Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tank 372 - 17 Dec 2K13 - End of Year Wrap Up

Tomorrow is the last day I'm driving to work for the year, so it's probable that the mighty Corolla will be parked in the garage until 2014. Except that the check engine light is on and probably I'll drive it to the car shop to get that fixed.

So the other day I refueled at the Sheetz. Since the check engine light was on, I put in super unleaded for the very first time.

The check engine light is still on.

Last winter, the check engine light came on, but then it turned to spring and the light turned off. Now it's back and still on, even in the warm-ish days. I replaced the gas cap but still nothing. The car has over 148,000 miles on it. So that's a pretty good track record without much time getting fixed.

So this last tank of the year, the 34th tank of the year, gave me 36.4 mpg. For the year my fuel economy is 35.85 mpg, which is the worst ever.

I spent $1226.11 on gas this year, which was about $200 less than last year. Gas averaged $3.278/gallon, about 20 cents cheaper than last year, but otherwise is the second most expensive average for gas since we bought the car in 2005.

At 34 tanks for the year, this is the fewest trips to the gas station since the one month we had it in 2005. I am averaging 40.77 tanks per year, so that's good news.

Happy Christmas to all.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tank 370 - 24 November 2K13 - It's Been a Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely Time

So I added more gas to the Mighty Corolla last Sunday. It was 30 degrees in Virginia, and was the coldest temperature in which I refueled the car this year, and the coldest since it was 28 degrees on 3 January 2011.

So I had driven 393.4 miles and put in 10.455 gallons of gas, making for a fuel economy of 37.91 miles per gallon, also this was my best mileage for the year as well.

That is all. Enjoy the attached picture...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tank 361 - 12 September 2013

402.6 miles, 11.316 gallons, 35.58 mpg, $3.279/gallon, Wawa near the office on Garrisonville Road.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tank 360 - 5 September 2K13

I bought 11.303 gallons of gas at the Shell station near my office. It was $3.309/gallon, and I had gone 419.2 miles on the tank, so my mileage was a pretty good 39.09 mpg. Of course, this may be due to the different shut-off point for the different and rarely used Shell gas pump.

It's been a lovely week this week at work, with nice sunny days and not too hot temperatures. Happily, today I brought my bicycle to the office and plan on a long-ish "healty wellness" bike ride this afternoon. So I am looking forward to that.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tank 359 - 27 August 2K13: The Move Is Starting to Show

I filled the Mighty Corolla with more gas on my way home yesterday - 11.373 gallons at the Wawa on my way home. The car had been driven 404.2 miles, so my mileage was 35.54 mpg. I spent much of my highway time going 75-80 miles an hour. I did this because after my new wheel bearing got installed, the car is so much more quieter than before, driving at high speed is much more peaceful and pleasant. Clearly, however, mileage suffers...

Last time I refilled the tank was a mere 7 days prior to yesterday. This was the first time this year it was less than 9 days. Probably for a number of factors:
1) Now that the furlough is over, I'm working 5 days a week.
2) Now that the furlough's over, the CWS plan is out so I'll stop getting every other Friday off.
3) Soccer season is here, so I'm driving to kid practices in the evenings,
4) We moved about 6 miles away from the old house, so some trips are longer now (some are shorter, but more are longer).

Still, at this point last year I'd driven almost 12,000 miles, and as of today I've gone just over 8,000 miles.

The news claims that gas is 20 cents cheaper this Labor Day Weekend than it was last year, and my records support it. I paid $3.359 yesterday, and last year at this time it was $3.519 the last week in August and $3.659 the first week in September...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tank 357, 7 August 2K13 - I Have Been Thinking About This for Some Time

I stopped at the Sheetz on my way home yesterday after driving 426.3 miles on this tank. I put in 11.749 gallons, making for a fuel economy of 36.28 mpg.

Gas was $3.279/gallon.

The total miles of my tanks of gas I have tracked is 142,117.5 miles. However, the car's odometer reports 142,180 at the same time. This is now a difference of 62.5 miles, or an average of 0.175 miles per tank. I still don't understand why this difference exists.

One would think the odometer sensors feed the trip meters and master odometer at the same time. Is it a huge coincidence that for every gas tank I have been "THIS CLOSE" for the trip meter to be clicking to the next tenth of a mile? Maybe, but if that's the case, whi is the total average nearly TWO TENTHS of a mile per tank?

