Header image
Skepticism · agriculture · politics · technology

Farming

| Posted on in farming, life

It’s been nearly three months since my father left me with the farm. It was precisely one year ago today when he saw my newborn son in the hospital. While we were watching Nolan get passed from family member to family member in the birthing suite, he told me, “You have achieved immortality.” I thought about that a lot today as I sat today for 14 hours on the tractor, stirring up as much dust as the 1/2″ we received last week would allow.

I’m learning a lot, but I don’t know that I’ll ever feel that I’m learning enough. I’m particularly disappointed with the amount of quality agricultural audio content. KFRM is chalk full of commercials and religious and family content, Audible doesn’t have much in the way of quality nonfiction related to ag in any way, and the few podcasts I’ve found are valuable but they are too few. If you have any suggestions for high level and high quality content, let me know in the comments.

Brian Traffas

| Posted on in life

Brian Traffas, 59, died June 4, 2012, at Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital, Medicine Lodge, Kan. He was born Feb. 24, 1953, in Medicine Lodge, the son of Vincent and Mary (Gulli) Traffas.

A lifetime resident of Sharon, Kan., he was a farmer.

He was a member of St. Boniface Catholic Church, Sharon, Kan.

On May 22, 1976, he married Marilyn R. Marcotte in Victoria, Kan. She survives.

Other survivors include his mother, Mary Traffas, Sharon, Kan.; a son Aaron (Diane) Traffas, Wichita, Kan.; two daughters Megan (Andrew) Piester, Goddard, Kan.; Erica Traffas, Wichita, Kan.; two brothers, Dr. Vincent Traffas, Kensington, Kan.; Shawn Traffas, Buhler, Kan.; two sisters Elaine Graham, Kansas City, Kan.; Joan Berman, Fayetteville, Ark.; and two grandchildren, Nolan Traffas and Kylee Piester.

He was preceded in death by his father Vincent.

Visitation will be 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wed. June 6, 2012, at Larrison Funeral Home, 120 E. Lincoln Ave., Medicine Lodge, KS 67104.

Vigil service will be 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, at St. Boniface Catholic Church, Sharon, Kan.

Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 a.m., Thursday, June 7, 2012, at St. Boniface.

Burial will be in St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery, Sharon, Kan.

Memorials may be made to the Brian Traffas Scholarship Fund in care of the funeral home.

Condolences may be left at www.larrisonmortuary.com.

Is nitrogen in tires a scam?

| Posted on in science, skepticism
A computer rendering of the nitrogen molecule,...
Image via Wikipedia

I was in Manhattan, Kan., waiting on my truck to be serviced about two years ago when the salesman at the service station brought me a brochure. It touted the benefits of filling my tires with nitrogen. I had never heard of such a practice, so I read the entire brochure with amazement.

It seems that there are companies that market nitrogen for use in automobile tires. The language on a brochure or a website from one of these companies reads just like that from any popular pseudoscience or scam. Phrases like “amazing benefits” and “high purity” could just as easily come from a vitamin supplement company. In the first couple of above-the-fold paragraphs on the website from one such popular company, it’s explained how the high cost of this technology – generating and delivering nitrogen – has kept it out of the hands and tires of the common folk until now. Lucky us. Seems  it was the college kids with the nitrogen tanks for their kegorators who’ve had the secret this whole time.

Like any good skeptic, I’m not going to base an entire case against a product on poorly selected marketing tactics. Let’s think about what the product is trying to solve, decide if it makes sense and, if so, then decide if it’s economically viable.

The benefits for using nitrogen in tires comprise increases in fuel economy, tire life and safety.

Fuel economy
The hypothesis is that because nitrogen gas molecules are larger than those of oxygen, the natural seepage is reduced. Because lower-than-proper tire pressure has a negative impact on fuel economy, nitrogen must be better.

