Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tank 276 - 28 April 2K11

This morning I had the pleasure of refueling at the Wawa near my home. It was a tender 76 degrees ar 5:50 in the morning, with one of those "toupee and combover alert" breezes blowing.

The mighty Corolla sucked up 10.800 gallons after travelling 425.3 miles on this tank, so my fuel economy was a respectable 39.38 miles per gallon.

Gas was $3.739 per gallon at this Wawa.

This was my 14th tank of gas this year. I got my 14th tank of gas last year on April 29th, so some comparisons can be made. Since people still are hung up on gas prices, I can report that I have spent $523.03 on gas this year, about $99 more over the similar period last year, or roughly $7.07 per tank of gas. Since I avarage a tank of gas about every 8 or 9 days, that is LESS THAN A DOLLAR A DAY DIFFERENCE IN GAS PRICES.

"Yes, but most people don't average 37 miles per gallon, Kenny!"

True, but most people don't drive 33 miles each way to and from work. And if they did, and drove a big truck that got half the mileage as me, that's still less than two dollars a day difference in the gas prices.

I've said it before and will say it again: if you can't absorb an added expense of less than ten dollars a week, you need to look closely at many of your life's decisions. Or drive more carefully and less agressively. Those jackrabbit starts and quick stops suck the gas out of your car with tremendous speed. There's a price you pay for those great feelings of sudden acceleration, and it is paid with more gas! And more brake pads!

If you mash on the brake pedal, you're just throwing money out the window. It means you are losing the benefit of momentum that your engine worked so hard to achieve.

Do everyone a favor. Look ahead of you on the road, beyond the car in front of you, to see what's happening up there. There's a good chance you'll reach that point up there soon, and if those cars are slow, bunched up, or stopped, why mash the gas to get there?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Delta Touch Faucet is Terrible!

We remodeled the kitchen last year, and purchased a Delta Touch faucet to go with the new kitchen sink. It was the worst decision ever, and I encourage each and every one of you to stay away from this horrible device.

The commercials make it seem like you could never exist in happiness without it. But the opposite is truly the case. In the past fourteen months, this faucet has caused me much unhappiness, anger, frustration, and despair. It has used twelve C batteries.

Faucets shouldn't have to have batteries replaced.

The touch part is kind of neat at first, but it turns out that errant splashes of warm drops of water sometimes touch the faucet part or the handle, and it causes the faucet to shut off. And the on/off feature is sudden and abrupt. If you turn it off while the water is flowing at full force, it shuts off like a toddler slamming down the faucet handle. If you have loose pipes, you will hear them rattle throughout the house. And then when you touch it to turn it on again, it comes on at the same full force all at once.

You might try to get smart and use the handle to turn it on at a weaker stream, but no, it will still turn on at full force first, and only then will it adjust to a weaker flow.

And the horrible joystick control makes it almost impossible to strike a balance between temperature and water flow. If you manage to get a moderate water flow that doesn't splash all out of the sink (an effort in itself that is difficult, particularly when the faucet is in "spray" mode, as the spray can come out with such force that the whole sink region becomes wet with errant splashes, which causes the faucet to turn off violently if the water happens to be warm enough, as I noted earlier), but want the water to be a little warmer or cooler, it's not a simple twist or pivot of the handle like every other faucet. It's like a joystick motion to get it warmer or cooler, and as you move it to warm or cool, the water flow changes as well.

It's like an implement of torture. Slow, annoying torture.

So let's say that you manage to achieve near perfection in kitchen water delivery with this Delta Touch faucet- not too hot, not too cold, at an acceptable pressure that flows enough but not too hard that it splashes all over the place or rattles the pipes each time it turns on or shuts off. That'd be great, then you just tap the faucet with the back of your muddy hand and tap it again with your clean fingers after a blissful washing experience. Life is grand.


