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December 1, 2003
2nd Annual Christmas No-Way-In-Hell Fantasy List
Last year I published my Christmas No-Way-In-Hell Fantasy List as an antidote to my predictably utilitarian gift wish list. This year I'm at least not asking for socks and underwear, although I'm hardly indulging my inner child. I had so much fun writing last year's Fantasy List that I've decided to turn it into a December tradition for Not From Toronto. Thereby, I'm pleased to present to you my 2nd Annual Christmas No-Way-In-Hell Fantasy List!
1) Last year I had a couple of automotive choices on my list. This year is not different, but my choice this time around is a technology that is just emerging into commercialization, and is looking rather good. I'm talking about the MDI Air Car. Instead of running on gasoline, diesel, propane, hydrogen, or even electricity, the Air Car is powered by - can you guess? - air. Three big tanks are pressurized to 300 atmospheres (over 4500 psi) with regular old air, which gives 10 hours of around-town running time. It is also highway capable, with a range between 200 and 300 km (125-180 miles). Each vehicle is equipped with an on-board compressor to refill the air tanks in about 3 hours. I'm looking for them to show up in the next few years in North America.
2) Speaking of the Air Car, there's an even better present I could wish for than just an Air Car. Instead of being produced in gigantic quantities in one or two factories that supply the global market, Air Cars are produced in smaller regional factories that act as manufacturer, sales office, and product support center. Territories are still available in Canada, and I'd love to have the opportunity to have a lock on either Toronto and/or the rest of Southwestern and South-Central Ontario. Not only do I believe in the basic premise of the product - environmentally sound zero-emissions transportation - but I also truly believe that they will make whoever can afford a factory a handsome profit.
3) Let's stick with the automotive theme for a while longer. Way back in the heady good times of the late 1980's, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated that all automakers in California would have to start selling Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) in increasing market share, starting in 2000. At the time, the only ZEVs in existence were electric vehicles. Well, here we are in 2003, and that mandate has been litigated to near-death, in effect cutting electric vehicles of the mandate. As one of many EV enthusiasts bemoaning the demise of what could have been a huge EV industry, I'd like to ask for the true ZEV (electric vehicle) stipulation back into the mandate.
4) Ernie Eves and his electricity price cap was the writing on the wall that told me I needed a photovoltaic system by 2006. Unfortunately, I don't even have that long any more. So, to this list gets added a PV system that will take care of all my electrical needs, and then some. I figure that with a 5-kilowatt system I will have ample power to run anything I want and still sell a bunch of clean power back through a smart meter. I'd become a net electricity producer, on average using less than what I make. The only drawback is that I'm not entirely sure a townhouse even has enough roof to support a 5 kW array. Perhaps I'd have to take a long-term loan out on my neighbours' roofs (or hope for #8).
5) Unfortunately, there are currently two appliances in my house that will not work any better if I have all the solar electricity I could ever need; my clothes dryer, and my water heater. Both run on natural gas, although I could replace them with electric models. For the water heater, I've got a much better idea instead: I want a full solar hot water system. Yes, instead of making power the sunlight we take for granted could be providing me with copious amounts of hot water. Simply, a loop of high temperature-rated antifreeze liquid is exposed to the sun's rays to heat it up. The hot antifreeze is then pumped down to your hot water tank, where it transfers its heat into your water. Voila - hot water without utility bills, but with a significant start-up cost.
6) While we're on the topic of home improvement items, I may as well toss this one in: a pool. I've always loved the water. As a kid I'd always be the first one in the pool and the last one out. Now my daughter is exhibiting these traits as well, so I know that we're going to have to get a pool in some form. Sure, I could get one of those self-supporting above ground models, but this is a fantasy list, right? What I'm looking for is the full in-ground deal. Shallow end for younger kids and grandparents, a deep end with a diving board and amusement park quality water slide, and even a swim-up snack bar. Go for a slide, swim to the shallow end, and float on up to the bar for a fruit smoothie. That would surely take the sting out of those unbearably humid August days.
7) Some days I'm not sure how I manage to dress myself and go to work. My clothing is bordering on pathetic. My slacks are approaching a decade old, I never seem to have enough underwear or socks that are the right colour or that fit right, my shirts simply don't match up well with the pants I have, my belts don't really match with anything... In short, I have a general lack of clothing that looks good, fits well, co-ordinates, and that I really like. Thereby, I'd like to take every stitch that I currently own and drop it off at Value Village and purchase an entirely new wardrobe. I'm talking shoes, boots, socks, pants, slacks, underwear, suits, belts, ties, shirts, sweaters, jackets, gloves, hats... absolutely everything. Instead of trying to determine which parts of my current mish-mash to keep and build on, I want to start from scratch.
8) Over this past year I've been researching alternative types of housing. Of all the non-traditional construction methods I've found, the Monolithic dome house is currently a favourite. There is one drawback to a Monolithic dome house; its up-front cost of construction.. With a Monolithic dome, the structure of the house and the outer "shell" are one and the same. It's based on what they call an airform, essentially a huge plastic bubble, onto which you spray insulating foam and then concrete to make a super-strong and efficient structure. The airform itself costs well into 5 digits for even a moderately sized dwelling. Right after that comes paying a crew to spray the foam, then hang the rebar for the concrete, then spray the concrete: lots of labour you get to pay for. So, if anyone would like to buy an airform and/or some polyurethane foam crew and/or shotcrete crew time, I'd gladly say yes!
9) There is one way to save some money on building a Monolithic dome, and that's to do as much of it yourself as possible. As building a dome is so unlike anything found in typical construction these days, it's not exactly something you can pick up and do, or go read about in your local library. What you can do is take a Monolithic dome building workshop, which will give you the foundation on which to build a successful Monolithic dome building business, should you so desire to. Of course, the workshop isn't cheap, nor is a flight to Texas and back. But anyone that sends me on such a workshop can be sure they'll get their dome home build right!
10) Although this is a fantasy wish list, by my very nature I tend to ask for things that are utilitarian in nature. The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, as shown by the last item on my list: my own business. I've felt an entrepreneurial tug at my mind for nearly a decade now, but have not found either the right business opportunity (nor the means to implement it) yet. Although the gift of inspiration would be fabulous, I'd settle for someone willing to extend a long-term low (or no) interest loan to help me start up my own business. It would be a gift that kept on giving! $10M would certainly cover just about anything I'd care to do.
If I do get my own business, however, I'm going to need to look professional. I guess I'd better start with that new wardrobe...
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