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Gas Depression Blues

Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007, at 6:58 PM

I guess I am the eternal optimist, because the high gas prices didn't bother me - until yesterday. I went to Sikeston (which usually has the lowest prices around), and I didn't even look at the prices there. Instead, I attended my meeting, came home, dropped off my friend at her house, and went to the office, secure in the misguided belief that gas was still in that $2.79 range outside the Advance city limits.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that my sweet little reliable dial-up station on the edge of town was displaying a price tag of $2.95! I sat in shock for fully five minutes, I think, staring at the sign, hoping that my occasional dyslexsia was mixing up the numbers.

Not so! It was real. Horrifyingly real! I was so shocked that I couldn't buy any. I just came on home, thinking, "What am I gonna do??"

Here we are, headed into winter with those prices?

My mind is racing to come up with energy-saving ideas:

* Axe the field trips?

* Stay home and send my stories in by email?

* Reduce my highway speed to 40 m.p.h.?

* Car pool? (Yeah, out here? Who would I catch a ride with - the school bus?)

* Start out at 7 a.m. and walk to town? (Think I could do it in an hour? Mmmm...7-10 miles? I don't think so... Better start out at six. That allows me 3 hours. I know I can walk 3 miles an hour... Mmm..Is it light at six? I'm not sure. I'd need reflective clothing. Oh, darn - My dogs'll follow me. Then they'll get run over on the highway. What am I saying? I'll probably get run over on the highway, too!) Well, axe that idea!

* Get a horse? (My last horse bit me!) Axe that idea!

* Get a motorcycle? (The thing would fall over on me!) Axe that idea!

* Buy an economy car? (Which will get hopelessly stuck in the mud out here in the hills in the wintertime!) Axe that idea!

* Get one of those money-back gas cards guaranteed to save 25% off your gas bill? (I don't trust it! There's gotta be a catch!)

Okay, folks, let's put our heads together and figure it out! How do we fight back?

From the distant hills of Tillman, this is your befuddled and bewildered journalist, Madeline, signing off...

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

What bothers me the worst is not the fact that winter is coming...it's the fact that Christmas is coming...and then the fact that winter is coming b/c I have natural gas heat. Like the winter blues aren't bad enough, now we have to wonder if a barrel of oil will reach $100 tomorrow. We are lucky...I mean we could be paying $4.15 a gallon like they are elsewhere...then again...we could be making $9.00 an hour minimum wage too. This too shall pass...I hope...

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Wed, Nov 7, 2007, at 11:33 PM

Good point about the minimum wage thing, mrsdolphin: I'm always hearing about how lucky we are that we don't have the highest gas prices, and the highest house prices, and on & on - but we also don't have the wages to go along with those high prices. I really think the overall lower cost of living is one of the reasons people choose to live here.

$3 a gallon gas is harder on us than $5 a gallon gas is on them.

Of course, judging from some of the houses in the area, I can't imagine that EVERYone has trouble paying high gas prices...

I think we'd all be better off if we lived modestly and didn't build those enormous houses, which squander so much of our energy resources. The same thing goes for those big SUVs that guzzle gas.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 7:33 AM

If we are bumming each other out-let's not forget property taxes will be due soon.(Why must they be due the week after Christmas?)

Oh, well soon the winter weather rules will be in force,so at least AmerenUE won't cut your heat off if that bill rubs against the car insurance or the phone bill or dentist bill.

No wonder my parents only want homemade gifts from us kids!(Where is my potholder loom?)

The catch with the credit cards is you usually can only use certain gas stations we don't always have in our little towns-how do I save money if I have to drive out of my way to buy gas?

I guess you could get a team of mules and a surrey with the fringe on top(orange triangle on the back),and encourage the city councils,employers, and local feed store to include horse and buggy parking spaces.Do mules require as much vet care as horses?

Do they make carts a team of goats could pull? I know if they did,you would never travel alone!

