AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Finally, the chaos of locus theory is brought to life. I have proof that you can cross 11 ZIP codes, pick up dry cleaning, get your hair done, find the cheapest bananas (by 2 cents) and locate ruffled-sleeve inserts for an Austin Powers extra-large costume all on a quarter of a tank of gas. By the time I’m done, my car is so laden with the fruits of my chores I could easily be mistaken for a Hurricane Rita evacuee prepping for a 60-mile ride from Houston at a record pace of 3 mph. The president says it is my duty not to squander my 87 octane. Patriotism has now become the perfect excuse for begging off blind dates, Ben Stiller movies and helping a friend pick out a ball gown at Barneys, unless she wants to drive. (Honestly, if she’s going to splurge on a $5,000 dress, what’s an additional $67 for gas?) Of course, the most perilously fuel-deficient of detours is a stop at a mega-hardware fix-it store. I have a long-standing tradition – sort of corollary to the communist theory – that for every two items purchased, one must be returned. Now, as a good American, I know I cannot make the return trip. So my next garage sale will include 17 wrenches (always the wrong size), a ladder too short for any job ever, and an enormous bucket of metric-size screws. Take that, European Union! After much soul-searching, I have come up with a list of car-trip “nonstarters.” I have forbidden myself to run out just to get milk or that other newspaper or such bare necessities as toilet paper or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, no matter how premenstrual I am. Oh, the humanity! The guilt I feel for squandering even half a gallon of gas to drive to the gym is enough to keep me permanently plotzed on the couch. In truth, I do have an alternate fuel supply: my carbo-loaded cardiovascular system. Perhaps you’ve seen me tooling around town on my crazy green 10-speed. My pedal power gives me a leg up on patriotism. I also have a complex set of calculations involved for deciding whether to drive or ride. I swear it could one day add up to winning the Nobel Prize or, even better, having Gwyneth Paltrow play me in the movie version. Here’s how it works: If it takes me one-eighth of a gallon of gas (4.68 cents x 8 ounces = 37.44 cents) to go to my closest Starbucks for a Venti White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino (450 calories without whipped cream, 580 with) I can cycle to the grocery store, bookstore and pharmacy for upward of an hour at 15 mph to even out the caloric “petrolatte” caffeine conundrum. The only drawback to my theory is that I have not factored in how to actually keep my ice cream from melting … and that is definitely gas-worthy. Stephanie Becker is a writer in Los Angeles.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Is it gas-worthy? It’s a question I’ve been paraphrasing so often from Elaine of “Seinfeld” that I ought to pay her residuals. With gas hovering at $3 a gallon, I am constantly asking myself: What makes an excursion worth the price of ignition? Any trip in my gas-guzzling car now involves such multitasking military precision that I could teach Rummy a thing or two. Preparation is the key. My map quest is for a through-line so fuel-efficient that I can finally prove to generations of geometry students that, yes, indeed, you do use this stuff in real life. Thank you, Mr. Gill.