Monday, July 28, 2008

Hypermiling Update - Nitrogen Tires

I haven't posted on Hypermiling for a little while, for a couple of reasons. The first is that my telecommuting on Wednesdays has cut down on my weekly fuel efficiency somewhat. 5 long round trips a week grants better average miles per gallon than 4 round trips plus scattered city driving on the off days. The second reason is that my wife filled up my tank, and instead of resetting the trip-ometer, she reset my average mpg gauge. I had to start from scratch on the hypermiling. I think ultimately this was good, as it now only reflects my driving, and not the previous owner. I am almost back into the 25s again, so it seems it was fairly accurate the first time.

I am writing now to tell you about something new I am trying. Ultimately hypermiling is a cumulative thing. It takes a combination of behaviors and tactics to get optimal results. The latest tactic I am trying is the replacement of standard air in my tires.

The Oxygen in a typical tire fillup contributes to a number of problems. One, it is combustible. This means it can explode. Two, it causes oxidation on the metal rims and other parts of the wheel. This means rust. Three, it causes the tires to run at a hotter temperature, which contributes to tire breakdown and pressure loss. The solution? Fill your tires with Nitrogen.

Nitrogen is the most common molecule in the air we breath. It is a larger molecule than Oxygen, so if your tire does leak it is harder for Nitrogen to escape. Nitrogen does not heat up as quickly as Oxygen, and apparently is not as combustible. This means a safer experience all around.

Where Nitrogen fits into the hypermiling mold is the consistency of tire pressure. As a typically-filled tire begins to lose air, the car has to work harder to get from point A to point B. When Nitrogen enters the tire, it leaks 3-4 times less quickly, so you maintain a consistent tire pressure for a longer period of time. The better your tire pressure, the better the mileage per gallon.

Today was my first day of commuting on Nitrogen-filled tires. I will report next week how things go, and if I notice a tangible difference.

Until then, happy hypermiling.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Crazy Weekend

This weekend was supposed to be my resting weekend. The weekend that made up for all the busy weekends we keep having. I did get quite a bit more sleep this time, but we still managed to pack a lot of stuff in.

We got up early to take my car in to replace a defective tire. This tire apparently was bad the day I bought my car, but my wife didn't tell me she saw a bubble in the side wall of the tire. 3 months later I notice the problem and the dealer, Cars 101 in Oxnard, won't step up. Never buy a car from them. This is only the latest in a series of hassles they heaped upon us. While I was getting my tire done, I thought it was time to try changing the air in my tires to Nitrogen. More on that later.

The tires were supposed to take about an hour, so we walked down the street to the Bed, Bath & Beyond, the Payless Shoes, and Target. We ended up picking something up from all three places. This made quite the trip when my son didn't want to make the walk back. Carrying him, some sodas, shoes, and whatever else we got turned out to be a bigger chore than we had hoped. The car was ready on time though, so we were pretty happy with that.

Next stop was supposed to be home, but it didn't work out. My wife reminded me of the Salsa Festival that was going on this weekend. I love spicy food, so this festival sounded pretty good to me. We ended up spending a couple hours there. I had a lot of fun. Learn more at Surfer J's Grub & Stuff: Oxnard Salsa Festival.

We ended up finally relaxing at around 4:30 last night. My wife had plans with my buddy's wife for lunch today, so I ended up watching the boy for a couple of hours. He still prefers Mommy, so this is sometimes easier said than done. He behaved very well today though. He threw one fit when Mommy left, and cried for about 15 minutes. After that, all was good. He ate most of his lunch, played well, and didn't throw any tantrums. I was pleased with how the day went.

My wife and son went down for a nap, so I am finally able to update my blogs. I had a really good weekend so far. I can't wait to go to the Salsa Festival again next year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Crazy Weekend

I think I have finally recovered enough from my weekend to talk about it. Things picked up speed pretty quickly and only just slowed down. Friday night I saw The Dark Knight. I posted a review on Surfer J's Reviews. This was such an intense movie. I could say more about it here, but this is gonna get long enough as it is. Check out my review (The Dark Knight ). This was only the beginning.

