Lonely Man of Cake

July 29, 2007

Jerusalem Heat II

Filed under: Environment,Israel,Weather — lonelymanofcake @ 1:17 pm

Check out today’s high temp (and compare it to the forecast temperature for today in my last post):


Many apartments in Jerusalem, especially those lived in by students, do not have air-conditioning.  In the States, you can go to your local Home Depot and pick up a 7000 BTU window unit for your bedroom for $100 or thereabouts.  Here, a 7000 BTU unit costs upwards of $500, not including an installation fee of $75-$100 which entails drilling through walls; something that not all landlords approve of in lease agreements.  Aging window units can be seen hanging precariously from some older apartments but are no longer manufactured or imported.

Save me…


July 26, 2007

Jerusalem Heat

Filed under: Environment,Israel,Weather — lonelymanofcake @ 12:12 pm

‘Nuff said.


May 1, 2007

Ocean Music

Filed under: Environment,Technology — lonelymanofcake @ 8:41 am

Read this. Then watch this:

(via MetaFilter)

April 1, 2007

Homemade Hybrids: The 10 Second Rule

Filed under: Automotive,Conservation,Environment,Technology,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 4:14 pm

If you can’t afford (or aren’t in the market for) a hybrid, flex-fuel, or diesel vehicle, there are still practical steps which you can take to reduce your fuel consumption. That doesn’t mean to go as far as some people (hypermilers) who always keep their windows closed, don’t use the A/C, and perform dangerous driving maneuvers in order to maximize fuel economy.

One of the most preventable fuel wasting activities is that of idling the engine. Idling is sometimes an act of choice, e.g., “warming up” your car during the winter for a few minutes or waiting to pick up someone while leaving the engine running. More often than not, idling is forced upon us by traffic jams and lengthy red lights.

Idling is detrimental in a number of respects:

  1. It is a waste of fuel.
  2. It contributes to engine wear and corrosion.
  3. It harms the environment.


A Canadian government study has offered a simple solution: if you know that you will be idling your engine for 10 seconds or longer, simply turn off the engine and restart when you are ready to go. As stated in the study, “Idling your vehicle for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than it would take to restart your engine.” Apparently, the prevailing school of thought which supports idling over restarting is based on (like too many others things) an anachronism: the assumption is that modern, electronically supported combustion engines are to be run as their “dumb” predecessors. It is acknowledged that restarting your engine instead of idling may contribute to quicker wear of the engine starter. The cost of repairing/replacing the starter, though, is insignificant compared to the savings in gas. Anecdotal evidence shows a 10% savings in fuel per-tank.

The 10 second rule is apparently the law in Basel, Switzerland, and they have seen a tremendous reduction in pollution as a result.


March 20, 2007

Alternative Fuel News

Filed under: Automotive,Biofuel,Conservation,Diesel,Environment,Technology,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 12:55 pm
  • The fuel economy of diesel, which I’ve blogged about a number of times, enabled the 650 horsepower (!) V12 Audi R10 TDI to cruise to victory at the 12 hour LeMans, despite being forced by race officials to install a smaller fuel tank in order to keep the race competitive for “regular” gasoline cars. Catch the full story here. I’ve seen reports that Audi plans to equip a high-end version of it’s hulking Q7 luxury SUV (=Volkswagen Touareg/Porsche Cayenne) with the V12 found on the R10. If you want to get an idea of what V12 power means on an SUV, check out this video of what even a V10 can do. You won’t believe your eyes.

March 18, 2007

Getting Soaked

Filed under: Education,Environment,General,Israel,Weather — lonelymanofcake @ 2:47 pm

I was walking on Shabbat with two colleagues (we’re colleagues too, right?) soaking up whatever sun the overcast Mediterranean sky had to offer after some ghoulish thunderstorms on Friday night.  Suddenly, we found ourselves caught in a windswept torrential downpour.  The route we chose to the nearest shelter entailed walking into the wind, such that only our fronts were wet, while our backs were bone dry.

This then catalyzed the perennial question: Does one get less wet when walking or running in the rain?

We got soaked while walking, but I’m relatively sure that had we run, we would have exposed ourselves to an equal amount of, if not more, rain, given the wind direction and the angle at which the rain was coming down.

