Friday, August 8, 2008

Fuel Economy is Not a Hobby, Right?

This morning, in the midst of my PowerPoint-notes reviewing, corn-dog eating, pre-final exam panic, I checked my usual daily webcomics, news sites and favorite blogs. For the record, that is what I do every day, following the Brushing of Ad-Rat Teeth, the Hooking On of the Mighty Brassiere and the Putting On of Ridiculously Flare-Cut Pants.

The Putting-On of a Gorramn Shirt does not take place until shortly before it is absolutely necessary to comply with local decency laws, a practice largely confined to summertime that began out of deference to Sparky's admiration of the female form and its' accompanying lingerie technology, but which has now become habit. There. I've justified the content warning at long, long last. Oh, and since you're going to ask, 38DD.

Anyway, one of the blogs I tend to check every day is 'The Consumerist,' a delightful little repository of vitriol aimed at businesses that louse up, among other things. This, in addition to 'Violent Acres,' is largely responsible for my daily recommended allowance of incoherent rage, which, as all sensible people know, is a source of fiber to Irish-Americans. I also frequently find humor in the posts of V. and the Consumeristas, which is why I keep reading them. I deal with my hormonal longing for kids (which all 22-year-old females, even misanthropic bitchy ones, have if they're on the Pill,) by reading 'Sweet Juniper' and wondering what fresh hell I can unleash upon a largely deserving world by creating a small person with half of Sparky's genes. (That, and I want to see what Sparky starts taking artistic pictures of once I give him a little girl to play with and unconformistically educate.)

Oh. Did I mention my writing style is hyperdigressive? It is. Enjoy.

Today, 'The Consumerist' ran a story about a new web application called 'Fuelly' which allows one to keep track of one's fuel economy. After I got home from 1. taking my exam (did well, I think,) 2. getting a job (bookstore, spiffy!) 3. picking up some Financial Aid paperwork, 4. buying an unusual, luxurious lunch for myself to commemorate a final exam well done and a job gotten (a 32-ounce Diet Coke and a Snickers, all gluten-free,) I decided to check out this 'Fuelly' thing.

To my abject delight, it proved to be just as nerdily exciting as the Consumeristas had promised me. One creates a page and a profile, then fills one's 'garage' with the cars owned, by make, model, year, and a few other details like body style and engine type. Then one updates each car's recent fill-ups, by mileage, price-per-gallon, gallons bought, and date of purchase. Fuelly takes this information, does something shiny, and then pukes out some shiny graphs, statistics and other finely-processed data I fully intend to wrangle extra-credit out of my Stat professor with.

I have only two problems with this delightful site. A. They did not include the option for a 1987 Honda CRX, only the 1988 and later (though the FAQ promises to improve that soon,) and B. the Fuel-Up part only lets one input fuel-ups from as far back as 2006.

B. sounds kinda picky, da'n't it?

Sparky's father is ALSO an engineer. As such, from the earliest days of my fiance's automotive consciousness, it has been held as Car Gospel that one keeps a detailed fuel log. His reasoning is much like that of my mother's exhortation to keep track of when one starts one's period: if you keep track, it'll tell you when something's wrong.

As such, the gas-log for Sparky's old station wagon dates back to November 1st, 1993. In case you were wondering, gas was $1.049 per gallon in those glorious days of yore.

(insert angsty anti-Bush, anti-OPEC, anti-SUV 'reality blows rhino rod' rant here. I'm not that sort of a blogger, kids.)

After Sparky got home from work today, we spent a happy half-hour or so setting up our Fuelly profile and inputting data on our two cars. Go ahead, pop a Firefox tab on it.

Why, yes. That is 41.4 average miles-per-gallon for our Honda CRX. Go ahead. Admire it. We're not self-conscious. *preens and strikes a pose*

Given the current state of gas prices, I predict Fuelly is going to see a lot of traffic. All the smugness of Prius owners (which may, in itself, be an alternative energy source,) has finally got an outlet with tangible 'lookit-this!' I don't see a lot of SUV and Mommyvan owners signing up, unless they're either statistic-fiends or industrial-engineers, because, frankly, they have enough pain, woe and angst in their automotive lives.

This is also going to be the sort of place where the already-blatant insufferability of people who have completed their biodiesel/SVO conversions goes nuclear. 'Fuelly' has a real-name option for profiles, but if one of those SVO people ever decides to hop on, do their account and "Actually, my car runs on fuel I pay NOTHING for! This is what I'm SAVING!" ...well, I predict their murder at the hands of several soccer-mom Trailblazers and tiny-cock Suburbans will be swift, if not particularly painless, as the folks stuck with gas-hogs will likely boil those smug, if forward-thinking hippies in vats of their own french-fry grease automotive fuel.

...And yes, Sparky is doing one. Soon. I can practically smell the fries.

So, yeah. This is kind of a commercial post. Go check out 'Fuelly.' Read 'The Consumerist.' Head over to 'Violent Acres' and discover either the crazy aunt you really, really really wish you had (I agree with V. on many things and adore her delivery,) or the most therapeutically infuriating blogger in the history of Teh Internets. Sometimes, when I feel particularly down, I imagine myself reading a VA post to an elderly relative. The fantasy of their conservative, 'pro-family' faces upon hearing things like 'if you have a kid you can't afford, it's child abuse' and 'child support is a bitch that hurts everyone,' is perhaps the most satisfying non-sexual one in which I indulge.

That, and my fantasy about what it will be like when my future kid arrives, with college tuition assured since her conception, sensible, well-off older parents and a mother with enough education, free time and career-based clout to take over her school board if so much as a pin drops in the areas of gifted and special-needs support. I agree with V. that if you can't afford a kid, it's a dumbass idea to go having one. I also, however, insist that you go into parenthood ready and willing to go Samuel L. Jackson on the people who are most likely to attempt to fuck with your kid in the name of their bottom line. (Sparky has a brother with a disability and we were both gifteds. School boards across America should be competing for the privilege to pay for our condoms and birth-control.) Considering so many of my contemporaries are punching out hellspawn they'll never afford without mounds o'debt, I am prepared to be damn smug once I'm finally ready to have a kid. She'll be younger, but she won't have the issues so many poor kids grow up with in this full-of-fail country.

I digress again. Go try the Fuelly site. It has made an engineer and his ad-rat fiancee very happy this afternoon.