Personal Log  #21

January 22, 2002  -  February 9, 2002

Last Updated: Sun. 9/14/2003

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They're starring at us.  My sister noticed the people in the window across the small lot while parking.  They were all looking toward us.  I told her that happens all the time.  Almost certainly they had confirmed it was a hybrid.  Sure enough.  By lucky coincidence, we got back to the Prius the same time a man in the window had run out to get something from his trunk.  He immediately approached and asked what I thought about my hybrid.  I whipped out a card and said to just check out my website; the amount of content would prove how pleased I was.  (Can you tell?)


What a nasty sight!  While driving north on a hill in Burnsville, you can see Minneapolis about 15 miles in the distance... along with a yellowish-orange haze surrounding the area of tall buildings.  Ick!  That cloud of pollution from emissions is very clear to see some days.  Today was one of them.  I don't know what's more disgusting: the fact that it's that easy to see, or the fact that we aren't doing much to repair the environmental damage.  More hybrids please.


Captured the "Floating Half-E".  Remarkable timing caused it.  I had only generated about 24.99Wh when the newest 5-minute segment appeared on the "Consumption" mode of the multi-display; the exact moment I was rolling stealthily into the garage while pushing on the brake pedal.  After stopping, I jumped out of the Prius and ran into the house to grab a few things.  There was no need to shut the system off since I thought I'd be leaving within a few minutes.  So the Prius remained on, waiting silently & cleanly.  When I got back, I watched the multi-display update again.  The next 5-minute segment appeared.  There was half of an E all by itself.  There wasn't any green showing MPG.  That usually means the Prius didn't move during the interval.  If it did, at least 1 thin pixel of green would show (since even just creeping in heavy traffic it's possible to get greater than 0 MPG).  But I had seen the multi-display update while still moving.  That movement, which was only a few feet taking only a brief moment to travel, was barely just enough to generate that final 0.01Wh (or so) of electricity needed to complete the Half-E.  So it appeared all by itself, floating there without a green background.  That was enough to cause a panic sending me back into the house to grab the digital camera in the hope of capturing a photo of that situation.  And I did, see:  photo album 27


Ahh!  As I was waiting to cross the street, I saw (but didn't hear) a Blue Prius drive by then pull over.  That was my cue.  I ran over before the friend I was with had an opportunity to stop me.  Outside the driver window I stood there patiently while displaying a photo of my Prius (on a website card).  My presence startled her for only a moment.  The photo and my big smile did the trick.  That gave me a brief opportunity to say "Hi" to a very new Prius owner.  She only had driven 260 miles so far.  Cool!


A familiar sight.  The new model Toyota Camry is quite popular.  It's showing up all over the place.  I had gotten used to seeing Prius twice a week now.  That's going to be much more difficult spotting them when the back-end of the Camry is so similar.  Oh well.  Having it resemble such a popular vehicle actually helps to make Prius even more acceptable to the general public.  Good.


100 MPG highway commute segment.  It's been a long time since I've seen one that high on the multi-display.  Usually I only get a 90 or 95 MPG segment.  The highway was especially hybrid-friendly this morning.


Reformulated Gas.  Did you know some areas of the country use a different formula for gas refining during the winter?  That change is suppose to help reduce dangerous emissions caused by lengthy engine idling, a behavior far more common in the Winter than any other season.  The reformulated gas unfortunately causes a minor drop in MPG.  None of us really know how much though.  There are too many factors to measure, even with the additional information provided by the multi-display.


Winter MPG drop.  People really didn't pay attention before.  The multi-display on the Prius changes that.  It's in-your-face nature makes it very easy to notice how MPG changes based on temperature fluctuations.  New owners ask why their hybrid isn't doing as well in the cold.  The response they get is that happens with all vehicles, only there was no real way of detecting it with traditional dashboard information.  Now they can.