Tire life
The hypothesis is that the double bonds in the rubber of tires are susceptible to oxidation and that, over time, the anti-oxidants used by tire manufacturers to prevent this oxidation are degraded to the point that the oxygen in the tires begins to attack the rubber. Also, the moisture in air can cause corrosion on the rims. Because nitrogen doesn’t oxidize the rubber or corrode the wheels, nitrogen must be better.

Safety 
The hypothesis is that because the expansion rate of nitrogen is less than that of air. Because varying pressures in tires can lead to problems in the consistency of handling, steering and braking, nitrogen must be better.

Let’s look at the difference between oxygen and nitrogen. I’m not a chemist, but from what I can find the difference in molecular size between the gasses of oxygen and nitrogen is about 3%. Furthermore, the air we breath – the same air that is compressed to fill most of our tires – contains nearly 80% nitrogen anyway.

Here’s some math from the Car Talk website.

Under-inflated tires lowers gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every one pound of drop in pressure of all four tires. So, if you’re down by 10 pounds… you’re losing 4 percent in fuel economy… For every drop of 10° Fahrenheit in air temperature, your tires will lose one pound of pressure.

I believe that nitrogen-filled tire pressure does change with temperature, perhaps just not as much as tires filled with air. If nitrogen pressure didn’t change at all with temperature, then by this math, properly inflating your tires with nitrogen during the summer can prevent this 4% loss in fuel economy if the temperature drops 100 degrees. Or you can simply check your tires every few months and adjust the pressure accordingly.

Off-road tire
Image via Wikipedia

What about leakage? Does the 20% of the air in the tires that is 3% smaller than the rest really leak out so much faster that there is a change in pressure over the course of the few months between checks? I believe it may be slightly measurable – if using a highly accurate gauge – but I don’t believe it would be noticeable or significant to either the handling or the fuel economy.

We don’t drive our cars in a pure nitrogen environment, so the outside of our tires and our wheels are constantly exposed to oxygen, moisture and other more nefarious substances. I’ve never heard of anyone who had to replace a tire or rim due to holes rusting through from the inside of the wheels. Again, I suppose that it’s something that could be measured in the lab over the course of a very long time, but the wear on the tires will cause the need for a new tire long before the anti-oxidants (if this claim is even believable) go away. Likewise, the failure of other components on the car will cause the need for a new car long before the wheels corrode to the point that they need replaced.

The biggest logical fallacy noticeable in nearly all advertising for nitrogen in tires is an argument from authority. Because NASCAR and the US military use nitrogen in their tires, we average consumers should do the same. The high performance requirements – taking a turn at 150 mph or landing a bomber on a runway – require consistent, reliable air pressure. Both the military and NASCAR have large budgets, and at these extremes the slight benefit – only a percent or two based on the math above – of the nitrogen is worth the price which they don’t really care about anyway.

In summary, tires filled with air contain roughly 21% oxygen and 78% nitrogen and small amounts of water vapor and other trace gasses. Filling tires with dry nitrogen replaces that 21% oxygen with a molecule that is 3% larger and reduces moisture inside the tire. Does this practice increase fuel efficiency, tire and rim longevity, and safety? My guess is that it may be slightly measurable but certainly not noticeable – and most definitely not worth the additional cost for anyone who properly monitors tire pressure.

What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Dad life

| Posted on in kids, life

I’m not sure that I fit the stereotype portrayed here just yet, but I’m noticing some disturbing trends. Thanks to Luke VanSkike for pointing me at this video.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-21

