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With gas prices being sky high, I see more articles devoted towards tips to save gas. Among the usual “carpool to work”, “combine your errands”, and “drive the speed limit” tips, there’s inevitably some suggestion like “Walk or ride a bike for short errands.”
While I can’t argue that riding a bike for short errands will save you some gas money, it’s not going to be much. I’ve also found it’s usually not worth the routine of perhaps changing my clothes, then putting on my helmet and bike shoes, riding the mile down to the grocery store, take off helmet, lock up bike, change shoes, buy groceries, try to fit groceries in small pannier bags, change shoes, unlock bike, put on helmet, ride one mile back home, take off helmet, and change shoes yet again. Granted, this scenario would be better if I didn’t have those fancy schmancy bike shoes to deal with, but it’s still a lot of hassle for 10 minutes of exercise and a savings of 1/10th a gallon of fuel.
I think it’s the medium-length errands that pay off much more. Riding to the Wild Oats grocery store that’s 8 miles away gives me a full hour of riding pleasure and saves more than 1/2 gallon of gas, with no more hassle than the short trip.
Yes, I understand that not everyone is capable of riding for 16 miles, in which case maybe starting off with those short errands makes more sense. I’ll continue to do the short errands anyway, but that’s more because we’ve only got one car in the family and I don’t have any other choice if I need to go to the store during the week. Perhaps I’d get more satisfaction if I took the long way around to the grocery store instead.
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During our trip to China, Hong and I had hoped to steal away a few times to go shopping while the in-laws watched the kids. This was not to pass, as the kids ended up too attached to their parents during the vacation to be abandoned. Instead, we opted to take the kids and the in-laws, so the kids could be cared for while always being relatively close to us. Hong search for clothes for work, but couldn’t find much as the Chinese sense of fashion isn’t the same as America’s, and we found most clothes to be overly garish. They were also, much of the time, more expensive than clothes are here, something I may talk about in a future posting.
Emboldened by our shopping trips overseas, and dismayed by the lack of loot brought home, we attempted shopping at the local mall for additional clothes. One observation: you often see parents shopping with a single small child, but almost never with two small children. The same observation applies at restaurants; it’s pretty rare that we see families requesting two high-chairs like we use. Truth be told, our kids are both pretty well behaved in public, at least as much as a 2- and a 1-year old could expected to be. The shopping experience worked out just fine, with Hong browsing for raiment while I prevented Maggie from climbing on the mannequins.
One sidenote: one of the stores was playing Lost and Found by Delerium on the loudspeakers, a song I had downloaded a few months ago and have been listening to. At that moment, I was suddenly “cool”. Four minutes later, the song was over and my cool vanished. It was back to being a suburban dad watching the kids at the mall.
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Since my last post, the family headed off to China to spend two weeks in hazy Taiyuan. We came back last Friday and have been trying to get re-adjusted to the time difference ever since. For some reason, I’ve had a hard time taking naps even when I’ve been really tired, and have been skipping meals because I’m simply not very hungry. Last night was the first night since returning that I got more than eight hours of sleep. The experience has been equally hard on the kids, but we’re almost there.
I don’t have many pictures of the trip to share this time around, as we were kind of tied down with the kids most of the time. I do have a number of “Engrish” photos to share when I get around to it.