Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 End-of-Year Statistics

It looks like I will not be refilling my gas tank until January 2 or 3,
2008, so I can start making comparisons between my 2006 and 2007 data.

2006 - 46 tanks of gas
2007 - 41 tanks of gas (10.87% fewer)

2006 - 462.026 gallons
2007 - 431.259 gallons (6.67% fewer)

2006 - $1,099.90 total cost
2007 - $1,090.30 total cost

2006 - $2.378 average cost/gallon
2007 - $2.529 average cost/gallon (6.36% higher)

2006 - 36.26 average mpg
2007 - 37.87 average mpg (4.43% higher)

2006 - 16,742.3 miles driven
2007 - 16,338.7 miles driven (2.4% fewer)

This is interesting data. My reduction in gallons used, and increase in
fuel economy, pretty much evened out the increase in gas prices.

Even if I refueled today, my total miles driven for the year would be
under my 2006 total. I think this potential for error is eliminated due
to the fact that my first tank of 2006 was on January 11.

I still drive lots of miles to and from work.

But I drive smartly and consistently, which results in fuel economy
higher than the reported EPA ratings, and I do my best to maintain the
car in safe and efficient working order.

Here's to an even better 2008!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tank 140 - 12 December 2007

My theory that the Woodbridge Costco's gas pumps automatically shut off
sooner than those at the Fredericksburg Costco got a real boost today as
I filled up at Fredericksburg this morning and found my calculated fuel
economy to be just 35.65 mpg.

This economy is over 4 mpg lower than my last tank.

My last tank was 2 mpg higher than the tank before that, and this tank
is 2 mpg below that one.

The average of my last 2 tanks is the same as the average of the
preceeding 2 tanks (using my eyeball calculating technique).

What does this mean? Probably that in order to be fair with each tank,
I should refuel at the same exact pump each and every time. In reality
I won't be able to do this too often.

Maybe I ought to track the pump number at the gas station as well, to
see if any relevant data can be gleaned from a few months worth of data
there.

I'm definitely going to need a bigger notepad.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tank 139 - 4 December 2007

This morning I was able to refuel at the Woodbridge Costco. I needed
10.632 gallons after going 424.7 miles, making for a fuel economy of
39.95 mpg. My low fuel light came on at 417.7 miles.

This makes me feel better, coming off of two poor showings of fuel
economy. But I am suspicious that the Woodbridge Costco gas pumps have
more sensitive shut-off sensors. I suspect that if I refueled at the
Fredericksburg Costco, as I normally do, I'd have put in as much as half
a gallon more gas, but there's no way to be sure.

For this reason, I have started tracking my fuel economy for the last
five tanks averaged. This still stands at over 38 mpg, so that should
even out some of the discrepancies inherent in different fuel pumps.

This was my 40th tank of 2007. I have gone 15,937.7 miles on those
tanks this year. Compared with 2006, I went 14,587.6 miles on the first
40 tanks. However, I reached the 40th tank on November 3 of 2006, just
about one month earlier than this year. On a corresponding date in 2006
(December 3), I had gone 15,641.4 miles, similar to this year but still
about 300 fewer miles.

Last December 3, I had spent $1,032.80 on gas. This year, on December
4, I have spent $1,058.93 on gas. Gas has averaged about 15 cents more
per gallon this year, or about 6.1% more. But my fuel economy has
averaged about 4.6% higher, so there's a fair amount of offsetting
there, expense/benefit-wise.

Overall, a good tank of gas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tank 138 - 26 November 2007 - The Big Sham!

So I refueled this Monday at the Fredericksburg Costco, purchasing
11.303 gallons at $2.869/gallon. Fuel economy was 37.83 mpg, which was
0.04 mpg below my average fuel economy for the year, but higher than my
overall average.

I went 427.6 miles on this tank. The sad part is that I purposefully
drove the minivan over the weekend to save the Mighty Corolla from
getting refueled, just so I could brag about going 16 days between
fill-ups, so I could say "a new record!!!"

Probably this record will be broken naturally in December, as I will be
taking several days off for Christmas which will lead to more days
between tanks.

So to sum up, I purposefully drove the fuel-inefficient minivan when I
should have driven the Corolla, just to say I went more days between
tanks.

I now know the type of person that I am. Shallow and vain.

I pity myself.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tank 137 and Big News

Tank 137 was filled over a week ago, on 10 November. I had travelled
418.1 miles on 11.144 gallons, for fuel economy of 37.52 mpg. This is
the first tank to achieve less than the 2007 average fuel economy of
37.87 since September 5. How sad, but it was bound to happen.

I am only scheduled to work Monday and Tuesday this week, which likely
will leave the Mighty Corolla in the garage until after Thanksgiving.
If that happens, it'll be about 16 days between tanks-- a new record!!!

As we're getting towards the end of the year, I look forward to making
more historical comparisons to previous year statistics.

Loads of fun in store, to be sure!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Filled Tank but no Stats yet!!

Boy, is my face red. I filled up over the weekend, took all the data,
but have not calculated my fuel economy numbers yet!

I better get on the ball if I want to keep this tracking up.

Perhaps later today I will have an update.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Halfway Through Tank Update - 7 November 2007

No big news as I swept down past the half tank mark today at about 250
miles.

Traffic has been relatively light, but with an abnormally large number
of idiot drivers. I was driving 66 mph and got passed on the right by a
guy using the merge lane to get around me.

I hope he got there safely and on time, for taking that type of risk.

People are either made of money, don't care about their fuel economy, or
don't realize that their fuel economy can improve drastically if they
drive more smartly.

Idiot drivers stink!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tank 136 - 1 November 2007

Managed only 38.49 mpg this tank. I travelled 406.1 miles on 10.552
gallons. Paid $2.599 per gallon, which is about 70 cents more per
gallon than this time last year. For 10 gallons, that's about $7.00
more per tank. So gas is costing about $30 more per month than last
year.

Lots of traffic on my way home most days during this tank. Also lots of
weekend trolling around town running errands. So I ought to be happy
it's still over 38 mpg.

The window sticker for the Corolla when it was new showed 30 mpg city,
38 highway. So again, 38 mpg ought to be great considering there's
"some" city driving on the weekends.

Not much else. Pushed through 50,000 miles. My wife is sad, because at
this rate, I'll have gone through two cars as she's been stuck with the
green minivan all these years.

But if all goes well, the mighty Corolla will make it many many more
years without any trouble, and if we keep the minivan clean, we'll avoid
the expense of buying a new car for quite some time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halfway Through Tank - 30 October 2007

This morning I passed down through the halfway point of the tank, right
about 240 miles. While I like it to be at 250 miles, this was actually
encouraging, because yesterday on my way home I was at 218 and really
really close to the halfway point.

Most of my way home yesterday and half of the way here today I was able
to drive in the slipstream of a tractor trailer.

Don't go nuts about "that's crazy."

I am about 100-125 feet behind, and have a cleat view to the lanes on
either side of the truck and always check for brake lights in those
other lanes as an indication of potential slowing in my lane. I also
make sure that there's room on one side of me or the other to
immediately swerve out of the way in an emergency.

Oh, and rush hour traffic usually never tops 55 on my way home.

I am not a "bumper sticker," but a smart drafter. If the truck speeds
up faster than 65, I let it go, and if it drops slower than 50, I pass
it.

Driving in general is a dangerous activity, and I am keenly aware of my
"out" in case of danger.

Here's to smart driving!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tank 135 - 24 October 2007

Filled up this morning at the Fredericksburg Costco with 10.694 gallons
of gas. The loe fuel light came on three times on my way home
yesterday, and stayed on for good at 415.8 miles. I travelled 8.2 miles
more before filling up, making it 424.0 miles on this tank.

That made for a fuel economy of 39.65 mpg on this tank.

This is nice, because I was stuck in heavy traffic on a couple occasions
in this tank. The expected hit on my mileage was apparently offset by
my avoidance of using the air conditioning. It was warm in the last
several days, but not wuite hot enough to need the AC for very long.

I refueled on October 25 of 2006. Comparing data from these to days one
year apart, I see that I have driven farther this year, but spent less
money on gas, even though gas has averaged about 12 cents more per
gallon.

My fuel economy for 2006 averaged 36.26 mpg, and so far in 2007 it has
been 37.87 mpg, about 4.4% higher.

My average fuel economy has increased during each year of ownership of
this car. I wonder how long this will last? Obviously the engine is
broken in, and I think my smart driving tactics are pretty well
developed. Perhaps I will break down and seek out "fuel saving motor
oil" for future oil changes, or synthetic oil to see how that works.

That reminds me, I still must check my tire air pressure to make sure
they're still pumped up to 40 PSI. Although my fuel economy has been
stable, which indicates my tires ought to be still pumped up, it's smart
to check that air pressure for safety reasons as well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tank Update - 19 October 2007

Very little news this week as I commute to and from work. I was able to
take the green minivan to work one day to get it inspected while I was
at work. Other than that, very little to post.

Sorry folks, but sometimes there's just no news.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tank 134 - 15 October 2007

So this morning I had the opportunity to refuel at the Fredericksburg
Costco. Filled up with 11.112 gallons after going 423.7 miles, making
for an average fuel economy of 38.13 mpg for this tank.

The Low Fuel light came on for good at 408 miles.

This was the Mighty Corolla's 35th tank for the year. Last year's 35th
tank came much earlier, on September 26, 2006. Mileage for that tank
was 37.55 mpg.

After 35 tanks last year, I has spent $880.18 on gas. After 35 tanks
this year, it is 909.99. But if you go be calendar date, Overall gas
expense was $931.11 on October 17, 2006, and $909.99 on October 15,
2007.

Miles travelled is pretty close as well. On October 17, 2006, I had
gone 13,844.7 miles, and as of today in 2007, I have gone 13,837.2
miles. I will have gone more miles by the 17th of October, though.

For calendar year 2006, gasoline averaged $2.378 per gallon. This year,
it's averaged $2.492 so far, about 11.4 cants more per gallon. Gas did
go up in price over the last two months of 2006, however it was on a
down trend as 2005 closed out, so there is no pattern there. We shall
see how overall cost works out.

