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Nice Price!

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nice priceI’d meant to fill up the Blue Bug‘s tank a week ago, before the Thanksgiving break, but pulled up to our Kroger’s gas pump intending to take advantage of the 9¢ break our grocery card would have given me, only to discover that I’d forgotten my wallet. Then forgot my wallet again this morning, this time realizing my absent-mindedness a mile from the house, so retraced the beginning of my commute, else would have had to break down and pay cash for my gas (not to mention, hope I didn’t get stopped by a policeman asking me to show my license). Then ran the Blue Bug’s tank so low getting into the office today, that I had to get my gas there instead of at Kroger’s. Still, this is by far the best price I’ve seen all year!!

It’s just a good thing the Blue Bug isn’t a member of the American Airlines fleet, or I would have had to pay some of my fuel savings for the privilege of bringing my computer and a second work bag from the office with me. After blaming their consumer-hating luggage fees on sky-rocketing fuel costs when oil rose past $140/barrel this past summer, don’t expect them to see sub-$60 oil as motivation to attempt to win back any of their passengers.

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

1 December 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in abelian

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Low Gas Price!

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I’m told that up the street I could have done a few cents better, but $2.14 per gallon for my gas is still a very nice change over the $3.90 I was shelling out just 4 months ago.

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

29 October 2008 at 3:50 pm

Posted in abelian

Intolerable Commute

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Houston’s first non-hurricane rain in long memory clogs a late morning commute. My last clear stretch of road comes on the ramp down from the Sam Houston Beltway, at 8:26am. Over half an hour later and still short of the 610 loop, word on the radio of more bad traffic ahead finally convinces me to turn around, at 8:57am. Only 7 minutes later, at 9:04am, I am back opposite where the first of these three snapshots was taken. More than 4 times as long on the commute north as it took to come back south.

I’ll head into the office at an earlier hour tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, but without turning back despite suffering almost the same stop-and-go traffic. Which is why my mileage on the current tank of gas will drop to 36.20mpg, still better than most drivers enjoy, but my second worst tank of the year.

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

14 October 2008 at 9:04 am

Posted in abelian

Blowout

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The plan had been to head out of the office early enough to take my noon conference call at the house, then resume recovery from the flu or whatever it is I caught this week. The Blue Bug blew that plan up while barrelling 60mph along the 610 loop sandwiched between two tractor trailers.

“[T]he ride has been getting more bumpy,” I had observed back when I had the Bug realigned. What I neglected to mention was that although that realignment did straighten out the Bug’s direction, at best it only mildly smoothed out the bumpiness that had crept into my rides since the beginning of August. And as the bumpiness again grew worse into September, I’ve known I needed to get the tires checked. Shouldn’t have taken a high-speed blowout to kick my butt into getting it done.

Since I’m about as bad at anything auto mechanical as I am at handyman tasks, Kelly started on out to assist me changing the tire. But a passing tow truck driver got me going before Kelly arrived, and luckily the blowout had occurred within sight of a local shop of the same tire dealer we’ve used for the past decade. I took my conference call in the tire dealers’ waiting room as the Blue Bug was getting four new tires, and still made it back to the house in time to get some recuperation time in.

At least the Bug has been getting good gas mileage, back up over 40mpg on the past tank, despite including some post-Ike stop-and-go traffic congestion.

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

1 October 2008 at 10:39 am

Posted in abelian

Post-Ike Commuting

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Getting America’s 4th largest city up and moving again is a bit of a chicken-egg exercise run by committee, with FEMA still playing after-the-fact games, the state completely AWOL, and everyone else just working it minute to minute to minute as best as can be expected. Auto fuel supplies being virtually non-existent on the south side of town. We hear that there are stations with long lines stretching several hours worth of waiting but still pumping gas in the far northwest suburbs, somewhere about midway between the main evacuation routes. But down near South Belt, a key early intersection for the main body of evacuees, we can’t count on anything but fumes anytime soon, it seems.

