Gas and Autos
My Grandfather had a beautiful red Ford tractor from 1919. It was a simple machine. It did not have tires (those weren't invented yet ) and it was still running on his farm in 1976 when he sold it. Grandpa probably knew how to use a horsedrawn plow, but he used a tractor instead. Why? Because tractors are more efficient, take less work, and live longer than horses or mules.
Now that fuel costs more than it ever has in the entire history of oil, even after you adjust for inflation, some farmers are turning to a different kind of horse power - the 17th century kind that was popular before the Civil War. They're using mules.
Treehugger is reporting that farmers have returned to their roots and are using mules to pull their plows.
Some people will read this story and think how charming, how wonderful.
Some of us, no doubt, will read this story while sipping a $4 latte, and think how marvelous it is that farmers in the South are prospering using earth-friendly growing techniques. A return to the earth, a return to a simpler time. Well, pardon me, but that's just a bunch of hogwash.
It is one thing to choose to live in harmony with the land and quite another to be forced to do it because you are so poor that you can't afford gasoline or meat (ironically meat happens to be one of the things farmers produce).
When farmers are reduced to using mules to plant and harvest their crop it is not a good "sign" or a return to the earth, rather it is a startling harbinger of dark days to come. At best it represents another sign that America is losing its status as the world's richest second-world nation. At worst it is a signpost that we are sliding rapidly toward the status of a third-world nation divided into wealthy landowners, servants of the landed gentry, and peasant share-croppers who are unable to put meat on the table.
There is a division emerging between the energy rich, and the energy poor. And as always, the very poorest Americans will tear their hands on the soil while the wealthy benefit at their expense. Note again that the Treehugger story mentions that farmers cannot afford meat.
If you think that's a good thing too (after all, meat is sooo unhealthy), then be advised that on farms where there isn't enough income to put food on the table, the next thing on the menu could be the mules.
Why burning down gas stations is unlikely to spark lower gas prices
In the sleepy town of Danville, California a 64-year-old arsonist Diane Craig woke up on Wednesday morning with a burning desire to do something about the volatile gas prices in her community. Her plan: Start burning down gas stations. (see story below). Ms. Craig began lighting the way to lower gas prices around 10 a.m.
It almost worked.
Diane successfully started fires using "fire logs" at two local stations before she was apprehended. Apparently, Ms. Craig is a woman of action. The authorities say she had eight more logs in her car. In addition to the two gas stations she set on fire, she also tried to torch a local Starbucks.
(Starbucks is one of the few liquids that costs more than gas).
As someone who has protested high gas prices in Southern California for more than ten years, I have to admire Diane's enthusiasm. And given the high price of Starbuck's coffee, her reaction is completely understandable. But thinking about crazy things and actually doing them are two entirely different things. That's why Ms. Craig's methods fail to get me fired up about burning down gas stations. First, it is illegal, second, it could kill somebody, and third, you could end up in jail with a cellmate named Bubba.
Those are the logical reasons, but if you're a real firebrand radical, logic may not be enough. That's why I'd like to respectfully suggest three other good reasons why arson is a bad way to fan the flames of change.
#1: The gas station retailer is getting bent over an oil barrel, too.
Right now, gasoline retailers are lucky if they can make 6¢ a gallon profit on
their gasoline. That means that for every 12-gallon tank of gasoline you buy,
the dealer makes about 72¢ ( Rooty Toot!). This is why gas stations are closing
in record numbers.
#2 The oil industry actually wants fewer gas stations ...
This may sound sound a bit far-fetched, but the truth is that the oil companies really
dislike all those pesky gas stations. Here's why: In areas where there are lots of
gas stations, gas prices are cheaper. This is because more stations means more
competition. As a general rule, the oil industry does not like competition - it's bad
for business. By burning down a gas station, you are simply helping Big Oil make
more money at your expense.
#3 The oil industry LOVES gasoline fires.
It is an undisputed historical fact that Big Oil makes big profits from gasoline fires.
Every time there is a fire at a major refinery, the price of gasoline shoots up. These
price hikes are always followed by reports of increased industry earnings. Coincidence?
I think not. So if you set fire to a gas station, all you are doing is making more money
for the oil industry. Please think about that.
What's the solution?
