Coming Soon to a Gas Station Near You: Half Gallon Pricing!
5/29/2008 08:31:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
I posted this at Groovy Green, but for those of you that only come here...

A sign of the times.

Post-Standard:
New York state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced that gas stations with non-digital fuel dispensers can apply for half gallon pricing, since older equipment cannot compute prices in excess of $3.999.

Signs advertising fuel prices must still advertise the price for a full gallon of fuel, but the price displayed on the pump would be half the per-gallon price.
Amazing to think that the manufacturers of those fuel pumps couldn't imagine a world where gasoline cost more than $3.999.

Coming soon?:

coming soon?

[This is a badly photoshopped picture of a gas station sign that I took when I thought that gas at $2.25/gal was expensive. And no, it wasn't $2.25 per 1/2 gal of ice cream, heh heh]
New Chariots of Fire..
5/16/2008 11:02:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

This is one of the coolest stories I've read in a while.  Being in a certain profession in the medical field, I just think that it is great that this athlete will be allowed to compete in the Olympic games.

A ban on Pistorius, 21, competing against able-bodied athletes, because it was feared that he might gain an advantage from running on his carbon-fibre blades, was thrown out by an historic legal decision that marked the end of a long quest for acceptance by the South African.

It is ludicrous to have thought that this man would have an advantage against able-bodied runners. 

I am so happy for Oscar, and will be rooting for him this summer.
Hypermiling in My Old Subaru (or "Life in the Slow Lane")
5/13/2008 10:48:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
gas prices 4
Well the price of gas has hit the magic $4/gal mark for regular in Syracuse, well, $3.999 to be exact. After the last fill up, I decided that I was sick of getting about 20 mpg or about 260 miles per fill up out of my old Subaru (a 2000 Forester). I decided to start trying out some basic techniques - I wouldn't let the engine rev above 2000 rpm if I could help it. I would maintain a speed of no more than 3 miles over the speed limit, and no more than 60 mph. I wouldn't accelerate into red lights, and would not idle the engine (except at traffic lights).

I've traveled 245 miles since my last fill up, and the results so far are promising. I still have a 1/4 tank to go! Normally about 250 I had to seriously consider which gas station I was headed towards. I'd say that the techniques that I described above have increased my mpg (city + hwy) from ~20 to up around 24. This means that I am getting about 20% better gas mileage! I'll know for sure, if I can squeeze the (13 gal x 24 mpg) 312 miles out of this tank. Pretty amazing results, if you think about it. 20% fuel economy improvement equals a free tank of gas out of every 5 regularly scheduled fill ups. This week I have some maintenance scheduled that should help boost the mpg even further, as there is a problem with the vacuum line in the fuel system (Damn "Check Engine" light!).

To recap, here Balogh's rules of the (expensive) road:
  • Don't let the engine rev above 2000 rpm, if you can help it. (You can pick your own number depending on make and model.)

  • Maintain the speed limit, or no more than 3 mph above. Top speed of 60 mph. (This is tougher than it seems...)

  • Do not accelerate into red lights or stop signs. (I do a lot of coasting now.)

  • Do not allow car to idle (except at stop lights).
I challenge my readers to go out and give it a shot. Let me know how you do. For those who do not have a fancy onboard computer that figures out mileage, here's how you do it:
Mark down miles on odometer upon fill up. You have to fill tank the entire way for this to work. The next time you get gas, fill the tank up completely again and note the new number on your odometer. Save your receipt from the gas station. Now you're ready to compute mpg:

(newest odometer reading [minus] old odometer reading) e.g. 109,635 - 109,392 = 243 miles.

Divide this by the number of gallons on the last fill up, e.g. 243 miles [divided by] 12.2 gal = 19.9 mpg.
Back Yard Nature in Syracuse
5/11/2008 12:37:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
woodchuckThere's nothing like seeing a wild animal in real life. Nature shows are great, and the footage available is impressive (see the Planet Earth series for example). However, I prefer the rarer "close encounters" with animals off the screen.

This spring, I've have the luck of being in the right place at the right time, right outside my front door. Several weeks ago, just after midnight, I ran out to my car to get something. As I stepped out the door, I noticed a deer out of the corner of my eye, slowly walking towards the road. At the same time I heard a car coming up the street (don't worry, this story has a happy ending...) Instead of the car barreling down the street and reducing the deer population by one, it saw the deer and slowed down. The deer froze in my front yard. The driver made a few noises like he was calling his cat, and the deer nonchalantly walked away from the car - and right towards me. I stood motionless, thinking "I can't believe how big this animal really is." The deer passed right on the other side of the bush in front of me - stopping when it caught my scent. I was less than five feet away. Time slowed to a stand still, and my heart was racing. I was eye to eye with a glorious looking doe. After one hour 15 seconds - the jig was up. The deer saw me and did its best imitation of a cartoon character, spinning its legs in place before barreling out of there.

A week or so after that while locking up, I noticed another doe walking up from the side of my house. I stepped out and watched one deer after another come around the side of the house and head for the woods across the street. Six does passed by - this time at a stones throw. Funny thing was each one stopped - and looked both ways(!) - before crossing the road. The big mommas and the little babies all knew to check both ways before venturing over the blacktop. Pretty incredible to see adaptation in action.

The last little encounter might not be much to write home about, but it was still a wonderful break in my day. Around dusk, I headed out side and heard a little commotion on the side of the house. I saw a plump little brown body scurry under the garage. I waited and watched as a beady little head popped up out of the hole - a woodchuck. He and I entered a staring contest of sorts. He trying to figure out if I were there to do him harm, and myself thinking "I can't believe that that little bugger lives under my garage!"

All of these little glimpses of nature have stuck with me. They made me feel alive.

Appreciating the scope and diversity of the animal life on this planet is important. I'll be sure that my children have access to nature videos, books, and the like. However, just as importantly, I'll take them out in the yard, and show them how wonderful our local "critters" are.

[photo via Wikipedia]