Less pump pain.

My commitment to saving gas is so pathetic as to be comical — I mean, a fair-weather cyclist who works from home is hardly capable of a real sacrifice in fossil-fuel consumption — but I’m trying to approach it with some level of seriousness. And I’ve set a goal: The one-month tank of gas. Fourteen gallons in 30 days.

It’s not that far-fetched. I made it to three weeks between fill-ups recently without making myself a hermit in the bargain. If you can go three weeks, you should be able to go four, right? Here are my main rules and strategies:

1) Combining trips. If I’m going to Royal Oak for a meeting, I try to think of other stuff I can do while I’m out there. I mean, besides eat lunch. If the trip takes me past Costco (and most do), I make a stock-up stop.

2) Telling my dear only child, “Can’t you ride your bike? Lansing’s not that far. ”

3) It’s difficult to shop for a week of groceries on a bicycle, but easy to get a day’s worth. I pretend I’m French and live in a tiny Paris walkup with a refrigerator the size of a shoebox.

4) All shopping excursions requiring the car get a second, third or fourth look. All chances to interact with other human beings I don’t even question. The idea is to save gas, not become a crazy miserly energy tyrant.

5) You can fit more on the back of a bike than you think, if you have the right bungee cords. It does make the thing a little light up front, however. And carrying home certain loads — a few bottles of wine, a big bag of dog food — make you look like a crazy person who lost her driver’s license to multiple drunk-driving convictions. But it’s fun to be crazy. At least people get the hell out of your way.

6) Finally — and this is huge in Detroit — I started driving the speed limit. There’s an essay in that, because absolutely nobody in this town, in the state, does so. The default driving style is fast, cheap and out of control, and while it can be fun, it doesn’t exactly make the real-time mileage gauge on the dash track a nice steady number. Driving the speed limit in Detroit is like being an atheist in Colorado Springs. People not only look at you funny, they think you’re with al-Qaeda.

If none of these strategies seem particularly earth-shattering, well, you lived through the ’70s, too. It’s hard to make you younger folks understand how unsettling that era was, and prices aside, it was unsettling. Stations closed at 5 p.m. Some areas restricted sales to every other day depending on last name or plate number. Lines at the pumps stretched a block or more. And it happened so fast — one day gasoline was an expense for most households the way coffee was an expense, and suddenly it turned into a mortgage. I drove to Cleveland with some friends for a day trip during this period, and we delayed topping off the tank. As we turned for home, we entered a strip of gas stations near the freeway entrance, and justlikethat, they all turned off their lights and closed for business, and it was like that all over town. We had to spend the night, like pioneers stranded by a blizzard.

For teenagers accustomed to getting a couple days’ driving out of a dollar’s worth of gas, it was shocking.

A few years later came the big coal strike that led to voluntary restrictions on electricity use, deep into one of the coldest winters on record, and certainly in my lifetime. I think of that era as cold, dark and expensive, and it changed my energy-use behavior forever. I’ve never bought a car without at least considering its gas mileage. I never set the thermostat above 68. I watch my tach as closely as I watch my speed, and shift to minimize RPMs whenever possible.

This sort of era can turn you crabbed and mean; the dark side of thrift is miserliness, a refusal to share in any sort of bounty for fear of a coming shortage. But I’m sympathetic to those caught flat-footed. Many of my neighbors are in the automotive business, and many drive enormous, hulking, high-profit-margin vehicles that are surely running them to the poorhouse, one tank at a time. (Remember, this is the industry that, when confronted with the early Honda subcompacts, offered as competition the Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto.) Many are younger than I am, and don’t remember the fun old days. Ah, well. As my parents responded to my whining then with stern reminders of the deprivations of the war years, so too do I nod in sympathy, as I roll past on pedal power.

How do you save gas without being totally anal about it?

By the way, today I’m having lunch on the patio at the Detroit Golf Club — a planning session for our movie challenge entry, next month. See Rule #4, above. I’m so starved for a non-family human interaction I’d drive to Ypsilanti for donuts with Mitt Romney. (Downside: Again, it’s not even 50 degrees yet. Maybe they’ll have to serve us our coffee in thermal casks.)

