Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts on hybrids, global warming and the global economy

No pictures with this post -- just a few observations. I saw an ad on television last night, right after arriving home from Friday happy hour, touting the new Chevy Suburban Hybrid. Give me a break! A hybrid suburban? Hybrids seem to be all the rage, but from what I have heard, that are ecologically unsound. The amount of energy used to manufacture and recycle the battery negates any savings of driving the vehicle. Further, there is very little savings in energy over the operational life of the vehicle.

What does a suburban weigh? 6,000 lbs? Laws of physics are still in effect. Hybrids have not created some kind of wierd new science, as the automakers, government, and ecology dorks would have you believe. It takes EXACTLY the same amount of energy to propel for its life of say 150,000 miles no mater whether it is a hybrid, a diesel, or gasoline. The battery can produce only so much energy without being charged. Guess what! The engine has to burn gasoline to recharge the battery. All you really get with a hybrid is a short span of fuel efficiency when moving slow, all to be wiped out when doing highway driving. The the mininal fuel savings over the life of the vehicle are wiped out by the added cost of manufacturing and recycling the battery.

Some ecological do-gooders want to trade in their gas guzzler NOW for a hybrid. They mean well. This creates demand for new hybrids. Manufacturing ANY new vehicle takes an enormous amount of energy. The better route is to continue to drive your gas guzzler until it is worn out. The energy used, and money spent by creating demand for ONE hybrid, are more than continuing to operate the low mpg vehicle you already have. When the old vehicle is worn out, the feel free to buy any new vehicle you want. Of course, I would advise everyone to buy a motorcycle. They are much more environmentally friendly than hybrids. But that is just my opinion. :-)

The federal government can't say this, but to REALLY cut down on carbon emissions the way we need to would throw the global economy into severe depression. They advocate use of hybrids, low wattage light bulbs, etc. These are miniscule savings in carbon emissions. Cars, trucks, buses and airplanes account for less than 50% of oil usage. Manufacturing and electric power generation are the huge emitters of carbons. To encourage people to buy fewer manufactured items would not be a good thing for the economy.

I don't know the answer to global warming, but I think converting our entier vehicle fleet to hybrids would have little to no effect. Maybe it would help to encourage people to drive less. Maybe gas needs to be $7 per gallon, so people will make adjustments and drive only when the must. Maybe encouraging people to buy less manufactured "stuff" that they don't need would help. But we know that will never happen.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not a good day for motorcycles

Race Road before the snowplow, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

On Jan 17, we had a light snowfall here in central Maryland. I took this shot just at the storm was winding down. I had been at a business luncheon and came out to find the roads very slippery. I was in my AWD Pacifica, but with very worn tires. After stopping by a tire shop to get some new tires, I headed home to grab my camera while the snow was fresh. Shortly after this it warmed up, the snow turned into rain, and the beauty of the fresh snow was gone.

This is pretty, but I would much prefer a sunny day in the 70's, so I could be riding my bike on this road.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Through the bridge

Through the bridge, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

Here is another shot of that same bridge. I found out more about this bridge. Originally build in 1894, it was burned by vandals on Halloween in 1976. It is on route 720 just off US Route 11 in Mount Jackson, VA. Walking through to shoot photos makes one hope a car does not come. Shenandoah Valley in VA is an awesome place to sightsee and take photos. I can't wait for the weather to warm a little so I can go there on my bike. As a child I spent summers in this area, and it always holds a special place in my heart.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

covered bridge in shenandoah valley

On a trip on New Year's weekend, we happened upon this covered bridge. We took a detour due to a traffic backup in I-81, and discovered this by accident. This is right of US Route 11 near New Market, VA. I did not note the name of the side road.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Take me home country roads

WV country road, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

Over New Years weekend my wife and I went home to WV. While there I got a chance to do some hiking in the woods, and took a few good shots of an old grist mill that my wife's family owns. Sorry I can't show shots of the grist mill, because they are copyrighted for future sale at fundraising events. The family is raising money to rebuild the grist mill. It was originally built and operated by my wife's great grandfather.

This picture is on Ellison Ridge Road in Summers County WV. I always loved backroads in the mountains.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

First Railway in the US

Nomad with the Train, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

This picture is by the first railway that was built in the US. The train is crossing a pre-civil war era bridge made of stone over the Patapsco River near Baltimore. I haven't researched it myself, but I have been told that this railway between Baltimore and Washington was built by B&O railroad. This railway was used to transport Union troops during the civil war. Today it is a main line for CSX, with dozens of trains passing by each day.

Now about the picture. It was taken with an old Minolta 35mm film camera that belonged to my father-in-law. In 1987, this was one of the most advanced 35mm cameras that brough the ability to do photography to everyday people. However, I am not satisfied with the color. The rear portion of the motorcycle is too light red, and the red on the gas tank is too dark, looking almost crimson. I'm not sure if the fault is with the camera, the film, or the photographer (me). If any photographers with more experience that I know what the problem might be, please leave me a comment.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Baltimore Skyline at Dawn

Baltimore Skyline at Dawn, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

I have taken a few good photos lately, but haven't had a chance to post them on this blog. I took this picture on a cold Saturday morning at dawn. The vantage point is Federal Hill Park, overlooking the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. On this day, the Army-Navy game was going to occur at M&T Bank Stadium. Midshipmen and Cadets were already out walking around in uniform before the sun came up. On any other morning at this time, there would be just a few early morning joggers and dog walkers.

I love getting out this early. The air is crisp. Most everyone is still asleep. It gives me a different perspective on things. I like the relative peace and quiet at this time of morning, knowing that in a few hours it will be hustle and bustle. It is the beauty of the calm before the storm, I suppose.

Since photography is one of my main topics on this blog, I'll give my own critique of this photo. I had hoped to get the city skyline with the rising sun shining a golden light on the buildings and a clear blue sky overhead. Conditions were not what I expected when I headed out. The sky was mostly clear, but there were some thin coulds on the eastern horizon. That made the light from teh sunrise too dim. I plan to go back on a clear morning to try for a better shot. For now, this one will have to do. I always welcome critique of my photos, so please comment.