What is a friend?

One of my buddies just got riffed from his company. I know he’ll be fine. He’s one of those kind of people that just make things work. He’s good with people, and knows how all the parts fit together within a big company. More importantly, he’s good people. You can tell he’s got a big heart.

It got me to thinking about the layers and components of friendship. I might have passed 100k people, met 10k, have 1k as friendly acquaintances. How many people are your active friends, vs inactive friends? What level of friendship and trust do you have with them? Some people just shine, or we feel an attachment towards. Where do celebrities fit in here?

Then you get into the obligation factors. Some, you know want or need help all the time. There’s a distance there, because it’s a hassle. Others, you would help out any time because you know it’s just simple, convenient stuff, or the scales will always balance out. Others, you know would never ask for anything, so if they actually needed something, it would be major, and you’d step right up and help.

Then the time factor. This varies by people, both sides, but sometimes, you want to spend time with people, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, it’s to *do* something, and sometimes, it’s to do nothing. Maybe a movie, or video games, or sports, or drinks and cards. Or maybe it’s just being in proximity of someone who’s easy to hang around. One person reads, another person works, another person naps.

And then, Family comes into play. Blood relation is one type of family, but then there’s “non-people”, or chosen family, as well.

Anyway, I’m not going anywhere with this. Just, caffeine, plus recent events got me thinking. By will alone I set my mind in motion.

Orbital Mechanics and Friends

I had a dream that I was on a space station, and our old van was a shuttle. An escape pod failed as we were leaving the station, and my dream went into orbital mechanics ala Kerbal Space Program. On waking, I pondered orbital mechanics, and realized it’s just like people.
Community is like orbital space. Each person is a satellite. Your interests, drives, life and death all define your orbit. Your location is the barycenter of your orbit, the focus of your ellipse.
Along your path, you will pass near other satellites, people. If your orbits are not close, it may be a single encounter. Maybe your orbit lines up repeatedly. Maybe not. Communication tech is better mowadays, and you can talk to someone orbiting Jupiter with a little lag.
But, you only have so much fuel (drive) to change your orbit. And if you aim for someone not on on a very similar path, you almost certainly guarantee that your paths will diverge more widely.
Unless you grab on and become one peice in a new, combined orbit, a risky maneuver. Instead, it’s less disruptive to adjust your orbit on each pass. Move your center when you can, and look for other satellites near you.  
Which satellites seem familiar. Is there a shared mission or purpose. Can you benefit? Are they from a friendly nation, or do you need to be on guard? If they are new and suddenly there, are they a risk for knocking you out of your planned orbit, or dragging you down the gravity well? If you join up, they be too big of a mass or too tightly coupled for you to change your orbit later? Or are they a whole new anchor in space to orbit freely, yet still taking you for a ride?
The best are when you orbit the others who orbit you, or you share closely overlapping orbits. If inclination matches, you meet more often than every orbit.
I have lots of acquaintances in unmatched orbits. *waves*
I have several friends in harmonic matched orbits. Hi Hi Hi Hi Good to see you again.
I have a few people that I try to keep my orbit matched with. I definitely have my own mass and velocity that makes this difficult sometimes, but I appreciate those on similar missions burning their limited fuel to help us stay in sync.

Kids, Family, Life rambles

The question I ask myself pretty often, obviously not as much in the heat of the moment, but in post-reflection, is “What is best for my kids.” This does not mean “What is best for my wishes for my kids.”

There are all sorts of things I want for my kids, and things I want them to do, or want them to want to do. But that does not really matter.

What do my kids want? How will this affect them in 20 years? Does this have any effect on their future ability to be self sufficient and happy? Did I do anything like this as a kid that I can compare? If they are making a mistake, will it harm them? If I make a mistake in judgement, will it hinder them?

Sometimes, I have to be a little more on alert. Maybe some activity seems risky, yet I cannot properly justify preventing that action. Sometimes, the prevention is unenforceable, or enforcement would take huge resources. In those situations, there are frequent discussions of my concerns, their decision factors, and how they’re doing.

