Monday, December 28, 2015

The Science behind why there is no such thing as a greenhouse gas

I have pet peeves.

One is 'fossil' fuels, where the word fossil is horribly abused.
Go to a museum and ask to see their fossil collection and you will find a huge assortment of... rocks that couldn't be set on fire with a nuclear bomb, let alone a match.

Look up fossil in the dictionary and you'll find nothing that will ever lead to flammability or the use as a fuel. What you will find is a process that turns flammable flesh and plants into rocks. What we have is a pairing of words that have less to do with each other than 'military' and 'intelligence.'

But worse and more scientifically offensive than pairing fossil with fuels is greenhouse gas.

First, a gas can never give you a greenhouse effect, just as a fossil can never be burned as a fuel.

Let me explain. When I say greenhouse, most picture a building made of glass, but few know how it works and why.

A greenhouse 'traps heat'... but not really. Not scientifically. In reality, a greenhouse simply reduces the surface area of the boundary between two fluids, the one inside and the one outside the 'house'.

Greenhouse effect and ice cubes:

An IceCube is the perfect example of a greenhouse. If you drop an ice cube into hot soup it takes longer to melt than if you drop the same amount of snow into the same soup, or pour ice cold water into it. This is because snow (and ice water) has a billion times the surface area that a cube does, so the outside of the cube has to melt before the inside can get warm.

Another example is fill a water balloon with hot coffee and drop it in a bath tub of cold water. The balloon will stay warmer longer (trap the heat) than if you pour the same amount of coffee directly into the tub.

The balloon and the cube are examples of limiting thermal conduction by reducing boundary layer surface area (greenhouse effect)

A gas can never reduce surface area, hence there is no such thing as a greenhouse gas, it is a contradiction in terms.

Now, water vapor can form a boundary layer between two bodies of gas when in the form of a cloud, but what a cloud is is a gas turning into a liquid and a liquid reduces its surface area like an IceCube does. In other words, liquids are not gasses, by definition, and only in liquid state are clouds 'greenhouses'.

CO2, methane, etc do not gel or liquefy air molecules and hence can not be a barrier or reduce surface area. There is no layer or pockets of CO2 gas, and thus none of these 'greenhouse' gasses are producing a greenhouse anything.

Now, what they can do is add mass to the air and that added mass can 'trap heat' in the same way as 20 pounds of salt water can 'trap' or store more heat than 5 pounds of pure water at the same temperature. But this is not adding heat, but adding a resistance to changes in heat. In other words the only effect of adding/dissolving a gas into another gas is that you can change its mass and thereby change how fast or slow it warms or cools, but you can NOT change its average temperature.

In other words, the most these 'greenhouse' gasses can do is make mornings and nights warmer and days cooler, instead of dropping 20 degrees f every night and warming 20 degrees every day, the most adding a 'trapping' gas can do is change the 20 to a 15.

Pet peeve, I know, but there is no such thing as a fossil fuel or a greenhouse gas, both terms are as silly as military intelligence. :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Safety idea

I watched a clip on how many people get killed every year trying to pass a tractor trailer, most of the time they tailgate it, then jump out into oncoming traffic blindly out of frustration or impatience. It's such a big problem (and opportunity) that some big time TV manufacturers are advocating 40" TVs be put on the back of trucks, wired to a camera in the cab so people stuck behind can see when its safe.

But there's an easier way. And much cheaper too.

Everyone that's ever seen a movie knows subs have periscopes, most kids have at one time or another used two mirrors and a cardboard box to 'spy' around a corner.

So the solution is rather simple, just build two more mirrors (one forward facing (wide angle dome style preferred), the other normal) into the driver side mirror, horizontal-periscope-style if that helps visualize it. That will let all drivers better see when its safe to pass anything too big to see around. It could easily be built as an after market clip on, likely for under $15.

Of course, since a lot of cars have backup cameras in them now, adding a second camera, forward facing and mounted on the driver's side mirror, would work just as well too.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Last words on rechargeable batteries

My last two posts may have left the impression in some that I am anti rechargeables, which I am NOT.

But it is important to know when and where things belong, and what is the best use and misuse of resources.

If you need to dig out a hole for a mailbox post, you use a shovel. When you need to dig out a basement for a new house, you use a backhoe.

The same is true of batteries.