A bit o’ bloggage:

In addition to the big essay on conservatism, I also read this in the New Yorker this weekend, about Katie Couric’s travails as anchor of the CBS Evening News. I read it with the same sense of awe I have whenever I think about the evening network news — that somewhere in this country there are still people with nothing better to do at 6:30 p.m. than watch 22 minutes of old-skool network news. So, I think, does Nancy Franklin, who wrote the piece:

The evening news continues to have value for millions of people, but millions more are now turning to the Internet. Increasingly, and in more ways than one, there is an end-of-the-day feeling to the nightly-news half hour—there’s ad after ad for products that treat all the things that go wrong with your body after you’re fifty, and in the broadcast itself there’s the endless use of the tired phrase “pain at the pump,” for stories on fuel prices, and always, in stories about pharmaceutical companies or warnings about drugs, the same shot of pills moving rapidly along a conveyor belt.

Our witty pal Alex once described the overarching theme of network news as “somewhere, someone younger than you is spending your tax dollars on things you wouldn’t approve of,” and that’s word, too. Later:

But I don’t think that people want less news; they want, I believe, the same kind of informed passion and doggedness that TV-news people displayed while covering Hurricane Katrina, and they want anchors to go deep into issues. Who knows, young people might turn on their TVs in droves if news organizations had a few choice strands of Michael Moore’s DNA in them, and pointed out when, say, a public official wasn’t telling the truth. Jon Stewart is a lightning rod both for people who decry the notion that young people get their news from watching “The Daily Show,” and for people who think that his (and Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Report”) is the only current-events show worth watching. I’m not a Stewartite, but when Dick Cheney denies making certain statements about the war in Iraq and Stewart shows three video clips that prove he’s lying, I think he’s providing a real service to the country, and I’d like to think that that’s what his fans are responding to.

That’s exactly right. I’m late to the Jon Stewart fan club, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see him on a network newscast — it would ruin his magic — but I’d drive an SUV to Ypsi to see him do an author interview before I would, say, Brian Williams. (His dissection of Jonah Goldberg is a minor classic.) Stewart brings a level of honesty to the table that so-called professional journalists either can’t or won’t, because they interpret “objectivity” so strictly that they can’t call a spade a spade. Haven’t they figured out that the people they cover are wise to this? How many books does Scott McClellan have to write before it gets through: Sometimes the people behind the podium? Are LYING. It’s not bias to point this out. It’s, um, journalism.

Well, don’t want to start ranting.

Why newspapers are dying: Because they think there’s no room for ALL the “Sex and the City” movie-premiere fashion pictures. But Jezebel does.

The morning, she is slipping away. Better go select my long underwear for visiting the golf club on the 28th DAY OF DAMN MAY, FOR GOD’S SAKE. Have a good one.

Posted at 10:50 am in Media, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

59 responses to “Less pump pain.”

  1. Stephanie said on May 28, 2008 at 10:57 am

    “And carrying home certain loads — a few bottles of wine, a big bag of dog food — make you look like a crazy person who lost her driver’s license to multiple drunk-driving convictions.”

    I am sitting at Panera bread laughing out loud at this post…and now I look like a crazy person!

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  2. LAMary said on May 28, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I’m calculating on a daily basis when it will become cheaper for me to use public transportation to get to work. A half a gallon of gas covers a round trip right now, so I’m still in the black. This morning I saw regular gas at 4.17 per gallon, so soon I’ll be on the train or bus.
    The kids are armed with monthy student metro passes, so all their trips are covered.

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  3. Hattie said on May 28, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Looks like the era of the soccer mom is at an end. Her precious ones will be taking the bus. It’s all to the good.

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  4. baldheadeddork said on May 28, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Speaking of classic interviews, Stephen Colbert interviewed FRC president Tony Perkins last night.

    As the kids say, much pwnage ensued…


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  5. ie said on May 28, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I can usually squeeze 3 weeks out of a tank of gas. Public transport is not an option for me (here in Las Vegas).