If you would like to fight high gas prices, there are better ways than burning down gas stations. Specifically, the best way to fight back is to stop using gasoline. If you can't do that, then find a way to use less gasoline.
They hate that.
Which brings me to my favorite tool for cutting fuel consumption: UCAN's Guzzler Buster. Not only is this 28-page book free to any San Diego resident, it has 127 tips for increasing your miles per gallon.
Try it - it could keep you out of jail. But be advised ... at this price we're burning through them quickly.
Danville woman started fires to protest gas prices, police say
DANVILLE — A Danville woman, who told police she was sick of high gas prices, was arrested Wednesday for trying to set restroom fires at two gas stations and a Starbucks outlet, police said.
"I wanted to take a stand," Diane Craig, 64, told officers after her arrest, Danville police Lt. Mark Williams said. Craig was arrested on suspicion of premeditated arson and burglary, the lieutenant said.
Police received a report at 10 a.m. about a woman using a fireplace log and lighter to burn the restroom of an Arco gas station at Camino Tassajara and Tassajara Ranch Drive in Danville, Williams said. A gas station clerk put out the fire and then called police.
Soon after, police received a report of another restroom fire, this time at a Chevron station at Crow Canyon Road and Camino Tassajara. A fireplace log again was used and a woman matching the description of the suspect in the Arco case was reported in the area, Williams said.
A third call came soon after, when a restroom was reported on fire at the Starbucks, at 11000 Crow Canyon Rd.
No structural damage occurred in any of the restrooms, Williams said.
Craig was spotted by a Danville police sergeant at a nearby McDonald's restaurant. She had eight logs with her, Williams said.
Craig admitted she was behind the mini-fire spree, Williams said. She said she woke up in the morning wanting to do something about high gas prices, the lieutenant said.
Police said they don't know why Craig targeted the Starbucks.
Harcharandit Kaur, who was working at the Chevron at the time of the fire there, said the woman came into the store and wandered for two or three minutes before asking for the location of the restroom. She didn't say anything else, Kaur said.
According to Kaur, the fire was detected by another woman shortly after it began.
"Thank God that lady came in and saw the fire," Kaur said.
Manjid Singh, who works at the Arco station, said the woman who set the fire asked for a restroom key but said nothing else.
Meanwhile, the police car carrying Craig to the Martinez Detention Facility for booking was involved in an accident at Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon, police said. Craig complained of neck pain and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.
The other driver, a 27-year-old Pittsburg man, was arrested on suspicion of driving without a license, according to police.
Reporter Sam Sutton also contributed to this story. Reach Sophia Kazmi at skazmi @ bayareanewsgroup.com or 925-847-2122
The Art of Hypermiling:
How to do it safely, and avoid
Running out of gasoline can leave
Yesterday, AAA published a report (see Associated Press/AOL Money) showing that in some areas rescue requests to AAA from motorists who have run their gas tanks dry are up by 100%. At UCAN, we think that number is low.
Just this morning, I saw two stranded motorists on the way to work. One was hiking her way up 5th Avenue with an empty gas can (she had another 12 blocks to go to reach the nearest station), and the other was a pregnant woman in a minivan being pushed into a gas station against heavy cross-traffic by five burly men. It was a dangerous situation. What's odd is that both of the troubled motorists were women. I expect women, especially pregnant ones, to be a little more cautious. They have so much more to lose. This may sound a bit sexist, but in my world view, if a man runs out of gas, he's just stupid or broke, or both (and I say this as a guy who has run out of gas more than I care to mention). But a woman ... when a woman runs out of gasoline, that's desperate. That is a sign that something is horribly wrong.
So why are women running out of gas?
The obvious answer is that gasoline costs so much that many of us - even pregnant women - are taking desperate risks to make ends meet. One solution is something called "hypermiling." Hypermiling is the art of increasing your mileage. Some hypermilers claim that they have doubled their gas mileage, but it helps if you know a few tricks. Fortunately, UCAN has compiled more than 100 gas-saving tricks that you can put to use right away (some of them will surprise you).
Still, running out of gas is a bad idea. Here are three reasons why:
1) Running out of gas isn't just inconvenient, it is potentially deadly.
