Laptop Named

I’ve decided to name my laptop calliope, which felt to me like it fit this little computer perfectly. This isn’t named after the music, but a Greek muse — from Wikipedia (original entry linked above):

In Greek mythology, Calliope (Greek: Καλλιoπε, beautiful-voiced) was the muse for epic poetry. She had two sons, Orpheus and Linus with Apollo. She was the oldest and wisest of the Muses. She was the judge in the argument over Adonis between Aphrodite and Persephone. She was represented by a stylus and wax tablets.

Well, I am a writer and writing tutor, after all, and much of my work involves writing, so this makes sense.

Why Buy a Prius

I’ve talked a lot about the Toyota Prius, but since many other people (most notably John Fagnant over at have already made a very strong case for the Prius, I haven’t dived into this realm of writing about the car. Indeed, most of what I’m about to say here is repeated copiously elsewhere on the web. I put it here both for my own reference and for enlightenment.

As most know, there are several hybrid cars available today: the Honda Civic, Accord, and Insight, the Ford Escape, and, of course, the Toyota Prius. Also joining the line this year through Lexus (Toyota’s luxury division) is the RX400H SUV and Toyota’s new Highlander hybrid SUV, due out in June of this year. Of these, the Toyota Prius is the most well-known, due to extensive marketing by Toyota and a fiercely loyal supporter base that has kept a number of Internet sites going (like John’s and, a massive forum for Prius owners and interested parties).

There have been a number of people who have observed that the EPA rating for the Toyota Prius at 60 miles/gallon (in city; 51MPG highway) is wildly inaccurate, but according to the EPA itself, this is an average number. The Prius’ rating is uses a ratio of “45% highway driving, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and a fuel cost of $ 1.91 per gallon” in EPA tests according to Since this is an average (and not a median) value, we can’t say anything about whether people will definitely get a higher or lower value. Average values can be incredibly misleading — for example, the average of {1, 1, 1, 1, 9} is 13/5 = 2.6, whereas the median is actually 1. The real-world experience of drivers of the Prius seems to be between 35 and 50MPG (lifetime value). It all depends on how you drive the car; either way, this is far more fuel efficient than any other unleaded model out there, most of which are lucky to make between 20 and 25MPG.

A very closely related argument to the higher fuel efficiency is the lower overall cost of ownership incurred by less frequent trips to the gas tank. The fuel tank of a Prius holds 11.9 gallons — fairly comparable to a standard car — but uses that amount of gas up much slower than other cars because of smart utilization of the electric and gas engines. Again, the rate at which drivers must fill up the car depends on how they drive it, but for the most part, driving the car does result in fewer trips to the gas station and higher return on ownership.

In addition, through 2006, there are various tax incentives for buying a hybrid. The government’s Fuel Economy web site shows the details for these. [Edit, April 3, 12:10AM: The IRS web site also has a brief notice on how to correctly file this deduction on Form 1040.]

The final reason — for many eco-conscious consumers, this car is a perfect fit with their values. My first year at Evergreen, I took a course entitled Trash, during which I became fascinated with the ideas of sustainable economics and sustainability in general. That has become a part of my own studies and interests, but has yet to have any real substantial expression in my own life. In addition, it’s a great way to help with the raging debate on climate change, and it’s a nod towards the sustainable future we seem to be headed for. That’s why I’m looking at the Prius seriously; I have always been taught to stick to my own values even when those values are questioned, and the idea of sustainability has become a value of my own.

Toyota Announces New Hybrid Pricing

Toyota has announced new prices on the Toyota Highlander hybrid and the 2005 Prius:

The base MSRP for the 4×2 Highlander Hybrid Limited will be $37,890. The Highlander Hybrid Limited with 4WD-i will carry an MSRP of $39,290.

The Highlander Hybrid will begin arriving in Toyota dealerships in June 2005.

The groundbreaking Toyota Prius midsize sedan remains the best-selling gas-electric hybrid vehicle in the United States and the world. The most fuel-efficient midsize car in America, the Hybrid Synergy Drive powered Prius delivers exceptional fuel efficiency without compromising performance, comfort and safety.

Beginning April 4, the 2005 Prius will receive an adjusted MSRP of $20,975, a slight increase of $100, or 0.5 percent.

The $100 increase in 2005 Prius models is presumably to offset the increase in production allocations for U.S. models. Seems fair to me.