    Thing I currently do: I always combine trips.

    Thing I started doing: no errands or going somewhere for lunch, unless it’s unavoidable. That means bringing my lunch almost every day (except the occasional Friday) which seems pretty smart, considering I’m not driving to buy lunch, so I’m saving money in fuel and food money.

    Thing I will start doing: I’ll try that speed limit thing. I’m usually not too heavy-footed anyway, but I do get a little antsy behind the slowpokes if I’m headed to work or an appointment.

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  6. Bruce Fields said on May 28, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    “You can fit more on the back of a bike than you think, if you have the right bungee cords.”

    Bungees are great, but have you tried panniers? If you take them into the store you can bag the groceries directly into them. I get 40 pounds or so on the back of my bike without too much hassle. For me panniers were one of those “how did I ever live without them?” things.

    And then there’s trailers if you really want to pull a lot of stuff. I’ve never used one. But I sorta lust after these things: http://www.bikesatwork.com/.

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  7. Danny said on May 28, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I get a week out of a tank which is basically my 200-mile per 5-day commute (all freeway). Never do errands at lunch, always combine trips. Don’t drive on the weekends.

    The calculation I am currently looking at is where gas is likely to settle and how the lower yearly gas consumption of a more fuel efficent vehicle offsets the purchase cost of the new vehicle. I am looking for a used Rav4 to replace my 13-year old, 2-wheel drive 4Runner.

    If gas stays at $4/gal, the Rav4 will save me about $1600 per year in gas. If gas goes to $6/gal, it becomes $2400 per year. Both of those figures represent a few car payments, at least.

    I’m still not ready to do the bus. It would add at least an hour to my commute each day.

    EDIT: Oh and I would bike a couple of times a week if the commute was anywhere near safe. Unfortunately, the corridor I would have to travel is very unsafe. There have been a few experienced bikers who have been hit and one was killed 2 years ago.

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  8. Mindy said on May 28, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I’ve still got half a tank left of the gas I bought nearly three weeks ago at $3.79 a gallon. Altering my life around fuel economy is so second nature that I can’t say I’ve made many changes at all since the price leaped to $1.19 from $1.05. I grew up during the 70s in a small town, which meant that a trip to the big town was an entire day spent there to do as much as possible. It’s inconvenient sometimes but entirely livable with a little planning.

    While buying my $3.79 a gallon gas a man at the same pump nodded toward my car and asked if it were a Honda. I told him yes, that it was a 2001 Accord and that I remember filling it completely full from totally empty for $18 when it was new. He snickered and we watched my pump stop at almost $47.

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  9. coozledad said on May 28, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Well, I am a miser. I became one after 2000, when I realized virtually everything I spent on fuel was financing Dick Cheney’s self-cloning and cryogenics lab in the basement of the Naval Research Station. My wife and I moved to a place with a lot of wooded acreage so we could try and get off the grid. We’ve only partially succeeded, but the effort is worth it anyway. I really like heating with wood. I don’t miss television. We still have to make that enormous investment in solar collectors, batteries and inverters to permit my wife to work from home and both of us to access the web, and we still wind up having to drive once a month to collect groceries from a food buying club.
    Here’s some measure of how damned crazy I am now: I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to build a wood-fired steam powered truck, or if there’s some Amish machine shop who’d be willing to give it a shot. Barring that, I’m going to have to go with a buckboard and a pair of mules. That’s going to be a feature pain in the ass, because the nearest town is some forty miles away.

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  10. MichaelG said on May 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I saw a place this AM that was down to $4.09. That’s right. Down. It’s been $4.13 -$4.16 at the cheapest around here.

    They ran cars and trucks on charcoal in Europe during WWII. I never bothered to find out how it works. Never thought it would matter.

    Here in Northern Cal the authorities have instructed people not to heat their houses with wood or to burn fires for fun. This was last winter. Wood burning fires are very polluting.

    Big story here is they’re gonna be closing I-5 off and on for days at a time right in downtown Sacto for the next two months starting Friday. I-5 is kind of a major street in Calif. Things will be very interesting.