Sometimes, it’s just nothing. They were curious, but after discussion, they realize it’s not worth the effort or risk. Other times, they have to continue forward until they tire of the experience. As long as it’s not something that is unrecoverable (risk of death or incarceration), I feel it still needs to be their decision.

How can they learn to make good decisions if they are not allowed to make them? Seeing decisions taken apart and discussed, and making decisions, are how people learn. If I decide for them, and tell them how it will be, they learn no thinking skills – only memorization.

This ramble came about because I have several sets of friends with kids who have divorced. Some of them have maintained a child-focused mentality. They have been polite, and respectful, even to the point of being friendly. Maybe they don’t hang out all the time like when they were together, but they discuss life beyond “here is the school schedule”, and are willing to help each-other be happy because that helps their kids see happiness as an example.

However, some of the couples are constantly at odds. There is distrust, lack of communication (I plan to do this because I am concerned about this), and lack of coordination and agreement in what needs to happen. Maybe kids are excluded from activity with one parent. Maybe discussions occur with the kids that push their judgement of the other parent onto the kids. Some parents have rights with their kids curtailed because of health or income disparity when it really does not matter. These too teach the kids how to behave. They learn to be manipulative, exclusive, and not how to have a partner in life.

It’s not sad to me the sheer number of divorced parents I know, but it is disappointing in how many are so self-important that they do not even see how their actions are affecting their kids.

It takes a village to rear a child, and that village, when at all possible, should include both biological parents as long as they both love the kid. All parts of the family should be on speaking terms, and step-parents or equivalents have to understand that while they have input, and duties, the bio-parents get to set the rules. Persuade them with logic, but not force/guilt/manipulation.

Everyone must be prepared to compromise their own goals as much as possible. If the gap is still just too great, then someone is not putting their child first, most likely all of the parents.

This is especially important as kids get into their mid-teens, because they will be smarter, more driven, and more manipulative to get what they want. It is very easy for a parent to fall into this trap, or even to use the child’s mindset to self-reinforce. “I want this, and the kid wants it, so it must be right.” is not a valid statement.

Anyway, super rambly. This is about an amalgamation of a whole bunch of people who are having both good and bad times with this whole family thing.

I have no solution. Emotions, both surface and deep-seated ones, are what control us. We rationalize, and explain it all, but our animal brains are what control us most of the time. Sometimes, fixing issues means having a discussion with the part of our minds which feels. Maybe we strike up an agreement. Maybe we don’t.

It’s really difficult, as evidenced by people who stay overweight for decades (MEEEE!), or people who struggle with substance abuse for years, or people who struggle with depression for years. Emotions, affect, feelings, etc rule. You cannot command them in words and rational thought. You can only speak to them in feelings. You can re-train them in what you want to feel.

Maybe if we lived for 200 years, we could sort out all of our internal demons. Until then, whether you are having a good time, or a bad time, I hope all things improve. Keep trying to be better. Review what seems important, and whether you’re on the right track. Be compassionate. When you mess up, and it will happen a whole bunch, do not punish yourself or others. Just try to be better. What can you do to trick yourself into being better. How can you set yourself up so that when you fail, you still succeed?

ramble ramble ramble.

If you got to this part, and read everything in the middle, I’m impressed. This was just stream of thought. Actually, I might be worried for your sanity. Take a break. You’ve earned it.

Waking up dream

So lame.  Detailed..  Wasting time making some art pieces with a friend, and got paid half of $1500 in food stamps and gift certs. Was behind a bar for a shady group.  Talking to a friend after while waiting for my wife and kids to pick me up on our way out of town.  My friend had a million dollars hidden in a black bear hidden in a tree.  She could not invest it, because the  she would need a white bear.   Other stuff too, but it’s faded.


I coordinated with Karl and someone named Connor to ride bikes to school together.  We go all sorts of ways and get there.  

