Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hypermilage Driving

I ran across an article the other day where these fanatic people were getting over 100 mpg using cars that had no special equipment or alterations. I thought - wow, this is just what I need! It so happened that Annie had a practice and a concert in SLC on consecutive days, and so we put some miles on the old Grand Am, and I got a chance to practice some hypermileage techniques.

In case you are wondering how mileage is calculated by the EPA, you can go here. If you follow that page on down quite a ways you will get to the section where the driving techniques are outlines. Note: Not all of these techniques are safe or even legal, not all of them will save you money over all. You might get better mileage if you turn off your car when you wait at a stop light, but the wear and tear on the starter motor, battery and alternator might not make it worth it.

Section II - Basic FE saving techniques
Now that we have a good feel for what others perceive as a problem without knowing what they themselves are achieving, let us begin to consider the ways to match if not beat the EPA estimates.
  • Do not use quick accelerations or brake heavily: This reduces fuel economy by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town. EPA tests do not account for this kind of vigorous driving.

  • Do not idle excessively: Decreases average FE. The EPA city test includes idling, but drivers that experience more idling experience lower MPG.

  • Do not drive at higher speeds: This increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and mechanical friction which reduces fuel economy. The EPA test accounts for aerodynamic drag up to highway speeds of 60 mph, but drivers often exceed this speed.

  • Cold weather and frequent short trips reduce fuel economy, since your engine doesn't operate efficiently until it is warmed up. In colder weather, it takes longer for your engine to warm, and on short trips, your vehicle operates a smaller percentage of time at the desired temperature. Note: Letting your car idle to warm-up doesn't help your fuel economy, it actually uses more fuel and creates more pollution. Drive to your furthest destination first and then as you are heading home, stop at the closer destinations in order from furthest to closest as the car is warmed up for longer portions of your drive.

  • Remove Cargo or cargo racks: Cargo and/or racks on top of your vehicle (e.g., cargo boxes, canoes, etc.) increase aerodynamic drag and lower FE. Vehicles are not tested with additional cargo on the exterior.

  • Do not tow unless absolutely necessary: Towing a trailer or carrying excessive weight does decrease fuel economy. Vehicles are assumed to carry three hundred pounds of passengers and cargo in the EPA test cycles.

  • Minimize running mechanical and electrical accessories: Running mechanical and electrical accessories (e.g., air conditioner) decreases fuel economy. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce MPG by roughly 5-25% compared to not using it.

  • Avoid driving on hilly or mountainous terrain if possible: Driving hilly or mountainous terrain or on unpaved roads reduces fuel economy most of the time. The EPA test assumes vehicles operate over flat ground.

  • Do not use 4-wheel drive if it is not needed. 4-Wheel drive reduces fuel economy. Four-wheel drive vehicles are tested in 2-wheel drive. Engaging all four wheels makes the engine work harder and increases crankcase losses.
Maintain your Automobile: A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel, so fuel economy will suffer if it is not in tune. Improperly aligned or under inflated tires can lower fuel economy, as can a dirty air filter or brake drag.

Try to purchase high BTU content gasoline if available: Fuels Vary in Energy Content and some fuels contain less energy than others. Using oxygenated fuels or reformulated gasoline (RFG), can cause a small decrease (1-3%) in fuel economy. In addition, the energy content of gasoline varies from season to season. Typical summer conventional gasoline contains about 1.7% more energy than typical winter conventional gasoline.

Inherent Variations in Vehicles: Small variations in the way vehicles are manufactured and assembled can cause MPG variations among vehicles of the same make and model. Usually, differences are small, but a few drivers will see a marked deviation from the EPA estimates.

Engine Break-In: New vehicles will not obtain their optimal fuel economy until the engine has broken in. This may take 3-5 thousand miles.

The things that will get you the most good are pretty easy:

Don't drive at high speeds. In airplanes I have been told that drag increases as the square of the speed, and power needed (and fuel burned) as the cube of the speed. I'm not going to get all mathematical, suffice it to say that your mileage will be noticeably lower at 65 rather than 55. I know that traffic won't always let you drive slower, but if you can take a few extra minutes it will save you money. The many large trucking firms are setting their speed limits in their trucks to 62. FYI.