Late last week, Houston Mayor White publicly encouraged non-evacuees to leave the dwindling gas supplies for evacuees, seeming to forget that such a strategy would leave him with over 2 million citizens running on empty. Brain-addled University of Houston jumped the gun, re-opening this past Tuesday, even before the city had sufficient water pressure to flush toilets for returning students and even before all campus entrances were unflooded or cleared of debris, apparently oblivious to the fact that students dutifully driving in on Tuesday were likely not going to have enough gas to make it back in anytime soon, not if they’d been following the Mayor’s advice. And even trying to bring fuel trucks into town seems useless until gas stations have electricity to run the pumps.

Susan gassed up the Bitty Burb just before Ike hit, mayor be damned. And I still had just under 3/4 of a tank, as shown above at the beginning of my first post-Ike commute this morning, enough for maybe 3 trips to the office before I start feeling completely stranded, since I’ve been getting close to 40mpg. But Nat had only enough left for that one trip into UH on Tuesday; and Kelly ran his tank bone dry right into the storm.

Note for Next Time: Let other evacuees deal with it as they see fit, without interfering with our own need to be prepared – fill up every car, and have extra on hand!!

 

But we do seem to have turned the corner. More gas stations are open in our neighborhood on my outbound commute this morning than when I made my inbound commute scarcely two hours earlier. And it’s quite common to see caravans of utility vehicles on their way to their next site for bringing electricity back to the area.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

18 September 2008 at 9:21 am

Posted in abelian

Late Commuting, Low Mileage

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I know there are more than a few drivers out there who would do almost anything short of killing to have a tank of gas give them better than 35 miles per gallon. So maybe I should be happy even with the second worst mileage I’ve had for a tankful this year.

I’m not.

I guessing that if I want to get the Blue Bug back up to her potential, I’m going to have to cure myself of waiting until the height of the morning rush hour before I head into the office.

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

2 September 2008 at 8:36 am

Posted in abelian

Realigned

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I hadn’t noticed it before. But back a few weeks ago when I was chauffer for a weekend, there was one instant when my hands left the steering wheel, and we made a very decided move toward the right ditch. So, the Blue Bug has needed realignment.

And has made that point increasingly more emphatically with every mile since then. Seems I’ve almost had to fight to keep the vehicle pointed straight forward, and the ride has been getting more bumpy as though bumping right-left-right-left-right-left. I’m not sure it would have been safe to push off getting this fixed too very much longer.

Susan and I took the car over to Pearland this afternoon to have it attended to. The mechanic showed us up under the tires, pointing out some rods with too much slack, needing to be replaced. A bit more expensive than a simple realignment, but not too bad considering how old the Blue Bug is getting. And now she rides just as smooth as new, and once again I can take my hands off the steering wheel without losing control.

Another customer who came in shortly before our departure, taking passing interest that I was tapping away on a laptop, made a comment about me bringing my work along. Not work, actually – I was relaxing with my fave pastime, currently trudging through the month’s worth of data collection and analysis that will give me a five-year comparison of net periodic pension costs with how pension costs would be without the deferral and smoothing of current accounting standards. He asked if I knew anything about his own pension plan, and less than ten seconds after he told me its name, I was giving him the bad news about what PPA06 added to the law for critical multiemployer plans. Quite unofficially, of course. But it sure is nice to have a spreadsheet with so much information right at my fingertips.

But no snapshots. I didn’t think to get a pic of that view of the Blue Bug that I don’t normally see, from beneath its wheels. And this damnable laptop gave me one of its random crashes right in the middle of transferring the few pix I did take this afternoon, rendering all those files inaccessible. Time to get the laptop realigned – throwing it against the wall should accomplish that, I think.

//www.internetbumperstickers.com] - abelian

Written by macheide

13 August 2008 at 2:40 pm

Posted in abelian