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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coping with High Gasoline Prices

A typical speed limit sign in the United State...

Coping with High Gasoline Prices

I should have filled up the tank yesterday.  But I was tired and decided to wait one day.  When I pulled up to the gas station, the price had just increased by an additional $0.20 a gallon.  It was the same over at the next block, so there was not much of a choice.
All over the country, people are cringing as they see gas prices rapidly increasing.  I won’t tell you to go out and buy a more fuel efficient car, if you already have a “paid for” truck because that may not be practical.  Unless you are already in the market for a new car and have the funds, I would not recommend getting into more debt.  Here are a few ideas to consider:
  • Combine errands as much as possible.  I am going to start mapping out a route to cover all my errands at once and avoid having to drive too much
  • Go to a grocery store that offers gasoline discount rewards if that is available in your area.
  • Consider public transportation.  If you live close to a bus line or metro rail then it is worth a look.
  • Check into van pools at work.  Our office does not have an official van pool but they have a referral service.  One lady I work with who lives 30 miles away applied and was matched up with a group.  The members take turns driving and are very organized about backups.  She has saved a lot of money since joining.
  • Make sure your car gets regularly serviced and tires are inflated properly.
  • If your child has classmates living nearby, set up a car pool with the other parents and take turns driving the neighborhood kids to school
  • Try walking instead of driving, but only if it’s safe to do so in your neighborhood.
  • Drive within the speed limit.  Speeding will cause you to waste gas, and possibly get a ticket, which will just ruin your day.
  • Research the internet for lower gas prices in your area before going out to fill up the car.
  • Start cutting back your other discretionary expenses, like entertainment and eating out, to offset the higher cost of gas.
You know what happens next:  prices of goods and services, from groceries to electronics to air fare will increase.  Brace yourself.

Emergency backup battery for recessed lighting?

Came across an interesting product through some random browsing today.
An emergency battery pack kit for Recessed Lighting.

So, I'm thinking that this might be a great idea for easy emergency lighting in the home.  They don't have a big description on the item, but it does look easy to hook up, from the picture.

Everyone should have emergency lighting of some sort and what house today doesn't have some sort of recessed lighting? 

Sorry for no direct link, just do a search for emergency recessed lighting and you'll find it.

One nasty fuel panic, game over...

One nasty fuel panic, game over...

By one nasty fuel panic I mean: 50-60% of the vehicles here in the US start feeling the pinch of $4-5 gas, decided to simply top off the gas tank within a day.

Bottom line [ Math below ]: If 50-60% of Americans simply topped off their gas tanks, it would exhaust all of the refined motor liquid fuels in the retail pipeline in ~ less than one business day.

We have ~ 2 weeks of refined motor liquids in US reserves behind this, but to rebuilt the three days back into the service sector supply chain, it would take ~ 2 weeks with one big caveat: These 2 weeks, is not assuming whatsoever the increased panic of the population during such an event. i.e.: Fuel delivery truckers do not get into their rigs during times like this, even with overtime/hazard pay.

This is not info from a friend of a friend, whose cousin worked at Krystal. I cut my teeth as a young process engineer at Mobil working on slowly rolling out JIT in the mid-eighties (Just In Time Inventory mgmt for liquid fuels),and even back in the eighties, we talked as nauseum about the one major risk that JIT brought to this industry: What an absolute disaster it would be now if folks panicked and topped off.

Just in time Inventory, as wonderful as it is for maximizing short term profits and efficiency, is what will make this an order of magnitude more nasty than the OPEC issues of the early 70's. You will not hear main street media speaking of panic at the pumps. The DOE calls this effectively: Yelling fire in a theatre.

The DOE has a plan in place should this occur. It is not to our immediate benefit (understandably so): Military, Safety, Health care, and critical infrastructure are first. Food supply will be up and running in 2-3 weeks, if the event(s) that triggered this have at least maintained, or at best - improved.

The key here is: Food. Have at least 2-3 weeks on hand. According to DOE, the average family has ~ 6 days of food in their home. During a nasty freak out, history teaches us that the first thing that people think about buying provisions to sustain them for an unknown period of time (hoarding). Food provisions are a basic, emotional instinct reaction. No thought goes into a panic to get the home pantry stocked with food, and if available at the grocery store, people do not just buy what they need - they hoard. This is basic instinct, no thinking brain required.

