Simple Pleasures for Simple Minds

Photo by Joey Genovese on Unsplash

Rising gas prices trouble me little in spite of the fact that I drive a shamefully inefficient vehicle, because I rarely fill my tank more often than once a month. So, whether it costs $50 or $150, the impact is negligible to my budget. However, my disdain for opportunistic capitalists who use every rumor to immediately raise the price of the refined product does influence the way I think about purchasing it.

It irritates me when the media make dire predictions of gross increases in price for a product that’s months down the line, paving the way for purveyors to immediately raise prices at the pump. For instance, the US has not yet stopped purchasing oil from Russia (thought there is talk) and yet the prices at the pump are already reflecting anticipations of shortages. Depending on the source, the U.S. imports about 40% of its oil (though it is a net exporter of oil and petroleum products), of which a scant 3% (of that 40%) comes from Russia. Now I’m no mathematician, but I can’t seem to make that evolve into a $2.00/gallon increase at the pump without considering that someone is profiteering from the war in Ukraine. I’m willing to consider that transportation of the raw product accounts for a portion of the cost but there are many sources closer than Russia.

So, here’s my proposition, and admittedly it’s rather simplistic, but I am a simple minded person, everyone should cut consumption. Remember, when folks first started staying home in 2019, and gas prices tumbled? It wouldn’t take much of a cut in consumption to make up for that .012% of oil that Russia will have to sell elsewhere on the world market.

So, here are my tips for conservation:

Slow down – instead of driving 10 – 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, drive just 5 mph over. The additional reaction time allowed by traveling just 70 mph will make texting considerably easier and safer.

Accelerate as if you’re driving grandma’s 1979 Buick – most fuel is consumed while achieving velocity, so go easy on the accelerator pedal.

As expensive as jack-rabbit starts are, sliding stops are almost as costly. When you see an impending stop ahead, remove your foot from the gas and allow your vehicle to coast for a bit before using the brake. Every second you coast, you are driving for free. And a bonus is fewer brake jobs and less frequent tire replacement.

Never pull the car out of the garage for a single errand. Always combine trips to the grocery store with a drive to work, a visit with your folks, a dentist appointment, a trip to the auto body repair shop (don’t bother with those little scrapes where the speedier, unenlightened drivers have resorted to pushing you through the intersection).

As a last resort, and this should probably be first, ride a bike. At first, a two mile ride to the fruit stand might seem daunting in the uphill direction (here, in my valley, everything is either uphill or down) but with some conditioning, you will learn to enjoy traveling farther and farther. Next, pick up a little trailer for your bike at a garage sale. Folks are always buying them, thinking they will tote the little ones around, but then those tykes grow into chubby adolescents and it’s not so much fun anymore. It’s actually fun to come out of the grocery store with 40 lbs. of provisions and then try to sprint home before the ice cream melts. There are few pleasures greater than a bowl of soft ice cream at the end of a hot ride.

16 thoughts on “Simple Pleasures for Simple Minds

  1. You don’t seem too affected by the dizzying rise in diesel fuel price because you do your shopping using this magnificent bicycle and its small trailer. Nice photo of a sporty woman.
    Love ❤
    Michel

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        1. My late Uncle Ted was very clever at re-purposing things. He made the trailer for my sister to haul her garden tools to the community garden. She loaned it to me for a while but I damaged it by overloading it. I now have a trailer built for kids that’s more stable and sturdy.

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  2. I know what I’m going to be hunting for at garage sales this spring and summer!! We saw a huge jump at the pump. Thankfully my Prius C is a sipper and I hyper mile as often as I can. It is about 2.5 miles from the grocery store to my house and the last time I went I got 97 mpg according to the dash computer!!

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    1. If I were to buy a vehicle, it would certainly be something more practical than my Lexus SUV that requires premium fuel. But, it was a gift, for which I will be eternally grateful and will embrace the luxury that 18 mpg affords. It does motivate me to ride the bike when weather permits, which in these parts is about 360 days a year. I’m ashamed to admit that most of the time, I can think of a reason to drive the car.

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  3. Hey, I recognize that trailer. The fist time I used it to take my gardening tools to the community garden, I bounced my tools all over the intersection, when I crossed the only busy street between my house and the garden. Bungees were in order for the next trip. The bottom was an old street sign. Thank-you uncle Ted.

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      1. No, I finally got rid of it fairly recently, since I hadn’t used it in several years. My yard is too small to save things that size, just for the sentimental attachment. The digital photos will need to suffice.

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  4. We are very lucky in Florida in that we can walk from our home to several stores such as Publix, Save-a-lot, Winn-Dixie and we often pass others doing the same. When We had one car, my husband rode the bike and took a wagon similar to yours to grocery shop. I just filled our new car and it cost $40. Such is when you are still working. One day….

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  5. Thank you for the sharing your experience and that beautiful bike and chaise, I am afraid if i had seen anything like it in India. But I would love build it myself. Will give it a try. Thanks. And will be more careful with using my car.

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    1. I don’t know if you read my sister’s comment where she said that the bottom of the trailer was made of an old road sign. The builder, my uncle Ted, was a most resourceful recycler.

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