Prius Personal Log  #158

November 1, 2004  -  November 5, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 11/20/2004

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11-05-2004

Upgraded Tires:  Improved  Those tires I have are even better now.  Well, not mine specifically.  But anyone that purchases that type from this point on.  Michelin has increased the treadwear from 760 to 800 and the warranty from 85,000 to 90,000 miles.  Pretty sweet, eh?

11-05-2004

Jump Start.  I had to rescue a Classic Prius today.  It had been sitting in storage for a little over a month... with the alarm system running the whole time.  So naturally, that little 12-volt battery was dead.  Poor thing.  Thankfully, the HSD Prius uses a bigger 12-volt battery.  In fact, there's a bigger replacement available for the Classic now.  Anywho, I couldn't for the life of me remember where the heck that manual-release was for the transmission.  So pushing it out of the garage was a problem.  Too bad it hadn't been driven in forward.  Having the 12-volt in back would have made jumping effortless.  (The HSD Prius has the 12-volt in back and a jump access-point in front.  So that's a non-issue, you can make a connection from either back or front.)  Eventually, I found the release.  Toyota concealed it well.  It requires a small knife to pry off the plastic cover.  Fortunately, the one on my keychain worked great.  And pushing that hidden button to allow you to shift to neutral without starting the car was simple.  The jumping itself was no big deal either.  Here's a tip: Use the ceiling-light in the Prius to confirm you have a proper connection to the donor vehicle.  When it illuminates at full-strength, you can effortlessly start up the Prius.  And I did!

11-05-2004

Vindication!  For years I have been harassed by anti-hybrid people claiming the technology in Prius is far too complex to ever become mainstream... and they always cited the system from Honda as the "better" choice instead.  Well today, that all changed.  The article written in the newest edition of "Car and Driver" clearly points out that the Honda system is extremely complication.  So much so in fact, that the "elegantly simple" claim I had about Prius comes shining through.  We already know that the newest Honda system has a "hybrid" A/C system, where it can run from either electricity or the engine.  But since the battery-pack uses a passive recharging design, there isn't much electricity to spare in the first place.  So the opportunities to run on electric-only A/C are pretty slim.  In other words, that's complexity which really won't provide much of a gain... quite different from Prius with a much larger battery-pack fed by an active recharging design.  Anywho, this quote from that article is great, "the Accord-Hybrid has 'active' engine mounts that are electrically powered to counteract the vibrations of three-cylinder operation, a system of clutching the torque converter in harmony with the power pulses, and an anti-noise system plays through the radio speakers to counter the booming interior sounds."  Whoa!  All that to shut off half of the engine?  Geez!  Just use a smaller engine with a bigger motor instead.  Reducing the RPM and shutting off the engine entirely are far more simple design... which Prius uses!  Stepping back a moment, all that complexity could be justified based on what it actually delivers.  But it turns out, the MPG increase is only modest.  And there is no reduction of smog-related emissions whatsoever!  With a cost equal to HSD, there's simply no way it can compete in the long-run.  Sweet!  Finally getting solid proof of what I've been saying all along feels wonderful.

11-05-2004

Misunderstanding HID.  The "brightness" of the High-Intensity-Discharge lights is actually an optical illusion.  People think it is brighter, due to the whiteness.  And it is pretty easy to prove too.  When I also turn on my secondary lights, which are the "old fashion" halogen lights, they appear yellow in contrast to the HID lights.  So people assume I have my high-beams on and flash me.  But when I turn off the halogens, no one seems to notice the "brightness" anymore.  Interesting, eh?  The beauty of HID is for those of us that live in hostile environments, like me in Minnesota during the endless Winter, where headlights only remain clean for about 2 minutes.  Being able to shine through a layer of dirty salt sure is great benefit.  The whiter, the better.

11-05-2004

Between the Lines.  You read there often when you own a Prius.  Messages are not always forthcoming for hybrids, so you have to keep alert to notice them.  As a result, that heightened awareness reveals other things too.  The video from the world's #1 terrorist was exactly that, a very carefully thought out strategic move.  He knew the current administration was emphasizing security and playing on people's fear.  Scaring them just 1 day before the election helped his cause a great deal.  By telling the world he was alive & well, it scared people into putting security highest on their voting priority.  And they did, exactly as he wanted.  After all, if I was him, I would also endorse the man that hadn't been able to catch me for over 3 years.  That's a sad reality.  So later on when you read this, think about how things have changed since then.  Is that wanted man still free?  Is that elected man even trying to catch him?  Then think about how well fear works sometimes.  And finally, think about how keeping better informed prevents any of that from happening in the first place.

11-04-2004

Sometimes, you just can't respectfully disagree.  I appreciate the attention & effort, but that doesn't always cut it.  Keeping speculation posts from getting out of hand is something that only the veterans can control.  So after awhile, I have to be the bad guy by being a little abrupt with an answer.  Those that are active readers understand and like that a lengthy thread is finally brought to a conclusion.  But those newbies probably wonder.  For example, the generation debate...  I've been programming software 25 years and have observed that the version number that comes after 1.0 is almost never consistent with those that follow.  There simply is no way to judge scale ahead of time, especially when you are the first in the industry like Prius.  Just refer to the pages 45 & 125 of the December 2004 issue of "Car and Driver" to see how that industry is mutating, now that their are other players.  Those GM & Honda advertisements you'll see there clearly show how dramatically the definition of "hybrid" itself is changing.  So how much qualifies as a generation now is really a mystery, there is no sense of consistency.  That means I have to finally take action.  Stay tuned.

