“Good-bye old Internet: Europe is down to its last IPv4 addresses”

Another nail in IPv4’s coffin. And the article’s summary says:

[…] The U.S. and Canada? Our day of reckoning comes in August 2013.

I’ve been working on my communications code library recently, upgrading it to support proxies (which is a real pain in the tail when you don’t have a proper proxy to test things on, let me tell you!). While I was in there, I added some additional IPv6 support as well. When the time comes, my programs will be ready. 🙂

…and Why Your Neighbors Should Care Too

(This is a continuation of my last two articles, here and here, on a mental health technique I discovered a few months ago.)

It used to be that your mental health didn’t matter much to most people. Your family probably cared, assuming they weren’t too screwed up to do so, as an unfortunate number of families are. Your immediate neighbors might have cared somewhat, if your particular mental problems caused you to do things that impacted them or their property values. But you couldn’t really hurt too many people; nuclear and biological weapons were out of reach to anything smaller than a major government, and obtaining more conventional military weaponry required more time, hassle, money, and contacts than most people could muster. Unless you had shady “street” friends, even the purchase of a handgun required paperwork, a background check, and a waiting period, and they’re tracked to make it a lot harder to get away with using them for nefarious ends. One of the biggest reasons for having a government and laws, and the only valid reason for having a military or police force, was to protect you from your relatives and neighbors.

That is changing. Science fiction is becoming science fact in so many areas now, and not all of them beneficial. It’s already possible to build an untraceable gun with mail-order parts and an inexpensive 3D printer. In the not-too-distant future, your local pharmacist will mix your prescriptions at your local drugstore, with a device that could be reprogrammed to create lethal poisons. Nuclear weapons might remain the provenance of governments (though increasingly smaller governments are already getting access to them), but it’s not outside the bounds of reason to believe that other presently-science-fiction technologies will be developed, such as tailored retroviruses to combat natural microbes — and if you can create a helpful retrovirus, you can just as easily create a harmful one, intentionally or through ignorance. Or even more easily re-create one from the past: as just one horrific example, the DNA sequence for the Black Plague was worked out just last year. Once such technologies have been developed, do you think they will remain beyond the reach of any well-funded organization for long, no matter what its goals might be?

At some point, the only way to protect your from your neighbors will be to ensure that both of you are sane. Society won’t be able to afford the luxury of ignoring everyone’s sanity anymore; a single person motivated by a strong anxiety, phobia, or obsession could do too much damage.

Fortunately, people are also discovering more about the human mind every day, and in the last thirty or forty years we have come up with many useful and effective techniques for dealing with its problems. Many of them are part of mainstream psychology, and can only be applied with the help of a trained psychologist or psychiatrist, but some of the most useful ones don’t need medical training:

  • The Lefkoe Belief Method deals with false beliefs held by the subconscious mind, directly at their source. It’s permanent, very fast, and apparently works for about 90% of people when used with a “facilitator” or with the aid of pre-recorded sessions, though an unknown percentage of people can use it on their own. I suspect it can be improved so that most people could be taught to use it on themselves easily, but at present it requires some effort to master. A beneficial side effect is that eliminating the underlying erroneous beliefs will instantly clear up a whole slew of problem behaviors and emotions caused by them, including ones that you didn’t realize they were responsible for. In my opinion it’s the most interesting, primarily for what it suggests about the subconscious mind.

  • The Sedona Method deals with unwanted emotions and reactions in a different way, letting you “let go” of the emotions themselves. It’s not as fast as the Lefkoe Method, because the emotions often come back later and must be dealt with again, but it’s easier to learn and use, and can be applied in a matter of seconds. Although it covers some of the same ground as the Lefkoe Method, it’s primarily a first-response approach, dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause; great when you have to deal with your emotions and reactions in real-time, but more of a band-aid than a cure.

  • I haven’t personally tried the Emotional Freedom Technique, but many people who’ve tried both say that it’s on par with the Sedona Method in speed, effectiveness, and ease of learning and use. It seems to be on the pseudoscience side of things, with “energy manipulation” and acupuncture meridians, but if it works I’m not going to dismiss it.

