A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 18 October 2013

Hooptedoodle #103 – Saving the Planet – once again

My new car is not so new now, but I am still very pleased with the fuel economy compared with its predecessor. Like a lot of modern, “intelligent” cars, it has a display on the dashboard of how many miles it estimates you have left in the tank.

Now I know how this works – a sensor detects how much fuel is left, and a computer program works out your current rate of consumption based on the fuel metering, one number is divided by the other and there’s your answer.

It’s a funny thing. I know how meaningless is the instantaneous read-out, but it can have a most positive psychological effect. This morning I drove into the village, cruised fairly gently down to the station carpark, did my messages and drove gently back – Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations on the stereo and everything very mellow.

The mellowest bit of all was that the “miles before refuel” reading was 130 miles when I started off, but was up to 150 miles when I got back. What a brilliant feeling that gives you! – somehow, I’ve gained something for nothing. It’s almost as though someone has sneaked some additional fuel (free of charge!) into the tank while I was out.

I’m all in favour of this – however stupid it might be, it really feels like an achievement to have gained those extra miles, to have cheated the oil companies. I like it.

When I was a kid we had a standing joke about finding a circular bicycle route which was downhill all the way round. We knew it wasn’t possible, but it was a fun idea. This is somehow related – we could try to imagine driving gently enough so that we never needed to fill the tank again.

I’m working on it.


  1. This is the best (and funniest) thing I've read all day!

    Best Regards,


  2. The readout must have been designed by the chap that does the downloading bars for Microsoft.

  3. It's also fun to switch these things to MPG. I got up to 999 mpg when it ran out of digits once going downhill somehwere in the Surrey hills once. I could have gone to the South of France on 1 gallon of petrol.

  4. My car, a 1977 VW Beetle called Boris, has an even more special power - if I drive uphill I have a whole quarter of a tank more fuel than on the straight and level!

  5. A most enjoyable read as always :-)