May 2, 2008

The Weeklies #34

The Weekly Strange Moment. I emerged from the parking garage in downtown Washington to be immediately faced by a banjo-playing homeless guy playing the theme from Deliverance. I almost went home. I probably should have.

The Weekly Reads. If you've read The Weeklies for any period of time, you'll know I've read a lot of Harlan Coben. I just finished his almost-latest The Woods. Coben's a great writer. He's a great storyteller and he's got a great sense of humor. That said, The Woods was perhaps not his strongest. While suspenseful, it was a tad lengthy.

The Weekly Music. I was surfing emusic (if you haven't checked them our for all kinds of DRM-free indie goodness, you really should) and ran across the Matthew Good back catalog. Good stuff. Hospital Music, a solo outing, and The Audio of Being, recorded by the Matthew Good Band, are especially good. The albums are kind of like what Live would sound like now if they didn't suck.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Remember Steve Fossett, the dude who tried to break all kinds of flight records usually involving hot air balloons? His wife is getting a bill from the state of Nevada for the search to the tune of $687,000. Is it me or does this set a shitty precedent? I mean, Fossett's wife didn't put a gun to the governor of Nevada's head to force the search. And don't we all have a reasonable expectation that emergency workers will actually do their jobs and help without demanding repayment?

The Weekly Observation. Remember the old Cinderella song Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone? In a very leather pants-wearing way, I feel that way about sleep.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. At what point do the rising gas prices force you to make major changes to your life? And what are those changes?

Posted by Chris at May 2, 2008 7:05 AM

We were talking about gas prices in the office the other day. We all live close to our office and could walk if we wanted to. One co-worker purchased plans on how to build a WeedEater powered bike. Look it up on youtube. Although, you might get killed riding it on the streets of Monkey Town.

Posted by: Josh at May 2, 2008 7:15 AM

I generally rent a car drive all over the country a couple times a year to see as many friends and relatives as possible (three cheers for books on CD, hip hip...), but that's on the way out. Did you know that the oil companies slap a ~70% tax on gas? Ha ha! Good times!

Having said that, I'm driving up to Philadelphia for the weekend and dreading both the gas prices and the 95 corridor into and out of D.C. You should really do something about your city's interstate. It's ridiculous.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at May 2, 2008 7:17 AM

Haha, I thought you were going to say the banjo weilding homeless guy was going to be singing "There ain't no party like a butt naked party." My co-workers ran across a guy doing that in San Diego. That was the only phrase he sang, but he sang it in all kinds of styles.

As for the gas prices... Luckily enough my parents are being very gracious and still paying for my gas at this point. But I have decided that, out of a 2 week 10-day schedule at work, I'm going to work 9, 9 hour days and take off every other Monday. That ought to cut down on the gas consumption at least by a little bit. Plus, the boyfriend and I try to not go out as often as we use to.

Posted by: secha at May 2, 2008 7:23 AM

Well, we already have the horses. I'm considering buying a wagon and hitching a couple horses to it to haul the family around. We already feed, shoe, vaccinate and care for the horses. Sounds like free transportation to me.. once we get a wagon. =]

Posted by: Suzy at May 2, 2008 7:42 AM

I think we've definitely started taking less "random errand" trips and have started consolidating them into one day out on the w/ends... I also find myself planning to get gas... with a coupon, and a savings card...
Oh and did you hear Exxon had a record 1Q Profit... shitheads.....

Posted by: Stephanie at May 2, 2008 8:14 AM

I don't even know what changes I would make!

I'm actually glad I moved to a big city. I haven't driven since the last time I visited Michigan. I walk or take the train. I have little to no idea how much gas costs.

However, my boyfriend just got a job in one of the suburbs, and come July/August, I'm going to have an internship in one of them. Of course, not the same one.

We might buy one of those cars, y'know, those ones. That are good with this and stuff like that. But one of us (me) would still be in the Buick. So we're not helping much.

See how little I know about what I should do?

Posted by: Caleal at May 2, 2008 8:16 AM

My biggest change so far is making my husband fill up the tank so I don't have to look at the damage it's doing to the bank account.

Posted by: Amy at May 2, 2008 8:23 AM

I'm salivating over that website. You know me and my quest for is never sated.

The rising gas prices are one reason I got a different job, close to home where I could mostly rely on the bus for transport to work. We're moving again in June and guess what? This complex has a bus stop on each side, both very close to our front door. Which means NO DRIVING AT ALL. I am beyond excited about this. I haven't put a full tank of gas in my car for months. Yesterday I spent $5 and got 1.8 gallons. :D

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at May 2, 2008 8:28 AM

With the husband out of work, soaring food prices on top of over-the-top gas prices, we're struggling. We also have cut down on random trips, are rethinking our summer vacation "up north" in Michigan,and are trying to get out of the lease on the husbands diesel F250. Why can't things be simple like it was when we were kids?