If not,do as I do,I call everyone when I go to the store or I whine for them to buy stuff when they go.Beats having to pay for gas when they are going to be there anyway. I'm also going to winterize my place this weekend,and use my drying racks-it keeps the humidity level very comfortable in the winter. I wash the night before and put most of my clothes on these racks (except jeans and towels-they really take too long),have my heat turned down low,and when I come home from work-voila-they are dry!

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 7:34 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Now, there's a solution that I hadn't thought of - goat power. I could have the Mennonites make me a handy little goat cart (painted red, of course), and I could take the back roads to town.

I dry my clothes on low for 10 minutes, then I put them on hangers and hang them on a clothes rack that my mother gave me years ago. I haven't noticed any effect on the humidity, however.

I remember a period of time about 20 years ago, when we couldn't afford to use the dryer, so we rigged up clothes lines in the basement. I'd hate to go through that thin time again!

Sorry, I forgot you live in the remote outback-I suggest you become pals with your mail carrier,then wait for said mail carrier with your saddest look and a walker,and say "Oh, I wish I had a gallon of milk,my pills, lightbulbs,etc"

If you know anybody heading to the store in the next few days ask them if they would mind getting such items for me,pull out a Santa Claus list and your tiny little change purse,have a sad look and your mail carrier will probably bring it their own self!

Remember to bless them and say,"I'll just be sitting here in the dark,I hope my heart will be okay. I hope I don't trip,what with my bones being so brittle without my milk,you know. Oh, and a couple of scratcher tickets too"

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 7:44 AM

What happened to ALL the political PROMISES that "when we are in office we will do something to LOWER the gas prices"???? The current House and Senate have not said ONE word about their promises. Ms Nancy P.????? Ms. Clinton?????? We are waiting

-- Posted by D.W.B. on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 3:03 PM

Thats what I am thinking. Thats all we heard before the last election or at least one of the main things that nothing has been done about. It is acutally a lot worse now. I saw those bumper stickers everywhere, "Had Enough". Well I certainly have now. Of course we should be smart enough to know that there is really nothing that politicians can do about this and shouldn't be fooled by such foolishness next time.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 6:23 PM

Pot holder loom! Now, there's a nice little cottage industry for the Outback!

Stay home and weave potholders, hitch a ride with the mailcarrier or the UPS man, and sell the cute little items beside the highway. Just in time for Christmas.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Nov 8, 2007, at 7:33 PM

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would all finally unite and NO ONE buy gas for two full days across the country? Do you know how that would cripple the suppliers? It's hard to imagine that the overall picture could be changed by such a simple effort, but it appears it could. I believe we're just all way too complacent when it comes to these issues. Madeline, what do you think our chances are of changing the world from the hills of Tillman, Missouri?

-- Posted by bringwine on Fri, Nov 9, 2007, at 10:50 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Well, every once in awhile, someone tries to organize a gas boycott, but I haven't heard that any of them did much good. And, now I'm hearing bad things about how hard ethanol is on the environment. It does sound as if the hybrid cars might be an answer.

The reason gas boycotts don't work is because eventually we have to go back to buying fuel. We haven't figured out a way to wean our cars from gasoline. Darn it! We've tightened our belts so much our tummies are touching our backbones now. There's not another notch on the belt.

-- Posted by Ducky on Sat, Nov 10, 2007, at 8:52 PM

$30.26 -- March 2003 price of a barrel of crude oil when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

$98.62 -- November 2007 price of a barrel of crude oil as U.S. occupies Iraq and administration officials fuel speculation the U.S. will invade Iran.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 7:10 PM

That doesn't sound exactly right. Supply and demand sets prices. The supply has not decreased.

Think the industrialization of China and their dramatic increase in utilization has anything to do with it?

Can you also say we can't refine any more than we are right now? A greater supply of crude will not increase the supply of gasoline right now will it?

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 8:46 PM

Always defending the status quo, aren't you, I.B.?

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 7:15 AM

Just defending the truth. You can say anything that you want, but when someone makes accusations or statements that may or may not be factual we shouldn't just let it go. If you do it will soon become the truth.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 7:18 AM

Does Hurricane Katrina's destruction of many refineries,along with the lack of new ones being built,factor into the increase?

