Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lessons from the Great Depression

This barely scratches the surface, and is something we should be doing anyway, recession or not. It seems worth posting, though.

How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Recent economic times may mirror what American grandparents or great-grandparents went through in the Great Depression. While this time may be a challenge, it may be an opportunity to look back and learn how previous generations coped with tough economic times. Hopefully, we'll never need to relive their lessons learned, but at the very least we can appreciate their resourcefulness and gain perspective on our own situations.


  1. Quit using credit. If you don't have the cash to make a purchase, then don't buy it. If you have credit cards, make sure to pay the balance off every month. If you can't pay off the balance, then cut up the credit card(s) and work on paying down what you owe. One of the first lessons learned by people who survived the Great Depression was to never borrow money unless you have a clear plan for how you're going to pay it back.[1] And when layoffs are a reality, expecting to pay for it with your Christmas bonus or your next paycheck is not a sound plan. If you don't have the money to pay for it right now, don't buy it.
    • Use Affirmations Effectively - Repeat this affirmation to yourself until it sinks in: Debt is not an option.
    • Prioritize Your Debts - Prioritizing your debts can help you pay them off as quickly as possible, and it can provide the security you need to get back on your feet even in lean times.

  2. Nurture positive relationships with family and friends. They will see you through difficult times. Be honest with your family and friends that you are facing difficult times financially. Discover ways to barter and help each other. During hard times, many people bond through the simple pleasures in life, many of which are almost free. During the Depression, people still had fun, just not lavish fun. Children had soapbox derbies, teenagers had dance contests, people played Monopoly, did puzzles, read, and listened to the radio. It took some imagination and ingenuity, but they had a lot of fun without hanging out at the mall, and you can too. Get together to discuss philosophy or pray; play poker or make crazy quilt pillows; play instruments and dance. Many of the friendships and alliances formed during the Great Depression on the basis of such activities stood the test of time.[2]

  3. Do it yourself. When money is short, you don't really have a choice - either you do it yourself, or it doesn't get done. Learn how to fix and maintain everything in your home, in addition to your clothes and accessories.

  4. See frugality as a virtue. There's a difference between being frugal and being cheap or stingy. A frugal person makes the most of what they have; a cheap person is just focused on not spending money. During the Great Depression, frugality was seen as a positive trait. During hard times, it'll help you get by, but when things get better, maintaining those habits will help you build wealth.[3] Plus, frugality requires planning, creativity, and critical thinking - all of which are important life skills, regardless of the state of the economy.

  5. Treat food with respect. When times get tough - really tough - you appreciate having food on the table. You might never know what it's like to have to eat wet bread for dinner, but you don't have to get to that point to make the resolution to never waste food. "Take all you want, but eat all you take."[1] Cook food from scratch and, if you can, go straight to the source (such as dealing directly with farmers) or become your own source: grow your own food, keep livestock, gather wild edibles, and/or hunt wild game if possible and legal. Whatever it is that you procure for food, never let it make it to the garbage can without a very good reason.
    • Save Money by Shopping Once a Month
    • Get Started in the Slow Food Movement
    • Keep Chickens in a City
    • Learn to cook. There is probably no skill that will get you through hard times with equanimity than being able to rustle up a good meal for yourself out of whatever's around.
      • While you're at it, learn other domestic skills too. Unless you're actually homeless, you can certainly afford to keep your home clean and tidy. On the other hand, whatever your worst expectations of being broke are, living in a dirty, disorganized place is likely to make it seem like they're coming horribly true.

    • Buy preserved (canned, dried, etc.) foods in bulk whenever the cost is lower than buying a smaller size.
    • Avoid "convenience" foods, as they are usually more expensive and less healthy. Learn to cook. You can save a lot of money by cooking from scratch rather than ordering take-out or take-away. A good thrifty cook can make a tasty, nutritious meal from inexpensive ingredients and "stretch a meal". Also, leftovers are much cheaper to bring to work or school than buying lunch.

  6. Reuse, reuse, reuse. The amount of stuff you have should already be reduced by your limited spending, and you'll always want to think twice before throwing anything away, whether it's into the trash or the recycling bin. Get everyone involved, especially children - hold up an item that you would normally throw away and ask, "How can we reuse this?" Here are some ideas to get you started:

  7. Be thankful. Be thankful when you're economically strapped? Of course. Make a list of the top five things you couldn't live without, and chances are, all of those things are not possessions. Most of all, be optimistic. As one Great Depression survivor said, "I never thought a cloud was so dark that I couldn't find a silver lining" (Betty Davison).[2]


  • "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." If possible, use the things you have until they are completely used up. Or, even better, do without things that don't hold up to use.
  • Ask your older relatives and friends how they lived through the Depression. Most will be happy to share how they "made do". If you don't know anyone from that generation, consider volunteering at a local senior center or nursing home. You'll gain tremendous insight, and they will gain good company.
  • Before purchasing anything, give it a thought, "Do I really need it?"
  • Try to save on electricity bills and telephone bills. If you're purchasing an electronic device, look for the ones that save power.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Apply Lessons Learned from the Great Depression. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Living in a yurt. In Alaska. In the winter.

Some folks probably think she's crazy. I mean, anyone who lives in a yurt (aka ger) in warm weather gets used to strange looks from "normal" people, but in the winter? In Alaska?

Niki Raapana aka The Tent Lady ( at Living Outside the Dialectic) is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. She is one of the most intelligent commentators I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and whenever the tripe which is repeated from rote memorization by those for whom rhetoric replaces reason (and who ironically claim a monopoly on reason) starts to really get me down, simply reading and ruminating on Niki's writings renews my faith in man as a thinking creature. Well, some members of the species, anyway.

But while reading Niki's philosophical thoughts, it is easy to forget that she lives a quite interesting life in the physical realm too, and is quite capable of conveying interesting and useful information on homesteading and alternative housing in what most would consider a quite harsh (at times, anyway) environment; as this excerpt shows:

"It was 20 above inside when I woke up today, and that may seem cold to non-arctic people, but in the Alaskan interior on Dec 10, it's almost perfect winter weather. Still fairly easy to crawl out from my worn-out 30 degree sleeping bag and go start a fire. I use homemade wax filled egg carton fire starters so I can have radiating heat in about 15 minutes. I'm keeping the chainsaw inside so it starts no problem, even though I do have to work myself into the mood to get out there and saw it every day. Got fresh water from the well yesterday and caught enough in pots along the walls where the drips are to do another load of dishes."