Posted by: Dawn at May 2, 2008 8:39 AM

ah, the unmistakable screech of tom kiefer. probably not what you prefer to have bouncing around your brains when you're short on sleep, but what can you do? he's unforgettable.

i loved "coming home." thank the heavens for youtube.

Posted by: jessica at May 2, 2008 9:06 AM

I work 1.8 miles from my house and my boyfriend works about 6 miles from the house, so while we are still paying more to fill the tank up it lasts us a couple weeks. Thankfully no need for any changes, yet.

Deliverance, huh? Did you dream about squeeling like a pig that night??

Posted by: Kelly M. at May 2, 2008 9:09 AM

Ugh, the GAS prices. Just in time for me to have to fill the tank of my new car that is big enough to fit three carseats across the back. BOOOO HISSS.

I guess my short term answer is to drive less. It's funny though, this time of year the kiddos and I usually sacrifice a car ride in favor of a walk, so it's not all that hard to ditch the pretty new SUV and avoid the gas pumps. Sweetie doesn't have a choice but to drive to work every day, so he'll make a few stops on the way home from work to knock off our minor errands, and that way I don't have to fire up the second car. Perhaps if this trend continues, we'll have to curtail road trips to visit my family (Which! Would make a very pregnant lady VERY UPSET, Big Oil, so DON'T DO IT).

Posted by: chatty cricket at May 2, 2008 9:12 AM

I'm also a huge Harlan Coban fan. You mention the Myron Bolitar series in an earlier post - and now I'M ADDICTED. So thanks for the hot tip. :)

Posted by: Allison at May 2, 2008 9:17 AM

I've been thinking about my limit for this for a long time. I'd be willing to ride my bike to work, for at one time before I got pregnant, we were riding 10 miles on weekends. But now that I have a kid, I have no idea how I'd do the bike thing. Because it would be at a set time each day and if it was raining and all, it would just be a mess. If Segways went faster, I would so stick my son in a baby bjorn and do it that way.

Posted by: claire at May 2, 2008 9:21 AM

Holy crap that banjo Deliverance thing would have sent me home and cowering the corner for several hours! That is just too flippin' freaking! (She says as she write from the wilds of Indiana ;)

No changes. We only drive one new and fairly fuel efficient vehicle mostly because we work in the same place which is about 7 minutes from our house/day care. We also probably fill up about 1 time per month so it is not an issue.

If I was not pregnant and I would actually think about riding my bike to work because I love to do that but that would require a lot of planning, going to bed earlier/getting up earlier and generally really wanting to get fit which right now is just not going to happen! Otherwise, I/we have not felt a huge sting from the gas prices.

Posted by: Christina at May 2, 2008 9:24 AM

We have cut back by opting out of one of our vacations this summer. Airline tickets to where we wanted to go had doubled and we don't have time to drive. Our second vacation we driving (we own a hybrid) instead of flying because we have the time and it will cost a lot less environmentally and money wise.
I blogged about my weird office experience this week and thought of you, although it wasn't in the men's room but it did include body parts.

Posted by: Arwen at May 2, 2008 9:25 AM

But they never found Steve Fossett, did they? If I were his wife I'd be like, "Bitch! I'm not paying anything until you FIND him." Yes. I'd say exactly that.

Posted by: Tink at May 2, 2008 9:34 AM

I really could use some suggestions on reading. I'm too finicky. I can tell you I liked reading Stephen King years ago and I like Stephen Ambrose. But now, I find nothing interesting because it's so contrived. I don't like laywer, detective or doctor books. So can you suggest a few authors? I might try that Coben guy if you can suggest a good book of his to read as well as a few other authors, I would appreciate it.


Posted by: Edge at May 2, 2008 9:52 AM

I can't seem to word this in a way that doesn't sound snippy, but I really don't intend it that way... Your emergency workers will not help you for free. If an ambulance comes to your rescue, you are going to get a bill for it. No one put a gun to Fossett's head and told him to attempt something potentially dangerous that could result in him needing rescue.

Posted by: Melissa at May 2, 2008 10:04 AM

I heard on the radio this mrorning about Fossets wife, that she actually donated 200Gs to the search and rescue efforts anyway and the Governor still wants to charge her.

Posted by: William at May 2, 2008 10:06 AM

Ummm, I took a job with significantly less pay but closer to my house. I figure gas prices are only going to keep going up and it will make better sense in a few months.

