Personal Log  #7

April 1, 2001  -  April 26, 2001

Last Updated: Sun. 8/05/2007

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Real World MPG.  This time I wasn't getting pushed down a straight highway by a fierce tail-wind; instead, I was driving in normal everyday conditions.  You know: some highway, some city, lots of turns, a few large hills, and a few cold startups.  Only now, the temperature is in the 70's.  In fact, at one point today it was as warm as 79 F degrees.  The result is better MPG than I was getting just a few weeks ago.  And as of tonight, the multi-display reads 50.1 MPG after 187 overall miles. Sweet!


72 F Degrees !!!  Wow!  It finally happened.  It's warm out.  On the drive home from work today, the tank MPG average kept climbing.  Hopefully, the expected warm weather in the next couple days will keep pushing that value even higher.  I can't wait!


Stealth-Mode should be enjoyed.  My drive to work takes me on a brand new strip of road that's 2 lanes wide, pleasantly smooth, ever-so-slightly downhill, and has a speed limit of 40 MPH.  So as you can imaging, I thoroughly enjoy driving along it using just electricity.  Unfortunately, that occasionally causes a line of traffic behind me (even though a second lane in the same direction is available)... UNTIL TODAY!  The police started enforcing there this morning.  I saw someone get chased for going too fast.  It was wonderful.  I'm really looking forward to the stealth drive tomorrow!


Today, Tomorrow, Toyota.  That's the theme of the new creative two-page magazine advertisement featuring the Prius, a Colorful Sunset, and two Mountain Goats.  It's a must see: ad scans


Later this week it will finally hit 70 F Degrees!  I expect it to be a "tell all" experience because my Prius is past the longer-term break-in point and I'm a much more adept at hybrid driving.  That should be all the ingredients needed to get that really impressive the MPG Prius owners in southern regions have been enjoying for awhile now.  I think.  Of course, differences in the gas itself is a variable and it's fairly flat around here.  Last September when it was still warm, I remember achieving stealth-mode within just seconds after starting the car and getting MPG close to 50.  Hopefully warmer weather is all that's needed.


Monthly Average now displays on my homepage.  I think this will be helpful since I'm still running into trouble where people see my 42.6 Lifetime MPG value and don't understand it.  They compare that to what they saw on their EPA sticker when they bought their own vehicle.  In real life those "measured" values aren't realistic (especially here in Minnesota during the winter).  Temperature and the resulting driving conditions cause MPG to fluctuate significantly.  My March 2001 average was 43.2 MPG, which is higher than my Lifetime value.  And my 2 most recent fill ups calculated to 46.6 and 47.9 MPG, so April 2001 will be even higher.


More photos from Northern Minnesota.  That trip up north was quite rewarding.  Besides the 15 that are on photo album 15, I also got 6 that show a beautiful Northern Minnesota SPRING and 6 that are reminders of the terribly long, cold WINTER this year.  But even though the winter ones display the typical gray & miserable mood, the "wooded trail" photo is one I especially like.  They're all on: photo album 16


51 MPG after 157 miles at 36 F degrees.  Wow!  Despite the fact that it was so cold out, having a tail-wind sure made a difference.  I was getting a 30 MPH push from behind during my virtually straight highway drive south.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  It sure makes you wonder what people that don't have a multi-display think.  Odds are they don't have any idea how much external factors contribute to MPG.


Before & After scenic Prius photos.  I drove up to Northern Minnesota for the weekend.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm SPRING day on Sunday.  Monday was a snowy, dark, cold WINTER day.  The 40 F degree temperature drop and a 50 F degree windchill drop sure made a difference.  It was an incredible opportunity.  3 of the photos that I took the day before I got to take again.  Seeing the same scene from 2 very different perspectives was fascinating.  The light and color changes were drastic.  You have to see them to believe it: photo album 15


Got the "Open Mouth" reaction.  I stopped at a rest area next to a lake to take photos.  The engine was running to recharge the battery-pack.  A father and his teenage daughter stopped to checkout the view.  They parked out of sight to avoid interfering with my photos.  Then they walked over.  I said "Hi!" and pointed out that the engine usually didn't run like that.  That got them curious.  When they approached the car, the engine shut off by itself.  That really got there attention.  It was time for me to depart anyway.  So I said, "Check this out. I'm going to drive away in total silence."  As I pulled away, I saw the mouth of the daughter drop wide open.  The stealth obviously shocked her!


Spring flooding photos along the Mississippi River.  I drove down some rough dirt paths very slowly (which is an incredible experience in stealth-mode, electric motors are so much better fit for that type of driving than gas engines) to get close to the bank of the river.  The 9 resulting photos are great: photo album 15


HYBRID ELECTRIC glimmer.  It's sunny more often now, the sun itself is higher in the sky, and the Prius stays cleaner longer.  That makes those stickers on the back windshield are very noticeable.  I can see the multi-color reflection all the way across a parking lot without any effort.  I think that label is going to be one heck of an attention-getter this Summer.


60 PSI of air in one tire.  Whoa!  It's best to check tire-pressure right away once Spring arrives.  The driver front tire was significantly affected by the air temperature change.  The other tires had increased all by themselves to the mid-40's.  I'm sure glad I checked quickly.  Having the PSI so high could have caused really bad tread wear.  Now they're back down to 38 (front) & 37 (back) PSI.