I also found interesting, this list of items she uses every day:

electric laptop computer
electric portable phone, mainly for the dialup modem
electric extension cords, power surge protectors
LED headlamp (sunset's at about 4:30pm)
Sleeping bag, felt insert
Lighter, matches
Pull dump cart
plastic pull sled
Snow shovel (cause it just keeps snowing)
Chainsaw (needs sharpening, gas, engine oil and chain oil)
3 axes (splitter, regular and small)
Woodstove, using about 3 12 foot long, 5 inch round logs a day, cut into 18 inches for the stove
egg carton wax fire starter (eliminates need for kindling)
pot holders (dirty for the stove, clean for food)
Chamber Pot
toilet paper
electric Coffee pot (sometimes electric bean grinder)
Water jugs
electric refridgerator
2 large metal pots of heating water
electric lamps (candles and oil lamps too)
Camerons Little Smoker (it's my oven)
Stoneware pots with lid (for rice and beans)
coffee cups
electic skillet (a real help when you have no stove)
metal wash bins
dish soap
hand soap
toothpaste, brush
hairbrush, hairties
hand lotion
cotton towels

Go there to read the entire post. It is a worthwhile read.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Survival and Homesteading Books

Everyone who is into survival and homesteading loves getting a new book on the subject! With all the stuff going on in the world and Christmas fast approaching, what better time for a list of such books?
Crash Course in Homesteading and Wilderness Survival

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cooking on a Car Engine

Cooking food on a car engine is something I had completely forgotten about. I've known about it for years, in the context of jeeping and desert exploring; but had never thought to apply it to vandwelling and road tripping. It makes perfect sense, though. Get up, eat breakfast, put something on the engine to cook as you drive. Stop for lunch, put something else on for supper. You don't have to eat immediately at the end of the day either, because the engine will keep it warm while you go for a walk or swim, grab a shower, or otherwise get settled in for the evening.
One could even build a bracket to bolt to the exhaust manifold and head, to hold a suitably sized stainless, cast iron or stoneware pot.
I disagree with one thing in the article, and that is the statement that modern high-efficiency engines won't cook food as well as older engines. Part of what makes modern engines more efficient is a higher operating temperature, so they should actually be even better for cooking. It may be more difficult to find a suitable spot to put the food, however, because of the maze of hoses and wires.

How to Cook Food on Your Car's Engine

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Nothing puts a damper on a road trip like having to stop the car, pop the hood, and check the engine--unless of course you're just checking to see if your pork tenderloin is done. Engine-block cooking is a tradition going back almost as long as the automobile itself, and now that gasoline prices are at an all-time high, it's never made more sense to ask your engine to do more than just get you from point A to point B. Start your engines and get ready to carbecue!


  1. Plan the right meal for the trip. If you're not going to be taking a trip anyway, engine block cooking is probably the most expensive way to cook anything, so don't plan a trip just to cook. Instead cook a dish that fits your trip. Cooking on your car's engine is essentially the same as braising food, and cooking times are generally a bit longer than in a conventional oven and shorter than in a slow cooker. If you're taking a long road trip, you can cook just about anything--roasts, complete meals with Potato side dishes, etc.--but even a quick commute affords you enough time to heat up a pre-cooked breakfast sandwich, for example, or make some hot dogs. You can find carbecue recipes by searching for "engine block cooking," for example, or you can try to find a copy of Manifold Destiny, the definitive book on the subject. You can also use recipes from your cookbook and just experiment with cooking times. See the Tips section below for some sample cooking times and other considerations.
  2. Prepare the food as you would if you were going to put it in your oven. You can follow the pre-cooking preparation directions in any oven recipe.
  3. Wrap the food in aluminum foil. Tear off two or three sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil. Don't skimp on the foil, as you'll want to make sure that your food is completely wrapped and that you can fold one edge of the foil over the other--too much foil is better than too little.
    • Lay out the pieces of foil directly on top of each other, and then spread a little butter or oil (cooking oil, not motor oil) over the top sheet so your meal won't stick to it.
    • Lay the food in the center of the sheet of foil and then wrap the foil over it. Fold the edges of the foil over each other so that the package is sealed all around.

  4. Find a suitable cooking surface on your engine. You can't just drop the food under the hood and expect it to cook; you first need to find a good, hot spot on the engine for it. Drive for a few minutes to warm up your engine, and then stop. Turn off the engine and open the hood. Find your engine's hot spots by quickly and lightly touching a finger to metal parts on the engine. Sounds like a recipe for burning your finger, doesn't it? Well it is, unless you really do it quickly and lightly. If you can hold your finger in a spot for more than a moment without getting burned, that spot's not hot enough. As a general rule, the best spot--if you can safely get to it--is on or near the exhaust manifold.
  5. Check the height of your cooking spot. Crumple up a piece of foil into a loose ball or cone. The foil should be about six inches high. Place it on the spot on the engine you've decided to cook on, and then close the hood. Reopen the hood--the foil has probably been compacted a bit.
  6. Make sure your food will fit snugly in the cooking spot. Remove the foil you used in the last step and place it next to your wrapped package of food. Compare the height of the foil "test ball" to the height of your food package. If the food package is higher than the test ball, your meal will be crushed when you close the hood. If it's more than a little lower, it won't fit snugly and may fall out of place while you're driving.
  7. Secure the food package on the engine. Assuming the package is not too high to fit in the cooking area, place it on the engine. If it was lower than the test ball, crumple up a little foil to lay on top of the package. You don't want the food moving from side to side, either, so make sure it's a snug fit all around. You can do this either by surrounding it with additional crumpled foil pieces or by tying it down. Some people will ease the food package under conveniently located rubber hoses, for example, or you can use wire to tie the food down. Use common sense when securing the food. Avoid placing it near moving parts, and don't strain hoses by trying to force the package under them. If you're going to use wire, use baling wire rather than trying to use the wires that are already in your engine compartment.
  8. Drive until the food is done. As with all cooking, a little trial and error is usually necessary before you get a feel for the proper cooking times. Even if you're following an engine-block cooking recipe, it's a good idea to check on the food a little before the time (or mileage) when it's supposed to be done. If you need to put it back in, remember to reseal and secure the package.
  9. Remove the food carefully and enjoy. First, turn off the engine. Second, remember that the engine is hot, and the food will be hot, so use tongs and/or potholders to remove the food--you wouldn't just grab a hot pan out of the oven with your bare hand! Unwrap it and serve. If you've still got some driving to do, skip the wine.


  • When seeking a good place to cook your food, don't bother with plastic parts or anything that's not directly attached to the engine. These areas won't be hot enough.
  • Afraid of burning your finger? Dipping your finger in water before you touch your engine can help prevent burns, but you'll still need to be quick to be safe. Another thing to do is just drip some water onto the hot spot, if it sizzles, it's hot. A surefire way to avoid burns is to use an infrared thermometer to determine the temperature.
  • Carbecue cooking times are usually written in terms of miles, rather than minutes. Here are some examples from recipes found online:
    • Shrimp: 30-50 miles
    • Trout or Salmon: 60-100 miles
    • Chicken breasts: 60 miles at 65 mph
    • Chicken wings: 140-200 miles
    • Pork tenderloin: 250 miles
    • Sliced, peeled potatoes: 55 miles

  • Cooking times vary slightly from oven to oven, and they vary even more from car to car. Modern engines are generally more efficient than older engines, for example, so they may require longer cooking times. The type of driving you're doing can also alter the cooking mileage. If you're stuck in traffic your 60-mile meal may be done after 10 miles.
  • You might want to start with simple dishes before you proceed to culinary masterpieces. Cook up some precooked bratwursts on the way to the football game for example, or reheat some leftovers for lunch.
  • Think twice before cooking a stew. Foods with a lot of liquid are messier and potentially dangerous to your engine (see Warnings below).
  • Remember that during a time of power failure to your home you can use the car to cook dinner.
  • Be sure to wear oven mitts, as your car's engine can get very very hot!
  • Don't try to cook on your engine while it's raining; it's dangerous.


  • Wrap the food very tightly and make sure it's well sealed. If the car's exhaust system is properly functioning, potentially dangerous fumes will be taken out the exhaust rather than entering the engine compartment. If you have any sort of fluid leaks, however, gases may enter the engine compartment through evaporation. While the danger these may pose to your health is minimal--unless, maybe, you're cooking on your engine block every day--they may affect the taste of your food.
  • Protect your engine. Improperly wrapped food can really make a mess of your engine. Additionally, there is a slim possibility that the exhaust manifold could crack if cool liquid drips on it while it's hot. This would probably only be a problem if you "preheated" your engine and then allowed some liquid from the food to drip onto the manifold before the liquid got hot from cooking.
  • Steer clear of the accelerator linkage. This mechanism goes from the gas pedal to the engine, and if your food obstructs it your accelerator could be stuck at full throttle.
  • Turn off the engine before opening the hood. To avoid serious injury, don't try to place, check, or remove your food with the engine running.
  • The vibrations and airflow under the hood could cause a leak in a foil package, spilling liquids, esp. cooking oil or grease on the manifold and causing smoke or a fire. Even if the container is tied with wire, the same vibrations might cause the wire to rub through a vacuum hose or electrical wire and lead to similar disaster.