I predict 43 tanks of gas this year. Last year ended with 46.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Halfway Through Tank Update - 10 October 07

It has been uneventful commuting over the past days. Had a three-day
holiday weekend, and a short week this week as well. The needle dropped
past the halfway point of the gauge yesterday at about 258 miles, which
bodes well for overall fuel economy this tank.

It's probable that I will not have to refuel until Monday, October 15,
which will give me a fair number of days between tanks. I continue to
drive smartly on my commute, but also stay with the flow of traffic.

I have noticed that traffic in the mornings this week has been heavier
than normal, but as I try to keep going at 64-66 mph, I actually am
staying in the middle lane a bit more and actually am passing people
this week on the way to work.

That's kind of fun.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Gas Prices Change!

So I refueled on Tuesday morning at $2.549 per gallon.

Wednesday morning as I passed the same station (Woodbridge Costco), gas
was $2.499 per gallon. Yesterday I walked over to the Woodbridge Costco
for lunch, and gas was $2.429 per gallon.

If I got worse mileage, I'd be quite ticked!

Putting in 11 gallons, I conceivably would have spent $1.32 less on the
same amount of gas on Thursday than on Tuesday, about 5% less.

Of course, had I waited until Thursday, I'd have run out of gas, so it's
not like I really had a choice.

Drive smartly this weekend, folks!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Statistics!

I have spent a few minutes thinking of other ways to create descriptive
and/or helpful statistics for me to use when analyzing my fuel
consumption and travel data.

A neat thing is that I can go back in time to make historical
information about these statistics, even though I just now thought of
them, to see how things have changed (or not) over the last years.

Popular stats include miles per gallon (mpg) and average mpg. That's
about it, I guess.

But today I started wondering how much this actually costs me as I
travel around. Obviously, highway travel at a constant speed will be
less than stop-and-go traffic driving, but aggregate numbers derived
from each tank ought to give me a good general idea.

Some media outlets use "cost per mile" as part of ownership costs. I
can figure out my gas cost per mile each tank. I change my own oil, and
have not had any major engine or brake work on the car yet, so that data
obviously would affect things. But overall cost per mile seems good.
Only thing is, the fluctuations of gas prices really change it a lot.

This year, I paid 7.3 cents per mile on a tank that served me with 37.6
mpg, yet 7.2 cents per mile on a tank that got me 39.42 miles per
gallon. One tank I paid 5.1 cents per mile but just got 36.6 mpg. This
may not be a good statistic.

Then I thought of "miles per dollar," which is almost as useless, but
easier for me to picture me spending money, as the numbers are bigger.
For instance, my last tank I went 430.8 miles, and spent $27.89 to
refuel, making for 15.45 miles driven per dollar spent at the pump. So
this is about $4.00 per hour driving at about 63 miles per hour.

I gladly entertain ideas for better descriptive statistics. For now I
can impress my friends and family (or bore them, if you feel that way)
by announcing that I spend about six and a half cents per mile in my
car.

At the very least, I can be proud (to use the term generously) that I
probably am the only one in my circle of friends that knows this sort of
information about my primary vehicle.

Tank 133 - 3 October 2007

Again I filled up at the Woodbridge Costco this morning, making this the
third consecutive tank I have refilled at this location. 10.942 gallons
after going 430.8 miles = fuel economy of 39.37 mpg!

One year ago, my mileage was 36.33 mpg for the tank used at that time.

This was my 34th tank of 2007. My 34th tank of 2006 came on September
19. So I am refueling less frequently this year than last year. But I
have driven more miles: 13,413.5 miles on 34 tanks in 2007, 12,509.6
miles on 34 tanks in 2005.

Going by calendar day, Last October 5, I had gone 13,447 miles. I'll be
at 13,447 miles when I get home tonight, so I am about two days ahead of
schedule on the miles driven front.

One issue of mild concern (an issue I have only recently started
tracking, but was aware of about two years ago), is that when you total
up the miles driven for each individual tank, this number is WAY LESS
than the "hard wired odometer" reading.

Odometer reading at last fill-up: 49,028 miles

Total miles in 133 tanks: 48,977.6 miles

This is a difference of about 50 miles. I don't know where this
discrepancy came from. Even if each gas tank is off by two tenths of a
mile vs. the hard odometer reading, that only totals about 27 miles
difference.

This is odd.

Another problem is that a small plastic door has broken off my
dashboard. It's the cover for a small cubby that's big enough to hold a
pile of about 4 CDs. I rarely opened this little door, but in the last
two months, each hinge has failed at the pivot point. If I just remove
the cover, I can see around the gap of the outside of the cubby and it's
not that pretty.

Other than this small problem, the Mighty Corolla is doing fine.

Oh, and the steering wheel is showing signs of wear where my hands
usually rest on it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tank Update - 1 October

No major incidents since last update. Went 254 miles on the first half
tank, which bodes well for mileage.

Expect to refuel this week.

THINK HIGH!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Speeding to the Red Light

I can understand sometimes stomping on your brakes when there's a
traffic signal that isn't visible from far away. What I don't get is
people who speed up when the red light is obviously ahead.

What is the point? When there are other cars up there, whatever sensors
that need to be triggered are already triggered, and your quickness to
get there won't speed things up at all. You just use more gas to get
there and waste gas as you idle until the light turns green.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tank 132 - 24 September 2007

Was lucky and filled up at the Woodbridge Costco today (after my amazing
near-miss experience of this morning-- see below). Finally, I thought,
I would be able to add data to support or discredit my theory that the
Woodbridge Costco's gas pumps shut off earlier than the Fredericksburg's
Costco pumps, seeing on how I filled up at the Woodbridge Costco last
time as well.

Well, I went 425.7 miles and filled up with 10.704 gallons, making for a
tank fuel economy of 39.77. Pretty good, a hair better than my overall
2007 average fuel economy, and more than three miles per gallon better
than my fuel economy since day 1.

It was my tenth tank in a row in which I went farther than 400 miles,
and the thirteenth out of the last fourteen tanks (there was one tank in
there where I just went 399.9 miles and felt it would be cheating to
take laps around the parking lot just to hit 400 miles).

Traffic has been generally smooth, and weather has been generally
agreeable to the point where I didn't need too much air conditioning.
These I believe are the primary drivers behind this good mileage.

If my next tank is filled up at the Fredericksburg Costco and my mileage
is dramatically less, my conclusion will be that the Woodbridge gas
pumps shut off earlier than the Fredericksburg pumps.

The Opposite of Smart Driving

This morning on my way to work, I was in the middle lane going about 66,
I think I was passing an oil tanker of some sort, maybe it was some
compressed gas-- the side said BOC on it, and after I thought of
woot.com and the bag of crap I remembered it was some sort of gas supply
company.

Well, in the fast lane, ahead maybe 8 carlengths was another car going
about my speed. I don't remember it passing me, so it might have been
going 66-68 mph.

A Honda Accord coupe with UVA license plates absolutely zooms past me in
the fast lane. Totally speeding like Meat Loaf on the cover of his
album, you know? And the guy doesn't move over into the middle lane to
keep on speeding to pass the guy in the fast lane. He quickly closes
the gap between him and the car ahead of him in the fast lane.

I take my foot off the gas and start coasting with my foot hovering over
the brake pedal, watching Mr. Accord approach the rear end of this guy
in front of him. No brake lights or other movement in the Accord.

Then, with about three feet to spare, the nose of the Accord drops maybe
8 inches ad the guy slams on his brakes, and the Accord plows into my
lane ahead of me. The car may have gone onto three wheels given the
force of the hard right turn combined with the stomping on the braking.
The Accord I thought had hit or clipped the rear bumper of the other
car, but did not touch it. Tires squeal and the Accord tries to
straighten out. The car rolls back to a horizontal orientation but its
momentum makes it lean to the right and the momentum from the hard
swerve begins to drag the car into the slow lane.

More tire squealing as the Accord makes its way into the slow lane.

At this point, there is a couple hundred yards of space between this
Accord and anything else, as the rest of us slowed down to see what was
going to happen next.

Mr. Accord regains speed and in a few minutes begins his suicide race
again and weaves ahead to continue on his way.

If my bladder and/or bowels had been full, I would have needed to change
my pants. I was thinking this Accord was pretty close to just starting
one of those "barrel rolls" right down the middle of the highway like
you see in movies. He was going so fast and swerved so violently, I am
surprised there wasn't any damage to his car, or flat tires, or lost
hubcaps...

But I am thankful no one got hurt. Maybe this guy learned a lesson.
But probably not.

Is it really that important for you to get to your destination so fast,
when an accident like what almost happened could totally ruin your
plans, as well ans those plans of others around you?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Driving to Work Adventure

This morning I saw a lot more bad drivers than normal. I am cruising
with the cruise control set at 65 in the slow lane, and at least five
cars and one suicidal motorcyclist came up weaving in and out of all
three lanes to speed through the traffic.

Three of these guys whipped into the slow lane and were crawling up my
rear bumper like nobody's business. I was mildly fearful they'd run on
into me, but knew if that did happen, first it'd be that guy's fault,
and second that guy's not get to work or wherever he was going fast like
he had hoped.

My conclusion is these guys cursed me as they waited for an opening in
one of the faster lanes to get around me.

I shouldn't get ticked off at these people, but I sort of do.

Not only do they waste gas by mashing on the gas, mashing on the brakes,
and weaving all over the place, they also (I imagine) add extra stress
to all the cars they fly around. At 6:30 a.m., probably nobody wants
this sort of action.

We are all on the road and want to get to our destinations safely and in
a reasonable amount of time. It just takes one of these selfish idiots
to have a brief moment of inattentiveness to cause an accident, and then
the rest of us get stuck in the backup to pay for his selfish behavior.

Perhaps when I get older, I'll "accidentally" get into a little fender
bender with one of these guys so I can tell him to his face what a turd
he is while driving. But that would just waste my time. I'll be
content to wait for these turds to ruin their own lives with some other
innocent guy who doesn't deserve it.

