Better World Club

Thursday, September 18, 2008

With Washington shut down, the professional reporters at Driving Change have been moonlighting covering the conventions. Here are some of their convention headlines from the past two weeks:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Michelle Obama Says She's Just Like Us!

Boy, You've Got To Do Better Than That

Wednesday, August 27th
Hillary Tells Supporters: "Don't Look Back. Keep Going!"
To What? 2012?

Thursday, August 28th
Biden Gives Up Delaware Senate Seat to Move Back to Pennsylvania
"I Missed My Hometown of Scranton So Much, Win or Lose, It's Worth It"
Denies It's Like Cheney Moving Back to Wyoming in 2000
"Heck, I'm Giving Up a Senate Seat. Isn't That Smarte...Whoa, Wait a Second..."

Friday, August 29th
Good Speech Overshadowed As Obama Forgets Martin Luther King's Name

Saturday, August 30th
Liberal Slur: McCain Chose Palin Because She Has Breasts!
Hardly. Have You Ever Seen McCain In A Swimsuit?

Tuesday, September 2nd
Republican Conventioneers Celebrate As Bush, Cheney Speeches Wiped Out by Gustav
Survival of New Orleans Considered a "Bonus"

Wednesday, September 3rd
Lieberman Endorses Palin, Then Meets Her
"I'd Do The Same For Mrs. Butterworth"

Someone Revives Thompson
Proves He Can Act by Acting Human

Thursday, September 4th
Investigation Reveals Palin Has PhD in Demographics
Her Research Shows That More Americans Live in Small Towns Than Previously Thought

Friday, September 5th
McCain Defends Community Organizers From Palin Broadside
Encourages Americans To Go Out and Help Somebody
Palin: "It Almost Made Me Barf"

McCain Also Names Three Pitiful Citizens
No Program Addressed To Them, Just Felt Americans Should Know Who They Are

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EPA Announces Plan for Habitat Protection in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

A "Caribou Rehabilitation Zone" is Planned in Oil-Rich Area

ExxonMobil to Create Nonprofit "Caribou Foundation" to Aid in Area's Rehabilitation

The EPA is partnering with the Department of Energy and ExxonMobil to save the caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. The announcement was made at a press conference today, attended by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson.

"We're especially pleased to have ExxonMobil, a for-profit company, onboard for this project," enthused Johnson. "They've agreed to invest millions in this caribou-saving project. Their generosity is just amazing."

"We at ExxonMobil are just trying to do what's right," Tillerson averred. "We're investing in our nation's future, and the children, and, um, nature. We hope that within twenty years we'll be producing millions of gallons"

The focal point of the project will be several large metal structures dubbed "Caribou Social Areas" (see diagram above). These are designed to provide caribou with a safe and inviting environment. Special features include a large drill that creates low-level vibrations in the ground that caribou apparently find pleasing, as well as several thousand miles of pipelines that serve as a meeting ground and "coffee klatch" for the lucky animals.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fun With Biodiesel

by Skyler Mills
BWC Member and All Around Cool Guy

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning diesel fuel additive or substitute that runs in unmodified diesel engines, including those of cars, trucks, construction equipment, boats, generators, and oil home heating units. It's made from renewable sources such as soy or canola oil and can also be made from recycled fryer oil (yes, from your local restaurant) or any other vegetable oil or animal tallow.

Biodiesel is not straight vegetable oil (SVO) or waste vegetable oil (WVO), but is often made from it. In a process called transesterification, the feedstock is thinned down to remove the sticky glycerin and other impurities. This process produces biodiesel and glycerin. When purified, the glycerin can be used in several industries.

My car!

Of course, it's a diesel, a 2004 VW Jetta TDI (Turbo Direct Injection). She's been on a near-steady diet of some concentration of biodiesel since she was a wee pup, or whenever I burned off that first tank of straight petroleum diesel. At 79,000 miles, lifetime highway/city combined fuel economy - with an exuberant right foot - is 45.9 mpg, or almost the EPA estimated highway of 46 mpg. This translates routinely to 700-mile tanks.

Can you mix biodiesel with petroleum diesel?

Sure. I've run anywhere from near-B0 to B100 and back again. The number following the B is the percentage of biodiesel. B20, a common blend, is 20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent petroleum diesel.

Where do you get biodiesel?

There are fueling stations in most metropolitan areas, as well as many smaller cities. My personal enabler is Island Energy in Jamestown, RI. While not in a major metro area, Island retails both on-road biodiesel blends, as well as heating oil blends. Their biodiesel supplier is Newport Biodiesel, whose feedstock is used fryer oil (WVO) from local restaurants. I take three 5-gallon totes and a near-empty tank to Island and fuel up for a month (driving 75 miles a day). It's a Zen experience fueling with clean, clear biodiesel fuel made from the waste stream. Not to mention it reduces our foreign oil dependence and carbon emissions. And, Island's biodiesel costs about the same as petroleum diesel.

How does the car drive?

Fabulously. It's smooth, quiet and the exhaust smells great. On getting a whiff of the exhaust for the first time, my wife exclaimed "It smells like somebody's cooking something!" Being a modern turbo-diesel, it shrugs off hills with its higher torque (low-end grunt). On the freeway, you would never know it's a diesel; 60 mph turns about 2000 rpm. At those revolutions, you are at or near peak torque: just press your foot down an inch and you'll feel the push on your back immediately. No need to downshift!

