Thursday, July 3, 2008

yet another goal

(Pretend like I wrote this one on July 2 lol)

My sissy posted about her gas goal on her blog, and one of my friends has set a goal for herself of 25 miles of driving a week. I was really trying to be conscious of my driving through May, when I was biking to work a couple of days a week, but I couldn't seem to get below about 150 miles/week.

The problem is not short trips -- there are definitely days that I don't drive at all, since the grocery store, pharmacy, dairy queen, park, pool, etc. are all within biking or walking distance. I'm not driving at all around the neighborhood, and I'm trying to double up trips and not drive to either end of town more than absolutely necessary.

But my sweetie lives about 20 miles away, at least for the next couple of weeks (before he moves in with us!!!! ACK!!! whole 'nother post on a whole 'nother topic!!!) and even though I make him do most of the driving back and forth, I still end up doing some. Also, any time the whole family goes out of town, I end up driving because my car seats 7 peeps, so it totally makes sense for me to be the one to drive. Otherwise we'd end up taking two or three cars, which would be way worse in terms of carbon footprint. Two boys, a mom and a snake don't need a minivan, but two boys, a mom, a grandma, a grandpa, an aunty, an aunty's boyfriend, a sweetie and his two kids sure do! And my brother and his wife are moving here this month!! So, yeah. Minivan.

And I guess we go out of town more than I thought? It's a trip to the zoo, or a trip to see relatives in the mountains, or a camping trip, or going fishing in the next town over or...none of them are super long trips, but 50 or 100 or 120 miles on the weekend really bumps up the amount of gas I'm using and the volume of emissions I'm spewing.

So 25 miles/week definitely doesn't seem like a reasonable goal for me. On the other hand, 150 miles/week seems outrageous, not to mention expensive.

During the school year, 5 days/week X 5 miles each way to work is 50 miles. I can and will definitely bike often in the spring and fall, but honestly I feel a little wimpy about it in the winter. I want the goal to be something that's actually attainable. Oh, and if I'm taking classes toward my master's, that's like 60 miles round trip. So one class a week plus driving to work puts me over 100 miles/week even if I never drove anywhere else. Crap. Maybe I need to transfer to the university in my town? I really don't want to because of the fact that the program is much better where I'm going now, and I can do it at my own pace. The university here in town has a cohort program, so I think you have to take classes with the cohort. On the other hand, I could probably get done faster without the commute, which would be a very good thing, and maybe the degree is what really matters, and even if the program isn't as good, I would still have the piece of paper that lets me be a principal, which is the ultimate goal of the whole endeavor...

Sorry, getting a little off track there. But if you've got comments on this whole university dilemma, I'd love to hear them.

Ok, back to gas and mileage...When my sweetie lives in town, that will probably be 40 miles a week that will fall off automatically. Maybe I should try for an average of 90 miles/week over the course of a month -- that way if I end up driving out of town one weekend, I could be really frugal with driving the next week, and still come out ok. I just filled up my tank yesterday, and I've already driven 23 miles, so this will definitely be a challenge...


Masasa said...

I really think it is more reasonable to look at your mileage and basically just say, "my goal is to get farther than I did last time." It can still be somewhat specific, like me and my half tank. I am going by days. I can increase the amount of time I am getting by on a half tank by just one day, and each time I do that I'll feel really good (you could do half days, even.) And when I am going through a period when I know that goal isn't realistic, I can say, "I just want to maintain exactly what I am doing" and try to avoid any increases.

Four other things:

1. For me personally, it is easier to go by where the gas needle is on different days than to keep track of mileage. Mileage requires that you actually keep track of a number some how (remembering it, writing it down, whatever). Keeping track of your gas needle doesn't require that and is already a built in part of your day (you already are periodically looking at the needle to make sure you don't get too low).

2. If a lot of the mileage you are putting in right now is because of your sweetie, I think it is okay to say, "this goal can wait a while until he gets settled here." The move will be stressful and potentially gas consuming, and it's not like you aren't doing other stuff. It sounds like this is your attitude and approach, so I just want to affirm you in it if I am correct.

3. I do think considering transferring your masters program sounds worthwhile, especially with the side benefits of getting it done faster, and I am assuming, less time away from the kids. When you say the program isn't as good, are you talking about the actual learning opportunities or reputation? If it is reputation, I think the piece of paper is really what matters...forget the rep. If it is learning opportunities, you have to ask yourself to what extent that is making a difference for you right now. Since you are an intelligent person working already in the field in which you are seeking a masters, and since you are adept at creating learning opportunities for yourself and maximizing those created by others for you, it may not be as big of a deal to transfer programs as it seems on the surface.

4. A lot of those longer trips you have to just do with you and the boys, or with you and the whole extended fam. But what if you started a collective with your friends (sort of like homeschoolers often do) for those trips to the zoo, etc. Or, if I recall, your sweetie has I guess that complicates things because if you are bringing all the kids, that fills up more seats. But, just a thought.

That said, I am NO expert. Just my two cents.

Freyja said...

Maybe when you carpool you should divide the miles by number of cars you would otherwise take. So if you and your parents and sister go to Estes, divide the miles by three and only count 1/3 toward your total?

Robin said...

I totally understand your dilemma. Reducing mileage works great, until we start bumping against those things that are already in place in our society that keeps us far away from stuff we're engaged in (in our case, our karate dojo just moved from a very bikeable 3.5 miles away to 11.5 miles away on the other side of a big freeway in a busy industrial area).

One thing I did was to make my mileage goals yearly instead of weekly or monthly. That helped me out because some months I obviously drive more than others. 8 years ago I set a goal of driving 1,000 fewer miles every year, and so far I have hit that every year. So it might not seem like a lot in that first year, but now I'm driving 8,000 fewer miles a year than I was at the start, and that's a lot! Eventually I might not be able to make this goal, but then I can just set a different one.

My motto is just to "walk in the direction you wish to be going", and if you get off the path, just find it again. Best!

Wenda said...

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