Personal Log  #4

January 17, 2001  -  February 17, 2001

Last Updated: Sat. 2/15/2003

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The "HYBRID ELECTRIC" stickers are quite entertaining!  When I stop at a stoplight now, I watch the vehicle behind me through the rear-view mirror.  The people don't pay much attention at first, then all of a sudden there's a very noticeable reaction.  I can see them saying the words and pointing to the stickers then the "45 MPG" message and "Toyota Hybrid" label.  It's great!


Are you ok?  I found another summer-only parking lot, but this one had a one-lane path plowed through it for service vehicles.  I drove to the middle of it then got out of the car and walked away to find a good area for taking photos.  The windchill was -20 F degrees and the wind was gusting up to 26 MPH.  So naturally, when a police officer noticed me from the top of the hill (I was at the bottom) he drove down there to see if I was ok.  It didn't make any sense to him why someone would be out there like that unless they were in trouble.  I said "Hi" and showed him the camera.  It became obvious that I was just fine (but very cold).  I thanked him for checking on me, then he drove away (backward of course, since it was only a one-lane path).


I got stuck!  I've driven through deep fresh snow on several occasions without any trouble.  But this time I tried driving through deep month-old crusty snow.  It was a scenic unplowed parking lot for a summer-only park, perfect for new winter photos.  I drove into it and felt the Prius drop.  Oh!  Oh!  I got out of the car and stood on top of the snow without sinking.  It was hard enough to hold my weight but not the 2765 pound Prius.  Oops!  But having been a Boy Scout, it was just a matter of taking my folding shovel out of the truck and doing some digging.  By clearing a path for the wheels and loosening the hard snow that was touching the bottom of the Prius, I was able to slip & slide out of that dumb situation.  So...  the moral of the story is: the Prius was not made for off-road driving.


I'm getting excited about the Auto Show.  This comment was posted on the Yahoo Club today: "The Chicago Auto Show had 2 Prius vehicles, the cutaway engineering model and a fully assembled Prius.  After the Toyota spokesman gave his presentation I found myself answering visitors' questions for 20 minutes since many thought they were seeing a concept car."  I'm sure the situation will be the same here too.  The personal information on my new website card is what people ask about all the time.  They're amazed to find that I've been driving what they thought was "just a concept car" since last September.


The point of no stealth.  It's cold again.  Will spring ever come?  Anywho, 0 F degrees is the point I've noticed that no matter how warm the engine is you just can't make the Prius drive on only battery power.  Oh well.  The cold spell this weekend will hopefully be the last, then I won't have to deal with that anymore.  Days in the 20's and 30's from then on would be great.  (Of course, I won't mention that the first weekend in March last year the temperature got up to 70!)


Another "wallpaper" already!  It must have been all the love from Valentine's Day that inspired me.  This one has a winter theme:  wallpapers


42 MPG is fantastic!  Hmmm?  Last fall, I'd get upset when my MPG would dip below 46 MPG.  Now I'm happy that it's up to 42.  I didn't expect that.  But this long, cold Minnesota winter has provided a lot for me to think about.  For one thing, no traditional car that has an EPA rating of 39 MPG actually gets that kind of mileage around here.  Sitting in very slow moving traffic on snow & ice covered highways causes a lot of waste, unless your in a Prius!  Another thing is how much I'm looking forward to spring.  Biking & Rollerblading on the trails in the "outback" (Cannon Falls, Rochester, Brainerd, Park Rapids, Lanesboro, etc.) is a wonderful experience, but now driving there will be half the fun!


Given enough time...  I pass out my website card to strangers very frequently.  You'd be amazed (unless you're a close friend of mine) how easily I can slip the Prius into a conversation.  Usually I say my piece, thank them for their time, then move on.  Well, sometimes I don't leave right away because I have to finish whatever I was doing there still.  On a number of occasions now, the person I spoke with approaches me afterward saying they'd like to ask some more questions.  It's pretty obvious that I caught their interest and they didn't want miss the opportunity to learn more.  Cool.  And for those of you reading this that did exactly that:  THANKS!


Designed my first "wallpaper".  I assembled pieces of some of my best photos into a collage.  It can be used as a background on a computer's desktop or printed for display.  It may even be a good image for a t-shirt.  I put the wallpaper on a brand new page hoping that it will soon be joined by others:  wallpapers


Created a personalized WINTER website card.  It's amazing how many cards I've been passing out recently.  Every morning I have to refill my wallet.  Now when I say "hybrid-electric", the response is different.  Some people actually know what the heck I'm talking about.  So I set out to improve the design again.  Personal MPG data is now shown.  I think that will be much more credible than the EPA ratings (especially since Minnesota winter really lowers MPG).  I added a reference to the 90% reduction in NOx.  And of course, there's a rather appealing-to-the-eye winter photo.  Wanna see it:  website cards 2


H Y B R I D   E L E C T R I C   vanity stickers.    For a long time I've wanted a creative way of informing people that the Prius is a "Hybrid Electric".  Now I've got one.  At the local hardware store I bought 14 waterproof, three inch, prism-effect stickers for just $8.80.  (You know, the silver ones that reflect various colors in the bright light.)  Then I carefully stuck them to the top of the back windshield.  The whole thing fit perfectly in that shaded area just above my line-of-sight.  Drivers behind me will definitely notice the glimmer.  If you'd like to see it, look at the bottom of  photo album 10  and the top of  photo album 26


Got a taste of summer, can you say "stealth"?  I had to stop by my house for just a few minutes to pick something up.  When I got there, I closed the garage door without shutting off the Prius.  (Try that with a traditional vehicle.)  After I finished in the house, I got back in the Prius, opened the door, and pulled out silently.  That was expected since reverse doesn't require the engine anyway.  But when I shifted to drive, the engine stayed off!  The 28 F degree temperature and warm fluids did the trick.  I made it all the way to the base of the hill in genuine stealth-mode.  It was great!