I could not work out using anyone’s chain, and did like Karl and just took my front wheel.  Then, I hid my bike under a wooden platform, and worried.

Then, as everyone filtered inside, I realized it was not my school.  How would I coordinate classwork?  Surely there must be a way, but the bell rang.  There is no time for any coordination.

But wait.  I’m not in school anymore.  I step inside, and time accelerates.  Everyone is congregating inside to leave.

I ask Karl why he’s even there, and it’s for the girls.  This seems to be HS and university mixed.  While the implication is not gross / underage, it’s still early 20s not comfortable to me.  

In the dream, there were not really any females.  There were a few guys, and then non-descript students.

Someone asks, and I explain why I wasn’t in class… “I’ll be 40 in October, I’m not in school anymore.”  

Karl tells the others,  “you guys don’t want to know how old I am.”

I ask quietly, “you’ll be 49 this year, right?”

He non-verbally affirms, not really wanting to accept it.

I find Connor’s Engi game pack, but am having a hard time getting his attention to give it to him.

The dream fades into beeps, as the 6:30am iPhone Radar sound goes off…

2014-08-09 DFW Ride Leaderless #2

SUMMARY: Becky borrowed Theresa’s spare helmet due to forgetting hers. Three of us were late. Karl met everyone on Ripy. Ben and I missed both the start and the late-roll times. Ben dropped after 18 miles of catch-up speed. The group lagged where possible, and despite me missing a turn, I joined the group at the Airfield DR bus-stop.

Ref: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203467275935868

Steve helped with routing/navigating because I had no real clue. We dropped Becky off at Corporate and FM2499. We met Mark’s group at the end of Enzo’s, and refilled fluids/foods.

Ref: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154430050355627

At Briarhill and FM407, I got a flat. Rather than hold everyone up EVEN MORE, I suggested they roll on. I was only a mile from home anyway. As they rolled, I found out they were going to TCBY, but I still headed home anyway. I was totally beat.

My split averages don’t seem that fast, but I had a lot of high speed during the chase. Also, the heat was really kicking my butt. Hard to keep enough salt. I was dizzy at the bus stop, and even after a pause, I never really caught a second wind.

I learned that if I offer a suggested route, that makes me the de-facto route master. I’m *not* a good navigator, mostly because I just don’t have the miles to have all of these places memorized.

52.5mi Distance

3:31:37 Moving Time
1,686ft Elevation (?)
225 Extreme Suffer Score

200W Weighted Avg Power

2,109kJ Total Work
237 Training Load
77% Intensity

Personal Records

City Trail Briarhill to 2499 (#13) - 2:31 - 20.2m/h (29.5 max) - 279W (max 674)
Grapevine Dam "DAMN" (#514) - 7:17 - 17.4m/h (27.5m/h max) - 247W ***
Dam South (#479) - 8:56 - 17.7m/h (27.5 max), 255W (774 max) ***
Texan Train Sprint to Shell Station (#203) - 16.2m/h (19.7 max) - 139W (429 max) ***
West DFW sprint (#294) - 19.3m/h (25.5 max) - 183W (607 max) ###
161 FR - Beltline to railroad overpass (#93) - 32.5m/h (38.5 max) - 175W (1082 max) $$$
      • I delayed on these for following rider(s)
      1. I was depleted here and having trouble

$$$ Karl got over 40mph here. Impressive!

Another interesting record, my 3rd best on this segment, “161 Toll Booth Sprint”. I averaged 25.2, peaked at 38mph, but I averaged 30 watts. Can we say downhill? :) This was only #168. #1 is 38.9mph. My current cassette stops at 12T on 50T front. My 9-speed is now 11T on 53T, but no power meter. We’ll see what I do there, but probably I’ll move my PM cranks over to the 9-speed until I can convert it to 10-speed.