Temperature is finally in the 60's.  It's really hard to quantify how much, but the positive effective the warmth has on MPG is noticeable.  The engine shuts off a lot sooner than I'm use to.  And even though much of it was downhill, it sure was nice seeing 63.7 MPG for the average after driving 10 miles from the gas station.  I couldn't come even close to doing that last Winter.


Rust on the Receiver-Hitch  It was an unfortunate discovery.  That single layer of spray-paint wasn't enough to protect the metal until it got warm.  Oh well.  Once the temperature finally reaches the 70's, I'll be able to seal the hitch properly.  On my previous car, the 2 layers of brush-on Rust-Oleum primer and 2 layers of brush-on Rust-Oleum glossy black paint survived 5 years of Minnesota weather.


Moon Lander and Combat Flight Simulator.  Driving my Prius reminds me a lot of those two very, very old computer games I used to play.  Moon Lander was a favorite of mine back in the early 80's.  It was a very simplistic game that required you to fly the spacecraft directly onto the landing-pad as softly as possible, using as little fuel as possible.  I always scored lots of points. (Maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much.)  In the mid-80's, Combat Flight Simulator was a fun pastime for me.  I'd fly out to the farthest target, then launch a lone all-out assault at point-blank range.  Every time I'd get hit so bad in the ambush on the flight back that I'd run completely out of fuel.  It took patience, skill, and a bit of careful planning to land on the runway and glide to the refuel/repair area.  There was a delicate balance between altitude loss and conserving momentum.  Those very skills I learned from the games are what I use on a very regular basis now while watching the Consumption Screen driving in stealth-mode.


9,436 Prius have been sold in the United States so far.  That's actually from July 2000 through the end of March 2001.  It sure is nice seeing the numbers climb like that.  Toyota is right on track with their plan to sell 12,000 the first year.  I wonder what their plans are for the 2002 model?


20,000 visits to my website.  The emails I get actually provide a better measurement of site usage, rather than the number of hits on just the homepage.  But what the heck, it's still nice to see that counter increase.  I do my best to provide as much quality content I possibly can.  I really don't need to gauge how much of a difference I'm making anyway.  Just as long as hybrids keep getting sold, we're on the road (pun intended) to a better future.


Many people have asked about the digital photography found on this site.  So I created 3 new information pages:  photo printing,   photo compression,   photo lighting.   There's so much to learn when switching from using film, but it's obviously worth it.  As time goes on, I'll create other pages.  This is a good start.  Apparently, my mission is to change the way people think about several new technologies, not just hybrids.


Went biking for the first time this year.  The temperature was in the 50's.  The spring winds subsided.  The sun was shining.  It was time to use an even cleaner method of transportation.  And to my surprise, I discovered that the gliding sensation while riding my 12-speed bicycle was very similar to what I feel when driving the Prius in stealth-mode.  No wonder I enjoy the slow electric-only propulsion so much.  And I'm very happy that I got that receiver-hitch built already.  Biking trips are just around the corner now.


I find traditional vehicles irritating now.  I still drive a gasoline-only vehicle from time to time.  Slowing down doesn't even make sense anymore.  As I exit the highway, I lift my foot off the accelerator.  That's suppose to tell the car to slow down, right?  It does in my Prius.  But no.  Traditional vehicles would glide right through the stoplight at almost full speed if you didn't step on the brake right away.  That causes unnecessary wear.  The regenerator in the Prius hybrid system slows down the vehicle without you even having to do anything.  It isn't until the last few feet that I even have to use the brake, and at that point I'm only going a few miles-per-hour.


Got honked at.  A guy pulled up along side me then honked and waved.  I was baffled at first since that was different from what most people do to get my attention in my Prius.  Then I realized he was trying to get me to notice his small pickup.  There was a huge "E85" emblem on it.  Oh!  It was a vehicle used for promoting cleaner air.  I guess he was excited to see me driving something even cleaner than what he had.


The result of rising temperatures...  When I filled up with gas two days ago, I was kind of annoyed that the bladder in the tank had expanded as a result of it getting warmer.  That made my unusually high gas mileage look just average.  I didn't let it bother me though, since it would eventually balance out anyway.  But little did I know how quickly things would change for the better.  The typical 45 F degree high got replaced with 57 F degrees today.  The tank average jumped from 45.5 to 48.7 MPG.  I haven't seen numbers that good since last fall.  And that's only half the benefit.  With warmer conditions, the engine shuts off much quicker.  Plus (there's more) climbing hills in stealth mode is considerably easier.  Summer sure is going to be fun!


Oops! I found a calculation error.  By enhancing that spreadsheet to now automatically calculate some values, rather than manually doing it, I made a discovery.  On 12/04/2000, I entered a number incorrectly.  It turns out that I used 0.054 less gallons than I thought.  Excellent!


MPG Spreadsheet.  I've had a lot of requests to share the spreadsheet I created to generate the MPG graphs.  So I enhanced the file I was using, then uploaded it to the website.  Here it is (in Microsoft Excel 97 format): MPG spreadsheet


Month MPG Average Graph.  Outside temperature has a noticeable effect on how much gas is consumed.  The colder it is, the longer it takes to warm up the engine and the longer it takes for the engine to shut off.  So I created a graph to show the resulting average MPG for each month: personal data 2


47.2 MPG at 270 Miles.  With the daytime temperature now in the low 40's F, the MPG average is definitely up.  I remember last month hoping to achieve just a 42 MPG average.  This is great!  Now it's safe to say Spring has arrived.


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