December 24, 2006

A (Not Quite) Christmas Story

So, yesterday morning I set out from Julia and Lou's (after the bi-weekly Friday session of Lou's game SBE and the nifty surprise of each player receiving a handful of custom "SBE" dice Lou had made as a gift to the players). From Fall River to Providence, then down I-95 along the coast. It was raining and miserable, but forecasts suggested that would fade as I went west and, indeed, as I got near to New Haven, CT (and past a massive pothole that had closed the interstate except for one lane), the sky was clear (albeit misty) and it was a comfortable (for December 23rd) 55 degrees. Along the way, the Prius's milage display had ticked down to 45.1, but I expected with consistent driving and warmish weather, I'd be back to 45.2 before I reached Cincinnati. I swung up to the Merritt Parkway, heading toward NY...

And then it happened.

Just after passing exit 38, the car started to vibrate violently, and didn't want to steer well. I slowed, put on my hazard flashers, and crept at half-speed into a roadside Mobile gas station/rest area (which the Merritt has in abundance). The cause was obvious... the driver's side rear tire was flat (and badly damaged from around 1/2 a mile of driving on it). I fought with the inadequate tire changing hardware Toyota provides (a short tire iron means a lack of lug-nut-turning leverage), but two holiday good samaritans, one with directions to a tire shop just 2 exits away and one with the upper body strength to start the lug-nuts loose, meant I was on my temp tire before AAA even hoped to be responding (in fact, they'd given themselves an hour more to arrive... and were openly relieved when I called to cancel the request for help; lots of cars on the road means a busy day for AAA).

But here the tale turns again. For the tires on a Prius, they are not the sort your average tire shop will carry. No, for that a Toyota dealer is needed. And I lacked the patience to fumble around trying to find an open, helpful, and marginally honest Toyota dealer on the Saturday before Christmas in the south-western corner of Connecticut. So I needed to make a choice. Drive the 9-10 hours on to Cincinnati on the temp tire or drive the 4 hours back to Concord.

That wasn't a very hard choice, really. Temp tires aren't made for the long haul, and I'm quite familiar with the route from there home, so I know where I can stop for breaks and such.

So, I type this at home the next morning. My family in Cincinnati will get their gifts once I ship them there, which won't be until the day after Christmas at the soonest, and I may end up actually going in to the office one of the days I was planning to be away, just because...

Oh... and the milage did tick back to 45.2, but I don't expect that to last too long into the new year.

Posted by ghoul at 06:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 17, 2006

Everything Fixed...

... except ...

The appointment was made, the (relatively unpleasant) estimate was in hand, and then the car was left to be repaired.

And, later that same day, the car was picked up, new window in place. And the final price "only" overshot the estimate by 10%.


This new window rolls itself back down if allowed to roll up all the way. The only way to keep it closed is to VERY carefully release the up switch at the right instant.

And, after an hour of the door being taken apart and re-assembled again, the "answer" was to make another appointment with a Toyota tech (rather than the body shop) to get another repair made. For which I'll be charged, since clearly the new problem is unrelated to the window replacement.


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October 14, 2006

"Jack, It Looks Like..."

"... someone's broken into your car."

That's not what you want to hear when you're on your way to breakfast, riding in the back of a friend's car past your own parked vehicle.

And, indeed, it did look like that. The driver's side front window was shattered, spread around the blacktop and the driver's seat. But there was no sign of what broke the window, and both my iPod and emergency travel cash were where I'd left them, as were a few games on the passenger seat...

So it wasn't a break-in, or it was about the most futile and silly break-in ever, as nothing was taken or even moved around.

So it was probably something more mundane, like a rock tossed up by a passing car or even just the fist freeze of the coming winter.

Still, the drive back to Concord was two hours of loud, windy chill and I don't look into paying for this (which I have to because I have a high deductible on my auto insurance).

Really annoying.

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August 27, 2006

Milage Update

Also of note, for those who care...

On the drive back from GenCon, just around the north edge of Columbus, OH, at 52,003 miles on the odometer, my Prius milage display hopped up to 45.2 MPG.

Then, during the drive back from last weekend's gaming in Fall River, MA, at 53,017, it made another hop up to 45.3.