Rechargeables are great for flashlights you use every day, they'll save you and the planet a fortune in disposable batteries. Same with cell phones, laptops, etc., these are heavily used, every day items. Rechargeables are ideal and the clear choice when they compete against disposable batteries. And yes, disposable batteries can power these everyday items, but it would be foolish to.

Take my flashlight example. Used 8hrs a day, 5 days a week by a security guard working nights, disposables would cost anywhere between $5 and $20 a week, where rechargeables would cost $30 for the next 3 years (including charging costs). An obvious savings.

But, if you only use the flashlight for emergencies, disposables are again ideal and rechargeables lose, and they lose for the following reasons. 1. The life of a rechargeable, used or not, is rarely over 6 years (think of it as rust, but on the inside), so even if it held a charge for that long (it won't) it's still a bad use of a very expensive battery. 2. Disposables keep their 'charge' much longer, and are generally more powerful. That's why we still use them in clocks, watches, smoke detectors and the likes.

Basic rule, rechargeables are perfect for replacing disposable batteries in items that are used every day.

So, you would think that this would extend to cars, except nobody ever would make cars that used disposable batteries.

Again, the boring math comes into play.

Rechargeables have a max life cycle of a thousand or so recharges. That effectively puts a 'replacement battery tax' on the electricity it stores of somewhere around 50%. This means for every dollar you spend charging a battery, it wears out 50 cents worth of the battery. That's trivial for an iPad or iPhone, but hundreds a year for a Prius and thousands a year for a Tesla... on top of the price for electricity itself. Even if the batteries lasted forever and cost nothing, electric cars generally don't break even unless gas prices are over $2.50/g.

Again, there are solutions to this math problem.

First, cheaper electricity would take a lot of the sting out of replacing batteries. People would happily pay $500 a year in batteries if it only cost them $100 in electricity, when in today's world it is more like $1,000. It's possible, but unlikely to happen any time soon.

The costs of rechargeables could drop by 90%, nobody would bat an eye at shelling out $50 a year and paying $1,000 in electricity for charging the car.

Third, my choice and achievable today. Compressed air. It can store a similar power to weight ratios as rechargeables, but it doesn't wear out. It is entirely possible, with today's tech, to build compressed air cars with 100 mile range that refill in 10 minutes, cost less than gasoline cars, and would have useful life spans of 20-40 years.

Now, one stumbling block is it loses/wastes a lot of stored power with a cryogenic effect (compressed air, when it decompresses, is cold, sometimes cold enough to form dry ice). This waste can be harnessed to nearly double the range/efficiency of compressed air by adding a stirling, but even without it, it is margineably competitive with rechargeables today and should not be overlooked, especially because it uses none of the exotic materials rechargeables do.

Compressed air would not work well with cellphones, laptops, drills, but like a lot of things, it has a scale where it does make sense.

And the department of energy, unfortunately, knows these thing but, sadly, is a place where math and good ideas go to get buried under political pet projects and connected corporate handouts.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Elon Musks battery scam

In a previous post, I went over the math behind the electric car battery scam, but math loses most people, and the idea of rechargeable batteries also escapes most people. They don't know lithium ion batteries wear out because they've never kept a phone for more than five years. The only rechargeable battery most encounter is the $100 gasoline car battery we replace every 5 years or so.

The best way to think about rechargeable batteries (any of them) at the electric car scale is to think of them like car tires. Everybody knows tires wear out, somewhere between 20-60,000 miles and, in general, are very expensive to replace. Everyone remembers the sticker shock of buying their first set of four tires. Electric car batteries wear out at about the same pace, 20-80,000 miles, except they are nearly ten to thirty times as expensive as tires (by the way, you still need to buy tires too). Some 'after market' 'used' replacement batteries for the Prius start at $500, but typical is around $5,000, a tough purchase for a 5-10yr old car. Tesla, with a much bigger more expensive battery, can touch $20,000 to replace, again, a stiff repair bill for any car. But it's 'baked into the cake' and, in a way, may be where Musk plans to make his next fortune... replacement batteries.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Re: Electric car scam

One of the major problems with 'battery powered' large devices, like cars, is one of math.

Take lead acid, one of the most economical rechargeable batteries on the market.

A typical lead acid 'car battery' that starts gasoline engines can be recharged about 1,000 times (about 3-5 years). It costs $100 and holds 1,000 watts per charge.

