The drivers were awesome to be with. Hard working drivers!! It really stands out when the drivers jump in to help set up base camp, and tear it down. Not to mention always having a fresh green tea for me just when I needed it every time. They really were great and I’d ask for them anytime we get vehicles from you. Thanks!" Mary Brooks – 3 Star Productions
King Kong has great motorhomes and the best drivers in the business. Working with you guys is always easy and a pleasure." Cat Burkley-Portfolio One
I just wanted to send you a quick message and let you know how amazing Rich is. I have hired motos from all over and this was by far our best experience. Really nice to work with great people" Crystal Raymond- Chinese Laundry
The Helios is a great motorhome. Not only is it energy efficient but it offers a large space for production to work in. The copy machine is great because you can wirelessly print and make color copies and send faxes. The satellite phones came in handy when we realized we didn’t have any cell service on location. We received several compliments throughout the shoot day. Crew walked into the motorhome in awe of such a beautiful space." Courtney Witherspoon-Production Coordinator Three One O
You guys did a phenomenal job with the Helios. And Rob, as always, went above and beyond for us." Dan Kae—Assistant Production Supervisor
We truly enjoyed working from the Helios, the attention to detail to make it an Eco friendly asset to our industry should be commended. The quiet workspace you get when running on the solar power is delightful! Rob was pleasant to be around and always willing to help out. Thank you Rob and King Kong for bringing us the Helios!" Rochelle Savory-Assistant Production Supervisor
You guys are the BEST!" Marie D’Amore—Production Supervisor, HSI
I wanted to give Rich another glowing report, He was AMAZING on our shoot. The most helpful driver I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely be requesting him on future shoots.
Thanks for everything guys!" Adrienne Burton – Freelance Prod Coordinator
King Kong… top notch service, incredible drivers, clean, well equipped vehicles, on time—every time! Thanks guys…. you ROCK!!!" Elaine Lee—Producer 5th and Sunset Los Angeles
…the moho was super nice, everything was great! I will definitely rent it again!!" Susan Borbely – Prod Coordinator
Thank you so much for lovely Eko lav — definitely the nicest port-a-potty I’ve ever used!" Amanda – Producer
We’ve used the Helios twice now and have been quite impressed each time. It has everything production could want AND it’s earth friendly! We will use the Helios on every job in which we need a moho." Mario D’Amici—Production Coordinator, Beef Films
Rusty, Bruce and the guys at King Kong were a crucial asset to my photoshoot. They took a lot of stress off of my plate and came through when I needed them, allowing me to focus 100% on the production. Without a doubt, King Kong is now my go-to for production vehicles and I do not hesitate to recommend them to my colleagues. And, not only is Rusty the best and most helpful driver I have ever had the pleasure of working with, he is also awesome with a fog machine!" Brett Spencer-Producer, Nastygal.com
Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome customer service. Our driver was friendly and professional. He arrived early and had everything ready to go for us. The motorhome was clean and in perfect shape. Every detail matters on a shoot to help keep everything running smoothly. We love working with King Kong!" Jamie Williams- That Girl Productions
North Six has been working with King Kong for many years now. Not only is their customer service unparalleled, but their fleet of motorhomes is always clean, reliable, and exactly what we need to support our photo productions." Kyd Kisvarday—Producer, North 6
Archive for November, 2012
5:47PM EST November 11. 2012 –
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A half mile below the ground at Prudhoe Bay, above the vast oil field that helped trigger construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, a drill rig has tapped what might one day be the next big energy source.
The Department of Energy and industry partners over two winters drilled into a reservoir of methane hydrate, which looks like ice but burns like a candle if a match warms its molecules.
There is little need now for methane, the main ingredient of natural gas. With the boom in production from hydraulic fracturing (so-called “fracking”), the United States is awash in natural gas for the near future and is considering exporting it, but the DOE wants to be ready with methane if there’s a need.
“If you wait until you need it, and then you have 20 years of research to do, that’s not a good plan,” said Ray Boswell, technology manager for methane hydrates within the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
The nearly $29 million science experiment on the North Slope produced 1 million cubic feet of methane. Researchers have begun the complex task of analyzing how the reservoir responded to extraction.