Distance:	52.46 mi
Time:	3:28:01
Avg Speed:	15.1 mph
Elevation Gain:	1,686 ft
Calories:	3,182 C
Avg Temperature:	97.8 °F


Time:	3:28:01
Moving Time:	3:26:39
Elapsed Time:	5:09:19


Avg Speed:	15.1 mph
Avg Moving Speed:	15.2 mph
Max Speed:	38.7 mph


Elevation Gain:	1,686 ft
Elevation Loss:	1,713 ft
Min Elevation:	431 ft
Max Elevation:	617 ft

Heart Rate

Avg HR:	154 bpm
Max HR:	182 bpm
Zones% of Maxbpm


Avg Power:	173 W
Max Power:	1,082 W
Max Avg Power (20 min):	233 W
Normalized Power (NP):	227 W
Intensity Factor (IF):	0.875
Training Stress Score (TSS):	263.7
FTP Setting:	259 W
Work:	2,144 kJ


Avg Bike Cadence:	79 rpm
Max Bike Cadence:	116 rpm


Avg Temperature:	97.8 °F
Min Temperature:	86.0 °F
Max Temperature:	111.2 °F


Temperature: 82°
Feels like: 86°
Wind: 9 mph SSW
Humidity: 66%

2014-08-02 Twisted Alliance Ride

Today’s ride was planned to be 70 miles.  Riders included Mike, Steve & Theresa, Jim and Kathy, Becky, Karl, Glenn, Amanda and me.  From Highland Village, we took Old Justin instead of Crawford Ranch, and ended up 15 mins and 5 miles behind schedule.  From Robson Ranch, we shimmied over to FM165 and took it down behind Alliance Airport, across to old-town Roanoke, with Lunch at Twisted Root.

Group Picture:

Bikes Leaning on Bikes:

Glenn was cramping up, so he sagged back with 50 miles logged.  The rest of us For the ride back, we took 377 instead of Dove/Grapevine for a faster return. Maladies for riders included a couple dropped chains, 1 slow tire leak, some leg cramps, and two people with lower GI issues.  BUT, no one needed new shorts, and everyone survived.

ps, The weather was very nice. It did warm up, but we had lots of cool breeze throughout the morning.

It was a pretty good ride, even if Sharon wasn’t with us. (See photoshopped evidence below!)

69.2mi Distance

4:32:26  Moving Time
2,635ft Elevation (?)
141 Tough Suffer Score
20 Points in the Red

201W Weighted Avg Power

2,638kJ Total Work
303 Training Load
78% Intensity

Heart Rate Analysis
Z1 Endurance < 106 20:30 8% Z2 Moderate 106 - 141 2:57:42 65% Z3 Tempo 141 - 158 1:02:16 23% Z4 Threshold 158 - 175 11:53 4% Z5 Anaerobic > 175 5s 0%

Power Zone Distribution
Z1 Active Recovery 1 - 142 W 2:01:20 45%
Z2 Endurance 143 - 194 W 45:33 17%
Z3 Tempo 195 - 233 W 29:22 11%
Z4 Threshold 234 - 271 W 23:50 9%
Z5 VO2Max 272 - 310 W 17:19 6%
Z6 Anaerobic 311 - 388 W 17:23 6%
Z7 Neuromuscular 389+ W 16:28 6%

Distance: 69.20 mi
Time: 4:30:45
Avg Speed: 15.3 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,635 ft
Calories: 2,984 C
Avg Temperature: 89.8 °F

Time: 4:30:45
Moving Time: 4:29:55
Elapsed Time: 6:21:50
Avg Speed: 15.3 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 15.4 mph
Max Speed: 33.2 mph

Elevation Gain: 2,635 ft
Elevation Loss: 2,621 ft
Min Elevation: 385 ft
Max Elevation: 698 ft

Avg HR: 130 bpm
Max HR: 176 bpm

Avg Power: 167 W
Max Power: 1,054 W
Max Avg Power (20 min): 209 W
Normalized Power (NP): 227 W
Intensity Factor (IF): 0.878
Training Stress Score (TSS): 345.7
FTP Setting: 259 W
Work: 2,703 kJ

Avg Bike Cadence: 76 rpm
Max Bike Cadence: 116 rpm

Avg Temperature: 89.8 °F
Min Temperature: 75.2 °F
Max Temperature: 102.2 °F
KDFW Temperature: 73°
Feels like: 73°
Wind: 7 mph NNE
Humidity: 83%


Rough Day

I think I like riding bikes most because there are no customer demands when I’m riding my bike. No taking calls in the middle of the road. Just me, some friends, a beautiful machine, and personal challenge.

