Sunday, January 19, 2020

Fires in Australia

What does the Democratic Party, McDonald's and the British Monarchy have in common?

What does the Democratic Party, McDonald's and the British Monarchy have in common?

Answer: They are all franchises.

Let's look at McDonald's
To buy into an existing McDonald's franchise you need to demonstrate that you pay a minimum of half a million dollars (not borrowed so the funds are unemcumbered). The usual cost is 25% of the assessed value of the franchise, paid up-front. That tells you that the "floor" on the value of a McDonald's franchise is $2 million.

McDonald's corporation assesses a 4% tax (they call it a service fee) on sales. Not profit. Sales.

Additionally, McDonald's assesses an additional "rent", also based on monthly sales.

I was too lazy to research it, but I think McDonald's requires the franchise holder to buy all of their food products from McDonald's, from ketchup-to-coffee-to-burger patties. The franchise holder is  compelled to buy the products at whatever price McDonald's chooses to charge.

The McDonald's franchise holder agrees that employees will wear uniforms as specified by McDonald's and that they will comply with Codes-of-Behavior specified by McDonald's.

In return, McDonald's provides the franchise holder with floor plans, high-quality food ingredients, training and advertising, advertising and more advertising.

Why would anybody agree to such restrictive terms? Because an average McDonald's outlet spins off $150,000 in profit for the franchise owner.

Does the franchise holder have the right to refuse paying the franchise fees (more than 4% of sales) because of a news article about the McDonald's Corporation? Do they have the legal right to not pay the fees and yet still use the McDonald's logo and sell "McDonald's" hamburgers.


Now look at the Democratic party
A Democratic congresswoman from New York is withholding a quarter million dollar payment to the national organization because she disagrees with one of their policies.

The irony is that this congress woman wants to raise taxes on everybody else but refuses to pay the tax to her own political party. Taxes for thee, but not for me!

Where would the majority of that $250,000 go? To advertising, advertising, advertising...exactly like the McDonald's example.

She honors the relationship when it is to her advantage but tears it up when it cramps her style. Mutually beneficial relationships fail when one of the parties refuses to honor the agreement.

One of my liberal friends claims that this woman is the new face of the Democratic party, the wave of the future. If so, there will be no Democratic party because they will all be withholding payments.

The Monarchy
A mutually beneficial relationship.

The royal family gets food, lodging, spending money, glittery things to wear and adulation. In return they agree to abide by a certain code of conduct.

Humorously, for me anyway, they agree to eat foods that won't make their bowels move during the day nor are they fed foods that encourage flatulence.

And, once again, we have a young woman who signed on as a franchise holder but then decided she didn't want to pay the price. She wants out. But she still wants all the benefits.

Its all about me

The Social Justice Warriors, at least the ones who are nominally female, gush about some chick named Meagan. "She is SO STRONG!", "She doesn't bow to the Patriarchy.", "She makes her own path."

The fact that the Queen of England is a woman somehow eludes them.

My more traditional, more rural friends look at Meagan and see something very different.

Apparently, this Meagan chick and her squeeze, Harry, are looking for work.

May I suggest they host The New Harry/Jerry Springer show out of Vancouver?

Its all about me

After all, you can take the girl out of the trailer park but you cannot take the trailer park out of the girl.

Primitive Technology website

I don't know if I am inherently curious or just paranoid.

I like to keep an eye on my back-trail.

Maybe it is because the best piece of advice I got as a Boy Scout was to always look backwards. It is easy to get lost if you don't. The tree or rocks that are so distinctive from one direction are likely to be anonymous from the other. By looking at your back-trail on a regular basis (especially when you are twenty paces past a fork in the path) you greatly enhance your chances of being able to find your way back home.

The site that hosts this blog offers various statistics. One of those statistics involves the site the viewers jumped from (cookies). The curious part of me wonders, "What else do my readers enjoy learning about?"

That is how I found the Primitive Technology site. Somebody who visited this blog had been reading an article at Primitive Technology before they jumped over.

