Top Tier Gasoline

Before proceeding further, please read my earlier post related to top tier gasoline. This is an update of that post.

Costco started selling top tier gasoline from March 2014. BP, Arco and 76 are other latest additions.

For additional information in simple terms, please check Costco website.

Fuelonomics 101

How many of you don’t drive a vehicle? Have you ever tried to figure out what you spend on fuel per year? I did. I spent about $3000 in 2010 $2700 in 2011. My projection for this year is $1900. Driving is costly. How can we save some money on fuel and have pleasant trips. I will give you some tips.

The first tip is avoiding aggressive driving. Rapid acceleration and sudden breaks increase fuel consumption by 5% in city roads and 33% in highways. Use the cruise control as much as possible when you drive on highways. It is easy. Just set it and relax.

What do you save by becoming a non aggressive driver? 20 cents to $1.25 per gallon at current gas price.

The second tip is to observe the speed of your car. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. we can save up to 23% if we can maintain at 60 miles per hour. I am not recommending driving at 60 miles per hour in 75 speed limit zone when you go on a vacation. In these occasional trips time-saving is more valuable than the added fuel cost. But, it is well worth driving at 60 miles per hour on our routine trips.

What do you save by driving at 60 miles per hour? You can assume that each 5 mph will cost you an additional $0.30 cents per gallon for gas.

(Speed vs. MPG relationship varies among different vehicles. Preliminary results from current Oak Ridge National Laboratory study show a 3–5 mpg drop per 10 mph increase over 50 mph. On average, light-duty vehicles typically reach optimal fuel efficiency at speeds between 30 mph and 50 mph.)

Please don’t be adamant that you drive at 60 miles per hour in school zones to save gas. It is against the law.

My last tip is to remove all the junk from the trunk. Also avoid loading people just because you have empty seats. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle will cut your fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

Again, don’t try to save fuel by making your spouse or partner stay at home all the time. It will cost you more than what you save on fuel.

I did an experiment with my car. I drive twice week to University of Nevada, Reno. This is a 35 miles trip from my home mostly on highways. Before the experiment, my average gas mileage was 23 miles per gallon. I started driving at about 63 miles per hour on US 395 highway (soon to be I-580) in Washoe valley and in South Reno. My gas mileage became 26. That is more than 10% savings. Also I timed my trips with a stop watch on my cell phone. It takes only three more minutes.

Please visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/, http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/ and http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy for more information on fuel savings.

All I ask you is to try these ideas. If you think that you are too rich and these savings are not worth, no problem. Just go back to your old driving habits.

Bicycle and Me

I grew up with bicycles in Sri Lanka. I had an Indian made Hero Bicycle. That was probably the cheapest make available in Sri Lanka at that time. It cost about one-third the price of the Japanese made Asia bicycle. My Hero was my personal vehicle until I moved to Kandy for my Engineering studies. Later on I moved to Reno as a graduate student. During this time I got a bicycle for free from one of my friends. I rode it for a few months, but somebody has stolen that bicycle from my apartment. Four years ago, I bought a Schwinn bicycle. I still use it for work commute or recreation ride.

The first bicycle to our home was an English-made Raleigh bicycle. My father bought this bicycle in the 1960s and rode it for a few years until he bought a car. I don’t remember him using his bicycle as the primary vehicle. By the time I grew up and started remember the events; he had a Hillman car and a Yamaha 125 Motor cycle. The Raleigh bicycle was passed on to my elder brother. He reconditioned the bicycle and used it as his primary transportation mode until he left home for his medical studies. I don’t remember what happened to this bicycle after he left home.

Then my parents bought a bicycle for me when I was about to start grade 6 at school. I got this bicycle as a present for passing the Hartley College entrance exam. Until that time I took bus to school and walked to my tuition classes and other needs. This bicycle does not have gear. That was same for most other bicycles in Sri Lanka at that time. My cousin had a 3 gear bicycle. That was the only bicycle that had gears as far as I remember.

A year after I got my bicycle, my parents bought a bicycle for my younger brother. It was a Japanese made Lumala bicycle. This was his primary vehicle until he moved to Colombo for his Engineering studies. I don’t know what happened to this bicycle after he left for Colombo.

The last time, I saw my bicycle, was when I visited to my home town in 2004. My uncle was using that bicycle. It was rusty but still served the purpose. I don’t know whether it is still in use or scrapped for metal.

May is the national bicycle month.

Bike-to-Work Week

It is that time of the year. Yes! May 14-18, 2012 is the bike-to-work week. Organizations in Carson City compete with each other on the number of trips, miles, and percent participation of their employees’ bicycle rides. NDOT was the winner for the last two years in trips and miles categories. I could not take part in this competition during the last three years as I lived about 43 miles from my NDOT office until end of May 2011. Bike to work was not an option at all. I am in this year. Now, I live only 2.5 miles from my office.