At least for a few hours, I can pretend everything is awesome.

2014-06-14 Twisted Ride

Rode to Twisted Root with Sharon Haney, Amanda Taylor, Kathy and Jim Burmeister, Desiree Lua, Nadia Morales, Josh Davis (me), and Carol & Boyd. 30 miles into the wind, 20 miles back. Lunch in the middle. The ladies got a booty photo in front of the “Get your buns in here” sign. Got a photo of a nasty looking wound on Desiree’s leg that has been growing for 3 weeks. Maybe a spider bite. Lots of suggestions to see a doctor. Nadia was moving kind of slow but really wanted to complete the ride. Charles swept in the car. Some people picked up some farmer’s market goods in Roanoke, and that also went with Charles. Kind of sad that Desiree’s moving to Germany for work, but I bet she’ll have a good time. She spoke German as her second language from age 4-16, so should be able to pick it back up. Had a good time talking with Amanda, a new addition to the group, and one of the workers at Cadence.

Watts are off, because wind + Strava. Will be fixed in a few weeks.

Distance: 51.53 mi
Calories: 2,656 C

Time: 3:14:43
Moving Time: 3:13:48
Elapsed Time: 5:23:22

Avg Speed: 15.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 16.0 mph
Max Speed: 34.1 mph

Elevation Gain: 2,165 ft
Elevation Loss: 2,119 ft
Min Elevation: 531 ft
Max Elevation: 725 ft

Avg HR: 144 bpm 80%
Max HR: 178 bpm 98%

Avg Power: 258 W
Max Power: 1,300 W
Max Avg Power (20 min): 304 W

Avg Bike Cadence: 79 rpm
Max Bike Cadence: 128 rpm

Avg Temperature: 78.6 °F
Min Temperature: 68.8 °F
Max Temperature: 92.2 °F


2014-04-17 New China

This was just a quick ride on the Nashbar CX I built last year to see if being more upright would have as much effect on my back.

No edits. I’m tired and lazy. Temps are 10F high, and power isn’t calculated.

Distance: 4.04 mi
Time: 22:26
Avg Speed: 10.8 mph
Elevation Gain: 167 ft
Calories: 206 C
Avg Temperature: 72.6 °F
Time: 22:26
Moving Time: 22:15
Elapsed Time: 1:23:24
Avg Speed: 10.8 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 10.9 mph
Max Speed: 24.7 mph
Elevation Gain: 167 ft
Elevation Loss: 164 ft
Min Elevation: 565 ft
Max Elevation: 612 ft
Heart Rate
Avg HR: 124 bpm
Max HR: 164 bpm
Zones% of Maxbpm
Avg Bike Cadence: 69 rpm
Max Bike Cadence: 92 rpm
Avg Temperature: 72.6 °F
Min Temperature: 66.2 °F
Max Temperature: 84.2 °F


Laura McCracken

For those who knew Laura (WebWawa or Lawawawa or just Wawa), she passed today.

She had been struggling with adenocarcinoma for a while. Initial chemo, and then Tarceva maintenance gave her several more years. It re-metastasized and got into her brain. She’d had surgery and stereoscopic radiation treatment, which seemed to help at first. Then, they found two rapidly growing tumors near her vision center in her brain, and she elected to go through whole-brain radiation treatments. Ultimately, this, like any other massive radiation, was a big burden on her blood cell counts. That lead to infections and weakness, that ultimately led to her passing.

Laura was very sweet and had a great smile. For a while, she had bring pink hair, which was fun. She was always happy, and creative. She was blessed to have a very supporting family and a loving husband. Their loss will be great.