Things You'll Need

  • A vehicle, Tin foil, Tongs, and food!

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Cook Food on Your Car's Engine. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter Vandwelling

Recently, I wrote a short blurb about Falia Photography Travel Journal, a blog by a courageous woman who sold her house and is now vandwelling, living in her Volkswagen van. This is not something she was forced into, it was a conscious decision to simplify her life, see the world and have some adventures while she is young.
At the time, The Traveler as she calls herself, was still remaining near her home in Michigan, living in her van and visiting friends. Now she and her partner Dan have made the break and headed out on the road, looking for adventure, prospecting opportunities and warmer weather.
Believe me, it takes guts to do that. Vandwelling is one thing when you are near friends and family to fall back on when you need a hot meal, a warm bed for the night or just psychological support; and quite another when you are in unfamiliar surroundings and hundreds or thousands of miles from home. She is counting on us, her online friends for support, tips on good places to visit, and perhaps even a place to park her van for a night or two.
So check out her site, and while you are there, perhaps buy some products or just donate a few bucks for a hot meal.
Oh, and leave comments on her posts, so she knows we're here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How To Get The Most from your Digital Camera

How to Understand Your Digital SLR

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

When they were first introduced, digital SLR cameras were enormously expensive and a tool for professionals only. Since then, they have come down in price into the consumer price range. Because of this, many people buy digital SLRs without understanding how they work -- and, consequently, not making the most of them. This article will guide you through the most common functions they have, and to show you how to learn to use one by experiment. The principles herein are the same for any camera; but you will probably not be able to set your shutter and aperture manually on most non-SLR cameras. Read on nonetheless.


  1. Look for a subject. We're going to be taking photographs at a wide range of settings, so it's important that you don't take photographs of anything too dark. Remember that human sight can perceive a much wider range of light intensities than a digital camera sensor (which is referred to as the camera's dynamic range). We can look through a window and still see what is inside at the same time, even though the light conditions inside are totally different from these outdoors. Cameras, and especially digital cameras, can not. So on camera, you will only see what's outside through the window or what's inside. Consider this when picking your subject.
  2. Put your camera onto something. If you have a tripod, use one; if you have a solid surface to rest on, then do so. Not that a tripod is as necessary as many people say it is; but to observe the effects of various camera settings, it's best if you get several shots of exactly the same thing.
  3. Set your camera to Program (P) mode.
  4. Play with your camera's ISO speed. This will be the first camera setting that you will experiment with. You can set this in the camera's menus; many cameras will allow you to change this with a couple of button presses, too. The ISO speed is a measure of your camera's sensor's sensitivity to light; a lower number is less sensitive, and a higher number is more sensitive. Take a photo of your subject at its lowest ISO speed (or "slowest", typically 50, 100 or 200), and then take one at its highest (800, 1600 or more). Observe the following:
    • The photo taken with the slower ISO speed will have forced the camera to use a slower shutter speed (which we'll get to later on), while the photo taken with the faster ISO speed would have used a faster shutter speed. The difference between the two may have been significant enough to be audible. Being able to use a faster shutter speed means that you can, for example, freeze motion (and, similarly, avoid camera shake) in poorer light than you could with a slower one.
    • The photo taken with the slower ISO speed will have less noise (random discoloured pixels) than the one taken with a faster ISO speed (although digital SLRs, owing to their larger sensors, have much better high-ISO performance than small point-and-shoot digital cameras do). Hence, you're left with a trade-off between image quality and usability in low-light conditions. At a concert, for example, a higher ISO speed may well be more appropriate; in bright daylight, or when you're using a tripod and remote release, lower ISO speeds may be more appropriate.

  5. Set your camera to aperture-priority mode for a moment. We'll get around to exactly what this means in a second. This will usually be called "Av" (for Aperture value) on your mode dial.
  6. Set your lens' aperture (also called the diaphragm). This will be a dial on your lens with a series of numbers on it (which will typically fall anywhere between 1.4 and 22 on most lenses). The diaphragm is just that: a diaphragm towards the front of your lens that lets more or less light onto the sensor. The size of the diaphragm is expressed as a ratio of focal length to aperture size (hence, they are referred to as, for example, f/5.6); consequently, a smaller aperture (less light onto your sensor) is expressed by a larger number. So, take two photographs, one with a larger aperture, and then stop down and take one with a smaller aperture. Observe:
    • The background of your subject is less sharp with a larger aperture than it is with the smaller one. This is called the depth of field. So, if you want to make a subject stand out from the background, use a large aperture to blur the background; if you need to get more of your scene in focus, use a smaller aperture.
    • The smaller aperture let less light onto the sensor than the larger one would have, forcing the camera to compensate for this by using a slower shutter speed. This is what "aperture priority" exposure control is about. Usually the camera will adjust either the aperture or the shutter speed to get the right amount of light onto the sensor; Av mode forces the aperture to take priority and the camera will only adjust the shutter speed. However, this means you won't see the effect of the changed aperture in Av mode on overall exposure, because the camera would have automatically compensated for it. So try setting your camera into fully manual mode (M) to see the effect of the aperture on light.
    • Hence, there is a trade-off between depth of field and low-light performance. You can either have a wide open aperture, which will give you little depth of field but plenty of light onto the sensor, or a smaller one, which will do the opposite. There are also problems with diffraction effects stealing sharpness at very small apertures; as a general rule, don't use one smaller (remember: larger number!) than f/8.[1]

  7. Set your camera to fully-manual (M) mode. This will tell the camera to give up all control of trying to expose your picture properly. Most of the time, you will not need to use this (and shouldn't; exposure control exists for a reason). But we'll need to do this if we're going to show the effects of shutter speed.
  8. Play with your shutter speed. See your manual for the exact details of how to do this. Shutter speeds are numbers which go up in a sequence that roughly doubles each time, and normally expressed as a fraction of a second; i.e. 1 second, 1/2, 1/4, 1/16, 1/25, and so on (each one usually being called a "stop"). Take two pictures at shutter speeds a couple of stops apart. Observe:
    • The photo with the fast shutter speed will be darker. This can either be a good or bad thing, depending on lighting conditions.
    • The photo at the slower shutter speed might show some motion blur if you were holding it by hand. Even if you're setting your camera on a tripod, at very slow shutter speeds (of half a second or more, such as one would use at night), you might see some blur because of camera shake.
    • Hence, in very dark conditions, you will need to use a slower shutter speed; but such slow shutter speeds can cause motion blur. In brighter conditions, you will need to use a faster shutter speed, which will have the effect of freezing motion. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.

