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I have been thinking about the future of our “fleet” (which consists of two cars, a motorcycle, and a few bicycles). The two-wheelers stay, that’s certain, but do we really need two cars now that children have left the house? And what kind of car (cars) should that then be?

There is a lot of information to be found on the internet about BEVs (battery-electric vehicles). Not all of it is up to date of, course – things change rapidly in that domain. But I think it’s safe to say that the latest generation is ready for the main stage, even for those of us who need to travel great distances – at least here in Europe and in the US.

Except when you want to tow a caravan or a big trailer, because then the electricity consumption of your car will skyrocket and make your trips rather short. So I wondered: why not add a big battery to your trailer, and use that to “extend” the battery of your car? Or even better: why not add a big battery to your caravan, and use that to power the wheels of your trailer to assist your car?

It turns out I was not the only one to have that idea: US company Airstream, well known for its “travel trailers” as they call them in the US, has built a prototype that does just that:

Click on the image of the e-Stream to get more details from an article about the machine on Ars Technica.

Well done, Airstream: the solar panels on the roof of the trailer will probably not be sufficient to make this a truly “off-grid” proposition, but it still is a very smart combination for people on the move. I can fully understand the exclamation of Jonathan Gitlin, Ars Technica editor and author of “This is Airstream’s idea of a battery-powered EV travel trailer” when he writes: “shut up and take my money“!

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Again the production of our solar panels dropped below 80% of the average of the past month, showing that the weather here has been very… grey. We’re starting to miss the sun very much! Not just for our panels, but also for our bodies and souls: even when it’s cold, feeling the sun on your face can do wonders and lift your spirit.

Mendeliev would be proud to see the “Elemental Haiku” ;-)

My first camera was an Olympus OM-1 – my father bought it for me in 1977. I loved that camera, because it (and its lenses!) was (were) small en light compared to the cameras of the big photo industry names at that time. I parted with it after the birth of our son: trying to shoot good pictures of a children without auto-focus capacity was too hard for me ;-)

Don’t ask me why I preferred this model over one from a more established SLR produces like Nikon or Canon – I can’t remember how the decision was made. But I never regretted owning and using it. In fact, today I only regret having parted with it!

So there I was with that svelte and light camera. What I did not know was that the designers of the OM-1 originally imagined a completely different device! Kosmo Foto tells the story: “This is what the Olympus OM-1 could have looked like“. The OM-X system was meant to produce a modular camera, somewhat like the Hasselblad system but for 35mm film.

The different elements of the OM-X system
The OM-X system (photo copied from http://www.maitani-fan.com/maitani_fan2/omx.html )

Luckily for me, Olympus did not start selling that system: I would never have been able to afford it (or let’s say that my father probably would not have spent money on that). I would have loved to play with it, just as I once dreamed of buying a second-hand Hasselblad… but never did – toys like that are too expensive for me.

What does surprise me, is that such a system has not yet been produced now that the “back” of such a camera can be a lot simpler in mechanical terms. Shouldn’t that be easier in this digital age?

Critical Reality!

I’m catching up on a lot of reading, and this opinion piece on the Politico website grabbed my attention: “70 Years Ago Black Activists Accused the U.S. of Genocide. They Should Have Been Taken Seriously

The petitioners were taking the minimalist language of the U.N. convention on genocide, about things like conditions of life, and giving it shape and form with real-world examples. The petition outline the harsh living conditions to which Black Americans were subject: lives diminished in terms of housing, medical care, education, segregation, job opportunities, sharecropping, incarceration, housing, poverty and voter suppression. As a result, the petition states, 30,000 extra Black people were dying each year, and Black Americans were living eight years less than white people. Officials from all three branches of the U.S. government, the petition alleges, were guilty of inciting, conspiring to commit or being complicit in such genocidal acts, with examples ranging from police violence to racist laws promulgated by members of Congress.