Why is gas so much higher in Europe and the U.K.,and I also wonder why they are rationing gas in an oil rich country such as Iran?

As always,why does Poplar Bluff always have higher prices than Dexter,and Sikeston is lower-seems hinky to me.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 8:34 AM

The price of oil is a matter of public record, and it is typically reported in a newspaper's business section. Other facts based on the public record:

$28.66 -- January 2001 price of a barrel of oil when GB took office. So it increased about 5% between Jan 01 and March 03, and 325% since.

Prior to the U.S.'s invasion of Iraq, the price of oil was highest in 1981 during the Iran-Iraq war -- $38 barrel. I remember the horrible lines at gas stations in LA caused by an interruption in the oil supply during that war.

There is no current shortage of gasoline and there is a surplus of oil available on the market. If there was a shortage of gas we would be waiting in long lines at gas stations like we did in 1973-74, and 1980-81.

Supply and demand is only one factor affecting a product's price.

Very high taxes are why Europe, the UK and other countries have higher gas prices than the U.S. That is also why overall their vehicles are much smaller than in the U.S.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 2:11 PM

What are we going to do with the crude if we buy it. We can't refine any more.Sure there is a big supply of crude and China is now getting most of it. Iran is producing oil, Iraq is producing oil, Saudi Arabia is producing oil, Russia is producing oil, Venezuela is producing oil, We are producing oil. Who isn't producing oil at these prices for a barrel of crude? It doesn't matter to us if there becomes an oil glut. We can't refine it. Our growth causes an increased use. Before there was an excess. Not any more. Industry is booming and everyone has an extra SUV. There has been no increase in refinery production or no new refineries to accomodate the increased use. I think in 73-74 there wasn't oil to be refined. There is this time. There is no interuption of oil supply.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 5:19 PM

What's your theory on why we don't have enough refineries? Could they not hold on through the tough times - or were they wiped out by governmental regulations?

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Nov 25, 2007, at 7:08 PM

Not one new refinery in 30 years. Our consumption has steadily increased, but our ability to refine has not. We are not the only ones though. I assume the restrictions are there and of course if the profit isn't there, then why build a new one. Now I assume there will in the near future be more built if the environmental regulations will allow it. Our cost is never going to go down again though. Unless we decrease use.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sun, Nov 25, 2007, at 11:20 PM

I think that's the solution - We need to find multiple methods of reducing oil consumption. However, at the rate the American public is going, I don't see that happening. People are NOT building smaller houses and buying smaller cars. Quite the opposite! Some of them are just sinfully large!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Nov 26, 2007, at 4:26 PM

I don't think that overall people in the U.S. will reduce their oil/gas consumption until forced to do so by prices too high for them to pay. Many people are engaged in various forms of self-delusion. I know a guy who recently bought a gigantic pick-up that gets 12 miles per gallon -- but he tells everyone it gets 19! Everyone knows he's making it up, but he seems to have a psychological need to do so.

Gas consumption could be cut by 25-30% by implementing two simple proposals: Ban automatic transmissions and air conditioning in cars.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Nov 26, 2007, at 8:48 PM

ACK!!! No air conditioning???!!! Surely, there's a better way!!

Smaller cars with air conditioning. That's bound to be better!

Smaller houses that use less energy. If someone can afford to build a darn fool mausoleum like that monstrosity on Bloomfield Road (going into Cape from Dutchtown), then they can surely afford to use solar energy technology and be a better steward of the environment.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 7:01 AM

If I could afford a monstrosity of a house I would have one. When I can't afford air conditioning I will not have it. If I can afford steak and lobster that is what I will eat. If beans are all I can afford that is what I will have and curse the man with the big house eating his steak and lobster.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Nov 27, 2007, at 9:32 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Well, it's interesting that gas in Advance is still up in the $2.95 range, as of the first of December, and last night I bought it in Sikeston for the old price of $2.79 again.


Yesterday I got another of those "Don't buy gas on such & such a date" emails. According to Snopes, those plots just don't work, because people are not cutting consumption - they're just rescheduling when they buy.

Always check Snopes before you go off half-cocked.

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 6:53 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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