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  11. beb said on May 28, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I think I’ve heard of something the British used during WWII to convert coal directly into ccoal gas to power their cars. I’m sure a wood burning version is possible.


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  12. Danny said on May 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Michael, I liked that line about I-5 being kind of a major street.

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  13. Adrianne said on May 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Nance, as a child of the ’70s, I’ve never really gotten over the gas lines and the cold, dark winter of 1978. So I’m always on the hunt for fuel-saving tips (easiest one here: buy gas in Jersey, which has no state tax on fuel). But the driving the speed limit savings was partially debunked by an assistant city editor here, who drives on Interstate 84 back and forth across the Hudson to get to work, and did one week at 65 mph and the next at drive it like it’s a rental. The savings? A couple of bucks. Not worth it, to me.

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  14. alex said on May 28, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I’m making fewer trips, driving my truck less and my car more, but still have a lengthy commute on roads where no cyclist in his right mind would dare to venture. Between the high cost of fuel and the recently added burden of an extra $266 per month out of my paycheck for health insurance, I may just take up residence in a cardboard box somewhere closer to the office.

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  15. Sue said on May 28, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Ah, yes, it even had a name: The Arab Oil Embargo. Jimmy Carter in sweaters, gas siphoning, people beginning to fight over whose job was too important to participate in rationing (doctors? pilots? well, then, how about nurses and stewardesses?) (yes, stewardesses is what they were called.) But at least we all learned important lessons about energy independence which have been carried over to this day. That’s a relief.
    And Jon Stewart is my favorite source for news. He puts “real” television journalists to shame.

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  16. Joe K. said on May 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Bought a bike this weekend, a cannondale hibred It is dang nice, sit up straight, 24 gears, lights front and back, saddle bags for shopping. Was driving 3-4 miles to town and 3.5 to the airport every day, figure the bike will pay for itself in about 5 months, and help with cross training during marathon training. Flying with the throttles pulled back I got 22 gal per hour last night, down from 25 per hour and only lost about 5knts. Trying to cruise at 155knt instead of 160 or 165. Payed 6.97 a gal for airplane gas Sunday morning in Raleigh N.C, so saving 10 gal a night makes a big difference.
    Nancy just be careful driving the speed limit when everyone else is doing 10-15mph faster than you, You could be looking at a major rear ender.
    Everyone in this country is going to be looking at a big culture shock in the next 2-3 yrs. Be prepared for only one or two airlines with high cost. Think aeroflot, the day of $100 from N.Y. to L.A. are a bought over. The u.s. will have to restructure the way we build city’s. Stores will have to be closer, less leisure travel and more doing stuff at home.
    Pilot Joe

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  17. nancy said on May 28, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    If you buy that mule team, send pictures.

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  18. coozledad said on May 28, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    MichealG; We have a couple of different woodburning stoves. One is a US model from the 73 fuel crisis. It’s not efficient, but it’s hot. It’s the primary heater when we get down to twenty degree days. The other is a Jotul, which is carbueretted and has a catalytic converter. It still produces greenhouse gases, though, just not as many particulates. We probably won’t have any admissions restrictions here anytime soon, because we’re on the lee side of one of the worst polluting coal-fired plants in the US (that is, until they installed their scrubbers).
    From the 1920’s through the fifties, Abner Doble built steam powered cars. The heat source was a highly efficient kerosene burning network of tubes. They were very large, powerful, fast cars, but apparently the braking systems sucked. His last designs were smaller engines tucked into other manufacturer’s chassis (Nash, maybe).

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  19. coozledad said on May 28, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Nancy: Will do.

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Our fellow United Way agencies are all calling and e-mailing me asking “how did you know to ask for an increase in allocation for 07-08 based on $4.50 a gallon gas?” They want to know what websites and data sources i’m getting this stuff off of, since we made our initial presentation back in January based on a fiscal year range of $4 to $5 per gallon for the July 07-June 08 period. (And i’m just a cleric who knows a bit about homelessness and grant writing, with a growing specialty in foreclosure related matters, but not an energy policy analyst.)

