Category Archives: Transportation

Car go vroom vroom (and somtimes it doesn’t … ’cause it it’s a hybrid)

No Priuses Allowed

In an effort to criticize John McCain’s economic policies and his apparent unwillingness to support “buy American” restrictions including Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the Secret Service, a group of American-made hybrid car owners and Harley riders rolled into downtown Grand Rapids, MI on Tuesday to support Barack Obama. The only stipulation for participation? Hybrids had to be American made, meaning no Priuses allowed.

No Priuses Allowed at Hybrids & Harleys for Obama Rally

Darn, wish I had known about this before … would have been cool to roll along with in my Ford Escape Hybrid (built in Kansas City, MO).

Gas Milage

I was kind of amazed at my gas milage this last weekend … Ginny and I went down state to visit my niece Melissa and we took our bikes (didn’t end up riding, unforunately).

These days I average about 32.5 mpg.   With the bikes on the rack in the back of the Escape, we got 27 mpg.

I’m not sure if the reduction in performance was due to the extra weight, the shift in balance, or just extra drag created by the bikes.

My Geeky Good Deed

The Grey Ghost was slightly overdue for it’s 40K mile scheduled maintenance. So I took advantage of the downtime at work (yes, it’s Saturday … but I’m on a high profile, under-resourced, project with a tight deadline.   I’ll be in tomorrow) to take my car in to the Food dealership and get the work done.

All that had to be done was an oil & filter change and tire rotation… so I had an hour to kill.

Obviously I took my laptop so I could kill the time (mostly playing solitaire, but checking some email using my phone’s network access).

There was another guy with a very similar Dell Latitude laptop … I casually asked him if there was any WiFi access. He indicated that he didn’t know … but he couldn’t use it anyways, because his wireless card wasn’t working.

I indicated that I was pretty handy with computers (especially the Dell Latitudes, since it was a similar model to mine) and offered to take a look. Turns out someone had disabled the wireless card in the device manager. I enabled the device and verified it was working by plugging in my portable access point just to see if the card could find a signal. I also showed him how to use the ‘WiFi Catcher‘ switch (when you push the switch, the a light will indicate if there is a Wireless signal in the area, without even having to turn on the computer).

Sadly, there was no WiFi access in the waiting area. I’m going to send an email to the Ford dealership to suggest they provide it. Sure would make waiting for your car a lot less boring.

Frozen Wiper Fluid

Windshield WiperThe only thing worse than running out of windshield wiper fluid on a ugly day is having your wiper fluid freeze up.

This happened yesterday, as Ginny and I were on our way back home from my folks house.

I’m a little worried, however, about a leak … as I thought the wiper fluid reservoir was full yesterday … but when we got home, it wasn’t.

I couldn’t get the tube unfrozen by poring warm water on it last night … but it worked fine when I started the car this morning (still in the garage) … but half way to work, it wouldn’t spray anymore.

A co-worker suggested some other type of fluid to try that is specially formulated to prevent freezing.   I’ll have to pick some up and try it.

Interesting Weekend

We had a very interesting weekend … did some fun stuff … saw some thing interesting, and encountered a new situation.

First, the fun stuff … we went to the Darwin exhibit at the Field Museum with my parents. It was quite interesting and informative. It covered both his Theory of Evolution, his personal life, and some discussion of Evolution in general. Did you know that he almost didn’t go on the Beagle voyage? He had asked his father for permission, but it was denied. After some huranging, he got is father to agree that … if Charles could get a reasonable person (in his father’s opinion, of course) to present good reasons for him to go on the voyage, he would allow it. Charles worked with his uncle, who his father apparently thought was reasonable, to put together a point by point rebuttal for all Mr. Darwin’s arguments against going.

After the museum, we decided to go for dinner … we didn’t want to go for Greek food, as that’s what we have a habit of doing. We also didn’t want Chinese, because Ginny and I just had Chinese food.

We decided on Italian … and found a place about two miles west of the loop for dinner. As we were driving there, I spotted a yellow cab that was a Ford Escape Hybrid. Considering how taxis drive, a hybrid vehicle makes a lot of sense. It was a 2008 model, which I’m not a big fan of … but it’s better than anything else. That was the interesting bit.

