Archive for April, 2011

Energy costs.

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week I was looking through the September 1938 edition of Popular Mechanics and saw a quick cost analysis showing the SAVINGS from using a Ford V8 gasoline engine instead of a comparably sized electric motor. My head nearly exploded because the numbers for my own equipment show that running costs(all inclusive) are 10-11 times greater when the prime mover is an engine rather than an electric motor.

I thought of how cheap the gasoline must have been but the electricity cost in the analysis was $0.03/Kwh. An inflation adjustment would put that around $0.50/kwh today so while fuel was relatively cheap then, not nearly as much as I initially thought.

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My Good Friday.

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

In the last two days, much of my conversation has been about sawmills and this made me thing about the poetry of Robert Swanson.

Robert Swanson wrote wonderful poetry about logging and a book of his collected poems called Rhymes of a Western Logger is an entertaining read.

He wrote about all sorts of characters. My favourites include a story of a runaway train that stopped in front of the house of the engineer’s mistress out of habit and a deceased boilermaker sent by St. Peter to work on the boilers “down below”; where he found the working conditions better than when he was alive.

Here’s one of my favourites that I wanted to share, especially since I’m planning to spend Good Friday working on tired, old equipment:

The Cat Skinners’ Prayer

I’ve shivered and shook on a Dozer
I’ve ranted, and raved, and I’ve cu’sed.
My kidneys are dislocated
And I’ve swallowed ten bushels of dust;
My fingers are broken and bleeding
From wielding the tools of repair.
O God of Internal Combustion,
Please answer a cat-skinner’s prayer!

Now, I’ve studied your parts-book Bible
And here are the things I require:
A pair of unstretchable cat-tracks
That will never “come off” in the mire;
But the thing that would tickle my fancy,
When I’m miles from the fuel supply,
Is a tank,for both gas and for diesel,
Of the type that will never run dry.

Oh, send your toil-worn disciple,
Who has gobbled and swallowed your smoke,
A heaven-invented fuel pump
That will fire on every stroke,
A set of perfected injectors
With guts that will never wear.
O God of Internal Combustion,
Please answer a cat-skinner’s prayer!
Please send me the grease of perfection
And a change of eternal oil,
Some diamond bearinged cat-rolls
That will run in abrasive soil,
A final-driving assembly
With everlasting gears,
And a set of sleeves and pistons
That will run for a million years.

Oh send me lining, immortal,
For my steering-clutch mechanism,
And a cranking-motor magneto
With permanent magnetism;
A set of valves and tappets
At which I will never swear.
Oh God of Internal Combustion,
Please answer a cat-skinner’s prayer!

Great God of the Red-Hot Piston,
I have worshipped and served you well,
Forsaking the Gods of my fathers,
Till my soul has been slated for Hell!
If you’ll send me the things that I ask for
I will never work Sundays again;
But I’ll worship Internal Combustion
Forever and ever. Amen.

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Sad news.

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

We’ve all been surprised at some point by a friend who showed a side of them that doesn’t fit in the pigeon hole where you’ve put them but I’ve come across a biggie:

I’ve learned that a friend is a proponent of eugenics.  Not the more benign, modern variety that hopes to fix disorders with the latest genetic science but rather the nasty, bossy, old fashioned kind. I don’t think I can sit at the same table as them and remain polite anymore.  

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A thought while sitting in traffic.

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I was sitting in a traffic jam caused by a paving crew the other day and thought about what appears to be a funny double standard:

I’ve been told that when asphalt that gets pulled up it’s considered hazardous waste and it can’t be used as fill but I haven’t heard why it’s considered fine to lay countless kilometers of it; often along bodies of water.

I didn’t come to this thought on my own.  It was put to me at work one day when I was told haul a truckload of old asphalt to a disposal company South of town.  When I suggested that we needed fill in another part of the site I received a finger wagging and lecture about the proper way to handle hazardous waste.

When I asked why it was fine to cover our roads in hazardous waste I was told by a foreman with a wicked grin that it certainly did seem crazy, and that we could get in trouble for breaking rules whether or not we understood why.

Maybe there’s a good reason why asphalt is considered safe when it’s laid on a roadway and it becomes hazardous waste as soon as it has been pulled up.  Maybe asphalt roads are perfectly safe for the environment and the mandated proper disposal of asphalt is simply a matter of recycling.

Maybe it’s the contaminants from vehicle exhaust and leaks over the years that makes old asphalt hazardous.  If that’s the case then if old asphalt is contaminated enough to be considered hazardous waste then perhaps water that runs off any paved surface should be treated similarly; imagine the cost of dealing with that.

Maybe there really is a double standard that’s accepted for the sake of inexpensive and easy transportation.

Maybe the problem is that traffic was held up long enough for me to watch the paving crew work and think about all this.  What a selfish thought.

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Funny joke or horrible discrimination?

April 3, 2011 4 comments

Seeing an article about atheists in the US Army took me on a stroll down amnesia lane:

I remember standing in ranks one Sunday morning while on course and our instructor said that there would be a Christian service and  had those who wished to attend fall out.

After the Christians fell out, our instructor said that there was actually no Sunday service and we would all be proceeding to our class.  He then expressed his disappointment to the  “pagans”, had them fall out as well  and everybody headed to the trucks.

Having recounted this, I have to say that the instructor is one of the most admirable men I have had the pleasure of knowing and can say with total certainty that he was just having a laugh and wouldn’t discriminate on any criterion other than the quality of one’s work.

Comment on this:  Guess which group I was in and why.

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