100000: Thoughts

In late May of 2006, I took a picture of our new car’s odometer, because it amused me.

The Odometer of the Beast.

The car had 12 miles on it when we bought it; it took us approximately two months to put 654 miles on it.

No, we really didn’t drive much then.

Heck, it took us more than a month to get to the point where we had to fill the gas tank.

A couple of days ago, I took another picture of the odometer*.

* Journalistic integrity compels me to admit that the photo has been doctored. As I write this, we’re a couple of days short of actually hitting that mark. But since we spent yesterday sitting around while the car got its hundred thousand mile service, we fully expect it to pass the milestone without trouble.

Elapsed time from Photo 1 to Photo 2: sixteen years, one month, and two days. Clearly, we drive rather more nowadays than we did back then.

That first fill-up in April of 2006 cost exactly $29 at $2.759 a gallon. Sixteen years and two days later, we gassed up for a mere $62.70. Admittedly, it took an additional half gallon, but it was the pump charging $5.599 that did us in.

The good news is that we’re still getting excellent mileage. Better than 34 MPG in each fill-up this year, and the overall mileage since Day One is a solid 29.34.

The car (a 2006 Corolla, by the way) has served us well, and will likely continue to do so.

And, yet.

I look at the price of gas and the cost of regular maintenance, and I keep thinking “Shouldn’t we go electric?”

I feel disloyal. But what we’ve spent on the car–not including insurance–so far this year would be a decent down-payment on a new car. I’m not eager to commit to five years of payments, but if those payments are less than what we’re spending now…

An Odd Anniversary

Some of you may already be aware that I have several compulsive behavior patterns. I’m a hoarder, for example. Need a cable for some computer gadget that hasn’t been made in a decade? If I ever owned the gadget, I probably still have it and its cable. I may not be able to figure out which box it’s in, but I’ve got it.

I have e-mails going back to 2002 (essentially, everything since I converted my main computer from Windows to Linux). And I’ve got text files going back to 1991, roughly when I was moving from an aging Atari ST to DOS. Note, however, that the ST is still around here somewhere–as is its external hard drive. The monitor, on the other hand, gave up the ghost in, if memory serves, 2004.

When I learn about a band I like, I’ll probably buy as much of the back catalog as I can find, not just the latest–I do the same thing with authors. And, more to the point, I’ll keep them. I may not listen to the CDs any more (or read the books), but I won’t get rid of them. Heck, there’s a box of books out in the garage; they’re all duplicate copies, and they’re showing no signs of going to the used book store.

My compulsions go beyond physical objects. I count stairs* and sneezes.

* No, I’ve never found a staircase with a different number going up than when going down. Hasn’t stopped me from making sure.

And I track things. When I started this writing gig, it took me a while to figure out that blog posts advising new writers to track where they had submitted stories were serious advice. I had set up a spreadsheet to do that before I had even written the first story. Doesn’t everyone? Apparently not.

And–finally coming to the crux of this post–I also have a spreadsheet tracking every single time Maggie and I have put gas in the car since we bought it.

I had the spreadsheet open earlier today and noticed that it’s the tenth anniversary of the very first fill-up. Nice to know we celebrated by filling it again.

Over ten years, we’ve averaged 27.35 miles per gallon. The average fill-up has been 10.55 gallons and $35.21*. Put another way, we’ve driven 8.20 miles for every dollar we’ve spent on gas.

* For those of you outside of California, gas prices here run higher than the national average. We keep hoping the refinery on the other side of town will open a factory seconds outlet store, but so far, no such luck.

Mind you, none of this information is of any particular use. I can see that we’ve lost just over one mile per gallon comparing the most recent ten fill-ups to the first ten. But is that significant? Damned if I know. I suppose I should really compare those first ten fill-ups to the next ten to better control for environmental variations (temperatures after April are noticeably warmer than before, for example.) But that’s beside the point.

Simply having the data is immensely satisfying, regardless of its utility. Knowing we’ve put $5,809.34 of gas into the car is soothing, even though I have no idea what percentage of the total cost of ownership has been–it never occurred to me to track what we’ve spent on maintenance and repairs.

I don’t have any particular point to this post, so if you were waiting for a punchline, please accept my apologies. And my thanks for sticking around for the entire ramble through my subconscious.