No one can say where this might go in the future, but if civilization survives the next couple centuries, I believe that people will demand that their governments enforce a minimum standard of mental health. We can only wonder what the world might look like after that… would a mentally healthy populace ever find enough insurmountable differences to go to war with their mentally healthy neighbors? Would they tolerate the kind of win-at-any-cost politics we’re seeing today? What would politics look like in a world where would-be politicians couldn’t play on the weaknesses and fears of their constituents? The only thing certain is that such a world would look very different from anything that’s come before.

When I started planning this article, I was strongly reminded of a passage from an early part of The Uplift War by science fiction author David Brin. To set the scene, a young man named Robert has been injured, and a similarly-aged humanoid alien called Athaclena is the only intelligent being around who can help him. Athaclena’s race is partially telepathic, so she tries to help him that way, and finds herself in a world of metaphor:

His metaphorical self took shape alongside her in the little boat, holding another oar. It seemed to be the way of things, at this level, that he did not even ask how he came to be there.

Together they cast off through the flood of pain, the torrent from his broken arm. They had to row through a swirling cloud of agones, which struck and bit at them like swarms of vampire bugs. There were obstacles, snags, and eddies where strange voices muttered sullenly out of dark depths.

Finally they came to a pool, the center of the problem. At its bottom lay the gestalt image of an iron grating set in a stony floor. Horrible debris obstructed the drain.

Robert quailed back in alarm. Athaclena knew that these had to be emotion-laden memories — their fearsomeness given shape in teeth and claws and bloated, awful faces. How could humans let such clutter accumulate? She was dazed and more than a little frightened by the ugly, animate wreckage.

“They’re called neuroses,” spoke Robert’s inner voice. He knew what they were “looking” at and was fighting a terror far worse than hers. “I’d forgotten so many of these things! I had no idea they were still here.”

Robert stared at his enemies below — and Athaclena saw that many of the faces below were warped, angry versions of his own.

“This is my job now, Clenny. We learned long before Contact that there is only one way to deal with a mess like this. Truth is the only weapon that works.”

The boat rocked as Robert’s metaphoric self turned and dove into the molten pool of pain.


Froth rose. The tiny craft began to buck and heave, forcing her to hold tightly to the rim of the strange usunltlan. Bright, awful hurt sprayed on all sides. And down near the grating a terrific struggle was taking place. […]

Contact narrowed, then broke. The metaphorical images ceased abruptly. Athacleana blinked rapidly, in a daze. She knelt on the soft ground. Robert held her hand, breathing through clenched teeth.

“Had to stop you, Clennie… That was dangerous for you…”

“But you are in such pain!”

He shook his head. “You showed me where the block was. I… I can take care of that neurotic garbage now that I know it’s there… at least well enough for now. […]

I really like the implication that in Brin’s imagined future, mental health practices are part of every schoolchild’s normal curriculum.

…and Why You Should Care…

(This is a continuation of my last article, on a mental health technique I discovered a few months ago. It’s not the “much larger side” that I mentioned at the end of that post though; that will posted as a third part, soon.)

It may sound strange that I’m talking about getting rid of beliefs. Some of the beliefs I mentioned, for instance, are patently ridiculous — “life is hard” is logically meaningless, “happiness hurts” is utter nonsense, and others I’ve discovered were true at one time but haven’t been for decades. But the human mind seems to be more like a computer than most people have imagined… once a belief program is running in your head, it generally stays running. Many beliefs are self-sustaining — once you’ve got them, and start reacting as if they were true, your mind will get plenty of evidence that they are true. At that point you can’t get rid of them by the same route you adopted them, even if the situations that led you to that conclusion no longer apply, or the conclusion itself was wrong.

In other words, you can believe something that you consciously know is wrong or outright ridiculous. You can even know what the belief is and where it came from, without that knowledge having any effect on the belief itself, or the way you react to it. Once your subconscious mind has adopted a belief, the only way to eliminate it is to prove, in a way that the subconscious mind will accept, that the things that led it to that belief are no longer true, or never were.

