Monday, April 30, 2007

Fil 'Er Up! - by Oracle

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 12:59 PM
Subject: Fil 'Er Up! - by Oracle

I stopped at the gas station today to fill up. Gosh! I wonder how much longer we will treat this like such a mundane task instead of the special event that it is? To be able to stop at a petrol station, virtually anywhere, anytime, and pay so little for the precious liquid that runs our lives! We are going to miss it terribly! I watched the other patrons around me, staring blankly as the numbers race by in a blur, getting their personal fix of 'Juice'. Addicted to precious oil; willing to pay any price, willing to do anything, just to be able to drive to the next station for the next fix.

Watching the people pour their work & savings into the gas tanks of their SUVs; $50 for barely a 1/3 of a tank. Watching them think 'Will it be enough gas to get me to work for the next 2 days?'. Then back to the station and dump more of the precious gas down the maw of the demanding machine, now their master! Feed me or I will refuse to work for you!

Watching the working poor limp into the station, barely running on fumes. The $10 they used to spend is now $40 or more. You can see the desperation in their eyes; how can I afford the gas and food and shelter for my family? Prices on everything are going up almost weekly. The employers are tightening up and starting to lay people off. Things are getting tough all over, but especially for those already at the bottom.

A man in a suit filling a Chevy Tahoe watches me fill my Honda Fit. He approaches and makes small talk as I screw the cap back on the tank and pick up my $40 receipt for the fill. He offers to buy my gas-sipper on the spot; for a price that is thousands more than I paid for it a few months ago. I politely decline as I do not want to wait a year or more for a replacement, for a price to be determined at the time of delivery. Hepersists; I decline again. He becomes angry and starts shouting at me about the $200 it costs to fill his truck, about the god-damned Ay-rabs, and the god-damned oil companies making all the profits, paying off the god-damned politicians, and how it's not fair to anyone!! He pauses, lets out a sob and begins to cry; he is spending $1000 a month, half of his family's mortgage money, to pay for gas to drive to his lousy job in downtown Dallas, and how he's about be laid off from his job, and he's about to lose his house. I take a twenty out of my wallet, stuff it in his hand, mumble something about this will help you some on your fill-up, and quickly leave.

Later that evening, I think about what I saw at the gas station. Most of those poor schmucks just don't get it; our lives are changing dramatically every day and life will continue to get more difficult andexpensive.My $20 gift to the guy with the Tahoe isn't going to change anything for him; just push him one step down the road toward beggerhood. Is this where we're all headed? Impoverish ourselves & our families to end upbegging a few dollars to drive a few miles? Should I have sold my car to the desperate man and just ride my bike? AM I READY TO MAKE THAT KIND OF CHANGE IN MY LIFE?

We are living the Chinese curse, we ARE living in interesting times.......

Norway letter

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 2:49 PM
Subject: Norway letter

Hi guys.
This is it. I'm selling my car. I guess the government is goint to start ration gasoline.Trying to get rid of the junk before the prices of gasoline get too high. It is expensive enough now. I'm going to use the bike. Healthier it is.

I'm starting to think what to do with my money (not THAT much). Perhaps I'll take it out of the bank and buy gold or something. Gold is always good when the world goes to hell.


It's Only Monday?!

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 2:17 PM
Subject: It's Only Monday?!

Last week, I was excited to have purchased a crossover SUV, a new Chevy Equinox. I had just traded in my 1 year old Chevy Cavalier, and since I only had it for one year, I had to finance more than the new vehicle was worth. No big deal, I thought…I'm just glad to have a new car that is actually safe! Going from 40 MPG to 25 MPG didn't phase me at all. I keep an eye on the news, and even read about peak oil online weekly, but kept thinking "this is so far off there's no need to worry yet…it'll be years."

I packed a bag on Friday, and headed up to my family's house to show off my new SUV, 150 miles away. Over the weekend, I put on over 400 miles…as they live about 20 miles from the nearest town. Even with gas at $4.00 per gallon, that didn't bother me at all.
This morning, I got up early to come back home, to Milwaukee. While gas is always .05 higher in Door County, I was in a state of shock when I got to the corner gas station…$4.18…I quickly did the math in my head "15.5 gallons, $4 per gallon, $60 to fill up….25 MPG on this sticker is bogus, more like 20 MPG…It's going to cost me 30 cents just in gas to drive a's going to cost me $45 just to get home!"

