force to bring together two conducting pieces of material. In electronics these days, opening or closing an electrical contact is often accomplished with transistors or relays. 

For transistors, the bipolar junction transistor (BJT) or metal oxide field transistor (MOSFET) are popular options. In years past, uni-junction transistors were used for switching applications but have now become less popular. Transistors pop up mostly in small electronics while relays are most often used for larger electrical loads with current draws beyond a few mA.

When designing a device that incorporates electrical switches, it is important to understand the application in order to pick the best device to engage your circuit. In the teeny tiny operations of a microchip, billions of microscopic BJT transistors are etched on a silicon wafer. Whereas, a much larger BJT (on the scale of inches across) might be used to engage the power sent to an induction cooker. Both these applications rely on the BJT concept although the BJT designed for the purpose is wildly different. Similar stories can be told for MOSFETs and relays that are sized for the application.

Jigsaws, Woodchucks, and O-rings

Although East Campus did not have a Resident Exploration (REX) week this year, I managed to find myself with some work that involves cutting wood. No roller coasters or rides of that sort. This woodwork involved some jig saw and miter saw work. I have been thinking about getting back into my own projects a bit more.

Look closely and see a lil woodchuck

Learned how to refit a o-ring on some glassware since this one wore out.


Synchronous Fireflies and Summer Plans

I spent my birthday at the Elkmont campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). It's nestled into a beautiful and scenic p...