First of all, I just want to implore everyone to remain calm. I know we didn’t get this out yesterday, when you were expecting it, but things sometimes happen and we need you to remain calm in such situations and not resort to cannibalism, no matter what those memos may have said. The point is we’ve been reading over the problems and questions you’ve sent and have answers for you, so everything’s gonna be okay. Got it? Good. We’re here for you.

We’ve got a good database of questions entered here on the Jalopnik Mainframe’s pirated copy of dBase II, and I instructed the compu-tor to select questions based on an algorithm that factors in implied urgency, seriousness of question, the likelihood that the sender would find David or myself “cool,” and David and my current skin salinity (averaged together).

The result were these two questions, though I implore you to keep sending yours in! Remember, it doesn’t have to be about cars—we can give terrible advice about nearly anything. Try us.

Okay.

Question 1:

First, I think it’s frickin’ awesome you’re doing this. Thank you.

Second, [REDACTED] Like, multiple ones.

Third, my question: let’s say in the far-off future of 2019, we have solved world hunger by breeding gigantic bees to help pollinate crops. These bees usually weigh a pound. But they don’t sting! People keep these big giant bumblebees as pets. They’re just the cutest thing.

Now, one day, I get into my car. And through some miracle, me, in my car, with a half tank of gas, together we all weigh exactly 2,000 pounds. I shut the door and I’m on my way to get more chinchilla wood shavings. I get to a stoplight and hear a tremendous buzz! Suddenly, a one pound pollinating bee lands on the seat next to me.

Does the car now weigh 2,001 pounds? Will it go back to 2,000 pounds as it flies (adorably) around the cabin of the car, or, since it had been in the car all along, does the car weigh 2,001 pounds no matter if the bee is in flight or having a rest on the seat?

Fourth, I’m kidding about the [REDACTED] thing. Please don’t call any authorities on me.

Thanks, sincerely,

-Zack

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Hm. Good question! First off, I’m all for giant, adorable bumblebees. Especially non-stinging ones. I have gotten really low and quiet and looked at bumblebees up close, and, you’re right, they do seem pretty damn cuddle-able. They’d rate at least four Mogwais on one of those Universal Cuddlesnuggleometers, the really accurate kind that were fueled on bunny blood before they were made illegal back in the whatevers. Thanks a lot, Attorney General Dork.

Your question, though, actually was asked, essentially, a long time ago by Jimmy Stewart, when he went crazy and thought he was Charles Lindburgh and some cruel people decided to film the whole incident and release it as a movie:

The answer, though, is surprisingly complicated. So while a one-pound bee flying in a car may be supporting its own weight, it’s doing so by using its wings to force air down and itself up. It seems that the force of those wingbeats effectively still transmits the bee’s one-pound weight to the overall car to be supported. Now, there’ll likely be fluctuations, but it seems they’ll average out to be the weight of the bee.

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I think. I’m gonna try and fatten up this bee I found in my Cap’n Crunch milk enough to do an experiment.

Jason is correct, here. That giant bee’s thrust used to counteract its weight is getting transmitted through a fluid medium (the air), ultimately to your car.

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This has been proven by my favorite scientific duo, the Mythbusters, using a bunch of pigeons in a semi truck trailer:

The more important question we need to answer is how a one pound bee is going to pollinate a tiny flower. Is this an extremely high density, normal-sized bee made of, perhaps, osmium? (In which case your descriptor “gigantic” just referred to the mass)? Or have the flowers of the apple trees, blueberry bushes and almond trees that these bees pollinate also grown?

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Which brings me to another question: If you’ve managed to just grow things like bees and flowers, why not just grow the crops themselves? Take this growth gun, aim it at a cob of corn, and fire that sucker until each kernel is the size of a Chevrolet Astro van.

I’m not saying I’ve just solved world hunger, but I am saying that the “let’s grow bees” solution is deeply, deeply flawed.

Question 2:

Guys,

My name is Dominik and i drive 86 VW Vanagon. My issue, one of many, is the constant struggle to keep carpets in the van clean. Carpets are original, so they are not pristine, or anything like that, but i have two toddlers and 2 rather large dogs and we do beach runs weekly. You can imagine the state of affairs in it. Is there any rubber material i can get and cut to fit dimensions of the floor, or should i scotch guard it? There are aftermarket mats for these vans, but for some reason folks making them think van owners are rich. Im not, or maybe im cheap. Either way, budget is the key. Also, im not putting wooden floor in it. Bought volvo 245 few years ago with that, and i can tell you it was slippery, to say the least, and heavy as well. Never again.

