I don’t often write about myself, but this short item and the next are based on two conversations I had within the past 24 hours.
In discussing my fees for an upcoming training session, I was asked “How much will you charge the company”. I replied casually “A thousand dollars per day”.
“A THOUSAND DOLLARS PER DAY!” was the predictable response across the table.
It seems like a lot to my friend, who is a salaried technical employee of a major university, but as I explained to him :
Any reputable downtown business school will charge $300/day per attendee for what I teach. Since I am taking five attendees per class, that’s $1,500 per day.
The downtown business school employs trainers who can read-from-a-book. I design and deliver my own training materials.
The downtown business school offers a set of fixed day-long courses; I provide half-day sessions uniquely tailored to my clients needs.
On this particular job, two of us will be in attendance, so once my ten-minute lecture ends, the twenty-minute practical work will see both me, the aggressive, assertive, hard-nosed technical nerd AND the pleasant, persuasive but passionate expert Kimberly working the room. That is, the client gets two instructors for the price of one.
No matter how you slice it, I offer at least three times the value of a cookie-cutter classroom.
And I haven’t even mentioned life-time support for everything I teach!
This is not about a weight-loss program; it’s about something much more fascinating: Numeracy!
I am trying to persuade my friend Bill to switch from walking to bicycling; I figure that it is still exercise, but with the advantage of exploring the many bike trails near our homes.
Bill says that bicycling is too much work, but I figure it is less work (and hence, perhaps, a poorer form of exercise).
Here are my calculations for the walking side of the equation, based on a human body weighing 180 pounds, walking at 5,000 paces per hour. I think that that is a brisk walk.
|Bag of wheat||180||lbs|
|Truck bed||3||Feet above ground|
The table above summarizes my figures; below I shall elaborate.
Assume a person weighs 180 pounds; obviously quantities may vary. Myself I am (ahem!) well under 180 lbs.
Assume that each step I take (off the balls of my feet) raises me one inch above the ground. Some people seem to bob up and down more than they go forward; some people seem to glide across the ground, but I’m using one inch.
Assume that each (“brisk walk”, remember) pace is two feet six inches, that’s 30 inches.
Assume too that you stride out at 5,000 paces per hour. I measured myself with a pedometer for a few days; I recall that it came out to about 5,000 per hour.
Each step that I take raises me one inch, that is, it raises 180 pounds one inch. I’ve done 180 pound-inches of work. Dividing by twelve (inches to the foot) yields a figure of 15 foot-lbs for each step that I take.
Since I take 5,000 steps per hour, I’m doing 75,000 ft-lbs of work each hour.
That seems like a lot! No wonder walking is a good form of exercise!
From my university vacation days working on the wheat farms of Western Australia, I know that a bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds, and that three bushels make a sack. I had trouble lifting sacks of “seconds” (cracked wheat) onto the flat-bed truck, but my boss Frank McGinnis could heft ‘em up as easily as I cradle a one-gallon tub of ice-cream.
My 5,000 steps per hour therefore translate into the equivalent of lifting a sack of wheat one foot off the ground 417 times. I figure that the bed of the truck was three feet above the ground, so an equivalent amount of work would be to hoist 139 bags of what onto a truck.
I couldn’t do that then, and I know I couldn’t do it now.
- Which would you rather do, load 139 bags of wheat onto a truck, or walk for one hour with a good friend?
I did the distance calculation to verify some of my assumptions. Five thousand paces at 30 inches per pace would see me cover almost two and a half miles in an hour, whereas I think a brisk walk sees me cover four miles in an hour. Either my paces are longer, or my steps are more frequent.
Nonetheless, my figures are within bounds, so I’ll stick with 139 bags of wheat hoisted for now.
There’s a homework exercise for you:
- Repeat the calculations for cycling.
Assume that only your legs move (up and down), and that each leg weighs 18 pounds, and that you make a complete cycle of the pedals (each foot goes around once) 5,000 times an hour.