If you want to give it a look, focus on content rather than presentation or format. Their format is vintage 1997. Their content, on the other hand, is AWESOME. Here are a smattering of links that caught my eye:

What to Teach Kids and Why
Geriatric Friction Fire
Primitive Cooking
Other Types of Atlatls: Loop, Fork and Cord
Ice Glue
Atlatl Flexibility Analysis
Random Thoughts on Tradition vs. Technology
Brain Tanned Buffalo Hides
Black Dye
Cordage in North America
Birch Bark Tar
The Iceman's Belt
Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) - Cordage Fibers 
Acorn Granaries of California
Wilderness Survival Skills
The Miracle of Steel Heat Treatment
Silverware Deadfall
Interesting Links

This list is about 5% of the links on the site. The list is more of a diagonal slice than a comprehensive listing. If any of the subjects appeal to you, pop on over and see if you like the writing.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

The difference between wealth and income

We continue to have growing pains with Belladonna's re-integration into the household. Nothing dramatic. Just readjustment of outdated perceptions.

Both Bella and Kubota view us as wealthy, or at least quiet well-to-do.

From one perspective, they are 100% right. Anybody who is married to their first spouse IS wealthy.

They look at the house and property. We made our last house payment in 2008. They think we are swimming in cash.

Bella scheduled an appointment to have her hair "done". Then, the night before she went in for the appointment she asked when we were going to give her the money.

That triggered some hard discussions.

I asked her "How much money could you expect to  make if you went to work full time?"

She mentioned an annual amount that was about twice my starting salary in 1981.

Then I asked her "How much do you think my pension is?"

She had never thought about it. She shrugged her shoulders.

"It is about 1/3 of what you would make if you worked full-time in your field." I told her.

There were many secondary issues. Bella is going back to school to get into a more saleable field. She is only working part-time. There was a hiccup in her work hours when she moved from Grand Rapids back to the Lansing area.

It never occurred to her that Mrs ERJ was working full time and I had just retired when she went away to university. Our free-cash-flow is much, much lower than it was when she left.

We are wealthy because we own several durable assets free-and-clear, but we are modest-income because our cash-flow is much lower than it used to be.

My plan is to work for another three or four years after Kubota leaves the house, God willing. Social Security takes the average of one's best 35 years income. I worked full time for 32 years but the first year and the last year were half-years. Basically, I have three goose-eggs and that will lower my SS benefits by almost ten percent.

Oh, and I could use the money.

Rolling Coal

A 26 second video of a tractor pull.

Environmentalists' dislike of diesels are a visceral and emotion based hatred.

If you are a city dweller, then perhaps you can imagine a world without petroleum, a quiet, clean, electric based economy...except for the big rigs dropping off good and hauling away waste in Megalopolis. They are big. They are loud. They smell. Obviously, they must be evil.

Gasoline engines mix air and gasoline (sometimes propane or natural gas) in a stoichiometricly correct ratio. Every carbon atom in the fuel gets exactly two oxygen atoms and is oxidized to carbon dioxide. Every two hydrogen atoms gets one oxygen atom and oxidizes to become a water molecule. Torque is modulated by limiting the amount of air (or air-fuel fog) into the cylinders.

A diesel engine, on the other hand, does not limit the air. Every compression stroke on a diesel bench-presses a full load of air. Torque is modulated by limiting the amount of fuel injected into the cylinder as the piston nears top-dead-center. It is very, very rare that a diesel engine's exhaust lacks vast amounts of free, unconsumed oxygen.

As a practical public-perception matter, the amount of torque and power an operator can get out of a diesel engine is limited by the public's tolerance for smoke.

What that means is that the operator can almost always get a little more power if he is willing to tolerate a little bit more smoke. Or a lot more power if he is willing to tolerate a lot more smoke.
Pressure trace of cylinder in a diesel engine. Peak effect of fuel combustion seen at about 15 degrees after TDC. Note, in most cases the pressure associated with fuel is lower than the pressure caused by compression...that is, the pressure seen at zero-degrees-top-dead-center.

