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Gas Prices Rise, for some inexplicable reason

March 19th, 2012 Comments off

I was left confused by this bit of reportage, which was quoted in WonkBlog (Ezra Kline, Washington Post):

 “U.S. gasoline prices jumped 6% in February, and market experts predict they will climb higher because critical refining operations in the Northeast are shutting down. From New York to Philadelphia, refineries that turn oil into gasoline unhave been idled or shut permanently because their owners are losing money on them. Sunoco Inc. is expected to close the region’s largest refinery in July, taking another 335,000 barrels per day in production capacity off the market. The East Coast refineries are getting squeezed by the soaring cost of crude oil, the major component in gasoline. The cost of oil has jumped in the past year due to global economic growth and rising tensions between Western nations and Iran, a major producer. Refineries haven’t been able to increase their own prices enough to compensate. The government said Friday that the increase in gas prices had contributed to a 0.4% overall increase in consumer prices in February.”Jerry Dicolo in The Wall Street Journal.

Just why was it the the refineries “haven’t been able to increase their own prices”?  This is an article about the increase in gas prices; yet it states that the prices haven’t been able to be increased.  Hunh?  How come and wuffo?

Then I noticed the source tag: Wall Street Journal.  Aha, that explains it.  Just another example of their deliberately confusing and execrable reportage.

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A Note from the East Wing…

March 12th, 2012 Comments off

A wise man once told me, “Never get a house that doesn’t have corners to hide in.”  Or at least a plethora of corners, hidable or not.  And some doors.

I don’t understand the demand for homes with an “open plan.”  This generally means a lack of walls, no corners,  large open spaces.  Which means, a larger house.

My house now has about 3500 square feet of space.  This gives three bedrooms, livingroom, master bedroom, master bath with separate WC and walk-in closet, dining room, kitchen, plus lanae in the warm months. There are lots of corners in our place.  And a number of doors.  We use one of the smaller bedrooms as a TV room; sometimes, after watching the news, I will walk from there to the master bath, passing through the diningroom and livingroom, where there is quiet, classical music playing.  The contrast is stunning, and immediately soothing.  An immediate hideout.  And an entirely different wing of the house.

The average-size home built in the the 60’s was 675 square feet; in the  late  ’70s it was 1250 square feet; the average size home built today is over 2500 square feet.  My own house could fit easily in the “great room” of many new homes.

I put this growth of square footage down in large part to the demand for “open layout.”  When everything is open, everything is together, and privacy is lost. So if you want to feel alone, you have to have another room, and then each room has to be larger.  In the open plan, you can watch the TV from the kitchen sink; in fact you *must* watch the TV if you’re standing at the kitchen sink–or at least hear it.  Hear the TV, and all the converstaions in the rest of the “open” area, including squabbling and qvetching. And the dog barking. And the phone ringing. And you’re never alone–until you go down in the basement, or to the “bonus” room  (o0ps, the bonus room is usually an open space upstairs, overlooking the “great” room).

I really think we’d all be better off if we learned to live in less space, but with more private spaces, where you can be alone and quiet, to just think.  Or is that un-American?