Fuzzy Skies: New Year’s resolutions; a motoring question

By Jim Russell

Jim Russell shares some light-hearted thoughts in this column.

Happy New Year: Last year, my one-verb resolution was “shine.” After my morning prayers, I’d silently sing, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” I sang it in perfect pitch and rhythm, raising my body with a spirit eager to immerse itself in the vibrant lives and events of the coming day. My little light shone.

This is embarrassing to write, incidentally, because only one person commented on “shine.” He didn’t say he noticed a difference, just that he remembered it from my email signature.

I just checked statisticbrain.com: Only eight out of 100 people who make New Year’s resolutions are successful in achieving them. If I didn’t achieve mine, am I in good company?

Admittedly, I don’t follow my spiritual path every morning. Too often, I wake up frustrated because I couldn’t sleep longer, or be rushed because I have more important things to do than rejoice and shine. At times I wonder if I’ve even felt God’s presence shining through me that day.

Needing to feel closer to God reminded me of the hymn that comforted dad and us in his final days, “Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus, is my plea…”

Once I had my song, I found synonyms for “closer” like “abut,” “clinch” and a noun, “deathblow.” I’d wandered into the wrong word world. What feels challenging is “witness.” Witnessing for me and witnessing inspiring stories of others.

If witnessing makes me feel closer, I could claim success.

Really, even if no one notices?

Help me solve a Fuzzy puzzle: Why has gas mileage on our 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid dropped from 40 mpg in January 2014 to 30 mpg for the last three months? Here are the facts:

After we bought Karen a new car at the end of 2013, I started driving the Civic. The speedometer said the car averaged 34 mpg even though Honda advertised we should get 40-45 mpg. I focused on increasing the mileage by driving slower, slowing down earlier, braking to turn on auto stop at street lights, feathering the gas pedal so the battery assisted more often and changing other driving habits that irritated drivers behind me. Ignoring them, I reached a range of 39 to 41 mpg within a month.

Mileage dropped last summer as the engine ran hotter and I used air conditioning. The average continued to drop until it stabilized at 29 to 31 mpg. Here are reasons I’ve eliminated:

The dealer tested the car to see if it idled too fast, didn’t go into auto stop, had an undisclosed warning about a problem, or if there were notices from Honda about mileage problems. The floor mat is not pressing the pedal down. I’ve been irritating other drivers with extreme economical driving.

New tires aren’t the problem. I replaced the original tires in 2012 with ones the dealer confirmed matched the original tires. Air pressure has remained at recommended levels. I filled the tank with premium Exxon gasoline and nothing changed except I paid more than usual.

Possible explanations are measurement error by the car computer or a faulty check light that should be warning about a problem. I plan to refill the tank when it’s almost empty and calculate the mileage myself.

Please send ideas I may be overlooking. Or an offer to buy the car.