It pretty much sucks all the way around, but she was wonderful and made lots of people feel happy. We were all lucky to know her.

You will be missed. :(

Ref: https://www.facebook.com/webwawa/posts/10151957588592251
38 minutes ago

Dear Friends,

This is Laura’s sister, Leslie. It is difficult for me to write this and I am sure it will be difficult for you to read, but I need to let you know that Laura passed away around 3:30 this afternoon.

The doctors in Dallas determined that Laura had necrotizing fasciitis and her body was not able to defend itself against such a voracious disease. My mom and I both made it to Dallas in time to be there with Trey and her wonderful oncologist, Dr. Nadler, when she passed away. She left this world with the same grace and peace she exuded each day that she lived in it. The loss of Laura leaves a void in our lives that I can only hope we will be able to fill somehow with all of our wonderful memories of her.

We will not be having a traditional service for Laura because Laura was not a traditional girl. Our thought right now is to do something simple at the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation walk on Saturday, May 3 in Dallas. She was really looking forward to walking this event with her team of Wawa’s Warriors. We will now be walking in her memory. I will post info as I know it.

If you would like to register to join her team to walk or make a contribution to the walk in Laura’s memory, below is the link to her personal page. I hope it works. I don’t know how to work Laura’s samsung phone very well.


Thank you all for your love and support. Each and every one of us is a Wawa Warrior in some way.

Leslie on behalf of my mom, my dad, and Trey

2013-08-21 Austin Evening Ride

Missing about a mile or so on the front due to slow GPS acquisition (What? We’re not in North TX anymore?) This was basically a social ride with me, Steve Noreyko, and David Gilder. The few break aways, I had no problem catching up or keeping up, except for inclines. :)

The new config of my bike worked out much better than I thought. The 175mm cranks are nice, but the biggest thing I noticed was the setback seatpost. Pedal angle and CG were drastically improved. I might want to move forward just a smidge, because I popped a wheelie starting out at a light. Also, tip it up a bit, since I slid off the front braking hard. The stumpy handlebars are nicer than I thought, and the longer stem with a 40 degree rise balanced out with how flat the stash bar is. Also, my Garmin can only mount on my stem, which is too steep to read.

Anyway, most of the ride was casual, but a few hills, especially at the end turned it into a little bit of a work-out. After, we hung out and talked until just after 21:30, then Gilder and I went to grab a vegan burger and hung out until close to 1am. All in all, it was a good time.

Distance: 16.75 mi
Calories: 1,199 C

Time: 1:36:49
Moving Time: 1:26:54
Elapsed Time: 1:28:52

Avg Speed: 10.4 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 10.7 mph
Max Speed: 23.8 mph

Elevation Gain: 794 ft
Elevation Loss: 889 ft
Min Elevation: 406 ft
Max Elevation: 634 ft


GV Trails with Scott & Tony

miles hours mi/hr Elevation gain (ft)
11.00 1:35:55 6.86 420
Wall Clock time was 4 hours.

Scott, Tony and I met at the MADD shelter and rode out to the W4 turnaround.

Scott’s only issue was Tony and I being so much slower than him, even though his disc calipers were rubbing the whole time. He was patient with us, which was appreciated.

I had some serious back pain that grew progressively during the ride. My right knee was also hurting, from the increased exertion, but was better when I stood on the pedals.

The biggest issue though was some autoshifting problems, and which turned out to be my new KMC chain popping a rivet. I had to punch out all excess links to join it back together – the rivets don’t push back in, and I didn’t have a stack of spare master links.

UPDATE 2013-07-09: Oh, heh, the axle was bent also. I had to hammer it down a bunch to get the freewheel off. Luckily, DNP is replacing the freewheel, and Amazon has replaced the chain. I picked up extra quick links, and have a couple of axles on order. I might be buying a Sun CR18-22 wheel with an Alvio M430 hub and 36 14g spokes, along with a matching 9-speed cassette. This would alleviate the problems with a 265 pound guy standing on the pedals.