To make the situation worse, your subconscious mind doesn’t respond to the same forms of logic that your conscious mind does. That’s why it can believe something that your conscious mind knows is wrong or ridiculous.

And the final crap condiment on this turd sandwich is that many of the most damaging false beliefs, including most of the ones relating to self-esteem, are formed before the age of six, when you don’t have the knowledge or experience to see the real reasons for things.

The thing is, you can get rid of false beliefs, permanently. You just have to know the general outline of the experiences that caused you to form the belief, and how to show your subconscious that your original conclusions about them were mistaken or no longer apply. The Lefkoe Belief Method provides the latter, and those who practice it have an arsenal of methods to locate the former as well. The results are comparable to those of one of the best treatment methods known to mainstream psychology today (Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT), but this method provides those results in far less time (it only takes about half an hour per belief).

I’m not medically qualified to say this, but I suspect that many (perhaps even most) depression and anxiety disorders could be permanently solved using this method, and likely several other conditions as well. When you see how and how often these problematic beliefs are formed, and the effects — everything from subtle to catastrophic — they can have on a person’s life, you’ll start to understand why I think this will eventually be used by most practitioners of psychology. It has been subjected to three scientific studies to date, and its proven success suggests that the model of the mind it offers is not only true, but is at the root of many of the problems we have, both as individuals and as a race.

As I mentioned at the end of the first part, there’s a larger subject hiding behind all this as well. I plan to write about that next.

Your Mental Health…

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably remember my big discovery about myself last year. This article continues the theme, though it has nothing to do with the earlier entries.

I’ve always thought that I was as mentally healthy as the next person. “Well adjusted” is the term commonly used. I had some problems as a child, but I’d pretty much overcome them; the few that remained were normal, everyone had them to some extent.

I was wrong.

As in so many areas, you don’t realize how ill you are until you start getting better. For me, that began when I tried out the Lefkoe Belief Method.

I was naturally skeptical about it at first. I’ve tried all sorts of things; I’m a connoisseur of self-improvement systems. Most legitimate self-improvement systems only seem to work for a few people (and there’s enough on that subject to make it its own article, which I’ll probably get around to writing some day). Some aren’t legitimate at all, but are nothing more than aggressively-marketed scams. I know the tricks that such scammers use to reel in the gullible; I’ve been the gullible, and learned the hard way. The aforementioned website used most of those same techniques, and like the scams, the system seemed to be far too simple to have any chance of actually working. But it was recommended to me by someone whose judgement I trust, so I gave it a shot by buying the book and trying it out.

To my shock, it worked as advertised. The beliefs I identified and chose to elminate seemed to be gone after a single session apiece (I used my journal, rather than talking with another person, but it worked for me). I couldn’t always tell at first, but after a few hours I would come back to probe the belief again, and almost always found that I felt noticeably different about it (I had to do a few a second time before they vanished). Better yet, after a few of them, I saw a noticeable improvement in my overall happiness and energy.

This wasn’t my first rodeo though. I’ve experienced such improvements before, and they’ve all been short-lived — after a few days, I was emotionally right back where I started. The proof would be in whether it lasted.

It did.

After a couple weeks, I was cautiously optimistic. It wasn’t euphoria, but I felt as happy as I ever generally had, and more consistently, and it wasn’t wearing off after a few days like it always had before! Time to dig into this further.

According to the author, few people make it out of childhood without at least a few self-esteem-destroying beliefs. I was very surprised to find that I had most of the ones he listed on that page — I thought my self-esteem was perfectly normal. I tried out the “free taste” that they offered, and discovered that the audio/video format seemed to work at least as well as my journal method for me, so I decided to buy the “Natural Confidence” program.

There are twenty-four sessions in the program. They’re very repetitive, so I could only manage to get through one or two a day, but I kept at it. And I saw some definite and major changes along the way.

