Monday, April 24, 2006

Oooh, if I post today, I will not have gone a full year between blog entries! Of course, I don't expect that anyone is still reading...

No knitting content. I need to clean the house, and hopefully I will uncover my digital camera in the process, and then I can take some pictures of completed projects.

The real reason I'm trying to remember how to use Blogspot this morning is that I want to talk about energy again. Gas prices are tickling that $3 spot and it's not even hurricane season. Seems everyone is wondering how to escape pain at the pump and thinking about ways to salvage their budget. Before doing something really unwise, like sacrificing those organic strawberries, consider these options, in order of impact:

1. Move. This is the most drastic, of course, but also has the most potential for a big payoff. The trick is, as gas prices continue to rise, this option may start to seem less drastic but more expensive as housing prices in convenient locations are bid up. Fortunately, we took this step 8 years ago; prices in our centrally-located neighborhood have nearly doubled since then (and we're in a small town in the upper midwest -- not bubble territory!)

If you are in a situation where a move is at all possible, you may be discouraged by the high cost of housing in central locations. Moving may require a major downsize in living space. Would that really be such a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. Just something to consider.

2. Downsize your car. If you're driving a big gas guzzler, you've probably noticed that the resale market isn't that great for them right now. Do you think it's likely to get better? Figure when you can best afford to take the bath. Maybe you'll just have to drive the guzzler till it dies, but don't make the mistake of buying another one!

3. Let the kids take the bus (or walk, if close enough) to school. If the school the bus goes to is really dreadful, consider option #1 again.

4. Rethink leisure activities. Our local newspaper had a story about people who are planning to cancel their summer vacations because of gas prices. I wouldn't put that on the top of my list; instead, I would reevaluate recurring, extended obligations such as the kids' soccer team. Look for recreational activities close to home. If you have motor toys (jet skis, snowmobiles, etc.), consider non-motorized alternatives.

5. Walk, bike or use transit whenever possible. Even if you live in a bike-hostile area, you may be able to enjoy biking when visiting bike-friendlier locations. A friend of mine lives too far to bike to town, but she brings her bike in on a rack, parks the car, then uses the bike to go between errands. Bikes can be equipped to haul a lot of stuff.

6. Bring your own lunch. That is, if you would otherwise have to drive to get it.

7. Cluster errands.

8. For more ideas on reducing car dependency, read "Divorce Your Car" by Katie Alvord.

9. Educate yourself. If gloom and doom motivates you, check out "The End of Suburbia" by J.H. Kunstler. For a more proactive spin on the situation, start with The Community Solution. In the worst case scenario (represented by Kunstler, et al), energy scarcity results in the end of civilization as we know it. In the best case scenario, it is a tremendous opportunity for us to create a post-industrial civilization that brings human potential to its fullest realization while maintaining the integrity of the planet's other life systems.