Posted by: Heather at May 2, 2008 10:12 AM

I've already started making changes in the form of carpooling (despite the inconvenience) to events, asking friends with good gas mileage to drive and then handing them a $5.00, etc.

If gas prices hit $6.00 a gallon before we're ready to buy replacement vehicles, we'll go ahead an replace them. We currently drive vehicles with very poor gas mileage and have planned for a long time to change that (but we've had these for 8 years).

I also hope it leads to funding of more public transportation. The mid-west has very little.

Posted by: Brad at May 2, 2008 10:14 AM

Don't know what it is I did so wro-oh-ong

I start eating other drivers, leaving more gas for myself.

Posted by: Mr Lady at May 2, 2008 10:37 AM

Deliverance AND the Banjo?? Brrrrr... Gas mileage - hrm. The car I drive everyday gets really good gas mileage and my husband uses Metro so that's pretty good. We have started taking our more fuel efficient car on our frequent tips down to Williamsburg VA instead of the more comfortable SUV (Honda CRV). Also - if/when the (older) CRV craps out, we will probably get a hybrid.

Posted by: Sue R at May 2, 2008 10:46 AM

I have started to combine trips to the store with other things, the girls classes this summer I picked while thinking about driving for the first time ever. We dont live in a large city it takes all of 30 mins to get from one side to the other, but with these gas prices making more than one trip a day was not economical. We also nixed a trip to Colorado in favor of a trip 6 hours closer because of gas prices.

Posted by: linda at May 2, 2008 10:51 AM

I work from home so at least have that going for me with the rising gas prices but all the driving I do have to do is gas-sucking city driving.
I have a scooter and have vowed to drive it for all my trips within town limits and possibly farther as the weather gets nicer. Right now I just bundle up.

Posted by: Nancy at May 2, 2008 11:19 AM

I'm at that point! I would lose waaaay too much money if I trade in my gas guzzling new Yukon so I am moving myself and the children into a duplex during the week (Jason works out of town anyway). Since my grandmother owns the duplex and works out of the other side I get the "family" rate, which makes it cheaper for me to pay to live there (5 minutes from work) than to continue to pay for gas. It also helps that it's the best school district around : )

Posted by: Mymilabean at May 2, 2008 11:32 AM

Disclaimer: I live in Las Vegas, NV.
The big reason the governor is billing Fossett's wife is because the state is quickly going broke just like our neighbor to the west, California. We passed a property tax cap a few years back and b/c the economy is in the toilet (thanks Bush 43), tourism and spending are down and Nevada is rapidly running out of $$$. Going after a rich widow seems to be our idiot governor's way of recouping some cash and getting some positive PR. When Fossett went missing, lots of locals criticized the search and everyone involved said "we'd do this for anyone." I wonder if they'd send a bill to just anyone as well.

Posted by: rebeccaeee at May 2, 2008 11:58 AM

Lucky for me, my job has moved my department to a new office which is 1.7 miles from my house. I can walk to work!!!
On the other hand, my 17 yr. old drives and never seems to have money, so I pay for that most of the time.

Posted by: Peggy at May 2, 2008 12:18 PM

Given my current lifestyle, I sometimes do not realize it's Friday until I see your Weeklies blog post.

I was going to check to see if I had read the Woods, but my internet has bogged down to the speed of sludge and I'm tired of waiting for amazon to kick up the link.

Did you know that gas is about $5 a gallon here in the Lower Mainland of BC? I suddenly feel less sorry for you guys back home.

Posted by: Jodi at May 2, 2008 12:30 PM

Gas prices haven't really changed much for me, mostly because I live in a rural area and don't really have many other options. However, I do pat my 12-year old, 40 mpg Corolla fondly on the dash more often. Once I brush aside all the dust and collected trash, that is.

Posted by: Alias Mother at May 2, 2008 12:31 PM

If you like Harlen Coben, you might try Lee Child. We (hubby & I) actually like Child's stuff better than Coben.

Posted by: Peggi at May 2, 2008 12:38 PM

For the earlier poster "Jef", you might try Harlen Coben's "Just One Look". It was the first Coben Book I read and I was hooked. "The Woods" was disappointing.

Posted by: Peggi at May 2, 2008 12:54 PM

I believe anyone has a right to be as daredevil-ish as s/he wants to be, as long as they don't hurt anyone, and are prepared to live with the consequences. Paying for rescues (successful or otherwise) is a consequence for a decision freely made.

If I were a Nevada taxpayer, I'd certainly want my money back. Sorry. :)

Posted by: Cynthia at May 2, 2008 12:57 PM

Emergency help for free? I would like to think that was the case - since I have frequently taken many a ninth grade group to the Boundary Waters for rustic canoeing and camping. We haven't had to be airlifted out yet, but we have had to take someone back (on our backs) for a broken leg.