I have an interesting memory to share with you all. I bought a bicycle in March 2008 and started riding it along Pyramid Highway. I wanted to re-build my bicycling skills so that I can ride my bicycle to work during the bike-to-work week. It looks silly, but it is not. My, then, workplace was 13 miles away. You guess!!! I have to ride 26 miles a day. Also Reno-Sparks is not a flat terrain area. I have to climb up and go down on the slopes.

It was the bike to work week of 2008 and I started riding the bicycle to work. I wore my regular work attire. I had a side picket on my pants and I kept my keys there. I think, on the last day, while riding the bicycle, I lost my keys. After I came home only I realized it. I was so tired and not in a mood to go and search. I had a house key hidden outside in the backyard. I was able to get into the house. But I could not find the spare key of my vehicle. On the next day, I was supposed to go to Dr Fernandez and Queency acca’s house for dinner. I called them and let them know my plight. They graciously offered their car temporarily until I find the spare key of my car.

On the next day I got a call from Washoe County Library. They said that my keys are with them. I didn’t take much time to figure it out. I was a member of the library and I had the library tag with my keys. Some good Samaritans found the keys on the roadside. They noticed the library tag and handed the keys over to the library. They library folks scanned the tag found my phone number. This is one of the instances I feel lucky in my life. I went to the library, got the keys, and then returned Dr. Fernandez’s car. I continued bicycling to work 2-3 times a week until the end of the summer.

Check these pictures out. Portland people also celebrate the bike to work week in an interesting way. You won’t be bored. I guarantee it.

Bicycling in Carson City

My presentation at the Carson Communicators Toastmasters club

Bicycling in Carson City

Civil Engineers in Military

Civil Engineering is one of the oldest engineering disciplines. It got its name to distinguish itself from military engineering. By looking at the names, we may think that military engineering involves with military and civil engineering is related to non military civilian work. But many civil engineers are part of military and worked in war zones and military bases with various capacities throughout the years.

United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACoE) is a military organization where many civil engineers serve. USACoE involve both in military construction and civilian public work projects that are strategically vital. Most of the Major dams, locks and hydro-electric facilities in the country are managed by the USACoE. It also involves in water navigation systems, flood control and levees, coastal preservation, and environment protection. It is interesting to note that USACoE was established in June 1775, a year before the declaration of independence. General George Washington felt the need for such organization for the country to be formed.

Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) is an engineering section of US Navy that got engineers, architects and Seabees. CEC’s existence can be traced back to 1827 though it was not officially established at that time. Seabees are the construction battalions of US navy. The name Seabees came from the initials of construction battalion (CB). Seabees were established during the Second World War time to support the US military in all continents. They build roads, bridges, air stripes, hospitals, and warehouses etc for military and civilians.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency (AFCESA) and Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE) are part of US Air Force. AFCESA supports all major commands to ensure that Air Force civil engineers are organized, trained, and equipped so they can deploy rapidly and efficiently during a time of crisis. AFCEE provides a full range of technical and professional services to the Air Force community in areas related to environmental restoration, pollution prevention, environmental planning, design and construction management, and comprehensive planning and design.

The above are a few civil engineering organizations and their roles in the military. In general, engineers play a major role in the military from research, design, modeling and simulation to maintenance of military vessels, equipment and armory.

Traffic Fatalities and Medical Marijuana Laws

I would like to start saying that I am not going to discuss whether medical marijuana should be legalized or not. So far, sixteen States and Washington DC enacted medical marijuana laws. California pioneered the law in 1996. As of now, Delaware is the latest state adopted the trend in their 2011 legislation. Nevada voters approved medical marijuana laws in the 2000 election and it became law in 2001. Another six states are struggling with pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

IZA is an independent economic research organization based in Germany. They released a study report on the impact on traffic fatalities by medical marijuana laws. Why Traffic fatalities???? In the United States, traffic fatality is the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5 through 34. Two university professors D. Mark Anderson from Montana State University and Daniel I. Rees from University of Colorado, Denver led the study. They got the highway accident death data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The findings were interesting. Legalization is associated with a 7.8 percent decrease in the Weekday traffic fatality rate. In comparison, it is associated with a 9.5 percent decrease in the weekend traffic fatality rate. Also, Legalization is associated with a 6.8 percent decrease in the daytime traffic fatality rate. In comparison, it is associated with a 10.1 percent decrease in the nighttime traffic fatality rate. We all know alcohols consumption peaks at nights and weekends compare to daytime and weekdays.

OK!!! It looks that medical marijuana laws serve the States and their people better. In fact, this law leads to reduction in alcohol consumption and increase in pot smoking. When the young age people are drunk, they still have the false confidence that they can drive and finally they end up in a fatal accident. When those people are intoxicated with marijuana, they don’t even have the ability to walk to the car thus stay where ever they are. That is the reason for less fatal accidents on the roads.

Happy holidays to you all. Don’t drink and drive.

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