It has since dropped back to 45.2 due to the low milage observed on short drives like my daily commute to work, but I expect to see 45.3 again after next weekend's trip to Fall River and just maybe 45.4 by the end of the warm weather for the year, though I wouldn't bet too much on that last happening.

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July 23, 2006

More Updating

My leg is rapidly progressing toward fine. Still bothersome on stairs or if over-used, so I'm keeping a crutch handy, but everything is going very well.

Also, during the drive home yesterday, around Boston, milage bumped up to 45.1 MPG, at around 50,240 miles. I'm hoping for one more bump up during the drive to or back from GenCon, and perhaps another as well (the drive to Indy was good for two steps last year). Of course, that's still two weeks and a bit out.

I'm hoping for a nice, quiet two weeks and a bit.

Posted by ghoul at 08:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2006

Return To Plan

And back on plan again, just a little behind. Apple called around 3:30 and the repairs are done (and covered by warranty). Rebuilding the drive's contents is now up to me, just not quite getting as early a start as I'd hoped for.

Also, just as a note, as I passed from Hooksett to Bow, my odometer rolled past 50,000 miles (as much as digital odometers roll at all). I'll be putting a good bit more on in 3 1/2 weeks for GenCon, but there's a milestone to proceed that.

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August 23, 2005

Further Aftermath

The drive home was actually quite nice. Very little traffic, good weather, and except that it takes 16 hours, very little by way of problems or difficulties.

And no, I didn't run out of gas this time. In fact, I passed 45.0 at 41332 miles, showing how nice that long-distance, fairly constant speed driving is to milage.

I'm recovering today, then I'm back to work tomorrow. That will probably be harder than the drive was.

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August 14, 2005

Lessons Learned...

Even though I've tipped past 44.9 (at 39,948 for 46.9 MPG since the last uptick, which is very good considering how much of that was very short driving), there is a lesson I have learned...

If you don't put gas in, it can still run dry.

Actually, the real lesson is "don't trust the gas gauge to act the same way on extremely long drives that it does normally", but the impact is much the same.

AAA membership is well worth having, even when you're able to roll into a rest stop on battery power. And their service remains excellent, taking less than 30 minutes (which I spent reading).

Also, as this was the only delay (there weren't even any significant construction traffic slowdowns), I was able to make it all the way from Concord, NH to Cincinnati, OH in just over 15 hours, passing over my original plan to overnight somewhere in northern or central OH when the drive got too tedious.

Posted by ghoul at 07:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 06, 2005

Side Note

Last night, early in the drive back from Serenity, milage slipped back to 44.7 MPG (it was a bit cold and the 45 minutes of driving in Boston proper on either side of the film was not good for milage at all; way too bumper-to-bumper), but it was back to 44.8 (barely) when I parked at home.

Mark this as a slip down at 37,970 and back up at 38,033.

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April 17, 2005

Spring Milage for Real

During the drive down to my monthly D&D game, I tripped back up to 44.8 on the MPG display. It happened around 37,686 on the odometer, which does mean that I haven't really been driving much in the last month (barely 300 miles total since the 3/16 downtick). It also means spring is here for real!

OK, the fact that it's 77 outside right now here in Concord also suggests that, but the milage is more important, particularly with today's gas prices.

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March 16, 2005

Signs of Spring

In the truest of all signs of spring, the birds are returning. In this case, Mariah and Kaver are back to their nestbox on the Kodak building.

But, in a sign that winter isn't quite done yet, my milage slipped to 44.7 this AM, at 37,385 on the odometer. That means around 40 mpg since the last change, so the trend of warming is bringing life back to the Prius's hybrid systems. Here's hoping the next report will be the restoration of 44.8!

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February 22, 2005

More (Or Is It Less) About Milage

As I had worried, when I crossed 36,602 miles driven, I fell to 44.8 MPG. That means it took only 466 miles for me to fall another notch thanks to the impact of cold weather. I averaged only 37 MPG over this segment, which crossed over some of the coldest weather of this winter. It took barely more than one tank of gas!

I'm still hopeful I won't fall below 44.7 (perhaps not even to 44.7) before temperatures climb back above 40 and I start seeing more Prius-like milage.