Because it you're like me, you don't live alone, and you can bet that the other people in your house do not appreciate the perfect balance you created for them. No, they can't see the gift you left for them. So you go to the sink and touch it, knowing that you will re-create the orgasmic satisfaction of summoning water at the mere touch of your elegant hand, only to see it churn on in a fit of violent pipe-rattling terror and splash water all over the sink and countertops nearby.

I tried to post my negative review of the Delta Touch faucet on the Lowe's website. It was rejected. So when you look on the Lowe's or Home Depot website, you will see an overwhelming show of positive reviews from deliriously happy and satisfied customers. They all lie. They clearly are posting these happy reviews, like, on the first day, probably within the first hour of ownership.

Give it a couple days of use and you will find that it is a twisted sort of punishment for a crime you didn't know you did. But by then it's too late and you're stuck with a battery-sucking suckfest of a poorly-designed crappy faucet that can't even perform its most basic functions with any degree of expertise or effectiveness.

Don't make the mistake I made.

Don't buy a Delta Touch faucet. It's not even a good present for your worst enemy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I donated blood on the Red Cross bus at work on Tuesday. Usually, it's the Virginia Blood Services bus that runs the blood drive, but when I did that one time, the workers were not nice and hurt my arm with the needle and left a painful bruise.

My experiences with the Red Cross normally is much better. The workers there seem much friendlier and joke around professionally and efficiently. But I was still worried about it all happening on a bus, with the narrow aisle and people bumping into each other and potentially my arm as it dangled into the free space of the walkway.

When the lady got to me to prep my arm with the iodine cleaner, I told her up front that I talk a big game but turn into a baby when the needle comes out and I wince and squirm in pain. This made her laugh, which is a good sign, and then I told her how last time I gave blood (actually not donating blood it was some hack drawing blood for a cholesterol test) the person removed the needle at the end by cracking it like Indiana Joneses whip. So she said she'd be nice to me and as she marked my vein she drew a line, and then another line and a smile under it to make a smiley face.

Looking back, it's fortunate she remembered which "eye" on the smiley face was my vein.

So there was the normal "prick and burn," but it didn't last as long as I remembered it did, and I bled out my pint in quick time and was sent on my happy way with a baggie of pretzels, a can of apple juice, a bumper sticker, and a coupon code to redeem a T-shirt on the internet.

It's not about goodwill towards your fellow man and/or saving lives.

Donating blood is all about the swag!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tank 275 - 18 April 2K11

As I drove home yesterday, the low fuel light began to glow at 414.6 miles. I was optimistic that such a late lighting of the indicator was a clue that I would see good fuel economy for this tank. Normally the low fuel light turns on around 385 miles.

I left the house a little early this mornign so I could refuel at a local Wawa for a couple reasons. First, last time I drove to work with the low fuel light on (see post for tank 274), I encountered horrendous traffic and feared the worst. Second, I have secret evil driving plans today during lunch and don't want to spend extra time refueling during lunchtime. Third, and I don't know why, gas is much less expensive in Fredericksburg than it is in Woodbridge. Fourth, I know I talk out of both sides of my mouth because on one hand I declare my wishes for $8.009/gallon gas, and here I am buying gas at a station I know is less expensive. I call that thriftiness. If Wawa wants to undercut the competition, I will give them my business.

Irregardless, the Wawa pump shut off for the first time at 10.6 gallons. I thought this was a little early, so I broke the code and pumped more in, not just to the second click like I have always done, but to the THIRD CLICK, knowing that the more gas I put in, the lower my calculated fuel economy would be for the tank.

So it ended up at 10.727 gallons. And I drove 429.2 miles, making for a fuel economy of 40.01 miles per gallon! The last time I surpassed the psychologically-significant 40 mpg was August 11, 2009.

Of course, this high number comes on the tank after I achieved an unremarkable 35.97 miles per gallon, which lends credibility to my assertion that pumps at different stations shut off at different times, and my last tank was at a pump that permitted more gas to enter the tank, and/or this Wawa shuts off too early.

Still, my average fuel economy for the last 5 tanks is a respectable 37.85 miles per gallon.