Japanese precision, my butt!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tank 356 - 28 July 2K13 - A Nice Round Half Gallon

I filled up the Mighty Corolla's gas tank last Sunday. The second click ended right at 10.500 gallons, ehich is the third time that the gallons have ended at a ".X00" with two zeroes at the end of the number. I'd only driven 352.4 miles, so my mileage sucked and was 33.53 miles per gallon. Probably it sucked so bad because I drove really fast on the highway.

The low fuel light came on as I was trolling the Home Depot parking lot. And the Giant grocery store gas station was nearby so I just filled up the tank since I was there.

Gas was $3.359 a gallon, which was about 15 cents cheaper than the Virginia average. I don't understand why my town has such cheap gas.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tank 355 - 14 July 2K13 (My Enthusiasm for Tracking Mileage is Waning)

I refueled the Mighty Corolla last week at the Wawa near my house (I think). For the third time in a row, I had driven over 400 miles, 408.7. Mileage was 36.55 mpg, calculated after pumping in 11.183 gallons of gas.

Last year around this time, I had driven about 9,800 miles. This year, I have driven about 6,600 miles. This is mainly because my office has moved closer to my home. But recently I moved further from the new office, but not quite as far such that the old office commute would be shorter, so overall my commute is still shorter than it was when the office was in Woodbridge.

New concern is simmering in the event that there's a re-organization at my office and some of us get transferred elsewhare in the organization. There's a possibility that at some point I may get re-assigned and be compelled to go work on the base. This would be bad on many levels, because it's farther away, there's generally bottlenecks to get on and off the base most of the time, and I guess those are the main reasons.

But there's no point in worrying about what-ifs and could-happens. So I'll just keep pressing on.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tank 354 - 1 July 2K13

I refilled the tank in the Mighty Corolla yesterday on my way home at the Wawa out Rt 3. 11.274 gallons, 401.2 miles, so fuel economy was 35.59 mpg. Given that last tank was over 38 mpg, and my suspicion that I was victim to a pump that shut off prematurely to falsely inflate my mileage, I was expecting a larger dropoff.

Indeed, my mileage for this tank is still above my average for the year. On the other hand, my mileage for the year has only been worse in 2004, when the car was brand new and had 5 tanks of gas. Wow.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tank 353 - 21 June 2K13

I filled up the tank of the Mighty Corolla last Friday afternoon at the Giant store on my way home. I had gone 409.5 miles, and that particular pump stopped at the second click at 10.658 gallons, for a surprising mileage of 38.42 mpg.

I think this is a case of an over-sensitive gas pump shutting off too early to give me a false happy of a good mileage number.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tank 353 - 12 June 2K13 (It Didn't Feel Like 97 Degrees Outside!)

So I refueled yesterday afternoon on my way home, partially because I had driven the Mighty Corolla 394.5 miles, and partially because it's supposed to rain all hard core today and I am a wimp who doesn't want to get wet. The tank received 11.831 gallons, so my mileage was a crappy 33.34 miles per gallon.

It worked out to an average of exactly ten cents per mile driven on this tank (not including oil changes or other wear and tear items that eventually will need replaced, such as a bearing in the back).

Apparently it was very hot yesterday afternoon. The thermometer in my car said 97 degrees at the Sheetz gas station (by Wegman's). It was down to 88 degrees at home, I guess because of the asphalt coated property of the Sheetz and the grass and tree covered property of my house. But the temperature showed 95-97 degrees on most of the way home, which of course was on asphalt roads, mostly...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tank 351 - 2 June 2K13 - ninja style

I refueled the gas tank on the Mighty Corolla on Sunday, putting in 10.614 gallons after driving a mere 368.6 miles, so my mileage was a mediocre 34.73 mpg.

Last June 2, I also added gas to the Corolla, and on that date last year, it was my 19th tank of the year and 8099.8 miles. Last Sunday it was my 13th tank of the year and 4950.6 miles. So that's nice.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tank 350 - 18 May 2K13 - Flies in the Gasoline

I refilled the tank of the Mighty Corolla yesterday. I also changed the oil as well. The car had gone 375.4 miles, and I put in 10.628 gallons, making for a mileage of 35.32 mpg. Pretty good, I guess, particularly since I didn't make much effort to curb my driving to work on good mileage. Maybe I just had fewer in-town little trips to bring my mileage down even further.