Obviously, if you don't have the money, you don't have the money, but recognize that running out of gas on a freeway overpass, freeway entrance, or any other badly situated place can kill you. Even if you are coasting downhill, the power steering and brakes can fail, turning your car into an unsteerable and unstoppable battering ram.
2) Running out of gas is expensive.
Running out of gas is HARD on your car. First, the bottom of your gas tank is filled with gunk, water, rust, and who knows what else. In the process of running your tank dry, you will be sending this filth into your beloved and formerly reliable engine. You may even clog the fuel filter.
3) A near-empty gas tank wastes fuel.
A near-empty gas tank, or even a tank that is less than 1/4 full wastes fuel through evaporation. The best way to avoid fuel loss through evaporation is to keep the tank full.
Friday's UCAN News reports that diesel has gone up to $4.77 a gallon in San Diego. Truckers and engineers aren't sitting idle. A recent Los Angeles Times article addresses, among other things, the changing aerodynamics of the cab and other promising technologies stretching from tires to alternative power units. Read more.
From hybrids to gas hogs, blame and solutions for the gas crisis
An understanding of vehicle options in the next few years
By Jeff Church
There is plenty of blame to go around for the gas crisis. We still have not reached the gas line crisis as we did in 1973 and 1978 (oh how soon we forget) but I think those days are coming. With events in the Middle East and Venezuela they could come at any moment.
We, as consumers, must look in the mirror. In the 1980's we had the CRX, Chevette, Metro and other cars that got over 50 mpg. My 1985 Honda CRX never got below 50 mpg and did get over 60 on occasion! Not even a current hybrid can do that!
We not only look at who killed the electric car but what happened to the Honda Insight hybrid? It did get up to 70 mpg. You never saw it advertised and they never added any upgrades. You could not test drive one and none were on dealer lots. Later models were never submitted to the California Air Resources Board for approval for carpool lanes! They were discontinued in 2006.
Why do the gas companies raise prices and rake in record profits? For that answer I looked at my dog and found the answer. They do it because they can. I think they also realize this is their last hurrah. They realize that 100 mpg hybrids and alternative fuel cars are on the horizon and this is their last chance to take full advantage. A dollar a gallon for a car that gets 20 mpg would seem to generate the same profit as $3 a gallon for a car that gets 60 mpg.
Again, we as consumers continue to buy gas guzzlers. I am amazed when I see these large vehicles with new temp plates. When I was car shopping and gas was $2 a gallon a salesman told me, "Oh gas is gong to go down" and people believe that!
Many drivers say they want safe vehicles which they think means big. However my sister's economy Pontiac Vibe (same as Toyota Matrix) has a 5 star safety rating for side and front impact. Some of the bigger vehicles like SUVs are shown to be far less safe. Consumers need to at least sit inside some of these smaller vehicles. They may be quite surprised how roomy they are.
So one problem we face is that super economy cars are coming "next year". Next year keeps coming and going but it does look like they are coming soon. I keep driving a 40 mpg 2001 Saturn because I keep waiting for the break through car.
For those wanting or needing a big vehicle, Ford's 150 pick up may be coming with a propane conversion option through an independent company. When the gas crisis comes they can waive at the Prius's in the gas lines and be even cleaner for the environment. Still at $2-3 a gallon for propane, they won't be cheap to drive. There are a few companies that will convert for you. Las Vegas runs its taxi cabs on propane (Ford engine similar to F150). Why there are not more entrepreneurs doing this, I don't know. The problem I have is if they are not local, how do you get service?
Too many people think that a car that gets 25 mpg is an economy car- bull. Mileage in the mid 20's is not good but there are cars out there like the Malibu, Impala, and the Chrysler 300 that do at least get that- but only if you get the smaller engine. 25 mpg is certainly better than 19 mpg. The Chrysler has a variable cylinder system to deliver not bad mileage for such a large vehicle that also comes in all wheel drive (AWD).
While not as clean, outside California, various cars and SUVs are reportedly going diesel (and much cleaner than previous diesels) with higher mpg including the Jetta, Nissan Maxima, Jeep and others. Allegedly coming in late 2008 is a 45-50 mpg 50 state certified Jetta diesel. I'll believe it when I see it. I'm told there is a bio diesel station in San Diego at I-15 and El Cajon Blvd.
