Saturday, September 27, 2008

two years later, and no different

i'm publishing this again because it's one of my favorite posts ever. i keep trying to write something like this lately, but i keep coming back to this one...and it says everything i wanted to. i realize it's a little sad-sounding, and that's okay but unintended (at least for this year). i think i was generally more melancholy back then than i am now. anyways, here it is, just over two years after i first published it......

here are these midwestern fall-transition days again. you know....the ones that aren't quite autumn yet and only feel like fall in the evenings. but there are wisps of smoky, spicy fall air blowing around in the wind every so often. and part of you is stuck in what you love about summer, and's just time to move on.

to me, summer is so much of, simply, what i love about being alive. driving with my windows down and my sunglasses on is one of the greatest pleasures i have in life, and i don't mean that in a depressing way. no matter how the day is going, pulling out those aviators and cranking up some tunes and flying down Normal Avenue is about the highlight of my day. it embodies what i love about summer...which means "carefree" and warm and different every day and fun and laid-back. people aren't worried about school. you play volleyball and hang out late into the evenings because it's light outside. you worry less about responsibility and more about being alive and free because you only have a few summers of your life to feel like that.

but then those evenings get a little shorter, just to remind you that they're not there forever. then labor day comes, and football starts, and before you know it, school is back, and downtown is crawling with hoodie-clad students. and even if it hasn't gotten real chilly yet, you know the dead icy winter is inevitable. like any good parent, mother nature likes to give us a bit of warning before playtime is totally over.

then the evenings are dark at 7pm and you feel tired even when you have no reason to feel tired except that it's dark. then you leave places early because you have homework. then you realize...fall is here.

fall is melancholy for me. i'm sure part of it is all those fall colors...all the colors that mean emotion in my mind, like deep orange, goldenrod, and crimson. but i think one of the reasons i tend to get so pensive each fall season is because it makes me aware of time. time passing so tediously but so fast i can almost hear it. summer is when time stops and all is light and exciting. but fall means winter, and winter means another new year, which just makes me think about how i am 21 years old already, and why i still feel sixteen, and how i still have to accomplish so much, and how i feel like time is moving around me while i remain standing in the middle of a river, grabbing frantically at experiences and events as they surge by but wondering what i'm missing when my back's turned and knowing most things won't ever come along again.

Friday, September 12, 2008


this post is dedicated to rainy weather, humidity and thunderstorms.

this week, it rained. the humidity peaked at 97%. the sky was mute and colorless and it matched the gum-spackled cement. on days like this, i long for a drop or two of color.

i wished i could have had a more aerial view of the streets, maybe from the top of a parking garage, to take photos of the bright umbrellas floating along down the sidewalks, like watching leaves trickle down a stream. they would have looked really good against the dismal grey...

i am a sunny summer girl, through and through. i live and breathe for summer, for flip flops and putting my hair in messy braids, for the glorious long evenings and warm nights when you can frolick outside at midnight without getting cold. i usually don't like anything that obscures the sun and/or its warmth; and because so much of my thoughts and feelings are made of colors, the slushy grey months can be depressing. but this week i made my treks across campus and gleefully trampled through clear puddles, and somewhere in all of that, i realized that i was actually - thoroughly - enjoying the rainy days. could be that my enjoyment has to do with my gleeful rain boots - grey with bright cheery umbrellas on them. they remind me of my mind-photo of the umbrella rainbow, which is looking and sounding better and better each time i mentally revisit it. another delight of rainy walks is hearing the thwit-thwit of the raindrops on my umbrella - a bright green color, might i add.

so i guess if everything were bright, sunny, colorful...then the really great colors of my umbrella and boots wouldn't stand out. there isn't any reason to appreciate colors except for the possibility of less color. i think the reason today's raininess was so satisfying is that i have been under the sun for months, and hardly noticed the colors anymore. the brightness of summer doesn't feel as bright after four months of it. and suddenly, the smallest scrap of color, the tiniest molecule of heat, is a greater delight than all the millions that preceded it.

and today, as i stepped out the back door of my wonderful new workplace, i noticed with new vigor the brilliant bright sky, the pillowy clouds and the way the sunlight gets trapped in them and finds its way out again, and felt the warmth on my skin as i discarded my work jacket. life is good. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

one month later, she lives

i guess it's been one month exactly (almost) since i posted last. well, that means nothing except a lame introductory sentence to a milestone blog post. which is only a milestone because of...never mind.