Too cold, struggled with Battery-Only driving.  The morning commute was -6 F degrees.  But even with a hot engine, I couldn't use just the battery.  Bummer.  It was too cold.  On the way home though, it had warmed up to 3 F degrees.  That was barely enough to keep the engine from assisting.


99.9 MPG showed on the multi-display!  After having already pressed the RESET button but before shutting off the car, I had to pull forward to the next pump at the gas station.  It was just 20 feet, but the results looked really cool.  Now I know what the maximum can be.


Groundhog Day. Will Spring ever arrive?  I'm really looking forward to temperatures staying in the 40's.  That would be great.  But no, Minnesota is cold.  And February will do its usual up-and-down-the-thermometer thing.  Oh well.  The days of better MPG and Stealth-Mode will come in March.  (I know.  It's definitely worth the wait.)


I was horrified by what I saw!  It was -9 F degrees, I looked outside to see what things were like.  Down the street was an unattended car idling in a driveway.  I wasn't pleased since I know gasoline engines don't require that; it was running exclusively to heat up the interior.  Ok.  Fine.  It would only take a few minutes anyway.  Well.  5 minutes went by, then 10... 15... 20... 25... 30...  At that point, it was time to leave for work.  As I drove by that the car, I was horrified that it was still running unattended after over 30 minutes.  Please remember, if you need to warm up your car, it only takes a few minutes (even for the interior).


I'm getting excited about the AUTO SHOW.  March 3-11 is when it will be in Minneapolis.  Last year, there were a lot of people checking out the locked Japanese 2000 model.  I can't imagine how many will be interested this year.  It will be a 2001 (maybe 2002) model unlocked and available for people to check out.  My guess it that it will be very very popular.  And even better, there's always a possibility that I could run into another Prius owner.  Cool!


53.5 MPG on my snowy commute!  There was already a lot of snow on the highway, and it was still coming down hard.  I knew I was in for a treat. I only had 2 miles on that tank of gas, so the multi-display would show the results of the nasty stop & slow driving conditions quite clearly.  And it did!  I watched the overall MPG climb and climb by driving with electricity so much.  When it reached 50, I rejoiced.  Mid-October, when it was still really warm out, was the last time I saw MPG that high.  But to my astonishment, it kept climbing in the cold.  When I finally reached my parking spot, it said 53.5 MPG after having traveled 22 miles overall.


ACCIDENT !!!  I got hit from behind while waiting at a stoplight.  The driver wasn't paying attention; fortunately, the engineers at Toyota were.  The shape, height, and resistance of the bumper absorbed the entire brunt of the impact.  The only evidence that I even suffered a low-speed collision is a light scratch showing exactly where the license plate made contact.  I didn't get hurt either.  My head jolted back into the tall, soft head-rest which prevented whiplash.


It got cold again, MPG went down.   Bummer.  personal data


Shared Prius information at a Chrysler display.  The "Mall of America" has cars on display by the dog dish in Camp Snoopy.  And for as long I can remember they had a PT Cruiser (which was always surrounded by curious people).  It recently disappeared.  So I stopped to ask the person there why.  I ended up entertaining myself by checking out a minivan while waiting for him to finish talking to the people before me.  When he did, he approached me and asked, "What do you think of the latest & greatest?"  My response was, "It's nice, but not compared to my hybrid-electric."  His response, was "Cool!"  So unexpectedly, I ended up doing a sales pitch to him.  How about that?


Drove an entire mile using just electricity.  It brought back great memories from last September.  I really miss those lengthy stealth-mode experiences.  I can do a half mile occasionally, but the engine doesn't always shut off.  The only time I get the "dead quiet" driving experience is in the parking lot at my destination, after the car has warmed up completely.  Temperatures in the 20's and 30's are just too cold.  I guess I'll just have to settle with the great drive and the high MPG for now.


Created the WINTER Screen-Saver.  I selected 32 of the best winter photos from my photo album.  That was much more difficult than with the FALL screen-saver, but it sure was nice having so many pleasing photos to choose from this time.  Living in Minnesota gave me lots of opportunities to capture winter scenery, I'm sure glad I took advantage of them. Here's what I came up with:  screen-saver


Had a close encounter with another Prius.  At the stoplight just 2 blocks from my house, there was a silver Prius in the darkness just beyond the street lights.  It was in the turn-lane waiting to cross right in front of me.  So I flashed my lights a few times then rapidly pulsated my horn.  The guy drove by just feet from me, but didn't look my way... though as the flow of traffic disappeared down the road someone responded with a friendly honk.


Lifetime MPG is going up... finally!  The first week of December is when temperatures began to drop significantly. T hat made the mileage to drop too.  Then 3 weeks ago, it started getting warmer.  The upswing began, but it wasn't enough to keep the overall average from continuing to drop... until today's fill up.  It went up by a whole 0.0126 MPG.  Who needs a groundhog, spring is on the way.  Right?


"Shwissssh!"  I was approaching the highway from a clover-leaf on-ramp.  My speed was just 35 MPH.  The 18-wheeler in the lane I was entering was going around 60 MPH.  There was no way I could get behind him.  So I punched it.  The engine revved up.  I fixated on the numbers spinning by on the digital speedometer.  When it reached 70, I looked up into the rear-view mirror and saw that the intimidating truck was now just a small vehicle in the background.  It's amazing how the Prius can bolt away like that so quickly & smoooothly.


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