Are there any disadvantages?

Of course. There is no perfect fuel, yet.

Due to its lower energy content per gallon, higher blends of biodiesel give me slightly less power and fuel economy, by perhaps 5 percent. Considering its advantages (American farm-produced, renewable and cleaner-burning), I think that's a small price to pay. As the saying goes, "Freedom Isn't Free."

Biodiesel is an excellent solvent. In older vehicles that have been burning petroleum diesel, it can loosen build-up and clog fuel filters. Also, vehicles made prior to the mid-1990's may need fuel line upgrades.

Biodiesel can gel at lower temperatures, so it's best to fuel with a reputable supplier who keeps up with seasonal changes. Here in southern New England, a commercial B20 blend does well in the winter months. Even after my car was left outside during the January 2005 blizzard and its frigid aftermath with B20 in the tank, it still started and ran great. If the low temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above, B50 is usually fine.

Some new car warranties may be affected by biodiesel use. Research your vehicle's warranty, and also biodiesel in general. Make an informed decision. Once you do, you'll know you're doing the right thing.

And have fun!

Many thanks to the following:

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Save 50% at Over 1,461 Campgrounds

Members Can Mooch Off of BWC President Mitch Rofsky and Save $10 When They Join Passport America

Mitch, our fearless leader, just joined Passport America and received a special code that saves all the people who use it $10 when they join! The code is built into a link on our member site, so all you have to do to get the discount is click and sign up online.

Passport-America started the 50% Discount Camping Club back in 1992 and continues to improve upon the concept. The idea has been often imitated, but Passport America is still the best value in Discount Camping with over 1461 participating campgrounds across the United States, Canada and Mexico (with new ones joining weekly). Members receive an International Camping Directory, personalized travel card, and newsletter with updates and listings of fun events. As an added service to its members, Passport America is also online with 24-hour access to updates and other information.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Looking for a Hybrid Mechanic in the SF Bay Area?

BWC Members Receive a 15% Discount!

Hybrid Haven is a light-service auto facility operated by an ASE L1 certified Master Diagnostic technician with over 30 year’s experience in the auto industry. He has been factory trained by Toyota for 16 years, of which the last 9 dealt primarily with Hybrid technology. During his tenure with the auto dealership service was provided to hybrid vehicles referred by the insurance industry.

Hybrid Haven is a single employee auto facility providing service to hybrid cars and light service to regular vehicles. Light service is defined as fluid changes, scheduled maintenance, brake service, electric steering, low tire pressure monitoring system, and general diagnostic service. The shop is a sheet metal A-frame structure measuring 3,000 sq. ft. Hours of operation are, Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturdays 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, and closed Sunday and Monday.

Hybrid Haven is pleased to offer the members of Better World Club a 15% discount on all services and labor except parts and fluids. BWC members can take advantage of this great deal at our Member Login Page.

Hybrid Haven
301B 2nd St
Petaluma, CA 94952
707-766-9700 (phone)
707-766-9799 (fax)

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The Gym Where Human-Powered Cardio Machines Create Electricity

BWC Members Living In or Traveling Through Portland, Oregon Receive a Free Workout or One Month Free Membership!

The Green Microgym is one of the first fitness/health club facilities in the world generating a significant portion of its own electricity. The facility boasts a 2,800 sq. ft. neighborhood gym with all the modern equipment you need to get a great workout 365 days a year. It is fully equipped with name brand cardio equipment, a full weight room, and two training rooms for yoga/stretching, movement, and core workouts. Comfortable amenities include Sirius Satellite Radio, flatscreen LCD High Definition televisions, and wireless internet.

The Green MicroGym is locally owned and personally designed by owner Adam Boesel, and is located in the vibrant Alberta Arts district of Northeast Portland, OR. Its website is

Better World Club members living in or passing through Portland, OR can receive a free workout at the Green Microgym ($10 value), or 1 month free membership with a signed membership agreement. BWC members can take advantage of this great deal at our Member Login Page.

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No More Blindly Groping Through a Kitchen Drawer for AA Batteries During a Power Outage

BWC Members Save $7 on the Hybrid Solar Lite!

Hybrid Solar Lite is a Super Bright (40 lumens/1 Watt), environmentally safe, solar powered flashlight. It will hold its solar charge for years so it does not need to be stored in the sun! Just throw it in the glove compartment, a backpack, etc. The solar power is rechargeable over and over, and, in addition, a back-up battery can be used if the solar power is discharged. This means the Hybrid Solar Lite is always ready. The Hybrid Solar Lite features power source indicator lights, is waterproof to depths of 80', and extremely durable.

Hybrid Solar Lite encourages the use of alternative energy and allows you to take a step towards a more sustainable lifestyle while saving money - no costly batteries to pollute landfills and water supplies. With Solar Lite you can save money, contribute to environmental protection, and be prepared for any emergency! Solar Lite is Guaranteed for Life and makes a great gift that says you care - about people and the environment!

The Hybrid Solar Lite normally sells for $24.95 plus shipping and handling, but Better World Club members can get one for just $17.95 plus s/h. BWC members can take advantage of this great deal at our Member Login Page.

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