I’ve always been a very private person. In my youth, people would read what I’d written or take words that I’d spoken and mock me for them, so I quickly learned to hide my thoughts and feelings except where I deliberately chose to share them in a context I felt safe (like on this blog). While I was doing the ninth session, GoddessJ walked into the office, and I immediately put it on headphones and started whispering my comments (I’d have done them all in my head, but you’re supposed to answer aloud to make the system work.) But when I was doing the fifteenth session a few days later, she walked in again… and I had no urge to hide it! I don’t know what beliefs were responsible for that, but they must have been eliminated between those two sessions.

(I could also never before leave the house in shorts, for reasons I’ve never really understood. No matter how hot it was, I always felt that I had to wear jeans or some other long pants. Now I can not only leave the house in shorts, but run around town in them, without feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious at all!)

I felt even better than I had before, to the point that I didn’t think it could get any better. (It turns out that I was wrong again; I’m now on even higher emotional ground, and it still seems to be improving. I don’t know how high it can go, but I’m feeling so good now that if I never felt any better than this, I suspect I’d be content.)

When I finished the self-confidence course, I went back to journalling my belief-disposal sessions, because I kept finding other false beliefs that were holding me back. For instance, I discovered that I believed “if I’m too happy, bad things will happen,” and the related beliefs “happiness is always short-lived” and “happiness hurts.” (There were reasons in my childhood for believing those, but they’re not interesting enough to go into here). All three are now gone, and I doubt most people can even imagine the difference.

I’m still discovering ways that I’ve changed:

  • I’ve always had difficulty doing things that are boring and repetitive; no matter how necessary they were, they were also gaping holes leading to depression. But since finishing the self-esteem course, they’re just tasks to be done. I had to think a while to realize that it’s because I no longer need constant intellectual stimulation to keep my mind off of depressing thoughts.
  • I used to waste a lot of time trying to do things perfectly. Now I can choose to work on something until it’s perfect or just work on it until it’s good enough for my needs.
  • I used to be nervous and awkward around people I didn’t know well, and disliked meeting new people intensely. I thought it was because I was shy and introverted. Now, though I’m still somewhat awkward, I’m no longer nervous and no longer avoid such situations.

I doubt this is over. I keep finding more false beliefs that are holding me back, though the rate has slowed. For instance, just last week I realized that I believed “life is hard” — since eliminating that one, everything seems so much easier, and I’ve got more enthusiasm and energy than I ever dreamed possible. I’ve even taken up jogging, something I’ve always wanted to do but never though I could… I don’t know if I’ll keep it up, but if I continue feeling like I do now, it shouldn’t be difficult.

While the personal consequences of this technique are profound, there’s another and much larger side to it. I’ll expand on that in my next post.

“Being a skinny is much more unhealthy than being fat – new study”

So much for the “obesity epidemic.” 🙂

(There’s something I’ve wondered about the “Body Mass Index,” or BMI, ever since I learned how it was calculated: why the heck would medical professionals use such a measurement? It’s obvious to anyone with a math education that it couldn’t be right — it assumes that a person’s weight will go up with the square of his height, when it should be the cube of the height at the very least. I’ve since discovered this article, which explains it.)

Cross-Platform Development

As some of the readers of this blog may have noticed, we posted the Linux version of our product yesterday, joining the Windows version we originally released.

The product was originally developed under Linux, so it would have made sense to post that one first — except that we had no experience packaging things for Linux, and plenty in packaging them for Windows. Under Windows, it’s a simple and well-known process: pick your installer (we use Inno Setup), configure it, and tell it to create the installer. It took several hours to work out all the details, because we weren’t familiar with Inno Setup before we started, but the basic idea was well understood.

Under Linux, the process should have been equally simple. I expected the hardest part to be figuring out exactly what packages it had dependencies on, but as it turns out, that wasn’t too difficult:

  • set up a virtual machine with a fresh copy of your target Linux OS;
  • create a snapshot of the virtual machine, so that you can easily get back to the fresh copy later;
  • try to run the compiled program, and see what file it complains that it can’t load;
  • type the filename and the name of the OS into Google to figure out what package it belongs to;
  • install that package;
  • lather, rinse, repeat, until the program runs;
  • restore the original snapshot for later testing.