Much is unknown but interest has accelerated over the past decade, said Tim Collett, a research geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.
U.S. operators in Alaska, he said, may want to harvest methane so they can re-inject it into the ground. Crude oil is more lucrative than natural gas, which is routinely injected into North Slope fields to maintain underground pressure, which aids in oil extraction.
Japan, Korea, India and China, however, want to cut down on natural gas imports by burning methane. Japan is setting up for a production test on a gas hydrate accumulation in the Nankai Trough south of Honshu, its main island.
“That will be the first marine gas hydrate test anywhere in the world,” Collett said.
The Energy Department describes methane hydrate as a lattice of ice that traps methane molecules but does not bind them chemically. They are released when warmed or depressurized.
Methane comes from buried organic matter after it’s ingested by bacteria or heated and cooked. The gas migrates upward, under high pressure and low temperature, and can combine with water to form methane hydrate.
Most deposits are below the sea floor off the continental shelf or under permafrost. Shallow pockets of methane hydrate release the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and that process is exacerbated by climate warming.
That’s why Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity says research money should be poured into renewable resources, not more fossil fuel sources. Methane is 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2, though not as long-lived.
“Any exploration activities designed to extract methane hydrates run the risk of unintended consequences, of unleashing the monster,” he said. Even if methane is extracted safely, burning it will add to climate warming, he said.
The world has a lot of methane hydrate. A Minerals Management Service study in 2008 estimated methane hydrate resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico at 21,000 trillion cubic feet, or 100 times current U.S. reserves of natural gas. The combined energy content of methane hydrate may exceed all other known fossil fuels, according to the DOE.
Not all is accessible, but high concentrations in permeable rock where there’s existing drilling infrastructure would be among early candidates for development. The USGS in 2008 estimated 85 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas within methane hydrate deposits on Alaska’s North Slope.
It will not be simply dug out of the ground, Boswell said. “One of the basic messages is, we’re not mining,” he said. “It’s using existing drilling techniques.”
Methane could be extracted by lowering pressure or increasing temperature in an underground reservoir.
“One of the issues with that, though, is that you are melting the ice, and adding a lot of gas and water to the reservoir, which can compromise the reservoir’s strength,” Boswell said.
The Alaska research focused on a method aimed at preserving the underground ice structure. The extraction technique was based on studies done by Houston-based ConocoPhillips and the University of Bergen in Norway. Researchers in a laboratory injected carbon dioxide into methane hydrate. CO2 molecules swapped places with methane molecules, freeing the methane to be harvested but preserving the ice.
The DOE worked with ConocoPhillips and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. to see if it would work in the field. They named the North Slope well Ignik Sikumi, an Inupiat Eskimo phrase that translates as “fire in the ice.”
Researchers injected 210,000 cubic feet of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the underground reservoir through perforated pipe. Instruments measured pressure, temperature and produced gases. They tracked injected gases without fracturing the formation.
Scientists collected data from 30 days of methane production, five times longer than anyone had done before. They are now trying to determine if methane produced was from an exchange with CO2, a reaction to the nitrogen, or a reaction to pressure changes down the hole.
Researchers are optimistic.
“From the lab data we had, it seemed like it was some strong evidence that it was not a lot of wholesale destruction of the solid hydrate,” Boswell said.
California’s first auction of greenhouse-gas credits nears
Some industrial businesses are still fighting the cap-and-trade program, which requires big polluters to either reduce their emissions or buy credits to cover the difference. The auction is Nov. 14.
|California’s cap-and-trade program covers about 600 facilities this year, including refineries, seen above, as well as cement plants, steel mills, food processors and electric utilities. (Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times / October 6, 2011)|
November 6, 2012
Starting next week, big polluters will be required to buy pollution credits if they plan to emit greenhouse gases above their allotted levels.
On Nov. 14, the state is scheduled to launch the market-based “cap-and-trade” program of selling pollution credits at auction.