In the process of failing, the chain skipped to the inside, past the low limit stop, and bent sprockets 1-3. I pounded on that to flatten it out enough so I could use sprocket 4, and I rode the last 2 miles fixed there. It wasn’t too bad because of the terrain on the final stretch back. (W1)

UPDATE 2013-07-09: My back is still hurting, but I’m not on Alieve or Valerian anymore. I haven’t ridden since the 4th. The bike axles should show up sometime tomorrow. I tested out a $600 bike, and it was nice… 20″frame, front suspension, 3×8 drive train, disc brakes (pull, not hydraulic). It was smooth and comfy, but I think I’ll stick with my junker until I break the frame.

Tony’s issue was hydration/cooling/nutrition. He’s been off for a few days, and wasn’t able to take in enough to stay cool and energized. He’s not ridden for a couple of weeks prior, so it took him a while to get into a groove. He had heat exhaustion by the time we made it back to the pavilion, but was fine after a little rest.

The overall time on trail was from 09:30ish to 13:30ish, with lots and lots of stops for all of our issues, but we finished the ride successfully and had burgers on Grapevine Main St. (Tasty!)

Scott’s off to Estes Park and other travels for a week, but we might try the trail again later in the month.


Plastic production vs automobile fuel

A friend and cousin-in-law asked about a photo showing waste plastic bags in woodsy area. The caption indicated that a plastic bag contains enough oil to drive a car 11 meters. I wasn’t sure… This sounded a bit extreme, so I had to research.

It’s a mass thing. A gram of oil makes a gram of plastic. Any waste is used for other plastics, and the catalysts are recycled pretty efficiently in the big shops.

Assuming your car is 20MPG, this is 32187 meters per gallon. Gasoline averages 6 pounds per gallon, or 2722 grams per gallon. That’s 11 meters per gram. I checked, and my plastic shopping bags weigh SIX grams. That would be 66 meters fuel equivalent per bag.

Plastic in the US is made mostly from LPG and NLG, though some raw methane. LPG and NLG have lower energy per gallon, but the same energy per gram. (Energy is released by combining with oxygen, which is based on number of atoms of carbon and hydrogen, which is a mass thing, not a volume thing.) So, gram for gram, it would be the same. 99.45% of the input petroleum is feedstock, and the other 0.55% is fuel for heating, etc.

This seems like a lot, but compare this to paper sacks. It takes 7 times more fuel to deliver paper sacks than plastic sacks. It takes 11 times more fuel to recycle a paper sack than a plastic bag. Finally, 65% of the US reuse their plastic grocery bags, which costs no additional energy. So, each paper sack uses the energy required to push a car 462 meters.

It gets fuzzy on actual production/consumption, but the US used 191 million barrels in 2010, and 416 billion cubic feet of natural gas to product plastic. Worldwide, 280 million tonnes of plastic were produced (2011) and this grows by about 4% per year.

Also, 90% of propane consumed in the US is produced locally.
While the US produces a lot of wood and pulp locally, it’s the #1 importer in the world.

Both paper and plastic calculations here ignore the energy input to produce the feedstock (trees, million year old dead animals). Our biggest problem is not the feedstock for plastic bags (PLA is nice, and biodegradable, made from plant based lactic acid), but our fuel supplies. We desperately need a biofuel with high energy density. Ethanol is a poor choice, and is only in use now because we needed SOMETHING.

Legume oil is about the best we have now. As fuel prices go up, then it becomes more cost effective to use. Algae-Oil would completely reverse our trends. We could supply the planet, plus refill the oil wells. The problem is that it’s delicate, and crops die off too easily to be effective. Selective breeding, crossbreeding, or even direct genetic manipulation may help. Exxon is probably 10 years out from having a commercial production of algal oil. Until then, use of vegetable oil as biofuel continues to cause a huge pressure on foodcrops for impoverished nations.