The Smart ForTwo

Smart Cars, the tiny, efficient automobiles often associated with European metro areas, soon will be available more readily in the United States. The Associated Press reported that German carmaker Daimler wants to open numerous "Smart centers," including two in Ohio. A map of prospective dealership locations is available here, though detailed info won't be posted until the end of January.

The Smart ForTwo, the current model, is surprising in many ways. For example, it can go 90 mph and has extensive safety features. However, the engine produces different, less-harmful emissions than a traditional car engine, but the car gets only an EPA-estimated 33 mpg in the city, where I'd expect most to use it. (That's a 2008 estimate, which is lower than the previous year.)

Weird. I'll be curious to see if this catches on here.

Buckeye Lake this winter (Eric Albrecht photo)

Lakes freezing later, thawing earlier, experts say

Yesterday's Metro section had an interesting story on Buckeye Lake and other bodies of water that are offering fewer ice-fishing opportunities than in years past. The story noted:

"Three University of Wisconsin researchers who studied northern lakes, rivers and bays found there now are 16 fewer days of ice cover than in 1975. And some lakes in states including Wisconsin and Michigan no longer freeze over at all, they report."

Years ago, people made fires on and drove across the thick ice at Buckeye Lake, known as the state's best ice-fishing location. Now, it hardly freezes at all. Sucks for me, since I was planning on my first ice-fishing trip this year.

The full story is here.