Thursday, August 10, 2006

How the invisible hand works.

A lot of information is snuggled into this picture. Other owners of Ford Super Duty Pickups know that they barely perceptible characters "RBO" and "Si" in the lefthand portion of the image mean I have a turbocharger and that's only available on a Diesel.

The next bit of info is that I'm cruising down the highway at a speed in excess of 50 MPH because you can't see any of the speedometer needle. Also, this is a fairly new pickup truck, there are only 6227 miles on it. I've just barely broken it in. I'm heading north and you can see a portion of my face reflected neatly in the image. The MPG average dates back to my last fill up in Bonner MT and is mostly based on highway miles. The last 300+ miles on my pickup truck have been back and forth between where I live on I90, a Sunday afternoon drive along SR 200 to Ovando, and a jaunt from there down to Avon. The balance of it has been back and forth from work to wherever I have business in Butte and has included me "standing on it" to merge into traffic a few times.

Diesel fuel in my area has topped $3.05 a gallon, and may have gone up a bit since my last fillup over the weekend. I hate spending money on fuel as much as any of you do so my behavior has changed. I have lowered my speed. I admit to occasionally drafting "Big Rigs" to lower the drag of my 4x4 high profile moving brick that I call a truck. I move sedately and serenely through life instead of applying all that horsepower and torque.

Something I noticed this morning on the way to work. I pulled away from the house (my RV) and a car rather quickly closed the gap between me and it, I got onto the Interstate and expected an impatient motorist to quickly whip over and pass me at the first available opportunity. You see, I've been driving like this for a while being the cheapo that I am. The car didn't pass me. In fact, I was lumbering along the rural stretch of I90 (most of the stretches of road in Montana are rural) and he continued to not pass me. In fact, there were a line of vehicles stretching out for about a mile behind both of us, not passing each other. Once in a while someone would whip by at 70-80 MPH, but there were at least as many or more vehicles lumbering along the I90 at the same speed I was traveling, 58 MPH.

Later I kicked it up to about 70, catching the occasional draft as I headed for work. By then the engine was warm, all the fluids up to operating temperature and I was in the optimum operating mode for my truck. It's still at 20 MPG. As long as there is a reasonable amount of fuel being distributed at "market prices" we really don't need to worry. For the bulk of us, the invisible hand of the free market economy alters our behavior to fit circumstance. The whole point of this post is just that. When it was under $2.00, I tended to drive a little faster, and "stand on it" more often and I didn't monitor my fuel economy quite like I do now. Problem? None really, not now, not yet.

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