Posted by ghoul at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Winter Milage Update

After a 21 mile back-and-forth, my displayed milage dropped to 44.9 MPG on the north side of Boston last night. I'm going to call it as happening at 36,136, which means my milage from when I dropped to 45.0 to this drop (just less than a month later) was 38.75. No car likes winter, but the 2002 Prius really suffers, losing around 10 MPG... I've read that the newer model is significantly less sensitive, but I don't own one of those.

But February game cancellations look like they'll reduce my driving over the next 45 days by around a third, so it's possible I'll only slip as low as 44.7 before the (so far rather mild) winter ends. But there's a lot of uncertainty there.

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December 20, 2004


And, indeed, the 45.1 did not last out the year.

During my drive back from Fall River on Saturday, I noticed the milage had slipped to 45.0 (first noted around 35,515). Over the last leg of my trip home, which is on slower, hillier local roads rather than the interstate, that got back up to 45.1, but with 2 inches of snow and frigid temperatures this AM, it's back to 45.0, almost certainly to stay there (or lower) until the spring. So I didn't quite make it to winter (which starts tomorrow).

I'll record the point of slippage as 35,553. And, since that's the point where the bump up to 45.1 (crossed without a dip back below at around 34,040) faded, it's clear that the average milage over the last 1500 miles or so was almost exactly 45 MPG. Which isn't bad, except as a sign of the decidedly un-Prius-like gas thirst that will come over the next three months.

There is a small chance that, with the unseasonal warmth currently predicted for Thursday (45-50 degrees) and my drive back down to Fall River to catch my flight to Cincinnati for Christmas, I might get back to 45.1. But I'm not counting on it.

Posted by ghoul at 07:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2004

Cold Weather Milage Already

That didn't take long.

Around 34025, I noticed I'd slipped back to 45.0 MPG. Since then (13 miles ago), I've bounced back up and down between the two. The main cause is the lower milage of the cold morning drive, I'm betting... There's been frost on the car 3 mornings in the last two weeks. Not that this is bad news... It means I'm only averaging 45 MPG over the last 2 week's driving, which is still not so bad.

I'm expecting to get some good milage on my drive to this weekend's games and SF book club meeting, so 45.1 should be restored and shorn-up for a little longer, but now I don't think I'll make it out of 2004 with that 45.1 still intact. (Earlier dreams of making 45.2 this are, of course, now proven to be just that.)

Posted by ghoul at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 10, 2004

Milage Footnote

A bit of bouncing around Fall River environs (including getting stuck at a drawbridge) resulted in the 45.1 MPG result slipping away around 33,840 miles, but it was regained at just about 33,860. Then, for the next 10 miles of driving, I would fall back to 45.0 on every upslope and regain 45.1 on every down. By 33,870, I had a constant 45.1 which I maintained the rest of the way home.

Unfortunately, cold weather and resulting long ~40 MPG drives are just around the horizon, so I'm sure I'll not make 45.2 this year.

Posted by ghoul at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

Milage Update

Well, I hit 45.1 MPG on the drive down to Fall River today, at around 33,810 miles.

For the mathematically inclined (and you know who you are), that means I've managed 48.35 MPG for my 1,010 miles of driving in the interim.

Posted by ghoul at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2004


Remember this?

Well, just for fun, even without the pipe in my drive, I lost another tire today. Driver-side rear this time, again noticed as I drove toward work. This time, I did call the road hazard line up front, so I expect few problems getting reimbursed for my costs.

Of course, I only have 2300 miles left on that free tire coverage...

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September 23, 2004

Milage Note

During the drive to Toronto for AmberCon North, I passed 45.0 MPG on the display. This happened right around 32,800 miles. I'd gotten to 49.9 MPG on the way back from New York City back on Labor Day weekend, so that's a 2/10ths improvement during September! I hope to be able to keep the average up, but with cold weather coming, I fear it is likely to slip a couple of tenths.

(Yes, this is a new category in which I add notes about my nifty hybrid car. I love it lots, so those who don't care will just have to skip this category.)

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August 30, 2004

Return to the Staircase

I've been neglecting this blog for too long... time to start posting again.

This last weekend was my birthday, and this year my regular "whale watching trip" happened on the day. The weather was great, we happened upon another semi-sleeping finback, and a good time was had by all. We even seem to have avoided sunburn except in hints.