Some of the so alleged economy cars offer disappointing gas mileage. The tiny Aveo tops out at 37 mpg like the Hyundai Accent. Ford is showing some improvement on their Focus which reportedly not only gets 37 mpg but be PZEV (super clean). 37 is still not good compared to the older Saturns, 1990's Neon, and others that are no longer made.
ULEV means ultra low emission vehicle. PZEV means Partial Zero Emission Vehicle, SULEV means Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. While it doesn't make sense some of the low polluting cars still don't get great gas mileage. So when shopping you may want to look at both factors and determine what's important to you.
Better yet, the Mazda 2 if it comes to be in the US is reported to have a 1.3 engine and get over 50 mpg. The BMW Mini is receiving advanced technology to allegedly get close to 60 mpg!
The one I am really hopeful about is the GM/ Chevrolet Volt, hybrid-electric- plug in due in 2009 or later. If it can happen, it may get you your first 40 miles free (electric) and then over 50 mpg. Remember it is not really free because your electric bill will go up but consider solar panels to off set that. Current batteries could be affected by cold so San Diego and L.A. are good climates for this type car.
Here's my solution to the manufacturers. Go into the vault and find the 1983 plans for the Honda CRX and build it! Surely if they can build it in 1983 @ 55 mpg they can add a few technology improvements to offset the weight of front and side airbags and build it again.
If you look at European cars you'll see there are plenty of cars out there, gas and diesel, that currently get over 50 mpg. US safety regulations add a lot of weight. The Mazda 2 if it comes to be in the US is reported to have a 1.3 engine and get over 50 mpg. The BMW Mini is receiving advanced technology to allegedly get close to 60 mpg! So if I understand this correctly, you can buy a motorcycle and cyclist death rates are skyrocketing from older or inexperienced drivers trying to save money. Further, children can even ride on motorcycles but we can't give the consumer the option on all the added car weight.
Many studies show that electrical drains on hybrids or electrics, especially air conditioning can dramatically lower mileage maybe up to 50%. Also, the colder the outside temperature, the more the drain. So these plug in cars (HEV's) may not be good in real hot climates like Arizona or real cold northern climates.
A company in Ontario, California (Phoenix Motor Cars) is working on an electric small car and truck. It is reportedly due out in production "soon". They have partnered with a Reno company called "Altairnano". They reportedly have made major breakthroughs in (Nanosafe) batteries. They allow quick charging and could even charge during low grid peak times overnight and feed back into the grid during peak periods if not in use. Problems remain including cost and if break through occur; expect big companies and the military to get first option so it could be a while before they trickle down to consumers.
100% electric may be a good option for those who own 2 cars; one for the electric commute and the other for longer trips or the whole family. Might be nice is an electric truck could have a small generator in the bed to charge the batteries if you find yourself "stranded".
The Chinese made and US available ZAP quasi car/3 wheeled enclosed cycle/ pick up is interesting and would be better if the next generation batteries come out as anticipated. Nothing new is cheap though.
Perhaps the way of the future will be the plug in hybrids. Your first 10-100 miles would be "free" (electric) then the motor would kick in. You recharge at work and return home. Reportedly a number of companies have already developed the technology to upgrade some hybrids as plug ins. This begs the question if outside companies can do it, why can't GM, Toyota and others?
Other makers and after market companies are studying other technological improvements. Ford is looking to greatly improve on their Escape SUV hybrid from the present 30 mpg averages.
To promote these we really need the state and local government to step up with breaks including reduced DMV fees, carpool lane privileges, and other incentives.
A comment on the Prius, until we have these incentives and breaks for cars like the Prius, it is a bad bet. While it gives a personal good feeling to drive an economical and ULEV, the extra sales price, sales tax, annual registration and insurance will not off set the savings over a standard economy car like the Toyota Corolla. On the other hand, like buying an HDTV ready set, the Prius should be first in line when break through batteries are available. Gives us back our carpool stickers!
So what does the future hold? In the next 10 years I think the best solution is all solutions; ethanol in the Midwest, bio-diesel when possible for some, electric, propane, hybrids, plug in hybrids, and just higher mpg cars. There is not enough of any of these to serve everyone nationwide but little by little we can each do our part.
