Monday, June 30, 2008

Why expensive energy can be good

High energy prices are often seen as a stimulus for other more environmentally friendly, but more expensive, energy sources. Aside from that, high energy prices also force the entire economy to be much more efficient. This article in the NYT discusses how Walmart / Sams Club is switching to a different type of milk jug that makes shipping and production easier, and translates to significant cost savings, and 60-70% decreased water use at the dairys. Packing more into a truck means less trips, decreased water use is certainly good in times of uncertain supply. All these positve changes just becuase high energy prices were making buisness executives at Walmart (not really a stalwart of environmental progress) look more carefully at their practices.

Bring on $5 a gallon- it might hurt at the pump, but we'll be saving money in other places, and we're getting *closer* to paying the actual cost of the energy we use.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

End to the world's energy crisis?

Or someone who is just really bad at math and logical reasoning? This article recently ran in VeloNews. While some of the points I think are valid such as pointing out some things our society does that wastes energy, and advocates taking the stairs or riding your bike to work. However, some of his ideas are just.... stupid. Replacing a power plant with a bunch of cyclists on stationary bikes. Let's do some math here.

Coal power plant at 500MW is to be replaced by cyclists. (Not to mention a nuclear plant at a few gigs...)

Let's say each cyclist is producing an average of 100W over their workout. Sure intervals would be much more than this, but as the numbers will show, we'll need A LOT of cyclists, so its not all serious racers here.

Let's just throw in a 75% efficiency rate from power at the hub to electricity, so basically each cyclist is producing 75W of electricity.

Plugging those numbers in, that is 6.67 million cyclists. For one coal plant.

Yeah. Good solution.

His other thought that just made me smack my forehead was the thought that we should take the stairs UP to our floor in a building, but take the elevator down, and hook the elevator up so that its potential energy at the top is converted to energy as it brings people back down. Ok buddy, how does the elevator get up there??? Yes you would get a net benefit of the weight of the people that you are only moving down in the elevator and not up, but considering that the weight of the elevator itself far exceeds the weight of the people, you're never going to break even with this system. If you approached this by saying people should walk up stairs so that they aren't as fat, then I'd buy it.

Sometimes the mix of bikes and social concerns is good (more bike lanes!!!), but when people who have no idea what they're talking about throw out the idea of replacing power plants with cyclists... it's not good for anybody.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Breaking News!!!

I was watching tv for a while and noticed that CNN had the headline "Breaking News" on for about five hours over Obama writing a check for Hilary. That story is breaking news for one hour. How long is it breaking news when they announce another solider is killed in combat? I don't think at all. But yea... Obama writing a check for $2300 is really important.

But whenever I think CNN is bad, I accidentally have FOX on for more than 5 seconds, and I start to feel sick to my stomach.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

January 20, 2009

Cannot come quick enough- check this out.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I hope that the next administration has a better outlook in the energy / climate change area. Obama's ties with large ethanol firms is already quite disconcerting...McCain supports more nuclear power, but would leave us in Iraq for 100 years. On that note:

Interesting commercial- it's not quite as over the top as much of's content is- I like the main thought behind it.

This one is much better though:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Need to get my passport

A recent study shows that 92% of Americans believe in God. In an unrelated note, my own personal research indicates that 92% of Americans are bad at biology.

Not really fair to say that everyone who says they believe in god to some survey would support intelligent design, but I think it's still scary to live in a country where the vast majority believe in god. It's not really the vast majority part that freaks me out, but the portion of that 92% that make decisions (like voting) based on religious beliefs, that scare me. I wish I had written a book two thousand years ago that could sway half the voters in this country just as much as a candidate's ability to speak well.

On the other hand... is any other country any better?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gas savings...

Heard an interesting tidbit on NPR the other day about the gasoline savings reaped by replacing certain vehicles. Basically, the question was posed as what is better: replacing a 10mpg car with a 15mpg car, or replace a 20mpg car with a 50mpg car.

On the surface it seems that the latter is better, 30mpg improvement, whereas the first one only had 5mpg. However, when you think about the gasoline that is required for these two vehicles over a set distance, let's say 100,000 miles, the result is that the jump from 10mpg-->15mpg results in a savings of 333gallons, while the jump from 20mpg-->50mpg results in a savings of just 300gallons.