  9. Memorise these things. Think about it in terms of light; you can adjust either your aperture, ISO speed, or shutter speed to compensate for various strengths of light. Adjusting either of them will have effects on your image, for better or for worse. Memorise these effects, and for a time, think about these things while you are taking photographs, until they become second nature.
  10. Put your camera back into Program (P) mode for now. It's nice to know the above things, and you should always feel free to use one of the manual modes if you know what you are doing. But much of the time, you won't want to worry about these things.
  11. Play with different lenses, if you have them. If you don't, the chances are good that you have a zoom. Either is fine. Fixed lenses of different sizes have different focal lengths; zoom lenses have a variable focal length. The focal length is the distance in mm between your lens elements (the glass inside) and your film/sensor. The perspective you get is completely different for each focal length.
    • The standard 50mm lens is more or less equal to the field of view of human sight, if they are paired with 35mm film or sensors. However, be aware that most digital SLR sensors are smaller than regular 35mm film. Therefore, your effective focal lengths are multiplied by about 1.5 on most digital SLRs (this is called "FOV cropping").
    • Wide-angle lenses, like a 28mm, lets you put a lot on your film. It has a wide view. It also creates the impression that you are looking at your object from a distance. It therefore is good for taking pictures of small rooms (makes these look bigger), landscapes, ...
    • The telephoto lens, like 80mm or longer, will bring things closer to you. Therefore this is used for portraits (because it forces you to be further away from the subject; the perspective at longer distances makes noses appear smaller), and wildlife photography. However, bear in mind what was said about apertures earlier; for a long telephoto lens to let in the same amount of light as a smaller lens, it has to be a lot larger. A 200-500mm f/2.8 zoom lens, for example, weighs nearly 35 pounds, and is still nearly twice as slow as the 50mm lenses of 30 years ago.[2] Short of these kinds of extremely expensive lenses, a long telephoto lens will tend to be slow (i.e. its widest f-number will be relatively small compared to that of a smaller lens), forcing you to use longer shutter speeds if it is not a very well-lit situation. This can be compensated for by using faster ISO speeds, as described above; this is a trade-off you have to make.

  12. Get out and take pictures. Now that you have a better understanding of how your camera works, and how to use it in situations that your camera cannot do automatically, you need to get outside and start using it.


  • Keep your camera in Program mode as much as possible. This mode allows the most flexible option for you to favor shutter or aperture based on the creative results determined by shutter or aperture choice. Depth of field or action? Think Motion or sharp detail. Shifting the P exposure is easy and fluid. Use semi-manual mode Tv (shutter priority) if the light is changing and you need say, 1/1000th of a second for sports action; Use Av (aperture priority) when you want to pull a scene into focus with f/22 and the sun is playing hide and seek behind a cloud. Manual mode gives you the most control. Keep in mind a digital camera has 30 plus aperture and shutter settings, so be patient and persistent in Manual mode. And don't forget to check your histograms.
  • If you find you need to take photographs of unmoving objects (such as a city skyline) at night, using a tripod will allow you to use a less noisy ISO setting by keeping the camera still during longer shutter speed exposures. This can allow you to take beautiful nighttime shots without a lot of noise.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Understand Your Digital SLR. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How To Sleep Comfortably in a Car

Here's another one about crashing in a car...uh, make that crashing out out in a car.

How to Sleep Comfortably in a Car

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

This is for people who want to travel cross country without hotels, want to save on rent, or just don't feel like driving home after a long day.


  1. Plan ahead and get a station wagon. Station wagons are the most useful cars anyone can own -- they can carry luggage or passengers, are fuel-efficient, and are by far the most comfortable.
  2. Keep your car clean. All the emergencies supplies you really need are some essential tools and fluids, and a backpack for ONE set of clothes (unless you are traveling), and a towel. A clean car is a pleasure to sleep in -- a large space to sleep provides a surprsing amount of comforts.
  3. Get a gym Membership, if possible, for a place to shower. I have had a Y membership for awhile when I stuck around in an area, but they are expensive and aren't portable (i.e. a Y membership won't work out of state). I'm not sure whether places like planet fitness memberships work throughout the country, if you are doing a cross-country thing.
  4. If you are going in the summer, public beaches are a great place to shower, or any public bathing facility, pools, etc..
  5. Do not underestimate a sleeping bag -- they are the greatest inventions in sleeping technology, ever. A $60 sleeping bag will keep you warm in -20 winter OUTSIDE, not to mention a car.
  6. Cold air respirators -- (such as are usually difficult to sleep with -- and I have found to be a waste of money. There is no easy way to sleep in the extreme cold (sub-zero) -- the sleeping bag will keep you warm, but a source of warm air is difficult, and you might wake up with a sore throat. It might be helpful to compromise (between fresh air and warm air) and make a "tent" out of a havy blanket near your face.
  7. Get a Tarp!! They are only $5 and will keep prying eyes away -- no one ever sees a tarp and suspects that someone is sleeping in their car, unless the windows are fogged. Plus, this will allow you to sleep in public places (libraries, shopping center lots, etc.). A tarp is also stiff enough to allow for ample ventilation.
  8. Lull yourself to sleep by thinking about how sweet a bachelor's life is.


  • Some possible places to sleep:
  • The parking lot of Wal-Mart. A lot of stuff goes on in Wal-Mart, it's open 24 hours so there will always be cars there, and its relatively safe. Park near the back, but not in the middle of nowhere, blend in with the employee cars. The tarp should be sufficient for privacy.
  • Any 24 hour shopping center is nice -- Hannaford's, Price Chopper, etc. -- any place that does inventory at night. People who work third shift are pretty cool in general.
  • I would stay away from Hotels -- I work at a hotel and the cops make rounds there up to twice a night. They might bother you if they see fogged windows. Plus, hotels sometimes take license plates.
  • A library is nice too -- under the rationale that you were reading a book and went out for a nap -- plus, a library is a great place to spend a day, although it would mean associating with the local homeless crowd .. so, dress nice. The key is to think of some stories or situations where you wouldn't just be a hobo.
  • Keep a map so you know where to find these places in whatever town you are in, and try to plan ahead, so you save gas and time.
  • Cops are NICE! I've never had a problem with a cop before -- just be cool and be honest.
  • Handguns ... are relatively expensive. I am in the process of getting a handgun, so I'm not too knowledgeable in this regard. I'll update if anything come up, but, with the way I live, I increasingly feel like having one would be nice.
  • Read one couple's crazy story about how they drove across the country in the middle of winter and slept in their car for 28 nights--at temperatures as low as -18 degrees Celsius. [1]


  • Safety should be your top priority, and this is by far the most important safety measure: always be sure lock all of your doors.

  • A car cover will provide protection against the cold, and it will provide privacy. However, if it is hot outside, do not use one without good ventilation. Also, never run your car while it is covered as you could get carbon monoxide poisoning.

Things You'll Need

  • A station wagon
  • A decent sleeping bag. Get the heavy (therefore cheap), warm ones, since portability is not an issue, and you can always unzip on the warm days
  • Alarm clock (if you dont have a reliable cell phone, kitchen timers are great)
  • Ear Plugs (unless you are paranoid), blindfolds, etc.
  • A 6' x 8' Tarp
  • A pillow

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Sleep Comfortably in a Car. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Enjoy Life in a Down Economy

How to Enjoy Life in a Bad Economy

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Living in a bad economy can be hard to do, but there really are a lot of possibilities to have a happy and enjoyable life. Friends, family and fun activities can bring lots of joy!


