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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Is anyone buying gas in Columbia?

        We are used to paying more for anything in Columbia and that includes gas.  Going to Laurel is one way to find cheaper gas but who wants to drive 10 miles out of your way to save 5-10 cents a gallon on gas?  Those that go to Virginia regularly notice how much cheaper gas is there because of lower state gas taxes.  At least those of us in Maryland get better roads for our higher gas taxes.
      This morning the High's gas at 2861 Jessup Road in Hanover had the cheapest gas at $2.39 a gallon according to the Gas Buddy app.  Those willing to go a little further to the Sam's gas on Route 198 can save even more but I have noticed recently that their price has been more than the local Costco gas.  For many of us buying gas at Costco is one way to save 15-20 cents a gallon over other gas in Columbia.  Waiting in line for 5-10 minutes is worth the savings.  Wait times from before 9 am is considerably less.  Soon we may have another choice as BJ's gas at Dobbin Center looks to be opening soon.

    I don't know how their price will compare to Costco's price but the BJ's gas price at their station near Bowie Baysox Park is generally lower than our Costco.
    Of course any discussion of saving on gas has to recognize the most important factor in how much we spend on gas comes down to the type of vehicle we choose to drive.  Anything with 6 or 8 cylinders shows that saving on gas is not your priority.  A hybrid or plug in can save enough to be the most cost effective if you keep your car long enough. Many newer cars have built in systems called Eco that smooths out acceleration gas usage.  Keeping cars tuned up and changing oil and filters can help you get the best possible gas mileage.
    There are a few credit cards that offer a discount of around 5% on gas purchases.  The gas company cards discount the price at the pump and the bank cards usually give cash back in other ways.  I personally use either my Sam's Club card that always gives 5% back or the Chase Bank card the months they give 5% back.  One nice feature of the Chase card is that you can use your cash back money for Amazon purchases.
    Ever notice that gas stations tend to increase costs after Wednesdays in anticipation of people filling up at the end of the week or on the weekend?  Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be better days to buy gas.  Buying gas in cooler temperatures in the early morning or at night is supposed to give you more gas for your money as gas expands during the day. 
     Finally just drive less.  Any trip under a mile or two can many times be done by walking or biking.  You may be healthier and lose a few easy pounds.
     Any other ways you save on gas costs?

    Couldn't imagine what type of person would drive this type of truck in Columbia?  Let's say I kept my distance even though the smiley face did seem to send a mixed message.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Seven years of blogging--what's next

      Seven years ago I attended a session on blogging and thought it might be a way to reconnect with Howard County after having spent the previous 10 years working as a consultant mostly outside the County.  I wasn't sure how well it would work or how long I would do it.  Surprisingly I still blog although not as frequently as I once did.  I no long feel the need to blog as much anymore.
      In the past year I recognize that I have become a little obsessed with the ridiculous Trump administration.  I didn't start my blog to be dealing with politics and have stayed away from local politics.  I have to admit I am tired of posting on Trump.  He is a bully, obscene, immoral and a buffoon.   He is a test for how strongly we as a Country value our democratic values.  Having said that I am done with posting on this topic.  Time to move on.
     The area that still interests me is how to live reasonably and frugally in our expensive community.  With Howard County's per capita income near the top nationally it is even more important that we evaluate the value of what we spend our money on.  We live in a commercial world that is always trying to get us to buy the newest and sexiest product.  We overspend on products that soon lose their value and our interest instead of saving and living a more moderate lifestyle.  Our hope is that our incomes will rise fast enough to cover the costs of our increasingly expensive consumer lifestyles.  The question I pose is "Can a person of modest income still live in Howard County?"
      You will notice the change in my future posts in the direction of living more frugally in Howard County.  While most of the posts will have application anywhere I am interested in focusing on applications targeted to Howard County.  I hope people reading this blog will provide me with their own areas of living frugally in our County.  My blog title will stay HoCo Connect but what I will be connecting on will change.  I also hope to get more comments on the posts.  Let's see where this goes.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Happy to live in Columbia?

  Once again our planned city scores on a national survey of good places to live.  I can't think of a better place to call home although coming in just ahead of San Francisco did surprise me.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Collusion book read: connecting the dots

     I have just finished a book that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to understand how the Russians have played the United States through Trump and his associates.  The book is called "Collusion: Secret meetings, dirty money, and how Russia helped Donald Trump win."  The book is by Luke Harding a reporter for the Guardian who has written often about how Russia has sought to regain its role as a major player on the world scene. 
     With information on Trump's financial ties to Russian dirty money and video of  Trump with Russian prostitutes Putin has blackmailed Trump into taking actions that could clearly be labeled as treasonous.  The Russians don't need a mole in the White House as long as they have Trump.  In my mind Trump is not the only person guilty of treason.   Republican members of Congress that have tried to make it seem as if American law enforcement agencies are the problem are also doing Russia bidding.  Selling out your country to protect your Republican Party leader is something that would have been unimaginable before Trump appeared on the scene.  The books that will come out later about the Trump administration will be hair raising.  This is only the first of many.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New Elkridge Library opens Saturday March 10th

HCLS Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center
Grand Opening
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Howard County Library System's Board of Trustees and Interim President & CEO Ann Gilligan cordially invite you to the Grand Opening of the new Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center on Saturday, March 10.
Saturday, March 10
9:30 am          
  • Performance by Elkridge Elementary School Chorus
  • Presentation of Colors by Elkridge Cub Scout Pack 432
  • Remarks by County Executive Allan Kittleman, County Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty, State Senator Guy Guzzone
  • Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
10 am - 4 pm (see for detailed schedule)
  • All Together Now classes for preschool children
  • Crafternoon for children (while supplies last) 
  • HiTech Robotics Challenge
  • 3D Printer demonstration
  • Scavenger hunts for all ages
  • Friends & Foundation of HCLS membership table
  • Tours by Grimm + Parker Architects
10 am - 6 pm
Branch open
Charles I. Ecker Campus
HCLS Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center
and Elkridge 50+ Center
More than doubling in space, the new branch will feature six study rooms, three meeting rooms, a vending cafe, a business center, more computers, and an expanded collection. In addition, the DIY Institute will include a DIY collection (e.g., tools for household repair, gardening, bike maintenance) available for borrowing, a Design Institute with classes for all ages, and a DIY Ed Studio (a mess-friendly classroom and work space).