Friday, February 29, 2008

#183 - A False Start

Getting Even More Anal About Idling

So I've been putting together my Riot Numbers this week and was a bit dismayed to see that my gasoline consumption is exactly the same as it was in February 2007. Ugh. Of course, I didn't have two kiddos in a preschool that is located ten miles away then, but still, it's depressing.

Depressing to think about all the changes I've made to reduce my gasoline consumption without actually seeing much change in my numbers. And so, here's another change I'm gonna make in an attempt to shift those numbers down.

Here's me today getting in the car to go pick up Ethan at preschool:

I buckle Daphne in her carseat, close her door and then slide on in behind the wheel. The first thing I do is stick the key in the ignition and turn on the car. Then I grab my seatbelt, pull it around my not-so-slim waist and click it into place. I then realize that I'm experiencing some sort of scraping pain in my left eye. Internal dialogue begins:

"What the hell, man?" [remember, this is internal, so I'm not swearing in front of my 2-year-old. Trust me, the girl is a parrot, and I watch the language when she's in earshot] "Jesus on a freakin' Pop-Tart what is in my eye?!?!" I rub said eye furiously, which not only leaves me looking like an Alice Cooper impersonator, but grinds whatever foriegn object is there against my fragile cornea.

"OhmyGod, it feels like a god damn pine cone! Oouuuuuuccccchhhhhsssshhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiitttt". I rotate the rearview mirror for a closer look. There is no pinecone, but an errant lash lies teetering on the edge of my eye-rim (yeah. whatever. don't care what the technical term for that is). I pluck the eyelash and make a wish as I blow it off my fingertip. Now I'm looking at the mess I made of my mascara, but then shrug and decide I don't really care.

I put the rearview mirror back in place and do a double-check on the Dapper to make sure she's buckled, because I have the world's worst short-term memory. I plug in my cell phone to recharge, pop in a Scooby-Doo DVD and release the parking brake. I shift the 'van into reverse and head on out.

Sadly, this start is par for the course. Except the eye thing. That only happens every now and again. But it illustrates a good point: Every time I hop in the car, I start the engine before I'm ready to drive off. And if the engine is running when the tires ain't movin', I am getting exactly ZERO miles to the gallon. That's some seriously crappy fuel economy.

So from here on out, I'll be buckling up, checking the kids, adjusting mirrors, plugging in chargers, finding DVDs, releasing parking brakes and removing pinecones from my eyeballs before I start my engine.


I spend an average of five seconds per start-up just farting around. Granted, that's not much time. But how often do I start up? Let's see....

On an average weekday, I startup to take the kids to preschool. I startup when I leave preschool and head for errand #1. I startup when I leave there to hit errand #2. I startup again to hit errand #3. Then I startup again when I head out to pick up the kids from preschool. Another start to get us headed home.

Now this is assuming I've only got three stops to make on the way home and I don't take the kids anywhere after school. So for this typical day, I've got six startups of five seconds each, or 30 seconds of idling. Doesn't sound like much, does it?

Well, multiply that 30 seconds times seven days in a week and you're looking at 3.5 minutes of useless idling. In one year that adds up to over three hours of easily avoidable, positively useless idling which wastes nearly 16 gallons of gas.

Now chew on this: If all the other SAHMs and SAHDs in America that are out there shuffling their kids around adopted this change, collectively we could save over twelve and a half million gallons of gas every single year.

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

Habit. Change. Adjustment. Done.


Chile said...

Good change! That's one I'm already good about luckily. The choice between bike and car is still one I struggle with, like yesterday when it was windy and I was tired...

Do be careful of eyelashes. They can be dangerous! One day I thought I stepped on a thorn in the house. When I looked at the bottom of my big toe, I had an eyelash impaled in my toe. How the hell it managed to do that is a mystery, but my sweetie can verify that it's true.

Anonymous said...

i've recently discovered your blog. i truly love how you combine these sometimes challenging but always rewarding efforts to live more sustainably with such a robust sense of humor! my brother and i were recently discussing this idling issue. we had both read that any time you will be sitting idle for more than 30 SECONDS! it would be more economical to turn off and restart the motor. shoot! we laughed..that's most traffic lites! well, we will hardly be doing that, we might get MURDERED by the other drivers! but, it did make us much more aware of those ticking seconds starting up the car while settling in to drive, or while you "run back in for that sweater" or while waiting for the train to pass.
anyway, i'll be reading, learning and laughing along here. thanks for all the work you do on your blog and for doing your part!

leslie said...

Dang. I'm gonna pluck everyone of those deadly eyelashes from my head right now! ...ow...ow...ow...ow...ow...

This change of 'anal idling" (boy, are YOU gonna get the hits this week) is an easier one for me than turning off the water when I brush. That one is dying HARD for me. Talk about short term memory...

I so love reading you Burbanmom!
You tell us what is in your head, and I recognize the dialogue. :) Except I get to cuss out loud.

MamaBird said...

Ah, short term memory, not sure it can coexist in houses with small children. Great post! Will add it to the easy list (although my battle in our walkable urban hood is to take the stroller and get going early so i don't have to drive at all). Now to remember the cloth produce bags so I am not bobbling mushrooms and apples while paying. Love your post today, still laughing at those pinecones lurking in yr eyes.

Anonymous said...

lol, the eyelashes. so true... where do you live? if it's anywhere cold which requires the engine warming up, i would argue that driving as soon as you turn on the car would be a lot worse - it uses up more gas and it damages the car, requiring more maintenance... *shakes fist at toronto winter*

Burbanmom said...

Anonymous in Toronto, Yeah, I'm down in Virginia where it's not quite as cold and snowy! Although I'm originally from Upstate New York so I know all about those frigid Februarys!

But, you might want to check out my post about warming up the car. Although it's good for the soul, it actually doesn't matter to the car.

organicneedle said...

I thought the same thing when I saw "anal about idling." You will have to let us know what your tracker turns up for that one. My husband just installed a tracker on mine when he moved it to wordpress. I must get more creative with my titles. Who else but burbanmom could find a way to use anal and blow job in environmental chats? That is pure talent.

Gruppie Girl said...

Ugh! Cars idling is such a pet peeve of mine!

Why do the other mummies who drive the .2 miles to the bus stop have to leave their cars running? Why do the parents at nursery school leave their cars running while they bring their kids into school and get them settled? Why oh why? I don't want to breathe their extra exaust.

Gas aound here is up to $3.22/gallon. You think that would be incentive alone.

Best of luck keeping your gas consumption down!

Anonymous said...

"Jesus on a freakin' Pop-Tart what is in my eye?!?!"

Everyone else is hung up on Anal. This is the part that made me snarf my Irish whiskey just now. (You know, snarf, like when milk comes out your nose when you're a kid. This is the adult version.)

It reminded me of a line from a poem a classmate wrote when I was in college: Crucify me to a popsicle stick.

Where do you guys come up with this stuff?

leslie said...

That's funny FPF! I have become so accustomed to BMom saying things like "Jesus on a freakin' pop tart", that it just seemed so ...
You know, freakin' normal. :)
Careful with that whiskey!
It's better to drink it than snarf it :)