Map (and Energy) Dorkery!

I am on plenty of energy efficiency mailing lists, and one of them recently pointed to the 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, put out by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), and other groups:

In 2009, energy efficiency has risen to a new level of recognition in the U.S. We present here a comprehensive state energy efficiency scorecard to document best practices and recognize leadership among the states. The Scorecard examines six energy efficiency policy areas: (1) utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies; (2) transportation policies; (3) building energy codes; (4) combined heat and power; (5) state government initiatives; and (6) appliance efficiency standards. States can earn up to 50 points in these categories.

The “top ten” states in this year’s Scorecard are: California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, New York, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Maine.

Note that the categories above are weighted by potential impact on overall energy savings. They map out their results in a color-coded map; note that actual ranking is not nearly as important as distribution in bins (i.e., #4 vs. #5, compared with top group vs. second-to-top group).

I just found it amusing that this metric maps pretty darn well to, "states where I would not mind living" (although not necessarily one-to-one). And is anyone surprised that Cheney is from Wyoming? But it also shows that some of the states that are doing the worst are the classic poverty-ridden ones (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virgina).

Similarly, there is a ranking of per-capita energy consumption by state, from the Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Review 2007 (Figure 1.6 State-Level Energy Consumption and Consumption per Person, 2005).

Again, this maps similar to where I would want to live. Though I do wonder... are some of the high and low users due to industrial energy consumption, rather than personal energy consumption? I.e., the oil is refined and produced in Texas, but consumed in all states.

But before any of us feel too smug about living in low-per-capita energy use states, I would point out that there are also statistics for world consumption patterns, by country. Most New England states are in the 250 million Btu per capita range. Much of Europe is in the 100-180 million Btu range/capita (145 million average); Asia's average is 43 (although that's a huge range--Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are all in the 200 range); Africa's average is 16. And China is at 56; India is at 16. Insert typical commentary on "What will happen when a 1.3 billion Chinese and 1.1 billion Indians try to raise their standard of living to first world levels."


iPod Hardware Dorkery!

During one of my recent interminable plane trips, my old and trusty iPod started to give up the ghost--it's a bad sign when the machine becomes unresponsive, you hear grinding sounds from the hard drive, and the whole thing starts to get hot in your hand. Sadness.

As background, I have had this iPod since before grad school--it's a Second Generation unit--released 2002, FireWire, 10 GB, no docking station, monochrome screen, old school, yo. I believe that Leper once pointed out, "Man... I think that Dennis Hopper had a newer iPod on his Harley in Easy Rider..."

However, I have a Fred-Fenning-emulating compulsion to keep old machines operating.... I decided, "Heck, I'll try fixing it." Fortunately, there are excellent geek suppliers out there. I decided to double my storage capacity (woo [sarcasm]) with a 20 GB hard drive from ifixit.com. And while I had the case open, I decided to install a replacement battery from MilliAmp LTD--an upgrade from ~1200 mAh to 2200 mAh. Mad props to both of those companies--for having the parts available, at a reasonable price, as well as incredibly fast shipping. MilliAmp also takes back your old battery for environmentally proper disposal--points for that as well. They also know their audience:

If you have a 1st or 2nd Generation iPod, you’ve understood the iPod mystique way before anyone else. But why get rid of your older model just because it has a few years on it? All you need is one of our two high-capacity 1st or 2nd Generation iPod battery replacement kits and you will be back on your way to longer playtimes than you ever had, even when your device was brand new!

So... I got all the pieces lined up, including an installation tool for cracking open the case:

Getting the case open is definitely the most difficult part--I'd say the tool makes it doable, as opposed to--say--easy:

And then doing a guts replacement!

A few tense moments of powering it up, reformatting the drive from iTunes, plugging in, plugging out... but eventually:

It works! Rock on.

Okay, now I have a mental image of an iPod commercial silhouetting my short stocky frame, doing my dorky oh-god-he-looks-like-an-animatronic-Santa-Claus dance.

So I know, you're going to ask--does it make any sense to spend $86.90 and burn an evening hacking hardware, when I could have bought a brand-new-with-warranty 16 GB iPod Nano for $179.00--with all those newfangled features like, say, a color screen? True enough. But I have a perverse joy in keeping a trusty old machine functioning, instead of consigning it the landfill. A bit of the whole buy less stuff ethos, too. Finally, I know that I complain I have more money than free time right now, but if it ever reaches the point when I couldn't justify doing this... man... a piece of me will have died.