    We were quizzed about our peculiar pessimism in February, and now in late May we look pretty darn clever — my short answer is “i read lots of stuff,” but maybe i should just send them all here to NN.C . . . it would be waaaay to disturbing to them if i pointed them to http://www.kunstler.com and they actually read a little of Jim’s work.

    Or http://www.theoildrum.com. Love these little tubes under the internets; they carry everything but endless fossil fuels.

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  21. Andrew Jarosh said on May 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Life is to be lived, not hunkered down in my home as a bomb shelter on weekends because I am not driving due to the price of gas. Key Largo is a tad less than 2 hours from Fort Myers, and that’s not driving the speed limit. Killer Key Lime pie, snorkeling, sunsets and mojitos. Damn if $4 or $5 a gallon is going to keep me home; damn if an extra $15-$25 in gas is going to keep me from living a fruitful life on my days off.
    Remember, all those days you spend hunkered down at home not experiencing the American Experience will never be returned to you.
    Also helps I’ve never spent a buck at Taco Bell, lol! Can eat half price shrimp appetizers and half price Killian’s or Yuengling draft beer at just about most Florida happy hour establishments.
    Enjoy and live.

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  22. MichaelG said on May 28, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Oh, I know all about clean burning stoves, C’dad. When I was still married and living in Auburn we had an insert that came with all kinds of EPA, etc. stickers attesting to its clean burning ways. We used to save lots of money burning windfalls instead of turning on the central heat. I was just reporting what the air people here mandated last winter.

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  23. Dexter said on May 28, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    My shopping bike has a huge “Wald” brand basket on the front of the 1951 model year bike…two paper sacks fit in perfectly. I also go to the store frequently to utilize the bike, but once a week I drive the van to load up on paper products, paper towels and the softer stuff.
    Other bikes in my garage have different kinds of baskets, too.
    Gas, I fill up frequently…when oil shoots up a few bucks, I top off the tank before the gas pumps reflect it…last top-off was 8 bucks for 2 gallons. It is also a psychological calmer…I was raging mad the first time I bought gas when my tank was down to a quarter-tank and it cost 60 bucks.

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  24. kayak woman said on May 28, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Returning to a corporate-type career after more than a few years as a vagabond has actually cut down on my fuel expenses. It’s a short 8-mile commute on a non-bikeable route (for me, anyway) and the bus doesn’t go there either. But it ended my sloppy habit of running out erratically to do random errands all over hell and gone. And with a new “upscale” grocery store a couple blocks away from my house, I can live that tiny Paris walk-up scenario, except I do it on foot.

    Unfortunately, I can’t do much about the habit of visiting the beach-front property and the octogenarian in the UP.

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  25. nancy said on May 28, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Which upscale grocery store opened near my old A2 neighborhood, KW? No matter where I live, I’m on the wrong side of town — Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s were both at the other end of Stadium Boulevard when I was there.

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  26. del said on May 28, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    2 gems in Nancy’s post: “But it’s fun to be crazy” and “the dark side of thrift is miserliness.” Amen.

    Baldheadeddork — I was thinking of the very same Colbert clip. Great clip.

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  27. whitebeard said on May 28, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    From http://www.fueleconomy.gov “Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.”
    Now if those arrogant stupid speeders were only taught to read before they left first grade, we might be better off.
    As for fake gas, the Germans made their own ersatz gasoline – synthetic fuel manufactured from coal in World War II. Germany also used carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane to make liquid hydrocarbons (synthetic oil). And Germany invaded Russia to get at Russian oil fields. Does anybody see a parallel to Iraq or a reason for all the propaganda for an attack on Iran?

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  28. Sue said on May 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Oh please, oh please, Dexter, a picture of you and the bike. Please.