So I changed the oil, too. Last time I went to the dump, I saw that in addition to oil recycling, they have a used oil filter drop off location as well. Great, I thought, because I usually always have an used oil filter after changing the oil, so I was happy to see I could drop that off for recycling as well.

But NO! I went to the dump on Sunday afternoon and the area where the oil filters are dropped was closed and locked! Behind a chain-link fence!

Crap. But still, I dropped off my used oil filter right there where the oil went. I figure somebody'll see it there and take it to the right place when it's open.

This time last year, I had spent $680.86 on gas and had driven 7267.4 miles. This year, it's been $436.21 on gas and 4582.1 miles. Gas is averageing about 25 cents less per gallon this year over the same period of time last year...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tank 349 - 4 May 2K13

I refueled the Mighty Corolla yesterday at the Fas mart near my house. I couldn't use the pump I usually use, because some fool in a Mercedes convertible has pulled up enough that his car pretty much blocked the open gas pump. I guess I could have parked it there and filled up my tank, but the nose of my car would have been kissing the nose of his car and I didn't want to literally get all up in his grille.

So I swung around and used the opposite side of the pump he was using. And as we all know, when this happens, each pump goes slower. And at this gas station, the pumps are not very fast to start with.

Anyway, after a mere 359.9 miles, I put 10.563 gallons of gas in there, making for a pitiful mileage of 34.07 miles per gallon.

I don't even know why I even bother any more. 34 miles per gallon is the Expected fuel economy for this car (highway).

A silver lining of sorts, I have spend $400.94 in gas so far this year. Last year at this time I had spent $642.57.

The dark cloud is that it's probable that we're all going to move to a different house next month that's about 7 miles farther away from the office. But the good news there is that it's a much less densely populated neighborhood so it promises to be quieter and more peaceful.

But that's another story for another time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tank 348 - 24 April 2K13 (The Gas Station Was Rockin' - Literally!)

I refilled the Mighty Corolla last night at the Fas Mart near the library. Gas was $3.249/gallon, which is pretty cheap around here. The car had been driven 383.7 miles at that point, and received 10.920 gallons, making for a fuel economy number of 35.14 mpg.

Last week I got the car inspected. The inspection had expired at the end of March, so my secret evil plan is to take it in after it's expired so I get an extra month from the inspection process. When I picked it up, the guy reported that a bearing needed replaced ("needed replaced" is poor language, I know, but it's a Southern convention that explains the thought in fewer words. It's much easier to say "the bearing needed replaced" instead of "the bearing needs to be replaced." It's like two less words!). So shortly I'll get that done. It currently makes a very noticeable hum as I drive around, but when I curve to the right and the weight of the car shifts more over the left wheels, the noise disappears. That's kind of fun.

I wonder if the poor bearing is helping to keep my fuel economy so subpar over the last year...

Oh, but more fun is that it was quite windy last night as I put gas in the car. The weatherman reported steady 20 mph winds with higher gusts. As I stood there squeezing the gas pump, the wind was coming right across the front of the car and it was hitting the gas pump straight on the wide side. And that pump was leaning back and forth. The top part where the cigarette ad was on its little flexible stand was leaning about an inch in each direction. The whole pump! So that was cool...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tank 347 - 13 April 2K13 (The First Time This Happened)

Refueled the Mighty Corolla at the Fas mart near my home. 363.8 miles, 10.674 gallons, so 34.08 crappy miles per gallon. An interesting note is that after the second click, I had put exactly $35.00 in the tank. I wasn't even watching.

You'd think this would happen roughly once every 100 tanks. You'd be wrong. I looked at the numbers and this is the first and only time this has happened to me. I have a few tanks that ended in $x.99 and a few that were $x.01 or $x.o3, but this is the first that randomly came to an end right at a round whole dollar amount.

So I guess that's pretty rare.

Other than that, I have nothing to add.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tank 346 - 2 April 2K13 (Too Much Going On To Post)

Sorry, I took the rest of last week off for personal reasons. But I did put more gas in the car on April 2, 11.297 gallons after driving 396.7 miles. So mileage of 35.12 mpg.

It was thirteen days between tanks of gas. I expect this tank will last at least that long, as the Mighty Corolla was parked for most of the 5-day weekend. Plus, I'm taking this Friday off, too. So probably it'll be a couple weeks before I refuel again.