Alex Hinton in https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/12/26/black-activists-charge-genocide-united-states-systemic-racism-526045

Not much has changed in the USA since then, unfortunately…

Yesterday I was surprised to see that there was another software update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+: I did not expect two updates in just two weeks.

The announcement of the updated was surprising as well. I tried to capture it as a (long) screenshot… but that turned out to be impossible: at least in Android 11 the phone the maximum vertical dimension for screenshots is 17,658 pixels. And this announcement was longer than that!

Anyway: installing the update took some time, but it finished without a hitch. So now I finally have Android 12. But in practice that does not change much. I use the phone occasionally as a camera, photo editor and as an internet browser. Visually there a few slight changes and some extra functions, but that’s mostly it, for my part.

Here’s what the machine says about its software:

Now, of course, it’s time to wonder: will Samsung also deliver Android 13 to this device? Aaaah, progress never ends…

I explicitly checked for updates a few times during the last days of 2021, since the previous version dated back to the beginning of November – we’re used to better these days! But Samsung did not come through with new patches for the Galaxy Note 10+ at the time. Yesterday evening however the N975FXXS7FUL2 software came through, and installing it brings the Security patch level to December 1, 2021 level. Here’s the full report:

December 2020 was a dark month, as I reported a year ago. Unfortunately, the past month was even darker: our solar panels produced only 65% of what we expected.

What’s worse, of course, is that the whole year 2021 reported disappointing numbers. In all, 2021 delivered just about 90% of the average of the previous 11 years. And the year total has never been as low as in 2021. According to the Belgian Meteorological Institute sunshine was about average in Belgium in 2021, but that is clearly not what we see (but of course their appreciation does not include local variations in cloud coverage) !

We hope for more sun in 2022.

This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.

Amanda Gorman (see here for the complete poem, read by Ms.Gorman herself)

Yesterday was a very short day in terms of daylight, but at the same time it was the sunniest day of the month so far!

That is not the only thing worth mentioning about yesterday. By accident I spotted a green woodpecker (Picus viridis) in our garden – a first in the 29 years we live here! Murphy’s Law dictates that my camera was not ready for a tele-shot, but nevertheless I managed to snap a few photos, and the sun did help to make even an outtake from one of them reasonably sharp.

A good day, all in all!

Of course there are citizens of the USA who know this is comedy, but it seems there are not enough of them – not even in the Supreme Court.

I mean: this is comedy, no ?

It certainly looks that way: in November our panels only delivered 85% of what we expected… And let’s face it: December is not the best month to hope for the sun to catch up with what we missed in the previous months!

I know I am rambling too much about the BMW R1100S motorcycle. Hey: I happen to like that bike a lot! But there are other classic bikes worth mentioning. Take the BMW /5 series, which started the boxer revolution here in Europe. I never rode one of these, but I recall that in the early seventies these machines were considered to be the absolute best and the most expensive bikes you could get at the time… So they were out of reach for the teenager I was at the time.

Click the image to see the large version

Again, this picture comes from 2dehands.be, where it is/was offered for sale…

There were/are more BMW R1100S’s for sale on the second hand market here in Belgium. Here are two more machines worth mentioning.

The first one has received the extra head lights (Microflooters?) I also wanted to mount… once I would have figured out how to mount them without having to install crash bars.

Click the image to see the large version

Then there was this nice picture that shows the profile of the machine in an almost perfect way. I’m not fond of the yellow color, but even then this bike looks yummy ;-)

Click the image to see the large version

The motorcycle season has ended for most recreational riders, and that means there are lots of bikes on secondhand sites. While waiting for a few computers to update I browsed the 2dehands.be site, and I noticed that there were surprisingly many BMW R1100S’s offered for sale.

This specimen has done over 100.000 km, and those kilometers have left their traces of course. But the bike still looks fine (click on the image to see the bigger picture):

The seller of the bike on the next picture has captured one of the defining characteristics of the R1100S: the dual exhaust pipes under the seat. I always liked those for the way they make the bike look lighter, leaner.