Those with big fleets such as local government, taxis, and other big companies should be pressured to utilize these alternatives. New York City is getting their taxi's to go hybrid and Las Vegas has converted their taxi fleet to propane. Much of the change can be mandated at the local level.
The hydrogen cars will be here sometime too and will likely start in major cities, especially those with air pollution problems. Hydrogen refueling stations will grow slowly but if we can get them in various big cities, bit by bit they can happen.
When you consider these alternatives coming, hopefully in the next few years, you can understand why the gas companies are making their last gasp.
More information may be found at various websites including:
The unsavory influence of politics on gas prices
By Charles Langley and Laura Impastato, UCAN Advocates
Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Sunday, December 16 edition of the North County Times.
For years, the oil industry has said that oil prices determine gas prices, but our research suggests that politics has more to do with the price of gasoline than supply and demand.
In October, UCAN published a fever chart showing the relationship between high gas prices and presidential job ratings. The chart shows a “mirror effect” since 2001. It shows a strong correlation between low job approval ratings for the Bush Administration and high gas prices. For example, when gas prices reached their zenith in May of this year ($3.45 a gallon in North County and $3.20 nationally), the President’s job approval ratings dropped to a record low of 29%.
In January 2006, UCAN predicted that gas prices would plummet just before the November 2006 elections. We repeated our predictions in August and September. The forecast raised quite a few eyebrows, because at the time, gas prices had just broken an all-time record in North County. It turns out we called it right. In North County, prices plunged almost a dollar a gallon from $3.26 on August 1, to a low of $2.36 a gallon just two days before the November 7 election. By noon on election Tuesday, gas prices took a sharp curve upward. The following week prices had increased 6¢ a gallon in North County at atime of year when prices normally decline. So how did we call it? Read on:
Saudi Arabia’s Political Promise
In 2004, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, had promised the Bush Administration that it would over-produce oil to bring down U.S. fuel prices prior to major elections. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman recently acknowledged the cozy relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Bush Administration when he said, “Buyers and sellers have a common interest in maintaining reasonable prices for oil.” This “common interest” is both political and financial. The Saudis understand that high oil prices make realistic alternatives to oil more affordable. Prior to the 2006 midterm elections, the Saudis made good on Prince Bandar’s promise, cutting oil prices by $15 a barrel. But this aggressive over-production by the Saudis doesn’t fully explain the pre-election price chopping.
To put things in perspective, when the price of oil drops by $15 a barrel, it translates into about 36¢ per gallon of gas. Yet eight weeks before the election, the price of gas dropped by nearly a dollar in California, The law of “supply and demand” can’t explain such enormous price cuts.
Political heat equals lower gas prices
Years ago, North County Times Editor, John van Doorn, noticed a direct correlation between the price of gasoline and the level of political protest. He coined the term “Heat to Price” to explain how prices would plunge whenever lawmakers called for industry reforms. UCAN’s research shows that the biggest cause for the price chopping is that California refineries have trimmed their margins. Right now, the political heat is set on high with full burners heating up the energy lobby thanks to new energy legislation passed by the House on December 6. The $21 billion package is an environmentalist’s dream, but a nightmare for Big Oil, U.S. Senate Republicans, and the White House. It mandates that automakers increase average fuel economy of their fleets to 35 miles per gallon, and slaps new taxes on oil companies to fund the development of alternative fuels. The new taxes offset massive tax breaks that were funded by previous oil-backed legislation.
President Bush has promised to veto the new energy plan, and it is expected that it will be filibustered by Republican lawmakers. In the meantime, U.S. oil companies have refrained from their usual gas gouging until the Senate has a chance to vote on the bill. To the oil companies and the Republicans, “energy independence” means keeping the U.S. hooked on highly polluting fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Recent revelations about presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani show the intimate and incestuous relationship between the energy lobby and Republican interests. At this time, the oil in a gallon of North County gasoline costs about $1.94. with an average gallon selling for $3.28. Earlier this year, North County gas reached a record high of $3.45, but the oil in that gallon of record-breaking gasoline cost almost 50¢ per gallon less. (story continues below graphic).
In other words, even though the price of oil has increased from $62 a barrel to $88, the price of gasoline is lower because refineries are making a little more than half as much money per gallon of gas. Obviously, the price of oil has not been driving the price of gasoline. If California refineries return to the same profit margins we saw on May 9th of this year, gasoline would currently run about $3.90 a gallon … which is what will probably happen as soon as the political heat is off.