The math... I know, math is boring and sad, but needed here.

1,000 watts (max storage per charge) multiplied by 1,000 (max number of recharges) is 1,000,000 watts that a typical battery can store over its lifespan.

1,000,000 watts, if bought from the local coal power plant, cost $150 (at 15 cents per Kilowatt (1,000,000 / 1,000 * .15))

What this means is that you wear out $100 worth of rechargeable batteries for every $150 worth of electricity you manage to store.

Even if Elon Musk cuts the price in half and triples the lifespan (unlikely in our lifetime), the cost of replacing the batteries every 50,000 miles or so will still amount to a hefty 'battery tax' that will add 8% to 55% to the cost of electricity you stored.

Now, if electricity was free, like a penny per KWH, then batteries make sense... but it'll still be painful. Most replacement Prius batteries cost $3-5,000 and need replacing every 7 years. A Tesla battery costs $10-20,000 and needs replacing about as often. This means a Tesla costs $1,000 per year in batteries ON TOP OF the thousands it jacks up your electric bill. Basic math says that for every dollar an electric car increases your electric bill, you should put 50 cents in a jar for future replacement batteries.

But it gets worse. Musk wants to build batteries for homes... again, it costs (by wearing out rechargeable batteries) around $100 in batteries to store $150 worth of electricity. That is a scam to sell batteries, not save energy. Of course, like with cars, Musk stands to make a fortune in 'kickbacks' from politically connected democrat friends in office... technically called 'rebates' and 'credits'.

But it gets worse. Most 'charge cycles' are only %80 efficient. This means it costs $120 worth of electricity to store $100 worth of power in batteries. No big deal for laptops and phones, but you're talking real money for electric cars.

Look, it makes sense to build batteries into phones, laptops, tablets, drills, etc., because mobility is a premium and the amount of power is ridiculously tiny (a phone uses 5-15 watts per day, so a few dollars worth of batteries gives you a day of cord free surfing per charge and 3-5 years worth of recharges, more than enough for most planned obsolete electronics) but the math goes sideways fast for cars and house power.

Put another way, off the grid solar, even if you got the panels free, you would cut you 'electric bill' to zero, but your battery bill would be around %50 what your electric bill used to be, and instead of arriving monthly, you would get your multi-thousand-dollar battery bill all at once every 5 years or so.

This is the rude slap in the face waiting for every fool that bought an electric car.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Cleaning time

Why am I the last to know that this liquid gold comes in a spray can?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Some call it a cleanse, others call it fasting... or the starvation diet. But whatever you call it, last weekend I tried it, with a few caveats.

In my family history, I have Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and MS, and one of the ways, statistically, to cut your chances of getting all of them was the 48hr fasting thing. Since it was free (about the only kind of medication indie authors like me can afford) I figured why not... food was a frivolous indulgence anyway, I needed to cut back.

So Friday night was my last meal until Sunday night, 48hours later.

Believe it or not, the weirdest part of all was how weirdly easy it was to do. I expected to be starving all the time. I expected to be in pain. I expected to be lightheaded, feel faint, dizzy, weak, or even-- I expected to quit by lunch time on Saturday, but by Sunday night, I was feeling fine, like I could go the next week if I needed to.

A part of me was hoping for hallucinations, you know a real vision quest like the indians have, but I'd likely have had to push it well beyond 48hrs and that just sounded unhealthy/crazy to me. 48hrs was about as nuts as I was prepared to go right now, and everything I read said anything beyond 48hrs was 'medically counterproductive'.

The gold standard for this sort of thing is no food whatsoever and only water.

For me, someone that is addicted to coffee (in the winter) and green tea (the rest of the year) I used green tea, because (and I know how this sounds) going without food was one thing, but going without tea was WAY TOO Hard, perhaps even unthinkable.

I'm now several days worth of perspective from it and, I have to admit, I feel a little different for it. It wasn't the life changing vision quest I wanted it to be, but it did reframe my entire perspective with my relationship to food. It revealed something about myself I didn't know before.

It made things seem more possible, in a way.

Like maybe, one day, in the far off distant future, I might, eventually, quit coffee and tea-- too far.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Printer ink refill tips

Everyone has seen these, the dreaded ink refills that make using ink printers affordable. They are a mess to use, and what's worse than ink--stained fingers is that it doesn't always work. Sometimes the cartridge goes bad.

