May 20th, 2014


< 3

Gas was $3.63.9/gallon today in Allendale. Except that's not what I paid.

Family Fare ran Yet Another Gas Coupon deal over the weekend, but instead of 50¢ off per gallon for buying $75 or more of groceries, they had a coupon for $2.99.9/gal Regular if you spent over $100.

There was a time when $100 for groceries was hard to do. And you would have an army of bags to bring in the house. Now, not so much, even for just a pair of people with no kids and no pets at the present time.

Still, it wasn't easy, since it excludes some items and this week was a light grocery week. I think Mrs. Dr. Phil said we made it by $5. (grin)

Also, as good as 64¢ off was, it wasn't quite as good a deal as one could get, because it was only for Regular 87 octane. I usually put 89 octane Midgrade in the Blazer. Still, a tank o' the cheap stuff won't hurt it. Although saying one is paying under three bucks a gallon at $2.99.9 is pushing it a bit.

Still, I'm not complaining about Family Failure's marketing efforts. By and large their captive gas station's prices are the same as Mobil, Admiral and Speedway in town -- and Allendale is usually cheaper than Wayland and Grand Rapids -- and the quality is good, we're going to buy most of our groceries there, so why not take advantage of their coupons? You can always get some sort of discount coupon when you buy enough groceries, with tiers to get you 5¢, 10¢, 15¢, etc. off per gallon. And about every two-three weeks recently they've had one of the 50¢ off per gallon coupons, which are good across all three grades.

I wouldn't mind the current gas prices so much if the gas tax for roadway construction and maintenance had kept up with inflation. We're actually driving about the same, I heard recently, but as gas mileage goes up -- those pesky CAFE standards that the frothies claim can never possibly work *** -- we're actually not burning as much gas.

But no, we couldn't possibly bump up the gas tax to reflect the new realities of driving plus the overdue bill from decades of deferred maintenance. ESPECIALLY in an election year.

To his credit, Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) has been trying to find $1-1.5 billion to really make a dent in Michigan's road repair backlog. Alas, the legislature is working on $300-500 million, which they will tout as a final solution, even though it still ends up putting us at a net loss in maintenance. Sigh.

And so the gas prices jump up and down at whim, and the oil companies rake in massive profits -- totally outside their control they say -- in a mockery of reasonableness.

Oh, and a holiday driving weekend approacheth...

Dr. Phil

*** It is true that to get higher gas mileage, either you have to go to a smaller car or pay more for more technology. However, increased demand for and practical technologies for automobile safety have also driven up prices, so it's hard to tell by how much they've gone up to save some gas. For small hybrids, the increased functional gas mileage over the same car without the hybrid tech won't result in any savings -- you'd have to own for a long time and drive a whole lot of miles to recoup the investment. But... if the goal is to use less fuels, then we can talk. After all, wasteful technology is usually cheaper in the initial cost outlay, but the damage is long term.


And then suddenly it was green.

It always surprises me in the spring, we're going along... there's a mud phase where the dirt begins to awaken and it smells different than winter. And a few early things like a crocus or two pop up. And grass begins to get less brown.

And then one day, the leaves on the trees come out.

Oh, they're not done sprouting. They're still small and folded over and not nearly as dark green as they'll get. But you get enough of the early leaves to pop open and suddenly you can't see through the branches anymore.

When we lived in Laurium, there was a medium maple in the front yard which had huge leaves. One day it would be branches, with maybe the appearance of green fuzz and then there'd be GREEN. And shade. Changes the neighborhood. And now you had to duck on the sidewalk to get to the front door. (grin)

Before we bought our current house, I did a rough count of the pine trees on the lot. Came to about 122, ±10% easily. Over twenty years we've lost 20-50%. It's hard to tell. They are all so much taller than before that the canopy is thicker and sometimes I am surprised to spot a new downfall deep in our tiny woods. And a bunch were cut down along the power lines. And in the back yard they've pretty much all burned up in the summer heat, since they were so exposed.

But some scrub trees have showed up, filling in some of the spaces in the edges. Fast growing, too. You just don't notice them since the jack pines are so insanely tall now.

We had them put in a gravel turnaround in the driveway when we bought the place, an excellent investment. There've been some bushes and weedy things growing there on the east side of the property. This week I noticed that with the leaves out, I can no long really see the road from my living room chair -- the bushes have gotten tall enough and bushy enough with their leaves to make another windbreak to our property.

Letting the yard go wild for twenty years has certainly been an interesting experience. And as Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park says, "Nature will find a way."

Dr. Phil