May 24th, 2008

smirking-winslet

Well, It Finally Had To Happen

Surging Through The Barrier

For over a week, gas prices teased us by staying between $3.91.9/gal and $3.99.9/gal for regular gas in West Michigan. Speculation was rampant as to whether all grades would be above $4/gallon for Memorial Day or if it could possibly hold off until the Fourth of July. Dream on. The moment someone in February mentioned $4/gallon gasoline it was inevitable for the Memorial Day weekend. After all, tourism and travel are central both to the Michigan economy and a reason why people live here and put up with both the shitty economy and winter weather. Gas prices broke through the $2 and $3 barriers in each of the past Mays of '04 and '06 respectively, so why should May 2008 be any different? Why wouldn't the evil oil companies continue their joyless plot to wreak havoc on Michigan's economy? (sour grin)

Friday, just before the Memorial Day weekend, would of course be the jump day. And why go for a modest increase? After all, the local companies have been trying to keep the prices down, but now they have to pay for that largesse -- so prices went from $3.99.9 to $4.19.9/gal for regular throughout West Michigan. At around 3:15pm, the Shell station in Kalamazoo I drive past hadn't yet jumped, so I got twelve gallons, but every station north of there was at the higher price. We reluctantly welcome our new Four Dollar Plus Overlord Masters.

Experimental Results Tainted

My great experiment in driving at 65mph instead of 70mph on the freeways is continuing, but I haven't bothered running the numbers yet. On Wednesday I stopped at the Mobil station at M-45 and US-31 on my way to Staples in Holland MI. I am getting fed up with that gas station, which keeps on having serious glitches at the pumps. On this occasion, the shut-off valve failed to work, so gasoline came pouring out of the filler pipe, and the heavy wind blew it down across the body and towards where the driver's door stood open. I smelled gas fumes for days.

So not only was the tank overfilled, messing with the fuel used on both the previous tank's calculation and the next tank's calculation, plus fuel spilled on the pavement which wasn't doing anyone a damned bit of good, but the next tank's calculations will also be off. The current tank I'm working on will include the holiday weekend, whose driving is very different than the usual every-two-days of my commuting.

Congressional Hearings

The Evil Oil Companies™, of course, were completely at a loss to see why anyone would put a correlation between insanely high record multi-billion dollar profits per quarter with record high gasoline prices, instead blaming $4/gallon gas on their inability to damage the environment in ANWAR. Clearly the suits did a fine job of convincing both the House and Senate oversight committees and I've bought their story hook, link and sinker.

Right.

Next Up

Recalculating the commuting spreadsheet and seeing exactly where it no longer makes economic sense for my own insanity of driving to Kalamazoo every day for a part-time job.

Dr. Phil
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More Inevitables

Groceries

It's not, of course, "just" gasoline.

Mrs. Dr. Phil returned from the grocery store and indicated that the reasonably normal load of things crossed the $200 mark. We've still been griping about regularly running bills of $150-$175, but of course the trickle-down theory of economics means that higher fuel costs result in us getting trickled-on. Dammit.

Good Groceries

There is, however, a silver lining to living amidst the farms of Ottawa County in West Michigan -- it's living amidst the farms of Ottawa County in West Michigan. Mrs. Dr. Phil stopped at the end of the road where there's an asparagus farm. They used to only sell to commercial buyers, but last year I think they began to do individual sales. My father grew asparagus at home for a number of years, so I knew a little about the funny spiky plants and that the beds (or fields) have to be rotated every couple of years. But living around here and watching these little electric carts that seat several people side by side to cut the fresh tender young asparagus shoots as it inches along was something of a revelation.

Mrs. Dr. Phil had been annoyed to find that none of the asparagus sold in the Spartan Stores owned Family Fare in Allendale MI was local. Seems that the big Meijer's chain had locked up all the local suppliers, so Spartan was buying from California. There's something not right about that.

Anyway, she decided to see if the farm 2-1/2 miles from us still was picking -- and came home with three pounds of lovely asparagus picked this morning. We'll be eating, and having smelly pee, like kings this weekend.

Fruit? Strawberries? Blueberries? P-E-A-C-H-E-S ??? All to come this summer, if summer ever gets here and the 25degF killer freeze a couple of weeks ago which might've damaged the apple crop doesn't prevent us from getting our West Michigan farm fresh fruit fix.

Dr. Phil
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