Simplified Math:

1. 200,000,000 vehicles on the roads in the US.

2. Average amount of fuel burned, per vehicle: 1.8 gallons/day

3. Average amount of total fuel burned, US: 360 Million gallons/day.

4. The US retail reserves: Wholesale storage tanks, tanker trucks, retail storage tanks, Pipeline: (~ 3 days): ~ 1 Billion Gallons.

5. To fill the average gas tank to Full: 8.2 gallons (meaning, the average americans tanks is just over half a tank)>

So, if 50% of the vehicle fleet freaked out just a bit and topped off the tank: 100m * 8 gallons = 800 million gallons. The rest of the folks would see this, and begin to top off theirs as well, and whalla - out of fuel.

Three things are important to note:

a. We do have ~ two weeks of refined motor transport fuel to satisfy US demand. But, in a crisis, this is not earmarked for retail outlets.

b. We do have the SPR (strategic petrolium reserves). This is crude in storage (unrefined). But again, in a crisis, will be indeed heading to the refineries but not earmarked for retail consumption.

c. The US does not have the refining capabilites to serve our refined fuel demand. We import a significant part of our refined fuels.

[B]It is not a bad idea, during times like these, to go to the extra effort to keep the guage above 50% at all times, and ideally, to have at least one tank of fuel at home in storage. It is not advisable to try and "guage" when a panic will occur, so you can be just ahead of it and act then. You likely will not have a heads up nor the time to act appropriately.

FOOD and some FUEL: these are an excellent insurance policy, with not much risk. If you haven't already, take 2 hours to buy a months worth of groceries and half a tank of fuel. There is no risk here, if things improve. But if things turn south, it will be the best investment You can make for yourself and your family

The scariest part develops quickly if a energy crisis is sustained for 4-6 weeks. That will, indeed, be a time to watch out and be careful.

I know most of You are well aware of all of this. But I thought I would post this for a reminder and mainly for the new folks. Welcome.

The Wire Coat Hanger: What's your use for it?

The Wire Coat Hanger: What's your use for it?

Hi Guys
The coat hanger is one thing that I grew up finding innumerable uses for. You can find these free at some thrift stores or you pay very little for them. I would always raid the closets at home and grab another for for this project or that. Don't think mom ever figured out why the hangers were disappearing :o:

Growing up on a farm, with limited resources drove one to become resourceful. Here's a bunch of ways that I have seen them used

Stiff Wire Coat Hangers

- I keep one in my trunk and have used them to string up mufflers (2 - not mine)
- Make a sturdy s-hook
- Made a business card rack with them.
- Used a piece to replace a cotter pin
- Even made a simple book stand for a night table
- Strung beads on a length of wire, bent the ends to be mini stands and used them as counters for some kids I was homeschooling for their math
- bend it into a loop, string pantyhose over it and you have a minnow net or a paint strainer
- A friend was over for a visit and locked the keys in the car. Used a coat hanger to open it (Saw it done on TV and it worked - go figure!)
- Used it to fish items from tight spaces. Most often ill bend a hook in the end, but once wrapped duct tape, sticky side out, on the end to fish a cassette tape from inside the drywall. (OK I am dating myself here)
- Handy for unclogging the vacuum hose
- Make a mobile
- Make a frame to build paper mache onto
- Unclog toilet
- Make a kite
- Roasting hot dogs/ marshmallows
- Kids use them to make a bow - they've got a nice spring to them, but are not too dangerous
- Taped a match to the end of a piece to light the pilot light to a propane furnace
- Dowsing rods - have heard that simple bent wires work for some people
- Some older ladies in our church used to braid thick string around the hanger to make decorative ones
- Bend a few pieces to guide your garden hose - sort of like large staples to your lawn
- Swipe your clothes with them to reduce static cling
- Use it for a basic loop to make wreaths
- Make a giant bubble wand - tried this, but never got the bubble solution right.
- Have even made a make shift toilet paper roll holder with one - great for an out house
- Have bent one to be a stand for my soldering iron
- This site has 14 uses for them - The razor organizer is new for me
- We have used them as guides for halos for a Christmas pageant

Any other uses out there?

Hmm, I suppose they still work to hang clothes too!:thumb: