Monday, July 07, 2008

Back To The Grind

Well, the post-holiday workweek drudgery is upon us. The lack of cubicle enthusiasm was palpable as I greeted my coworkers upon arrival this morning (and yes, I am choosing to ignore the fact that it might be because I was in at least 30 minutes after everyone else had arrived). Perhaps there is just something about unlimited grilled meats, pool time, fireworks and family and friend visits that makes it hard to leave for the office. For me, this morning was different. I was actually excited to get into the office. OK, I’ve already over done it. Excitement is too strong a word. Way too strong a word. Almost like a word on steroids, which as we know are illegal, unless you are Barry Bonds and used the illegalness to make a joke of the most hallowed of baseball records, you know, for example. I will just say that I wasn’t dreading it as much as usual.

To help me explain this, I’ll offer up what my parents used to tell us before going to bed on Christmas Eve: the sooner you fall asleep; the sooner Christmas morning will be here. How does this apply to my story? Well, the installation of my metal-stamped-into-wood-patterns-patio begins today. If a home is a man’s castle, then my new patio is my royal court of relaxation. Along the same lines, that makes the connection of holes dug by gophers in my backyard, at the edge of my new royal court of relaxation, my castle’s moat. For the record, I never wished to have a moat or a goat even if it liked to eat plenty of oat(s), though I would like to have a boat, provided it can float, just not in the unplanned moat. Those are all the rhymes I can think of, minus throat, which I really couldn’t fit into this story.

I have been reading a lot lately about hypermilers. These are folks that do everything they can while driving to stretch and improve their vehicle’s fuel economy. I saw a special about it on CNN and read about it in Time magazine. I started reading Time magazine so that I could appear smarter by being able to say things like ‘I read about it in Time magazine.’ So, having read about hypermilers in Time magazine, I thought I would wax poetic about it for a little while, you know, having read about it in Time Magazine, and stuff. Mental note: quit saying ‘and stuff’ when trying to appear smarter. So, where was I? Oh, that’s right, I was telling you about hypermilers, which I read about it Time Magazine. The act of hypermiling actually appears to be fun. Did I mention I read about it in Time Magazine? All right, I’ll admit that mentioning that last time that I read about hypermilers in Time Magazine was a bit over the top. Sorry. I will not mention that I read about it in Time Magazine again. Honest.

Hypermiling involves such tactics as touching the brakes as little as possible, shutting off the car when idiling longer than 30 seconds and not exceeding about 55 mph on the highway since it uses less fuel, despite the fact that everyone else is driving about 80 on the same highway. I had planned on trading my truck in for a hybrid since I drive often for work, sometimes up to 500-700 extra miles a week. But then we got ready to go looking and I broke down hysterically and sobbed like a baby who dropped its pacifier when I got into my truck, so I figured I was not yet mature enough for a hybrid. So, I am going to do my part to go green by hypermiling.

I have to admit that using my brakes as little as possible when rounding a corner or entering a parking lot or my driveway is a lot of fun. As I roar into these turns and stops much faster than I should, the accompanying bang, bounce and general recklessness really delivers a Dukes of Hazzard General Lee experience (not to mention it signals rather authoritatively to my family that I am home as I screech my brakes in the driveway just a butterfly’s whisker short of the garage door). And who doesn’t like pretending they are driving the General Lee? I feel I should tell you though that I haven’t gotten into a car through the windows since I drove my 68 VW Bug in high school. And my parents still wonder why all the old cracked weather stripping around the driver’s window was broken off. Bwahahahaha….

Now the driving 55 part is not as much fun. You do get to become intimate and personal with all of your fellow highway drivers though. When I cruise at 55 down the expressway (does saying expressway instead of freeway make me sound smarter and more mature? I think I read about it in Time magazine), everyone honks and waves and points at me. They also stare, shout and hurl obscenities my way, as well as show me how nicely manicured their longest digit is. That would be their middle finger if you are playing along with the home version while reading this. I just wave back or give them the classic ‘what me?’ pose, which consists of shrugging my shoulders and spreading my arms apart with my plams palms (someone caught my little typo there...) raised to the sky as if I am singing gospel all gospelly.

The easiest part of hypermiling for me has been shutting off my truck at stoplights, drive-thrus, train tracks, etc., though I will admit having a tinge of concern that the truck won’t restart, with having my Ipod, GLAD (getting lost avoidance device) GPS system, cellphone or blue tooth speakerphone plugged into every available cigarette lighter. I know shutting off the engine is good for saving fuel and stretching gas mileage because I watched Dale Jr. do it repeatedly while leading late in the Michigan race on the way to a win on Father’s Day. And that reminds me: never tell your family that Dale Jr. winning for the first time in over a year on Father’s Day is the greatest gift in the world, especially after they lavished you with gifts, a meal and attention, though it was fitting that one of the gifts was a new Dale Jr. t-shirt.

To put a period on the topic of hypermiling, I will just say that should you visit this blog and notice that I haven’t posted for a few days, just assume that I am recovering from an auto accident caused by me taking a turn or speeding into a parking lot without using my brakes or not getting my engine to restart because I was trying to hypermile. It really is the great new extreme sport. All the cool kids are doing it.

The Return of Q & A Fridays
Lastly, a comment was made by a regular visitor here a few weeks ago that I should open my blog up for questions to answer. With that request in mind, I am going to put my wholehearted effort into bringing back Q & A Fridays for the third time. It’ll start this Friday, so feel free to email your questions to me or just leave them in my comments section. My preference? Email, because I love getting email. It makes me feel special, unlike work email, which normally requires me to do something, usually with a deadline. So, I shall answer your first round of questions on Friday, though don’t be surprised if I quote Time Magazine while doing so…


On a limb with Claudia said...

m'k, my usual question: how are you feeling? How is your heart? Why did you get this curse?

I find the whole do everything while driving trend a little unnerving. Good thing I don't drive much

best bud's wife said...

OK Here is my string of exciting questions for Q & A Friday -
AM or FM? Paper or Plastic? Coke or Pepsi? Boxers or Briefs? And the most important of all - Mozzarella or Cheddar?

amymax said...

LOL while reading of the alternate routes to my house includes a quick left-right-left-around-the-horseshoe-street maneuver...while riding with hubby the other day he did the whole turn without the brakes thing...
Amy - "Are you trying to be a hypermiler?"
Hubby - "wha', wait, how'd you know about that?"
Amy - "oh, I READ it in the (not so smarty pants sounding) Reader's Digest."
Hubby - "figures"
sis, you forgot stick or automatic? add that to MC's email.
oh yeah, you said you raised your PLAMS in the air. What in the world are plams? : ) (can't wait to hear that one)

Eva said...

Well, well. You learn something new every day, don't you? I had never heard of hypermiling! It made me think back to Driver's Ed in the 10th grade, where our teacher would use the analogy of pretending there is an egg under your right foot so that you were gentle when braking and accelerating. He also had a horrid problem with flatulence, which made for very long driving sessions for us passengers in the back seat. But I digress.

AndreAnna said...

I mean, I understand gas prices are high and all, but people act like it's going to send them into foreclosure. Those hypermilers are just delusional.

Anyway, we're looking for guest posters here (any article about food) at

AND I'm having a Bet on My Baby contest on my site!

chefmom said...

You are not a sucky commentor..I am SO behind!! I didn't even get a chnce to read this...flight got in late Sunday night and have been running a daycare for 5 kids since 7 am monday! Fun! We'll catch up :)

Amy said...

I read Newsweek for the same reason! : )

You can drive 55 MPH in SoCal? I'm sure those other people who drive 80 love getting behind you. : )

Yay for Q &, to plan out my thoughts and questions for good ol Michael!!

meleah rebeccah said...

steroid words are very funny to me. But driving at speeds of 55mph is NOT funny to me. I am one of the people yelling at you on the open road.

Odat said...

Firstly, we never say "freeway" here...I wonder why?

Secondly, I never heard of hypermiling either. But then again, I don't read Time Magazine! I did notice tho, that this weekend, all the cars were going a bit slower!

Thirdly, There's also bloat, coat, gloat, just for future info.


Mel Heth said...

The Prius is totally conducive to this sort of driving because it tells you at all times what gas mileage you're getting. However, when you stare at the little monitor and not the car in front of you, you end up slamming on your brakes a lot and it kinda balances out the hypermiling vigilance.

magickat said...

That shizz sounds both scary and impossible to do in New York! We would be turning our cars off and on every 50 feet for traffic and lights!