They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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This Is A Bad Sign

This Can't Be Good (grin)

For a number of years the Mobil gas station was the newest one in Allendale MI. But it's been the only one which was still using a manual price display at the road sign. They had the backlit kind, with numbers on plastic plates that were put up and taken down using a long pole with a suction cup. (Sucker didn't work so well when the temperature was subzero, BTW.) Everyone else had digital electronic signs which presumably could be changed with a few keystrokes.

Today I saw that they had removed the background piece to the road sign as I drove to a dentist appointment. On the way back, the sign company had already installed a new digital sign on one side.

I guess for the foreseeable future, when we look at the prices at all the gas stations in town, "we'll be seeing red". (grin)

Change Is In The Air

It used to be that the price of gas could hold steady for weeks at a time. That during the summer it'd go up on Friday and drop on Monday. Then the state began looking into gouging reports and it all changed. Lately the prices have dropped during weekends or holidays -- to knock the investigators off the scent?

Now the price seems to be changing nearly everyday. Sometimes we get big jumps of more than twenty cents a gallon, but mostly the price tweaks up and down a penny or two. In light of this, I'm sure the management of the Mobil resented those plastic numbers and that damned pole.

Or maybe they were running out of numbers. Recently we had a local story, replayed in many small communities, that some older gas pumps at small Ma-and-Pa stations can't handle prices above $3.99.9/gal. Much like the crisis which occurred when we first exceeded $0.99.9/gal gasoline and gas stations had to do creative things like put tape and $1 in front of the price -- or charge for the half-gallon. Apparently you can put new gears in the older pumps, but then the mechanisms spin too fast and can break down faster. New gearing or new mechanisms or new pumps, all these options end up costing various amounts of thousands of dollars.

Irony is gas costing too much for a gas station to afford to sell it.

No one was expecting the gas prices to surge to above four dollars so soon and so quickly. And sure, while prices have eased a bit, no one is expecting them to stay this "low". The perception barrier has been broken, the cows have left the barn, it's too late to put the milk back in the broken glass.

This is why I so often talk about Systems. You never know how the System will respond to changes. Or how widespread the ripples will roll.

Dr. Phil

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