Most of the time, these things have sponges in them that eventually harden-- at which point they become unusable. The other problem is that if you don't use the printer all that much, the print head clogs or corrodes.

I had, like most, discovered by accident the secret to getting an ink cartridge to last for almost a decade. When my printer finally died this year, it still had the original cartridges that had gone through thousands of pages over the last 19 years, just by following these simple (but annoying) rules.

Rule 1. Once a month, print a test page and tell it to clean the heads. This costs very little ink and wastes one page of paper, but it keeps the heads in good working order.

Rule 2. Refill after every printing of more that 5 pages. This makes sure the sponges remain full and wet. Wet, they don't get hard. But even unused, they dry up from evaporation... so topping off the tanks on a regular basis (every few months even if you don't use the printer at all) instead of waiting for them to go empty before refilling keeps the sponges in their best shape.

Rule 3. Some printers now count pages and use fancy sensor chips to defeat the rules and force it to stop working after printing an 'impossible' number of pages. If you get one of these, it might be time for a new brand of printer or a 'reset' trick (the internet is full of them)  or, if you love the printer, you might find a reset device online.

Laser printers (if you can afford them) have none of these problems, but it's hard to find a color laser for $30, you can find ink printers for $30 just about everywhere you look.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Casimir effect?

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. The casimir effect is real, but it probably does NOT mean what most 'scientists' think it does (or want it to).

The Casimir effect, for those that don't know, is the effect that if two plates inside a vacuum are close enough together, they will attract each other with a force.

Now, to most this is proof of a quantum physics theory... and it may well be, but it could also be proof that what we call a vacuum is Nowhere Near as 'empty' as we think. It is.

If a vacuum consists of a soup of quad-trillions of loose 'strings' (to put it in terms Sheldon Cooper would get) you could easily expect a similar effect. In water, as soon as two plates get closer together than a molecule of water, the weight of the water outside the gap slam the plates closed. So, an alternate explanation is that the 'attraction' is the weight of the mass left inside the 'vacuum' and the gap is the 'size' of the particles too big to slip between atoms in the molecules of the plates.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Inventors most used tool.jpg

Some would say the most used tool in an inventor's toolbox is a lathe or a welder, but today mine is a box of band AIDS (I'm quitting for the week while I can still count to ten :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Amazon knows everything you do on Kindle

... and now, so do I!

OK, actually, as an author, I know much less.

In early July, Amazon decided to share with authors some of their super-secret info that they gather on all Kindle users, namely the ability to track in almost real-time what page of what book you are currently on... and you thought 'page synching' was all about making it easy to read a little on each device without losing your place :)

No no no no, it was all about Amazon collecting data.

Though, unlike amazon, I don't have names and addresses to go with the data I see, it is still telling and chilling all at the same time.

Amazon counts Kindle pages as if the book had been printed in 6x9 book form, so most of mine are 500 pages or so for those around 120,000 words. Not short stories, as most of you know.

What's fascinating to me is watching someone read a book... usually within the same day they pick it up. I don't think I've seen someone yet start reading... then give up. Though I'm sure it'll happen. I don't get many downloads in the black hole Amazon has banished me to, so it's incredibly easy to tease out individual readers.

And most shocking to me, as an author, is seeing someone every few days power-read the first six books (3/4 of a million words) in under 24 hours... then get started on #7.

What shocks me most is how rare it is for someone to take more than a day with each book in the series.

These are not short books!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A beautiful mind

From BI about the death of a beautiful mind Nash

"....In many cases, these ideas seemed to appear out of thin air.

"Nash was described as having insights before he could
hammer out the proofs of their accuracy, the ideas coming to
him more like revelations than like scholarly findings,"
according to The Washington Post.

Nash was aware of his unusual process, even as his illness got
worse and he began to display irrational behavior, such as
believing he was communicating with aliens. In her biography,
Nasar describes a meeting between Nash and a former
colleague who came to visit him at a mental institution.

"How could you, a mathematician devoted to reason and
logical proof ... believe that extraterrestrials are sending you
messages?" a visitor asked, according to Nasar.

"Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me
the same way my mathematical ideas did," Nash reportedly
replied. "So I took them seriously."


As an author, I understand this entirely too well.

Sometimes, getting a little distance from the voices in your head is a good thing.

Ireland does it right

For those of you who think you know what I mean by that, you don't.