| Posted on in twitter
  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-14 | #
  • I just accused my wife of giving my unborn child fruit poisoning. #
  • Dear iTunes Genius: When I start Genius on Tow Cow Garage, playing the Beatles is nothing but a #fail #
  • I liked a @YouTube video http://t.co/imkhg4r Incredible Shade Illusion! #
  • @MediaGuyCarl Nope. It auto-tweeted the title of the video….I had no control over the punctuation. #
  • @MediaGuyCarl I've already used one of my two this year…I'm saving the other for the birth of my son in a couple weeks. #
  • lol // RT @EricaHops: Wearing my new favorite t-shirt today. http://t.co/IPgHVrA #
  • likes Sally, I've Been Shot by Two Cow Garage on Ping http://t.co/JRynMZq #iTunes #
  • First full day of coding in as long as I can remember – and it felt great. #
  • Massive fail by @tgw_tweets – can't pay for a purchase without giving credit card over the phone? Is this 1995? How insecure! #
  • #lastfm Artists: Ryan Adams (11), Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (11) & The Hold Steady (10) http://t.co/YMZYhR5 #
  • Anybody need a sand pump? // Georgia Iron Works 816D 10 x 10 sand pump | no-reserve auction on August 25, 2011 | http://t.co/X16zP60 #
  • I'm going to throw a tablet if I see another story that says iPad killed TouchPad. webOS was superior to iOS in many ways. HP didn't market. #
  • @TGW_Mike A Ping putter. You should really fix your relationship with Ping so that you can take payments securely. #
  • @TGW_Mike I finally got it ordered using your chat system. I felt sheepish when I learned later that you were in Wichita. #
  • @TGW_Mike I'll definitely come to the store next time I need something. #
  • Hey iTunes, please never, ever add Bad Company to another Genius mix. Thanks. #
  • Quite right. // RT @MediaGuyCarl: @traffas It isn't usually the best technology that wins, but the first technology that's good enough. #
  • Plays that song that's so-illusive. #
  • Factoid: webOS Runs Twice as Fast on iPads Than on TouchPads – @Gizmodo via @natedrives // http://t.co/FptJETp #
  • WordPress Now Powers 22 Percent Of New Active Websites In The U.S. http://t.co/o2AW7Mm #
  • Really HP? You're spinning off all your hardware but you elect to keep printers? THAT'S what you kept? #
  • Happy birthday, Gene Roddenberry. #
  • I just spent a lot of money at TGW because my belly putter sucked. Should I stick with it? @TGW_Corey @TGW_Mike #
  • Each time I build something custom in WordPress it takes half the time I expected. Either I'm good or WordPress is. Probably the later. #
  • @dN0t God I hope that's autospam. #
  • @dN0t Lol. http://t.co/fQQK1dI #
  • @dN0t Well she made over $10k a month working from home! No wonder they kept it a secret. #
  • In a map with no AWP, the Famas is the surprise long range pain stick. #css #
  • @dN0t I relapse every now and then. #
  • Someone should create a website that lists places that serve Pepsi products so they're easier to boycott. #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-14

| Posted on in twitter
  • What stain of a designer at Netflix thought that horizontal scrolling would be a good interface? #fail #
  • Hey, @boxee, is there any way to put episodes of a series in order in the Netflix app? #
  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-07 | #
  • Fun With Math of the Day http://bit.ly/rinPcA #
  • I just unlocked the "Century Club" badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/oPG3OK #
  • OH: "Accounting should be boring. It's when accounting becomes exciting where you know you have a problem." #
  • @MikeOMearaShow I just got hiccups from laughing so hard at a bonus show. #
  • @dN0t "No one wins at violent shows." #
  • @dN0t Hold Steady lyric. I wouldn't know. You'll have to take me to one when we come visit next year sometime. #
  • @rachelyohe You seem to be tolerant with your own capitalization, though. #
  • "Blackjack's headshot" 21 OF HEARTS http://bit.ly/rkFUJr #
  • STOP! IT MAKES MY BRAIN CRY. http://bit.ly/nLgDmf #
  • @rachelyohe Not nearly as bad as the "U/are" combo fail. #
  • Using a pound sign to represent the word "number" is like a lazy texting teen who uses the number 2 to represent the word "to". #
  • I liked a @YouTube video http://youtu.be/sBH_fN-wb6c?a Auctioneers Designation Academy in Vegas #
  • That's an even more vulgar use of the pound sign since it's lazy AND redundant. // RT @jdschultz: @traffas or sn# or vin#… Ugh! #
  • My Top 1 #lastfm Artists: Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (4) http://bit.ly/9P1d2t #
  • Born after 1976? You’ve never experienced normal global temperatures http://t.co/62os0dG (via @summify from @EricaHops) #
  • Trailer house flipped in the wind less than a half-mile from my house. Many trees down and it seems Sprint gave up. Hoping for power soon. #
  • There are FOUR lights! #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-07