On to the weird … we got to the restaurant, had to wait a bit of time for a friend to join us, ordered and ate. The food was good. We were ready to leave, asked for the check, and I tried to give the waitress my AMEX card. She waved me off saying that they didn’t take that. So I asked her if Discover was OK. She clarified by saying that they didn’t take ANY credit cards. I only had $20 cash in my wallet. Luckily dad had some cash.

I was kind of shocked … I had never encountered a main-stream restaurant that didn’t take credit cards. I wonder what they do if someone shows up, orders, eats, but doesn’t have enough cash?

Five Ways To Spend Your Gas Rebate

For a nation “addicted to oil,” as President Bush put it, Senate Republicans have a proposal that can only be described as enabling: Put $100 back into the pocket of every taxpayer.

The proposal, unveiled Thursday, has been roundly criticized not only by Democrats but also by fiscal conservatives who warn it will widen the deficit while doing little to encourage energy conservation.

“It could be one of the dumbest ideas of the year,” said Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the conservative Cato Institute. “I haven’t looked at all of the ideas yet, but it’s got to be right up there.”

Taylor pointed out that as proposed, the rebate would go only to people who paid federal income tax last year, meaning it would be no help at all to the millions of low-income Americans who pay no income taxes but arguably suffer the most in times of rising fuel prices. About 100 million taxpayers would qualify for the rebate, which would be limited to filers with incomes under $150,000 for couples or about $100,000 for singles. It would cost more than $10 billion.

We love how a conservative numbers guy has to point out the obvious flaw in the GOP’s otherwise damn fine plan.

What shall we do with this munificent benefit, this tremendous windfall? Why, it will buy us about 2 tanks of gas eachl – an amount that’s pretty meaningless to both Ginny and I given our lightfoot driving habits. So what shall we do with our $100 gas rebate, assuming that this bill passes (and you can bet that the push will be on to pass it just in time for ‘lectioneering, kids, because after all it’s a “please-vote-for-me-in-November” ploy by the GOP).

Here are a few ideas we have about what we’ll do with the (theoretical) rebate. They all involve endorsing or re-directing the rebate to a more deserving target – this may not be possible depending on how it’s structured, so it may be necessary to deposit it and write a check, but I’m hoping endorsing to third parties will be possible. You’ll see why:

  1. Re-direct your rebate check to our local Meals on Wheels program, or to a a charity that picks up homeless people and transports them to shelters
  2. Donate it to a hybrid or alternative-fuels pilot project, or to the National Park Service to be used to fuel the shuttle buses they run in order to cut down on traffic
  3. Sign it over to your friendly neighborhood police, fire, and emergency rescue organizations
  4. Forward it to an organization that helps the working poor and Katrina refugees with gas money and bus/transit fare cards
  5. Endorse it over to the campaign fund of a Democrat running against an incumbent Republican, and fax a copy to Sen. Bill Frist’s office as a big “THANK YOU.”

Please feel free to steal this idea, or enlarge on it. Think of the good that could be done – $100 isn’t that much money to Ginny or I, but it’s a lot of money to a poor person, or to a non-profit trying to eke every last penny out of a small budget.

Note: This post also appears, almost word for word, on Ginny’s blog … we worked on it together.
[tags]car, gas, rebate, frist, hybrid[/tags]

Ugly Car

Today I saw one of the ugliest cars I think I’ve ever seen …

… an orange Porsche 911.

Now I’m not a huge fan of Porsche’s … but I don’t hate them.

This car, however, was just plain ugly.

Kind of wish I had taken a picture of it.

Top 10 Fuel Ratings

Ford Motor Co., with its hybrid SUVs, is the only American carmaker to crack the top-10 fuel economy list for 2006 vehicles … Ford Escape hybrid SUVs, two-wheel and four-wheel drive, round out the list.

Ford only US firm in top 10 for fuel rating – The Boston Globe

Way cool!

Although I didn’t realize the Honda Insight got that great milage … I thought it was just a ‘mild hybrid’.

I’ll have to ask Dennis about that.

[tags]Cars, escape hybrid, environment[/tags]

Clean-fuel tax breaks

Automakers on Wednesday praised President George W. Bush’s call for incentives to boost sales of energy-efficient vehicles, saying the tax credits would help drive more of the technology into the marketplace.

Automakers support clean-fuel tax breaks

Ok, this probably the FIRST thing he’s done that I agree with.

It feels wrong, and I suspect there’s going to be some twist, but I’ll endorse the idea for now.