Best Cars for Senior Drivers

No longer a collegiate clown car

So when we decided to poll our editors on their favorite vehicles for senior drivers, we started with safety…Here’s why: Longer life spans often mean people are driving well into old age, and statistics from IIHS back that up. According to IIHS, older drivers now keep their licenses longer and make up a bigger proportion of the population than in the past. That trend is expected to continue as baby boomers age, culminating in some 53 million U.S. citizens reaching age 70 or older by 2030, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

This, of course, leads to concerns about traffic safety. While older drivers have lower fatal crash rates than in the past, they still face a greater risk of injury or death due the inevitable increase in fragility that comes with aging…

To have a reasonable number of vehicles from which to choose for this endeavor, we started with model-year 2020 recipients of IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards. These cars must meet stringent safety criteria to qualify. Knowing that many seniors live on a fixed income, we set a price cap of $35,000; that resulted in 30 qualifying vehicles out of more than 70. We then polled our editors, asking them to pick their top five from the list of 30…

The article is smartly analytical, brief in each category. I know I’ll refer to it whenever that vague time comes when we need to think about replacing one or both of our vehicles. We’d like to get rid of the pickup since we only use it 8 or 10 times a year…now we’re both retired. Coming up with a range that includes a trip to the transfer station with bagged household trash every now and then can be a puzzler.

The only distraction – sad at that – only 1 car from a US company made the group of 30…and no further.

Air travel seating you can look, um, forward to

Forget complaining about not enough legroom on an airliner and be thankful that there’s still headroom. A new patent filed by European aviation giant Airbus takes advantage of that little-used space above where people sit to offer a flying experience that’s somewhat akin to summer camp bunk beds, only at hundreds of miles per hour and surrounded by grown-up strangers.

Named, very technically, “Passenger Seat Arrangement For A Vehicle” the patent features not just rows but layers of seats. While primarily designed for airplanes, the patent helpfully notes that it is suitable for other means of passenger transport, like buses or trains.

While most airplanes are already densely packed, the patent observes that wide-body airplanes (think Boeing Jumbo Jets or the Airbus 330 family) aren’t utilized to their full economic potential. From the patent:

In order to still more efficiently use the space in a passenger cabin of an aircraft, [this patent] proposes to position an elevated deck structure on a main deck floor in the passenger cabin of a wide-body aircraft for providing a mezzanine seating area in a substantially unused upper lobe of the aircraft fuselage.


With the advent of Homeland Insecurity and the TSA, my decisions about travel were made simple. I will only travel to destinations I can reach driving my old Dodge pickup.

No harm, no foul, eh?

Science museum opens exhibit with singing toilets

A toilet exhibition featuring a giant slide and singing toilet seats opens at the Miraikan science museum in Tokyo.

The exhibit aims to make people more comfortable discussing their bowel movements, says staff. ‘Toilets and faeces are normally thought of as very unclean topics, but I would like for people to actively talk about them instead of just thinking that they’re dirty,’ says museum staff member Tami Sakamaki.

Um, OK.

Syn-turf flip flops offer a grassy meadow anywhere you roam

The legions of minimalist shoes on today’s market strip away materials with reckless abandon to give you a barefoot-like experience. KUSA flip flops, on the other hand, actually add material to bring your feet a little closer to the earth below. The material in question is synthetic turf, which Kusa slides under each foot, providing a soft, natural feel that makes each step feel like walking across a freshly mowed lawn.

Besides just feeling all natural, KUSA claims that the turf conforms to the contours of your feet, providing the comforts of a custom-tailored sandal. The company admits that the synthetic turf will feel tight at first, but after wiggling your foot a bit, it should mold around your natural shape and fit like a glove. After a while, the turf may flatten out and need to be “fluffed,” which we assume is a little like fluffing up a pillow. Their odd look should also spark a few conversations on the street.

Here in Santa Fe – like some places I can think of in California or Florida – the first question would be, “Where can I get those, man?”

Mom’s voice works as well as a hug to remove anxiety

“Reach out and touch someone” — good advertising slogan, or evolutionary imperative?

How about both?

What Madison Avenue knew decades ago has been observed in brain chemistry. A simple phone call from mom can calm frayed nerves by sparking the release of a powerful stress-quelling hormone, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Biological anthropologist Leslie Seltzer tested a group of seven- to 12-year-old girls with an impromptu speech and series of math problems in front of a panel of strangers, sending their hearts racing and levels of cortisol — a hormone associated with stress — soaring…

Once stressed, one-third of the girls were comforted in person by their mothers — specifically with hugs, an arm around the shoulders and the like. One-third were left watch an emotion-neutral 75-minute video. The rest were handed a telephone. It was mom on the line, and the effect was dramatic.

“The children who got to interact with their mothers had virtually the same hormonal response, whether they interacted in person or over the phone,” Seltzer says.

The girls’ levels of oxytocin, often called the “love hormone” and strongly associated with emotional bonding, rose significantly and the stress-marking cortisol washed away.

“It was understood that oxytocin release in the context of social bonding usually required physical contact,” Seltzer says. “But it’s clear from these results that a mother’s voice can have the same effect as a hug, even if they’re not standing there.”

The study revealed that the support, diminishing of worry and concern, was lasting.

Mom is as important as ever.

Nine reasons why a Brit celebrates America – sort of…

As the US is marking its 233rd anniversary of its independence, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly gives his own list of reasons why America should be celebrated…

This is more about the American genius for making daily life more convenient, more entertaining or just more fattening.

First – air conditioning – testament to the American ability to conquer the harshest physical environments and to expand American life towards improbable horizons.

Ice cubes, too, reflect the same happy knack for making light of the hostility of circumstance.

Every floor of every motel building in the country has an ice machine; every convenience store sells it by the sackful, and every drink you are served contains lumps of ice big enough to sink a battleship.

Third -valet parking. President Barack Obama says America invented the car, which it did not. But it did invent motoring, and the pinnacle of the American motoring experience is the practice of having someone else park your car when you arrive at a restaurant or hotel.

Item Number Four is aviation. America did invent the aeroplane but it was rather a dull device at first and spent its early years being flown short distances in wobbly straight lines by plucky pioneers.

Fifth -chewing gum. One of America’s more enduring gifts to humanity requiring no comment or explanation.

1893, in fact, was a bumper year for people who do not worry too much about their fillings since it also saw the invention of Cracker Jack, a mixture of popcorn and peanut coated in toffee which is the baseball fan’s snack of choice.

Continue reading

Mailman campaigns to wear skirt…erm, kilt

A 6-foot-tall, 250-pound letter carrier is campaigning for the right to take off his pants. Dean Peterson wants the U.S. Postal Service to add kilts as a uniform option for men.

The idea was soundly defeated in July at a convention of his union, the 220,000-member National Letter Carriers’ Association, so Peterson knows convincing management will be an uphill struggle, but at least he’ll be comfortable in his kilt, or Male Unbifurcated Garment.

In one word, it’s comfort,” he said.

With his build, Peterson said, his thighs fill slacks to capacity, causing chafing and scarring.

“Unbifurcated Garments are far more comfortable and suitable to male anatomy than trousers or shorts because they don’t confine the legs or cramp the male genitals the way that trousers or shorts do,” he wrote. “Please open your hearts — and inseams — for an option in mail carrier comfort!”

My extended family has had it’s share of mailmen – as well as cops and soldiers – and in varying circumstances the latter two job descriptions have been allowed kilts. I think the option is due for the U.S.P.S., as well.