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  29. joodyb said on May 28, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    if you were a little kid or a struggling post-collegiate praying for any job, and most certainly blessed to score one for which you were actually somewhat educated, everything post-Watergate has an apocalyptic tinge in your memory. the decade became grimmer with each passing year. then the nation elected Ronald Reagan, and i thought we surely would not survive the 80s. the joke’s on me, as usual. and just when you really TRULY believe it can’t get worse …

    i’ve tried to figure out why my son doesn’t share my compulsion to turn off lights around the house, which i thought was genetic. i now see it’s my 70s Victory Garden mentality.

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  30. LAMary said on May 28, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Aaargh! Turning off lights, turning off the TV, closing the fridge. I sound like some annoying old codger when I have to remind my kids to do these things.

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  31. Kirk said on May 28, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Yuengling draft, as mentioned by Andrew: proof that it’s not a law that American lager has to taste like piss, even though the great majority of it does.

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  32. brian stouder said on May 28, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    What Mary said! (and I get the big eye-roll* when I remind the young folks)

    *and the kids roll THEIR eyes, too!

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  33. caliban said on May 28, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Lecturing young folks? Say it ain’t so. (And it wasn’t, Shoeless hit .375 in that series). I once drove a Z-28 about 150 mph on Woodward Avenue. In the late Sixties, the Big Three made their cars in popular opinion and folklore on that straight shot.

    We ride our bikes in the rain. Proper dress and an umbrella help, but it is freezing at the frocery store when you’re soaked.

    I don’t think it’s passed the legislature, and Lindsay Graham might be offended, but I believe Yuengling is the SC state beer. I was at the rollout for Sam Adams at the Durgin Park Oyster Bar, and we took the teeshirts, made fun of the tags on the bottlenecks, and said, damn, that’s good beer. We used to get six-packs of Ballantyne for $.99 at the drugstore in Birmingham back in the day. Whippersnappers don’t know what they’re missing, what with texting and worrying about the next fill-up.

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  34. joodyb said on May 28, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    at least you guys got a reaction. the one i love best: the tv programmed to come on – FOR NO ONE!

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  35. whitebeard said on May 28, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Kirk. When I was a kid, a couple of us went to a nearby shed where the neighbor had bottled his own beer and discovered the device that squeezes the cap on the bottle. We then opened up a few freshly brewed bottles and replaced the beer with some that had been circulated through our kidneys, you know, like recycling. We never heard a peep from the neighbor; maybe he thought he had accidentally made some true American beer or had not let it ferment enough.

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  36. Dexter said on May 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Sue, I don’t have any pics of me on the bike and have not even tried to take a picture with my new cell phone, but here’s an Errol Morris commercial that captures my spirit, except I gave up beer and booze 15 years ago. Also, my basket is a lot bigger.
    Also, I am in a video with my friends …Craig Crawford made the video a couple years ago featuring his regular bloggers…I am the man in front of the old Volkswagen bus, which is mine, and the dog in the picture is my daughter’s…a Blue Heeler, Aussie Cattle Dog. I’ll post the link to that video after this post. You’ll notice a few celebs in the video.

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  37. Kirk said on May 28, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Now that’s skunky.

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  38. Dexter said on May 28, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Here’s the video

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  39. Dexter said on May 28, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    1978 was mentioned today here. I have a memory that the 1978 Indiana Boys High School Basketball Tournament was postponed for 6 or 7 weeks , so the arenas would not have to be heated…I am sure (in my [addled?] mind) that the championship was in May instead of March.
    My brother says I imagined it and I searched every way I know how, but high school sports are not documented like collegiate & professional sports are. Many newspaper archives won’t go back that far…I even emailed several Indiana newspaper sportswriters and not one answered.
    Any super-sleuths out there that might know if this really happened?

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  40. Jim in Fla said on May 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    From the IHSAA web site:

    1978 Originally scheduled to be played March 25, winter weather and an energy crunch caused by a coal miners strike force a delay of the state finals until April 15. Muncie Central goes on to win its sixth state championship defeating Terre Haute South in overtime, 65-64, three weeks later than originally anticipated.

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  41. caliban said on May 28, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Workin’ for the Yankee dollar.

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  42. kayak woman said on May 28, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Plum Market by the Jonna brothers, who did Merchant of Vino, I think, over in the northern burbs. Bloomfield has the other Plum Market. The neighborhood here *loves* it, especially since N. Maple is under major construction this summer.