Meanwhile, I am questioning the profitability of this blog. I clearly underestimated the number of people in this country who are interested in not only fuel economy (not even great fuel economy any more, it's merely average) but also recreational bike riding stories.

Alas, there are too few to make this a worthwhile wealth generator. :-(

But this has been a good blog in that it goves me history of when my back went bad the first time.

And also one of the most popular posts is about how crappy the Delta Touch Faucet is, so I like to think I saved a couple people from making that horrible decision.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tank 345: 20 March 2K13 - It'd be easier to just type 2013!

I refilled the Mighty Corolla yesterday on my way home, at the Fas Mart near my home. I had driven 394.4 miles and squoze in 10.873 gallons from a slow-pumping machine. Thus, my mileage was 36.27 mpg.

I haven't ridden my bike at all this week. Bummer.

I haven't gotten amazing gas mileage in, like, forever. Another bummer.

My "get-rich-quick-from-Google-Adsense" scheme is floundering (if I am using that word correctly). Bummer Number Three.

Next time I start up a blog, I'm going to make it more widely focused than "guys who ride bikes for exercise and drive small sedans that get mediocre fuel economy. And hate Delta faucets."

But I'm pretty sure I nailed that demographic!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Official state insect: the monarch butterfly
Official state butterfly: the eastern tiger swallowtail

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tank 344 - 10 March 2K13 - Battleship: the Movie wasn't as bad as everyone said!

I refueled the Mighty Corolla last night at the Fas Mart near the library again. 10.784 gallons, 381.7 miles, so it was 35.40 mpg. Not that good, but not that far below my average for the year so far (35.49 mpg).

It was 16 days between tanks this time. Year-to-date average days between fill-ups is 14.67 days. Due to the timing of this fill-up, and adding evening soccer practice trips into the mix (soccer season starts this wek for 2/3 of the young ones), I expect this tank will be used up faster than average.

Over the weekend I watched Battleship:" the Movie Based on the Hasbro Game." It wasn't bad! I basically enjoyed it.

I think I understand why critics didn't like it. 1) Americans had to give control to the Japanese in order to start winning against the aliens. 2) The Austrailian band AC/DC's song "Thunderstruck" was played almost in its entirety during a musical montage. 3) The Jeff Goldblum character, ressurected from "Independence Day," didn't get to be the hero, he only walked around saying "I tild you this would happen! You didn't listen to me, and here we are! I told you things wouldn't be good when the aliens found us!" and basically whines the whole movie. 4) The heroes at the end were WWII veterans! OLD MEN!

I will expound on these reasons here:

1) Hollywood bashed "Independence Day" because it was entirely the Americans who saved the world. I remember reviews that were critical about how the British, Koreans, Russians, and the rest of the armed world were shown just saying "it's about time those Yankees saved us!" and the movie critics though that was too jingoistic. So Battleship lets our Japanese friends lead the way (although just temporarily). Clearly, film critics don't like it that way either. Maybe next time the North Koreans will save the planet and they'll be satisfied. Probably not because it'll just be North Korean men and no women who do it...

2) Thunderstruck gets no respect. But it rocks. Film critics don't understand, I guess, because maybe they just think the only song by AC/DC worthy of immortalization in film is "Back in Black." I beg to differ.

3) The Jeff Goldblum character was clearly a rip off from "Independence Day." He stunk the place up, this can't be denied. Happily, he was only in a few scenes. But his lines in each scene were the same "I told you it would be crap! But did you listen? NOOOO!!" He was forgettable. And he had bad hair.

4) No way movie critics will respect members of the Greatest Generation as still being capable of kicking ass. I suppose they'll be happy when those guys are all dead, but you know what? We'll just make movies that take place in the '90s so they can still have WWII veterans in them! They are the Greatest Generation for a reason, folks, and that's because they went over there while still teenagers and did what they were told to do and they were victorious. And lots of them were killed. Those guys are tough as nails, lucky sumbitches who deserve our respect. But Hollywood film critics don't understand that, either. Probably Hollywood filmmakers, too, but somehow this got into the movie. And for that, I am thankful.

So, to sum things up, 3/4 of the movie points listed here are good. That's a solid C grade, bordering on B-minus, because AC/DC and old guys add bonus points.

Good entertainment. Good movie. Battleship!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Just Cleaning Out the Hard Drive

<<child immobile.jpg>> I don't remember where I got this picture from, but I remember liking it so much that I was going to share it with other people.

