Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where does the energy go?

This is a question for all and sundry, but mostly for NPR's Science Friday talk show.

Has anyone performed comprehensive "wellhead-to-pavement" energy and carbon audits for automobiles in conventional, PHEV and straight EV modes? How do they stck up for coal generated electricity and natural gas generated electricity?

I have an impression that a Toyota Rav4 EV powered by the dirtiest coal plant in the US is still cleaner than the same vehicle of conventional gasoline power. Am I anywhere near the mark on this?

Also, what is the impact, per mile, of battery manufacture?

Love and curiosity,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Comment to California Air Resources Board

I posted the following comment on the
California Air Resources
Board web site (links below):

Comment 15 for phev09 (45 Day).

First Name: Stephen
Last Name: Foster
File (i.e., Attachment):

Subject: Limit Regulation of PHEV Aftermarket Industry
I ask that the Air Resources Board limit
regulation of the PHEV Aftermarket industry
to protect the spirit of innovation currently
in flower.

I drive much more than average for my work
in construction. For one, such as myself,
to have access to clean transportation would
be of great benefit to the effort to reduce
pollution by green-house gasses. I am very
interested in the development of PHEV
technology for light truck applications.

I am concerned that this nascent industry may
be adversely impacted by injudicious regulation.
We need as many new ideas to have a chance to
face the test of the real world as can be
imagined. Ill effects from poor design or
process will be limited due to the small number
of units made. Time for stricter regulation
for test procedures and parts certification
would be more appropriate later, when a few
designs are beginning to dominate the

I urge the Air Resources Board to exercise
restraint in its efforts; the benefits to
society from these emerging technologies
is of great value to society; and the
impacts to a young industry may be to our

Thank you,
Stephen H. Foster
Concord, California

CalCars article on ARB hearing

Air Resources Board Agenda

Scroll to Day 2. Comments can be made
from the agenda page.

Friday, January 2, 2009

How I use the light meter

My default setting for automatic cameras is "A-Auto" for aperture preferred automatic exposure. That permits rapid response to unfolding opportunities. When I'm taking my time, however, I use manual exposure and spot-metering.

My Nikon D200 has a 2 degree spot meter setting. For this image (the first of the new year) I metered two locations, as shown by the two circles. The subject was low contrast because of cloud cover. I wanted to place the contrast at the trike about midway between the high and low lights. The darker shadow to the right was to fall where it might. Alternately pointing the meter spot at the two locations, I adjusted the shutter speed (aperture was wide open for that lens to keep ISO low) so that the exposure bar, in the viewfinder, indicated the same distance above and below the midpoint.

This is my simplified version of the Zone System, developed by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer.

For further study, I will be looking into a reputed 12 stop dynamic range for film; compared to the ZS's use of a 10 stop range. Pentax's 1 degree Spot Meter uses 12 stops marked on the dial.

Reading list

I just finished reading Jay Winik's April 1865, the month that saved America. Harper Collins, 2001.

Among other things, Winik conveys a view of the fragility that was our republic before the Civil War. He sees us as having become a nation, instead of a political construct, in that conflict.

Next up is George B. Dyson, Darwin among the machines, the evolution of global intelligence. 1997, Perseus Books.

Love and lines of words,

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