Envious.  While stealth crawling through the grocery store parking lot, I silently rolled passed someone brushing fresh snow off his car.  My Prius captured his eye.  When I got out, I said "Hi" then drew attention to the Prius.  He commented that he would have got one if he could have afforded it.  I was impressed that he was well informed, so we chatted awhile.  He closed the conversion by saying he was envious of me.  That stopped me dead in my tracks.  I wasn't sure what the proper response for that was.  Having such an incredible car is great, so I try my very best to promote hybrids making it easier for everyone to get one.  The fact that he recognized I'm trying to help means I should now say "Thanks!" the next time I run into someone like that.  And I will.  More and more people understand what "hybrid" means now.  That wasn't the case 1.5 years ago went I first got my Prius.  We're making a difference.


Stealth Crawling.  There was a fresh layer of snow.  It was a beautiful, warm (28 F degrees), sunny day out.  I was yearning for a photo adventure.  That meant crawling through the outback (the woods near the Minnesota Zoo) in stealth looking for new snowy scenery to capture.  I lucked out and found some.  They'll be new Prius photos published soon.


Door Ajar.  I made a discovery today.  While driving away from the car wash, I pushed the door lock button.  The Prius refused to lock the doors.  It knew a door wasn't shut tight.  I hadn't noticed the door ajar light yet.  That response did the trick.  I'm glad I have such a smart vehicle.


Followed.  I saw an Aqua Prius.  He got behind me and followed for several miles.  Seeing his Prius in the mirror and knowing he was watching my Prius for so long was really exciting.


Shouldn't they have to use it?  The Minnesota 82nd Legislative Session is considering a new bill that would allow hybrids and FFVs (Flexible Fuel Vehicles) the opportunity to use the HOV (carpool) lanes & ramps with only a single occupant in the vehicle.  That doesn't make me too happy.  Just owning a FFV shouldn't mean much.  You should have to actually use an alternate fuel.  If all you ever do is just put gas in the tank, it doesn't accomplish anything.  E85 (85% Ethanol) is created from locally grown vegetable crops (rather than using foreign oil) and it's much cleaner.  Using a fuel that should be a requirement.  Of course, if you have a hybrid instead, the benefit is guaranteed all the time even with just gasoline.


Climbing at 25 MPG.  I really get a kick out of climbing steep, long hills at a constant speed.  When holding the accelerator-pedal at a steady pressure, the incline will cause the engine to generate electricity to feed the motor directly.  That allows me to make it all the way up without ever needing to use the battery-pack.  Not having to use the battery-pack is nice; it means I have all that energy still available should a sudden burst of speed be needed.  There's one big hill in particular on my commute that I routinely climb going 50 MPH, resulting in a 25 MPG readout.  Many vehicles can't even get that while cruising along a flat road with a tail-wind!


Wow!  I have a green car.  No, I'm not speaking of the low emissions.  It's the shiny, metallic paint.  The dry, cool weather gave me very little incentive to wash it.  The white salt all over it is inert in those conditions, so there's no worry of corrosion.  And the after you do wash, it always seems to snow almost immediately afterward.  But this time (after nearly a month of looking at Winter mess), I decided to go for it.  What a great looking car... for a few moments anyway.


CLUB Message Archive.  8,999 messages are now available for downloading.


Staying out of the 30's.  Do you think I'll be able to this Winter?  Today's fill up had a slight bladder-effect.  (The warmer temperatures made the tank capacity expand requiring more gas to reach the "full" mark.)  The resulting calculated MPG value for this time was 39.95.  But since I always round to tenths, that makes it 40.0 instead.  Phew!


Playing games with purchase numbers.  Writers are still publishing articles with deceptive statistics.  It's really frustrating.  They state that only a small number of Prius have been sold in the US so far, failing to mention that amount represents 100 percent of what was available.  There would naturally be more purchase if there were more for sale.  Duh!  The fact that manufacturing capacity has to be planned at least a year in advance seemed to be forgotten.  And with the unstable price of gas and the constantly fluctuating government support of environmental & conservation concerns, there's no way to predict how great the demand will actually be.  Also, since no one else offers a family size hybrid other than Toyota, what's the rush?  Focusing on building up the new infrastructure (by continuing the salespeople & mechanic training) sounds like a far better idea than just increasing production.  Patience!


