Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Three is the magic number.

Three is a magic number,
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number.

The past and the present and the future.
Faith and Hope and Charity,
The heart and the brain and the body
Give you three as a magic number.

It takes three legs to make a tri-pod
Or to make a table stand.
It takes three wheels to make a ve-hicle
Called a tricycle.

[and hey, we may be riding a lot more of those soon..]

Lyrics: Schoolhouse Rock

I've always thought that $3 was the number that would put a little religion in people and cause some amount of demand destruction by getting them to cut that portion of their usage that is pure waste as well as take some marginal steps to conserve. [I'm talking average income person here.]

So I'll be interested to see how long we stay around here and what happens to gasoline consumption as a sort of peak oil test.

One of the reasons I don't subscribe to the worst case scenarios is that I believe we are wasting a lot of gasoline, and thus have a lot of room for improvement if things get really tight. (Assuming market prices are allowed to reflect reality.)


USA Today: Gas shock echoes across USA.


Consumers are flocking to the Internet for help. They've besieged, the best-known site for finding cheap gas. The site's message board shut down on Thursday. Co-founder Jason Toews says the Minnesota-based Web site averages 300,000 hits daily but was on pace to get more than 4 million Thursday.

"We've just been overwhelmed," Toews says. "Our server couldn't handle it."

Here and there are stories of flat-out craziness, such as when the T-Bird Mini Mart in Springfield, Vt., decided NOT to raise its gas prices.

T-Bird stopped raising its prices midday Wednesday at $2.60 a gallon while all the other gas stations around kept pushing their prices higher - until T-Bird was charging 30 cents a gallon less.

People started showing up from as far away as New Hampshire. Lines snaked through town. Neighboring businesses summoned police, who directed traffic for hours. So overwhelming was the traffic, says clerk Jason LaValley, "We had to raise (the price) to keep people away." The store was selling gasoline for $3.19 Wednesday night, more in line with the competition.

In Chandler, Ariz., Nezar Alsai, owner of the independent Blue Diamond Fuel, says customers were screaming at him Thursday about the $3.09 price of regular.

"They say, 'Shame on you! You're taking advantage of the situation,' but I'm not," Alsai says, whipping out the latest fuel bill from his supplier, which shows he is paying $3 a gallon for regular.

Alsai expects the wholesaler wants $3.10 a gallon for the next load, but he's holding out. "I am waiting for the price to drop. I expect I will run out of gas and don't know what to do," he adds.

AP: Katrina's Wrath Hits Holiday Drivers.

When the station did get a shipment of gas on Saturday, a day after running out, it asked only for regular gasoline because not many people were buying mid-grade and premium blends, Neuhart said. The station, which was charging $3.09 a gallon for regular, also was limiting drivers to 10 gallons per vehicle.

One driver, Phillip Craig, said he had had been trying to hold off until prices fell. "The only reason I came here today was because my wife noticed it was $2.89 on her way home and told me to stop and fill up," he said.

At a Marathon gas station near downtown Orlando, Fla., the pumps were vacant Saturday. Plastic bags covered all but a few, $3.19-a-gallon premium pumps at the station, where owner Bibi Razak usually sells 1,200 gallons daily.

"It's definitely hurting business," she said, pointing to her food and drink displays. "No one's coming here to buy the gas, so they don't come here for anything else."