There were quite a few pickup trucks in the parking lot in this small farming community…but there was not a single car at the pumps…there were 8 or 9 people inside, which qualified as a full blown party in this town of 300 people. I pulled up, and thought "something must have happened. I put in my debit card, and the reader said "pay inside." GREAT I thought. That's the last place I wanted to go. I pumped my gas, not watching the numbers on the pump. Cleaned out a few odds and ends from my car, cleaned the windshield…and then I heard the "beep." I turned to hang up the pump, and was greeted with a $63.54 fill up. It bothered me a bit, but I make a good salary…I NEED to drive…$250-$300 a month to drive vs. 160-225…not the worst.

I went inside to pay, deciding to forgo the usual Starbucks drink from the refrigerator section in favor of a large cup of mud from the dirty coffee pots. People were talking, shouting, swearing…fists shaking, things like "those damn oil companies," "they are raping us," "I can't afford to drive," "I can't go to work today, I can't afford the gas!" I really hate this town, and as soon as I was able I got myself a job in the city and left this hick town in my rearview mirror…every time I come back, I feel uncomfortable as it is.
When I approached the cash register to pay, the woman behind the counter said, "You're going to pay over $4 a gallon for gas? That's crazy." She headed off into some banter that I blocked out…While she was talking, I glanced at the local news paper on the counter. "Oil Shock to send shockwave through Economy." I just thought "Boy I need to get back to the city…I have to get out of here." I handed the clerk my credit card and said "What choice do I have? I don't have wings."
The card transaction had to be the longest wait I've ever experienced. The phone line kept going down. The voices around me got quieter, and I could feel people staring THROUGH me. I turned around and saw looks of hatred, "Is this just because I can buy gas?" I thought. I gave a nervous smile and continued to wait…I was so uncomfortable, I started sweating right through my clothes. Finally the receipt started printing…I quickly signed and started bolting right for the door. Before I made it out, I heard a gruff voice "That asshole can afford go-juice?" I turned around, saw some jerk I went to school with, and just walked out. I looked over my shoulder and he followed. In one fluid motion, I put the started the car, shut the door, and put it into drive. I tore out of the gas station to the relative safety of the open road.

All along the way, the radio was blaring on about the price increase. I notice the signs at gas stations…all well over $4. As I get into urban areas, life looks "normal." I started wondering…Are people really that over extended that having to spend an extra $100 a month on gas is going to cause a big problem? It's not like the cost doubled…it went up ONE WHOLE DOLLAR. Maybe these schmucks can give up drowning their small town sorrows in their beer every day!

So, prices on everything are about to go won't be the most unpleasant thing I've had to deal with. I can buy food…I can drive to work…I can take a bus if I have to…I can work from home as well to cut my usage. I only NEED my car to get to work…30 miles per day, I can go on two tanks of gas per month if absolutely necessary. I suppose I could grow produce on my balcony…Living right downtown, I can take a bus or walk to the market…it's expensive now, but at least everything is produced locally…I won't have to worry about a huge price spike like at the big chain stores…but I don't' even know HOW to take a bus! I'd better figure that out when I get home. But, will it be safe to take the bus? Will it be safe to walk through town? This is going to hit some very very hard…and it may be safer to make it LOOK like it is hitting me too, maybe? What happens when prices hit $5 or $6 a gallon? $10 a gallon? I can't be spending $700 a month on gasoline!
As I continue to drive and listen to the radio, I realize this is not going away…that there was no new war, no refinery fire…no terrorist attack…it's finally here…it's just the beginning…and it's going to be a bumpy ride. I call my family to discuss planning…time to get a big garden going…time to stock up on things….time for the things we should have been doing months and years ago.

Worst case scenario for is an eventual triple of all expenses outside of rent and loan payments. I wish now I hadn't bought my new SUV…but at least I have a car big enough to carpool with…this entire time I have a notebook on my passenger seat, itemizing my bills and current budget, and then multiplying the non-loan and rent items to account for everything up to $10 a gallon for gas…and it is not pretty.
Instead of going straight home, I stop off at the store to stock up while prices are still low…$1800 in groceries at Sams' Club later….$400 in planting supplies, grow lights and seeds….$300 on a chest freezer…and another $700 on odds and ends…food dehydrator, extra propane tanks for the grill…, two full 10 gallon gas cans and a full tank of gas, and lots of soap and OTC medicines…I have enough stuff to keep myself clean, fed and content for 12 months. I have enough stabilized gasoline to get me 30 days…that's it…and living in an apartment, I guess it has to be stored in the second bathroom with the fan on? I better Google it… What happens when friends and family need help? Am I going to have to make tough choices? I wonder how much my electric bill will go up? Will my other bills go up?