What makes Ireland right is not the outcome of the vote, but that they took a vote of millions of people and not the backdoor shortcut of settling on 5 out of 9 judges to ram something down the throats of millions Without asking or allowing the 'governed' the right to have their say.


Lots of people like to call it state's rights, but the principle is deeper than states, it means change should always be bottom up and not top down.

It's a harder road, a tougher path, but it's bathed in sunshine and not nearly so offensive. Now, some will be offended by my use of 'offensive' but I assure you that whatever side of the line you stand on, someone is offended. Just as some are offended by having to make wedding cakes, others are offended when the bakery turns them away.

It is one thing when five out of nine say "we unelected few have just rewritten the constitution by 'finding something' that nobody saw for hundreds of years'; that is a bitter and contentious pill for millions to be forced to swallow, and is more likely than not to fuel anger and rage against gays than to forward any good. BUT, when millions of your own countrymen, your neighbors, your cousins and uncles, cast their voice into the official record and the only poll that really matters, then there is no where to hide.

It is one thing when your teacher tells you Santa is not real, but something else entirely when everyone in your class says the same thing.

Before Ireland cast the vote, the only thing that was a certainty was that whoever lost would be offended by the results.

But there was something else that they knew before the votes were cast. They knew that if it was a landslide, that the losers could Not blame some unaccountable judge or a hundred tricky politicians, but that whatever the result, it would be the will of the governed.
The will of the people.

Libertarianism. It's another word for bottom up in a world of politicians that always think top down.

It doesn't matter if I agree or disagree with the outcome, so long as it is so loudly the will of the governed, and not the will of the elected few or the unelected 9.

I hope the activists in America see this for what it is, an example of the right way to do something.

It isn't the easy path, but giving women the vote didn't come from a 5-4 decision, it came from a constitutional amendment. If you want acceptance from the masses, you have to get it from the masses, you can't force the masses to accept it or else.

And that's not easy.

It's hard.

And it should always be hard.

Ireland did it the right way.

They convinced the people to accept it, and they voted that way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Redneck recipes

Bachelor Cinnabons, EZbread, and pizza bread sticks:

---All are less than 10 minutes from mixing to eating---

Note: I keep a 16ounce bottle of tap water with a teaspoon of baking soda in the refrigerator for these things. Not all baking soda is equal, some have large grains for cleaning. The larger the grains, the longer it takes to dissolve, but even the biggest grains will dissolve overnight. This water to soda ratio is about perfect and is almost the only real measuring in any of these recipes. It keeps in the refrigerator for weeks and costs almost nothing, and is as good as pepto if you have an upset stomach. I call it salty or soda water and most 'soda' bottles like Coke and Pepsi come in 16 ounce screw top plastic bottles, so it's something everyone has.


Step 1. add a splash (a tablespoon or two) of vinegar to a microwave safe bowl (about the right size for cereal or soup)

If you have vanilla, add a few drops here.

Step 2. Add 3/4 cup of flour (about 1/2 a coffee mug), mix in a few tablespoons of sugar, then fold in enough 'soda water' so that there isn't any dry flour anymore. Note, this is folding, not stirring, and should last no longer than 40 seconds. Seconds. You do NOT want to stir, it will make it flat as a cracker and not at all cake-like. You're looking for damp, but not wet. I would guess it at two or three 'shot glasses' of soda water, so it's not a lot of water.

Step 3. Spoon (or fork) about half of the dough up onto the sides of the bowl. If it 'drips' down, add some flour and try again. Spread out the other half on the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon (and ginger if you like) onto the dough lining the bottom, then add a few tablespoons of sugar atop the cinnamon. Drizzle enough oil or water or butter on the sugar to make it damp (no dry spots, but not watery or wet).

If you're daring, add a sprinkle of cayenne to the sugar. Trust me, it sounds crazy but it's crazy good.

Step 4. Fold/spread the dough from the sides over the sugar in the center. The dough will NOT stick to sugar, so you have to stretch and smooth it from one side to the other, 'glueing' it to other dough.

Step 5. Microwave for 2-3 minutes (@1,000 watt), more or less depending on the power of your microwave. Half the watts, figure about twice as long.

Step 6. Let it sit for a minute, then take it out of the bowl and move it to the toaster and toast it to taste. If it's leaking, don't tempt fate and skip this part. It'll be more like a cinnamon pancake but that's still pretty good.

