May 9, 2007

Tachometers: Today's rumble seat


I noticed from a story in the paper the other day that car sales in America are down. The cause of that phenomenon is no mystery to me. I blame tachometers.

Many people believe revolutions per minute is a measure of political instability in Third World countries, as in, Mali has had 4,000 revolutions per minute over the past two years. Actually, this is not the case. Revolutions per minute have to do with your automobile.

You'll be surprised to learn there is a gauge on your dashboard that reflects how many revolutions per minute are going on under your hood.

That is called a tachometer, which most people thought had something to do with how fast Mexican food was being consumed. For example, some car owners have hypothesized that, when the needle on their tachometer was waving back and forth like a windshield wiper in a monsoon, it meant your engine was burning up gasoline at the equivalent rate of 6,000 tacos being eaten. When you stepped on your gas pedal by mistake when your car was in neutral, a lot of tacos were going down the hatch.

The truth is that a tachometer tells you how many revolutions per minute your engine is turning. If you look closely, as I did, you may be confused at exactly where all these revolutions are taking place. I had my wife rev up the engine one day while I stood there with the hood up, and I didn't see my engine revolve once. From that, I surmised that it isn't the engine that's revolving at all, but something much more subtle is going on in there. What that is, I have yet to observe.

Drivers today have little interest in revolutions per minute, either in Mali or in their cars. Yet, as Frank Sklenarik, a longtime observer of many interesting things around here correctly pointed out to me recently, Detroit continues to charge you a lot of money to keep you posted on that arcane statistic.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg World in palm of our hands

    A newsroom workshop made writer Susan Tobias realize how far technology has come since she started working at the Press-Republican.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mulholland_Jonathan.jpg Running tips to get you in top form

    Different limb lengths, tighter muscles, stiffer joints, prior injuries all play role in determining your running style, Jonathan Mulholland writes.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walace_Jolene 7-12_cropped.jpg Let these tips on planting trees take root

    You may think that digging a hole and plopping the tree in will suffice, and it will if you only want the tree to live a short time, columnist Jolene Wallace writes.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • amy_ivy.jpg Is it time to plant? Not yet

    All we can do is wait and see how things get through, columnist Amy Ivy writes.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time