The more I think, the more nervous I get…When I get to my apartment building, I rent an underground parking space so I don't have to park on the street. Suddenly my salary and my ability to pay for things is not my main concern. Keeping my current salary is my main concern. I own my own business…doing computer work…time to branch out into websites and programming maybe? Network Engineering shouldn't be hit really hard…at least not for me…I service clients that don't have internal IT departments… I AM the IT department for 10 companies…

As soon as I unpack everything that can spoil, I start calling my clients. I push 2 year contracts down the throats of half of them, and new one year contracts on the rest….I lose one in the process…I change my agreements so that it is OK for me to work outside of normal business hours…what if I need to get a full time day job again? I call my previous employer, and push for a job…"We'll get back to you soon…that should be fine." OK…Everyone has actually faxed and signed the new contracts…so that's something...

So, over the course of a 3 hour drive, 4 hour shopping trip and 5 hours of phone calls, I'm exhausted. My entire life was turned around in one day…what will tomorrow bring? What if the prices keep going up every week? My little bit of savings was wiped out by the shopping trip…and a meager down-payment on the SUV that looks like it can gobble up a lot of money…Last week I owned a one man booming business that has brought a lot of prosperity and success. Today I am looking for another full time job so I can start putting money in savings…or gold…before things really go crazy. How long can I work 90 hour weeks? Should I look for more clients instead of an employer? Should I beat down doors in Chicago? I need to find clients in the insurance industry…insurance always makes it through hard times…

how the crisis is affecting me

Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2007 11:02 PM
Subject: how the crisis is affecting me

well, working in the Alberta oil patch in Canada, the crisis hits home for one who makes his money directly off petroleum resources. I haven't worked in 3 weeks, and the rumor is that only 10% of drilling and service rigs are working right now. Sure, during spring time work stops here for a while to let the ground dry up to move heavy equipment on and off locations, however, predictions are dire. every employee of other services i.e. test crews, service rig hands, wire liners, consultants, even sales people are predicting massive lay offs, and less money in the hands of the workers than we have ever seen. i wonder if there is more to it than a lack of oil, are the oil companies purposely fixing the system to raise prices? to choke the
services into charging cheaper rates? who knows? hey i'll be checking up with you all the time for updates!

Try looking outside

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 3:29 AM
Subject: Try looking outside

So I rush to 'world without oil' to find out more about the crisis.
What do I find 'Gasoline' prices - I live in the UK we don't have
Gasoline. Apparently its 4.12. Erm 4.12 what?? I guess it's US
Dollars. I dig more and find out this is devoted to "huge gap in our
nation's thinking". Our nation. Not my nation. Your nation.

So a US based site talking about the US calls itself 'World Without

You get the feeling that 'World Without Oil' is part of the problem,
not the solution.

Try again, if you want to cover US Without Oil then call it that, if
you want to play World Without Oil, try focusing outside the US.


Day 1

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 9:43 AM
Subject: Day 1

netizen name: JohnGalt

10:30 am, Charlotte, N.C.

Wow, there's quite a line at the gas stations I passed on the way into work.
What's going on?
Saw the news on the web, gas is going through the roof. Called my wife to tell her to try and fill up and fill up the gas can too.

It makes me glad we're still getting by with our honda civic, the minivan we wanted would use a lot more gas..

Stock is dropping, that can't be good. Good thing we locked in our mortgage rate for the new house.

Gotta remember to check on supplies, with the move, I don't know where everything is.

It may all just blow over, gas prices always rise in the summer, it's like they do it on purpose.


first thoughts

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 9:44 AM
Subject: first thoughts