  1. If you have lived in a bad economy for a while, and can't enjoy life, get familiar with your possibilities. Check out your area, find things that motivate you, look for things to do constantly.
  2. Obtain a camera, and take photos, this is a great way to make dull surroundings interesting again. Use photo manipulation to emphasize the parts that contain the base emotion of the picture. Like loneliness in an abandoned house. Creativity is a great way to enjoy yourself.
  3. Meet people! Having a good conversation with friends is always great fun. You don't need money for that.
  4. Go hiking! Nature is full of change and energy, and in many cases, it's inexpensive or free. Take friends and your camera for the best experience. Go swimming and fishing. Climb trees. Make a swamp bed, or a fort. After observing restrictions, make a campfire and roast marshmallows or the fish you caught over the fire. If you have a tent or even just sleeping bags, camp out (or sleep in the car). If you have access to a water source, purify your own water. Go foraging or hunting, if you know how (this is not the time to experiment) or bring canned and dried food with you.
  5. Having an Internet connection is a good way to do or set up any kind of activities that involve creativity or just plain fun.
  6. Reading, going to a movie theater, taking a walk in the park, stargazing at night, having a snowball fight, fishing, pottery can all be great fun. You really don't need a lot of money for those.
  7. Having a long-term relationship is a good way to bring joy to your life! And if you live together, you could make double the money, so paying the bills will be much easier.
  8. If you celebrate christmas, making ornaments yourself can be much fun for weeks! You can make decorations for any occasions, or even seasons. Making presents by hand will make others happy too.
  9. Don't use gas, water or electricity when you don't need it. This will save money. Or just get off the grid, you'll help to save your environment this way too.
  10. Start a community activity. Countries with bad economies often don't utilize environmentally friendly ideas. Recycle your garbage, get together with your neighbors and clean your immediate area. Doing something good is always fun!
  11. Many activities don't require having a lot of money. Money isn't what people are looking for anyway. Everyone is looking for ways to enjoy their life. Some have bigger perspectives others don't. Having bigger goals in life often require having more money, but it depends on you to achieve your goal not your countries economy.
  12. If you're not satisfied with the state of your countries economy, consider moving somewhere else. Countries are not physical boundaries, they should not contain you. We all are at home here on the whole planet.
  13. If you've lived in a country that has better economy than the one you are living in right now, you must find a way to accept the change. Spending money can be enjoyable, but there are so many things you can do without having a lot. You can always try to work your way out of a bad economy anyway, make enough money to move to another country and start a life there. It's never too late to change.
  14. Bring music into your daily life. For many people around the world who struggle with a bad economy every day, song and dance provide a way to come together and have fun without spending anything. If you don't have the means to play music or instruments, you can make your own! Learn to sing and beatbox. Any flat surface can become a drum. You can even make a rubber band guitar from a cardboard box! If you're not musically inclined, now is a great time to learn. Get some family and friends together, and start making music. Sing and dance along. Learn some new songs and dance moves together. Get everyone involved.
  15. Make a new hobby out of old skills. What did people do before they had electricity, running water, and even houses? How did they live? What did they eat? How did they spend their days? People are remarkably adaptive. Research your local history and ask: What were people doing 50 years ago? 100 years ago? 1000 years ago? Try to replicate some aspects of their lifestyle--odds are, it won't cost you a dime, and you'll gain valuable insights into people of the past. Share these interests with your family and friends; kids are especially curious about low-tech, do-it-yourself projects.

  16. Ponder life. During hard times is when many people explore their spirituality; some people renew it, some people refine it, and some people change their views altogether. Whatever is your journey, take the time to dwell on your purpose in life, and be thankful for what you have. Pray, meditate, or do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you're lucky to be alive. Live in the moment.


  • If you don't have much to spend, plan your monthly expenses. Save money every month if you can, it can be useful later.
  • Living in a bad economy does not mean you'll have to stay there forever, plan your migration to another country, or area and get moving!
  • Having little money means you'll value everything you buy even more than others! When you can finally afford something, it will make you proud of yourself.
  • You can always sell items you don't need anymore. Money can be recycled too!
  • If you choose to stay in a bad economy don't think about how others live in better economies. Try to enjoy yourself with what you have!
  • Save money for an emergency.Clarify with yourself and your family what you financially need.


  • Don't spend more than you make.There is no point of making your life even more difficult and stressful.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Enjoy Life in a Bad Economy. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Vandwelling Blog

I've been reading a new (to me, at least) vandwelling blog called Falia Photography Travel Journal, by a young woman who is living and traveling in a VW Vanagon. It contains lots of interesting writing about living in a van, and life in general.
My favorite article is the one about treasure hunting and prospecting, which is a special interest of mine. Follow the link, and check it out for yourself.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Car Living

How to Live in Your Car

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Living in a car isn't something that anyone would recommend. However, when you get laid off, your emergency fund runs out, your home is foreclosed (or you get an eviction notice) and there's nobody to help, living in your car might be the only choice, especially if you don't feel safe at a local shelter. Unfortunately, in many places, sleeping in your car is not only frowned upon, but also illegal. Here's how to get by until something better comes along.
Remember, you are not alone and you have a vehicle.


  1. Find a safe and inconspicuous place to park. First, check to see if there are any organizations in your area (or a nearby area) that designates parking lots specifically for people in situations like yours; it's not only legal, but the organization might screen the people who use the lot, or even designate a women-only lot.[1] If there are no such lots available, and you live in a city, look for streets with no sidewalks, no overlooking windows, and adjacent to woods; the area should be sparse enough to avoid nosy onlookers but populated enough that the car does not stand out.[2] Parking lots of big-box retailers (especially those that are open 24 hours and have restrooms, such as Wal-mart) are great to clean up in and have security. As long as you spend a couple of dollars there and don't park in one place too often.
    • Camp sites are another option, although they usually have time limits and are almost as expensive as a hotel room. Some offer a shower for a nominal fee.

  2. National Forests have some free camping with a limit of 14 days.

  3. Five gallon bucket with a lid and lye in for odor.
    • Once you find a spot, try to arrive late at night, and leave before 7am. This will draw as little attention as possible to yourself.
    • If you can establish rapport with the manager of a retail store or restaurant, they may not give you problems about staying overnight, especially if they see your presence as a form of overnight security.[3]
    • A free hospital parking lot is another option. If approached by a guard, you can say that you're waiting to visit a sick relative.[4]

  4. Find a place to shower. The most logical place is a gym. This will help you keep your sanity and give you a purpose to your morning. Don't settle for the first gym you find. If you look around, you may find nearly deserted gyms in which you can shower and fully clean yourself without embarrassment.
    • The next best choice is to check into a cheap motel or hostel once or twice a week and clean up thoroughly there (if you can afford it).
    • Public pools tend to have showers, depending on whether they have private stalls or are set up gang style, they may provide a discrete place to shower.
    • At a truck stop, you can ask around for a shower coupon, if you feel safe allowing people to know that you're without a place to stay. Truck stops are good to sleep at too.
    • Some toll roads, especially state turnpikes, have large rest areas with free showers for truckers. Since these are usually open 24 hours, these plazas are also good places to sleep.

  5. Rest areas on National highways are good for a few hours and most have security.
    • Keep an eye out for community college athletic field houses-- they don't always check IDs, and can be a good free shower option.

  6. Be discreet. Keeping your situation under wraps minimizes the embarrassment and helps avoid becoming a target for police officers and criminals alike.
    • Rotate among several parking locations to avoid getting noticed.
    • When you move around in the parked car, move slowly to avoid rocking the car.
    • Consider using a car cover. Not only will it maintain privacy (especially since condensation on the windows will otherwise make it obvious that you're in there) but it will also keep the car warmer during winter. This is not a viable option, however, when it's hot outside.
    • When it's sunny in the daytime, use a sunshade for the windshield.
    • Keep the windows cracked open while you sleep, not wide enough for someone to reach in, but enough to allow fresh air and reduce condensation on the windows.