In total, this takes me an average of 6 minute, from the time I get the bowl out to the time I'm eating it. The pot of coffee takes 8, so I usually have to wait 2 minutes for the coffee maker to catch up. That's a very long 2 minutes :)

OK, it's not exactly a cinnabon, but it's good enough for me and I can't imagine making a real cinnabon in under 45 minutes. Keep in mind, this has no kneading, 30 seconds of stirring, and almost no effort at all.

Basic Bread/pizza sticks

Step 1. Add a few splashes (a tablespoon or two) of vinegar to a microwave safe bowl (for breadsticks, make it a rectangular bowl).

Step 2. Add 3/4 cup of flour (about 1/2 a coffee mug), fold in the 'soda water' until there is no dry flour remaining. This should take no more than 40 seconds of stirring, too much will ruin it. (I like to mix in some cayenne and turmeric, but if you want sweet, add some sugar)

If you want it a little 'pretzel-ish' sprinkle on some coarse salt and oil over the top of your dough just before putting it in thee microwave.

Step 3. Microwave for about 2 minutes (@1,000 watts, yours may be different) You are looking for just cooked enough that it has risen fully and can be taken out of the bowl in one piece.

Step 4. For pizza bread sticks, cut them now into sticks with a sharp knife. Take it out of the bowl and Move it to the toaster. Toast to taste. For me, I set it to medium/dark and then toast 3 times.

Step 5. For Pizza bread sticks, Add four tablespoons of spaghetti sauce or mustard or ranch dressing to a dipping bowl and have at it.


If you're a fan of pockets, make the bread / bread sticks like normal, but instead of adding sugar and cinnamon to the middle, like with a cinnabon, add beans, onions, hotdogs, spam, brown rice, or whatever and fold the dough from the sides over it, and toast as usual, just add an extra minute to the microwave time if the beans are from the refrigerator. Warning, soft cheese will over microwave so cut it back a minute and toast at a lower darkness but longer time.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Terrorists for the Hacking

Two terrorists, without ever meeting their handler once, plan and carry out a failed attack. Target, funding, and human weapons all radicalized and organized over the internet.

In Patent Mine it was fiction.

I suspect/fear that very soon, Political activists with reasonable hacking skills will find a few of these radicalized cells, and bend them to their will. Plan their attack for them.

Life hacking of the deadliest sort.

Politicians and their PACs already organize protests and pickets over the internet to a slightly less radicalized following. This is a smaller step than it looks.

Leak someone's schedule to a suicidal duo, blame ISIS win or fail.

I hope I'm wrong. I would like to think no US politician would stoop so low, but it only takes one with hundreds of these loaded guns floating around, waiting for cyber attack orders.   

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tesla troubles

Let me start by saying I love the Idea of Tesla and the electric car.


Well, I've done a lot of research into his newest adventure, and that's personal batteries for load shifting.

Load shifting is a trillion dollar business, and I don't come to those numbers lightly. It makes healthcare seem cheap. People happily give thousands to the power company to keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer, not to mention the gobs and gobs of power industry and Amazon server farms hum away for all this digital noise.

Few people understand electricity anyway, it might as well be magic to most.

In a nutshell his plan is to sell people batteries that charge when the grid has too much cheap power and discharge when the power is expensive, putting the difference in the users pocket as savings.

We already do this with hot water heaters that heat the water at night and just keep it warm until you need it during the day.

But Musk plans to do this with electricity, and here he will face several problems.

1. Most batteries have only so many charge/discharge cycles. Like the battery in your car or phone, they generally die after so many charging cycles. A led acid car battery dies after 5 years, or 2,000 charges, about the same as a lithium battery.

So, let's take an average car battery as an example. Its about 1,000 watts and takes half a day to charge and half a day to discharge (without hurting itself). That's about 12-18 cents worth of electricity per day. That's at most $65 a year that you can save if you charged it for free. Now, a car battery costs $100 and you need a new one every 3-5 years. So, that's $20 a year at best. 65-20 =$45 a year you could save IF YOU WERE CHARGING THE BATTERY FOR FREE. You are not. Let's say its being charged for half the price, then to charge it costs $33 a year, minus your battery, and your down to a modest $13 a year savings for a lot of trouble and danger dealing with batteries.