Thank you.

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Dominick, first of all, I love that you’re using an old Vanagon as your family car. Great choice! Second, carpet in cars is, and has always been, terrible. Especially with kids. After a while, it just becomes a soup-starter that lines the whole bottom of your car, with a liberal sprinkling of trapped Legos.

So, what should you do about it? Tear it all out? Sure, why not? But what would you replace it with? Adhesive-stained metal isn’t a great surface, either. Rubber mats aren’t a bad idea, but they can still get dirty and cling to food crumbs and stuff. Bedliner’s just as bad for that, if not worse. 

Sure, you could drill some drain holes and try to hose everything out, but then you’re getting seats and upholstery wet as well, and that’s hardly ideal. Is there any real solution here?

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I think there is. And, like all good solutions involving daily life and children, it comes from an abattoir.

Remember the Simpsons episode where actor Troy McClure explains about how a slaughterhouse’s “killing floor” is really something of a misnomer because “it’s more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through?” Of course you do.

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And that’s your solution: a killing floor.

Now, the only thing you’ll be actually killing are your ass-pains from having to clean up all the time. What you’ll want to do is, with a Sawzall or cutting torch, cut out the floor sections of your Vanagon, leaving the structural backbone and rails intact. In the place of the sheet steel floor, weld in some nice steel grating, or heavy duty hardware cloth.

Sure, the van will be much noisier, draftier, harder to heat and cool, and likely wetter in the rain, but any crumbs or milkshake spills or Legos or baby teeth that fall down will drop harmlessly through the grating into the waiting arms of Mother Gaia below.

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It’s perfect! Your kids can literally pee on the grating while you’re driving and it just won’t matter. Problem solved!

I will say that Jason’s solution is brilliant. Being able to waffle-stomp your bodily soils through the floor is arguably a central tenet of the American Dream.

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However, the problem with the idea is that it’s just going to take far too much time, and it’s going to be nasty. Tearing out carpets, cutting out an old floor, and welding in grating is going to require a week of toiling—perhaps more if you factor in the time you’ll be in the hospital recovering from whatever disease you get from that child vomit-covered floor of yours. Children are germ machines—approach this project with caution.

My idea is a much, much lazier one, but it ultimately results in essentially what Jason proposed. Except, instead of doing all that work, you can let nature take care of it.

For one: Forget the grating. If you want a floor filled with a bunch of holes that you can squeeze trash out of, get one the natural way like I’ve been doing for years: use rust.

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For perhaps the first time in automotive history, someone can actually use Fe2O3 to their advantage. Simply spray the underside of your Vanagon with a brine solution, then drive through a bunch of dirt, spray the undercarriage with another layer of brine (do this daily), then make sure you park the car in a hot environment to speed up the oxidation process. In no-time, you’ll have a floor that looks like swiss cheese, and that will send whatever fast food that your child has decided to vomit down onto the road below, away from your interior and far away from your “give a shit” zone.

There is still an issue, here, I’ll admit. As many of my vehicles have demonstrated, rusted-out floors tend to be hidden by carpeting, which will still trap nastiness. As I don’t want you getting some sort of gout from your children’s natural slime, and because my initial idea of releasing moth larvae into your car to eat away the carpet was thwarted by the realization that most car carpets are made of the decidedly untasty-to-moths material, nylon, allow me to propose using a larger animal than a moth larva.

Trap a bear in your car.

Yes, it sounds like a bad idea, but trust me on this one. How many YouTube videos of Bear Trapped In Car-aftermath do we need to show you before you realize that there’s no living being more capable of tearing out a car’s carpet faster than a bear.

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Just slap a few Subaru badges on your car, install a COEXIST bumper sticker, and wait. You’ll wake up the next morning with a beautifully carpet-stripped VW Vanagon with perfectly exposed rust holes to eject your children’s filth.

As always, email your questions about ANYTHING AT ALL to tips@jalopnik.com with the subject HELP ME TORCH AND DAVID!