People, please drive smart. Look out for everyone else. Don't be
selfish. We'll all get there together if we respect each other and just
behave decently towards each other.

Believe it or not, commuting isn't a race, folks.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Halfway Through Tank Update

Well, hit the midway point of this tank of gas right about 255 miles.
This sort of indicates my idea that the Woodbridge Costco's pumps shut
off earlier than the Fredericksburg Costco's pumps is flawed. Either
that or I am just driving very smartly and getting exceptional mileage.

Today being Thursday, it is most likely that this tank will take me
through tomorrow and probably even through Monday, leaving me to either
fill up Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

If I was able to refuel at both the Fredericksburg and Woodbridge
Costcos at the same time, that would settle this question I have about
fuel pump automatic shutoff sensitivity once and for all. But since I
can't do that, I must dwell on the question as to which is more
important, taking one full tank from start to finish from the Woodbridge
Costco, or squeezing out as much gas as possible from a tank and
refueling at wherever I happen to be at the time.

Also of importance is my Fantasy Football team. Another guy in the
league is making more moves than me, and I must not let that happen. Of
course, last year I made the most moves and came in last in the league.
So maybe making moves and all isn't that smart of an idea...

My FF team, the Scary Green Helmets, is 1-1 this season so far. I hope
to finish over .500, but at this rate, my patience is not good enough
just to wait. I sure hope I don't torpedo my team's chances...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Evidence that Supports my Current Theory

I think the Woodbridge Costco gas pumps shut off earlier than the ones
at the Fredericksburg Costco, but they both dispense accurate amounts of
gasoline.

I am happy when I go about 150 miles on the first 1/4 tank, according to
the fuel gauge. Last time after I filled up at the Woodbridge Costco, I
went much less than 150 miles, and this time is the same, I had gone
only about 130 as the needle passed down over the 3/4 mark.

The tank between, filled at Fredericksburg, indicated well over 150
miles as the needle dropped down the same mark.

The pattern forming indicates my fuel economy should be maybe 37 if I am
lucky when I fill up again at Fredericksburg. I will do my best to see
if I can refuel at the Woodbridge Costco to see if fuel economy matches
or is similar to fuel economy when I refilled consistently at the
Fredericksburg Costco.

Overall, however, I think average fuel economy numbers should not be
affected by this apparent problem, as it should smooth itself out over
time.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mighty Corolla Garaged All Weekend

The Mighty Corolla wasn't even used on Friday, as we took the seats out
of our minivan and used that to haul 5 bags of mulch, two bags of dirt,
and a six-foot "green giant" evergreen tree to plant in our backyard.

Normally we drive the Mighty Corolla on such off days, but the need to
haul large heavy things sort of kept this from happening.

We discovered that the passenger window on the van is nearing its life's
end. It went down, but decided it dodn't want to go back up when we
flipped the little switch.

The driver's side control didn't work either. After a couple hours, my
wife opened and slammed the door a couple times and the windoe
miraculously worked again. So we closed it and decided that we'd just
use air conditioning in the minivan from here on out.

It's a 1998 Chrysler Town & Country. It's paid for, and has over
114,000 miles. It's still working strong and we hope to keep it at
least one more year, hopefully longer, until the kids are a bit older
and less prone to making messes in there.

Overall a great minivan.

But the Mighty Corolla will never have this sort of electrical problem,
because it has hand cranks in all four windows. Awesome!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tank 131 - 13 Sep 2007

Filled up again at the Woodbridge Costco instead of the Fredericksburg
Costco. Once again, mileage topped 42 mpg.

439.4 miles and pumped in 10.451 gallons, making for fuel economy for
this tank to be 42.04, another new high.

I'd be happier, but last time this happened my next tank fuel economy
dropped to just shy of 37 mpg.

The more I think of it, I am concluding that the gas pumps at the
Woodbridge Costco must be set to automatically shut off earlier. The
sensors must be set to "super sensitive" so as to really reduce the
chance for someone to overtop the tank and dribble gas on the asphalt.

This makes sense to me. This new Costco opened in May, but I still
rarely fill up there. The last two times I have, my fuel economy has
been record high.

Traffic has been lighter than normal over the last week, which might
have contributed to it. I don't think my driving style has changed all
that much in the last month to account for such drastic variances.

If the Mighty Corolla had one of those mileage computers, that would
help shed some light on this issue. But it doesn't, so my conspiracy
theories can continue!

If I can make it to the Woodbridge Costco for my next fill up, that
might help add to my knowledge and either help to confirm or deny this
new idea I have that the pumps at the Woodbridge Costco are set to shut
off earlier than the ones at the Fredericksburg Costco.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Halfway Through Tank Update

The needle passed through the halfway point yesterday on my way home,
indicating the Mighty Corolla had gone about 270 miles up to that point.
I have not officially started tracking this statistic, but remember my
last tank was under 250, but the one before that was also closer to 270.


That was the tank of 42 mpg, if I remember correctly.

It may turn out that this halfway point could be a useful statistic,
although it's not a concrete moment, such as the low fuel light coming
on and staying on.

Indeed, there is plenty of opportunity to be dishonest in recording the
halfway point of a tank. The needle was slightly below the halfway mark
when I got home. I used the car to go to a few stores last night, and
this morning I left the house with almost 278 miles logged, and the
needle was a touch above the halfway mark. I did not use 278 as my
number because it feels like cheating.

But who is to say what the honest answer is? The needle fluctuates a
little bit going up and down long steep hills.

All I know right now is that the last time I remember this halfway
number being high like 270, I got great mileage.

Keep hoping and working towards creating light and/or smooth flowing
traffic!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait!

There were several opportunities over the weekend for me to observe the
continuing phenomenon of "hurry up and wait," also known as "gas still
doesn't cost enough."

I am driving north on a 4-lane road and there are two stoplights before
the T-intersection where most everybody turns right to get onto a 6-lane
road. Speed limit = 45.

I see the stoplight ahead is red at the gas station, so I ease up on the
gas and slow down as I coast to the stopped cars. This is usually a
very long light with green turn arrows that last too long. After
waiting for my turn, the light goes green and our two lanes press
onward. A little red Cavalier with one of those "brrrapppp!" mufflers
rips up behind ans weaves past me (I am in the slow lane and he darts
past in the fast lane).

A quarter mile later, we're again stopped at a red light by the fire
station. Another quarter mile will be a two-lane right turn to get on
another main road. Most people get in the right hand lane because that
is the only lane that can turn right on red.

Out light turns green and the brrrapppp! Car zips away, around a couple
other cars and stops ahead in the LEFT lane waiting to turn right. Sure
enough, my lane turns right on red and I catch up with him slowly.
Again.

As I turn the corner, the light turns green for us all to turn right,
and the brrrappp! Car whips around and takes off as fast as his little
economy engine can go. He changes lanes twice and then swerves way into
the left lane-- a left turn only lane that again is controlled by a left
turn light. Of course, this light is red for him as well.

I continue on my way and cruise on past him as he waits for his light to
turn.

I wonder why people like this continue doing things like this. If I
drove like that, I certainly would be extra frustrated at the sight of
the very same people I flew past moments earlier, flowing by me in the
main body of traffic as I wait in a turn lane.

How embarrassing.

What makes it worse for this guy, in my opinion, is that even with all
those flashy traffic moves, he's still just in a Cavalier.

Of course, I am in just a Corolla, but I don't try to zip around in it
like it's a Corvette.

Maybe this guy likes the feeling of acceleration, but at $2.50 a gallon,
it's not worth it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Smart Driving?

As I travel along in the interstate on my commute, or even around town,
my eyes tend to wander as far ahead as possible, and if traffic is slow,
I adjust my speed accordingly ahead of time. If there are lots of brake
lights, I try to guess how long it will take me to get there, how long
the congestion might last.

And I usually ease up on the gas and let physics take over to slow me
down a bit so that I don't need to brake too much, and if all goes well,
by the time I reach the backup, it won't be as bad as it was when I
first saw it.

There are three lanes on the interstate on my commute and normally I'm
in the slow lane. As I adjust my speed, there are (at times) other
drivers who zip right ahead in the other lanes and get stuck in the very
same congestion ahead of us. Lots of times, by the time I get up there,
I catch back up to the people who buzzed on past earlier.

It seems to me that my way is better. I don't understand speeding along
and continuing to press on the gas just to catch up with slower cars.
It seems to me that maintaining some sort of steady speed is better for
everyone in the long run. I feel that in my own way I am helping the
cars behind me to maintain speed and lessen the stop/go/stop/go
accordion action ahead.

Maybe I am turning onto one of those people that most other drivers
hate.

But wouldn't everyone rather maintain one speed instead of starting and
stopping and starting again in bursts? Yes, sometimes it's a steady
speed that's (shudder!) below the posted speed limit, but I'd rather go
60 and not stop than go 75, hit the brakes and slow to 30, and hit the
gas again to speed up to 70 just to hit the brakes again.

I argue that maintaining a steady speed helps us all, and also promotes
better fuel economy and probably less maintenance on our cars,
particularly in the brake area.

And it doesn't seem to make my commute any slower than if I were to
drive like a lunatic and swerve in and out of the lanes to get ahead.
Indeed, I often see those maniacs who pass me stopped in the fast lane
ten miles later as I putter on byin the slow lane.

It's just my thoughts on things today.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Commuting Tactics and Gas Prices

After I get off the interstate on my way to work, I travel for about two
miles on "surface streets" that have two lanes going in each direction.
These roads have a speed limit of I guess 45 mph, and there are
stoplights at regular intervals.

Most drivers tend to want to go the same direction on the roads, as the
streets flow towards the interstate. I use these streets to parallel
the interstate to my place of work, as there are occasional traffic jams
I can avoid by exiting two miles earlier than my true exit.

Every day I am passed by a few cars who apparently like to accelerate
briskly and weave around people who are driving normally. Most of the
time, they end up stopped at a traffic light and I sneak up beside them
in the other lane and we wait together.