| Posted on in twitter
  • @djpizzle I am a sucker for scifi, and it had Indiana Jones and 13. #
  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-31 | http://traff.as/s8 #
  • Whoa – Firefox #fail Can't have two separate Google accounts open in Firefox simultaneously. <3 Opera! #
  • @mediatemple Did you recently raise the GPU allowance for the standard grid plan? #
  • @mediatemple Thanks! #
  • @dN0t Great band. You should check them out. Very raw songwriting. Wish I could make that show, but doubt I can leave the week after Nolan #
  • I'm watching Star Trek III: The Search for Spock @intonow http://into.tv/i/2HH3 #
  • I knew it was too good to be true. RT @mjrobbins: Hoax: "Internet Explorer users have lower IQ" story was complete bollocks http://lay.si/ds #
  • @dN0t They were smoking something. I was thoroughly unimpressed. It felt like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. #
  • @dN0t To be fair, I fell asleep for about 20 minutes in the middle of it. Perhaps that was the good part. #
  • @chadsmith I answer calls to my Voice number with Gmail in a browser. How is OpenVBX better? #
  • @chadsmith That's impressive. I'll have to check it out. We've been looking for a business solution like this. #
  • 1929 Ford Model A four door sedan | no-reserve auction on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | http://t.co/YVGog3j #
  • It amazes me how Opera with plugins and extensions runs circles around Firefox 5 with no plugins or extensions. #
  • Well the 70 mph wind just inverted and broke my brand new grill. #ksweather #thanksKansas #
  • Why is Merrill Teller wearing a blue wrist band? #kwch #ksweather #
  • @dN0t Thanks for putting it in mine. #birdplane #
  • OH: "Are there zebras in Kansas? There's no way a horse looks like that." #
  • I liked a @YouTube video http://youtu.be/Vx6hmUv06tg?a The Axis of Awesome: Birdplane #
  • @dN0t Try some diesel-flavored bird seed. #
  • My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Harry Chapin (27), The Hold Steady (14) & Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (7) http://bit.ly/9P #
  • @lucasmaddy Setlists are for n00bs. #
  • Here is @lucasmaddy making a setlist…from his wall. http://yfrog.com/kexx1duj #
  • Heading to @longhornssaloon. Bringing the rock. #
  • Counting the utterances of the phrase "indoor voice" at Dennys after the show. #
  • Parenting Tips http://bit.ly/qisvLp #
  • If Social Networks Were People http://bit.ly/ncdjzD #
  • I liked a @YouTube video http://youtu.be/LBwXl-fGjN8?a Gollum at a wedding #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-31

| Posted on in twitter
  • @justinochs Every girl wants a man with a farmer tan. #
  • Ag rock at 7 (@ Woody's) http://4sq.com/ppDpOO #
  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-24 | http://traff.as/s7 #
  • This Is a Great Idea http://bit.ly/ndmZVO #
  • Counter Strike: Source is good for the soul. #
  • @jdschultz You see this? http://j.mp/nzKSH3 #
  • Is it me or is VirtualBox a complete turd on the AMD E350 APU? #
  • OH: "That dude has a pocket monocle …I want one." #
  • My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: The Hold Steady (23), Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (17) & The Mike O'meara Show (7) http:// #
  • I used to do the same thing. RT @dN0t: My ma uses points of ellipsis like the world period market is going to collapse tomorrow. #
  • Cowboys and Aliens (@ Warren Theatres) http://4sq.com/oNgp4s #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-24

