Results tagged “car” from Hawk Talk - Christian

Commuter Heaven!!!!!!

Please, tell me. 

Did I die?

Is the world ending?

... Hmm, maybe I'm going insane.

Is this real?

I remember a day in mid-July, with the temperatures soaring to a good 90 degrees, and the sky muggy from the trapped humidity.  I was sitting in my Mazda 3 driving down Rt. 99 from Everett and I noticed that my tank is close to empty (again).  So I decided to catch the closest gas station around to put something in my tank.  Unfortunately, I did not drive up to the closest station.  To tell you the truth, I drove around a little bit.  No, I was not trying to kill my tank so my car would die in the summer's heat.  I was just trying to find the "cheapest" gas.  After a good 10-15 minute drive, I decided to just pull up into one, ask for $10 "regular" in my tank, cancel all my plans and just drive home.  The "regular" price was $4.50.  I was broke throughout the Summer of 2008, a summer that I just want to forget (gas-wise).

Today is November 17, 2008, and I see just the total opposite.  Honestly, I think my prayers have been answered.  Heck, my dreams as a Bostonian driver was answered (and unfortunately, it's not the reconstruction of the "Cloverleaf I-93/I-95 (Rt 128)" Intersection).  For the first time in forever, I finally see gas prices under $2.00 littered in one stretch of road.  This is a dream come true!!!!  I seriously felt a tear falling down my cheek (okay, that was just a mental image in my mind).  The economy is pretty much suffering right now, but the gas prices continue to fall.  In five months, prices went from an eye-sore $4.50 to a beautiful $1.77.  As soon as I saw that, I pulled up and experimented...  Let me explain.

Once in awhile I'll add just $10 of gas when my tank hits the last quarter of the gas meter/viewer (or whatever you call it).  After putting $10 in, I check to see how much the arm of the meter increased.  In July, the arm went up between quarter to a half.  Today, the arm went well above the half mark and closer to 3/4.  I was so dang happy!!!!  So basically I can put $20 worth of gas for a full tank, which is half of what I spent for a full tank in July!  

With gas prices this low, I can finally relax and not worry about emptying my wallet!!!  I can finally save money to buy Christmas presents for my whole family!

So to all commuters out there, take advantage of the low under $2.00 prices, because you'll never know when the prices might jump up close to $5.00.  So fill em' up and drive away!!


Commuters Prepare!

Hello everyone, 

I'm looking at my calendar, and there are about two weeks left of August.  That means the fall semester is coming up (way too) fast. 

For new commuter students, there's a lot of things you have to expect on the first few weeks of classes:

1)  GET YOUR PARKING PERMIT!   This is the most important thing to get before first day of classes!  The permit is a decal that states that you are a commuter student and you have the authority to park in most parking lots.  If you do not have the permit on the first day, you will get a UML Police Parking Ticket, or what the commuters call the infamous "Orange Envelope."  So please get one as soon as possible!  To order a permit online, please go to this website:

2)   The parking lots in UMass-Lowell will be filled quickly and traffic will be a "I-93 highway crawl."  This is probably due to students trying to find the large parking lots, and other students still moving into their dorms.  From what I heard from other students, the parking lot right next to Sheehy Hall was removed and turned into a green spot (and I still don't know why).  So traffic will be tighter than usual and parking spots will be harder to find.  I would definitely leave your house earlier than planned.  Try to plan out your route in advance by driving to UML before move-in day so you can get accustomed to where to go, so the first day vehicle jam won't be a major surprise to you. 

3)   Get your vehicles checked by your mechanic before you start driving to school everyday.  It is a good idea to get your brakes fixed, check your engine light, tires, and other car stuff.  This step is basically a time to prevent any future breakdowns during the school semester.  Trust me, you don't want to miss classes because your car fails to start in the morning!  When the semester moves on into October, it is good to think about winterizing your car, because slippery roads are dangerous.

