Friday, June 21, 2013

Koko's Dead Kitten

 Ask Yahoo!

Tuesday September 5, 2000Previous | Next
Dear Yahoo!:
Koko, the famous gorilla, had a kitten named All Ball. How did All Ball die?
Crazy forKoko
Dear Crazy:
We've long enjoyed stories and photos of the gregarious gorilla. We were saddened to hear about the tragic demise of her cuddly kitten. To learn more, we turned to the Yahoo! search box and entered "Koko All Ball." After leafing through the results, we pieced together the whole story.

Back in 1984, Koko, an accomplished gorilla who understands and uses American Sign Language, asked her trainer, Dr. Francine Patterson, for a cat. So when some abanded kittens were brought to the Woodside, California, compound where Koko lives, she was awarded the pick of the litter. After examining the kittens carefully, Koko chose a tailless gray male that she named All Ball.

Koko proved a wonderful pet owner and mother. She was very gentle with the kitten and treated him much like a baby gorilla, carrying him on her back and trying to nurse him. When she was in a playful mood, she would dress All Ball up in napkins or sign to him suggesting that they tickle each other, her favorite game.

Unfortunately, their relationship ended abrubtly in December of 1984, when All Ball escaped from the gorilla cage and was killed by a car. Koko was extrememly distraught over the death of All Ball and spoke of it soon after:
When asked, "Do you want to talk about your kitty?"
Koko signed, "Cry."
"What happened to your kitty?"
Koko answered, "Sleep cat."
When she saw a picture of a cat who looked very much like All Ball, Koko pointed to the picture and signed, "Cry, sad, frown."
Koko's mourning attracted a great deal of attention from the scientific community. Debates raged over whether or not animals have "emotions" in the human sense.

All Ball was followed by two other kittens, Lipstick and Smoky, and a number of other pets.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Running on Empty: Cars that Never Need Gas

Darrell Dickey regularly commutes to work 24 miles, one way, by bike. But when it's too cold or wet for the bike, or when he and his family travel long distances from their home in Davis, California, he drives a battery-powered electric vehicle that he charges with photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on his garage roof.

"Five years ago, I spent about $45,000 and got a brand new car (the RAv4EV) and the solar system," he says. "We're still driving the car every day, and the solar system will continue to make fuel for whatever EV we drive in the future. For $45,000 we bought a new car and fuel for the rest or our lives."
In 1996, Dickey was invited to test-drive the GM "Impact", which he then leased for two years. (The Impact later became the EV1, the first modern electric vehicle.) "We loved that car and hated to give it back," he says. But the Toyota Rav4EV had just become available for purchase, so he bought the electric vehicle he is driving today.

Dickey says the inspiration to drive electric comes from having a child. "It would embarrass me to have to explain to my daughter why we continued to import and burn oil when we knew the consequences," he says. "Having no tune-ups and no trips to the gas station ever is just icing."

By installing a solar system atop his garage, Dickey took the next step in driving a totally clean car. "Now," he says, "I can deflect the comments that my 'electric' car is just a 'coal-burning' car. EVs are the ultimate flex-fuel vehicle. You can make electricity out of just about anything: sun, wind, natural gas, coal—even gasoline! Your fuel can be totally domestic, or in my case, totally local."

Asked how long it will take for the PV system to pay for itself, Dickey replies: "If we think of everything in terms of what it costs us in the short-term, we're screwed. It's the same argument people use against the Prius: When will it pay back in gas savings? But that only accounts for the money paid at the pump. What of the billions of dollars that leave our economy for oil, or the billions of our tax dollars that go toward tax incentives for oil companies? What of the cost of the military and the lives lost to protect our oil?"
But the short answer for the solar pay-back, he says, was "the instant I turned my system on." Dickey had been paying $75 a month for electricity. He took a loan out to buy the PV system, and pays $70 a month toward that loan. "My electricity and gasoline bills are now zero, and next year when my loan is paid off, this investment will be paying me probably for the rest of my life. My PV system covers the power for my home and my car. It displaces $90 worth of electricity and over $100 worth of gasoline every month. So my estimate of how long until the system pays for itself is no time at all!"

Dickey says the Rav4EV is the best car he's ever owned. "My wife commutes in it 40 miles a day, five days a week. We drive it for our weekend outings and it does errands that are too far or too bulky for the bicycle. It has never been tuned up, and I've spent about $50 total on it for maintenance. My wife has not been to a gasoline station in seven years and 70,000 commute miles—not once!"