This year, the program covers about 350 industrial businesses operating a total of 600 facilities throughout the state. They include cement plants, steel mills, food processors, electric utilities and refineries. Starting in 2015, the program will also cover distributors of natural gas and other fuels.
These businesses have been issued free credits worth 90% of their recent emissions. Now they must either cut their greenhouse gas production to that level or buy credits to make up the difference. Companies that have more credits than they need can sell them at the auction, and the state will sell additional credits as well.
But with the state’s first sale of pollution credits just days away, businesses that oppose the program are still trying to derail it. At a minimum, they are asking for free credits worth 100% of their recent needs, not just 90%.
Opponents are petitioning the governor, lawmakers and regulators. An industrial coalition is running newspaper and radio advertising campaigns, saying that cap-and-trade is “a multibillion-dollar, hidden energy tax” that will drive California’s already high energy prices even higher.
The state’s requirement to buy pollution credits “will impose high and unnecessary costs on California businesses, threatening jobs and tax revenues in the state,” the industrial coalition, AB 32 Implementation Group, said in an Oct. 16 letter to the governor. “All California’s consumers will feel the impacts of higher costs for fuel, utilities, food and other essential goods and services.”
The biggest problem, the group contends, is that the California-only regulations are expected to cause “leakage” of jobs by driving businesses to neighboring states that put no limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Regardless, the state has made it clear that it’s moving ahead with the long-planned cap-and-trade approach.
“The auction will take place on Nov. 14,” said Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown.
The approach “is a reasonable, well-thought-out program with rigorous reporting, monitoring and enforcement … while protecting California’s business and jobs,” Matt Rodriquez, the head of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency, said at a recent conference in San Diego on industry and the environment.
The upcoming auction of credits is one of the most controversial parts of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the 2006 law known as AB 32.
Each credit allows the release of one metric ton of greenhouse gases. (For comparison, a typical passenger vehicle produces about five metric tons per year.) The California Air Resources Board, which is overseeing the quarterly auctions, has set a minimum bid of $10 per credit, and it predicts that the price could rise to as much as $50 over the next eight years.
The system probably will prove expensive for Cal Portland Co., a Glendora cement maker with plants in Colton and Mojave. The two plants are expected produce about 1 million tons of greenhouse gases this year.
“We’re projecting in 2013 that we’re going to see a direct increase in costs of somewhere between $2 million and $5 million per year. It’s a significant percentage of our costs,” said Steve Regis, Cal Portland’s vice president for corporate services. The company also expects the credits system to cause big hikes in the cost of electricity, which it uses to run furnaces to bake limestone and other cement ingredients to more than 1,600 degrees.
“Our concern is, we may no longer manufacture in California,” Regis warned. “We’d … bring it in from overseas or out of state.”
Another unhappy company is Pacific Coast Producers, a farmer-owned cooperative that has a tomato canning plant in Woodland, northwest of Sacramento.
Buying the credits it needs through 2020 would add as much as $2.5 million to the cost of canning tomatoes, Vice President Mona Shulman predicted.
“This is a cost for a product that’s being imposed on us that’s not being imposed on our competitors” out of state and overseas, she said. “Adding a penny a pound does make a difference in a global market for a product like ours.”
California’s cap-and-trade system is much more comprehensive and ambitious than the only other greenhouse gas auction in the country. A 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, begun in 2009 in the Northeast, covers only electric power plants. Trading in Europe proved to be flawed when started in 2005 but has been substantially overhauled since then.
The Golden State’s carbon market and its entire effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions won’t directly put a significant dent in global warming because the state contributes less than 2% of worldwide emissions, said Severin Borenstein, executive director of the UC Energy Institute.
“But California is creating a model for a cap-and-trade that can work,” he said. “Potentially, it could provide an example that other countries and larger organizations of countries could adopt, while we work out some of the kinks along the way.”
11:46AM EDT November 3. 2012 – The “paper or plastic” mantra at store checkouts is getting a digital twin: “paper or e-mail.”
As smartphones proliferate, more stores and banks are offering to e-mail shoppers their receipts rather than giving them a printed copy. These electronic or digital receipts, touted as green for saving paper and convenient for saving time, enable retailers to market directly to customers.
