Wikinvest Wire

Back to the Southland

Monday, June 02, 2008

So, we're off to Southern California for a few days. Things will be a little bit spotty here during that time but, thanks to the new Blogger time-delay feature, posts should continue to show up on a somewhat regular basis.

This will be our first trip back to the Southland since moving northward just over a year ago - it should be fun.

I'll be on a panel at the Reuters AdvicePoint Forum CA in Long Beach on Tuesday afternoon along with Jon Lansner of Lansner on Real Estate (O.C. Register) and Marc Lacter of LA Biz Observed.

The rest of the agenda is here (don't know how I got top billing in our group...)

If our remote control still functions properly for the entry of the gated community where we used to rent a house, we'll probably go have a look around at some of the $900K errrr... $800K ummm ... $700K uhhh ... $600K houses for sale or in foreclosure.

Wow. I hadn't looked in our old zip code at foreclosure.com in quite some time - there are now 17 houses in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure out of about 300 in the development.

That's a lot, isn't it?

Hopefully we'll have enough money to pay for gas along the way.

The fuel light on the car came on about a week ago and the last time we had it out it showed "DTE 22", meaning that the gas station down the road better be open when we go by. Well, actually, it's all downhill, so we could probably coast all the way down to the bottom of the hill if need be.

We should make it.

But lots of people aren't making it to the next gas station, apparently. What you see below is the reason why - that's about what prices are around here.
It seems that a few dollars doesn't take you as far as it did years ago. Does anyone else remember handing over $3 to a gas station attendant so you could go another 100 miles or so in a VW bug?

Not long ago I saw a teenager hand a ten dollar bill to a gas station clerk and then proceed to dispense fuel into a Ford Expedition. What would that be good for, maybe 30 miles?

It seems like we're all frogs and the water is getting pretty hot, yet most of the frogs don't understand what's happening to them. This AP report explains:

Brent Saba had just dropped a church group off at Philadelphia International Airport on Sunday morning and was heading north on Interstate 95 when it happened: His 15-passenger van ran out of gas.

Saba, a 24-year-old church pastor, made it to the shoulder just past the Ben Franklin Bridge and waited more than 30 minutes for someone to stop and lend him a cell phone. Then he waited a while longer for AAA to arrive with fuel.

With gas prices hovering at $4 a gallon, motorists like Saba are putting less fuel in their tanks — then coming up empty on the highway.

Though national statistics on out-of-gas motorists don't exist, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that drivers unwilling or unable to fill 'er up are gambling by keeping their tanks extremely low on fuel.

In the Philadelphia area, where the average price for a gallon of regular broke $4 on Friday, calls from out-of-gas AAA members doubled between May 2007 and May 2008, from 81 to 161, the auto club reported.

"The number one reason is they can't stretch their money out from week to week," said Gary Siley, the AAA mobile technician who helped Saba.

"Some of them are embarrassed. ... They say, 'I was trying to make it till Friday,' and they couldn't do it," said Siley, who has assisted numerous out-of-gas motorists.
If they would just get those "index speculators" out of the commodity futures markets, maybe everything will return to normal.

Maybe.

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