Monday, December 18, 2023

Cheap Gas!

Thanks Biden! (Just Kidding, Presidents don't control gas prices that directly).

When Joe Biden was elected, gas prices were sort of high - not by world standards or even historical standards in the USA.  Trumpers put stupid stickers on gas pumps with a picture of Joe Biden on them, saying "I Did That!" as if there was a knob or dial on the wall of the Oval Office that set gas prices nationwide and somehow Bumblin' Joe bumped into it and jacked the price of gas without realizing it.

Actually, he did the opposite - releasing oil from the national reserve (which Republicans criticized) at a very high price and now is refilling it at a lower price.  Buy Low, Sell High!  "Businessman" Donald Trump could learn a lesson or two from "senile" Joe Biden.

Trumpers are sort of cute in their naivety, like a five-year-old believing in Santa Claus (bad news, kids!).  Except the five year old doesn't have a gun and isn't trying to take over the government by force to install a dementia patient as dictator.  Why is it that dictators and wanna-be dictators are always insane?  I think that kind of answers itself, if you think about it.  Few do.

Anyway, the stickers went away when the price of gas dropped - to historic lows.  Trumpers blame Biden for high gas prices, but won't credit him for lower prices.  Again, five-year-olds with guns.

Yesterday, I went to the Circle K here on the island and regular 87 octane was $2.89 a gallon (plus nine-tenths but lets ignore that historic chicanery).  If you want to save on gas, regularly (sorry, pun) buy a car that burns 87 octane gas.  Prescription gasoline costs a lot more and doesn't really give you more in return.  If you can buy a "flexi-fuel" car you can really clean up, as when we traveled in the Midwest, we saw E85 Ethanol gas selling for a dollar a gallon cheaper than regular gas.

Check your owner's manual - most cars can burn at least 15% ethanol without damage.  The problem with ethanol is that it can attack aluminum and "pot metal" present in many fuel systems, particularly older cars, boats, small engines and the like - in high concentrations.  A flexi-fuel car is just the same car with stainless-steel fuel lines and whatnot, and a reprogrammed engine management computer.  Ethanol doesn't get better gas mileage - in fact, it is slightly worse (and power output slightly less).  But on the other hand, you don't need to go to $5-a-gallon "ethanol-free" fuel, either, for most cars these days.  Check your owner's manual - you may be surprised.  Much of this information is printed on the gas filler cap or filler door on modern cars.

Back in the day, we called ethanol "dry gas" and we put it in our cars to prevent water from freezing and clogging the fuel lines in winter.  In the days of vented gas tanks, humid air could condense in the tank and water would sink to the bottom and then freeze at the fuel pickup.  We never had problems putting this small amount of "dry gas" in the tank, but today, people are paranoid about it.  In the Experimental Aviation community (Homebuilt) people reverse this "dry gas" process and add water to ethanol-boosted gasoline and then let the ethanol-and-water separate out, siphoning out the "pure" gasoline from the upper part of a five-gallon fuel jug.  A neat trick and I guess if your life depends on your engine not stalling, a worthwhile one.

But for the rest of us? Forgetaboutit!

They don't have E85 here in Georgia, or at least it is not common.  The Sunoco sometimes has 100-octane "ethanol-free" gas, but again, they want $5 a gallon for it (or more!) and unless you are racing, it isn't worthwhile.

And as for environmental concerns, it probably is a wash or indeed, a negative impact, as the demand for corn-based ethanol has meant that more and more farmers are plowing all the way to the road and planting as much "roundup ready" corn as they can fit in an acre.  It gets the vote out in Iowa, but that's about it.

If you really want to save on gas, buy a fuel-efficient car.  The hamster routinely gets 30 MPG which today is actually low for a car.  The King Ranch gets 22-25 MPG when not towing, and an amazing 14-15 MPG with the trailer behind it.  But so many men have to compensate for their tiny penis by buying a F350 dually when they are not towing commercial trailers, or indeed, anything.

Note also that if you want to save on gas, change your driving habits.  Flooring it all the way to red lights or stop signs just wastes gas and wears on your brakes.  Weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, and tailgating also waste gas.  You can increase your gas mileage by 1/3 or more (or cut it in half) depending on your driving habits.  Few bother to think about this, even those (especially those) with fuel-efficient or hybrid cars.

I always get a chuckle when I see a Dodge (Ram) 3500 four-door long-bed dually diesel with one of those useless "four-way" ball hitches on it (1-7/8", 2", 2-5/16" and 3") on an aluminum shaft.  You aren't towing a 10,000 lb trailer with that piece-of-shit trailer hitch.  But then again, I doubt they are towing anything other than a bass boat.  And for that, a half-ton pickup truck is more than sufficient.

I digress, but you see a lot of rusted-out pickup trucks here in Georgia. Not being raised in the snowbelt, the locals have no idea how corrosive salt really is.  So when we picnic at the boat ramp, we cringe when we see someone launch their boat by backing their truck and trailer so far into the water that the truck bed is underwater and the tailpipe is bubbling like a hookah.  It wouldn't be so bad if they rinsed under the truck with the hose provided at the ramp - they slavishly flush their outboards, but neglect their truck!  As a result, you see trucks nary five years old with rear bumpers rusted through and barely hanging on to the frame.  There are a lot of idiots in the world, to be sure!

But getting back to Circle K, we have this Circle K debit card that debits our checking account when we buy gas from them.  This saves them the credit card fee, so they offer 10 cents off a gallon on gas.  So $2.89 is already $2.79.  Most gas stations have a deal like this and it can be deceptive as you drive by and see the lower price displayed with the notation "club members" before it flashes back to the higher price.

Of course, you could pay with a "rewards" credit card that gives 3% cash back, but under $3 a gallon it is less of a reward than the 10 cents off.

Anyway, the Circle K is also promoting an "app" where you can get free coffee, as I noted in an earlier posting:

Sadly, we all fall for these gimmicks on occasion. I have been visiting our local gas station here on the island to get free coffee as part of their online "app" promotion. Of course, since I don't commute 40 miles every day in a big-dually pickup truck (or indeed, drive very much at all) I am not buying much gas. Nor are they cleaning up by inducing me to spend on a candy bar or a "roller item" as I have bought neither. Nevertheless, I feel like a member of the "inner circle" when I ring up my XXL coffee and the amount due is $0.00 and I walk out the door paying nothing.

I've also scored three free bags of potato chips.  They also offer 25 cents off on gas for the first five fill-ups (these offers expire in 27,000 days, so no rush!).  This brings the price down to an astounding $2.54 a gallon.  Things are so bad today, aren't they?

If you think this is still "too much money" bear in mind that when I was born in 1960, gas was a "low" 31 cents a gallon, which in today's dollars would be over three bucks.  In other words, gas is cheap, which is why people are buying "gas hog" trucks and SUVs right now - and will be sorely shocked (yet again) when yet another gas shock is orchestrated, not by the President and his dial-on-the-wall-of-the-oval-office, but by the oil companies, who, like any good drug dealer, hand out free samples to get us hooked (on gas-hog vehicles) and then raise the prices once we are addicted.

We have no one but ourselves to blame.

But at this point in the cycle, gas prices are startlingly low - even without the discounts and promotions.  Yet people still bitch and moan about "how awful" everything is.  They are fed this narrative by social media trolls and of course, foreign influencers.  No matter how good things get - or how bad - everything is rotten, rotten, rotten and it always is someone else's fault!

Better elect Trump as dictator - he'll solve all these problems!  And create quite a few more!