“It’s a growing trend,” says John Talbott,of Indiana University’s Center for Education and Research in Retailing. He says companies are rushing to mimic what Apple started in 2005, adding he expects “any retailer worth their salt will offer this.”
This year, Macy’s began offering paperless receipts at its stores nationwide and, beginning in August, Wells Fargo extended this option — begun at its ATMs in 2010 — to transactions inside bank branches. Citibank announced in September that it would also offer electronic receipts at its ATMs. Other companies with an e-receipt option include Nordstrom, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Kmart, Sears and Gap.
A third, or 35%, of retailers offer digital receipts, and half of them do so at all their stores, according to a survey of 3,900 retailers released earlier this year by marketing firm Epsilon.
“There’s a tremendous amount of interest,” says Epsilon President Andrew Frawley, noting digital receipts have proved to boost sales. He says while an e-mail address can be worth hundreds of dollars to a retailer, he advises corporate clients not to deluge customers with too many promotions because of “e-mail fatigue.”
“Sustainability is a large part of our culture, so paperless receipts were a no-brainer for our shoppers,” says Rick Kilmer of FLOR, a company that opened 12 U.S. stores this year to sell carpet squares made with recyclable materials. He says usage varies by city, but at least half of its customers nationwide choose e-receipts.
“It’s really about convenience for the customers. … No one likes the mess of all the paper,” says Richele Messick of Wells Fargo. She says 12% of eligible ATM receipts are now electronic.
At Macy’s, shoppers are also choosing e-receipts for 12% of transactions, says spokesman Jim Sluzewski, adding the digital option was part of a corporate effort to go paperless.
E-receipt users need to be vigilant about e-mail, says Katherine Hutt of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Scammers may pose as a bank or retailer having a problem with your account, and ask you to click on a link or provide personal information,” she says. “That’s a common tactic for identity theft, and we expect it will become more and more common as people shift to paperless receipts.”
Frawley says digital receipts do not make consumers more vulnerable to identity theft, partly because they’re easier to trace.
While that may be true, what’s driving e-receipts is the bottom line, says C. Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group, a consumer research and consulting firm. “Less paper means fewer people” to file records, he says. “It has everything to do with saving money.”
Rose Holley, a shopper at Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., says she’s old-fashioned and still wants printed receipts. “Because I’m bombarded with e-mail already, I don’t want to overlook a receipt” or get more promotions, she says.
Talbott says his wallet often bulges with receipts, so he goes paperless when given the option. In the past, he says he’d collect receipts for Christmas purchases but, post holiday, couldn’t find them. Now he has a designated computer spot for e-receipts.
4:39PM EST November 11. 2012 – Blame the bird.
The cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner edged up slightly, but it could have been lower this year had it not been for the meal’s traditional centerpiece, the turkey.
The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates it will cost $49.48 to feed 10 people turkey and all the fixings this year, up only 28 cents from last year’s average of $49.20. But much of the 3% increase came from the big-ticket item on the table, the turkey.
SLIDE SHOW: The Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner 2012
A 16-pound turkey will cost about $22.23 this year, the AFBF said. That is roughly $1.39 a pound, an increase of about 4 cents per pound, or 66 cents for the turkey.
“Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “A slight increase in demand for turkey is responsible for the moderate price increase our shoppers reported for the bird.”
Turkey farmers also saw higher costs for grain due to this summer’s drought.
Luckily, many shoppers may not even feel the pinch from these higher prices as stores often price their turkeys competitively to drive traffic into their stores, or they use free or discounted turkeys as a customer promotion.
“Anyone with the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving could be rewarded with an exceptional bargain,” Anderson said.
Still, the cost of this year’s meal will be the highest in the survey’s history on an absolute basis. However, if you look back to 1986, when the AFBF estimated a Thanksgiving dinner would cost $28.74 and adjusted it for inflation, this year’s meal is a relative bargain.
The inflation-adjusted price for the 1986 dinner is equal to $60 today.