I thought it was common knowledge that accellerating and idling at
stoplights are big wasters of fuel that drag down your fuel economy.
Apparently this fact is lost on many Americans, as there is no shortage
of people like this who absolutely love speeding up as fast as they can
just to get to the next stoplight quicker than me.

I wonder if these people are among those who complain that gas prices
are too high.

One of the easiest things you can do to reduce the money you must spend
on gas is to drive smarter to use less gas. I have travelled almost 600
more miles this year than last year (January to August), yet have only
used about six more gallons of fuel over these stretches of time.

I have actually spent just about $2.00 more on gasoline over these
periods of time.

It bothers me to see in the media that people are "outraged" over gas
prices, yet daily I see them driving like price is no concern.

My conclusion is that gas prices still are not high enough for people to
actually change their driving habits. Sure, sales for smaller, more
fuel efficient cars is up, but I believe peoples' driving habits remain
the same.

I believe that if everybody just drove smarter, fuel use would plummet
dramatically. But in order to drive smartly, we all must be conscious
of our gas consumption, and in order for that to happen, gas prices need
to go up dramatically. It's not enough to switch to smaller and more
efficient vehicles is we're just going to continue driving like crazy
people.

The Mighty Corolla consistently beats the fuel economy on the window
sticker. It totally beats the "new ratings" as well. I doubt most
americans can say that.

Please drive smarter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tank 130 - 5 September 07

This morning I pumped in 11.550 gallons at my local Costco, after
driving 427.1 miles. This made for average fuel economy of "just" 36.98
mpg for this tank. A seemingly considerable letdown after my previous
tank where I achieved, on paper, fuel economy of 42.01 mpg.

Should I be saddened by this huge dropoff in fuel economy? I think not!
This is still higher than my overall mileage (since we bought the car),
and historically, me fuel economy is always lower the tank AFTER I
manage to get a high mileage number.

The big question is: how can I consistently achieve fuel economy numbers
that are higher than, say, 39 mpg? Conceivably, I drive about the same
way each time I am in the car. Really, this may not be so.

In addition to driving to and form work on the interstate, the Mighty
Corolla is also used around town on the weekends, usually in heavy
traffic with much idling and waiting around at stoplights and in slow
traffic. This has a sapping effect on fuel economy. If a tank of gas
stretches over two such weekends, I must make my commute that much more
efficient to make up for it.

Likewise, some trips home are in very heavy traffic which also messes up
my mileage number.

It seems that many factors are out of my control.

I don't have any data that tracks the number of weekends covered by a
particular tank of gas, but I suppose I can figure this out, since I
have the dates of every time I have ever put gas in the car, and can
easily figure out weekends if I put in a little time. But I am feeling
lazy right now and don't want to do that.

But I will continue to drive as smartly as possible, staying within the
reasonable flow of traffic on my journeys. It's important to not stick
out like the obvious grandma driver as to not impede traffic flow too
much-- I think that would mess things up more overall if I drove just to
look out for my own fuel economy numbers!

Last September, I had tanks ranging from 36 to 37.55 miles per gallon.
My goal is to beat that this year, and I am confident I can do that.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Blog Stats - and a Brush with Fame!

It's cool to see that readership is way up on days when I post
something, and is practically zero when I don't post anything for a
couple of days. Of course, readership is practically nothing to begin
with, si I don't mind.

I like knowing that I can go back and read my own thoughts on my own
time.

But ask me to keep a journal or diary and I'll tell you to jump in a
lake! Which is odd, because a blog is just like a diary only there's no
paper.

I'll be refueling tomorrow and will have new stats at that time.

Last Friday I went to the dentist. No cavities (yay!). In the waiting
room, my dentist has a picture of him with Jeff Gordon, and a few other
autographed pictures from celebrities, athletes mostly.

I asked him about this and he said he worked at a "bleaching center"
after dental school, and Jeff Gordon was a customer one day. He is one
full head taller than Jeff Gordon. So now I know how much taller I am
than Jeff Gordon, so that was neat.

I like my dentist. He's on his own, jusy him, a hygenist and a
receptionist. He calls his practice "Big Smile Dental." It's friendly
and the people are nice and relaxed.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Current Tank Update- Not As Bad As I Thought

Earlier this week when I passed the 3/4 mark on the fuel gauge at way
less than 150 miles, I was very concerned.

This morning, the tank passed through the halfway mark, and I had gone
about 266 miles. It appears to be back on track.

Last week my trips were longer than average, and so far "knock wood"
this week's trips have been shorter than average, which may be helping
with the overall mileage.

So fear not, it looks like this tank will provide decent mileage,
although the starting part was pretty ominous.

I may not update this blog until Tuesday, as I am looking at a 4-day
weekend and usually don't post things over the weekends...

Check it out, it's a wootoff! www.woot.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lawnmower Efficiency Matters

For the last several years, one 2.5-gallon tank of gas has lasted the
lawnmower all season. Yesterday, we had to refill it because we ran out
of gas. This was the first time we needed to refill our supply of
lawnmower gas.

Coincidentally, this was also the first year I failed to perform
"routine maintenance" in the Spring. The mower is using the same
sparkplug as last year, the same blade as last year, and the same air
filter as last year.

As I waited for the refill of gas to arrive, I spent a good five minutes
sharpening the blade, using a sharpening stone and oil my brother gave
me fro Christmas a few years ago. The blade sharpened right up, and my
wife appeared with the extra gas just as I was finishing up this small
project.

I have also been the primary lawnmower this season. Normally, my wife
enjoys mowing the lawn, but is out of commission for lawnmowing duties
for the foreseeable future. Maybe my lawnmowing style is less efficient
and uses more gas than hers?

My strategy for mowing the lawn this season has been to never water the
grass and delay mowing the lawn for as long as possible. I figured this
would result in fewer mowings. Maybe the extra-long grass meant the
dull blade had to work harder and thus use more gas to perform the same
job.

Perhaps the dirty air filter caused an inefficient air/fuel mixture. Or
the old spark plug was wasteful.

The cost for a new air filter and spark plug is more than a couple
gallons of gas, but using less gas would probably be the "better for the
environment" choice. Although my quest to use less gas is primarily my
frugal (maybe even cheap) desire to spend as little money on gas as
possible, I haven't thought much about the expenses needed to reduce
spending on gas, and if those expenses actually reduce the expense on
gas by the same (or more) amount of dollars.

Normally I justify the expense for maintenance by the knowledge that
less gas will be bought. This Spring, however, I just was too lazy to
perform the maintenance on the lawnmower.

A good lesson learned was that I can totally sharpen my lawnmower blade
for next year, and save that expense outright.

Hopefully things will cool down and I will only have to mow the lawn two
or three more times this season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Current Tank Update - 28 August

This morning the fuel tank needle passed down through the 3/4 tank mark.
Normally this happens at about 150 miles, but today it was only 130
miles. This is discouraging because I was all happy and thrilled at my
mileage of 42.01 mpg on my last tank.

Why am I passing through the 3/4 line so early this tank?

This MAY be due to my long, stop-and-go trip home last Friday, and an
unusual morning traffic jam yesterday.

Or, it MAY be because the Woodbridge Costco fuel pumps are calibrated
differently than the Fredericksburg Costco pumps.

But, if the Woodbridge Costco pumps were calibrated wrong, wouldn't they
have said that MORE gas was pumped than actually got in my tank? I
suspect that nefarious gas station calibration would obviously favor the
store, which would mean the one Costco would have given me LESS gas but
indicated it pumped in MORE. This can't be, because I allegedly only
pumped in about 10.5 gallons and my fuel economy was great as a result.

If evil activity was going on, the pump should have SAID it gave me 10.5
gallons but GIVEN me less.

Oh, maybe it did, and that's why my needle has fallen so quickly...

Or maybe it's just because I drove home in hot weather on Friday
stopping and going in fits and starts...

A larger consideration is maybe I should start calculating average fuel
economy over two or three previous tanks, to account for variances of
gas pump calibrations.

Or maybe I ought to start pumping my gas into a 5-gallon carrying tank
and filling my tank with a previously-validated amount of gas.

There is a lot for me to think about.

The good news is that it's not supposed to be too hot today, and there's
still time for me to drive smartly and work to increase the fuel economy
of what appears to be becoming just an average tank.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Library is Almost Better than Redbox

I have recently started checking out books on CDs from our local library. I found a pretty large selection of audio books, and one time as I walked a different way back to the checkout counter, I noticed several racks of DVDs.

The library has DVDs to let me borrow for free!

I should have realized this a couple months ago when I bought the "banned cover" VHS tape of The Little Mermaid for $1.00 during their annual book sale.

In the last couple of weeks, we have borrowed "Superman 4: The Quest for Peace," and "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I can honestly say that I got my money's worth from them.

Not only are there piles of classic films on DVD, bur relatively new releases as well. I saw Cast Away (Tom Hanks on a desertrd island) there, and others that I cannot remember right now.

So borrowing audiobooks has opened up this new venue for seeing movies. The one problem is that the DVDs from the library are due back in one week, and some audiobooks take me longer to listed to than just a week. I suppose that's one argument for getting in more traffic, to increase my listening time so I can return the book and movie simultaneously.

Here's an unrelated image just to put a picture in the body of this note:


Tank 129 - 24 August 2007

42.01 MPG!?

Filled up this morning at the Woodbridge Costco, after driving 432.5
miles on this tank. The low fuel light had not come on yet. I felt I
would have been able to get home, but filled the tank anyway because my
last commute home on a Friday took 113 minutes.

Better safe than sorry.

So I put in 10.295 gallons (the second click), which made for the best
fuel economy I have ever achieved in the Mighty Corolla.

I think this is due to many factors, including lighter than normal
traffic, smoother driving, and my increased attention to far-away
traffic conditions up the road.

The weather has been cooler than normal as well this week. I need to
think more about this "hot gas" issue, but right now as I think about
it, I think it's a wash and a bogus myth.

Over the weekend I ought to be able to think about it more.

A better bet is that the cooler weather meant less use of the
mileage-sapping air conditioning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tank 129 Update - 22 Aug 07

This morning's commute to work drew the needle down past the halfway
mark. This notable event happened at 274 miles. Usually I am pleased
when this happens around 250 miles, and now I am curious if it is
possible to go 300 miles on just the first half-tank of gas.