No, the hardest part was finding accurate information on the steps needed to package the program, and to compile a 32-bit version on our 64-bit system. There’s plenty of information out there on both subjects, but it’s outdated and/or contradictory, with no way to tell which method was better or why, or even which one actually still works. We even ended up having to dig into the source code for the Ubuntu Software Center to finally figure out why it was claiming that our program had to be run from the command line.

The method we settled on for the packaging uses a program that was apparently designed for creating fake dependencies. It seems to work, and by that point I’d had enough; we’d been working on it for several days, so we left it at that. Maybe we’ll go back and revisit the problem at some point, after we’ve had some experience with it.

We’re just getting started on the Mac port. The language and libraries we’ve used were deliberately chosen for cross-platform compatibility, so it shouldn’t be too much work to finish it… the operative word being shouldn’t, we’ll see. I’ve signed us up as an Apple developer and picked up the “Xcode” packages, we’ll see how they like our code later today.

Wish us luck! 🙂

Update on the Update on the Camry

After the highway trip, the average fuel economy on the Camry (with a little over a quarter tank left) is 38MPG. And that’s with running the AC in both directions, and the not-so-good initial mileage averaged in. 🙂 The AC on the Camry has an “ECO” mode, which seems to work pretty well at restricting the drain while just taking a little longer to get the cabin to the desired temperature.

We also got stuck in a traffic jam on the way home, for something like half an hour of stop-and-go driving… it handled it beautifully, turning the motor completely off when we were stopped and running on battery when we could only move forward at a snail’s pace. I’m sure that greatly helped the efficiency.

On other fronts, I had a chance to use the Camry’s engine braking “gear” for a few seconds on the trip, and it worked well. I also found that you can hear some road noise while on the highway with it. Not much though, and what’s there is a lot quieter than what we heard in the Corolla.

Very satisfied customer. 🙂

Update on the Camry

I’d been driving the new Camry the same way I drove the Corolla, accelerating very slowly in an attempt to save gas. On the Corolla, it worked very well, sometimes giving me close to 50% more miles on a tank, but on the Camry it seemed to be hurting the mileage… instead of the nearly 700 mile range it’s rated at, it looked like I was barely going to make 500, about 70% of the expected amount.

Apparently there’s a trick to getting the best gas mileage out of a Toyota hybrid, involving getting up to speed at a normal rate, taking your foot entirely off the gas pedal, then applying a very tiny bit of pressure to it to let the electric motor keep you there. It seems to work best in the city, where the speed limits are 40MPH or less; at higher speeds, the electric motor can’t supply enough power alone.

Because I wasn’t aware of this at first, I’m treating this first tank of gas as a learning period. I’ll start measuring it in earnest when I fill it up again.

I have to say, I’ve disovered that the “moon roof” is FAR better than I thought it would be. You get all the cooling advantages of an open window, but with much less outside noise. I presume that in the summer, when the car has been sitting in the sun for a while, it will be better at cooling it off too… at worst, it’ll be an additional opening placed right where the heat gathers.

We’ll be taking “Alice” (as GoddessJ has designated the Camry) on her first long trip tomorrow, a couple hundred miles or so. Highway driving all the way. We’ll see how she handles that, but I expect she’ll do pretty well.

Hello, Sexy Camry!

We got the new car on schedule, got it home, and I spent several hours setting everything up and reading about various features.

It paired with both my phone and GoddessJ’s, via Bluetooth, with no problem. The hands-free system works like a charm; the audio quality is as good as our phones alone. The built-in Homelink system connected to our garage door opener with only some minor fiddling.

