Pump relief? (5×8 – 5/6/11)

If oil is dropping in price, how come gas is still $3.99? Also: Distracted dining, where airlines fly, the new Wild coach, and a caption contest.


1) THE GASOLINE BUBBLE

I shut my car off at long traffic light yesterday morning to try to save a few drops of gasoline and lessen the global demand for oil, with the intent to bring the price down. Yesterday afternoon, the wholesale price of gasoline had its biggest one-day drop ever. What can I do for you today?

When the price of gas was skyrocketing a few months ago, experts explained that the price of gasoline jumps right away because store operators charge for the replacement of their supplies based on the wholesale price. Last week the wholesale price jumped, and the price of gasoline at the pump jumped within hours by 15 cents a gallon.

Yesterday, the wholesale price of gasoline dropped about 25 cents. As of this morning, many of the big stations — SA, BP, Holiday — were still getting $3.99. CBS this morning reported if the price of gas dropped as quickly as it goes up, we’d be paying $3.61 today.

Salon today notes that the price of gasoline usually rises twice as fast as it drops.

But experts say the price of gasoline will drop back and probably won’t revisit the $4 a gallon level until next year.

How much should it be soon? The Web site, The Gas Game, provides this formula, if you’d like to figure it out:


P = estimated wholesale price

(average of current and next month futures prices)

RM = estimated retail markup (as much as 20 cents per gallon)

FF = Fudge factor, which takes into account variations between New York and Chicago wholesale prices, and competition situations (can vary from -10 to 25 cents)

TX = federal gasoline tax per gallon (18.4 cents per gallon)

MS = miscellaneous (middlemen, freight, and storage fees, about 3 cents)

ST = state gasoline tax per gallon (19 cents per gallon, not subject to state sales tax)

The prediction? About $3.86, which a few weeks ago would’ve been thought shockingly high. After a week at $3.99, it seems like a steal.

2) DISTRACTED DINING

How about a nice, quiet dinner? Just you, your beloved, and the millions of people you’ll tweet to during dinner. LiveScience.com reports more restaurants are trading menus and wine lists for iPads. It allows restaurants to update them without having to reprint everything. But restaurants are also encouraging people to check in on FourSquare, and then tweet about their meal.

“The menus are not meant to replace servers; they’re meant to enhance the dining experience, and provide diners with additional information and conversation at their leisure,” said Mallory Hoke, a spokesperson for Sagra Italian Trattoria.

3) WHERE AIRLINES FLY

Colleague Julia Schrenkler recommends this fascinating graphical depiction if where airlines fly, broken down by airline. For example, this is Delta:

DL.png

No surprises there other than it’s easy to see why the old Northwest will always play second fiddle to the old Delta. Full article and more airlines here.

Yves Rossy isn’t going to need an airplane today. He is an airplane. The FAA has certified him as one, so today at 11 a.m. (CT), a helicopter is going to take him over the Grand Canyon at 7,000 feet, and drop him.

In Chile, meanwhile, a daredevil has ridden a motorbike off a mountain.

How are you spending your day?

4) THE NEW WILD COACH IS…?

The Star Tribune and other sports outlets are reporting that former NHL player and coach Craig MacTavish is the favorite to be the next coach of the Minnesota Wild.

That presents an immediate PR problem — maybe — for the Wild. MacTavish killed a woman while he was driving drunk years ago on the main drag north of Boston, where he played as a member of the Bruins. Vehicular homicide in Massachusetts carried a 20-year prison term. He got a year in a minimum security prison and his release from the Bruins to go play for somebody else.

Is that a problem? One hockey blogger — Goon’s World — says it is:


While I am sure that some of you will say but that it was a long time ago and what’s the big deal Goon, however, I ask you to look at this way, think of the victim and her family, Kim Radley would have been 53 years old today if her life hadn’t have been cut short by a selfish drunk driver. I am being serious, do we really want a coach of the hometown team the Minnesota Wild to be a former felon that committed vehicle homicide? Which in my opinion was a very preventable and unnecessary death. If I am missing the point, please tell why, I also imagine that I am not the only one that feels this way.

MacTavish got his master’s degree in business last year

5) A HORSE, OF COURSE

Nobody gets the perfect shot like MPR’s Nikki Tundel. Here’s our favorite from her photo essay on a chiropractor to the animal world. Caption contest, anyone?

20110503_chiro13_53.jpg

Bonus: Yes, it’s an ad (for Teleflora), but this video with women whining about bad Mother’s Day presents can rub people either way. In my house, we still have some perfectly horrible Mother’s Day presents saved because they were lovingly picked out by a couple of loving kids. But maybe it really is the gift that counts…

Your turn, mothers. What present on Mother’s Day meant the most? What repulsed you?

(h/t: Idea Peepshow)

TODAY’S QUESTION

In their efforts to cut the budget deficit, federal officials are considering changes to Medicare and other benefit programs. Today’s Question: As an American citizen, what benefits do you feel entitled to?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Krista Tippett, host of On Being. Her most recent book is “Einstein’s God.”

Second hour: Robert Putnam, professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is co-author of the new book “American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Minnesota’s new teacher of the year, Katy Smith

Second hour: Lori Sturdevant, author of “The Pillsburys of Minnesota.”

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Electronics and privacy. What do your gadgets know about you?

Second hour: Why belly fat poses a bigger risk to your health than padding in other places.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Can Minneapolis afford another stadium given how high city taxes already are? Research by MPR’s Tim Nelson and the Virginia-based Global Business Travelers Association shows that the Vikings’ home city has some of the highest sales, hotel, food and car rental taxes in the NFL.

Director Kelly Reichardt re-imagines the westward expansion as a tale of people lost on the Oregon Trail. She meant it as an exploration of the reality of the pioneers, but she admits many people see it as a commentary on the state of current politics. MPR’s Euan Kerr will have the story.