Archive for July, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Impacts

Friday, July 31st, 2009

So as the news has been busy reporting, the government bailout Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), aka “Cars for Clunkers” has quickly exhausted it’s ~$1B[1] budget. The legislation allows people to get $3500 to $4500 per trade-in for cars that get 18 mpg or less. The amount of the rebate is based on the improvement in mileage on the new car. If the mileage improvement is at least 4 mpg, the rebate is $3500. If the mileage improvement is at least 10 mpg then the rebate is $4500.[2]

Assuming an average rebate of $4k, approximately 250k cars have been traded in. If each of these vehicles drives an average of 12k miles per year,[3] that’s 3 BILLION miles driven per year. If each of these cars just qualifies for the rebate (i.e. 18 mpg), this would equate to 166.666 (etc.) million gallons of gas. If each vehicle is replaced with a new vehicle getting an average mileage increase of 7 mpg to 25 mpg, the gas used would be reduced to 120 million gallons. That’s a savings of 28%, or almost 47 million gallons of gas per year. That gas at $2.50 a gallon will save $117 M to the consumer per year. The atmosphere will see a CO2 reduction of 8.8kg[4] per gallon or 414 million kilograms (or 414 gigagrams) of CO2 per year.

Assuming these new cars are kept and driven for 5 years, the consumer will see a savings of $583 million on the government’s $1B investment. Of course, there is additional economic reward since some of these cars would not have been otherwise sold. and the dealers still get to sell the trade-ins for some amount of profit.

Environmentally, there are probably cheaper ways to save 47 million gallons of gas per year, but getting people into more efficient cars has to be a good thing in the long run.

  1. That’s 1e9 dollars for the Europeans. []
  2. Trucks and SUV’s follow different rules which you can read about yourself on the site. []
  3. Average miles driven from EPA Greenhouse Gas report. []
  4. Ibid. []

Video tech refresh… but still Silent.

Monday, July 27th, 2009

As some of you know, I’m becoming a bit obsessive about computer noise. As these digital demons take over our world[1], the noise of small spinning fans is heard everywhere. In my workplace of computer networks and communications equipment, the ongoing battle between processor power and thermodynamics is pretty much the central front in our new product development.
Consumer PC’s generally follow a case design and cooling standard that is diagrammed nicely below. The image is locally hosted from the image at CustomPCBuild.Com.

Image from CustomPCBuild.Com

Image from CustomPCBuild.Com

The primary element of all of this airflow are a plethora of fans. Although some PC builders streamline this all down to a single fan for case flow, power supply and the CPU, it’s pretty common for a PC to have at least one fan in the power supply (exhausting hot air, upper left on diagram), one on the CPU heat-sink (center swirl on the diagram) and one on the graphics processor (GPU) heat sink. These are three major power consumers in the PC, which is why they have the fans. To eliminate the fan on the CPU or on the power supply requires some pretty exotic approaches including water cooling, large external passive heat sinks or even submerging your PC in mineral oil.
The best we mere mortals (with a budget) can do, is to use as few as possible of the largest diameter fans[2] we can fit and running them only as fast as needed. Power supplies can be purchased with various size fans (and a multitude of air flows). 3rd party coolers can be had for CPU, GPU, etc, but I’m conservative enough to avoid modifying my electronic equipment from the way the manufacturer intended. [3] However, there are times when the manufacturer helps you out by producing an alternate design. (more…)

  1. All hail our Benevolent Binary Overlords! []
  2. Large fans can turn slower for the same flow rate of air. A slower rotation rate means the pitches being produced will (generally) be lower. Lower pitches tend to propagate less effectively and be less annoying. Slow moving also means less bearing and motor wear for longer life and less bearing noise. []
  3. Perhaps this reflects what I recognize to be a significant amount of thermal-mechanical design dollars that went into the original designs. []

Another crazy ‘health’ post.

Monday, July 27th, 2009

In my continuing series on over-analyzing the crazy factoids posted at my workplace comes this little gem:

Skimp on sleep, consume more calories!
Staying up late and getting less than 6 hours of sleep can cause cravings and cause you to guzzle down about 200 more calories a night than those who get to sleep earlier.

So at face value, they’re saying that if you stay up late, you’ll be looking for that midnight snack, or as Taco Bell would say, “fourthmeal“.[1] So an extra 200 calories, huh? According to the US Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies’ Dietary Reference Intake table: a 65 inch male has a daily caloric need of about 2500 calories[2]
Assuming that this is the intake for a day with a ‘normal’ 8 hour sleep period, that extra 200 calories would correspond to an 8% increase.
Of course, you’re awake, so aren’t you burning more calories than you would be asleep? According to Heathline’s Calorie Burn Rate Calculator an average US 35 year old male (190 pounds)[3] burns 60 calories per hour when sleeping, but burns 108 calories simply watching TV. So for the extra two hours, our imaginary average person will burn 96 of those 200 calories just be staying awake. If even 30 minutes of that time is spent in mild exercise such as walking, an additional 168 calories will be burned. In that case, our imaginary person will actually burn a net 64 calories by staying awake.
So the lesson here, as always, is that 200 extra calories isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s balanced with useful physical activity.
FWIW: The NCHS report I cited above, says that we Americans are about an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than we were 40 years ago. Didn’t I read somewhere[4] that sleeping makes you taller? Maybe it’s time to go for a walk instead of a nap.

