Beautifuel, Two Years Later

Beautifuel, Two Years Later

My Eagle Talon had decided to commit suicide days before I left on a business trip to India during the month of March of 2008. Blow-by pressurized the cooling system in the car, which manifested by explosively disconnecting the top hose on my radiator. This eventually resulted in the engine seizing up.

So I bought myself a Prius!  It was a 2001 model, not the new one,  but it was a hybrid and I expected to save so much money on the gasoline that it would come pretty close to paying for itself in the savings on fuel every month. I drive quite a ways to work, about 85 miles a day as a round trip, so it adds up pretty fast.

I got rid of the dead car on eBay, and then started driving the new car.

Here’s what I found out about the Prius:

There’s a common and well founded assumption that the mileage advertised by the manufacturer for any given car is pretty much baloney.  Imagine my surprise when I found that the 2001 Prius was supposed to get 50 miles to the gallon, and if you drive the way one drives a hybrid instead of a conventionally powered car, and you have the right tires, and keep them at the right pressure, you can get 50 miles to the gallon on a routine basis!  I was in shock, really.  I’d never had a car that lived up to the hype.  This one does.

Now the down side – repairs are expensive.  You really need to have the dealership do the repairs.  The car is mainly a computer that happens to be street legal.  After two years, I had a problem with the auxiliary battery (not the main one), an air flow meter, and some other engine sensor.  Taken all together, these repairs cost me close to three thousand dollars.  I was past my 100,000 mile mark on the car, too, so no warrantee help for me for most of it.

At length, I needed new tires too.  The special low rolling resistance tires you need to get that 50 miles per gallon turn out to be special order items at most tire shops, and I couldn’t wait around for them.  I needed new tires now, so I took tires that gave me about six miles per gallon less fuel efficiency – but I did the math first.  The special LRR tiles would have cost me so much more than the tires I ended up with that it wouldn’t equal the cost of the gasoline I’d save.

Goodbye, fifty miles per gallon.

Even so, the car still gets about 46 mpg on average, and I drive a lot, so it’s still a pretty substantial benefit.

Then there’s the little things, like loose trim pieces, and a front driver’s side window that’s making groaning noises where it was nearly silent before.  Eventually, I’m thinking to myself, all these little subsystems are going to start breaking, and when a car is this full of electrical and electronic systems, it’s better to sell the thing before that starts happening if you can.  So far I seem to be okay, but if things start really falling off of it, I’ll have to move on to the next car.

The big question about these cars was what happens to the main battery after the warranty runs out, and so far, the answer is nothing.  And if something did, the main battery is made up of a bunch of little cells, not one big monolithic piece. If one goes bad in theory you could replace the bad one.  I haven’t been hit with this so far, and the battery is showing no signs of age after ten years of use.  Frankly, I’m more concerned that the seat cushions will wear out.

— Gene Turnbow

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Beautifuel, Two Years Later

Beautifuel

My Eagle Talon decided to commit suicide days before I left on my business trip to India during the month of March – the studio sent me there to teach the art of animation to apprentice animators in Hyderabad.  Blow-by pressurized the cooling system in the car, which manifested by explosively disconnecting the top hose on my radiator. This eventually resulted in the engine seizing up.

The good news is that the replacement car is a 2001 Toyota Prius! It’s not new, but it’s a hybrid and I’m going to save so much money on the gasoline that the thing will come pretty close to paying for itself in the savings on fuel every month. I drive quite a ways to work, about 85 miles a day as a round trip, so it adds up pretty fast.

Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of the dead car.  I put it up on eBay, and while people are bidding on it, I don’t think it’s going to go for anywhere near what it’s really worth.  Then again, what it’s worth is defined by what people are willing to pay.

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Beautifuel, Two Years Later

The Rumors Are True

Unlike other cars’ E.P.A. estimated mileage, the Toyota Prius actually delivers on its claim of 50 miles per gallon. I just bought one, and I was amazed to discover that I could get as much as 70 miles per gallon depending on where I was going and what the road conditions were. Yes, it was expensive, but my car payment will be fixed, whereas the price of gas is only going up. I’ve only had the car two weeks, and I’m already noticing a difference in my bottom line.

I’ve been keeping track of how many miles per tankful of gas I’m using, and it’s coming out to an amazing 600 miles for each 12 gallons of gas I buy! What a relief – my last car was a performance car, and though it could get 34 MPG on the highway if you were careful, it typically got 15 miles to the gallon in rush hour traffic. That makes my Prius about three and a half times more fuel efficient than my last car. That’s a huge difference.

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They Say One Picture…

They Say One Picture…

is worth a thousand words:

The full sized version of this is nine megapixels across, and about one and a half megapixels high. It was shot from the porch of the western gate, looking out over the garden and reflecting pool, using a 5.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot. I took about 32 separate images and tiled them together to produce this single image. The version you’ll see if you click on the above image is 2048 pixels wide. Sorry, but I can’t let you download the huge one from my server and have any bandwidth left for myself.

What you’re looking at here is a one-hundred-eighty degree view; you can see the red walls of the western gate on either edge. The tiny dots at the base of the Taj Mahal itself are people. This was taken at about 10AM local time.

It’s hard to describe how I felt when I saw this for the first time. The Taj Mahal is something I’d heard of all my life, and to see it this way – what you’re looking at is what I saw coming through the western gate – nothing I can think of to say really conveys how I felt at that moment. It was a moment of grandeur, of sheer awe. It truly is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and it is more beautiful to see in person than any photograph could ever possibly convey.

— Gene Turnbow

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