All I know is that when I got meningitis and had to call the ambulance? Yeah. $750. And they don't file with insurance because insurance doesn't pay.(which they so pleasantly told me) and if I didn't pay in full? Creditors. Immediately. My God. It was awful.

So, almost half a million dollars to search for the guy? I don't know. My $750 was unaffordable.

Posted by: k8 at May 2, 2008 3:32 PM

I'm not really sure what kind of changes I could actually invoke. I still have to drive to work. We still need groceries. At some point, I refuse to allow it to beat me into submission, but I definitely do think about it sometimes if I'm low on cash. Which is like...all the time.

Posted by: Candy at May 2, 2008 3:59 PM

I'm actually all for charging people for rescue efforts, at least in certain situations. If you live in an area that has been evacuated, for instance, and you choose not to go? You should have to pay back every penny it cost to go save your ass. If you do something reasonably dangerous, like go off trail hiking in bad conditions, you should have to pay for your rescue. Why should I have to pay to save you from your adrenaline rush?

I don't think people who make stupid but unintentional mistakes, or get caught unaware by circumstances beyond their control (ie, the family that got lost/stuck in their car in a snowstorm) should necessarily have to pay.

If you're going to spend the money to be a daredevil, you should hold a little back for the rescue.

Posted by: Becky at May 2, 2008 4:02 PM

It already has. Hubby and I go places......together. We plan each trip so as to economize our carbon footprint. It's tough living out here in the woods where going to town is 25 miles away. Since we're retired, it really has taken a chunk out of our going out budget.

Posted by: Maribeth at May 2, 2008 4:21 PM

Two years ago I took a 40% salary cut to stop commuting in to the big city and work here in my home town. I now spend the exact same amount on gas as I did commuting, so the savings that made the change reasonable are killing us. And now Exxon's record 1Q? That just makes me furious. That let them eat cake attitude has got to go. The election can't come soon enough. And if changes don't happen after that, I don't know how we'll survive. I shouldn't have to give up my one measley week of vacation camping while the corporate pigs keep getting fatter.

Posted by: OS at May 2, 2008 5:37 PM

Re: Matthew Good. If you think his music is good (natch!), you should read his writing. He's amazing. He has a blog somewhere and has written at least one book of short stories. The Underdogs and Beautiful Midnight albums were my constant companions back in the early part of the century...great music.

Re: Rising Gas Prices. I am in the process of training a dogsled team to pull me to work in the winter. In the warmer months they will don roller skates and pull me in my chariot. The training is a slow process though and in the meantime, I'm forced to drive my minivan to work for the low, low price of $100/tank.

Posted by: Procrastamom at May 2, 2008 5:42 PM

Matt Good... I loved Avalanche. He recently went public with the fact that he is mentally ill. And much of his latest work is about his struggle. (Fascinating guy really.) (Totally loved the Live this. Sigh. I so love their old stuff alas.)

Gas. I drive a Honda Civic, I filled it up today, it cost $50. Fuck me. I need to drive to work and back so there is not much I can do at this point. I think we'll just rethink our adventures. Alas.

Posted by: Nat at May 2, 2008 6:25 PM

If I did not have three children I would not own a vehicle! That is how I would do my part in saving our earth and to keep money in my pocket!

Posted by: Amber at May 2, 2008 9:07 PM

My fiance also loves the Matthew Good Band--I remember him trying to get me hooked on them years ago. He'll be so excited to know someone else not Canadian is listening to them!

As for your gas question... find a job closer to home. Have wanted to do that for a long time.

Posted by: Angela at May 2, 2008 10:49 PM

I have a scooter, so that costs about $5 a week to fill up. The way prices are right now, I'm kind of doubting that I will ever bother getting a car.

Posted by: Missy at May 3, 2008 10:10 AM

So I heard about this on the radio yesterday, and your Cinderella comment was too well-timed:

We have one car, so the Boy does almost all our gas consumption. I also walk to work, and we are within a few blocks of a Target, a B&N, a Macy's, and a Marshall's. If only a real grocery store would move downtown...

Posted by: alektra at May 3, 2008 12:42 PM

I haven't paid much attention to gas prices as of late, until I started to think about driving to see family this summer. OUCH! So I guess I will not be taking the regular road trips to see the relatives this year. I do admit that I wish I lived in an area that was a little more pedestrian friendly and had some conveniences within walking distance. But alas, Texas loves its citizens that love their cars! Gotta drive to survive out here...

Posted by: Tara at May 4, 2008 11:08 PM