I have personally seen a car battery explode, it went off like a bomb, bent the hood and everything, and Musk is calling for something 10 or 20 times the size of a car battery.

2. It isn't as efficient as everyone thinks.
In general, it takes 100 watts of charging to store 80 watts of power. And to turn 100 watts of DC battery into TV watching AC you're generally losing just as much. You lose 10-20 percent charging a battery and another 10-20 percent going from battery back to AC.

These are just laws of physics. You can never get more out than you put in.

But, if someone could store massive amounts of power for next to nothing, there is a fortune to be made doing it.

For me, it's the million ton flywheel, which was city scale power for the price of water and a tunnel.

But maybe Musk knows something nobody else does. I suspect he has found a way to make batteries work where nobody else could.

I suspect he has found... a federal tax subsidy :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gaming the Kindle

A lot of authors are finding out that people are gaming Kindle's system in a misguided effort to gain a quick advantage over their 'competition', in this case other authors.

Amazon is suing a company that, for $$$, will flood your reviews with 5stars and use bots and such to keep your 5star reviews coming up first in all the 'voted most helpful' lists. This gaming of the system started for electronics but has now moved into book. And with books they're doing it on the cheap. An author will ask all their Facebook/Twitter followers to vote a bad review 'helpful' on another author's book to move it down and themselves up in the rankings. And, of course, vote up their own 5 stars. Some authors even refer to their Facebook followers as 'their army'.

Against a King or a Potter, these tactics are useless, but against an Indie they are devastating.

Yelp was recently sued over reviews posted by 'customers' that lived 1,000s of miles away from the store they negatively reviewed.

Sadly, the only way to fight this kind of childishness is to do the same thing yourself, something I refuse to do.

It does, however, dump a bucket of cold water over whatever passion I had left for writing. What amazon and kindle are quickly becoming is not the kind of business I want to be in.

Sadly, Amazon has the tools to eradicate this, but refuses to use them. Instead, they offer a 'service' that authors can pay Amazon for, that will help neutralize it, much like Yelp offers to help businesses that have been victimized by Yelp reviews, for a small fee of $1,000 a year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Catching Lightning....

Readers of my series may know I have some 'radical' ideas about lightning... that I freely plagiarized from Shadona and now call my own :)

Basically, conventional wisdom is that lightning is caused by ice crystals rubbing against one another in a storm... which I think is laughable.

Here we have a sun, blasting electrically charged particles at us at millions of miles per hour, rubbing that charged plasma against the atmosphere in the mornings and rubbing with the atmosphere in the evening. If a child rubs a balloon against their hair it'll build up static electricity, but according to the brightest minds in science, an atmosphere rubbing against charged particles gives us something far less significant than ice particles bumping against one another in a storm.

Anyway, my theory of lightning is based off of seeing sparks dance along the ignition wires of an old Ford on a foggy day.

Dry air is a fantastic insulator and thus no lighting (dancing sparks) but add fog/conductors and you have lightning. Lightning being this massive electric charge bleeding through from the solar charged 'friction' building up in the upper atmosphere, shorting down to the ground through pockets of humidity.

In Patent Mine I predicted that the 'shield' would form over cities in part because it was attracted to the electromagnetism and in part because of the tall, heavily grounded metal buildings. We are starting to see this with lightning storms already, though scientists mistakenly believe it is caused by thermal island effect, which is easily disproven.

I predict that you can trigger lightning with any suitable conductive gas so long as it is tall enough (miles), in the book I used superconducting ceramics in a kind of man-made commit to draw lighting strikes. And there is actual facts backing it up, rockets used to use a fuel that had aluminium, but they tended to get hit by lightning a lot, even on clear days. You can, and we do, draw lighting with rockets and a few miles of thin wire.

First 'sprites' are helping to prove part of my equation that lightning is passing through clouds, not originating in them. Sprites, for those not following, are massively powerful bolts of lightning that flow UP from clouds into space, well documented from the spacestation.