Damen Shipyards, a Netherlands-based company, has launched its first diesel-electric hybrid tugboat. It is the ASD Tug 2810 Hybrid. Iskes Towing and Salvage will be the launching customer (the first customer to use it).
The signing ceremony took place yesterday (October 23), at Offshore Energy in Amsterdam.
Damen Shipyards claims that this boat will offer diesel fuel savings of 10–30%, and that it reduces emissions by 20–60%.
The second hybrid vessel is slated to become available from stock at the end of 2013.
It Helps Green Technologies to be as Commercially Attractive as Possible
Erik van Schaik, Design & Proposal Engineer at Damen Tugs, said: “In the past many green solutions were simply too expensive for the tugboat market. We were very mindful that this vessel had to cut fuel and emissions, but at the same time it had to be positioned at an attractive price for the market. We wanted to make being green commercially attractive too.”
Not only is the tugboat a hybrid, but it also features solar panels and energy efficient products.
“Solar panels are added to the deckhouse on the Damen standard version and these are used to charge the 24V battery packs for starting the engines and emergency power for navigation lighting and radio equipment,” Green Car Congress reports. “Other green initiatives on the vessel include LED lighting, and a special paint coating, making the vessel more environmentally friendly and clean for at least five years.”
Getting Innovative Green Technologies Going
While environmental friendliness and being economical go hand in hand when the right technology is used, and even more importantly in the right way, (and often is cheaper overall when you consider public health and other environmental costs), people are most likely to adopt “green” technologies when they are affordable “at the register,” so to speak.
Early adopters of environmentally friendly technologies help them to get off the ground because they test them on behalf of their manufacturers, and this testing is essential to the improvement of technology.
Technologies usually start out both impractical and expensive — there are few exceptions to this rule. The technologies which are considered cheap now started out expensive, including computers, automobiles, refrigerators, and air conditioners, and only a few wealthy people could afford those things.
Those few people made it possible for manufacturers to carry out real-life studies of them so they could be improved, and, not only that, but could eventually enjoy the benefits of economies of scale. Production volume generally has to start out small, and some people will have to pay the high price for that as a start, and then production volume can grow because of those early adopters.
Production volume cannot be increased without demand, and production volume needs to be increased to drive prices down so that everyone else will be willing to buy the new technologies.
The renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicle industries need this, as well.
It’s great to see hybrid tugboats breaking onto the scene. Hopefully early adopters will help lead to these becoming the norm.
6:24AM EST November 15. 2012 – LOS ANGELES — If LeBron James and his Miami Heat colleagues felt so inclined, they could author a book on the art of meshing superstar players and their personalities after all they went through leading up to the championship last June.
The Los Angeles Lakers, as fate would have it, could use that sort of how-to guide right about now.
As was the case with the Heat two seasons ago, a slow start (9-8 for the Heat, 1-4 for the Lakers) caused all sorts of consternation among the team’s fans and led to pressure to fire the coach. The Heat didn’t, standing by coach Erik Spoelstra and ultimately looking smart because of it.
LAST NIGHT: Clippers earn respect by beating Heat
They endured the disappointment of an NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and all the added scrutiny that came with it but reached their goal with a six-game Finals win against the Oklahoma City Thunder a year later. The Lakers, meanwhile, fired coach Mike Brown on Friday and will welcome new coach Mike D’Antoni in an introductory news conference Thursday.
Yet while James, the reigning MVP, and his teammates weren’t looking to offer a tutorial to the NBA’s latest super team when they arrived this week to face the Los Angeles Clippers, they do know what it will take for the Lakers to turn it around.
“It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight,” James said. “We live in a world where you automatically sign guys, and you guys (in the news media) want success right now. It’s a process. It’s not a video game where you can just put guys on the team and it automatically just happens and you have the best team in the world. It takes time.”
CONTENDERS: Grizz, Thunder get nasty, two ejected
Their stories are similar, but the circumstances — as Dwyane Wade pointed out — are different enough that they may help explain how each team handled its situation. When the Heat stars met on South Beach in the summer of 2010 and signed deals that made them Miami’s at least through 2014, Wade was the oldest of the bunch at 28, while James was 25 and big man Chris Bosh was 26. The Lakers’ new core is just as impressive as the Heat’s on paper — unless it’s birth certificates or player contracts that we’re talking about.