First Pie!

Just thought I'd commemorate the first apple pie of the season! I always think of it as my official recognition of it being fall.

First of all, I realized that my pie-making setup is made up of a few gifts. The "apple lathe" is a Back To Basics Apple and Potato Peeler--a gift from AJFBS. And the pie plate is a gorgeous thrown clay pie pan, from BirdJen.

The crust recipe is straight from Cook's Bible (i.e., Chris Kimball/America's Test Kitchen), and the filling is mom's recipe (with a few tweaks). I only grabbed Macintosh apples this time for filling--I should have had a mix of a few others, a bit more tart, and a bit more bite. I have used Northern Spy in the past--and I agree with the common wisdom that they are pretty darn good for pies.

Anyway... nom nom nom. Need to make more soon...


Previous Denver Trip

And sadly, I did not get to schedule time to see my favorite Denverites (Dr. Tectonic, or Julee). Alas.

It is worth mentioning, though, that I did get to see Beemer two weeks ago... when I was in Denver... on a completely different work trip. Some highlights included:

A day off wandering around Boulder--included a meander around the Pearl Street pedestrian mall, lunch, and postcards.

I even found a postcard that shows NCAR (The National Center for Atmospheric Research)--that's where Beemer works! See?

Got to hang out with Beemer and Greg--Jerry is away in Japan now, on an exchange term. Saturday was a hike out in Boulder Canyon with Beemer and his mom--who was a curator (?) at the Colorado School of Mines (?)... so she could identify everything out there on the trail. Pretty awesome.

Saw the movie "9"--a lovely little film, which puts together a wonderfully evocative world and atmosphere. However [spoiler!], we found that the ending was a little disappointing--not bad, just not a payoff in line with the rest of the movie. But if you are curious the award-winning 10-minute short film that got this movie rolling is on YouTube.

Anyway, thanks for the hospitality, Beemer! Was great seeing you!

Denver Travel Adventures

Just got back from a bounce trip to Denver for work--flew out on Sunday night, and flew back on Wednesday. The trip went well, but I'm still residually tired. And sadly, I did not get to schedule time to see my favorite Denverites (Dr. Tectonic, or Julee). Alas.

My Sunday flight out was a connection flight, BOS-ORD-DEN, meeting my coworker in Chicago. However, seriously sucky weather on the way in to ORD--we got pushed out of the pattern, had to loop up almost to Milwaukee, and have another run at it. Serious turbulence on the way in--the last plane ride where I was that close to hurling was probably in the back of a P-3 Orion.

Of course, this go-around was a delay... I was trying to figure out all the ramifications of missing my connection... cancel the hotel room tonight, get a hotel near ORD (or crash with Tappan?), rebooking for tomorrow morning, figure out a way to get out to the jobsite... all unpleasant. As soon as we touched down, I started texting my coworker, to find out the situation. He wrote back:

No worries on missing your flight. Plane to Denver is the one that you are currently on. You don't even need to deplane.

Awesome. Although it was still an unpleasant travel day--getting to the hotel at 2:30 AM (4:30 AM EDT). Ugh.

The work itself was two days of setting up an insulation reference sample at a manufacturer's testing lab. Not really worth going into much detail about it. Suffice it to say, though, it was a few days of getting my hands dirty and building stuff, which is always good. Work actually wrapped up on time.

Also, the test lab is on the edge of town--you can see the foothills right out of the front window. Nice.

I also took my small bit of amusement at the coffee carafe labels at the Hampton Inn:

Yep... the decaf was labelled "UNLEADED." Heh.

Travel out was... actually eventful, this time. My coworker was doing more work in Denver, so he dropped me off at a skyRide shuttle bus stop. As we were approaching DIA, I was looking out the window, when somebody pointed out, "Hey, there's smoke coming out of the floor!" Yikes! We pulled over at the side of the road, and opened up the hatches to ventilate out. Swell. At least the bus did not actively catch fire while we were on it.

Fortunately, a few cabs pulled up to bring us the last mile or so to the airport... made it to the gate with a few minutes to spare.

The next bit of travel is going to be at the end of October... I feel like I could use a breather from this for a while.