Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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45 Minutes To Drive 3 Miles

December 4, 2008

On a lighter note, I thought I’d post up something about my pleasant 4 mph commuting experience today.  And no, I wasn’t travelling through downtown Minneapolis.  This was Interstate 94.

Now, usually it takes about 25 minutes for me to drive the 20 miles to work, but today was special for some reason:  Pigs on the loose cause morning traffic mess

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click for video

MAPLE GROVE — A truck carrying nearly 100 pigs overturned on Interstate 94 near Interstate 494 Thursday morning causing traffic to be snarled.

The accident happened early Thursday morning in Maple Grove near the I-94/I-494 exchange but it was not weather related.

State Patrol Lieutenant Jeff Gladfelter says that not all of the pigs stayed with the flipped tracter-trailer. “There was about 15 of them that got loose.” Gladfelter says 7 troopers and some MnDot workers were able to corral most of the pigs in a makeshift pen on the side of the highway.

I was pretty frustrated this morning, but I can’t stop laughing at that video of the cops and guys with leashes chasing pigs all over the place.   Classic.

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I’m Losing It (MPG’s That Is)

September 17, 2008

Not sure what’s going on here. 

Perhaps I’m slacking a bit in my driving habits.  Or, I should probably check that performance air filter (I cleaned it back in May, right before I started tracking this stuff).   Another possible explanation could be the decrease in ambient temperature, as it’s starting to cool down here in MN. 

All of the above?

Whatever it is, I’ve noticed a pretty steady decline in my MPG/tank since I peaked it at 32.507 in mid-July.  Today’s fill-up revealed a tank that hit a disappointing 29.88.   “Slow and Low” is a little off her game:

click for full size

click for full size

Here is my cleanmpg.com mileage log.

I’ll double-check tire pressure tomorrow, just to make sure.

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32.28 MPG! A Plateau For Slow And Low?

July 2, 2008

I’m outta control!

OK, I’m going to come clean here.  For this most recent tank, I made an effort to avoid using the Coug to run short errands (I rode my bike), or going to lunch at work (for that I borrowed a car on the lot; one of the benefits of working at a dealership).  In other words, these miles were almost all work commute, which is about 90% highway.  Also, I had the benefit of very little gridlock this last week or so.  Still, that’s knocking the cover off the proverbial ball by just about any measure. 

Is this about as good as I can expect from this machine?   Not sure.  The next logical step, I suppose, is to purchase and install a ScanGauge, and use it to really tweak my driving habits.   With that little gizmo I could discover the cruising speed at which Slow and Low achieves maximum fuel economy, since at this point I’m not exactly sure if its at 55, 60, or even 70mph (I’ve been setting the cruise at 60, which is the speed limit on 694).  Also, since it gives real-time MPG readings, I could really master the throttle and the most efficient acceleration.   Could I drop some more weight, add some aero mods, and employ even more hypermiling techniques?  I suppose.  With that, maybe I could squeeze another mile or two out of a gallon.  Maybe.

 

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Dump The Truck

May 2, 2008

Today I spotted this NYT article (via memeorandum): As Gas Costs Soar, Buyers Flock to Small Cars

DETROIT — Soaring gas prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede.

In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April.

I post this as a follow-up to the Gas Price Rant Thread, but also because I work at a dealership (yes, every once and awhile Chamber visitors will learn a little more about ChenZhen the man, and it’s true that I sell cars).

So, I guess I can say that this is hardly surprising to me, but I’m amazed at the change in the market in just the last 6 months.  We can’t give these trucks and SUV’s away, and the cars that many people would have previously laughed and pointed at (like the pictured Chevy Aveo) are now holding their values and flying off the lot.  People are doing the math at this point, and the cost of ownership of these V8 trucks is simply getting outta hand.  

For an example, let’s compare fuel costs between the Chevy Aveo (since I mentioned it) and the Chevy Tahoe (since the NYT mentioned it’s 35% drop in sales in the article), using my 10,660 mi. annual commute to work and back that I used in the “rant” thread:

 

That’s a difference of $832, or about $69 extra a month…just to drive to work.

Or, if one uses the default EPA estimates of 15K miles/year with 45% hwy and 55% city average, there is a difference of $1264, or an extra $105 a month.  Within the context of buying a new vehicle, it’s definitely going to be a factor because when you’re talking about a $600/month payment on a new Tahoe, you’re really talking about $700/month in relation to picking a more fuel efficient car instead.

The additional problem for those who already own one is that the market is so soft on them that they won’t get squat for it on a trade-in, so you’ll see more and more people flipped upside down on their payments (lingo we use to describe a situation where the owner owes more on their vehicle than it is worth), perhaps to the point that they can’t get out of it even if they wanted to.   We’re seeing these people more and more.

It’s getting rough out there, let me tell ya.  

 

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Need A Vibe Radiator?

April 1, 2008

Go here.

vibe-radiator.jpg

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Today Is March 26th…

March 26, 2007

…and it’s 75 degrees here in Minnesota.  Unbelievable. 

So, I grabbed my Creative Zen Micro, some smokes and the leash and took Indy for a walk.  Outside there are children playing, kites flying and birds chirping.  Just beautiful.

Hard to believe that earlier this month we had a few feet of snow on the ground.

Update:  The temp actually made it to 81 degrees today, and the StarTrib says it’s a record: Mercury hits record 81

The first full week of spring is feeling a lot more like summer as the mercury roared past 70 degrees for the second consecutive day and set a record — 81 — for the date.

The 81 degrees in the Twin Cites eclipsed the 74 recorded on this date in 1991.

A reading of 70 degrees or higher in March in the Twin Cities is not unheard of, said Pete Boulay of the State Climatology Office, but getting two consecutive days of 70 degrees or warmer is very rare. That has not happened since 1986, when temperatures went above 70 March 29 and 30.

The March 30, 1986, reading of 83 is the warmest ever for the month. The mercury also hit 83 on March 30, 1968, and March 23, 1910. On the other end of the scale, a bitter arctic blast sent the temperature plunging to minus-32 on March 1, 1962.

That’s our Minnesota weather for ya!

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Groundhogs And Birthdays

February 2, 2007

Well, it’s that day again:

Phil did not see his shadow on Friday, which, according to German folklore, means folks can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn’t seen it 15 times and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999.

This day has always had special significance with me, as it is also my birthday (yay!).  For the record, I turned 33 today.