    KW aka Anne from Ann Arbor (and Soo Ste. Siberia)

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  43. whitebeard said on May 28, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    KW (and Soo Ste. Siberia) LOL?, Cannot be Siberia; I was born in The Soo and the worst cold I ever experienced was in Montreal at 40 below on Christmas Day back in the mid-70s, where we lived in a stone-front, upper-lower duplex a few blocks from McGill University. And Ottawa was then the coldest national capital in the world, even Moscow (nicknamed the Big Potato, really) was warmer.

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  44. Julie Robinson said on May 28, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    The Indiana University Bloomington campus has a massive heating plant, which then sends steam heat all over campus via underground tunnels. Back in ’78 it was fired by good old Indiana coal, except there wasn’t any to be had. We had a three week spring break while the entire campus was closed. Foreign students had to find some kindly friends to bunk in with because ALL the dorms were closed.

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  45. whitebeard said on May 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    In Montreal, didn’t think too much about gasoline prices, walked to work in about 20 minutes from the duplex. On vacations, took the passenger train (free on employee/spouse passes) and rented a car at the other end. Grocery store around the corner would deliver phoned-in orders. Even when we lived away from downtown, the Metro (subway) was a block and a half away from our nine-room, $100 flat, and took 20 minutes to our jobs, which were about two blocks apart.

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  46. whitebeard said on May 28, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Here, in Connecticut I made up for being spoiled in Montreal, 46 miles (one-way) to my work, no public transportation, nearest grocery was four miles away, changed into a deli a few years back and now is closed, so it is a 18-minute drive to nearest grocery stores, banks, you name it.

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  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    And at both IU and Purdue in the 70’s, us geeky boys did, in fact, play Dungeons and Dragons in the steam tunnels (the poor fellow who got lost and died was up in Lansing, i believe, at MSU) as well as the city parks and the halls of the respective student unions.

    Our Purdue gamers were always dominant over the Hoosiers, which may have had something to do with the fact that we had something to escape from (PChem and writing your compiler in Fortran), whereas for IU students escapist leisure activity was redundant (Class — Semiotics of the Grateful Dead; weekends — bong hits to Grateful Dead).

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  48. MommyTime said on May 28, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Oh, please, don’t drive to Ypsi for donuts with Mitt! I’ll meet you there instead. It will be much more fun (and the donuts there ARE good).

    I have not figured out how to take two preschool kids to the grocery store on my bike, but I deeply regret that I cannot walk places with them due to the utter lack of side walks here. ABSURD. Distance-wise, I could walk to downtown P with them; but I’d have to do so on the sloping shoulder of a 50-mile-an-hour road (which in MI means 65 on a slow day, as you know). The lack of foresight in city planning is killing me.

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  49. caliban said on May 28, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    /I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert. Waiting on the fulminations over Barack’s imaginary uncle that rode into Auswitch on the same tank as carried R. Raygun. Whose ox is gored? Had Hillary said this, we’d be hearing from Olbermann about how she’s’ a natural born liar, shot Vince Foster in some hysterical, menopausal rage. That is Keith’s point, isn’t it? She doesn’t smell like Aqua Velva or Old Spice.

    All of the intentionally imagined racism is actually sexism, Mi and FLA doan mean spit, because HoDean ate Republican pie to satisfy his own immense ego. on-Amefocan ceeps

    And really, does anybody believe Granny denigrated black people to the nappy-headed boy?

    On the other hand, getting shot down and incarceated for raining down napalm doesn’t make you a war hero. Slightly better than bailing out on your best friends and letting them die in the Sea of Japan. Not nearly as cool as bolting Tejas armory wen it looked like your sorry ass might
    have to serve.

    You might ask John Kerry about that. He did serve. With distinction. Saved guys lives. You payed for a 24/7 horsrshit slur on the man’s reputation, and, really, it’s prertty hard to see this as anything but personal cowardice and persobal greed.