Prior to that, I've been dealing with the car issues detailed in the last posts before this one... This whole mess had a happy ending because the good folks at PriusOnline pointed out that all Prius come with free road hazard coverage, as compensation for the need for not-exactly-cheap tires. And, after some paperwork, I was reimbursed 100% for the replacement. The fender-bender mentioned here did no real damage at all.

Work issues have kept me grinding and made me look for pretty much anything to do that didn't involve looking at a computer screen once I was home. I hope I'm past that because, if FedEx tracking can be believed, I have my birthday present to me (a dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with a 23" cinema flatscreen) that will be arriving tomorrow. I do tend to over-spend on me...

I've also been making slow but steady progress through my backlog of DVDs, anchored by watching pretty much all of The X-Files in fairly rapid succession. I'm not quite done yet (there's two seasons to go, most of which I've never seen before), but I'm well reminded why I liked this show when it was on. And that while its best is very good, it had some real stinkers as well, mostly when they tried to tie into recent headlines too much or went for laughs rather than scares. None of which is to say that Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose and Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space' are anything but gems, but most of the other funny episodes run out of steam with at least one act still to go. And rarely, if ever, does good seem to come of them letting the actors write or direct.

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July 15, 2004

Not My Month For Cars

So, today it took me an hour to get home from work.

I know many people for whom that isn't at all unusual, but I live close enough to almost be able to walk, barely 3 1/2 miles. And while there was some traffic due to the construction mentioned here, that was only the secondary cause of my delay. While stopped waiting on construction traffic, however, I heard an all-too-familiar crunch and felt my car jerk forward.

Yeah. I'd been rear-ended.

Turns out the nice girl in the Taurus wasn't really at fault, though. She'd been hit herself, and rather hard, by the teen boys in the Voyager. Their front end was completely crunched im, her front and rear bumper had collapsed... and I have a small nick in my rear bumper, barely more than a cut through the white coating over the metal.

The rest of the delay was 30 minutes waiting for the police to take down all the details.

Of course, I have no idea how much fixing the tiny nick will cost (and I will need to, if only to prevent it becoming a bridgehead for rust), but I think I had a lucky end to an unlucky event. Though I'd much rather have just made it straight home.

Posted by ghoul at 06:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

Not A Welcome Home

So I was pulling out of my driveway one the way to work on yesterday...

No, I should back up a bit. In order to understand this story, you have to know that Concord, NH is in the final steps of a lengthy process to replace a decades-old water system due to the amount of lead in the pipes. This is a good thing (though the amount of lead is small, any amount is too much). You also have to know that I live fairly near the source of the city's water, so that the line carrying water from the lake to the city passes under the road just in front of my house. This is also a good thing (especially since it means that little of the lead-tainted line has yet been passed through prior to my home).

However, this summer, there's a twist. As they are digging up and replacing the old line, they are temporarily using surface level pipes to carry water to the houses along the road. This is not, in itself, a bad thing, but it does lead to a bad thing when the final fact is added. That fact is that these surface level pipes are currently blocking my driveway, with a bit of sand, rock, and such intended to act as a ramp over them so I can drive by. And this is a bad thing.

You see, there wasn't really enough sand, rock, and such to actually do the job, so yesterday morning I was pulling out of my driveway when the steering wheel jerked just a little. I was forcing my way over the pipe as I've been used to for about a week and a half, so I ignored it. But as I drove the handful of minutes to work, I noticed that the car was not handling well. As I parked, I was pretty sure what had happened, and a quick glance once I was stopped confirmed it.

I had torn the sidewall out on my front driver's-side tire thanks to the big metal bracket that connects two segments of the surface water pipes, which was covered by too little sand, rock, and such and sits right in the line of my tires as I back out of my driveway every AM.

And now, I learn the first significant disadvantage of owning a Prius. As the tires are specially designed to optimize the hybrid's performance, I had no choice but to pay dealer prices for the not-exactly-cheap replacement. No fun. Also, since I have every plan to be in NYC this weekend and to drive there, I couldn't really wait.

The city has added more sand, rock, and such, so now the metal bolt isn't immediately visible. There has been no mention of any assistance dealing with the not-exactly-cheap new tire.

Not the way to start a work-week every, particularly not after something as fun but tiring as an AmberCon.

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