High gas, food prices? Let me try to help you

I noticed it last week. Premium gas at $4.09 at a Chevron station in the Overlake area.

I noticed it last week. Premium gas at $4.09 at a Chevron station in the Overlake area.

Maybe it’s higher now. I try not to look.

However, I’m not surprised. I’ve been watching the gas prices for the past week as they’ve inched up day by day. I knew it was only time before premium topped the $4 mark. Can regular be far behind?

The good news for me is that I don’t drive much each day and my car does take regular unleaded. The bad news is that my car is 17 years old and doesn’t get good gas mileage: 15 mpg in town (it’s got a bad transmission) and maybe 20 or so on the road (but I don’t take it on the road because of the transmission).

Nevertheless, I’ve been trying out some gas-saving schemes.

I’ve inflated the rear tires considerably so that the back end of the car is higher than the front. This way, I figure, the car is always going downhill so should need less gas. For some reason, my recent gas bills don’t bear this out.

I’ve also tried to adopt a technique used in race-car driving – drafting behind the car in front of me. I haven’t found that works very well on I-405 (can you actually “draft” going 10 mph?).

I’ve also considered driving in reverse to see if I will end up with more gas in my car. However, I think there’s something illegal about this.

What hurts even more is when I have to drive to the grocery store. The oil companies have nothing on those people raising cows and baking bread.

U.S. food prices rose 4 percent in 2007, compared with an average 2.5 percent annual rise for the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the agency says 2008 could be worse, with a rise of as much as 4.5 percent.

The only way I’ve been able to keep my grocery bill down is by eating out more. For some reason, that hasn’t helped my end-of-the-month bottom line. I’m now considered eating breakfast out, too in hopes of making gains because of higher restaurant volume.

I know I could take the bus, and I probably should. I used to. It’s pretty convenient, except for having to check bus schedules and connections when I’m chasing after a fire call or other breaking news. The few times I’ve tried, the Bellevue Fire Department already had the fire out by the time I arrived. And the fire truck is back at the station. And the truck has been washed and polished.

I suppose I should give in, go all the way green, and just walk. The weather is getting better (well, not Monday) and I actually live close enough to work to do this. Of course, I’d need a new pair of walking shoes. But, yikes! Have you checked out the cost of designer Keds?


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