I had been planning my wife's surprise party for over a month. Saturday was the big day, almost exactly a month later than the actual event. She turned 30, so this needed to be a pretty good party. It is almost impossible to surprise my wife. Even when I manage to pull it off, she somehow guesses at the last minute. This is so consistent that I have to try extra hard each time to come up with something that she won't possibly guess. This meant I couldn't buy any supplies until the day of. I had a three hour window to pull it all together. My wife's close friends came over to serve as decoys, and one of them brought her husband with her. He had to get out at the Subway restaurant across the street from my house so my wife wouldn't see him. We had everything planned to the last detail. :)

My son decided it was time to throw an "I need a nap" tantrum seconds before our friend arrives to help. I was cleaning all morning. My wife commented on this to her friends when they arrived, but she still didn't catch on. She told them, "He even vacuumed." I don't vacuum. My wife is a Stay At Home Mom, so she usually has all the vacuuming done before I get home. This was the first time I turned on the vacuum. It feels really weird to say that. Moving on, she didn't know why I was cleaning all morning. I cleaned a little more when our friend arrived, and put him to work. A little cleaning and then babysitting a sleeping toddler were his duties. I had to run to Costco to get the cake.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Costco cake. You go in, with at least 24 hours notice, fill out a sheet of paper and drop it in the slot. You then have faith that the cake will be ready at the time you indicated. My wife loves carrot cake, so I ordered a carrot cake. This cake is HUGE. $18.99 gets you a cake big enough to feed 48 people (in small pieces. A little less with bigger pieces). It came in at half the price the local bakery was going to charge me. The cake was worth it. I am still eating it.

So, cake in hand, it is time to get some more supplies from the grocery store. I ran into one of my friends at the grocery store. He had been buying flowers for my wife. I sent him to the Dollar Tree to pick up balloons and crate paper so we can decorate. He improvised and bought a birthday table cloth (paper). It turned out to be something we needed. We met back at my house, and had 30 minutes until my wife and her friends were due.

The boy woke up during the babysitting. He had already been upset that Mommy went somewhere, so I figured he might not like waking up to find out he was being babysat by a virtual stranger. They haven't seen each other in a long time. I knew how to get around this though. As I left I told our friend that if he wakes up, just turn on Star Wars. It worked like a charm. My son was very pleasant when I got back home. He had his Darth Vader fix.

I found out that my charcoal was a little wet, so I needed to babysit the coals for a bit. This left my friends to finish decorating without me. I got the coals lit, and only needed to re-light them twice.

I grilled up a tri-tip, using a great Guinness Tri-Tip Marinade recipe. My wife came up with the basics, and I made my own version of it for her party. We made some fresh salsa and guacamole, deep fried some flour tortillas to use as chips, and made tacos out of the tri-tip.

My friend bought some noisemakers and distributed them. My wife's friend kept us updated through subtle text messages and seemingly random phone calls to her husband. My son loved the noisemakers, and almost gave the surprise away. He was blowing the "horn" as she was walking up. We got him to quiet down and sent him to open the door. This is not uncommon, so when we shouted surprise and blew the noisemakers, she was taken aback. The surprise worked. She had no clue that we had all conspired to throw the party.

The food and company were great. We had a lot of fun.

Our weekend took a more serious turn with news of an impending divorce among a couple of our friends. This put a dark cloud on the rest of the weekend, and needless to stay it is still hanging around.

We went to the 3rd Annual Pirate Festival in Ventura on Sunday afternoon. My son was in a weird mood, so we didn't stay long. He loves pirates, boats, water, and parrots. He got to see all of it. We watched a guy swallow a sword, walked around a bit, and finally left. There were tons of people around but not much to do. It was still worth checking out, so I am glad we did.

All in all, the weekend provided an intense emotional roller-coaster. Batman is pretty intense. The birthday party brought us up pretty high, and the news from our friends sent us plunging pretty low. We are hoping to plateau for a while. We need to recover a bit.