June 10, 2008

Who´s Got Gas?

I have a hard time following the news in the U.S. sometimes, but I noticed recently that there was a big clamor because oil prices were continually rising. Apparently, in some places, gas was approaching 4 dollars a gallon. “Holy crap!” I thought.
Not to get too nostalgic—especially since this was only about 10 years ago—but I remember a time when I was in high school that gas was selling for 89 cents a gallon. Sure, it was only for a week or two, but generally prices stayed around $1.15 or so for the better part of a decade. So how did prices shoot up so much in such a short time?
I realize that this is the question that basically every person in the U.S. is asking him or herself, and the answers probably have something to do with politics, import prices, long division, and/or Texas, so I said to hell with this question. Instead, I decided to do a bit of investigation, and for help I even turned to my old enemy, mathematics.
Well, kids, it had been mothballed in storage for about 10 years, but I finally got out my old algebra again! I decided to figure out the cost of gas in Costa Rica, in dollars and gallons. About a year ago, I did something similar when I tried to figure out my car’s gas mileage. The pumps at the gas station and my car’s odometer both employ the metric system, and it took me most of the way to San José to solve that little math problem in my head, and I decided that this time, I’d use a calculator. (As an aside, one day I will have to tell you something about CSMP, the experimental math program that was unleashed upon kids my age at Timnath Elementary School. It was such a messed up program that every attempt I’ve made to explain how it worked has only led to disbelief and incredulous laughing on the part of my friends. One way or the other, it may explain why I still suck at math and have pursued a life in linguistics).
Anyhow, gas prices here are set by the state, so anywhere you go in the country, gas will cost the same price. Sounds kind of nice, right? Well, it is. In any case, regular unleaded currently costs 604 colones per liter, although it’s set to rise to 644 on Tuesday. Mix that in with the fact that the dollar is currently worth about 520 colones, and finally add in approximately 4 liters to a gallon and—WTF??—gas here costs $4.65 a gallon?!? Did I figure that out right?

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Zach said...

Good old CSMP... Anytime I need to do some math in my head, I just have to visualize a series of grids with multi-colored magnets placed on them.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, CSMP was the shit. And by that, I mean it was shit. But it does bring to mind the family guy where they're trying to do math on the street to calculate the time it will take for the drug dealer to arrive. That's what we call a variable. Excellent.

But nice work on the math. I try to remind people here that we still don't have it as bad as a lot of other places. I remember (or maybe made up) the fact that in Europe even 7 or 8 years ago, gas cost as much as it does now in Costa Rica. I seem to recall that, but I couldn't even drive back then, so what do I know?

Longest Comment Ever

Dustin said...

CSMP - Confusing Stupid Math Problems.

Actually, I think I'm the only one in the world who actually liked CSMP. Oh, well...

Sitzman said...

Sorry, I'm gonna have to side with Zach's sarcasm instead of Dustin's optimism here.
And who is anonymous? Paul? Your comments are insightful.