I don't remember ever sharing it with other people, so here it is. Posted again on the internets for posterity and happiness.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tank 343 - 22 Feb 2K12- No reason to FREAK OUT; Gas cost about this much last year at this time, too!

I refueled last Friday evening at the Fat Mart near my local library (not the Fas Mart near my home, because I was at the library and there's a Fas Mart there, too), after going 382.7 miles on the tank. 10.601 gallons later, my mileage was calculated to be 36.10 mpg.

This is notable just because it's the first tank of over 36 mpg since October last year.

Gas at the Fas mart was $3.659 on Friday. I say that because the national media if causing general mayhem and terror amongst the masses at how freakishly expensive gas is nowadays, and how we could be looking at $4.00/gallon gas before Memorial Day!


Flashback to last February 27, gas was $3.579/gallon. Yes, it was within 8 cents of what I just paid for gas. For a large SUV-sized tank of gas, this is less than two dollars per tank difference.

Last Memorial Day weekend, gas had actually gone back down to $3.499/gallon.

Truly nothing to really go nuts about.

But I guess people have to go nuts about something or another just to make ourselves feel like we're making a difference.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Analyst Formerly Known As "Guy Who Rides Bikes."

It's true. I used to consider myself a healthy guy who rides a bike for exercise. At one point, I made it a goal to ride my bike for more time than I spent commuting to and from work in my car. More recently, however, I am becoming more sedentary, lazy, and soft.

At this time last year, I had ridden my bike over 500 miles. At this time this year, 213.5 miles. Less than half.

To be fair, there has been more cold/rainy/windy weather this year so far, and I have been sick twice so far this year. Last year apparently had wonderful weather all year and I don't recall getting so sick I couldn't ride my bike.

Probably this is just a winter funk and things will improve as the season changes. But still, I'm not feeling good about calling myself a healthy guy any more.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Tank 342 - 11 February 2K13 (I'm Driving a LOT Less So Far)

So I refilled the Mighty Corolla on my way into work this morning, after driving 377.0 miles. I put in 10.584 gallons at the Fas Mart near my house, making for a fuel economy of 35.62 miles per gallon. Interestingly, my cost (at $3.399 per gallon) of $35.98 was only 0.36 away from my mileage.

Part of me wonders if my gas cost has ever equalled my fuel economy, but I suspect it has not since it seems that would be something memorable that I'd really get excited about.

What I have noticed so far is that at this time last year, I had just filled up for the 5th time and not the 4th time as this tank was.
I've driven 1543.7 miles and spent $143.30 on gas so far, where last February 10 I had driven 2145.8 miles and spent $186.48 on gas. That's about a 28% reduction in miles traveled, and a 23% decrease in gas cost.

The gas cost difference is a little deceptive, however, because my first 5 tanks of last year averaged about $3.33/gallon, and so far this year have averaged about $3.28/gallon, which means my fuel economy has gone down, which isn't a surprise because I've been monitoring such things for a while now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And Then This Happened (Why I'm Not Enthusiastic About My Local Bike Shops)

On Monday, I returned from a "healthy wellness" ride at work to see what I thought was a small pebble stuck to my rear tire. As I looked closer, it was actually my inner tube bulging out of a little rip in the sidewall of my tire.

On Tuesday, I debated the merits of ordering a new tire for my bike from the internet vs. buying one from a local bike shop, because on account of the inner tube bulging out in the hernia fashion. I looked at the websites of two local bike shops, and saw that each had suitable tires for $18.99 or $19.99. Amazon had cheaper ones with brand names I didn't recognize but had high customer reviews.

In the past, I had decided that things like tires and inner tubes ought to be bought locally, so I stopped by one of the bike shops on my way home to buy the tire.

I walked in there and there weren't any of the tires I was looking for on display. The guy asked me "what are you looking for?" and I said "a new tire for my road bike" and he took me to the display of the $38.99 and up fancy folding tires on the floor.

I told him I wanted a regular non-folding tire that wasn't as expensive. He got behind the counter and brought one out. It was also $38.99. I asked for something cheaper. He asked me why and I explained that my current one got a little rip and the tube was bulging out. He said "maybe you need a tougher tire" and brought out a GATORSKIN ARMORED TOUGH TIRE! that was $45.