In order to make the jump from 275 miles on half a tank to 300 miles on
half a tank, my fuel economy must jump by a bit over 9%,or about 3 mpg
over my year-to-date fuel economy average of about 37.5 mpg. If my
recent fuel economy is more indicative, this means I must average closer
to 43 mpg to accomplish 300 miles on the first half tank.

I might be able to cheat and just squeeze in more gas after the filler
clicks off the second time. But this would clearly make my collected
data useless, as I'd be forced to start filling the tank until it
overflows each time, and I just don't want to do that.

The past few days have been much cooler than normal. Perhaps this is
having an affect on my fuel economy. But if that is true, then there is
support for the "hot gas theory," which I have recently declared
worthless based on recent and historical data. But now that I collect
temperature data as well, I expect to somewhat analyze heat vs. mileage
at some point down the road. But generally, I still don't believe a
word of the "hot gas myth."

My main explanation for being able to go 274 miles on the first half
tank is that my afternoon commutes since the last fill-up have averaged
about 50 minutes, compared with the average of 65 to 70 minutes over
previous trips home on the same days of the week.

I have noted before that it appears my travel times to get home appear
to have more of an impact on my overall fuel economy than anything else
so far.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rush Hour Driving Tactics

The last few days I have had the opportunity to drive not just on the
Interstate, but also on a major secondary road lined with shopping
centers and office buildings.

As I look ahead to see the traffic in front of me, it is absolutely and
painfully obvious that a significant number of drivers accelerate
heavily in open spaces only to step on the brakes at the next stoplight.

If I can see the upcoming stoplight, and see that it's been green for a
while, and see that there is cross-traffic piling up to go east/west, It
doesn't make much sense to me to try and speed up to get around the guy
in front of me to try and make it through the light that likely will
change to red in the near future.

Indeed, many cars (Acuras, souped up Honda Civics, and VWs mostly) like
to speed up as fast as they can, just to stop at a light to let me
cruise on up to be near them.

How do these people not notice this is happening to them?

There must be the one time out of five or six chances that this mindless
accelerating actually pays off and they slip through a yellow light to
keep on going while the rest of us stop and wait. The payoff must be
worth the embarrassment they get when they slam on the brakes and the
rest of us catch up.

Likewise, I see almost every day that the "fast lane" is not fast at
all. I usually cruise in the slow lane and notice, almost every day,
that in stretches of heavy traffic the fast lane turns into a line of
stopped cars far more frequently, and for longer stretches of time, than
I do in the slow lane.

Usually, I catch up with the speeders as they wait in the fast lane to
start moving again.

I think this is because so many people want to get into that fast lane
that the slow lane is freed up for steadily moving traffic like me.

I just hope that people don't figure this out. I like my sensible
secret. It's a lot less stress.

The exception to prove this rule is to get into the middle lane around
interchanges that are known for large neighborhoods and other
entrance/exit activity. Moving over at big interchanges is the polite
thing to do, so press the gas pedal and move over to allow smoother
traffic flow around these interchanges. Hitting the gas is better than
having to brake and accelerate multiple times while passing through an
interchange.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tank 128 - 16 August 2007

Went to Costco and filled up with 11.388 gallons after going 439.9
miles. Made for fuel economy of 38.63 mpg.

The streak of going more than 400 miles per tank continues, although the
general fuel economy numbers remain stable around 38 mpg. I think this
is because I am more confident that I will not be running out of gas
when the needle gets close to "E."

My gas tank allegedly holds 13.2 gallons. Even if one gallon is
required just to keep things going, that leaves 12.2 usable gallons.
The absolute most gas I have ever put in the tank is 11.755 gallons,
leaving at least half a gallon, or more than 15 miles, left before
things reach critical conditions.

I can probably go even farther.

Perhaps one day I will keep a small lawnmower gas tank in my trunk just
so I can see how far I can go until I run out of gas. Sort of like that
old Seinfeld episode.

But I suspect running out of gas will cause odd damage to the innards of
my car, more than the satisfaction I'd get out of knowing how low that
needle will go.

Still, consistently going over 400 miles per tank is, I believe, quite a
feat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Redbox

I heard about "the Redbox" on a number of occasions and thought it odd
that a vending machine that distributed DVDs would be seen ase useful.
But today, I stand here before you to admit my initial thoughts were
wrong.

Redbox Rules.

I found there are two of them in grocery stores within 1.5 miles of my
house, one of which is practically on my way home. There's even one I
can walk to during my lunch hour at work. I hear there are some in
McDonald's stores as well.

And it was quite easy to rent a DVD from the Redbox. I swiped my credit
card, entered my email address, and the ZIP code of where the credit
card bill is sent, and BAM! I could get a movie.

I have only rented a few movies so far, but each has been "widescreen"
and not "full screen," which is nice because I prefer the "widescreen"
format.

The cost is $1.00 (plus tax) per day. If you keep it 25 days, the
movie's yours (for $25 plus tax that you have been billed during that
time). As long as you remember to return the movie the next day, I
don't think it's possible to rent a DVD for less money.

Even if I were to keep the movie for a couple or three days, that's
still less than what Blockbuster charges, and I can satisfy the urge for
an instant movie faster than Netflix or Blockbuster.

And as I thought about it, I realized that the Redbox helps the stores
where they are located, because an impulse DVD rental usually results in
a repeat visit to the store that otherwise wouldn't have happened. That
could result in another quick buy at the main store where the Redbox is
held.

The Redbox is great this time of year because there is precious little
to watch on the TV, and $1.05 for an overnight rental, and the
convenience for me to drop it off as I'm going on my way to somewhere
else anyway, just can't be beat.

www.redbox.com

I am not a stockholder, nor do I have any financial interest in the
Redbox. I just like it that much!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Halfway Through Tank 128

Tank 128 is seeing lots of stop-and-go and in-town travels. Last Friday
my trip home took 113 minutes, most of which was idle speed or less. I
am certain this is just devastating my fuel economy. And over the
weekend, we made many short trips around town to and from stores for
"secret" birthday shopping for almost everyone in the family.

My average trip home on a Friday is about 80 minutes. Recent trips have
been higher, at 81, 90, 110, and last Friday's 113 minutes. I chalk it
up to people taking long weekends and going out of town on Friday
afternoons. Luckily, I usually only have a Friday commute every other
week, so one terribly long drive home every two weeks is okay for now.

This morning was back to normal, with a routine trip to work. I was
encouraged that the fuel tank gauge needle passed by the halfway mark
right about 250 miles. Although I have no data that indicates reaching
this milestone leads towards pretty good mileage, my gut feeling has
been that if I can get 250 miles in half a tank, I'm doing pretty good.

I should be able to make it to Thursday morning before needing to refuel
again. It will be interesting to see how the 113-minute trip home
affected my overall fuel economy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Data Collection Galore!

I recently added two more pieces of data to my fuel economy collection
process: outside temperature at time of fill-up, and miles driven before
the low fuel light comes on and stays on.

Right now, it may bee a bit too much to track the times that low fuel
light comes on, goes off, comes on again and stays on. But perhaps in
the future I will become more retentive and start tracking that as well.

My starting to track temperature is a direct response to the several
reports I have heard about the consequences of "hot gas." The radio, TV
and newspapers have each reported this summer that gas is metered to
flow one gallon at 70 degrees (or thereabouts).

Allegedly, gas expands when it gets hotter, so during hot days the one
gallon you pump will enter your gas tank and presumably shrink as it
becomes cooler in your gas tank.

Also, hot expanded gasoline allegedly provides less power and therefore
worse fuel economy.

Immediately, I wonder if my gas tank is cooler than the storage tanks at
the gas station. I think not, as the storage tanks are usually
underground. My basement's underground and is consistently nice and
cool, even on hot days. If this holds true for underground gas tanks,
then much of the "hot gas" story evaporates.

There may be truth to the story that extra gasoline hangs out in the
hose after you pump it. If that's true, then that gas conceivably could
expand and victimize you. Solution: buy gas on a hot day right after
someone else at the same pump, so the gas in the hose doesn't have a
chance to heat up.

Regardless, two recent tanks of gas have been pumped at hot
temperatures, well over 90 degrees. My fuel economy did not appear to
be harmed in any way.

I wonder if news reporters experimented to see if this was true before
they reported it, or if it's just one of those stories that comes over
the wire on slow news days.

From my experience and hard data, "hot gas" is not a problem to be
concerned about. This is why I will continue to track outside
temperature at the time of my refueling, to see if any major variances
occur due to extreme heat. Or cold, for that matter.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

pay per post - is it for real?

So I signed up for this program called "pay per post." I believe there are links on or around this entry. This organization promises to put money of various denominations in a special account in your name, if you blog on particular topics of interest. Some of the topics of interest are things I have a personal interest in as well, so here I am expressing this decision today.

I am interested to see if this is a legitimate "business opportunity" or if it turns out to be along the lines of "use your car as a rolling billboard" idea that everyone signed up for but no one ever got to do.

So there appears to be a wide array of topics to choose from, and my task would be to write up a little blurb about it (positive tone/negative tone/neutral tone) and shortly thereafter a deposit is magically made into my account.

Since I can control the topic selection to some degree, I hope to incorporate issues of interest to the blog here.

And if I am really good, I may be able to include subliminal messages, like "drive sensibly to conserve fuel."


Overall, I trust pay per post will treat me fairly. The Internet remains a wide open opportunity for us all, and I'm encouraged to see not only how this company performs, but also how I may be of service or assistance in their efforts.

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Tank 127 - 8 August 2007 (Hot Gas Myth -- STILL BUSTED!!)

440.0 miles on 11.593 gallons = 37.95 mpg.

If I had stopped refueling after the second click, as I usually do, the
fuel economy would have jumped to 38.77. But for some reason this
morning the first shutoff click occurred right after the second gallon
finished it's delivery. I knew it wasn't near full so I didn't
officially count that one.

This is the fifth tank in a row that I was able to go farther than 400
miles, and eight of the last nine tanks have taken me more than 400
miles.

