It is not done with us

Omicron is here. A virus mutates. The breeding of variants is made more likely when 57% of us are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Health experts predicted other variants were likely last year. Our best defense is to get as close to 100% vaccinated as possible. We are at war. We don’t hear bombs dropping, but it is war. What emerged in South Africa, is now present in Europe and Canada. It most likely came by plane in passengers without symptoms.

It is a world health crisis. WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus got it right. Omicron is another reminder that although many might “think we are done with Covid-19, it is not done with us,” Tedros said.

The vaccine is not perfect, but it is the best armor in this war we have. What I mean by “we” is the population of the world. So the way out of the pandemic is for developed countries to support vaccine availability in less developed countries.

Tedros said that while the agency understands that every government has a “responsibility to protect its own people,” ending the uneven distribution of vaccines is “in every country’s best interest.”

These comments came in a recent interview in Forbes, as provided below.

I and my wife have gotten our shots and booster shots. In the US, it is free and widely available. Other preventative measures don’t offer the same protection. I was in and out of CVS Pharmacy in less than 30 minutes.

A lot of other measures are being taken with mixed results. It is epidemiology 101 that any measure to limit long distance disease transmission (local containment) is good. However, cancelation of flights from African countries, have caused stranded passengers and congestion at multiple airports. Americans can return home from South Africa so this can lead to more opportunities to spread the new variant.

I’m not counting on any magic pill being ready. Yes, if the Pfizer or Bristol Myers pills are approved and I’m infected with Covid-19, I’m all in. But, long-haul Covid is possible, with a long list of symptoms. (for long haul Covid, I recommend Sanjay Gupta’s book World War C, see links below).

I’ll end with one simple conclusion that our planet is much smaller than people think. In my lifetime, I visited China, India, and countries in South America, the Middle East, Africa and SE Asia. I was a tourist, and I want to remain that way. Not a disease transmitter.

It depends on Covid vaccine availability and acceptance, if we are to make the planet healthier.


OK, I said my peace, and I’ll sit down.

Stay tuned,



Forbes Interview with WHO Director

Sanjay Gupta, World War C

Recommended reading. I use Kindle on my PC to read it.

Are gasoline prices too high? (Part 1)

Oh no, this question again. It is very convenient to blame the current administration. Or Opec.

Sometimes in polite company, it is bad to know too much. “I paid $40 to fill up my tank, so don’t you think it’s too much?” Ok, the correct answer is “yes, you poor dear,.” even though I know better. People compare what it cost to fill up a gas tank now verses a week ago. No one compares what it cost to fill up a tank now compared to 2013 or 2014. Or the price of gasoline in 1981.

A recent Facebook post compared economic measures from October 2020 to October 2021, and showed almost everything improving, such as higher salaries, lower unemployment, and higher stock market prices which for many Americans mean their retirement plans are gaining value.

No question about it- the price of gas at the pump has risen significantly from October 2020 to today. In October 2020, gasoline on average was $2.248/gallon and in October 2021, the cost was $3.384/gallon, a gain of 51%.

A 50% change in gasoline prices isn’t that unusual. Gas prices dropped in half during the economic crisis which began in 2008. What really drove the economic crisis was new forms of lending, which allowed people to buy homes, without adequate income or assets. Gasoline prices dropped nearly in half from around 2014 to 2016 as offshore drilling and fracking became commercially viable. Improved drilling technology allowed offshore gas and oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico to be drilled in much deeper water, and highly deviated or horizontal wells became common. Subsea completions allowed for more rapid development, and reduced the front end expense.

It took just 3 years following the 2008 housing crash for gasoline prices to get in the $3.80 to $4.00/gallon. The declining prices from 2012 to 2016 were due to increased oil prices due to fracking and deep water drilling Fracking really dried up in 2016 due to low oil prices. The companies involved in fracking can postpone the completion of wells to cut costs. This is a desperate measure because they don’t get the benefit of new production. Offshore developments are on a much longer timeframe, from discovery to initial production from 5 years or more, so they do not react as quickly to lower oil prices.

These boom to bust and back to boom cycles will continue. Nobody in 2016 was complaining that oil prices had dipped below $2.00/gallon except the oil industry, which needed to make large investments to maintain their supply of oil. It was the cheapest oil had been in 8 years, during a couple of months at the worst moments of the housing crash. Or the lowest gas had been since 2005.

We haven’t defeated Covid but travel and businesses are returning to normal. If I remove the 2007 to 2008 housing bubble, the 2008 to 2009 housing crash/recession, and the Covid-19 economic crash and early recovery, the trend become a bit clearer.

So, the first upward trendline goes from 2002 when gas cost about $1.20/gallon to 2014, when it hit about $4.00/gallon. From 2014 to 2016, technology increased production and the oil glut simply reset the trendline back to $2.00/gallon by 2016, then we were back on the same trendline.

In fact, it is very rational to believe oil prices should go up with time over the long run, because the worldwide supply of oil is limited. It is increasingly more expensive to find more oil. Economic turmoil seems to temporarily reverse the upward trend. I know world leaders are gathered in Glasgow to cut fossil fuels consumption. So, should alternative fuels become more popular, then oil prices should go down. At present, the electric vehicles account for 1.7% of all cars sold, so we have a long ways to go.

Oil prices will be influenced by many factors including the policies of OPEC and the global economy. It seems anything above about $60/barrel for crude oil, results in increased fracking for oil and gas. We are now around $83/barrel.

So, I understand the higher prices are painful. But, longer term prices will result in more production, and people choosing either buying EV’s or fuel efficient cars. This can, in the long term, reverse the trend.

The graph above starts at 1993. If I go back to 1981, gasoline cost $3.88/gallon after adjusting for inflation. So are gasoline prices too high? They are really pretty much on the same trend as pre-Covid. Will we hit a peak, then a decline as more production comes on line? Maybe not. Added production may lower the slope of the trendline, or in other words, slow the pace of increases.

In general, gasoline prices increase when oil prices go up, but it is not always in synch. I will discuss oil prices and production in the next blog.

Stay tuned,



EIA US Historical Gasoline Prices