Tuesday, May 15, 2007

...out of all the gas station signs I've seen, this one sums it up best...

We all know gas prices are high. Everyone has a theory on why this is. Well, I heard a good one on talk radio the other day. Allegedly, the refineries here in the good ol' USA are fallin' apart, which has decreased domestic production, and the refineries don't wanna go to the expense of fixing their plants, 'cos if they did, that might drive gas prices up even more. A catch-22? If the refineries spend money to fix up their plants, gas prices will rise to cover the repairs? Another view of all of this, the talking heads say, is that demand for fuel has increased. We're all demanding more. Using more. I can only speak for myself; when I got my car in 2001, it had 36,000 miles on it. It now has close to 71,000 miles. That's 35,000 miles over 6 years, or roughly 6,000 miles a year. So I'm not demanding more; I'm not using more. And I imagine all the other folks out there, including me, are gonna end up using LESS, due to increased fuel costs. So, if we use less gas, that'll be that much less gas the oil companies are selling. So I'm thinking they'll have to charge more for gas because their revenue has slowed, due to less gas being used.

I don't see any way out of this. If indeed the Iraq War is based on oil, well, the our presence over there might make the Iraqi's and other nearby countries mad at us and they'll punish us by restricting their oil exports, while we're spending countless monies on fuel for all the war machinery we're using over there. Ya can't win. So we have to adopt a grin-and-bear-it mentality; well, it's hard to grin, but we're sure bearing it, aren't we? Our collective views of the fuel situation manifest themself in some surprising ways...

...and this sign pretty much sums it all up. Except, that the sign seems to convey a sort of "surprise" at how expensive gas is getting. Well, we're fast getting to the place where we're not surprised at anything, anymore. When gas prices rise, everything rises, because it's all hooked to gas. And, I guess, all we can do is endure. Oh, and not go anywhere, either. Pretty soon we'll all have underused vehicles dotting the American landscape. Grandfathers will tell kids, "well, we actually used to ride in cars, back when we could afford fuel." So maybe we're going backwards in terms of transportation. If gas prices keep rising, look for the re-advent of the ol' horse and buggy. That makes sense; we've gotten things as good as we can, and now we're going backwards. Instead of "topping off the tank", we've "topped out" altogether.


I HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT THE POST OFFICE IS DOING! Postage went up to 41 cents for a first-class envelope this week. Two stamps on every envelope now, until 41-cent stamps are available. I had recently opened a pack of envelopes, and bought a bunch of 37-cent stamps so I could have stamped envelopes in my glove compartment at the ready when I went out to pay bills. And, this week, I had to stick 4-cent stamps on those same envelopes to make them current again. And, the extra paper and ink it takes to print up those 4-cent stamps might negate the extra revenues that are supposedly being brought in by the increased postage rates. So maybe we're treading water here. But the Post Office has a plan. They're now selling "forever" stamps. Those 41-cent stamps you buy will be worth 41-cents forever and ever. Isn't that nice? And, when rates rise again, say, to 43 cents, you can put a two-cent stamp, alongside your "forever" stamp, and you'll be able to mail off your bill to whatever greedy, monolithic utility wants your hard-earned bucks. And perhaps there'll come a day when the extra stamps you have to buy to meet the postage rate increase cost MORE than the 41-cent forever stamp that was on your envelope to begin with. That would happen when postage rates go up to 83-cents or more. Hmmm...I can see that on the horizon now...

In a related note, Pacific Power and Light sent me a bill in a postage-paid envelope recently. I had to put a stamp on the envelope they include for me to mail back in. But inside PP&L's envelope are all sorts of special offers in a full-color brochure, and the included envelope for THOSE is postage paid! I think it would make more sense for the utility to let its customers use prepaid envelopes to mail bills, and just leave out all the special offers for merchandise that I'd never need in a hundred years. Does something here just not make sense, or is it me?


Maybe Glenn Beck knows what he's talking about after all: I don't know where these guys come from, but every news channel has a bunch of know-it-all talking heads who I've never heard of before. Glenn Beck is a yuppie sort-of dweeby talking head, and his TV show is on Fox, I think. Well, he also has a radio show that I inadvertently dialed into the other day. And he had an interesting take on the Imus debacle; you might recall that Al Sharpton nipping at the heels of Imus basically cost Imus his job. Glenn Beck warned everyone in talk radio and talk TV to watch it, because everyone's gonna be out to get everyone else in this politically-correct society, and sooner or later, the media will become so bland that no one will be listening to the hundreds of TV and Radio stations out there, because everyone will be afraid to say anything. And instead, we'll get our entertainment and information from Satellite Radio and Computers, which aren't regulated by the FCC. Now, this sounds kinda wacko-extreme, a worst-case scenario. But CBS radio has laid off two more shock-jocks and others have had to apologize for on-air transgressions, so maybe this is all happening, only we haven't felt the full effects of it yet. Well, "1984" has arrived 23 years late, but it's here, I guess. What a crazy world.


No, I'm not a hypochondriac; at least, I don't think so. I'm lucky to have a doctor here in Southern Oregon. It takes about 2 or 3 months to get a doctors' appointment, and the doctor I have, a new guy, is at the place where he can't take any more patients for 5 months, according to what the answering machine said. He's a good doctor, I guess. I told him how I'd been feeling; how I'm a touchy sleeper and I'm tired all of the time. So he sent me home with a little oxygen-measuring device I attached to my finger; at the other end was a flashing monitor. And, looking at it just before I went to sleep, my blood pressure went down to 95/80, when I was lying down. So anyway, I guess the doctor analyzed the machine's findings and it turns out that I don't get enough oxygen when I sleep. So now, I'm gonna have to spend money to go to a sleep clinic, where I probably won't sleep all that well, and have diodes, capacitors, resistors, desistors, beads, bangles and baubles attached to me which will more accurately measure my sleeping activities. There's a possibility I might up sleeping with an oxygen tank! Gosh. I have no heart disease, I don't smoke, but my respiration is evidently slow. My Mother had a slow heartbeat, and I've inherited that from her. So anyway, this oughta all be interesting. I have always felt just short of ILL when I get up in the mornings, all my life. Do most people feel that way when they get up? Could it be I've had oxygen-deprived brain cells alla these years? No wonder I did so bad in Math class, which was ALWAYS first thing in the morning. So I need oxygen therapy. Which means I'll be more of an air-head than I am now.


I suppose the best I can hope for is that someday, postage rates won't be higher than medical bills or we'll ALL be in trouble. Let's see, it'll cost tons to MAIL the bills, and it'll cost tons to buy enough gas to pay the bills in person...carrier pigeons, anyone?


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