4)  Talking about breakdowns and bad weather, sometimes you may get stranded in UML.  It's a good idea to have extra clothing in the car, some toothpaste, a toothbrush, and other essentials that will help you through the night.  Please don't sleep in the car with the engine on... there will be carbon monoxide build up and that's deadly!  If you know a friend that has a dorm, sleep over there instead.  Trust me, especially in the winter, the car freezes up.

5)  Know the gas stations around the area.  Fortunately, UML South has a gas station right next to it.  The prices there are fairly inexpensive compared to others in the area.  But it's a good idea to fill up before you leave your house.  I created a link from Google Maps that shows all the gas stations around Lowell:  Google Maps: Gas Stations in Lowell

6)  Here's a tip about parking again:  Please don't create your own parking space.  This is the reason why commuters get ticked off.  Some people tend to park in places that aren't considered as spaces at all, or some are stupid enough to park on a handicap space when they aren't handicapped!  Please remember this:  as long as you park in an area that says that you are allowed to park there, and your vehicle is between the white solid lines, you will be fine!

Well those are the basic points for the first few weeks of classes.  There are probably other points that I did not go over, but as soon as I think of others, I'll re-edit this blog. 

Please ask questions if you are confused about anything about the commuter life.  I will be a senior this fall and I think I know my way around as a commuter :-)

If you do have questions, you can email me:

- Christian

Finally, summer is here.  The weather is getting nicer, the temperature is rising, and the urge to jump into your pool, sit next to the ocean, or even "chill" in your air conditioned room is increasing quite nicely.  This is also the time when you hop into your car, go to work or head for your vacation destination... or not.  Gas prices are soaring the past few months, and many people are getting a bit nervous about our nation's economy.  Will gas prices reach $5.00 per gallon at the end of summer 2008?  Will it continue increasing?  What should I do?  What will happen to me financially?  These and many other questions have been floating around my mind the past few weeks.

Most of you know that I'm a commuter student who drives from Malden, MA to Lowell, MA everyday.  If you think about it, I drive 60 miles per day, which means that each single way trip is approximately 30 miles. 

At the beginning of my junior year, the gas prices were around $2.20 or something like that.  I drive a 2005 Mazda 3 car that can hold about 11 gallons.  If regular gas is $2.20 and I need to fill it up from empty, it would cost $24.20.  That isn't that bad especially for my car.  According to Mazda, my car has a MPG (miles per gallon) of 30 on the highway, and about 24 for city driving.  So if you think about it, one trip from Malden to Lowell is about 1 gallon (30 miles).  So all together (if I have my math right, hehe), 2 gallons would keep me running through my round trip. 

Recently, I've noticed (and most likely all of you) that the prices are creeping very very close to $4.00 per gallon.  I was driving around today and I've seen prices as "cheap" as $3.87, and as extreme as $4.20 (I almost threw up).  Curiously, I drove into a few gas stations and checked the digital readers for amount spent on a full tank.  The most I've seen so far was close to $70.  So let's do the math again.  Let's say, I'm taking the same trip to Lowell and back with $4.00 a gallon.  For my 11 gallon car, I have to spend $44 to fill it up.  That is $19.80 more than the beginning of junior year (yikes!).  And if this trend continues, let's say that gas reaches $5.00 at the start of senior year.  I will have to spend $55 for a full tank. 

I'm lucky to say that my car is very gas friendly.  From my math and experience, I don't spend a lot on gas before.  Nowadays, the price for a full tank is getting too high for comfort.  I used to drive a Ford Explorer and that vehicle was a gas eater!!!  My plan for this summer to work as much as possible, save up, and get ready for a bigger increase in gas prices.  I might have to work 2 (and I think 3) jobs all because of gas prices (and other college stuff).

Throughout the summer, I will be writing more about the increasing gas prices, my experiences as a college commuter student looking for gas, and tips on how to be more fuel efficient.  I also will be posting website URLs that relates to gas prices. 


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