Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Week Ahead: The Economy

I don't think I'd feel very safe tooling around in one of these "Smart Cars," but there are alternatives if you're looking to save gas money...

The Memorial Day Weekend (for many) ran from Thursday 5pm thru Monday night (and a few others will enjoy it thru Tuesday night). This holiday IMHO is a critical moment of Rest, Rememberance and Relaxation for Americans.

Everywhere I've been, people have been most aware of the changes to the US economy as a result of the oil crisis. The China earthquake and increased media coverage of our Veterans had many Americans saying prayers of thanks and taking moments of silence.

On Sunday and Monday, people were out and about in my Albany neighborhood in great numbers (we decided to weekend in the Capital Region instead of NYC this year) just WALKING and CYCLING and stopping to chat.

I did a lot of reflecting, taking the opportunity to chill, enjoying the nice weather. I got a lot of stuff done too, ranging from cleaning up around the house to getting things ready for work... and a bit of blog housekeeping as well!

Most of the radio talk shows I heard over the weekend were of the early morning variety and the one and only topic was the high gas prices! Right now, folks want to mumble and gripe about filling thier gas tanks and what happens if and when gas rises to $5 a gallon! Politics ran a distant second. Much of that chatter revolving around John McCains AGE and Barack Obama's lack of EXPERIENCE. No mentioning Hillary, who incidentally feels she should stay in the race through June, which may be the best decision. It could be a more graceful exit, if indeed the thought of exiting the nomination race has crossed her mind. I've seen a few articles touting Chelsea Clinton as a future political candidate: I wonder where that will go...

Toyota's ECHO, hatchback shown, also came in 2 and 4 door models, wasn't a big hit when it was available in the US 1999-2005, but they're in demand now!

Now, it's time for a game plan... 2008 is almost half-over... the oil crisis is strangling the economy and the experts say the prices of goods that rely on oil i.e., groceries shipped from distant factories, will be jumping in accordance with the rising cost of diesel fuel, which is out of this world and heading to another galaxy. The general consenus is that while things may be rough right now, they could be a lot worse, and may still get much worse.

75mpg? This little car has "been there, done that!" Did you miss your chance to buy one when you could have?

For now, car pool, walk, take public transportation and stay away from new car purchases until an all-electric vehicle comes along (with the car manufacturers hurting as much as they are, that technology should be here within 2 or 3 years). There's a lot of attention being paid to the "Smart Car" --- it's been out since around 2000. Don't forget there are soem great used cars out there (now hard to find and high-priced) like GEOs that get 55mpg (up to 75mpg) from the mid-80s as well as 55-mpg Hondas from the late 70s early 80s. Toyota ECHO is a compact but not overwhelmingly small car built in the late 90s-2004or5 that gets great mileage and carries on Toyota's legacy of dependability. Stay away from used Hyndai's!!! The cars are cheap when new but DEARLY EXPENSIVE to fix when things go wrong!

Hungry? There's always foraging for family fun...

Behold, the humble Mulberry. The berries are out during the month of June. For whatever reason, this scrumptious little fruit tree can be found dotting city streets in Albany (look around)!
The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines and cordials. The fruit of the Black Mulberry, native to southwest Asia, and the Red Mulberry, native to eastern North America, have the strongest flavour. The fruit of the White Mulberry, an east Asian species which is extensively naturalised in urban regions of eastern North America has a different flavour, sometimes characterised as insipid. The mature fruit contains significant amounts of resveratrol. It is known, though, that unripe fruit and green parts of the plant have a white sap that is intoxicating and mildly hallucinogenic. Aha!
My first introduction to the Mulberry was through my best friend Don, who brought over a bottle of "fresh mulberry juice" one day. There were many Mulberry trees scattered throughout Arbor Hill and the South End, most of them cut down in the mid-1970's through mid-1980's, a greater number lost when the old South End was demolished to make way for the Empire State Plaza.

Food prices across the Capital Region aren't too bad. The grocery dept. competition from the two Wal*Mart superstores are keeping Price Chopper and Hannaford on their toes. We have an ALDI store or two in the area, and there are great local businesses like the Deli Warehouse and Falvo's Meat Market that seem to be holding the line on price increases. For fast food, the major chains are still holding prices down. Luckily, we have June, July, August, September and possibly into and through October to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables LOCALLY. New York and Vermont have local dairy farms too, (and outlets like Stewart's) so our milk prices should theoretically stay where they are now. When we're shopping for our Mahopac getaway, we choose Stew Leonard's (it's the prices!) and patronize local shops whenever possible.

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ghee said...

Nice blog,Dave :)
Full of educational information!



How was your Memorial Day Holiday dear?

How expensive is that mini Smart car?, I would like to buy one ;)

A hug

krystyna said...

Hi Dave!
Your blog's housekeeping is perfect!
I'm from Poland and I found here what I needed.
Thank you for sharing!
Best to you!

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