I said again that I wasn't looking to spend that much on a tire because I apparently run over sharp things that cut my tire and my current tire was $25 and broke after only about 500 miles. He insisted
it was because I needed GATORSKIN ARMORED TOUGH TECHNOLOGY and that would solve my troubles.

I told him that the bike shop's website said they sold "twenty dollar tires," and that's what I was looking for. He responded that not every store carried all the things on the store's website. I FELT IT WAS A BAIT AND SWITCH and started to grow more frustrated.

I resisted. He then offered up the "boot solution" where I put a liner inside the affected area of the tire to keep the inner tube inside. I was not opposed to this solution, and actually had considered it earlier but decided against it because I wasn't sure it would work, but his confirmation that the boot solution would be adequate helped make up my mind that it was an okay solution.

He took me to a packet of Park Tools Boots for $5.99. I had heard that you could just use a dollar bill as a boot because the dollar bill is made from cotton which is strong enough for the job. Since a dollar bill costs less than $5.99 Park Tool Boots, I quickly calculated that would be the cheaper solution. So I said I'm just gonna go raid my other bike and use that tire until I make a decision here.

Then I left and the guy was still trying to sell me something.

I got home, used a dollar bill to boot the cut, and am happy to report it's still holding air and not busting out as of this morning. I'm going for a ride this afternoon and we'll see how well it performs.

Then I went on the internet and ordered a new Michelin tire for my bike from for $17.85. It'll probably be here tomorrow.

So I don't know why I really bothered with trying to go to the bike shop. Although if the local bike shop had the $18.99 or $19.99 tire, I would have bought one right then and there.

My other story that is reinforcing my annoyance with my local bike shops happened at a different bike shop in town. I needed inner tubes and better tire levers to use for field repairs. I stopped by at the end of a long ride that day, and my bike was parked outside.

The guy looked out and saw my bike (and I arrogantly assume he noticed it was an internet-brand bike that was clearly not bought at a brick-and-mortar store) and cheerfully led me to the inner tube selection. He pulled out a tube for a 700x23 tire, which is the tire size I was riding, but the stem seemed a little short, I think the stem was listed as 38mm. I have wheels that have a little deeper than normal rims (advertised as 27mm deep on the internet, I think), so I was a little concerned that my pump wouldn't have enough to grab onto.

I shared my concern and the guy assured me it would be long enough. I was mildly concerned (because I had heard this in the past) that tubes made for 23mm tires were thinner than tubes made for 25-28mm tires, and you could put the thicker tubes made for 25-38mm tires on the thinner 23mm tires and feel more secure that you had a thicker tube that would offer more puncture resistance.

After a moment, I convinced him of my choice and he switched it out for a slightly bigger tube. Still the stem was shorter.

When I got home and put on the new tube, the stem looked a little short, but indeed the tire pump fit - JUST BARELY - with a slight air leak during the pump action on account of there was just almost barely enough stem to latch onto.

And now when I add air to the tire, I must wrestle with the stem just a little more than normal because I was sold tubes with too-short stems.

To the store's credit, the tubes were the same price as tubes I could order off the internet. So in the future, I might still get tubes from there, but will be more forceful with my request for longer stems. Not only are they easier to use, I also like the look!

I know I'm supposed to support my local bike shops, but the whole feeling of "bait and switch" with the tire experience, and the whole "you don't need longer stems on your tubes" affirmation, it makes me less eager to support local stores in the future.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tank 341 - 30 January 2K13 (Delta Faucets Still Stink!)

This morning I stopped at the Fas Mart near my house and refilled the Mighty Corolla with 10.697 gallons of gasoline @$3.259 per gallon. The car has been driven 379.1 miles, so my fuel economy was 35.44 miles per gallon.

It had been fifteen (15) days since I had refueled last, so that's nice.

Plus, I noticed that the gas stations near my office were billing $3.299 per gallon, so I didn't spend about 40 cents because I refilled near home rather than near work. Except for the 7-11 right near my office which was also charging just $3.259 per gallon so that's a lie.

There are two things that are occupying my thoughts recently. First is that it's looking likely that people in my office will be furloughed one day a week for about five and a half months because of the dysfunctional government. On the bright side, it's not like a forced one month vacation without pay, just a half-year stretch with 80% pay. Which is fine, I guess, more time to ride my bike, you know?