  7. Get the things you'll need. The basic essentials for living in a car are a blanket, a pillow, and a mattress or some other padding. Due to the angles involved in the seating setup, you may develop dull back pain from the cramped quarters. Should this happen, be sure to have pain medication on hand. Once you have your sleeping gear, you'll want a blanket to place over the back seat, and draped over the two front seats. This will block light and people's views.
  8. Find alternate ways of generating electricity. A cigarette lighter converter is one option. These are useful for powering low consuming devices (100 watts), but if you plan on using your vehicle for cooking, then you'll need to draw power more directly from your battery or you'll blow the fuse. You will also need a much more expensive converter, and need to idle the vehicle while drawing this power. An alternative is to use gas, but do not use this inside the vehicle for safety reasons.
  9. Have a place to store items that is portable. Get bags you can fill with your soaps, clothes, cell phone, etc. Keeping things in order will save you a lot of hassle. A vehicle may seem like a small space, but losing things can be extremely easy. Also, keeping things neat inside the car will draw less attention from people passing by who happen to look in the windows. Hiding your bedding might be a good idea (consider the trunk). There's not a lot of extra room in a vehicle for a week's worth of clothes, so consider finding a hiding place to keep them. The laundromat is great, but don't waste a load by throwing in too much, or not diluting the soap first. When you're not in the car, leave windows cracked and dryer sheets scattered about to keep the interior smelling decent. Wash your sheets once a month, or else you risk smelling like a homeless person, which will blow your cover and get you treated like a homeless person.
  10. Keep dirty clothes separate in plastic bags so they do not smell up all your clothing.
  11. Evaluate your food options. Peanut butter, tuna and crackers are great staples. Have a box for food so it does not get smashed. Gallons of water are a necessity for a lot of things.They will be limited by the lack of refrigeration. Fast food is expensive when you're living off of it. With old fashioned (large flake) rolled oats, powdered milk, bottled water, plastic cups, and chocolate protein powder, you can ensure that you always have a nutritious snack to fall back on.[5]
  12. Before you start living in your car, use your permanent address to:
    • Rent a P.O. Box or a Private Mail Box (PMB). Although PMBs tend to be more expensive, you can receive packages at them and some services will let you use a address format which makes it appear to be an apartment, which is useful for when someone requires a physical address.
    • Sign up for a gym membership. (This however, can be expensive, and if your resources are limited, you may find it to be a drain.)
    • Renew any paperwork that will require an address to process soon.
    • Put valuables in a safe deposit box at a bank.

    If you have friends or family who can't (or refuse to) help you with your living situation (or you refuse to ask them for help) think about at least asking them if you can use their address.
  13. Stay positive. Keep reminding yourself that the situation is only temporary. Spend each day hitting the pavement and looking for jobs. Use the local library and bookstore not only to search for jobs, but also to become more knowledgeable in ways that will help you get through this and find a job. Most importantly, talk to people like social workers and religious organization workers who will sympathize and understand, and try to help.


  • If your car has the capacity, install a hanging bar. This will provide a bit more storage space as well as keep clothes wrinkle-free for job interviews, etc.
  • Tint your windows for privacy, tinting works better than barriers(blankets etc.) because it enables you to see out while others cannot see in, this could be helpful when trying to leave unnoticed. Barriers also attract attention and advertise what you are doing, tinted windows are very common on many cars.
  • If you wear contact lenses you will need a disinfectant for your hands. Better yet, wear glasses.
  • Get an automobile association membership. This will help you if you drain your battery, or break down.
  • Make sure you have vehicle documentation and insurance. Without it, your problems will increase.
  • Personal safety should always be your number one priority. A knife used for food can be used as a weapon so can a tire iron used to change your tire.You may want to learn your state's gun laws and purchase a handgun or other firearm if you do not already own one. Criminals seek out people who appear vulnerable, or travel alone. Sometimes, the sound of a cocked gun will be sufficient enough to deter a potential mugger. Be aware that having a gun in the car carries its risks. If you are startled awake and point the gun at the wrong person (i.e. a cop tapping on the window), you can wind up being shot yourself.
  • If you are spending the night in your car and you have been drinking alcohol, do not have the keys in the ignition, If it is winter and you need to run the car for heat, move over to the passenger or back seat.
  • The garbage truck or other neighborhood noises can wake you up. Consider earplugs.
  • Pay attention to your instincts. If a parking spot feels weird for any reason, find yourself a new one.


  • Never sleep in the driver seat if you can avoid it. Your body will quickly associate that seat with sleeping, creating risks when you are driving - especially when you're tired. Recline the passenger seat or lie down in the back if there is room.
  • If you are sleeping in the car on a regular basis, do as few other things in the car as possible. Don't eat, read, or anything else that will cause you to spend more time than necessary in the car. The more time you spend in it, the more smells will accumulate.
  • If you use a car cover, never run the car or smoke while it is on. You could easily suffocate or get carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not use it on a warm day without adequate ventilation.
  • Be careful who you tell about your living in a car. If they're not likely to provide assistance, then don't bother, because you might end up endangering yourself.
  • Don't drink alcohol. Don't even bring any alcohol into your car. If cops find you with alcohol in your blood or in your car, you could get in serious trouble, even if you're not driving at the time.

Things You'll Need

  • Blankets and pillows
  • Towels and wash cloths
  • Car with insurance and license
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Food
  • Gym membership (you will stay clean and work off stress)
  • Automobile association membership (if your car insurance doesn't include Roadside Assistance)

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations


Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Live in Your Car. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, October 3, 2008

CNG as a Replacement for Gasoline

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a fossil fuel substitute for gasoline (petrol), diesel, or propane fuel. Although its combustion does produce greenhouse gases, it is a more environmentally clean alternative to those fuels, and it is much safer than other fuels in the event of a spill (natural gas is lighter than air, but disperses quickly when released).
CNG is made by compressing natural gas (which is mainly composed of methane [CH4]), to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. It is stored and distributed in hard containers, at a normal pressure of 200–220 bar (2900–3200 psi), usually in cylindrical or spherical shapes.
CNG is used in traditional gasoline internal combustion engine cars that have been converted into bi-fuel vehicles (gasoline/CNG). Natural gas vehicles are increasingly used in Europe and South America due to rising gasoline prices.
In response to high fuel prices and environmental concerns, CNG is starting to be used also in light-duty passenger vehicles and pickup trucks, medium-duty delivery trucks, transit and school buses, and trains.
CNG's energy density is 42% lower than LNG (because it is not liquefied), and 25% lower than diesel.[1]



[edit] Technology

A CNG powered high-floor Neoplan AN440A, operated by ABQ RIDE in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A CNG powered high-floor Neoplan AN440A, operated by ABQ RIDE in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
CNG can be used in Otto-cycle (gasoline) and modified Diesel cycle engines. Lean-burn Otto-cycle engines can achieve higher thermal efficiencies when compared with stoichiometric Otto-cycle engines at the expense of higher NOx and hydrocarbon emissions. Electronically-controlled stoichiometric engines offer the lowest emissions across the board and the highest possible power output, especially when combined with exhaust gas recirculation, turbocharging and intercooling, and three-way catalytic converters, but suffer in terms of heat rejection and fuel consumption. A suitably designed natural gas engine may have a higher output compared with a petrol engine because the octane number of natural gas is higher than that of petrol.
CNG may be refueled from low-pressure ("slow-fill") or high-pressure ("fast-fill") systems. The difference lies in the cost of the station vs. the refueling time. There are also some implementations to refuel out of a residential gas line during the night, but this is forbidden in some countries. Fueling a vehicle from a home natural gas fuel line is becoming more popular in the United States, especially in California and New York, and tax credits are available for installing the necessary appliance.
CNG cylinders can be made of steel, aluminum, or plastic. Lightweight composite (fiber-wrapped thin metal "ISO 11439 CNG-3"/fibre-wrapped plastic "ISO 11439 CNG-4") cylinders are especially beneficial for vehicular use because they offer significant weight reductions when compared with earlier generation steel and aluminum cylinders, which leads to lower fuel consumption. The CNG cylinders bundled with safety-valve generally follow the ISO 11439 standard. [2]
The equipment required for CNG to be delivered to an Otto-cycle engine includes a pressure regulator (a device that converts the natural gas from storage pressure to metering pressure) and a gas mixer or gas injectors (fuel metering devices). Earlier-generation CNG conversion kits featured venturi-type gas mixers that metered fuel using the Venturi effect. Often assisting the gas mixer was a metering valve actuated by a stepper motor relying on feedback from an exhaust gas oxygen sensor. Newer CNG conversion kits feature electronic multi-point gas injection, similar to petrol injection systems found in most of today's cars.