11-04-2004

New Homepage Feature.  That election endorsement image, which faded in as part of a super-imposed photo collage, is gone now.  The environmental disaster continues though.  I'm not pleased.  This administration is the worse in our history.  Never has a president neglected our natural treasures as much as this one.  Dang!  But I can bite the bullet and make the best of a bad situation.  Showing people the importance of reducing our impact is what I do well.  So, I'll just quietly continue that effort.  To do that, I've rearranged the layout of my homepage and created a permanent area to cycle favorite photos in.  It's a mini slide-show (which I got to indulge in some javascript programming to create).  I quite pleased how that worked out.  Hope you like it.

11-03-2004

Divide & Conquer.  Only 51% of the population that voted wanted Bush as our next leader, despite the fact that incumbents during the time of war usually win by a landslide.  I wonder what the heck those that didn't vote (about 40%) wanted.  Hmm?  Fortunately, my state (Minnesota) had the highest voter turnout in the entire nation and Kerry won by a very wide margin.  Yippee!  That should keep the local partisan quarreling down to a polite level.  Phew!  And as time progresses, that 51% group will become divided even smaller.  Some will see how short-sighted some of Bush's decisions were, as the costs of them continue to grow.  His support will weaken, conquering his support from within.  It's a sad reality.  Who knew that my interests in hybrids would require me to step back and look at the big picture.  But I did.  And other will follow.  You have to plan for the future.  You can't react without thinking the entire situation through first.  (He didn't... obviously.)  We have to leave something good for our children.  We may not have won this particular fight, but we will ultimately win the endeavor.  It's worth the effort.  Remember, divide & conquer.  Each step forward counts, even if you get pushed back sometimes, because they'll run out of support before you do.

11-03-2004

Vibrant Photos!  This year the Fall Colors emerged in a breath-taking way...  photo album 84

11-02-2004

Getting Better.  Look up the hybrid articles written a few years ago.  You will be absolutely horrified by how inaccurate & misleading they were back then.  Fortunately, every false statement by a reporter about "full" hybrid technology was followed up by a frustrated Prius owner with the correct information.  That really paid off.  Quite a bit has changed since.  Now we can welcome new hybrids with fewer misconceptions.  Yeah!  I'm glad to see the Escape-Hybrid is getting good press right away.  Hopefully, the "winter effect" won't screw up that positive start.  We'll see.  It sure looks more promising that in the past.

11-02-2004

Hmm.  Why are the blue & red states arranged in such an incredibly obvious way?  It's almost to the point of being bizarre.  What would make the entire Pacific Coast, the Upper Midwest, and all of New England favor one candidate while the remaining contiguous chuck favor the other?  That's pretty weird, something you'd never expect to actually happen.  But it did.  Do you think those same beliefs will in some way be shown by the way hybrids are accepted?  Will we see a distinct pattern that matches that color scheme?

11-01-2004

Ford 500.  The new advertisements for this sedan promote the elevated seating.  That's a major draw for SUV purchases, now available in one of their premiere cars.  Well, it's about dang time.

11-01-2004

3,100 Megawatts.  That's what was reported on a radio report today, for the state need in Minnesota roughly 15 years from now.  They said it will take 7 to 10 years to build up that capacity.  The belief that hydrogen could be created using electricity is obviously just a wild dream.  There simply isn't enough electricity available for that.  The supply is already struggling to keep up already.  Demand for just regular household needs is growing rapidly.  Adding to that by creating vehicle fuel with it is totally unrealistic.  This is a very significant hurdle for fuel-cell vehicles to overcome, one that unfortunately isn't often considered when discussing the technology.

11-01-2004

Closing Thoughts.  Have you noticed the final sentence in each of the newest (and obviously final, since the polls open in less than 12 hours) commercials for by presidential candidates...  KERRY: "Together, we'll change America."   BUSH: "Why take the risk?"  That seems to sum up what we've been discussing rather well.  The choice is yours.  Choose wisely.

11-01-2004

Adopt, Adapt, and Improve.  That was the motto of the "Knights of the Round-Table".  That advice has been well accepted over the centuries as a good way to lead your life.  Hybrids are a fantastic example of how that motto is being put into play.  We adopt the existing infrastructure, adopt new technology to work within it, and benefit tremendously from the resulting emission & consumption improvements.  Abandoning decades of long-term environmental efforts, refusing to share certain information, and promoting increased consumption is what this current administration has done.  They clearly haven't learned from history.

11-01-2004

244,441 since December 1997.  That's a lot of Prius worldwide.  And at the rate production is increasing, it will only take less than a third that to double the current total.  Sweet!

11-01-2004

When something goes wrong.  Today's quote was intriguing, "I went into panic mode and abandoned my car, with my 4 year old for nothing."  A warning light caused the owner to assume the car had died, rather actually trying to start it again.  Remember the old days, when reliability wasn't as high (especially from other automakers)?  I remember quite a few breakdowns.  Most were minor, thankfully, but still very much a pain.  The most irritating was water in the fuel.  I recall opening up the throttle all the way trying to clean out the lines, dumping chemicals in the tank routinely, and even pouring gas straight into the carburetor itself on a few desperate occasions.  You kept trying.  You just learned to deal with it.  Nowadays, some people are shocked when they have their vehicle checked.  They discovered the onboard computer had been compensating for a problem for quite awhile.  They simply had no idea something was actually wrong or the system had the ability now to "heal" itself on-the-fly like that.  Sometimes it's trivial.  Other times it's a big deal.  But you'll never know until you try.  So don't be afraid of a restart or two, when something goes wrong.  Just be aware that you should have the vehicle checked afterward and not to push it in the meantime.

 

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