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Some (pseudo)random ruminations this morning…

Mount Diablo Summit View West toward Golden Gate 

I woke up this morning, threw open the bathroom window, and closed it almost immediately!

The smoke from the “Summit Fire” (1) in the Santa Cruz Mountains far to the southwest has reached Livermore. I talked to my wife, and she had already discovered the diluted smoke and made sure that windows were all closed. We decided to do what Californians call “shelter in place” today. As I write this, there are occasional drops of rain hitting the surface of our pool, and I hope that the rain is greater in the fire zone. A little rain, rare this time of year, would go a long way toward defeating the fire and clearing the smoky air that becomes trapped in the valleys of the Bay Area.

I thought about what a firefighter said yesterday concerning the cost ($1.72 M as of 7 PM PDT last night) of the “Summit Fire,” and the fact that the state is purchasing gasoline under contract and paying over $5/gallon (according to KRON4). We can only hope that the firefighters, who are doing an excellent job as always, will not have to fight as many fires as they did last “fire season.”

Yesterday afternoon on my way home, I stopped at Costco to “top off” the gas tank on my 1100 cc Honda Shadow Spirit motorcycle (50 mpg), and gas was $3.919/U.S. gallon. I rejoiced a little since I had heard that all gas in the Bay Area would be over $4 this Memorial Day Weekend. (Later, I talked to my wife who had paid only $3.879/gallon at Costco a day or two earlier!) I remember thinking of “outside-the-box” solutions to the high gas prices in the few minutes that it took to fill the tank (a little over a gallon, $4.15 at $3.919/gallon). The thoughts that crossed my mind were something akin to Jonathan Swift‘s “A Modest Proposal,” but for oil executives, then I remembered the problems that the essay had caused for Swift when it was read by people who did not understand satire.

My training as a biochemist helps me to appreciate energy considerations in systems. My mind flashed to a news report on TV the night before in which U.S  Senator from California, Diane Feinstein (with whom I both agree and strongly disagree on major issues), grilled oil company executives about their exhorbitant profits. The scene was a rare opportunity to see the faces of the men (“gentlemen” is too strong a term) who, most of the time, get to remain in relative seclusion while making decisions that increase stockholder value, corporate profits, and their own individual wealth. Like the “Oncler” in Dr. Seuss‘s (Theodor Seuss Geisel [a.k.a Dr. Seuss] once worked for Standard Oil) fable “The Lorax,” these men have faces that are (almost) never shown.

Increasingly, the cost of fuel is damaging the economy of the United States (and the economics of its people), since energy costs affect the prices of EVERYTHING. I remember the original science fiction movie “Rollerball” (1975) starring James Caan as Jonathan E (a Rollerball player on the “Energy Corporation” [a global energy monopoly based in Houston, TX] team in the 2018 world of global corporate states), and hope that his “victory of the individual” in film can be replicated in real life, before the greed of one industry causes irreparable damage to the U.S. economy, and the people who actually create it and depend upon it.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.  Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations. 

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