March 14, 2007

Free Seaweed Biofuel

Filed under: Biofuel,Conservation,Environment,Israel — lonelymanofcake @ 6:07 pm

Seaweed combines two of my favorite things: sea, and, um… biofuel.

A fledgling Israeli biotech company which goes by the name Seambiotic Ltd. (so fledgling that they have only two Google hits) has found–and is attempting to patent–an ingenious process which would harness the CO2 emissions from power plants and use them for cultivating seaweed, which can then be used as biofuel.

As stated in this study, “Increased CO2 concentration should lead to greater biological productivity with an expected increase in the photosynthetic storage of carbon and also stronger growth in many plants.” Using the scrubbed CO2 from the power plants is thus the equivalent of a free superfood for plants, which drastically reduces the cost of production, creates an attractive biofuel alternative, and ensures that power plant emissions stay out of the air we breathe. Apparently, one liter of fuel can be produced from every five kilograms of seaweed. (And I’ve just learned that algae is also a viable biofuel!)

And yet Israel is still hopelessly addicted to oil.

Hybrid Taxis in Israel?

Filed under: Conservation,Diesel,Environment,Israel,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 10:31 am

“In an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche indicated the company’s current philosophy of favoring the diesel engine over hybrid-drive technology has been overturned, citing pressure from customers.

‘We won’t develop any future models without a hybrid option,’ Zetsche said…” (Source)

It seems that before emulating the Toyota model of hybrid-synergy, in which the electric motor can run on its own for a short while, Mercedes will initially use the “mild hybrid” model currently favored by luxury car makers in which the electric motor is used to give an added, clean boost to the gasoline engine. Expected market date: 2009.

I think it would be interesting to see a BlueTec clean diesel Mercedes paired with an electric motor. Coming to a taxi near you?

UPDATE: Then I wondered: If taxis in Israel are bought tax-free, and Israel offers a tremendous tax incentive for purchasing the Prius, is it possible that a hybrid taxi would qualify for a tax credit, much like the incentives prevalent in the States?

March 9, 2007

Some Good Shabbat Reading

  1. Steven I. Weiss of Canonist has been duking it out with sociologist Samuel Heilman after Weiss reviewed Heilman’s latest book and pointed out some statistics which do not jive with math or logic. Start here for the book review (and comments), continue here (also with comments), and round it out here.
    1. Apropos Steven I. Weiss, if you ever feel like “you’ve reached the end of the Internet” and want some fantastic material, check out Weiss’s pioneering J-blog “Protocols.”  Though defunct for over two years now, Weiss and a small team of bloggers covered every major story of (Orthodox) Jewish interest since December 2002.
  2. The eventual impact of global warming may have global consequences far more devastating than “mere” environmental damage.  Read the introduction here, and the 25-page white paper, here.
  3. Dikembe Mutombo, the 7-foot 2-inch center for the Houston Rockets and the oldest player in the NBA, authored a groundbreaking study when he was a student at Georgetown in which he assailed “one of the sillier ideas of modern linguistics… that one language is as good as another, that no language is clearly superior to any other.”  His idea has been further developed with added criteria.  Spanish comes out on top; English is in second place.

March 8, 2007


Filed under: America,Automotive,Conservation,Environment,General,Technology,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 4:52 pm

A hypermiler is one who modifies his/her driving habits in such a way to maximize the gas consumption of the vehicle well in excess of the vehicle’s EPA rating.

Hypermiling tactics include:

  1. Keeping windows closed and A/C off… always.  This supposedly minimizes drag and air resistance.  And also fogs up the windows and makes you sweat like a pig.
  2.  Finding the sweet spot in the engine’s torque curve, and staying there, even if it means upsetting other drivers.  In many new cars, this sweet spot can be found by paying attention to the FCD (=fuel consumption display) which changes dynamically based on driving habits.
  3. D-FAS (Draft Assisted Forced Auto Stop): This means drafting behind a large vehicle in order to reduce wind resistance.  It also means that you’ve put the car in neutral and turned off the engine as well.  No wonder this is illegal in some states!

I read this fascinating article about a record setting hypermiler last night, and while some of his tactics do appear to endanger other drivers (e.g., taking turns at 50 MPH; tailgating with the engine off, so there are no power brakes…), I find his pursuit, and ideology, quite noble.

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