When I put the gas in this last tank, it was 98 degrees outside. Again,
this is a clear indication to me that those who cry about the rip off
that is "hot gas" are just blowing hot air. I do not and have not seen
any significant decrease in my fuel economy of a tank that was filled in
hot weather.

If anything, my fuel economy is worse when I fill the tank in COLD
weather, but that is easily explained by the fact that it takes the
engine longer to heat up and achieve better efficiency in the winter.

With this tank, I have almost caught up to the number of total miles
driven as last year at this time. However, the Mighty Corolla was used
for a family trip last weekend, and over 700 miles were put on the car
that wouldn't have been put on there had we chosen to drive the minivan.


I have also travelled about as far as last year at this time on fewer
tanks of gas. This really doesn't mean much, as last year I refueled
earlier for most every tank.

My fuel economy for corresponding periods is almost 1 mpg better this
year than last (0.98 mpg better), which is about a 2.8% improvement on
my fuel economy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hot Gas Myth - BUSTED!

On August 2, I filled up my gas tank with "10.873" gallons of regular
unleaded gasoline. It was 95 degrees outside. The heat of the day.

Recent media reports want you to believe that because of complex
physical properties inherent to gasoline, I may have actually put in
much, much less than 10.873 gallons into my gas tank. These reports say
that gasoline expands as it warms up, and your fuel economy could
suffer, AS MUCH AS 30%, if you fill up your tank with "hot gas" instead
of gasoline that's been stored at closer to room temperature.

The news said this is such an obvious problem that our friends in Hawaii
have attachments to their gas pumps to adjust for the "hot gas
phenomenon."

This is a bunch of baloney.

I travelled over 400 miles on that tank of gas that was pumped in 95
degree heat, and achieved fuel economy of 38.55 miles per gallon, which
is more than one mile per gallon better than my 2007 average, and more
than two miles per gallon better than my overall average fuel economy.

Had this "hot gas" really held less power than regular gas, if it shrank
in my gas tank, my fuel economy should have been hurt. In fact, a 30%
decrease in my fuel economy would bring it down to 27 mpg. Certainly
I'd have noticed that. Indeed, I notice as little as a 10% difference
in my fuel economy from tank to tank.

Once I had a tank of gas that served my 10% lower mileage. It was a
tank in February, in the dead cold of winter. That was likely due to
driving in the cold, and the engine had to work harder to get warmed up
and more efficient.

The facts based on the data I have kept since I purchased this Corolla
tend to indicate that summer fuel economy is a little better than winter
fuel economy.

As this tank shows, "hot gas" is really just "hot air." It does not
have an affect on fuel economy, and it is not a rip off.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Corolla - 737.5, Minivan - 0.0

Tanks 125 and 126.

August 2 and 4, 2007.

Weekend Trips to Mountain Lake and Raleigh, NC.

We decided that it would be a good idea to take the Mighty Corolla on
our weekend trip, since two of the three legs of the trip would be just
the two of us in the car.

It would be better to save some dollars on gas and grind out the final
230 miles with the three kids lined up in the back seat of the Corolla.
This turned out to be a great plan!

On Thursday, we filled up the tank at 12:30 p.m., in the heat of the
day. Aside from the ozone warning and extra greenhouse gases we
contributed to the environment by filling up during the heat of the day,
it provided a great opportunity to if there's any truth to the new "HOT
GAS PHENOMENON."

The media has recently reported that you get less gas when it's hot out,
and thus are overcharged as well as get worse fuel economy. I will
share more detailed information in future posts as I consider the facts
and data gathered in these two tanks when compared with past and future
tanks at "cooler temperatures."

Tank 125 - 419.1 miles on 10.873 gallons. 38.55 mpg.

Tank 126 - 454.9 miles on 11.540 gallons. 39.42 mpg.

What is interesting is that tank 125 came on the heels of a 39.02 mpg
effort, and typically my fuel economy drops a lot more after a tank
where I get over 39 mpg. Tank 125 offered less than a
half-mile-per-gallon difference, which is notable.

Tank 126 is even more notable because the Groovy Mrs. Was at the wheel
for much of this tank. She has a reputation for being a lead foot, so
average speeds were closer to 70 or 75 mph on the highway, rather than
the normal 54-66 I drive on my commute.

However, there were fewer stops during tank 126, which likely helped
overall mileage as there were less 0-60 opportunitied.

I am still in the middle of tank 127, but the weekend trip covered 737.5
miles. A quick estimation of gasoline expense tells me that we spent
roughly $51.99 on gas for these miles by driving the Corolla (assuming
an average fuel economy of 38.5 mpg), and would have spent about $$87.02
on gas had we driven the minivan (assuming a "fantastic" fuel economy of
23 mpg in the van, which is a logistical stretch.).

So we spent at least $35.00 less on gas this weekend by driving the
Mighty Corolla instead of the minivan.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Travel Debate - Minivan vs. Mighty Corolla

This weekend we're taking a trip to a few places, and then picking up
our three kids from Grammie's house. Grammie and Pop-Pop took the kids
earlier in the week for an extended visit, and we intend to pick them up
over the weekend.

We're undecided as to whether take the Corolla, which will get very good
mileage, or the minivan, which is lucky to pass 20 mpg. The passengers
will be just the two of us for most of the trip, and five people for the
trip home from Grammie's house- about a five-hour trip.

Last night we were leaning towards using the Corolla, but the more we
think of five hours in the littler car with three kids across the back
seat, the more we think the added space the minivan provides would be
helpful.

I will continue to assume we will take the Corolla. This will mean I
must fill the gas tank today before I get home, which will mean a
refueling after 7 days instead of the 11 that it would be had I waited
until Monday.

But filling up in the heat of the day will help me a little bit to see
if there is truly a difference in fuel economy figures when I fill up
with "hot gas" during the hot afternoon instead of refueling with
"cooler, more dense gas" in the early morning.

Historically, I don't see any particular trend in fuel economy based on
heat. If anything, my mileage is better in the summer and autumn months
anyway, which doesn't lend any credibility to those who say "hot gas"
gives you worse mileage.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tank 125 Update

Yesterday on my way home I watched as the fuel gauge slowly drifted down past the halfway mark. As a general guide, I like to believe that it'll be a good tank with good mileage if I am able to get 250 miles as the needle passes the halfway mark.

As the gauge hit the halfway point yesterday, the mighty Corolla had gone 267 miles. This bodes well for the overall fuel economy of the tank.

Of course, there are many other factors that con potentially have a negative effect on the rest of the tank. I could sit in 80 minutes of traffic over the next two days, instead of the averages of 57 minutes for Wednesday and 69 minutes on Thursday (although I will leave at lunch time on Thursaday and ought to avoid heavier rush hour traffic).

At the current rate, I'll refuel on Monday, August 6, giving me an eleven day tank life.

Please enjoy this drawing that has no relation to this post:

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Pain King

As I got to work yesterday, my pain from the "tree watering incident"
remaind excrutiating.

I called the chiropractor my wife goes to see, because I knew he'd see
me immediately. He did and he took X-rays of my back. So he looked at
them with me, and one of the bottom ones he said "look there, see how
there's a nice gap between all the other spinal bones but there's not
one right here? (he pointed at the bones right behind where my belt
would be) There ought to be a space there. There's probably some
things being pinched in there that's causing your pain. Maybe a disc
bulging or something. You're too young to have this happen to you. I
hope it's nothing too bad."

Then he cracked my back, and I hollered out "OOOOOOMPH!" and
"OOOOOOOOHHHHH!"

It felt maybe 10% better for about 30 minutes.

What if there really was something pinched in there and his violent
cracking could have messed it up even more? I am very concerned about
future appointments with this guy, if there are any.

But I have X rays I think I can borrow to take to a "real doctor" I am
scheduled to see tomorrow afternoon.

Probably the best thing to do right now is to gently exercise the area,
stretch my back a little bit, and increase the efforts a little each day
to get back to normal.

Until then, I walk like an old man. Even the pregnant woman at work is
walking faster than me!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Thousand Bites from a Thousand Tiny Snakes

Over the weekend I hurt my back while watering a tree. Bent on down to pick up the hose and SNAP! a huge sharp shot of pain at the small of my back.

I immediately fell to the ground and was literally moved to tears as I tried to stand back up ten minutes later.

For some reason, I thought it would go away. Here on Monday morning it has not and I am preparing to call a chiropractor to see if I can be seen today.

I have a negative predisposition about chiropractors, as my dad's a doctor and he has convinced me that they are all quacks. However, my wife goes to one and she says he really helps her out.

My experience with regular doctors is that it takes several days if not weeks to get just an initial appointment. This chiropractor can see my wife without an appointment, and is usually done within 20 minutes.

So I will try to see this guy today. I cannot wait several days to a week for satisfaction.

Every step unleashes a small but sharp piercing pain into my lower back right where I awlays thought the spine would be. Standing up is a big challenge. there's even a dull pulsating pain as I sit in place.

Saturday night my wife let me take some of her heavy-duty pain meds (rhymes with Dercocet) and other than make me sleepy and dizzy, it did not dull the pain.

Skipped church do to this immobilizing pain.

I need this to get fixed one way or another.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Low Fuel Light Taunts Me

The other day as I was driving home, I was watching for the "low fuel
warning" light to turn on in my dashboard. I have been trying to note
the distance traveled when the light turns on, to give me an initial
indication of what my fuel economy might be.

Usually the light turns on and stays on. But two weeks ago, it turned
on and remained on as I drove home, but the next day it was off for a
while as I drove around town. Naturally, my suspicions were raised and
questions filled my head.

Is this a new phenomenon brought on by the increasing age of my car?

Has this always happened and I just never noticed?

What mileage mark is correct to use in my notes of when the light turns
on?

I decided that the mileage when the light lit and stayed on permanently
would be the standard reading. I chose this because the fuel gauge, and
this the low fuel indicator light, varies according to the slope of the
hill I am driving on. Up a hill = tank appears emptier, down a hill =
tank appears fuller.