Resident star Kobe Bryant may well be the oldest 34-year-old in the sports world, having logged the equivalent of almost 17 full seasons in the NBA between regular season and postseason play (1,389 games in all) and spending so many summers playing internationally as well. He is signed through next season and has said he may retire after that.
New point guard Steve Nash is signed through 2015, but he is 38 and also a high-mileage player because of his extensive postseason experience. As for Dwight Howard, it’s not a Father Time issue with the Lakers’ new center so much as a matter of his expiring contract. The 26-year-old is free to sign where he pleases this summer, and the Lakers are well aware they must make him happy to avoid the disaster of him leaving town.
“We kind of had a little bit more time and a little bit more patience,” Wade told USA TODAY Sports. “I think (the Lakers’ decision to fire Brown) was probably moreso looking at the age and saying, ‘Listen, we don’t have time to be patient.’ It was unfortunate.”
PHOTOS: Ex-Laker Bynum has crazy hair
The differences go beyond the age factor, though, as the power structures of each organization likely had a ripple effect on the respective coaching situations as well. Former Lakers coach and current Heat President Pat Riley is the unmistakable leader of Miami’s operation, so it was to Spoelstra’s benefit that he had come up under Riley’s tutelage and earned loyalty from their shared history. Brown, a former video coordinator like Spoelstra with a similar reputation as a detail-oriented workaholic, had no such luck with the Lakers in part because of what is a cumbersome totem pole of power.
Brown, who never won it all in Cleveland but was 272-138 in four seasons with James, may have thought he was safe because he had the backing of the man thought to have taken control of the Lakers these days, Jim Buss, the team’s vice president and son of owner Jerry Buss. Entering the season, Brown was expected to have time to make the most of this group and ultimately be judged in June. His ill-fated decision to install the Princeton offense that would take months to perfect was the most obvious sign he thought he had more time.
But Buss is no Riley when it comes to having the final say. It’s a chorus of often-contradicting voices in Laker Land, with his father’s still as prominent as any and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak hanging on at the helm as well. After Brown was dismissed just five games in, the mixed messages from the Lakers brass only continued during the controversial courting of Phil Jackson that his agent would eventually tell ESPN was “indicative of the shabby way the organization is being run.” Meanwhile, the Heat, while having no plans of relinquishing their NBA throne, watched from a distance like everyone else and were more than happy to have become the second-biggest circus in the league.
“If you watch any sports show, (the Lakers are) taking up half of the show,” Bosh told USA TODAY Sports. “But the thing that I try to tell people (about so-called Super Teams) is, ‘This isn’t XBox, it’s not PlayStation. In real life, it’s a lot more complicated. Guys have to make a lot of sacrifices, roles have to be established.
“It’s a very long season. We figured that out. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs, and when you’re contending for a championship that’s how it is. One day you’re on top of the world, and the next that world is crumbling. It’s a part of the gig, man.”
WILD FINISH: Bobcats survive Webber-esque timeout
The Heat, who would certainly know, will be watching like the rest.
“Yeah, we watch everything that they do,” Bosh said. “We know that they have huge upside and their propensity to really bring it together, it’s huge. The potential danger (of the Lakers) is there.”
As was the case with the Heat, Wade predicts, the Lakers will find their way.
GAMBLING: Mayweather bet $275K against Lakers
“This team can win 60% of its games without a coach,” Wade said of the Lakers. “They can figure it out. And they have players who will figure it out. Just like us. It’s early in the season, and they’ll figure it out. We were 9-8 (in 2010), and then at one point I think we won 21 of 22 games. And then we went through another tough stretch. There’s going to be highs and lows with those kinds of teams.
“(The Lakers) don’t have the same personnel (as D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns teams from 2005 to 2008). But he’s one of the best X’s and O’s coaches that this game has ever seen, and he (will) put them in a position to be successful.”