But more importantly, I am starting to conclude new truths about Delta faucets. As you recall, I had a lenghtny hate relationship with the Delta Touch Faucet in my kitchen. It sucked. I strongly disliked it. But those turds at the Delta Faucet company wouldn't take it back, only give me credit towards another Delta faucet. And we eventually took them up on that offer, got a new Delta faucet, and sold the touch faucet for about $200 on Ebay (I like to remember $200 on Ebay, but I don't recall for sure the actual sale price. I'm about 65% confident it was near $200 though...)

So we have this regular Delta faucet now. I have realized that it wasn't just the crappy "touch" interface that sucked.

It's the entire Delts faucet lever mechanism. It's not well-engineered.

Most of my life, unbeknownst to me until now, I used kitchen faucets of the "Moen" type: the handle pulled straight up and down to control water flow, and swiveled side to side to control hot/cold. In this manner, assuming each water input was at the same pressure (which is possible by adjusting the shutoff valves under the sink), one can turn the faucet on to the desired pressure and then swivel the handle left and right to adjust the hotness of the water.

Delta faucets don't operate like that. The flow/adjust lever mechanism is like an inverted triangle of "infinite adjustableness," except it doesn't work smoothly. Fine adjustments that are effortless in the Moen-style are treacerous with the Delta, as the lever does not, will not, and can not move smoothly in small fine increments. So I get stuck with good temperature at too little flow, or way too hot at acceptable flow, or way too cold at too much flow.

And what's concerning me even more is that there are probably millions of people who think this is normal and fine and acceptable, because they know no better!

So now I have announced to the family that this faucet is no longer acceptable and I'm going to replace it with a Moen in the near future.

And. They. Can't. Stop. Me.

Because if it comes down to it, I'll wait until a furlough day when everyone else is at work or at school and I'll zip on over to the hardware store and buy a Moen and swap it out and put the Crappy Delta faucet on the Ebay and I will be victorious!

So, in a way, I can thank the ineptitude of the government for freeing me up to fix this horrible faucet situation!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Well, I'm On Strava. Expecting to Accidentally Die Soon.

I bought a cheap GPS bike computer so I can upload my bike rides to Strava, this internet site where other people with GPS bike computers can upload their bike rides and in such was all rides can be compared on certain designated stretches of road to see how we each stack up to others who have ridden that stretch of road before.

A guy in California (I think) got himself killed because he rode his bike too fast down a hill and ran through a red light or something and ran into moving cars and died. His parents are suing Strava because he apparently was trying to get the speed record for that little section of road at the time.

While I find it interesting to finally be able to compare my rides with other guys who ride bikes, I don't think I'll get that worked up over it, right?

Maybe not.

Yesterday I went out on my first GPS-tracked ride. Before I went out, I looked around on the Strava for a segment that I could ride on to see where I rank in the standings. Turned out the bike path by the library is a segment, and about ten people have times on that stretch. SO I went out there to see how fast I could go on that 1.1 mile stretch.

I tried almost my absolute best (I think, at least, because I was breathing heavy and sucking wind when I was done) on that stretch and when I got home I saw I had the second fastest time, behind a guy named Justin who did it 12 seconds faster and ahead of #3 who was 10 seconds slower than me.

So I'm wondering, did I really try my best? Can I go faster? Does it even matter?

I'm happy that this stretch of bike path is away from car traffic. Indeed, one segment crosses US Route 1 at a point that I know is traffic-light-controlled, so that would mess up any timing if the red light stopped the ride.

I'm happy that my probably best effort is second on that part of the bike path. But I'll probably also try to beat my time and see if I can get to first place in the future.

Meanwhile, I see another piece of road nearby is also a segment with many rider times logged. So I'll probably go over there and see how I stack up.

Maybe this can be the thing I do this year- get as many second place Strava segments as I can.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tank 340 - 15 January 2K13 (I got it at the Wawa!)

I refilled my gas tank while at work just this morning. 10.983 gallons after going 388.7 miles, for a mileage of 35.39 mpg. It had been 13 days between tanks.

Turns out I'm taking this Friday off, so it won't be until the end of January that I'll have a five-day workweek again. I don't think I've gone to the office for five consecutive days since before Thanksgiving.

Well, I ordered a bicycle GPS unit, the cheapest Garmin Edge they sell. Still, at $130 it's not cheap. But as I was talking about it with my lovely wife, she foolishly let down her guard and said "you might as well go ahead and buy it since we know you're gonna buy it eventually!" So I did.