Coast to a stop as often as possible.... within reason. Pushing on the gas until you are close to the stop, then slamming on the brakes costs in gas, brakes, and tires.

Gently accelerate. Imagine you have a raw egg between your foot and the gas pedal.

Generally coasting down hills isn't encouraged... I don't think it is illegal if your engine is running, (don't take my word for it either.... I am no legal expert) but this will help you a lot if you have a long hill. Turning off the engine can be done, but if you aren't careful you might turn the key to far and lock up your steering. And you lose your power steering and power brakes. So this is probably taking things too far. I am pretty sure that turning off the engine is not legal... or smart.

Anyway, driving a 1995 Grand Am with 90,000 miles on a rebuilt engine, fairly well maintained, correctly inflated tires (some of the hyper milers over inflate their tires, which helps with the mileage, but hurts handling, stopping and tire life), with a 5 speed manual transmission and two people in it... we left Maverik in Riverton and drove home. We traveled 104.3 miles, and it took 2.72 gallons of gas to re-fill the tank. Doing the math give 38.35 mpg for this trip. The next day we made the trip back to SLC, and had to drive some on I15 at high speed, with normal traffic acceleration and then back to Maverik. We dropped down to 32.39 mpg for that leg of the trip.

So, I am a fan. I have been driving my Ranger a lot more gently, and found that even with a 4 wheel drive, boxy truck that I can noticeably improve my mileage. If anybody tries some of these techniques, I would be interested to hear from you with a comment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Casabon's Book - Food Storage 101 Resource

This is a nice site. There is a lot of information here. Here is a link for storage with emphasis on pregnancy, lactation, and young children.

Here is a page on storing medicines.

Here is a perspective on the hard times that have been here before - the difference between being poor in a rich world, and mass collective poverty of a deflation or inflation.

Finally, what not to do in the way of food storage. We probably all have some stories that could go here.

I hope you enjoy these. There is a lot good stuff here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Peak Oil Video - Krassimir Petrov Ph.D

This is kind of long (60 minutes!), but it should answer any questions that you might have. He covers supply, demand, and economics. I don't really expect that anyone will actually spend a hour watching this. But I thought it is a good summation, and if you want to learn something this guy is pretty good. Because you won't see this on 60 Minutes doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Letter From Afton

This was forwarded to me. I thought you might be interested. She is from Oak City.

