Time for a rant …

Ok it’s time for a rant. This has been a particularly mild winter, February is winding down and spring is just around the corner. In the past year or more I have noticed more and more shoe stores advertising “barefoot” shoes. The expound on how they feel just like walking barefoot, they’re so light, so comfortable, so natural. NOT!

Shoes are not barefoot. End of. They are not barefoot if they are light weight, have five little fingers for the toes, two big fingers for collections of toes, or space age mesh. Shoes are shoes, barefoot is the lack thereof.

My other bone of contention with so called “barefoot” shoes is the cost. If I trundle on down to Aldo or some other shoe store and pick up a pair of Doc Martins, I can fully expect to pay (in Canada) something like $140. Expensive as all get out but for that price I get a heavy, comfortable leather shoe that is quality made. They previous pair I had lasted some ten years, went through a house fire and was finally parted with only because I was offloading a ton of stuff with the idea of moving to France. Barefoot shoes, including the vaunted Vibram Five fingers and other “toed” barefoot shoes come in around the same price. However for my $140 I now get a flimsy, cheaply made, sweat inducing vinyl mocassin that chafes my feet in any number of places. For the same price as the Docs I get a shoe made in China somewhere for about $0.13 that if I am lucky will last one summer.

If you are thinking of going barefoot, go barefoot. Your feet (and most of your other bits associated with mobilty) will thank you, you will save money and you’ll be amazed to discover what an incredible environment ypou walk on each day. I have been barefoot for nigh on 30 years except where forced into shoes by winter weather, inflexible rules (there are no such laws), intolerance and prejudice. I love the feeling of being barefoot from warm summer pavement, soft grass, cool rain soaked paths and even fresh winter snow. Try it, you’ll be amazed, truly you will.

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eco-friendly? Not!!

I have just been reading the press blurbs about the new Nissan Leaf, a totally electric vehicle, the first of which was delivered to a happy consumer in Ottawa recently. This car is only one of several being developed and to be sold to consumers in the coming months.
These vehicles are being billed as “zero emissions” vehicles, viable alternatives to gas powered vehicles, economical, eco-friendly and many other superlatives. Judging from the reviews articles and websites I have read, nothing could be further from the truth.
The car itself is expensive at $38000, more than many other compact cars of merit and better styling. This price also does not include the costs involved in installing a 240 volt charging station in your home, the additional electrical bills, the insurance (likely to be charged) for a new untried and rare vehicle or the maintenance. The economic kicker is the fact that the batteries which power this car are leased to the owner (They cost $10000.00) because they are too expensive to replace and expected to last no more than 5 years.
Being billed as a zero emissions vehicle is almost false advertising in my view. The car itself indeed produces no emissions, however experts say that the emissions created in generating the additional electricity required to run it is about equivalent to a well tuned compact diesel car. This also does not take into account the carbon footprint of shipping raw materials around the planet to produce the exotic batteries and other components before they are assembled into a shiny new Leaf.
In terms of performance Nissan claims a top speed of 144 Km/H (90 Mph) and a range of approx. 160 Km (100 Mi.). Nissan also notes that the trickle charger takes some 21 hours to full charge from low battery. If one were to take those claims as accurate then a trip from London to Ottawa would take me about 8 days or about the same as if I travelled by horse and carriage. I dare say the horse would be more ecologically sound to boot. So this car is not a touring car designed for long trips but an inner city commuter. For 38 Grand I can purchase any one of several dozen more attractive commuter cars and even some not so commuter cars.
One final point in this rant, the Leaf and all it’s brethren from other manufactures are pure electric cars, getting their “get up and go” from the power grid. Here in Ontario every summer Ontario Hydro complains that too many people crank up their air conditioners sucking up electricity and causing brown outs. Ask yourself, what would be the effect of a few million consumers plugging in their electric cars every night? Then again maybe that’s not a great worry as Nissan only expects to sell 600 of these by 2012, hardly seems worth the effort.