    For the last nearly eight years, the US has been dominated by an asshole appointed by the ultimate asshol Scalia, and both these jerks believe the Constitution doan mean dick. W has invaded your privacy for no other reason than he could, He’s willingly tortured his fellow human beings and got nothing from it but porn material. Enriched

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  50. brian stouder said on May 28, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Dexter – very, very cool!

    (although, when caliban/michaelj sees Keith in there, at least two or three free-association posts will follow!)

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  51. Dexter said on May 29, 2008 at 1:45 am

    Thanks, brian stouder. Our third anniversary of the blog is coming up in a week and a half and Craig is making a new video. His blog has blown up and he gets over 500, maybe 600 posts a day. I sent him a couple snapshots of me and also two poster-photos of Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to use in the video. The Roosevelt pictures were given to a friend when he visited Eleanor in 1955. I’ll post a link in a couple/three week when Craig completes the video.
    …and THANK YOU Jim in FL…now my brother will have to admit I ain’t the one that’s nuts!
    Now to feed the dog a snack and climb into bed with the lady of the house.

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  52. kayak woman said on May 29, 2008 at 6:06 am

    Further A2 grocery updates: Whole Foods is opening in the old Mervyn’s, quite a bit closer to the west side or maybe just easier to get to. Aldi’s threatens to raze the ragtag bunch of businesses (auto repair, vacuum sales) on the northeast corner of Dexter/Maple.

    Whitebeard: It’s true. I don’t remember 40 below in the sault but I did walk to jr high/high school a few times at about 30 below. In a mini-skirt and nylon stockings with a rather flimsy short coat.

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  53. Brian Stouder said on May 29, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Well, I get to spend Monday in Grand Rapids (woo hoo!!) visiting the good folks at a pump manufacturer that we deal with.

    All in all, I’d rather be on the east side of Lake Michigan in early June than in early January

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  54. Julie Robinson said on May 29, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, let’s not engage in the tired old IU/PU stereotypes. Shall I start singing “moo, moo, Purdue”?

    I would have run screaming from a Grateful Dead bong party back to the excellent IU School of Music, where there are something like 2000 live performances a year of classical music.

    At a large university like IU you can find a niche for pretty much anything you desire. Even D&D geeks, even music geeks. And yes, Grateful Dead geeks too.

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  55. MichaelG said on May 29, 2008 at 9:09 am

    When I was at UI in Champaign in the early, ulp, 60’s the steam tunnels used to be available for pedestrian traffic. That really did ease winter walks to class.

    MommyTime, my daughter, who lives in Yorktown, VA, voiced exactly the same complaint to me last Sunday. She would love to walk to the store but with two little ones and no sidewalks she isn’t about to risk those 50mph streets. They don’t even have shoulders on half of the streets. Just ditches. The developers saved a couple of bucks.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 29, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Hee hee — Julie, i’m just picking on my brother, keyboard player for The Dynamics and a proud French graduate of IU (but should have an MA in Deadheadedness, with an associates degree is Phishing), and my brother-in-law, PhD vocal music grad, both of whom are still in Bloomington where my sis is a prof on the faculty for Apparel Merch and Interior Design.

    We kid, we kid because we love (i didn’t even get an ag degree from Moo-due, though my wife can’t say the same . . .).

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  57. Kath said on May 29, 2008 at 10:10 am


    My father bought the plans to build a steam car in the 70s using a VW chassis. Get yourself some old copies of the British magazine “Light Steam Power.” There are plenty of examples in there.

    He sold his steam boat a few years ago. But he still has the engine — and the patent on it. Once the glorious days of steam return, I’ll make big money.

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  58. coozledad said on May 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Kath: Thanks. We actually have a Saturn with 350000 miles on it we rarely use anymore, and it would be a nice candidate for such a conversion. Your dad may yet get to see that engine in mass production. There’s a lot of support around here for making biofuels from sawgrass- using it to heat steam would be a good application.

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  59. joodyb said on May 29, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    We are none of us any the worse for fashion, are we, Kayak Woman? My mom is still irritated I never actually FROZE MY A55 OFF.

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