This is not about green vs. wind vs. coal. It’s about LOGIC.
Today’s Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/business/article/632642) has Yet Another Article about wind farms. The article suggest at the start that it might be leaning towards “Hey! Maybe wind farms aren’t the answer!”, but buried in the middle of the article I find this:
“Ontario is looking at building hydroelectric pumped storage facilities that would act as huge water batteries, capable of storing massive amounts of energy from wind and dispatching the power as needed.”.
I’ve thought about this. I’ve even written a letter to the folks who run the Kinzua Dam about their pamphlet claiming 4-way transfers of energy.
In Kinzua’s case, they generate electricity and sell it to consumers. If they can’t sell it to consumers, they use it to pump water into a huge man-made reservoir atop the dam, and use this reservoir as potential energy when demand increases (although it’s hard to see how an 800-foot diameter tank can greatly assist a 25-mile long lake!)
In Kinzua’s case, the water is always there; water is forever flowing into the lake, even in the dry season. It has a perpetual 24/7 source of energy, which fluctuates, but is consistent.
Wind farms do not have a continual source of energy (OK, if you consider all the wind farms in North America as one gigantic wind farm, then the wind is always blowing somewhere …).
Back to The Star. Using water reservoirs to store wind energy seems like a good idea, until you realize that wind farms alone cannot substitute for the massive amounts of energy generated by coal, hydroelectric and nuclear plants.
That is, a Wind farm can never have a surplus.
So what’s the point of building a water reservoir to hold a surplus you are never going to have?
From my correspondent in Prince Rupert British Columbia: “Check this one out. It seems that the cause of the swine flu is not being talked about on the news. Oops! American agribusiness. Can’t slam that one.”.
“”Evidence is emerging that traces swine flu to giant factory pig farms that are dirty, dangerous, and inhumane. Sign the petition to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization to investigate and regulate these threats to our health.””
Thanks, but No Thanks.
This screed (or diatribe) is identical to thousands that now circulate the Internet.
Swine Flu (or “Mexican Flu” or “Yilgarn Flu ” or “Prince Rupert Flu”) is NOT caused by swine, Mexicans, or people who sit on the curb watching Indian dancers in bright red and black costumes with feathers each May.
“Flu” is an abbreviation of “Influenza Virus”; it is a virus, and thank you very much, viruses are alive and well and doing what they’ve done well for many millions of years – reproducing and mutating faster than the organisms (pigs, chickens, humans, mosquitoes and giant pandas) on which they prey.
That is pretty well the definition of a virus – a small living creature with DNA and a high rates of reproduction and mutation.
We humans would be a virus if we didn’t take 16 years to reach healthy reproductive status, and if successful mutations came along more than once every 200,000 years.
Idiots are so eager to slam an innocent business (innocent, that is, of the illogical charges) that as soon as each (press-instigated) “pandemic” breaks out, the idiots use it to tag whatever is bugging them.
“Evidence is emerging that traces swine flu to the people in 501, who are anonymously noisy, and have a small child. Sign the petition and get the landlord to stop them moving furniture at 10:34 at night time when I am trying to sleep.”
“Evidence is emerging that traces swine flu to the people in 301, who are anonymously complaining that I was talking noisily on the office telephone at 1:00 a.m. and then that I was using a circular saw in my office the other day. (Not true: I was using it outside on the balcony).
THERE WERE NO GIANT FACTORY PIG FARMS A THOUSAND YEARS AGO and my money is on a bet that ‘flu was around then. Not THIS YEAR’S flu, but flu. It has since then mutated past layman’s recognition (another bet!).
THERE WERE NO HYUNDAI ASSEMBLY LINES NORTH OF TORONTO 11,000 years ago (there was a 2-mile thick sheet of ice), but we still had carbon dioxide in pretty well the same amount, in the atmosphere. 387/1,000,000 as at March 2009 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide).