I have acquired other things in this manner as well. About 5 years ago, when I was recuperating from my back surgery and wasn't allowed to sit for more than 30 minutes at a time, Nintendo Wiis were the big popular game system and they seemed to never be in stock anywhere. And since my commute was 45 minutes, I just had to take a rest stop on my way home from those "difficult" half-days at the office.

I had started announcing to the family that I was stopping at Target on my way home and was going to buy a Wii if there was one there. The news at that time reported Wii shortages and out of stock reports everywhere, and my wife knew there was none anywhere, so she didn't onject to my announcement.

Well, one of those days I took my break at the Target and there was a Wii there and I bought it, plus the Wii Sports game that had the second controller, and the nunchuck attachments, too. And I got home and carried the Wii in to the house and the kids went nuts with happiness!

My wife was surprised at this expensive purchase (over $300 for sure!). She asked me why I bought it, and I responded that I had told everyone I was going to buy one if one was there, and since she didn't tell me not to, I went ahead and bought it!

Good times.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013: A Goal-less Year

Here we are, two weeks into the new year. The recent weather's been depressing: foggy, damp, cloudy and grey. I've managed just two bike rides so far this year, and one of them ended in a flat tire.

Just before the flat tire, I was riding an healthy wellness ride at work, and was considering the new year as I reflected upon the last. Last year, every bike ride was important; every ride had meaning. Each minute on the car balanced out a minute I had spent commuting to or from work in my car.

Likewise, I documented each and every trip to and from work in the car. These timekeeping efforts were important as I had made the goal to ride for more time than I commuted. I had a spreadsheet filled with data. I kept pie charts. And it all worked out that my bicycling efforts indeed ended up how I thought it would: I spent more time riding my bike than I spent commuting to and from work in my car.

I had noticed during the year that my new office, being about 15 miles closer to home, really added a predictive quality to my commuting trips. Whereas at the old building, every commute was an adventure. Some mornings I got there in 35 minutes, other times it took over an hour. Going home was the same. Some days were 40 minutes, most were closer to 50, and some were more like two hours.

But here in the new building, since September, my commutes to the office have been very consistent at 26-31 minutes, and my trips home, even during Christmastime, have been between 32-38 minutes (except for one day that took over an hour, but that was I think the one exception). Commutes have been so consistent that I have stopped tracking my trips this year.

So I have no real data. What was a large part of my life last year is now over. It's practically meaningless. And my lack of bike riding has prevented me from enjoying the fun of riding.

Yes, the weather will improve. Yes, my flat tire is fixed. Yes, I'll go on more bike rides. But it appears that I won't need to make any new comparison between riding and bicycling this year. Making a goal of "just have fun" won't cut it because as we all know, every ride is fun for some reason.

And with each day that passes without a ride, I can feel myself sliding back into the complacent world of laziness.

But, if this is the worst of my problems, that means everything else must be pretty good, so I best not complain...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tank 339 - 2 January 2K13 (Starting Off Right)

I put 11.394 gallons of gas in the Mighty Corolla on Wednesday, after driving it 398.9 miles, so my mileage was a measley 35.01 mpg. The gas was acquired at the Sheetz near the Wegman's near my home.

It had been 21 days since I had last put in gas. That's almost three weeks, and was the second longest stretch of time between tanks ever in the more than eight years of owning this car.

This will be an interesting yesr for the Corolla. It will be an entire year with the new shorter commute, so I expect my total miles driven to plummet, relatively speaking. Also, because historically my jobs didn't encourage taking vacations, I have been a "leave hoarder" and never really taken much time off. I've also job-hopped almost regularly and thus never really stockpiled bunches of time off. But now I have a nice job working for the Man, and I don't plan on leaving it, and in the past years I am now in the proper spot where I sit on a pile of vacation time and most all additional time off that I accumulate this year is of the "use it or lose it" variety.

I do not intend on losing it.

So there's probably going to be at least two complete weeks off, and more than a few long weekends. That means even fewer days going to work. SO fewer miles driven, so less gas used... However, my mileage apparently is now no longer special on account of how my normal commute is now on twisty country roads, which are fun to drive on but not that good for fuel economy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Final: Bike by 57 Minutes.

Taking out the 45 minute spin class, I still met the goal.

Taking a sick day today. Data review will have to wait...