i am writing this late night to tell you about my car mileage experiments. i like experiments a lot, especially the kinds that last for months and yield unbelievable results. this one isn't quite unbelievable, but it is significant enough for me to share it with you at 2am.

i drive a 6-cylinder car, automatic transmission, something like 3.6 litre engine. the gas mileage usually attained from my nice little car is not wonderful...usually somewhere around 230 miles to the E-point on my tank (i hardly ever figure out how many miles per gallon i get - nothing in this post will refer to MPG, but instead to Miles Per Tank). my last two or three MPT were not 230, but 280. that's right, i got an extra 50 miles out of my $50 tank of gas. and a good thing too.

here's a side note. i have been taking the bus a lot, which significantly increases my own personal miles per gallon. by going to school via the bus every day (or almost every day), i get around 12 free daily miles that don't ever come out of my own tank. this makes my own MPG around 50. but this is just a side note, since i said i wouldn't talk about MPG. i just wanted to mention that my personal MPG is way higher than my car's MPG. i think it's a good thing if you can get a better mileage rating than your car, especially if you can do it and not have to pay for parking either. double bonus.

anyways, here are some of the ways i have been significantly increasing my tank mileage.

  • by doing a LOT of coasting. you would be stunned how far you can actually get without pushing the pedal at all. sometimes it means *gasp* going under the speed limit. but if i'm not around any cars, i don't worry about that. you might see me crawling at 20mph down 70th Street as i approach the turn-in to my neighborhood. i can also go for about a half-mile on 70th street without ever hitting the gas pedal OR going much under the speed limit.
  • not allowing my tachometer to (hardly) ever go above 2000 RPMs (actually it should be said RsPM). now, this is a kind of arbitrary number that i chose after a lot of observation and experimentation, and i'm sure every car's different, but it's been working for me. basically keep your tach as low as possible...or, let it shift into a lower gear before you ask it to do more. this means very slow acceleration, especially on hills. you might have to wait to pull out into traffic until there aren't going to be cars on your tail. that will let you accomplish this little trick without getting a lot of honks (or birds) from other drivers.
  • not running my A/C unless absolutely necessary. it helps that my car only blows air on Maximum - so it's easy to leave it off at risk of being flattened into my seat by the vents' force.
  • trying to brake as little as possible. this sounds bad, but what it means is let gravity slow you down instead of making your car do the work artificially. if there's a hill coming up, just use that. this will mean timing the stop lights a lot more carefully. you want to do as little start-stop as possible. one way you can do this is by slowing down way before a red light so that, when it turns green, you can get back up to speed without ever having had to stop. i am no expert, but i am convinced that this is better for your engine that stopping it and then getting it going again. mostly, just try and keep the tach at a stable place, and don't let it fling itself up and down.
  • making myself stay in the slower lane so i'm not required to quickly speed up to keep other drivers happy.
  • not using E-10 fuel (seriously).
  • timing stop lights correctly. i already mentioned this but it's important. whenever you can, time your arrivals to intersections so that you have to slow down and speed up as little as possible. this takes practice and a lot of attention to the road. just be aware of other drivers, please. :)
  • doing these things not just sometimes, but ALL the time. i'm trying now to see if i can get my MPT to 300. i don't think i can, but i keep getting closer.
  • keeping my windshield free of insects and bird poop, to reduce wind resistance.
  • installing a pair of wings so i can glide instead of drive, when possible.
ok, now that my tiredness is catching up with me, i will cease and desist from making any more list items. hopefully these little things (which are really intrinsic and don't need a lot of technical know-how) can inspire you to get a better MPT. most people i know realize that they are getting poor mileage out of their tank, but they continue to drive the way they are used to driving. gas doesn't have to be quite as much of a tyrant as you think. i am just showing you the proof that a few changes in habit can make some real differences in how much money you end up spending at that wretched Pump.

i will end with the hopefully obvious and unnecessary disclaimer that when using any or all of these methods, you need to be really careful of other drivers and how you drive. don't make people mad! to be a good MPT driver, and also not make people mad at the same time, requires brain usage while driving. beware!! (i HATE bad drivers.) i think, though, that these few little changes potentially have the effect of making you a better, more aware driver. you have to be constantly on the lookout for stop lights, traffic patterns, and intersections...more so than if you were not also paying attention to your tachometer. :)

so that's it....i'm off to bed...let me know if you end up using any of these ideas, and if they help!

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