So that afternoon, the LFI (low fuel indicator) lit up at 398.6 miles.
I thought that was pretty good. The light went off, but I did not note
the mileage as traffic was heavy. Then it came on again at 400.5 miles,
and off again at 401.8 miles. I never realized my trip home was so
hilly!

The LFI lit again at 405.1 miles, and incredibly turned off again at
406.5 miles. Obviously, I was getting excited. The light stayed off
for five more miles before turning on for good at 411.7 miles.

I made it home and filled up the next morning to discover this tank had
served me well, providing greater than 39 miles per gallon.

My goal before the end of the year is to have two tanks in a row with
better than 40 mpg.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/

I stumbled across this website after seeing its name at another blog
that talked about good health. There are toons of financial advice
blogs out there (this is not one of them), and the lazy man seems up my
alley.

On the main page, there's an article about women's hair. I can relate
to this because, while my wife cuts my hair for free, I can not cut
hers. She must go our and drop a pile of cash every six weeks. I am
glad to see I am not alone with this concern.

It seems the lazy man, although I don't know how old he is, has a
similar personality as I do, and I have just added him to my
"favorites." He has a tracker of his current net worth, which I assume
is correct and updated, as he is keeping his true identity secret. I
haven't learned how he tracks this net worth, but mine may be close, if
we both include homes, rental properties and such. Perhaps I'll learn
this soon.

If I figure it out, I'll ad a link to his website near the bottom of the
right hand column of this here blog.

You could do worse than checking out http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/.

Gas Tank Statistics Chart I Made

I have done a bit of research and think this might be a little more readable summary of my gas tank statistics since the Mighty Corolla was bought in 2004:

Tank 124 - 26 July 2007


Filled up at the Fredericksburg Costco this morning with 10.943 gallons
of gas, at $2.639 per gallon.

I traveled 427.0 miles on this tank, which made for fuel economy of
39.02 mpg this tank, nicely above average for the year.

Reasons for such an increase in fuel economy:

1) average commute home time over the last week and a half has been
under 60 minutes. For my last tank, my trip home averaged about 74
minutes. More time idling in traffic = worse fuel economy.

2) Increased awareness of traffic ahead of me, and taking my foot off
the gas when I see brake lights ahead in the distance so my car
naturally coasts slower to match the speed of those cars without the
need for the brake. More coasting = better fuel economy.
This tank was my 25th tank of the year. I have spent $627.87 on gas
this year on my first 25 tanks. So I looked back at 2006, and the first
25 tanks in '06 cost me $627.46, practically the same!

I made this chart to show relationships among the first 25 tanks from
the last three years:






I posted it as a picture, but it looks bad. I'll work on improving the appearance of future charts...

Obviously, the big thing that jumps out is my gas expense for the first
25 tanks leaped from under $500 to over $600 over the course of one
year, an increase of over 20%.

There are other interesting relationships I will address in the future.
In the meantime, I continue to drive frugally in the Mighty Corolla.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

http://plunkbiggio.blogspot.com/

Target's retiring after this season. Plunkbiggio wrote a poignant post
today about how the remaining games are even more important. Just 62
more games, with reduced playing time away from home, to get hit three
more times to break the record.

There's some degree of urgency.

No one else seems to notice. It's all "ooh, 3000 hits" and "aah, more
doubles than Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron" and "wow, only member of the 3000
hit/600 double club" and "OMG! 20 seasons with the same team!" and "Holy
djoy, he supports the Sunshine Kids!"

And this historic record he is on the verge of shattering, a record that
has stood for over one hundred years, is utterly ignored.

You Get What You Pay For

So I whip by the Wawa for the free air on my way home, and find the
machine to be broken. The air compressor pumps, but there are ao many
leaks between it and the end of the hose that more air leaked out of my
tire than got put in. I think I actually lost air on the first tire, so
I gave up and went home.

Luckily, there's a Wawa near my home, so I stopped there, also. This
free air station was in great shape and accurately inflated and checked
the pressure in all my tires.

Lesson learned: check the free air machine to make sure it'll work
before putting the thing near your tires!

My handy dandy meter confirmed that all four tires remained near 40 psi
since June 1, so my fuel economy variations should be blamed on other
forces, such as driving in stop-and-go traffic in town and on my way
home from work.

Things look good this tank. I'll hopefully make it well past 400 miles
before the near empty light comes on, and probably get to about 430
miles this tank before I fill it up tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Checking the Tire Air

It has been more than six weeks since I pumped up my tires to 40 psi.
The tank right after I did it, I saw my fuel economy increase 1.5 mpg,
but since then it was the same as average, for the most part.

I wonder if that "spike" in fuel economy was due to wishful thinking or
if it was actually better for that one tank, and my tires went back down
to a "recommended" pressure of 34 psi.

There is a Wawa sort of on my way home from work. Wawa has free air.
The day I pumped it to 40 psi I actually paid 75 cents at the gas
station to use that air.

I think Exxon has free air, too, but there isn't an Exxon nearby that's
on my way home from work.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Off to the Ballgame with Kids in Tow

Yesterday we went to RFK stadium in Washington, DC to see the Nationals play the Astros. Seven of us (two dads and five daughters) made the 56-mile trip in just over an hour, with the trip computer recording average fuel economy of 23.8 mpg.


On the trip home, we found out too late that the Interstate had been shut down for hours due to a hazardous material spill. While it was "all clear" by the time we left the game, we still needed three hours to get home, lowering the trip computer's fuel economy number to a pitiful 20.4.


Sitting in idling traffic absolutely ruins your fuel economy.


On the plus side, we had a super time. Not only did the Nats win, we got to see Craig Biggio play an at-bat for the Astros, and outside the stadium we saw Teddy Roosevelt! He let us take a picture with one of our homemade signs:

So overall it was a really good day for all involved.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tank 123 - 16 July 2007

Filled up at the Fredericksburg Costco this morning with 10.896 gallons
of gas, at $2.729 per gallon.

I went 409.7 miles, which made for fuel economy of 37.60 mpg this tank,
which is a little bit above average for the year.

My mileage likely took a big hit on my commute home last Friday (Friday
the Thirteenth!). That trip home took 110 minutes, which was 35 minutes
longer than my average Friday home commute time, and almost double what
my average time is to get home in general.

There was lots of stop and go and "idle speed" driving. For about 8
minutes and just more than half a mile, I was able to have the engine
turned off and just coast slowly down the hill along with the traffic.

I think I could regularly achieve fuel economy averaging 40 mpg or more
if I was able to just use my car to drive TO work and not drive it home.

So far in 2007, I have spent $598.99 on gas. Last year at this time, I
had spent $656.61 on gas. Even with all the news on high gas prices, my
gas cost more last year, so far...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is this thing on?

It has occurred to me that perhaps the reason that nobody reads this
(and I mean nobody, I checked!) is because of the relative infrequency
of updated posts. Since the main point of this blog is to report my
fuel economy, that means one update every 8 days or so.

This does not bode well for those who crave daily updates from their
regular Internet destinations.

So what can I do to attract the audience I apparently desire with so
much intensity?

Daily notes with no apparent content won't do it.

I used to cc: all my notes to my brother to another blog until he
discovered it several months later. He at least thinks my regular notes
are entertaining.

Perhaps observations from my daily commute? But most people have a
commute, so this will not be news to them, other than perhaps I
experience something they have already seen and it conjures up a fond
memory.

My point is, although nobody reads this blog, I will try to inject some
entertaining bits between the fuel economy posts.

If not entertaining, than hopefully diverting, or distracting, maybe...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tank 122 - 5 July 2007

Made it to the Woodbridge Costco this morning, and considered driving
around the parking lot once to push my miles this tank to over 400, but
did not as I realized how dumb that idea was.

So I went 399.9 miles this tank, and pumped in 10.775 gallons (at
$2.619/gallon), making for 37.11 mpg. This is slightly lower than my
overall mileage for 2007 (which currently is 37.13 mpg).

The mighty Corolla is being used for more trips around town on
weeknights and on the weekends, which lowers average fuel economy.
Also, my trips home have been taking longer, and as my recent "minivan
commute" taught me, stop and go traffic really, really messes up your
mileage.

Interestingly, gas was about 6 cents per gallon less than this time last
year. With all the talk about gas prices, I thought they'd be higher.

I must not complain, however, as gas was $2.999 and $3.099 over my
weekend trip to New York. Central and Northern Virginia must be a good
place to be if you want gas that's cheaper than most.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

To and From Work in a Minivan

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take our green minivan to work so it
could get two new tires. We're taking the green minivan on a road trip
over the upcoming long weekend, and one of the front tires was very bald
on the outsides.

I filled the tank with gas from Costco (less than 1.5 miles from my
home), and drove sensibly to work. The trip computer indicated 29.4 mpg
on the trip. There's another costco about 0.75 miles from my office, so
I drove it over there for the new tires and walked back to work as that
was in process.

My trip home was about normal for a Wednesday, taking 56 minutes.
During that time, the trip computer's average mpg went down from 29.4 to
24.6!

It appears that mileage is substantially lower on my trip home. This
must be due to the increased stop-and-go traffic on the Interstate. I
tried coasting as much as I could, and was gentle on the accelerator,
yet the mileage was nowhere near what it was on my trip in to work. It
must have been closer to 20 or 21 mpg to bring the average mileage down
by so much (using simple estimation that my commute to and from work is
about the same distance).

So the conclusion is that my behavior on my trip home is much more
important in maintaining decent fuel economy.

It is clearly critical to have a good view of the road, what's ahead of
you, and traffic conditions around you so that you don't waste precious
gasoline accellerating into a spot where you'll just slam on your
brakes!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Minivan Mileage vs. Trip Computer

We have a green minivan that has a trip computer in it that, among other
things, tells us our average fuel economy, current fuel economy, and
time in the car with the engine running. We usually reset these
functions at each fill up.

The van needs two new tires, so I drove it to work this morning to drop
off at the tire store. But first, the van needed gas. So I put in
16.075 gallons at our local Costco, at $2.699/gallon, the same price as
earlier this week. The van had gone 254.0 miles, making for 15.80 mpg.

