Ford Escape Hybrid

Linda and I went to test drive the Ford Escape hybrid small SUV last night. It was very nice, very similar to the Mazda Tribute 4.5 passenger SUV that I test drove a couple of years ago. The driving experience was not any different from a conventional gasoline car, but the numbers don’t really add up.

1. The sales guy told us that the hybrid technology adds about $4,500 to the sticker price and even though they had two hybrids on the lot, there is a market demand surcharge of $2,500 above sticker. Plus the conventional Escape has a rebate of $2,500. That means there is a nearly $10,000 differential between the two versions. In round numbers, the market price of the hybrid is $30K and the conventional is $20K.

2. Lets make the following assumptions

  • hybrid: 33mpg
  • conventional: 20mpg
  • gas price: $2.90/gal

3. Therefore, the gasoline costs to operate each vehicle would be:

  • hybrid: $0.088 per mile
  • conventional: $0.145 per mile

4. The gas savings with the hybrid are about 5.7 cents per mile (.145 – .088) and you would therefore need to drive the hybrid over 175,000 miles to make up the $10,000 purchase differential. (10,000/0.057 = 175,066.31)

(We are also looking at the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder)

computer hygiene

Recently I made a housecall to update and cleanup the parents’ two windows computers. Here’s the (free) tools I recommend for do-it-yourselfers. All of these are download, install and run.

To find and clean out all the tracking cookies, spyware and advertising delivery bots, run some combination of the following three programs once a month. You’ll be surprised at what they find.

I recently found this general disk cleaner. It runs and cleans out all the old temp and junk files that accumulate on your hard drives. On my work PC, it took 156 seconds to scan and find over 2.5 gig’s worth of removable files. Its which stands for ‘crap cleaner’.

All these software downloads are available in one efficient site:

7/02 Update: Warning! be sure to close your browser windows (and any other programs that might be open) when running ccleaner. There is a documented bug with Firefox if it is left open.

Snapfish photo services

I’m testing this online photo service. (recommended by the New York Times) They apparently hold my hi-res digital photos, and provide drugstore-like printing services for $.12/print (plus shipping). I’ve uploaded a few from the key largo trip, and they are available to share online, but you can’t view them in hi-resolution. If that link doesn’t work, try this one.

6/15 UPDATE: You’ll have to create an instant account at in order to see the set of photos, but its pretty painless (and brilliant marketing on their part).

6/24 UPDATE: The prints came in the mail about 5 days after ordering them, and they look great. They are printed on genuine Kodak photo paper. Shipping raises the cost to about $.18 per print.

ps. I’ve also opened an account at a while ago, and have put a handful of photos on that site. although they still seem to limit image size to 1024 pixels. They have no printing services. My photos are here.

I stitched together this larger panarama, and will be ordering a print. And I hope to see if the following embedded image references are persistent.

Here’s where they put a black border on it:

Key Largo part II

Yes, I caught some fish. Went out on the party boat Capt. Michael from Robbies Charters, and fished with spinning rods on the surface for spawning yellowtail snapper. The boat landed about 190, of which over 20 were mine. I filled the small cooler below. The boat mates fileted them for me, and Linda and I went straight to a local restaurant that fried up a batch for us. They called it the “hook and cook” special.

No comment; its Florida.

Also below is a stiched panorama of the bayside jetties; you can see our resort motel right next to the Snooks restaurant. This is the spot where Linda snapped the sunset picture earlier.

How about these matching pith helmets? All the trendy people are adopting the style!

Key Largo

The dinner date was postponed until monday night, so Linda and I came down to the keys on saturday. The weather is still pretty blustery so I cancelled my fishing charter for sunday, but I will go out on a party boat later this morning. Meanwhile, here’s some pics from our “resort”. Beautiful sunset, and we had dinner right next door at the Snooks restaurant.