Sister Afton Dutson writes:
Hi, everybody! I am by some miracle back on my e-mail! It has
been worthless for the last month, but the last 2 weeks, it has been so
sporadic, I haven't been able to do a thing. If by some chance, I could
open it, I would click to read a message and it would abort! And that
was that. Anyway, I made a trip down to the office of Netconnect,
(usually I just call then on the phone to complain about the service,
but this time I really wanted to get to the bottom of it) and they told
me that lightning had struck the tower. And they were out for so long.
They were re-routing everything to Harare, and it wasn't handling it
all. And then, they were working on the line and so we didn't have any
service again for a few days.
And I am not surprised that lightning struck it, because it hit and
killed 3 people. In different locations! It was a wild night! I
thought that it was for sure the end of the world again. (We have been
through 3 or 4 of those end of the world storms, and it is scary!!!)
...When we came out of there, we were so glad to breath fresh air and
come back to our flat, and we were exhausted and depressed. There are
so many sick and dying. And because of the death rate, and all of the
AIDS (1 out of every 3 in Zimbabwe), there are funerals all the time. I
am hoping we won't have to have one for Edward. He has 3 little
children, and his wife died about the time we came here. And last week,
there were 3 funerals in our wards. One was one of the guys killed by
lightning, (he was just riding his bike when he was struck!) and 2 of
them were suicides. One was 14 and the other 17. That happens here
alot, too. Life is not fun for kids like at home. Times are hard and
some of them have a terrible home life and parents that are not much
good, and they just give up. So sad.
A few days ago, our stake president, President Makasi was driving
up to Zambia on CES business, and got in a terrible rain storm, and I
guess the roads were slick, and he hit a spot and skidded and then over
corrected and rolled his little Isuzu (spelling?) truck (with a canopy
on the back). Because of the roll bar on it, and the fact that he was
wearing his seat belt, and the Lord was protecting him, he was not
hurt! But he was up near Kariba Lake, and where there is no network for
his cell phone, he couldn't call anyone. But there was a little traffic
and several people stopped to help him, and he asked them to send a
wrecker to take his car back to Harare. But of course, he couldn't
leave his car, because it would be totally stripped within a few hours
if left alone. So he sat there in it. And it was about 5 in the
evening and he sat there all night, and all the next day until around 6
in the evening and here came our mission president's wife along, with
the two assistants. And they took him to Harare, as soon as the truck
got headed there, too. But I can tell you that he spent a fearful
night. That area is full of animals. And the windows were broken out.
Any lion could reach in and pull him out so easily. And the hyenas run
in packs and are vicioius and all other kinds of wild animals. He said
he was scared. So now, we are also being transport for him part of the
time. And what will he do when we go home? This van that we drive will
be driven up to Harare by us and then left there, as there is not a
couple coming to replace us here. So they don't need the car here. But
he will need something. It takes months here to get anything done like
fixing a car.
Now, for anything we buy, we have to peel out rolls of 10 million
dollar bills to pay for _anything_! A million won't buy anything at
all. It is almost worthless now. We had to get some veggies the other
day, and I asked Elder Dutson how much money he had, would we have
enough to pay for the stuff? And he counted that he had 7 billion 500
million dollars on hand. And we spent it all. They said the other day
that inflation here has now reached 100,000 % An all-time world
record. And still climbing faster than you can believe!Speaking of
cars, Elder Dutson had to get an oil change done on our van, and he went
in to check on the price one day and we went to the bank and got money,
and the next day he went to get it done and the price had jumped in just
that one day from 125,314, 492 dollars, to 1,016,344,482 dollars. 891
thousand dollars more than it was the day before!
And speaking of the animals, we heard the report a few weeks ago
about them arresting 2 poachers who had killed 15 elephants! Taken the
tusks and left the animals there for the vultures and other animals.
How very sad, and how wasteful. This country is rich in scenic places,
and all the wild animals and tourists have always loved to come here and
enjoy that, and now the animals are getting more scarce all the time
with those things going on. And they say that the poachers will spend
something like 20-30 years in jail and pay fines that are astronomical!
It is a serious crime here and still they do it. People are so desperate.
The church deposits in the bank 8 billion dollars in each of three
accounts, every week. It sure costs the church a sum to operate this
mission here in Zimbabwe, wouldn't you say? And the problem is, the
church doesn't get the same exchange rate that we get. They get the
bank rate and it is quite a bit less than the black market that we do.
And speaking of crime, we have a very good friend here who helps
Elder Dutson repair the bikes. He has a business of fixing bikes and
gets parts and that and they spend alot of time working on them. And
one Sunday morning, we got a phone call from Mike and he sounded just
terrible. He had been on his way home the night before, (walking, of
course), and was robbed and beaten horribly! They hit him over and over
with big iron bars, and left him there in the road. Somehow, with some
help from some people who had witnessed it all (but didn't make one move
to help him when it was going on). He said if it had been only 2 guys,
he could have handled it and fought them off, but there were 5 or 6.
That is the way they do it. Get several together and go for one
person. Mike is a big, big guy, and it was sad that he couldn't fight
them off, although he tried. Then he screamed and screamed but no one
will get involved, because they know they would be killed too. He
called his old employers, and they wouldn't do anything about him. So
he called us here, and we went straightaway and picked him up and took
him to a chemist shop and gave him some money for some medications for
the pain he was having, and then left him at his mother's. It was
terrible and his face was swollen up so bad, and I think he had a
concussion, and his head ached terribly for days! But they cannot go to
a hospital or doctor. No money. It is so sad....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mostly Cloudy, and It Looks Like Rain

"But let's not be too gloomy here.

Other than overleverage, bad debts, sinking home prices, no jobs, shrinking wages, cash strapped US consumers, rising oil prices, a sinking US dollar, $500 trillion in derivatives not marked to market, rampant overcapacity, underfunded pension plans, looming boomer retirements, no funding for Medicaid, no funding for Medicare, and no Social Security trust fund, everything is just fine.