It doesn’t have the optional navigation system, but that’s okay because we have a stand-alone GPS nav system. The dashboard is close enough to flat — unlike the Corolla’s — that we were finally able to use one of those beanbag-donut things to permanently mount the GPS on, so there won’t be all those little ring marks on the inside of the windshield where we had to stick it. Even better, the glove box is HUGE, so there’s plenty of room to stick the whole kit and kaboodle into it when we’re not using it. 🙂

There are so many little touches that make it a joy to use. The front cup-holders have a small insert that lets them handle any size of cup — the Corolla had cup holders as well, but they couldn’t handle today’s “bladder buster” drink cups, or even our 20oz Rubbermaid water bottles. And there are two more in the back, another improvement on the Corolla, though I haven’t taken a look at them yet.

The temperature control system is excellent. You put it on a temperature and it holds it there, varying the fan speed and other settings to stay as close to it as possible. The passenger’s side has its own separate controls, if the two of you want slightly different temperatures.

The electronic rear-view mirror apparently dims itself when something bright shines on it. We did take it for a spin after dark, but I wasn’t able to catch it in the act. I didn’t suffer from any glare, but I couldn’t tell if that was the mirror’s doing or a lack of lights bright enough. The automatic headlights did function as advertised though.

Apparently the side mirrors are heated, so that when you turn on the rear defogger, they will melt off any ice on them too. I’ll appreciate that come winter, I’m sure.

The steering wheel has no less than a dozen buttons on it, providing control of the audio system, the hands-free phone, the climate-control system, the information displayed in the dash, and a way to activate the voice-control system. Looking at it, I half felt like I was in Speed Racer’s Mark 5, and that if I hit the wrong button some large buzz saw blades will come springing out of the front to carve a path for us, or the whole car will leap sideways. 🙂

The sense of unreality was even worse when I realized that the sound it makes when decelerating — a kind of quiet whine, dropping in pitch as the speed drops — is exactly the same sound that KITT made when slowing down, on the eighties Knight Rider show. That, of course, was purely FX to make the car seem futuristic. This is a side effect of the very functional electronic braking system, reclaiming some of the power that went into accelerating the car to begin with, though when I voiced the realization, GoddessJ suggested that the designers were probably delighted with the sound too, and deliberately left it there. It wouldn’t surprise me.

It’s like KITT in another way, too. If you ever watched Knight Rider, you might recall that anyone who wasn’t authorized would find it locked when they tried to open it, but anyone who was could open it instantly. The Camry knows when one of its keys is near, and pretty much where it is. If you have one of them on your person, and you touch the handle of any door or try to open the trunk, the door or trunk will automatically unlock. You don’t have to even pull the electronic key out of your pocket! 🙂 And in addition to the manual and power locks inside, there’s a lock button on each of the outside front door handles too; to lock the car from outside, all you have to do is press one of them.

The car doesn’t hover in the air, and can’t carry on a conversation with you, but it’s definitely a twenty-first century vehicle despite those limitations. 😀

Overall it’s ridiculously quiet. Not only a blessed lack of road noise, but an almost complete lack of engine noise as well. And if the ride isn’t as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom, it isn’t far from it.

Viewed a second time, the “magnetic gray metallic” color was even more appealing than I’d originally thought. We even found that we really like the moon-roof. 🙂

Then there’s the meat of it: the hybrid gas/electric engine system.

I was disappointed with it at first. There’s a gauge in the dash that gives you an instant MPG reading, and it goes to “infinite” when the car runs entirely on the electric motor, so despite the engine’s near-silence you can always see when it’s on. When stopped (at a light, for instance), the gas engine stops as well, which is excellent. But on the way home from the car dealer’s, it ran almost continually the rest of the time, and the display usually reported somewhere around a disheartening 20MPG. However, when we took it out after sunset, the gas engine only kicked in while it was accelerating — once it was up to speed, it usually ran on battery. I suspect running the air conditioning earlier in the day, combined with the stop-and-go rush-hour traffic, had a big impact on the mileage. Time will tell how well it does in general.

All told:


It’s not all roses, though. I was disappointed to find that, although I could pair the Bluetooth system with my iPod Touch without difficulty, there was no way to do anything with it once I’d done so. Some research turned up the technical details: the car’s Bluetooth system doesn’t support the “A2DP” profile required to control and stream music from the iPod. There are apparently several items you can buy to correct this, from a $300 Toyota add-on down to a $50 Belkin device, but we’ll probably stick with just using the AUX input for now. The others would be nice, but definitely not $300 worth of nice, and maybe not $50 worth either.