If the prices are only those you pose at the top of the page, that's a pain for some, but those are less than what Europeans pay now. If those prices escalate to $5 or, to be really pessimistic, $10/gallon (oil will never really run out, but it can become unaffordable) things will begin to get dicey. Beyond the obvious recognition that driving less, avoiding optional travel, finding alternatives for heating, basing consumption on renewable resources, etc., there are a number of ancillary problems that will be seriously challenging.
Cities are supplied by transport (trucks, trains), fueled by oil. Costs of everything will rise, and cities may not be able to afford to feed or supply their citizens (starting with those growing megacities in developing countries); city operating costs for essential services such as police, fire, ambulances, public transport, will go up; unless new revenues are found, discretionary services will lose funding. Cities may not be able to afford themselves, and where can the residents go? A city-based economy seems to be destined for a crash.
Suburbs have perhaps worse problems. Shopping, medical visits, getting to work, even getting to school, all now run on oil. As the suburbs get too expensive, moving closer to those services becomes desirable, but getting rid of your house might not be possible. Suburban housing will become undesirable; moving to the unsustainable city will not necessarily be a good idea. It might be smart to head for a rural area with potable water and availability of local agriculture; make it relatively flat and get a bicycle. However, if tires go flat, parts wear out, how do these get re-supplied if transportation costs are prohibitive? Might be better to invest in a horse or live close to the small town where everything is within reasonable walking distance.
In the countryside, loss of oil-derived fertilizers may mean lower crop yields. Harvesting yields and getting them to market may have to revert to horses and/or pushcarts. Furthermore, the countryside can't afford too many ex-city folks -- especially if they have no useful skills such as farming know-how, or creative repair abilities. Rural communities can always use teachers, doctors, dentists, librarians, but the numbers are limited.
Where on the priority list do we put asphalt? Road repairs may become prohibitive. Can we learn to live without plastics? Should we reserve the dwindling supply of oil for pharmaceuticals? The distribution of goods may become limited or impossible over any great distances. Can a local community diversify its production of goods enough to supply things like clothing?
Without oil (or gas, or coal), demand for biomass for energy may quickly use up the local supply, so a judgment must be made about the limits of community size for a sustainable future. Current technological fixes such as wind turbines, photovoltaics, etc will work fine for a while, but maintenance and repair become problems if new parts aren't being manufactured and distributed because industry also runs on oil.
The future may lie with those in the simpler communities -- "blessed are the meek....", but a lot of us are unprepared, or have the wrong skills, to help make those work.
Given all of the above, there's a lot to be said for a simpler, less consumer-based lifestyle, and those who adopt this the soonest increase their odds of being among the survivors, because if all members of the current population tried this, there is not enough space. It's not a good time to be under 40!!

Oil Shock - Transit disaster

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 11:10 AM
Subject: Oil Shock - Transit disaster

Netizen Hero - Catfish

It did not go unnoticed that as the oil shock is front and center, a fuel truck exploded on a major transit route in the Bay Area. My transit route! So today, public transit is free thanks to Arnold -- and there was no traffic at all. I think that's because it's just the first day; people probably are working from home or enjoying the free public transit.

I had been thinking, it's time to use public transit more. Gas prices coupled with the $4 bridge toll. Yes, the environment, duh... Public transit: it means a longer commute time-wise and more advanced planning for after-work events. There are so many advantages: it's pretty low stress, I can read the paper and it requires me to walk about a mile from the bus station to my office - not a bad way to exercise.

Having grown up in Los Angeles, it takes a bit of a mind shift to not have my car at my beck and call. This oil shock and the strange events on my transit route are making me think of a lifestyle change. It's just around the corner (actually just up the street at the casual carpool and bus stop.)

Dang! It's finally happening.

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 1:04 PM
Subject: Dang! It's finally happening.

Cid Yama here. Last several months we had been discussing Peak Oil at It started becoming obvious to many of us recently, we were getting close to Peak Oil awareness going mainstream. CNBC, Bloomberg Report and others started talking to the likes of Matthew Simmons and T Boone Pickens about the coming oil crisis. I bought a used bike a few weeks ago and, since I work at OP Rehab at the hospital, started getting on the stationary bike after work and getting in shape to ride the 4 miles between home and work. Being almost 50 I was still suprised to see how out of shape I had become with regard to being able to ride a bike long enough to make the ride, and equally suprised how quickly that changed(within a couple weeks I was easily making the distance on the stationary bike). Last week I bought a chainlock and a gel seat cover(boy, that seat was hard!). With today's jump in gas prices and the renegotiation of oil contracts I'm glad I'm ahead of the curve. Today will be my first attempt to ride the bike to work. If this works out I can reserve the car for grocery shopping or other instances where I have to haul things around. It's a beautiful day out. I think I'm going to enjoy this.

Shocked in Europe ...

Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 1:22 PM
Subject: Shocked in Europe ...

As a resident of a country other than the US of I´ll have to admit that I am shocked by this sudden catastrophic rise in gas prices.

At just overt $4 / gallon Americans are paying NEARLY TWO THIRDS of what Europeans have been paying for the past two years!!!


In a country most Americans don´t know where is. (Denmark)

Hey! You sent us email.

These posts are by people who sent email to Thanks for writing!