Friday, May 23, 2008


You want how much per gallon?

Here in the ass backwards utopia that is South Carolina there is low property taxes, low cigarette taxes and low gas taxes; the mean salary and education are also low to boot but the cost of living is still one of the lowest in the nation. A pack of smokes is $3.50ish and I saw a price of $2.76 per pack of Camels if you bought 3 the other day. Gas is usually lower than the national average but it's creeping up just like everywhere else.

J and I were driving back from Anderson Tuesday and I saw gas for $3.58. I didn't stop because I didn't really super need gas. HUGE mistake. When my gas light came on (indicating 3 gallons or less left) I pulled into a gas station, saw $3.75 and bailed. I didn't feel like paying almost $40 to fill up poor little Focus. So I drove home, gas light ablaze and rode the CATbus (Clemson Area Transit, our "free" public transportation system) to work today. J is driving about 40 miles one way to work therefore she drives Tercel who gets much better gas mileage than Focus. I worked out Focus' gas mileage and with one trip to and from B'ham, and a tank or two of around town driving, I averaged 27 miles/gallon and paid an average of $3.54/gallon. I still don't have any hard numbers for Tercel just yet but I'm assuming at the very least somewhere in the low 30s, if not hopefully in the mid 30s. I'm sure switching her out to a 5 speed transmission would help that figure too. J paid $3.74/gallon to fill up Tercel yesterday and saw that diesel was $4.65! Good grief! Those poor truck and semi drivers!

I haven't posted about this yet because with 2 moderately fuel efficient 4 cylinders as daily drivers, we have been fairly insulated from the craziness that is the oil industry. But it's time for me to do something about it. I will start catching the 8:15 CATbus to school and if I miss it, then I walk. Sure I could buy a bike and make it a little faster but it only takes about 30 minutes for me to walk to work and I don't have a bike and don't feel like spending money to purchase a bike. J has a bike at home in Orlando and we might bring it back to Clemson one day but I know that'll never happen. It's still a good idea though.

I'm looking forward to visiting with J's folks in August. We're flying of course because it's easier and faster and with the price of gas quickly becoming out of control, just about the same cost to fly versus driving. But a whole lot of writing has to happen before then, so I'm not getting too excited. Also Allegiant Air is apparently doing well because instead of only flying on Tues., Thurs. and Sun. they now fly everyday but Tuesday. Weird. It looks like it changes occasionally and they don't fly on Tues. or Sat. in August.

My labmate who lives in Anderson worked out that he was using a gallon of gas to get to and from work and will start to take the CATbus but the last CATbus to Anderson leaves at 5:20 or so, which is pretty early in grad student land, so he hopes to start getting to work earlier so he can leave earlier. But his new wife just got a job here, so they can commute together and save some money.

Basically the recession and decreasing supply of oil and the increasing demand of gas should really start to shape the future of this country pretty soon. As a futurist, I'm predicting a much more European view of cities. Much less urban sprawl, building up and not out, stores within walking distance, schools within walking distance, hopefully a greater sense of community (I know, look at me being all idyllic) and a better and more widely used public transportation system. Honestly I think the last one is going to be tough. We're so used to having our own cars and driving ourselves places that using their schedule is going to be a tough transition. I honestly don't think it will take much to get the first couple items to occur. It's actually already happening in certain areas. In fact it's happening right here in Clemson. Son of a bitch! I should've known Tom Winkopp was behind that! Or as I like to call him Tom "Develop Everything I Can Around Clemson" Winkopp. Either way, it's still a good idea but Patrick Square will have a neighborhood that sits behind a commercial area:

He says it's going back to a "small town" feel and he's right. That's how most of Europe is and America used to be: towns concentrated around the town center, everything within walking distance and the next town was a few minutes away but unless you needed something exotic, you could live comfortably never getting into a car or bus and walk everywhere. That sounds so foreign to us now. Cars, trucks and buses are everywhere and we our lives virtually depend on them. I know we're not going to rid the world of vehicles and I don't want to, bicycle races don't inspire passion the way rally, F1 and NASCAR do. But it would be nice to not have to rely on them everyday, therefore I vow to either take public transportation or walk to work as much as I can. Also as an added bonus this will make me get to work earlier because it gets too hot to walk by 9 am.

How are your daily routines and habits being affected by gas prices?

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