Solar Powered

1366 watts per square meter, baby

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How to Make Colored State Maps with Google Tools

  1. Get your data into a Google Spreadsheet (or Sheets, or whatever they are called these days). Typically, this involves importing data from Excel.
    Sheets also has some very useful functions for pulling in data from the web. For example, =IMPORTHTML("https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population_density","table",1) will pull in data about population density by state from Wikipedia. The last argument is simply an index for the table on the target page that you want to grab; you can use trial and error to find the right index on pages with crazy table formatting.
  2. Make sure that your data has a column with 2-letter state codes. For the Wikipedia data above, I had to add these in semi-manually (I first used a function to capitalize the left two letters of each state name, but this doesn’t provide the right abbreviation for a number of states).
  3. Create a new Fusion Table in Google Apps. You can start with this step directly, if you prefer. However, the data editing tools in Fusion Tables are pretty clunky (especially with the new look), so it’s easier to cleanse the data upstream. In Fusion Tables, it is easy enough to import a Google spreadsheet- at the time of this writing, that’s one of the primary options when you open a new Fusion Table.
  4. After you have your data in Fusion Tables, the next step is to merge it with a file that contains shapes for U.S. states. Fortunately, such data is readily available; I use this file. So, with your Fusion Table open, choose Merge from the File menu, and paste https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=11sHQwVRy17GkKd4SnamR8ewCqKd74gyAW38T52c#rows:id=1 into the text entry at the bottom of the page. The next dialog asks you to select the keys for joining the data, be sure to select the 2-letter state abbreviations for both files. You can also choose which columns to include or exclude. You need the Geometry column from the merged table, for sure.
  5. Once you complete the merge, you should be good to go. Fusion Tables should show a tab that says “Map of Geometry”, where geometry refers to the column with the KML data. Click on this tab. It may take awhile, but your map should appear. If you’re like me, a few states will be missing due to errors in the abbreviations. Which is a hassle, because you need to fix the errors and then re-merge. So, check those codes!
  6. Almost there! Next, we need to choose whether we want a heat map (where the shading of the states varies continuously across values), or is grouped. Google allows either. Choose “change Feature Styles” from the map menu, and then choose either Buckets or Gradient to select how the states should be shaded. Or, if your data already has color info (in #RRGGBB format), you can use that, too. You have to be careful with the gradient limits; in the case of US population density, the high value for the District of Columbia will wash everything out, so you may want to choose a lower limit (e.g. 1,000 people per square mile). In general, where the distribution of the data is skewed, you may be better off using Buckets and picking the color breaks manually.
  7. There are a lot of options to customize these maps. Maybe I’ll get to those in another article…

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There is no comparison, of course, between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs. But you can’t help noticing the deep historic irony that finds a Tea Party favorite and descendant of famine Irish using the same language that English Tories used to justify indifference to an epic tragedy.
Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia - NYTimes.com

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A Note on Emissions

I drove the 4 miles to work today, using 0.8 kWh in the process. That’s 5 miles per kWh.

This was better than average (in cold weather, I think I’m closer to 3 miles per kWh). 

I am curious about how CO2 emissions emissions for this car stack up to a normal hybrid. I know that here in New England, as of 2011 the marginal CO2 emissions for electricity was 0.91 lbs CO2 / kWh generated (down from 1.1 in 2005). 

I’m not going to worry about distribution & charging losses just yet, though they should make some difference. Using 5 miles per kWh, and 0.91 lbs CO2 / kWh, yields 0.18 lbs CO2 per mile, which is pretty good.

Gasoline produces about 19 lbs CO2 per gallon burned. I believe, but need to verify, that this figure excludes the upstream emissions of refining, etc., so the actual marginal number would be higher. But let’s stick with 19 lbs/gallon for now. To get the same CO2 emissions as I got this morning, my car would have to get 19 / 0.18 = 105 mpg.  That’s tough to get in a conventional car, hybrid or not, even under ideal conditions.

I think on average I get more like 3 miles / kWh. That works out to 0.30 lbs CO2 per mile. The equivalent gasoline-only vehicle would have to get 19 / 0.30 = 63 mpg. For reference, Prius drivers typically get 48 mpg, while the Prius V (which is closer in size to my car) gets about 42 mpg, real world.

Bottom line- my Fusion Energi, in pure electric mode, has CO2 emissions that non-plug-in vehicles can’t really match. 

I’ll sharpen the pencil as time goes on (and double-check that I’m not, for example, confusing lbs C with CO2).

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This is my plug-in Fusion. I got a good deal on a lease. I am learning a lot about life with a partially electric vehicle; more to follow!

This is my plug-in Fusion. I got a good deal on a lease. I am learning a lot about life with a partially electric vehicle; more to follow!