  1. Which is apparently a Taco Bell trademark. []
  2. Gross over simplification. []
  3. Mean value from the table linked from CDC National Center for Health Statistics 2004 report. []
  4. Various sources found, none that seemed worth referencing on its own. []

Garage Moths

Friday, July 17th, 2009

You know, if you leave your garage doors open at night with the lights on… you can find all sorts of interesting moths hanging around.

Here are a few highlights from last night (and this morning).





Big Boy Bed

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The other night we moved Nate out of the crib and into a big boy bed, which is really just his crib mattress on the floor. He was excited about it, and has been sleeping well. Although, I do not know how anyone can sleep like this.


That’s on thing that can be checked off the list of things to do before the baby gets here.

A Short Way to Tipperary.

Friday, July 10th, 2009

I met K & N at the zoo today and we spent a short time there before N decided it was time to go home (a few more pics for the gallery shortly).

Since we drove separately, I decided to seek out the famed Tipperary Hill street light. If you follow Talking Traffic, you’ll recall that Bill mentioned this light in his discussion of why traffic signal uniformity is a good thing.

I was pretty certain this neighborhood was close to the zoo, so I set out to find the intersection. Well it was even closer than I thought, so after a short phone consult[1] I vectored in on the non-conforming signal. The signal sits at the intersection of Milton Ave. and Tompkins St. It turns out it’s also the intersection of Tompkins St. and Burnet Park Dr. since continuing through the light from Milton results in a drive on Burnet. Here’s a view of the intersection from the Google eye-in-the-sky:

View Larger Map

Of course, I knew the light would be upside down, but when the brain sees something familiar, yet _wrong_ there is a certain feeling of dissonance. As it turned out, there were a few ladies from the Tipperary Hill Community Association how were maintaining the memorial, so I talked with them briefly about the light. They didn’t know of any particularly higher rate of accidents, but admitted they’d had a few. “Mostly people sliding down the hill on the ice,” one said. They weren’t sure if there was any particular waiver of liability, but referred me to the City of Syracuse Department of Public Works. It’s just the one traffic light, you can see in one of the pics that further down Tompkins St. are several normal signal heads.

IMG_2980 IMG_2967 IMG_2979

So yeah, there’s a traffic light. It’s backwards. The repeated acts of vandalism that forced the city to hang it that way are memorialized with a bronze statue of a family gazing on the light. The father figure is pointing towards the light as if to say: “Yeah, I made them do that. I stuck it to THE MAN.” So hats off to The Stonethrowers[2] and the Tipperary Hill Neighborhood Association for their monument to the power of a few dedicated people.

See also: Tipperary Hill on Wikipedia.

  1. Thanks Bill! []
  2. According to my source, the last official Stonethrower passed on a few years back. []

Oxbow Falls Park

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Two Sundays ago (the 28th) was just such a nice day (after many dreary ones) that we had to get outside after church. We checked out a little park in northern Madison County called Oxbow Falls park. We had a nice picnic lunch and then took Nate on his first real woods trail. He did really well, especially considering how primitive the trail was in some places.

A nice day out was had by all.

IMG_2748 IMG_2754 IMG_2749

Nate’s Magazine

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

For the next installment in my try-to-catch-up-with-pictures series:

The weekend before last I was outside reading a magazine when Nate decided he would read his. [1] So he went and found his latest issue and sat in the chair paging through it. How cool is that?

  1. Thanks Mom. []

Puddles with Green Boots!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

We’ve been going through a streak of rainy weather lately. Every time we get a break in the weather, Nate wants to go out and stomp in the puddles in his green boots.

Kazoo and Fireworks Pics

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

On Friday July 3rd, Caz had its annual Teddy Bear Parade where the children are invited to stroll through the village with their favorite fuzzy friend. This was our first time with Nate and I think it was sort-of anti-climatic for all of us. Well except for the free kazoo.

After the race and some family time, I headed up to the Art Park to photograph the fireworks. We were considering taking Nate out to see them, but he crashed in a 2 year old sort-of way about 6 o’ clock. K was not far behind.

Unfortunately, a strong wind was blowing towards me (and slightly to my left) from where they were being launched. Besides making it somewhat chilly with our inclement July weather, the smoke obscured things a bit. It also looked like they bursts were not being launched as high. Perhaps this was also due to the strong winds. I don’t know how adjustable the mortars are. To be fair, I’m pretty happy with the images, but if I hadn’t managed such nice shots last year I would be even more pleased with these. No moon highlight shots this year as the nearly full moon was almost directly behind. As usual it was a great vantage point for both the official display and several less official launches. You could also see the shows for towns 10-20 miles away in some directions.


IMG_2834 IMG_2880 IMG_2845


Enjoy these and more in the gallery.