To visualize this, I plotted the incremental savings of gasoline required for 100,000miles vs the mpg. As you can see the dropoff is very steep at first, so the savings is large when changing from a lower mpg car. The takeaway from this is that changing from a hummer to a minivan might be just as helpful as switching from a civic to a hybird.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Night

When I got my latest phone I added a free option to backup the contact list every night. The phone chooses a time when you are normally not using it, and connects with the server and syncs up the contacts. I'm sitting at home about to go to bed at about 10PM this Friday evening, and the phone kicks up to do the sync. 10PM, Friday. Sweet.

On a related noted, I'm doubling up Cat 3 and 123 tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to some upgrade points, then some training. Word.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

CBR State Championships

I think overall I'm happy with the race given I'm still coming back to racing shape. Really should have done better in the finish, but everyone except one lucky dude says that.

Course was different than the normal box: it had a 180, and then some tight turns that spit you out on the long finishing straight which had a bit of a bend in it before hitting the line. It was technical enough that most of the races were lined out for most of the race... and many fields only had half the people finish.

I started off well, sitting comfortably in the middle of the field, as the back was a place for people blowing up, even after a few laps in. About 15 mins in, I was on the outside when the road narrowed, and a dude a few guys ahead of me swung too far outside- this cascaded back to the guy in front of me, who had to swerve over to me, and also put on the brakes. I had nowhere to go but into the curb. I tried to hop up onto it and ride on the sidewalk, while also slowing down, and I ALMOST pulled off a beauty of a save. But I still got the front wheel caught up on something, and went over the bars, scuffing up the shifters a little bit more. I had managed to bleed off most of my speed, and really didn't take much of a beating at all. Two very minor scrapes, and no damage to the clothing. Best crash ever.

Got back into the field, and immediately jumped clear with a very strong looking group. Ernie was up with me, and was yelling at me to drive it... but I just didn't quite have the legs. By the time I had recovered in the group and was about to get to the front, the group was on us. We were both real surprised that some sort of move didn't stick with the technical course.

Last lap came down, and I was sitting on Ernie's wheel- about 10 deep. I got separated going into the 180, where I went too wide, and lost about 5 spots. I made one or two up by diving through the next corners, but was not able to move up enough. I didn't have the jump to sprint in the last stretch, but just drove it to the line as hard as I could- giving up at least one or two spots. Ended up 13th- so that was a bummer that I might have pulled a top 10 if I had a sprint on me. John finished 3rd to keep adding to his good placings, and Ernie was 6th, making up some points to Max in the overall.

Can't be too disappointed with my 2nd race back after a 3 week break, but I'd really like to get some points out of the next few weekends. Doing 3 races next weekend up in San Fernando and Glendale, then District Championships weekend after that.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Into the Ground

So I was off the bike for about 3 weeks, due to getting a stomach virus, then school work, then Sequoia NP (totally worth it!) and then some more school work. But luckily the quarter is winding down, so I finally had some time to put in some solid training. I don't often come roaring back from a 3 week break, but I figured this time I'd try just riding myself into the ground, and hope to snap back into shape for next weekend, and hopefully even better for the weekend after, which is SCNCA Crit championships.

This Sunday is the CBR Crit State Championships (yeah, California has TWO championship races for each discipline... actually 2 in SoCal, there is one in Norcal as well, and they all crown "state champs"). I'll probably be helping out some teammates and if all works out right, dragging suckers behind us for a little lead-out action.

I'll let you know what a crit feels like after a not so smooth 25 hours on the bike week feels like...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Photo Editing....

I've gotten a little into photo editing, especially because alot of the pictures from Sequoia were overexposed, due to the dark foreground (trees) and realllly bright background (while foggy sky). Anyway, this picture doesn't have much background after cropping, and I only changed the exposure... didn't change any saturation or anything- I think the colors are pretty sweet, as is the background you can see through the split. (I promise I won't get too artsy about this shit, I'm going to go take a picture of a camshaft or something greasy next)