Six-Door Cars

While at this point we've decided what we want to do about cars, I'm still thinking about why the market for moderately larger cars is so awkward.

One issue with three-row vehicles is that the third row is hard to get into. If that row is rear-facing, like in a traditional station wagon, you get in through the rear door. If it is front facing, you either remove one of the seats from the middle row, or have a way to slide or fold them out of the way. This is awkward for the same reason that the rear seats in a two door car are awkward, and there we fix it by adding a second row of doors. Why don't we see six door cars?

Car manufacturers have made some:

Mercedes-Benz w124 six-door, source

Checker Aerobus, also produced with eight doors

You also see aftermarket conversions:

Sharing a Car

Last week I posted about how we were thinking of getting a car, but at least for now we've decided instead to share a car with one of our housemates. They have a Honda Fit, and while it is important to them to have a car, they don't use it very often.

Seatbelt Extenders and Booster Seats

In reading about putting three car seats across the back of a car, one problem people described was it being difficult to buckle a booster seat that is right up next to another seat. I also ran into people saying that you should definitely not use seatbelt extenders to solve this problem.

Naively, a seatbelt extender seems exactly the right tool: Since the problem comes from the booster moving the child up without moving the buckle up, an appropriately sized extender that moved the buckle up to match seems ideal. So what is the problem?

Making a Kingfisher Video

Cecilia and I recently made a Kingfisher video, and I wanted to write some about the process. I'm not claiming this is the best way to do it, and really I'm pretty sure it isn't. If people have feedback on how to do this better or more easily, I'm definitely interested!

We started with my parts: keyboard and drums. These are electronic instruments, so I recorded their output directly into Audacity and ignored the camera's audio. I normally play both simultaneously, but here I did the drums first. That meant I only needed one camera, and could focus on each part as I played it. The drum part was the fourth of four takes, keyboard first of three.

I aligned the two tracks manually, made an initial mix, and sent it to Cecilia. She sent back her main fiddle part, and an additional fiddle part for the second half. She also recorded audio separately, for higher quality, and made sure to align it with what I had sent her.

Now that I had all the parts, I mixed the video's audio track. I used Audacity, since I only wanted to work with volume. We hadn't planned any arrangement ahead of time, so we added a some that was not originally there: the fiddle part comes in at the first A2 instead of the beginning, the drums sit out the A1 of the third time through, etc:

The Cost of a Sixth Seat

When I posted about cars, several people suggested we might want to get something with more than five seats so we'd have room for friends. This would make a lot of sense, except that it's surprisingly expensive.

The cheapest new (2021) car you can get in the US right now, as far as I can tell, is the 4-seater Chevy Spark, $13,400 MSRP in its cheapest configuration. The cheapest 5-seater is the Mitsubishi Mirage, at $14,295. The cheapest 7-seater is the VW Tiguan, at $25,245.

(What about 6-seaters? Sedans seating three in the front and three in the back used to be common, but the last one in the US was the 2013 Chevy Impala.)

Why do you pay $11k (+77%) to seat more than five? Sure, most people don't need a car that big, but there are still a lot of price-sensitive families.

Car Thoughts

I've been putting this post off a bit it, because a post about family logistics is a bit of a silly way for people to learn that we're expecting a third child, and I kept thinking I would write something else first, but I didn't. So: with another child coming, in June, I'm thinking about, among many other things, cars.

My parents always had two cars; given where we lived, where their jobs were, and the kind of jobs they had, there wasn't anything else that would've made sense. I was never very excited about driving: I put off getting my learners permit for over a year, until eventually my aunt learned that I still didn't have one and told me she was taking me to the RMV and wasn't going to take no for an answer. I learned to drive, but once I got my license I was back to not driving: putting me on the family car insurance as a teenage boy would've cost thousands of dollars a year, and I could mostly take public transit places.

As an adult, I've been able to live in places with good public transportation, close enough to bike/scoot to work, or both. Even as we got more settled and had two kids, not having a car hasn't been a problem.

With a third kid, though, we're thinking we probably will get a car. Various reasons:

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