The ultimate loaner car.  I stopped at a Toyota dealer yesterday.  That morning I saw just one vehicle all alone on a carrier truck.  After catching up to it (a simple feat for the Prius) I discovered it was a Matrix.  That got me really excited.  Being a completely new type of vehicle from Toyota, it is most likely designed to support a hybrid system should it become a best seller.  The design of the Matrix sure looks like it could be quite popular.  Unfortunately, they didn't have one yet at that particular dealer for me to check out.  Anywho, there was a Prius parked in the customer area.  So I stuck one of my Prius website cards on the door.  As I was walking away, a person showed up, unlocked it, and got in.  I turned around and ran back.  Introducing myself as a fellow Prius owner, she quickly interrupted saying that was the LOANER CAR she had be provided.  Then she asked for help.  It only took her a brief moment after looking at the dashboard to realize she had no idea what type of vehicle they had provided.  So I gave her a few pointers.  She got very excited.  It was sweet to witness.  She thanked me for helping her out.  I jumped in my Prius absolutely delighted, then drove away.  Just one block down the road, there was another Prius.  At that point, I shouted for joy.  That was pretty cool!  And I think using a Prius as a loaner car is an ingenious way to introduce people to hybrids.  Maybe more dealers will start doing the same thing once they have several Prius available on their lot.


Prius Shirt.  Until now, there was only an iron-on option available.  It worked, but wasn't the ideal solution.  Something more durable, yet still inexpensive, was needed.  I think I may have found it.  It takes 2 weeks to process the order, so I won't know for certain until then.  But if you're curious now about what I'm trying, the webpage has already be updated:  shirt


That was exhausting.  The first 8,999 CLUB messages are all saved & distilled.  I'm getting closer.


Replacement Tires.  It's becoming a popular discussion topic now that some of the senior owners are reaching the wear limit of the original OEM tires.  (That's around 30,000 miles if you maintain pressure, alignment, and balancing properly the entire time.)  The "Michelin X-One" sounds like a great choice if you want to spend a premium (about $89 each).  There are quite a few owners that would like to treat their Prius to the best.  (And I don't blame them.)  But for me, I'm looking for a tire that I can recommend to my Prius owning friends who prefer spending around the same amount they use to.  The tire that I believe fits that requirement (about $55 each) is the "Goodyear Allegra" (aka "Goodyear Regatta 2").  It has rubber that's 3.5 times harder, the weight support should be proper at the higher PSI my Prius has been using (38/37), and the dimensions are the same (meaning acceleration behavior won't change).  It looks like they will offer 75,000 miles of trouble-free service without impairing MPG at all.  My testing will begin in about 4,000 miles.


Wondered if I missed something.  So I shared my Insight encounter with those on the honda-hybrid group.  They agreed that Prius does in fact blend in well.  You have to know specifically what to look for before you'll ever see it.  Which raises concern about the "hybrid community".  The Civic Hybrid will blend in even more than Prius.  It will be harder to make a difference if you don't ever get noticed.


Do Insight owners recognize Prius?  Prius was designed to blend into the crowd.  So it commonly gets mistaken for the very common Ford Focus (similar front & back) and the Toyota Echo (similar mid-body).  Several times now, I've seen an Insight while driving.  So I honk and wave.  That usually results in a wave as a reply.  But on one particular occasion, the Insight owner was shocked to realize after me passing by that I was also in a hybrid.  That resulted in him chasing me down to send a "thumbs up" my way.  Today, I stopped at a light next to an Insight.  It was dark, so I switched the multi-display to day-mode.  Then in the glow of the light I honked and waved.  He just waved back.  There wasn't any apparent indication the he recognized that I was also in a hybrid.  When I encounter Prius owners on the road, it results in a very different response.  They get incredibly excited.


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