That’s 0.000387 or 0.0387%.
It is STILL classed as a trace element.
And tomorrow there will be another petition telling us that unless we all get together on this one, we’ll lose the dinosaurs, the ginger cats, or the dodo, or Taswegian natives.
Come on everybody! Rally downtown!!
Reminds me of 1968, but wastes more energy.
Finally, I am not suggesting that swine flu has NOT been found on a giant pig farm at El Trompillo; I dare to say that it has. But it got there from somewhere else, perhaps a giant chicken farm in Portachuelo, or perhaps a giant ginger cat in the Mato Grosso, or from the back of the plastic slide rule I purchased in Singapore in 1982.
Truth is, if the first knowledge of this today’s strain of flu is found on a passenger recently arrived from Mexico, then it is labeled “Mexican flu”, and everyone scrabbles through the pile of paper on their desk looking for any giant business in Mexico.
By the time the virus had become common enough to be recognized off a flight from Mexico, it was well-established there. Of course, the first touch of it in Mexico was sparked from a flight that landed in Cancun on a flight from Germany. That German got it by handling baggage at Frankfurt from a railway train that arrived from Istanbul, and THEY got it from … and so on back for millions of years, mutating almost as quickly as it reproduced.
I know, I know – they didn’t HAVE railway trains in Istanbul millions of years ago …
This day’s ABS News has an article on rainwater tanks titled “When saving water costs energy”.
Let’s attack that five-word headline first.
Everything costs Energy. (That’s the first 3-word refutation of a 5-word headline I’ve made today. Another record broken!).
It’s called variously “Entropy” or “The Universe is running down”, “You can’t get something for nothing” and “There’s no such thing as a Free Lunch”.
Walking to the water tap, no matter the water source, costs energy. Carrying your glass costs energy. Lifting the glass to your lips costs energy. Breathing costs energy. Your beating heart costs energy. Everything IS energy, for the whirling electrons and vibrating atoms ARE energy.
OK, it turns out that the particles of which electrons, protons and neutrons are made are really nothing more than mathematical equations, but I digress.
So, straight off – the headline isn’t educating us to any unknown fact; let us be aware that this will be another scare-story.
I know a bit about rain-water tanks, having lived and worked in the goldfields and wheat belt of Western Australia and Adelaide in South Australia for twenty-one years. I’ve worked on remote farms with rain-water tanks, and owned a house in Gawler that possessed TWO rain-water tanks, one of which we chose to use for our kitchen needs.
Rain-water tanks are good; they divert water from the roof to a cool supply available throughout the house.
Without water we die. Our cells are largely water.
In the body of the article we find this: “They found in most cases pumping water from rainwater tanks is more energy intensive than getting it from mains water, although lower than getting it from desalination.”.
1. Energy consumption is always calculated across a system boundary. For example, if we calculate the cost of running the water-treatment plant machines, we get a certain value for the “amount of energy [per] kilolitre of water”. But I’ll bet that doesn’t include the energy required for electric lights, refrigerators in the staff cafeteria or the works canteen, or the energy used when the workers drive to work. Why not add that into the equation? Theory is, if we all used rainwater tanks we wouldn’t need that expensive overhead. Of course, we’d need to pay displaced workers unemployment benefits ….
2. Without water we die. There’s no way to factor energy costs into a home that does not have access to mains water. Now there aren’t many homes in Australia without access to mains water. Search the web for “Goldfields water supply” (for once, with quotes!) for an example. But if you don’t have mains water, you need rain water, in which case comparative studies of energy costs are irrelevant.
The bottom line: To make a true cost/benefit comparison we need to examine many more factors, such as we see for home-based energy reducing the load on a national energy grid. If each household obtained 30% of its clean water from rainwater tanks, we could get by with a smaller mains-water supply, or support a larger population with the same water supply; take your pick.
I smell a grant proposal!