| Posted on in twitter
  • From @lucasmaddy in the vocal isolation booth: "I don't even recognize this song." #
  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-17 | http://traff.as/s3 #
  • Does anyone know if an hour long enough to boil a trombone mouthpiece? #
  • Join me at '#140conf – Smalltown 2011' in Hutchinson and get your ticket at a discount. http://t.co/r8hwL2l #
  • You know, with @netflix at $18 per month after September, it's still a stupid-cheap deal compared to cable. #
  • OH: Are we doing "rock, paper, scissors" on whether God exists? #
  • @pgauctioneer Nah, digital over-the-air HD. Much better signal than cable HD. #
  • @pgauctioneer Oh, and it's free. #
  • In #Lawrence this morning for #socialirl and the first non-auctioneer education presentation I've attended in many years. #
  • @subbob Good idea. Firing up EVO wifi. #
  • "Every customer is a content generator." #socialirl #
  • Only 2/3 of the way to the back of the room at #socialirl and can only hear about 2/3 of what @petershankman is saying. PA is quiet w/ echo. #
  • Still can only understand about 2/3 of what @petershankman says. #socialirl #
  • @benasmith Next time, you should get a music store to sponsor with a PA so the back half of the room can understand what's being said. #
  • @benasmith Thanks…the last change made the sound quality better, but it's also now about 30% too quiet to make everything out. #
  • @benasmith Thanks for fixing the sound! So much better now with the different mic. #
  • Yo, @hardees, @petershankman loves the Thickburgers – can't stop talking about them. #socialirl #
  • Important! From #socialirl // "You don't want the PR guy to have access to the customer accounts." #
  • Looking around at #socialirl and it hit me – people actually *still* use Outlook. #
  • @bestofjess I have a hookup if you still need a cable. #
  • @bestofjess No prob. I'm draining my EVO battery for WiFi as well, so I know how fast it goes. #
  • Love seeing AaronTraffasBand as my SSID on the big screen at #socialirl #
  • You can't avoid humor just because you're afraid to offend. @petershankman at #socialirl #
  • Sweet! There's a Ghostery plugin for Chrome – best privacy plugin – http://j.mp/qNdZIt #
  • Loving my new task management system using Producteev and Astrid – worth a look if you want desktop and device sync. #
  • @ericahops Nice! I miss playing at Aggie Station – the Speakeasy was the greatest. #
  • @ericahops I had heard that the Pig was closed/sold but hadn't heard it was opening as Station – just glad it won't be another store. #
  • Attention Internet: If you want me to log in with my email address, don't call it a username. #
  • Just added a studio microphone swing arm to the baby registry. #donottelldiane #
  • Giving up after spending the last hour trying to set up a green screen studio. Just don't have the right stuff. #
  • @dN0t He was a great guy. #
  • I bought Swiftkey X yesterday. Its free from Amazon today. #
  • Over 12 late-model combines are currently in extended bidding as bidders compete to buy – view at http://j.mp/nxtcsa #
  • @dN0t Bahahaha….I tried to read your link and, for some reason, the content was blank. cc: @NESN #
  • It's either a bid or it isn't. There's no such thing as a pre-bid, unless it's something you do before actually placing a bid. #
  • My Top 2 #lastfm Artists: Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (3) & Sports Night (1) http://bit.ly/9P1d2t #
  • Simply *stoked* to get to see my first combine demolition derby tonight at the Ellis County Fair. #
  • http://yfrog.com/h0bqmscj Purple Wave's combine #
  • Android Tablets Now Have 30% Market Share, In Spite of iPad Domination http://bit.ly/p1OFdq #
  • eBay Bans Facebook Friends from Bidding on Auctions http://bit.ly/mPNpYW #
  • Hit Those Things! http://bit.ly/qKuXgU #
  • RT @atband: Don't miss Aaron @Traffas tonight playing a solo show at Woody's Pub and Grub in Lenexa – show starts at 7 p.m. #
  • Loading to head up to the home of Red Dirt in Kansas City for tonight's show at Woody's Pub and Grub. http://fb.me/15GXaLRW2 #

Powered by Twitter Tools