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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Thinking Twice -- Gas Prices

In her excellent weblog, "Collective Sigh," Andante posts quite often about the fast increasing gas prices. I don't know how far she lives from the amenities, there in the next state over, North Carolina, but I do sense that she is active in church affairs, which I imagine keeps her hopping, and she probably has her finger in several other pies as well.

For church my wife has substituted farflung yoga sessions several times a week, and in general she likes to hit the road as often as she pleases, and till recently she had been relaxed about gas prices. She thought she had things covered because she drives a Saturn. Then, suddenly, a few days ago, she announced that seeing her station asking $3.39 a gallon for regular has made her "think twice."

Normally she doesn't express so much alarm about anything, and that prompted writing this post, as I wondered how much of a cash-in, if any, I might see for my past practices.

Perhaps still too tightly connected to my previous life -- whatever that had been -- I was born with a strong reluctance to depend on fuels whose production was completely beyond "do-it-yourself." During my first 32 years I depended entirely on my feet, augmented by streetcars, buses, and trains. I could do this because I lived in and near Washington, D.C. My first car was a VW Beetle, and I never strayed far from that, except for two used Detroit pickup trucks, both used sparingly and only for a few years each.

Now I have ended up in a rural area where not having a car isn't an option. We live 10 miles from the nearest town, and 25 from the nearest city with its hospitals and such. But this growing gas "tragedy" still ought to have only a light impact, because, in addition to the factors just mentioned, in recent years my life has slowed to little more than a crawl. Some of that was my doing, some was not, but none of it was caused by gas prices. Now my obligations are such that weeks go by before I drive off my property, an experience that always makes the neighborhood look like a weird and unfamiliar place.

As they must be in Andante's region, churches are the main centers of social life here, but I am a longtime "backslider," and I've also avoided the surplus schools that became additional community centers when consolidated schools were built, and there are no organized neighborhood events.

Only a few small things remain undone on my "green oak" house that I built myself, so there's no longer so much need to frequent the hardware stores. I used to be a member of a two-county arts group, and that often put me on the road with things like gallery sitting, but they disbanded several years ago. I also used to be a big beekeeper and that kept me driving all over the place in the warmer months but about a decade ago the mites arrived and completely took me out of that interesting though back-breaking occupation. And meanwhile, ever since I discovered UPS, I have looked on it as I used to see that delivery service that issues out of the North Pole during Christmas. I buy as much as I can online, and in that way I'm uniting with my neighbors in paying UPS's fuel bill, a big savings in wear and tear and gas on the economies of scale.

Above all I should mention my 12 years younger, preambulatory wife again. She does stuff like the food shopping that might otherwise put me in my truck more.


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