PermaLink Wood, metal, oil, and diesel. And iPhone non-envy.06/10/2008 10:59 AM
About half the time, when I start a new post, I have no idea what I'm about to write.  I sit down, and eventually the words start to form some kind of coherent theme, so I go back and reselect the category and reselect the Technorati tags.  And sometimes I throw it all away and start over, or go have some chips.

This is one of those times.

I don't get all that worked up about fuel prices. I think I was more annoyed about them when I was still driving the late lamented 2000 Passat wagon with the 1.8-liter rubo gas engine in it. That sucker was incredibly fast thanks to a chip from Oliver at SpeedTuning USA, but thanks to its five-speed automatic, it also got pretty crappy mileage, maybe 25mpg. It also had a smallish tank, so I was lucky if I got 400 miles on a tank of fuel. I noticed fuel prices much more often, and that was back when fuel was still in the high-one-dollar or low-two-dollar range.

When I got the 1996 TDI wagon, with its 1.9-liter turbodiesel and five-speed, I also had it chipped up, which improved its performance a great deal but didn't affect the mileage. Thing is, you can jam over 25 gallons of diesel into the TDI, and it has never gotten less than 40mpg no matter how hard I drive it. Coming home from Lotusphere 2007, I got over 53 miles per gallon, a rate that, if sustained, would result in over 1300 miles per tank. That's two weeks' commuting for me. Most of the time, I get around 43 or 44, meaning I feel ripped off if I don't get at least 1000 miles per tank. Since I only fill it every week and a half or so, I don't worry so much about fuel costs. If I was still driving the gas car, I'd be spending $70 every three or four days instead of $120 every other week or so.

The other thing is, I realized that as a percentage of my income, fuel has gotten drastically cheaper for me over the years. Back in 1979, when I was putting $0.78 unleaded into my fathers' 1974 Suburban to go to work, where I made $2.65 an hour, a gallon of fuel represented nearly a third of my gross hourly wage. Now, with fuel at almost five dollars a gallon, and me making about fifty dollars an hour gross, it's less than a tenth. For fuel to put the same hurt on me as it did when I was 16 or 17, diesel would have to cost about sixteen dollars a gallon. At that rate, I could mix it with five-dollar-a-gallon vegetable oil and cut the cost. Right now, vegetable oil is pricier than diesel (about $6 a gallon at Sam's Club), and it's not worth it.

So I steam along and pay about a dime a mile to drive the thing. The only thing I'm worried about lately is that the resale value of TDIs has gotten so high, my wagon might end up a theft target.

The upgrade to 8.5b1 is still running OK. Domino on Windows 2000 seems to run just fine, so I've avoided upgrading Windows. I suspect if I ever felt I had to, I'd move to a Linux release instead. I haven't tried using any new ND8-style features on the website yet, mostly because the site works OK and I'm willing to leave it alone. Eventually, I suppose I should go back and see if I can clean up some old code and replace it with some new-to-me @function.

I largely ignored the iPhone G3 announcement yesterday, because while its capabilities and performance are interesting, and its pricing is actually better than Blackberry, it's still handcuffed to AT&T, and I will not have anything to do with them as a wireless carrier. My unlimited data plan which has always included tethering at no extra charge is $20 a month on T-Mobile, and I have coverage at my house. AT&T has no coverage at my house, and AT&T doesn't offer an unlimited data plan for Blackberry unless you forego tethering. Even then, it's $35 a month. The tethered plan has a limit of 5Gb a month (though curiously, they show pricing for additional Kbytes at $0.00 each) and is sixty-five dollars.

The "new" AT&T? Fuckit. I fired the "old" AT&T for crap like that.

And none of this includes voice minutes! For two lines and unlimited data on T-Mobile, I pay about $84 a month.

As long as the iPhone is an AT&T "exclusive" in this country, AT&T and Apple can shove it.

Plus, the Blackberry 8800 is amazing. Realistically, I've had touchscreen phones in the past and they were a problem, always letting my ass dial people without my knowledge and whatnot. The Berry's screen is completely non-touch, and that's just fine.

Nora is continuing to work on refinishing windowsills in the house... it's a nice obsession, and the first one to be finished looks better than the ones I did a few years ago on my own (though admittedly, the one Nora is finishing right now hasn't experienced five or six years' worth of cat butts sitting on it).

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1. Carl Tyler06/10/2008 03:42:33 PM

I have a 1998 1.9TDI diesel bug I also worry that it is going to become a theft target. I average about 48-50mpg.

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