[edit] Drawbacks

Compressed natural gas vehicles require a greater amount of space for fuel storage than conventional gasoline power vehicles. Since it is a compressed gas, rather than a liquid like gasoline, CNG takes up more space for each gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE). Therefore, the tanks used to store the CNG usually take up additional space in the trunk of a car or bed of a pickup truck which runs on CNG. This problem is solved in factory-built CNG vehicles that install the tanks under the body of the vehicle, thanks to a more rational disposition of components, leaving the trunk free (eg. Fiat Multipla, New Fiat Panda, Volkswagen Touran Ecofuel,Chevy Taxi (sold in countries such as Peru) etc). While CNG-powered vehicles are considered to be safer than gasoline-powered vehicles [3][4], there are concerns about how best to fight fires involving CNG vehicles.[5]

[edit] CNG cars

CNG cars available in Europe are actually flexible-fuel vehicles. Their engine is a standard gasoline internal combustion engine (ICE). This means that they can indifferently run on either gasoline from a gasoline tank or CNG from a separate cylinder in the trunk. The driver can select what fuel to burn by simply flipping a switch on the dashboard.
Several manufacturers (Fiat, Opel(General Motors), Peugeot, Volkswagen, opel Zafira 1.6 CNG and others) sell bi-fuel cars.
Almost any existing gasoline car can be turned into a bi-fuel (gasoline/CNG) car. Authorized shops can do the retrofitting, this involves installing the CNG cylinder in the trunk and installing the CNG injection system and electronics. Besides the lower costs, a major benefit is that CNG cars can reduce pollution.

[edit] CNG Locomotives

CNG Locomotives are operated by several railroads, including Ferrocarril Central Andino in Peru, which has run a CNG Locomotive on a freight line since 2005[6] , and the Napa Valley Wine Train, which replaced its diesel locomotive with a CNG locomotive in May of 2008[7]. CNG locomotives are usually diesel locomotives that have been converted to use compressed natural gas generators instead of diesel generators to generate the electricity that drives the motors of the train. Some CNG locomotives are able to fire their cylinders only when there is a demand for power, which, theoretically, gives them a higher fuel efficiency than conventional diesel engines.

[edit] CNG compared to LNG

CNG is often confused with liquefied natural gas (LNG). While both are stored forms of natural gas, the key difference is that CNG is in compressed form, while LNG is in liquefied form. CNG has a lower cost of production and storage compared to LNG as it does not require an expensive cooling process and cryogenic tanks. CNG requires a much larger volume to store the same mass of gasoline or petrol and the use of very high pressures (3000 to 4000 psi, or 205 to 275 bar).

[edit] Worldwide

[edit] Canada

Canada is a large producer of natural gas, so it follows that CNG is used in Canada as an economical motor fuel. Canadian industry has developed CNG-fueled truck and bus engines, CNG-fueled transit buses, and light trucks and taxis. Both CNG and propane refueling stations are not difficult to find in major centres.

[edit] United States of America

In the US, federal tax credits are available for buying a new CNG vehicle. Use of CNG varies from state to state. In California, CNG is used extensively in local city and county fleets, as well as public transportation (city/school buses), and there are 90 public fueling stations in Southern California alone. Although natural gas prices are rising, compressed natural gas is available at 30-60% less than the cost of gasoline, as a rule of thumb, in much of California. Personal use of CNG is a small niche market currently, though with current tax incentives and a growing number of public fueling stations available, it is experiencing unprecedented growth. The state of Utah offers a subsidised statewide network of CNG filling stations at a rate of $0.85/gge[8], while gasoline is above $4.00/gal. Elsewhere in the nation, retail prices average around $2.50/gge, with home refueling units compressing gas from residential gas lines for approx $1.50/gge. Other than aftermarket conversions, and government used vehicle auctions, the only currently produced CNG vehicle in the US is the Honda Civic GX sedan, which is made in limited numbers and available only in a few states. An initiative, known as Pickens Plan, calls for the expansion of the use of CNG as a standard fuel for cars has been recently started by oilman and entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens.
Congress has encouraged conversion of cars to CNG with a tax credits of up to 50% of the auto conversion cost and the CNG home filling station cost. However, while CNG is much cleaner fuel, the conversion requires a type certificate from the EPA. Meeting the requirements of a type certificate can cost up to $50,000.

[edit] Europe

Italy currently has the largest number of CNG vehicles in Europe and is the 4th country in the world for number of CNG-powered vehicles in circulation.
The use of methane (CNG) for vehicles started in the 1930's and has continued off and on until today.
Currently (06/2008) there is a large market expansion for natural gas vehicles (CNG and LPG) caused by the rise of gasoline prices and by the need to reduce air pollution emissions.
Before 1995 the only way to have a CNG-powered car was by having the retrofitted with an after-market kit. A large producer was Landi Renzo, Tartarini Auto, Prins Autogassystemen, OMVL, BiGAs,... and AeB for electronic parts used by the most part of kit producer.
Landi Renzo and Tartarini have divisions selling vehicles in Asia and South America.
After 1995 bi-fuel (gasoline/CNG)cars became available from several major manufacturers. Currently Fiat, Opel(GM), Volkswagen, Citroen, Renault, Volvo and Mercedes sell various car models and small trucks that are gasoline/CNG powered. Usually CNG parts used by major car manufacturers are actually produced by after-market kit manufacturers, e.g. Fiat use Tartarini Auto components, Volkswagen use Teleflex GFI[1] and Landi Renzo components.
In Italy, there are more than 800 CNG stations [2].
In Germany, CNG-generated vehicles are expected to increase to two million units of motor-transport by the year 2020. The cost for CNG fuel is between 1/3 and 1/2 compared to other fossil fuels in Europe.[citation needed] in 2008 there are around 800 gas(CNG) stations in Germany
In Portugal there are 4 CNG refueling stations but 3 of them do not sell to the public. Only in Braga you can find it on the local city bus station (TUB).

[edit] South America

Gas storage in a car.
Gas storage in a car.
CNG station in Rosario, Argentina.
CNG station in Rosario, Argentina.
Argentina and Brazil are the two countries with the largest fleets of CNG vehicles. Conversion has been facilitated by a substantial price differential with liquid fuels, locally-produced conversion equipment and a growing CNG-delivery infrastructure. A 'Blue-network' of CNG stations is being developed on the major highways of the Southern Cone (including Chile and Bolivia) to allow for long-haul transportation fuelled by CNG......

