22.6.08

Smart car, dumb driver.

Usually, a drive from Medicine Hat to Edmonton (600km) takes just a little bit more than one tank of gas (40L). Not too bad, really, considering all the vehicles on the road which probably consume a Hyundai's weight in gasoline just going through the drive-through at Timmy's. Of course, that was "not too bad" back in the days before gas topped $1.30/L in Canada. Nowadays, I'm willing to look at the options.

  • New car. An intriguing prospect, but I think you guys know me better than that.

  • Magic fuel-boosting pellets that you throw in the gas tank to clean your system -- no doubt done with the help of tiny, anthropomorphic scrubbing bubbles. Perhaps those pellets would be better employed in agriculture... because they're hogwash.

  • Pulse-and-glide. Accelerate to 120 km/h, put the car in neutral, and coast until you're down to 80 km/h or so before starting up to 120 again. The average speed is still 100 km/h, but you're only driving half as much! Actually, the claims made aren't quite that grandiose... but those claims also fail to mention how ridiculous it feels. Pass. (In the pulse-and-glide's defence, though, this technique is much better suited to hybrid cars, which manages the transitions in and out of neutral much more smoothly, and maximize the car's performace while coasting.)

  • Go slower. (Sigh.) Okay, I said, you win. I'll drive to Edmonton and back, staying at 95-100 km/h the whole way. When I got home, I tallied up the gas receipts... and my world was changed.


  • My previous gas efficiency works out to an L-100 (litres per 100km) of 7.3. So, 7.3 * (distance) * (price of gas) tells you how much you'll have to spend to get from A to B. On that earlier trip, gas was $1.10/L, meaning I paid $48.18.

    Just by keeping my speed down, though, I got into Edmonton with an eighth of a tank to spare -- an overall L-100 rating of 5.6! At $1.30/L, that means the trip cost me $43.68.

    There it is, ladies and gentlemen: I spent five dollars less on gas this weekend than I did when gas was twenty cents cheaper. It's hard to argue that logic.

    And, was this discount trip to The Hidden City worth it? Aye, that it was. I enjoyed the company of some wonderful friends, saw some wonders of the human anatomy splayed before me in all their glory, and I even managed to catch Kung Fu Panda on the IMAX. Wonderful.

    Oh, and there was one other thing I did on the weekend: I wandered down to Listen Records, one of my favourite alternative/independent music stores in Edmonton. I approached the clerk with a copy of Nick Cave's latest work, "Dig, Lazarus, Dig", and asked if I could listen to it.

    "You won't be disappointed," he enthused. "Well," he recanted, "you might be, depending on your tastes. But I think it's great."

    I sat down, and listened to the first ten seconds of Track 3. Nick Cave's haunting voice sailed through the headphones and started chanting:

    "When I came up from out of the meat-locker
    the city was gone..."


    SOLD.

    1 comment:

    Joe said...

    Denton! Crystal and I forgot to ask you a very important question. Would you freak out if you were being chased by velociraptors?

    About The Author

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    Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.