A little biodiesel makes my TDI a very happy car

Thanks to the Gurnee Fuel Stop, I have biodiesel in the tank again! My car runs much more quietly and smoothly on any ratio of biodiesel to petro-diesel. As the Fuel Stop appears to be the closest place I can get biodiesel without finding out how to enter a local co-op, it may be in my best interests to make it a habit of visiting my future in-laws at least once every two months or so. We can take I-94 down to scenic Chicagoland and then take the more leisurely Highway 41 back up north and pop in the Fuel Station for a quick fill. That works for me!

(And if anyone in the Milwaukee area is willing to help me get biodiesel more locally, let’s talk. I am reachable via Gmail, uid:haazah.)

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“Have you watched ‘The End of Suburbia’?” No, I haven’t, and here’s why.

An acquaintance recently asked me that very question.

“Jason, have you watched ‘The End of Suburbia‘? The focus is on Oil Depletion and the impact it will have on suburbs and ex-burbs.”

“No,” I replied. “I’ve heard of it, but my interest in seeing it is minimal, despite being a biodiesel activist. I know that makes me a Bad Liberal, but I hardly have time to watch non-depressing movies as it is.”
That got an adequate chuckle, so I continued.
“Though I support and agree with most everything that they’re saying, I’m not actually all that on board with the Peak Oil crowd. I feel we need to be more concerned with rebuilding our cities (right now!) to handle the future waves of suburban immigration. It’s already starting to some extent here in Milwaukee, and a very far-flung exurban development is actually probably the first sign that the ‘End of Suburbia’ is neigh.”
What should I do? How much more can I do? I already drive a Volkswagen Jetta TDi, which is one of the most fuel efficient vehicles available to consumers. During the spring summer and fall, I bike as much as possible. Although my attempt at starting a biodiesel co-op fell through in the end, I’m very busy with local gardening and urban farming groups. I take the bus more than I used to, and sometimes, I have to drive. Or I just want to. I know damn well what can happen while on the road, but I take that risk into account each time, often subconsciously more than not. And I know I’m using valuable resources that cannot be replenished blah blah blah. But really. How much can one guy do? Yes, a lot. So I do what I can. And then some. No, I haven’t seen everything that’s out there, and I don’t want to. End of rant.

I-94 is completely open again

Thank goodness. I’m glad that this major thoroughfare is open and that it’s been deemed safe. Here’s the latest WisDOT closed road map:

WisDOT closed road map on June 27

Compare this to the June 14 map:

WisDOT closed roads on June 14

Much better, eh? The other effect that I-94 westbound in Jefferson County being closed was that it made me take I-43, which offers a more relaxed pace of travel. That in turn allowed me to take this picture of my car’s dashboard:

401.1 miles on about half a tank of fuel. Danke, mein TDI!

I’d driven 401.1 miles on about half a tank of fuel. Danke, mein TDI! Unfortunately, the car always seems to go through fuel faster on the second half-tank, and in the end my total miles were just under 650 miles from about 13.5 gallons of fuel, which makes for right around 48 MPG. Not bad. With diesel up to ~$4.60/gallon, and commercial biodiesel even higher, I need every efficient mile I can get.

Get yer gas today; the cost may jump on Monday

While we enjoyed the price of gas briefly slipping below $4.00/gal for 87 octane gas, it may be short-lived. Many news outlets, including the Toronto Star, discussed the price of oil jumping to $139 per barrel. So the gas today may be a lot more tomorrow, Sunday, or on Monday.

According to the Star,

The US$11 a barrel surge on energy markets came after brokerage giant Morgan Stanley predicted prices would hit $150 by the U.S. Fourth of July and a further weakening in the U.S. dollar, the currency of the global oil trade.

While I do not drive a gas car, and as such am not terribly affected by the cost of gasoline, the cost of diesel fuel has been higher than the cost of gasoline for months now. While my car, a Volkswagen Jetta TDI, gets over 45 (forty-five!) miles per gallon on the highway, I still feel the pinch of $4.50+ diesel fuel.

What’s worse, and what we all pay for in the end, is that all the truck drivers have to pay the same amount, meaning their big rigs, which are lucky to get 8 MPG, can easily burn through hundreds of dollars of diesel fuel per week. My buddy Kent has worked as a truck driver for the last few years, but he learned about two days ago that he was getting laid off — entirely because of the cost of fuel. Way to keep the price of oil down there, George!

Hello, Hello, I’m Back Again

Blogging has changed a lot since 1996, when I first started with it. For one, the word “blog” didn’t exist back then. For second, blogs weren’t yet mastered by anyone but geeks and techies with far too much time on their hands — folks just like my buddy Kent who wrote a custom scripting engine to run my old web site, haaz.net, the domain name for which I foolishly let expire back in 2000… not my best move ever, eh?

Anyhow, it’s now 2008. Haaz.net is long gone, and I’m no longer in Madison, Wisconsin or Savannah, Georgia, the two places from where I wrote it. (archive.org has some copies of it, but that site’s down right now.) The current political scene in Wisconsin and the United States has lured me back to blogging. I’ve got the second-best domain name next to haaz.net here with haas414, left over from when I ran for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors earlier this year. I’m sure I’ll expound upon that race later. And Milwaukee politics. Among other things. I certainly couldn’t let Folkbum have all the fun!

My interests are as wide and varied as any other self-aggrandizing blogger. I’m a bit of a specialist in the history of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. I speek [sic.] so little Russian that I’m not going to try to reproduce it on here, for which I’m sure you’ll say pajalsta, tovarisch. I’m also the host of the Milwaukee of Drinking Liberally… and there’s much more to say on that later. I’m also a big advocate for diesel cars, especially the Volkswagen TDI, which gets over 48 MPG on the highway. By the way… have you heard of biodiesel?

Tomorrow, though, I’m headed down to Illinois for a homebrew biodiesel workshop in which I’ll learn how to make biodiesel from grease. Given how expensive all fuels are, that should be good to know how to do. And given that I’ll be getting up early to go there, with apoloies to Gary Glitter, I’ll sign off. All the old posts on here are from my bid for the county board. Go read them or something.