The additional fuel does not impact the longevity of the motor.

Those images of diesel engines blowing up? That is due more to high RPM and the over-boost. Notice, this truck is spewing soot. The operator wants to make maximum power.

Soot was identified as a potential carcinogen back in the 1990s.

Early attempts at using catalysts to capture and oxidize the soot were a mixed bag. Many catalyst were found that could make the ugly soot disappear but the exhaust was much richer in aromatic hydrocarbons and other, invisible carcinogens that had a stronger correlation to cancer than the soot they eliminated.

Yep, absolutely beyond any shadow of a doubt, nearly any diesel can make more torque and power if you poke more fuel at it.

But how can it be more fuel efficient if you are sending uncombusted carbon out the stack?

Brake-Specific-Fuel-Consumption map from a Mercedes diesel (OM617). I traced in the green line showing where peak fuel consumption occurred at various RPM. BSFC maps chart the amount of fuel (grams in this case) required to produce a given amount of work (kW-hours in this case)

The east end of the 260 grams per kiloWatt-hour line falls conveniently close to the 3000 RPM line.
Area of interest embiggened 300%. The shaded region shows the lost specific fuel consumption as BMAP increases from 7.5 to 10.0. The shaded region is almost invisible on the full-sized chart. The more vertical the topo lines, the less penalty in specific fuel consumption as RPM is held constant and fuel is increased.

Adding enough fuel at 3000 RPM to take the Mean-Effective-Pressure (an arcane measure of torque) from 7.5 to 10 reduces the BSFC from 260g/kWh to 270g/kWh. That is, a 33% increase in power comes at a cost of 3.8% higher specific fuel consumption.

That is specific that that engine and that RPM but you can see that the topo lines north of the green line and east of 3000 RPM are very close to vertical indicating that more power is available at very little penalty to fuel economy. The BSFC maps of most four-stroke diesel engines should look similar.

Suppose you were in Capiche after Ebola and did not have enough running equipment to till the land.

Or suppose you were anywhere in Central Europe in the second half of the 1940s and did not have enough equipment to till the land.

Or today, suppose you were in the Indian subcontinent or Kazakhstan or the Ukraine and did not have enough running equipment to till the land and haul food to the market. Nor enough generation equipment to keep the lights on.

Do you suppose it is more/less moral to "roll coal" if it means you can pull one more plow "bottom" at the same speed or pull a tandem-trailer with little fuel consumption penalty and almost no durability penalty to your equipment?

That is an entirely different scenario than when one-hundred-seventy diesel taxicabs are stacked up at Roissy Airport waiting for fares. There is far more human exposure to the Roissy example than the post-WWII European economy struggling to feed itself after the best of its manhood had been gutted on the sandy plains west of Moscow.

History rhymes. It would be a shame if there wasn't a way to flip from one mode to the other. We never know when it will be needed.

Small Diesel Engines

For no good reason, I am looking at used diesel engines.

The prices for VW diesel engines is insanely cheap. Go to Ebay and type in "4 cylinder diesel engine" and most of the items are over $2500

Simple kits for VW diesels can be had for $500. Other kits include pistons that are 0.020" oversize so the worn cylinders can be honed out and re-trued. Those kits cost $750.

VW diesels have a timing belt that is good for about 150,000 miles or maybe 3000 hours. That is duty related. Running an air compressor will cause more torque pulsing and will be harder on a belt than running a steady 2000 RPM on a generator.

The older diesels have mechanical injector pumps and probably don't care about the application provided you can cool them and feed them good fuel.

The newer diesels have common rail and electronic injectors. That means the Powertrain Control Module runs the show and will get its panties in a bunch if it does not see all the sensors-reading-in-the-green.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if there are PCMs or chip--sets that can be used to repurpose a VW, common-rail diesel to agricultural power or stationary installations like generators?

I know the boys running Duramax, Cummins and Powerstrokes around here can get "chips" to roll-coal.