Now this, lightning is strongest in the morning, when the atmosphere is rubbing against the rays of the sun. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Blocked for abusing my data plan, it is part of play, I think, and without asking downloaded 50megs for no reason

Saturday, February 14, 2015

25yr old 'inventions' of mine

25 years ago, I had an idea and took a grinder to the end of my 3/8 ratchet handle, turning it into a socket end. This simple trick turned my cheap ratchet into a 3/8 socket screw driver and a long extension. Simply flip it around and use the ratchet end to tighten it the rest of the way.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When I was in my twenties, I biked to the grocery store and to my part time job 3 or 4 times a week, a distance of a mile or more each way with no problem at all. When I moved back to the country, I turned that old ten speed into a dynamo, with the help of a welder and an old alternator from a Ford Escort. The plan was to never by electricity like a sucker again. The reality, unfortunately, is that people can't generate much power. Me personally, I can make about 100 watts for about half an hour before I'm wasted. And for every penny I saved on electricity I added twenty dollars to my grocery bill. Busting my ass for pennies ain't hardly worth it. Now I'm in my late 40s and I just assembled the second bicycle I've ever bought. Keep in mind, I walk 5 miles a day without raising my pulse. But today I took the bike for a quick jont to the mailbox about 1/10 a mile away, just to see if I put it together right... and I was so exhausted that I took two aspirins and laid down for fear I was having a stroke! Biking and walking are Two DIFFERENT THINGS. 20yrs ago, I was looking to make power from pedals. Today, 25+ yrs later, I'm looking for a way to push pedals with electricity. The math is compelling. At my best, I could only produce one or two hundred watts at any given time, an average good workout with the bike was pitifully little, around 50 or 100 watts for an hour. An old car battery holds about 450watts. Yesterday I pulled a few 12volt motors from the junk cars in my yard (all rednecks have junked cars laying around, don't you know :) Here's what I came up with. SHAPE \*MERGEFORMAT This is a blower motor out of an old Ford Galaxy. When hooked up to a 4000rpm drill, this one produced around 10volts, a few volts under 12, meaning that it likely runs at over 4000rpms@12v. Best guess is 4800-5000 if the ratio keeps true (and it should) this is the beefiest of the motors so far, pulling 30watts at no load, suggesting its easily between 250-350watts. Unfortunately, it moves too fast and gearing it down may prove expensive or difficult. One easy solution would be using an worm-gear wench, if I can find one, and hope that it falls into a useful range. They can be made at home by winding wire around a pipe for a screw gear and cutting up a plate, but that's time consuming and if it breaks you're shit out of luck trying to fix it. Probably the easiest way to go is with belts and pulleys, since wooden pulleys are easy to make and car belts can handle a few horses with no problem. Using a 10" tire to power a cart fixed behind the bike may be ideal, reverse wheelbarrow style . The cart can be made to look like it is being pulled behind the bike and will hide all the potentially illegal 'modifications'. Math suggests I need a 5" pulley (standard water pump size) for the 10" tire, both of which I already have. That leaves making a pulley for the motor, 3/4". That's too small for a belt to bend around, so it'll have to be 'pinched', which is fine too because it gives me an easy way to add a clutch and gears of my own. I should be able to put 3 to 5 'gears' on a single shaft ranging from 3/4" to 2", giving it a lot of versatility to handle hills and loads. This small, they could be made from fiberglass too. Pinched, in this use, means putting two tensioner pulleys, before and after, making what electricians call a 3-point saddle if it was made out of pipe. Since we're talking about fractions of a horse, this should be fine. SHAPE \*MERGEFORMAT This is a windshield wiper motor and it turns, after the gearing, at about 12rpm. Ideal for pumping pedals is 60rpm, so, not good but maybe workable. The plan for this one is to bolt on a tall gear from another bike and direct chain it and see what it'll really do. I have my doubts, but you don't know until you know. It also feels under powered, like it might not even be 100 watts which means it may fail all the way around. By counting the teath in the gear, and knowing that one rev of the screw advances the gear one tooth, the no-load rpm of the motor should be around 700-800rpm. That might put it in a 'direct drive' situation for a 10" tire, but going direct drive is difficult too and would require me to destroy the gear head, something I'm reluctant to do. Secondly, if I could put its gears on the faster blower motor, it could easily drive the pedals (but I'm not sure it's teeth are strong enough) but that might require a second bike for parts, more expensive and convoluted than is ideal. Simple and basic is usually best, which is why I'm leaning hardest to driving the 10" tire with belts. Belts can slip when things get too tough, instead of breaking, which is a good thing. My dream is to, step by step, make an RV version of a bicycle for well under a grand, a typical price for a battery bike. I might be able to pull it off by this fall.