The trip computer indicated our fuel economy for this tank was 16.4.
About a 4% difference in numbers. If I stopped the pump after the first
click, mileage would have worked out to be 15.98 mpg, still lower than
the trip computer.

Almost all the miles we put on the van are "around town" miles, trips of
less than ten miles, and frequently less than five miles. There are
times we go three weeks between fill ups, so I guess 15.8 is okay for
this sort of driving in a minivan.

The trip computer showed fuel economy of 29.4 mpg for my commute to work
this morning in the very same minivan, but with the 4% error, my mileage
may be as low as 28.32 mpg for the trip.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tank 121 - 25 June 2007

Achieved 38.01 mpg on this tank, raising my overall average for 2007 to
37.13 mpg. If I stopped at the first click of the pump, my mileage
would have been over 39.

I traveled 427.2 miles on 11.238 gallons, at a cost of $2.699 per
gallon. Last year at this time, gas was nine cents cheaper per gallon.
This tank cost me $1.01 more than it would have at the end of last June.

Since I pumped my tires up to 40 psi, I have not really noticed a huge
increase in my overall mileage. Perhaps it is because we are using the
mighty Corolla more on the weekends for local trips in town.

I actually went about 30 miles around town on Friday and Saturday,
taking the kids to and from camp, and to the grocery store. The low
fuel light was on the entire time. I was quite concerned that I might
not make it to Costco this morning to fill up.

Actually, there have been 21 tanks that have needed more than 11 gallons
to fill up, and today's was the ninth most gas I have ever had to put in
the car, and the seventh highest total of miles per tank (four of those
seven, and six of the top ten, happened this year).

I should be able to go all this week without filling up, and will be on
a short vacation early next week. I may not need to put gas in the car
again until July 9, which would tie the longest stretch of time between
tanks.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tank 120 - 14 June 2007

Filled this morning at the Woodbridge Costco again. 410.1 miles on
10.916 gallons, making for 37.57 mpg.

I knew this would happen for two reasons. First, my mileage almost
always goes down the tank right after a "great mileage" tank, say 39 mpg
or higher. Second, we used the Corolla for two days of family jaunts
around town over last weekend.

I think this tank would have been 38 mpg or better had it stayed in the
garage over the weekend.

Still, 37.57 is better than my overall average of 36.33, and better than
my 2997 average of 37.09.

Interestingly, it was just about one year ago that I managed my best
mileage ever, 41.06 mpg. The tank right after was 36.13 mpg, a drop of
4.93 mpg. This tank's drop of 2.24 mpg is half that.

Gas last june 12 was $2.729 per gallon, the exact same price I paid this
morning, 367 days and 17,146 miles later.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weekend Family Travels in the Mighty Corolla

We took all the family trips Friday and Saturday in the Corolla. The
five of us took it out to lunch, to a free car wash, and to a weekend
"block party" sponsored by the local radio station.

The good news is that in town, the Corolla probably gets double the
mileage of the green minivan we usually use.

The bad news is it'll probably lower my overall mileage number for this
tank, since most of the time the Corolla is just used for commuting on
the highway, and maybe one local trip over the weekend.

An episode of Mythbusters yesterday studied drafting, and it showed that
mileage improves even if you're 7-10 carlengths behind a tractor
trailer.

Mileage is even better if you can go 55 mph rather than 65 on the
highway, but that causes more of a traffic backup and wastes more gas
overall (due to all those other cars braking and speeding up to pass and
braking again) than one car's savings can justify.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tank 119 - 6 June 07

39.81 MPG. I went 420.8 miles before the "low gas" light turned on, and
431.3 miles total, when I filled with 10.833 gallons at the new
Woodbridge Costco.

Gas was $2.919/gallon.

This is the first tank since I pumped the tires up to 40 PSI, which
occurred about 90 miles, or about 20% into this tank.

Historically, however, the tank after a high-mileage tank tends to be
lower than average. This is a problem that at first seems related to
the amount of gas that gets pumped each tank, but I always pump it the
same, "one more click after the first one."

Another odd thing I have noticed is that if you add up the total trip
odometer readings, they total 42,994.3 miles. But the car's master
odometer reads 43,035. Somewhere there is a glitch. I noticed this
problem last year as well, but have yet to do anything about it.

I read an article about erroneous odometers and that Toyota was
extending warranties because of it, but a difference of less than 100
miles over 43,000 miles seems acceptable, I guess.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

What if I Attach a Picture?

Sometimes I update this blog via email. When that happens, there are
usually some errors that show up, like line breaks at unusual locations.
I think this happens because my email program only sends things in plain
text.

I am attaching a picture to this one. At the other blog I used before I
started this one on "blogger," I think an attached picture showed up in
the body of the post.

We'll see here.

If this doesn't work, maybe there's another way...

Gas tank and mileage update will likely come tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tanks 117/118 - 29 May 07

Courtney took the mighty Corolla on a trip over the weekend. It really messed up my mileage calculations and days between tanks averages. She filled 5.073 gallons and reset "A" odometer and presumably left "B" odometer to keep rolling. I filled up totally this morning with 6.196 gallons. But, her tally of miles gone when she filled with 5.073 gallons, when added to the 108.8 miles on odometer "A", does not total the 438.1 miles that were on odometer "B" that presumably she didn't touch!

So we're looking at either 38.30 MPG or 38.88 MPG, depending on what odometer reading is right.

This is what I get for letting someone else drive my car.

118 tanks, and three of them are now messed up and miscalculated because one of my wives decides to save a few pennies per gallon and only fill up half way!

It's going to take weeks for me to get this statistical anomaly out of my system.

But an odd discovery is that, either way you measure, I have traveled about 150 fewer miles in the first 19 tanks of 2007 than I did during the same number of tanks in 2006. And at a cheaper cost, too! But I expect gas will be more this summer, as I payed about 27 cents more per gallon than at the same time last year.

Still, the gas prices have not apparently caused many drivers to actually change their driving habits. They say you can increase your fuel economy 10% just by driving more sanely. I can't get much better than 38 MG, but I will keep trying all summer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tank 116 - 23 May 2007

Today was odd in that when I got to Costco, the pumps were programmed wrong, and charging the wrong price for gas. It was $7.777 a gallon!

A guy with a three-wheel motorcycle had just finished pumping $100 into his tank at that price, and a woman warned me to not pump anything, because she hit $60 before noticing the trouble.

The station attendant was on the phone trying to sort things out. This must have been hard at 6:30 in the morning.

So I went to Wawa and got 2.996 gallons and made it to work, where I filled the remaining tank with 8.816 gallons, for a total of 11.812 gallons on 450.3 miles for this tank. Mileage was pretty good at 38.12 MPG.

My "low fuel" light did not turn on until I passed 404 miles this tank, which was nice.

I have spent $415.37 so far this year on gas, at an average price of $2.312 per gallon.

Last year after the same number of tanks, I had spent $421.23 on gas, at an average price of $2.384 per gallon.

But this year I have travelled 6567.3 miles on 17 tanks, while last year I made it only 6376.9 miles on the first 17 tanks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Capzasin alert!

So I heard of this stuff "capzasin," a balm of sorts that can be rubbed
on achy joints to ease the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or
other muscle aches. It's made of the same stuff (capzasin, go figure!)
that makes hot chili peppers hot.

It now comes in a convenient rub-on applicator, like a bingo card
marker. I thought it would be a nice thing to buy some for Courtney to
see if it would help with her symptoms. So I got a tube yesterday
afternoon and tested it on my knuckles after work. My knuckles were,
for the sake of this true story, aching from a long day of typing emails
and other work-related projects.

So I rub it on the knuckles of both hands around 4:20. I feel nothing
after about 15 minutes, so I do it again. Stuff like Icy Hot you can
feel immediately, so I thought I didn't put on enough.

That is when I chose to read the instructions. The first line says DO
NOT APPLY TO HANDS. WASH HANDS IMMEDIATELY AFTER CONTACT.

Oh boy. There's no water in the car so I think "how bad can it be, I
don't feel anything right now." But just to be safe, I try avoiding
touching my eyes or nose or pretty much anything else.

After dinner, my hands are totally burning, like a bad bad sunburn, or
like I put my hands too close to the grill for too long. Constant
irritation and stinging, like my hands just ate a hot pepper!

But I can't tell Courtney because she'll ask what was I thinking in the
first place and I must avoid that embarrassment.

And then I go to bed at 10:00 and my eye starts burning. I must have
touched my eye at some point. Not a good night's sleep for me.

And even as I drove to work this morning, more than 14 hours after
putting that crap on my hands, the backs of my fingers are still
sensitive and irritated.

Those Capzasin people weren't joking when they said not to get it on
your hands, man!

Yet after this, I am strangely drawn towards further experiments. I
think this afternoon I might rub it on my.... hamstring muscle that
feels all tight after I go jogging, just to see what will happen there.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Yesterday I was driving around a corner, and a guy had just parked his
car on the side of the road and whipped his door open all the way so he
could exit his car. I turn the corner and see this car door whipping
open, but I can't go into the other lane because another car is there
coming towards me in that lane. I try to slow down even more and the
guy still is stepping out of his car and he sees me in my big green
commode right near where he's getting out his car.

So he gives me a nasty look and waves his hands like "what the heck are
you doing? I'm getting out my car heeeeah!"

Now I am wondering about when did it become acceptable, accepted, or
expected that the people who are clearly in the wrong or acting
dangerously now are the victims to be pitied when their actions put them
directly in harm's way?

What was I supposed to do? Weave into the oncoming car and run that
other car off the road because this dumb guy didn't look for oncoming
traffic when he whipped open his car door?

Why did I get the nasty look of doing something wrong WHEN I WAS SLOWING
DOWN TO AVOID HITTING THIS PERSON AND THE ONCOMING CAR?

Why is it that stupidity and carelessness must be treated like it takes
precedence over common sense?

Maybe it's the whole "I was tripped, but he just fell because he's an
idiot" mentality of mine, but I really think he was the guy who messed
up by whipping open his car door without looking.

But whatever.