That’s about it for now. Barring disaster, I plan to enjoy this car for a long time — at least as long as the Corolla — but I’ll try not to write much more about it. Though if I suddenly discover a delightful feature that I hadn’t been aware of, I can’t promise that I won’t write a post to crow about it. 😉

Goodbye, Faithful Nellie

Our ’96 Toyota Corolla, occasionally known as “Nellie,” has been very good to us. We bought it used, twelve years ago, and it has served us faithfully ever since.

Nellie is feeling her age, though. The engine is still chugging along enthusiastically, but the body is beginning to show some rust. When idling at a stop light, the driver’s side door has developed an annoying rattle. She’s lost two of her hubcaps over the years, and the two that remain are looking pretty ratty. The ride has been pretty rough for the last year, owing to the fact that she’s needed new rear struts, and some other things were showing signs that they would soon need expensive repairs as well — too expensive to justify, given how long she’s likely to last. In other words, nothing is really wrong yet, but if we wait much longer, there probably will be. We decided that she’d earned her retirement.

With that in mind, we went out yesterday and started looking for her successor. Our requirements were pretty simple. I demanded a hybrid (because we do most of our driving in the city, and hybrids are ridiculously fuel-efficient for city driving), and a few conveniences like cruise control, power windows, power steering, and power door locks — things we’d gotten used to on Nellie, nothing ridiculous, all stuff that’s pretty standard these days on all but the cheapest vehicles. GoddessJ wanted something with a decent amount of trunk space and more leg room. We had some other preferences as well: any color but white, NO leather seats, that the audio system had a way to plug in an iPod, and the like. We would prefer to buy a two- or three-year-old used vehicle, if we could find something we liked. And given my experiences and what I’ve heard from friends and relatives and on the ‘net, my first choice was another Toyota (with Honda and Nissan being tied for second place).

Some ‘net research showed that there were two official Toyota dealers in the area. They’re both pretty large, but only one of them had any used hybrids available. Coincidentally, it was the one we’d bought Nellie at, and they had three — apparently they’re so popular that people rarely trade them in. I was also surprised to see that car prices were pretty much the same as they’d been twelve years ago… if we’d wanted to, we could have replaced Nellie with a two- or three-year-old Corolla for almost the same amount of money we paid for her, but of course they don’t make hybrid Corollas.

We test-drove a 2012 Prius C first. Not a lot of storage, though I was otherwise impressed, but GoddessJ found it uncomfortable. We moved up to a hybrid 2012 Camry, and both of us liked it, but the price was pretty high. Then we asked about used, and took one of those for a short spin. We didn’t tell the salesman, but he pretty much had a sale before we got out of it, despite our plan not to buy anything immediately. 🙂 We tried one of the others, a year older but with less mileage on it, but we got out almost the moment we got in — it had very bland coloring, and a leather interior, and we both hated it.

So we ended up with a 2009 hybrid Camry, with a LOT more features than I’d have otherwise paid for. The Prius C is lower on the Toyota totem pole, but we ended up paying significantly less for the slightly-used Camry than for a new Prius C, even before they gave us $1,000 off for Nellie (which is far more than either I or the salesman thought she was worth). I went in wanting a metalic dark blue, but this one is what Toyota calls “magnetic gray,” and I was surprised to find that I liked it.

Gas mileage… I was getting about 21MPG on the Corolla at best, usually closer to 17MPG (it’s rated at 23MPG in the city). The Camry is rated at 33MPG in the city, and being a hybrid, will probably get pretty close to it. That’s between 50% and 100% more bang for the buck, and on a larger and much more powerful vehicle! (The ’96 Corolla is rated at 100 horsepower, and Nellie didn’t have the pep she used to; the Camry is 187.)

If all goes well, we’ll pick it up on Monday. I’ll write more after that, if it warrants it.