A Gallon a Day

Today I got an e-mail from Microsoft to fill out a survey for their Commute program. I don’t participate in it, I’m that guy who drives alone in the car each way. But, when I got done, it made me think about what would the benefit be if I took the bus? So, I started doing numbers:

  • Number of trips per month (each way): 46
  • Total millage (each way): ~11mi
  • Average MPG: 22
  • Last price paid for gas: $3.49/gal

After taking a look at that, I roughly estimate that I burn one gallon of gas each day commuting to and from work. That translates to at the most (at least currently) about $3.49 total round trip gas cost.

Next, I went to visit Sound Transit’s website. The ST545 route comes very often and drops off riders right at the 40th street off ramp at Microsoft. The cost of that route is $2.50 each way since it is a two zone trip. So, that would cost $5/day instead of ~$3.49/day. On top of that, I am not close enough to walk to the Montlake bus stop to catch this bus. I have two real options to get to that stop:

  1. Drive near the stop and look for free parking then walk to the stop.
  2. Catch the 25, which only comes every 30min, and get off at Montlake

Between the two above options, the 1st is the more plausible option. There is ample street parking near the bus stop and it would be a short walk to catch the bus. In addition, when I got home, I could get right into my car and drive home instead of waiting for another bus. The downside is that I don’t really gain much time here. I have to wait for the bus for about the same amount of time I’d be waiting in my car to enter 520. Then, once on 520 I have the advantage since my next stop is my parking space at my office instead of being dropped off by the bus at the 40th Street on ramp.

On the way home, things get more complicated. I don’t leave at the same time every day. I sometimes leave at 5pm, sometimes later. If I am leaving at 5pm, there is probably a benefit of taking the bus since it can utilize the HOV lane the entire way up until the bridge. What that time savings is, I don’t know. I would imagine that it is probably about 10 min or so, but I’m just guessing. Again, when I get off the bus, I can either catch another, or walk to my parked car and drive home.

After thinking about all of this, it just doesn’t make sense for me to take the bus. I wish it did, but I can’t seem to find a good reason to make it work for me. Granted, taking one car off the road should be reason enough, but it just doesn’t make sense for me and what I do. I’d be paying more to ride the bus and traveling between meetings would be more difficult since I have more dependencies on external transportation services. This means I spend more time traveling and less time working.

Anyways, I thought it was interesting to see the differences between riding the bus and driving alone. Does that mean then that I’d be willing to pay up to $5 for a gallon of gas? Sadly, probably.

Morning Rain

I don’t know what it was about this morning, but it was pouring really hard. The last time it was raining that hard was sometime last week and even then I said the same thing, “Wow! It’s really raining out.” Not that is should be a surprise that it is raining in Seattle, but the rate at which it was raining was not typical.

In other morning news, I saw my first rear end collision on 520 this morning. We were about to get onto the western part of the bridge and the traffic in the lane next to me came to a stop. It wasn’t a sudden stop, it was a stop like any other congested morning traffic stop. But, out of my left side mirror I saw a car accelerating into the stopped cars. Then I heard some squeals from the breaks and the sound of sliding tires on the asphalt. It was about the time that I looked out my driver side door that the car rear ended the car directly to the left of me.

From the way it sounded and what I saw, it was more of a tap than complete destruction of the back end of the car. Things looked OK, but who knows. The cars tried to pull of to the side of the road to inspect the damage, get insurance info, etc… but we were at the point of the bridge where there is no shoulder, so they waited it out until the other side of the bridge.

Regardless, that was the first time I’ve been that close to an accident like that. When I saw the situation evolving, I was telling myself “that car is going to rear end the car next to me.” About the time that thought crossed my mind it was all over. Crazy how fast stuff like that happens.

Whaddya Mean You Can’t See Me Stop?

Last Friday after heading home a little early from work (five solid hours of meetings proves to make one useless afterwards), I headed to get my oil changed. During the safety inspection of my car, they noticed that none of my break lights worked. Not even the LED break light. This is a huge problem and I was completely un-aware of it.

After my oil change, I headed home and called University VW to see when the earliest would be that I could get my car in for service. They said that I should bring it in right now (Friday 4:30pm) and that they’d take a look at it. When looking at my car they figure that it’s not the bulbs since the LED break light is out too, and that should never go out. They think that there’s something wrong with the electrical stuff that is causing the break lights to not illuminate.

What’s interesting is that for the past couple of weeks, when I first hit my break, I get some indicator lights that appear in my dash. I never thought that they’d be causing my break lights to not work. But, here we are, my car is in the shop and I’ve been “that guy” on the road without break lights. I’m just glad that I’ve not been rear ended.

Update: My car is fixed and I can pick it up this evening. Woo!

Amazon Price Protection

So, you just bought that new gadget, but you want to make sure you got the best price. Well if you by from Amazon.com, I might have a solution for you.

Having recently spent a tidy sum on items from Amazon, I wanted to make sure that I was getting the best price I could. Some credit cards offer up price protection polices that guarantee that you’ll get the lowest price if you find one within 30 days of purchase. Well, Amazon.com is no different. OK, they are a little different in that they don’t advertise that they price match… on their own site. Wha? How’s this work? Follow along…

  1. Buy your item on Amazon.com.
  2. Use a service like Price Protectr to track the price of your item.
  3. When you’re notified of a price change, head to Amazon.com’s refund page. Be sure to click the “By e-mail” link on the right. And file a request for a refund.
  4. Sit and wait for the refund to be credited back to your method of purchase (Ex: credit card)

Note: Marketplace, affiliates of Amazon.com, or any other non-Amazon.com seller will not support price protection. So, try it at your own risk.
Note #2: You can’t price match, say, Best Buy against Amazon.com. Only Amazon to Amazon.

This is really simple to do and it works too. In your refund e-mail state that the price has dropped and that you would like a refund for the difference. I think my mail was a sentence or two; not long. After I sent in my request I heard back in about a day and was credited shortly there after. The best part about this is that you can keep doing this to the same item over and over if the price keeps dropping. Just stay on top of it and make sure you are getting the best price you can within your 30 days of purchase.

Neat, huh?

See what I’ve shared

I’ve been a big fan of Google Reader since I read about it a while back. One of the cool features of Google Reader is that I can share items with the world. If you’d like to see what I’m sharing, you can see my shared items by clicking the following link: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/02438335016718417319 If you’re into the syndication thing, there’s a feed available to subscribe to what I’m sharing as well. Pretty neat if you ask me.