Laura Impastato is an Editor and researcher for the UCAN Watchdog, Charles Langley manages UCAN’s gasoline project at www.ucan.org. UCAN is the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, a local non-profit consumer group.
Today, Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico took a courageous stand against energy independence by making sure that the world's most profitable oil companies get to keep massive tax breaks.
William F. Buckley once summed up the philosophy behind "Reaganomics" with these famous words:
"It's about giving the horse enough oats so
that some of them pass through the other
end for the sparrows on the road."
Today, Domenici lead a valiant effort to preserve massive welfare-style tax subsidies for Big oil by feeding the big Oil and Utility horses a diet of straight oats at the expense of taxpayers.
Unfortunately, this move leaves nothing but a steaming pile of dung for the sparrows on the other end.
Using the power of the fillibuster, Senator Domenici successfully stopped alternative technologies such as solar energy and wind power from getting their share of Big Government oats. According to New Mexico's own leading newspaper, the Albuquerque Tribune, the state's solar industry has been "left by the side of the road."
You would think that a politician from New Mexico would be interested in giving a little seed money to solar power.
After all, the state is so rich in sunshine that its flag is a red sun on a yellow field. In fact, you would think that Mr. Dominici would bet at least a little money on the "solar horse," instead of the "Big Oil Horse" in the race toward energy independence, but no ... he has deliberately left one of his state's brightest hopes for energy independence by the side of the road.
Why is Mr. Domenici backing the wrong horse?
According to www.opensecrets.org, which tracks political contributions, Senator Domenici is the top recipient of dollars from oil and gas companies, electric utilities, and natural gas transmission and distribution corporations.
So the next time you pay a record breaking price for your gasoline, or write a check to your local electric utility, think of Pete Domenici. He's the man who is bravely defending the status quo at your expense by giving the Big Energy horse plenty of oats.
As for you: You're just a sparrow.
Post Script: On November 14, 2007, UCAN predicted that prices for gasoline would begin to rise a few weeks after the President signs the new Energy Independence Bill." Read about it here.
After 17 years, you would think that Exxon/Mobil, the world's largest, and most profitable, oil company, would pay its considerable debt to Alaskan fishermen for the 1993 Valdez disaster. It hasn't, it isn't and it probably won't, ... all because Exxon is playing by the Golden Rule.
If you are an oil company, with unlimited cash, the Golden Rule goes like this: "He who has the gold makes the rules."
Since 1993, Exxon has spent billions of dollars avoiding payment in court with a strategy of stall, appeal, delay, and appeal. In 1994, a judge cut the amount of the $5 billion award in half, ruling that it was excessive. But for that much Gold, Exxon is willing to bend the rules.
Today, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Exxon's claim that the remaining $2.5 billion in punitive damages is excessive. Exxon/Mobil, no doubt, is counting on the fact that the current Supreme Court is the most pro-business court in U.S. history. A ruling is expected in June.
In the meantime, more than 6,000 plaintiiffs have died, waiting for a check from Exxon that may never come.
If you're driving on San Diego's busy freeways or highways and have a mechanical failure, help is now a quick call away. The Mobile Call Box Program is now operational for cell phone users. Just dial 511 for roadside assistance.
The publicly funded program was recently launched by the San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE).
There's been a lot of hand-wringing lately about the President's decision on July Second, 2007. Being a dog, it is difficult for me to read the newspaper, but my understanding is that the "Decider" has become a "Commuter."
I say this is a good thing. As America faces the highest gasoline prices of any generation in U.S. history, it is more important than ever for our leaders to set a good example. Nothing should gladden the hearts of Americans more than to see our finest citizen taking the bus to Capital Hill.
I for one, look forward to seeing George Bush going about his regular "commutes." Personally, I hope he will set a really good example by dumping his gas-guzzling Chevy Silverado in favor of a fuel-efficient hybrid car, or an ultra gas-miserly and oh-so-stylish Smart Car.
While some are sure to sniff at the president's decision, it's a safe bet that George Bush will be doing more and more commuting in the near future. Whether the "W" is in the White House or the Dog house, the "Commuter" is a "top dog" with me.