And since people like blogs with pictures, please enjoy the picture I attached to this post.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why doesn't IKEA sell Billy's Pan Pizza?

I have read (well, listened to on audiobook CD) all three of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" novels. In each of them, one of the main characters (Lisbeth Salander) basically lives off of Billy's Pan Pizzas that she heats up in the microwave.

Salander also buys all her furniture at Ikea. But Ikea doesn't sell Billy's Pan Pizzas at all. Ikea sells Ikea-branded foods and none of this Billy's Pan Pizza.

Since we know Ikea is a real place, it's reasonable to conclude that Billy's Pan Pizza is a real food item, too. The Internet reports that it's not a high-quality frozen pizza, but given the noteriety it has from these three books, soon to be Major Hollywood Motion Pictures, when will Billy's Pan Pizzas become available for all of us in America?

I am saddened that the local Ikea doesn't sell them. But I can drown my sorrows in 50-cent hot dogs and meatballs with ligonberries, which are pretty decent consolation prizes, I guess.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tank 274 - 11 April 2K11

Here's the 4-1-1 on 4/11:

431.0 miles, 11.981 gallons, 35.97 mpg, $45.52.

That's the second-highest amount ever paid for a tank of gas in this car ($46.36, 22 July 2008), and the eighth-most gallons of gas ever put in (12.451 gallons, 29 June 2K10).

The gas pump at the eccentric Wawa this morning was slow and shut off at about 11.6 gallons. This would have given me much better mileage, but my habit is to continue fueling until the pump shuts off a second time. Since it was a slow pump, I suspect the first shutoff came later than it normally would have.

Or else it probably had been the two horrendous traffic trips willed with stops and starts that happened on this tank...

Meanwhile, this morning was one of those bad traffic days. I felt extremely low on gas while stuck in traffic, although on paper I was confident I would not run out of gas, in real life it is a stressful situation. So on a long, long downhill in bumper to bumper traffic, I shut off the engine and coasted.

The motor was off for no lie about 5 minutes. It was great. However, the hat behind me apparently felt the need to accelerate swiftly whilst going down the hill to catch up to stopped traffic at the red light at the bottom.

The djoyhead beeped his little imported horn at me because there was a gap of perhaps 75 feet that had grown between me and the car ahead.

Forget the fact that we all were going at a walking pace, and it was obvious there was a red light ahead, the guy clearly felt that this gap was unacceptable and it was beneath him and unnecessarily delaying his progress to have such a vast open expanse of road in front of the car ahead of him.

So I heard the guy's timid beep and waved back to him as I merrily coasted on down the hill. And guess what? I caught up with that car and had to come to a full stop anyway.

So what gains would I have achieved by gassing it up to catch the stopped traffic ahead of me. Like the wimpy imported horn guy felt I was compelled to do? NONE!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tank 273 - 1 April 2K11 (No Foolin'!)

I just returned from BJ's in Woodbridge, where I put 11.205 gallons into the mighty Corolla. I had gone 421.0 miles on the tank, making for mileage of 37.57 mpg.

Last April 1, I also refilled the gas tank, only it was the 10th tank for the year and todays is the 11th tank of the year (due to last year's BLIZZARDPALOOZA, I didn't go to work for several days).

So, since the number of tanks is 10% off, it'd be misleading to say that I have spent more than $97 more in gas this year than last year. It would be less misleading to compare 10 tanks to 10 tanks, which still puts me at about $58 more in gas for the year. Still, it's less than $9 a week more, so it's not a worry.

I have ridden my bicycle about 291 miles in the whole month of March. Commuting to work and back, I can match that in about a week.

I'm thinking about "National Bike to Work Day," which is Friday May 20. It's about 33 miles in each direction, and I think if I can arrange for a shower here at the office I could maybe do it. Except that's a scheduled off-Friday, so I'd have to do it the day before, which is still during "National Bicycling Week," which as we all know is part of "National Bicycle Month," which is the entire month of May.

We'll see if I can man up and do it.