And even though the Fed, central bankers in general, and governments combined to create this problem, the irony is nearly everyone is begging for them to fix the problem by encouraging still more speculation in housing, commercial real estate, and the markets.

Sorry folks, it's the end of the line and payback time for the world's most reckless financial experiment in history. The deflation genie can't be put back in the bottle until leverage everywhere is unwound."

Mike "Mish' Shedlock
paints a dreary picture here. But if you are reading the financial press, you know that this stuff well known. For heavens sake, if you have money in stocks or mutual funds think about getting out of it and put it in SHV (basically 3 month Treasury bills) or a nice money market. The value of each of your dollars will be going down through devaluation. But at least you will have the dollars. You won't be missing a rally for some time.

Say you started out in the fall of 2005 with a really great mutual fund like CWGIX. Say you had 25,000 dollars worth to start, by the time November of 2007 rolled around, the value would be up to about 37,000 or so. CWGIX peaked at $50.49 and has since fallen back to $40.73 as of last Friday. That drops the value to just a little over $30K. Thats a drop of about $7K in a little over three months. I don't know what the future will bring, but I think the odds are heavily to downside losses, rather than upside rallies.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Starting a New Garden

After years of both enjoying and bemoaning our shady yard we decided to put in some raised beds. We are hoping that we will get the same production that we get out of the bigger shady part of the yard.

Where the garden is now, we will be planting a small orchard, and some bramble rows. Also, we will use clover for a ground cover. We will be updating this.... so stay tuned.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weekly Preparedness Goals

This list was sent around in our ward bulletin this week. I thought I would share it. The original was in table format and had a goal for every week of the year. I think you might want to read through these goals and prioritize them for your particular situation. Diapers should probably be pretty high on the list if you have little ones. Still, there are some good things to remember. Most of this is geared for 72 hour, it is a good thing to have for your regular storage as well.

 Obtain a suitable 72 Hour kit container (backpack, duffel bag, garbage can w/lid etc.)
 Check the batteries in your smoke detector
 Add 1-1/2 gallons of water per person to 72 hr. kit
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add a can opener to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 2 cans of tuna fish or canned meat to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 blanket to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 large roll of paper towels to 72 hr. kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 bar of soap to 72 hr. kit.
 Add stress relief factors to 72 hr. kit (books, magazines, coloring books, games etc.)
 Add pocket or utility knife to72 hr. kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 container of baby wipes to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1-2 changes of clothes to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 48 oz. non-carbonated canned juice to 72 hr. kit. (date for rotation)
 Add 1 can of fruit, 1 can of vegetables to 72 hr. kit. (date for rotation)
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 box matches to 72 hr. kit.
 Add hard candy to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 ½ lb peanut butter can to 72 hr. kit.
 Add Ziplock bags (in a variety of sizes) to 72 hr. kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Check the batteries in your smoke detector and practice escape routes
 Add 1 box of crackers to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 bag of plastic utensils to 72 hour kit.
 Add 1 large candle to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 lb. Graham crackers to 72 hr kit.
 Add flashlight to 72 hr kit. Check batteries
 Add disinfectant (betadine, bleach, sterile wipes, hand sanitizer ) to 72 hr kit.
 Add paper cups to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Add 1 lb. dried fruit to 72 hr kit.
 Add ½ lb non-fat dried milk to 72 hr. kit.
 Add battery powered radio to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Add items related to individual medical needs to 72 hr kit.
 Add diapers, feminine hygiene supplies to 72 hr kit.
 Add toothbrush and 1 tube toothpaste to 72 hr kit
 Add hand shovel to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Verify each family member's tetanus immunization is up to date.
 Add 1 large roll heavy duty aluminum foil to 72 hr kit.
 Add 1 axe to 72 hr kit.
 Add paper plates to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Add 1-2 boxes of pre-sweetened cereal to 72 hr kit.
 Add photocopies of personal documents to 72 hr kit (wills, insurance policies, birth certificates). Send 1 copy to family member or friend in separate location