Now, however, I want to report something positive that Prairiewolf is doing - he bought a ScanGauge II and installed it on his car. This is a gauge that monitors instantly and constantly what your fuel use is, in miles/gallon. It is also capable of showing several other parameters, including engine load, actual speed and so forth.
The little rectangular box with white buttons that you see over the steering wheel, on the left side of the gauges, is the gauge that Prairiewolf installed on his car. It apparently took approximately 5 minutes and was very easy.
Before I report his results from driving with the new gauge, you need to understand that he has been checking in on the "hypermiling" sites and learning tricks for increasing his fuel mileage for about a year now. He's definitely been able to get at least 1-2 mpg more using just tips he learned from those sites, but he wanted to do an even better job.
Prairiewolf drives a 5 speed manual transmission, 4 cylinder 2002 Toyota Camry with over 100,000 miles on it. For this last year, while he's been learning the hypermiling tricks, he's been averaging about 31 mpg. Using the gauge, he boosted that to 35.2 mpg! More than a 10% increase in fuel efficiency! He can actually see the difference in the miles he's able to travel before needing to fill up.
My response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf has been to try to curtail the driving I do, but I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to consistently cut out even 10% of what I normally do, since I already have tried to avoid too much unnecessary driving for an entire laundry list of reasons.
So I'm proud of Prairiewolf and excited that we can help decrease our dependence on oil, even if it's just in a little, tiny way. I consider it a step in the right direction.
I'd love to see our country pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and lead the world in constructive, energy efficient, "clean" solutions, but that may be a bit like hoping that the tooth fairy will come. Meanwhile, I'm trying to balance living my life fully with learning to live "lighter". Wish me luck!