[edit] Asia

CNG Radio Taxi in New Delhi, India
CNG Radio Taxi in New Delhi, India
One of the many CNG propelled autorickshaws on the streets of New Delhi, Delhi. A fleet of twelve also operates in Brighton, England.
One of the many CNG propelled autorickshaws on the streets of New Delhi, Delhi. A fleet of twelve also operates in Brighton, England.
A CNG powered Volvo B10BLE bus, operated by SBS Transit in Singapore.
A CNG powered Volvo B10BLE bus, operated by SBS Transit in Singapore.
CNG costs are at Rupees 18.90(USD $0.46) per kg compared with Rs.56.00 (US$ 1.45) per liter of petrol. The cost saving is immense along with reduced emissions and environmentally friendlier cars.
CNG has grown into one of the major fuel sources used in car engines in Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The use of CNG is mandated for the public transport system of India's capital New Delhi as well as for the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. The Delhi Transport Corporation operates the world's largest fleet of CNG buses. The government of Punjab, Pakistan, the most populous province of that country, has mandated that all public-transport vehicles will use CNG by 2007. Today many rickshaws as well as personal vehicles in India and Bangladesh are being converted to CNG powered technology, the cost of which is in the range of $800-$1000. In the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka not a single auto rickshaw without CNG has been permitted since 2003. As of July 2007 Pakistan is the largest user of CNG in Asia, and second largest user in the world.[9]
According to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles, Pakistan has the second-largest number of natural gas vehicles.[9] Recently Landi Renzo of Italy has set up a production subsidiary in Karachi to cater to the growing demand of CNG Kits in Pakistan. OEM's like Toyota Pakistan and Suzuki Pakistan is producing company fitted CNG cars.
In the Middle East and Africa, Egypt is a top ten country in the world with more than 63000 CNG vehicles and 95 fueling stations nationwide. Egypt was also the first nation in Africa and the Middle East to open a public CNG fueling station in January 1996.[10]
In Singapore CNG is increasingly being used by public transport vehicles like buses and taxis, as well as goods vehicles. However, according to Channel NewsAsia on April 18, 2008, more owners of private cars in this country are converting their petrol-driven vehicles to also run on CNG - motivated no doubt by fiercely-escalating petrol prices these days. The initial cost of converting a regular car to bi-fuel at the German conversion workshop of C. Melchers-Galileo, for example, is around S$4,000 (US$2,300); with the promise of real cost-savings bi-fuel cars bring in the long term.
Singapore currently has three operating filling stations for natural gas. SembCorp Gas Pte Ltd runs the station on Jurong Island, and jointly with Singapore Petroleum Company, the filling station at Jalan Buroh. Both these stations are in the western part of the country. Another station on the mainland is in Mandai Link to the north and is operated by SMART Energy. SMART also plans a second station on Serangoon North Ave 5 which will be set up the 2nd half of 2008; so will two more - at Jalan Bukit Merah and Bedok in the central and eastern parts of the country.
As a key incentive for using this eco-friendly fuel Singapore has a Green Vehicle Rebate (GVR) for users of CNG technology. First introduced in January 2001, the GVR grants a 40% discount on the Open Market Value (OMV) cost of newly-registered green passenger vehicles.
In Malaysia, the use of CNG was originally introduced for taxicabs and airport limousines during the late-1990s, when new taxis were launched with CNG engines while taxicab operators were encouraged to send in existing taxis for full engine conversions; any vehicle converted to use CNG is labelled with white rhombus "NGV" (Natural Gas Vehicle) tags, lending to the common use of "NGV" when referring to road vehicles with CNG engine. The practice of using CNG remained largely confined to taxicabs predominantly in the Klang Valley due to a lack of interest. No incentives were offered for those besides taxicab owners to use CNG engines, while government subsidies on petrol and diesel made conventional road vehicles cheaper to use in the eyes of the consumers. Petronas, Malaysia's state-owned oil company, also monopolises the provision of CNG to road users. As of July 2008, Petronas only operates about 150 CNG refueling stations, most of which are concentrated in the Klang Valley. At the same time, another 50 was expected by the end of 2008.[11]
As fuel subsidies were gradually removed in Malaysia starting June 5, 2008, the subsequent 41% price hike on petrol and diesel led to a 500% growth in the number of new CNG tanks installed.[12][13] National car maker Proton considered fitting its Waja, Saga and Persona models with CNG kits from Prins Autogassystemen by the end of 2008,[14] while a local distributor of locally assembled Hyundai cars offers new models with CNG kits.[15] Conversion centres, which also benefited from the rush for lower running costs, also perform partial conversions to existing road vehicles, allowing them to run on both petrol or diesel and CNG with a cost varying between RM3,500 to RM5,000 for passenger cars.[16][12]

[edit] Oceania

During the 1970s and 1980s, CNG was commonly used in New Zealand in the wake of the oil crises, but fell into decline after petrol prices receded.
Brisbane Transport and Transperth in Australia have both adopted a policy of only purchasing CNG buses in future. Transperth is purchasing 451 Mercedes-Benz OC500LE buses and is undertaking trials with articulated CNG buses from Scania, MAN, and Irisbus, while Brisbane Transport has purchased 216 Scania L94UB and 240 MAN 18.310 models as well as 30 MAN NG 313 articulated CNG buses. The State Transit Authority of New South Wales (operating under the name "Sydney Buses") operates 102 Scania L113CRB buses, two Mercedes-Benz O405 buses and 300 Mercedes-Benz O405NH buses and are now taking delivery of 255 Euro 5-compliant Mercedes-Benz OC500LEs.
In the 1990s Benders Busways of Geelong, Victoria trialled CNG buses for the Energy Research and Development Corporation.[17]
Martin Ferguson, Ollie Clark, and Noel Childs featured on ABC 7.30 Report raising the issue of CNG as an overlooked transport fuel option in Australia, highlighting the large volumes of LNG currently being exported from the North West Shelf in light of the cost of importing crude oil to Australia. The opportunity and pathways to industry development are mapped out in summary on the Rosetta Moon news site.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^
  2. ^ ISO 11439: Gas cylinders -- High pressure cylinders for the on-board storage of natural gas as a fuel for automotive vehicles
  3. ^ "How Safe are Natural Gas Vehicles?". Clean Vehicle Education Foundation. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  4. ^ "How Safe is Natural Gas?". Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  5. ^ "Fighting CNG fires". Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  6. ^ "The First CNG Train Starts Functioning in Peru - Paula Alvarado - June 21, 2005". Retrieved on 2008-08-20.
  7. ^ "Napa Valley Wine Train Tests CNG Locomotive - Tech.Winetrain - May 15, 2008". Retrieved on 2008-08-20.
  8. ^ "Natural Gas Prices in the US". Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  9. ^ a b "NGV Statistics". International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles. Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
  10. ^ Allen, Robin (1999-05-11). "New fuel cleans up: CNG: Compressed natural gas is rapidly gaining popularity with drivers; Surveys edition", Financial Times, p. 17.
  11. ^ "More natural gas stations needed, say motorists". The Star Online (2008-06-13). Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  12. ^ a b Rashvinjeet S. Bedi (2008-06-08). "Motorists rush to check out NGV system". The Star Online. Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  13. ^ Vinesh, Derrick (2008-06-25). "Long queue for NGV kits". The Star Online. Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  14. ^ "Proton cars to come with NGV kits". The Star Online (2008-06-28). Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  15. ^ Elaine Ang and Leong Hung Yee (2008-07-07). "Moving towards hybrid vehicles". The Star Online. Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  16. ^ Perumal, Elan (2008-06-13). "Rush to fit natural gas gadget". The Star Online. Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  17. ^ "NGV Bus Demonstration - H Bender - December 1993". Retrieved on 2007-07-26.