ah-sah-hee

Ever since Hooch showed me how to make smoothies to address my munchies back in the day, I’ve been fond of throwing fruit and other stuff into a mechanical mixing device and eating or drinking what came out.  As Kathy and I traveled to Southern California – La Jolla specifically – we were introduced to a new version of the venerable smoothie that makes for a delightful breakfast treat: the acai bowl.  Brazilians developed it, Hawaiian surfers embraced it, it hit California and the rest is history (1).  Every breakfast joint and coffee shop out there offer them, and they’re beginning to pop up in Ann Arbor.

You can’t talk about acai bowls without talking about the acai – or if you’re into diacritical marks, açaí – berry (2).  The acai palm (Arecaceae) grows in the swamps of the Amazon region and produces a deep purple grapelike fruit that is mostly seed. 

(from reference 1)

The tart, earthy flesh is loaded with antioxidants and other things good for you (3).  Something folks used to say about Ann Arbor’s first vegetarian restaurant Seva – “their food’s so good for you you should pay with your Blue Cross card” – certainly should apply to acai bowls.  Kathy and I are both feeling younger since we started making them regularly!  But obviously, you’re not going to find acai berries at a Michigan farmers’ market.  I found packets of pulp in the frozen fruit section of my local Kroger’s.  Amazon has these as well as a concentrated powder and even boring pills.  And I’m writing this post as a foodie, not a doctor, so you’ll want to eat acai bowls because they taste good, not because they’re super good for you. But they are.

If you’ve got a food processor and enough patience to freeze up your ingredients the night before, it’s easy peasy to make these.

Here’s my recipe, serves two

The “partial thaw” of the acai packet is just enough to let you squeeze it out of the packet.  The more frozen the stuff you put in, the nicer consistency it will have when it comes out.  That’s why I go through the fuss of freezing the banana, slicing it up and laying the pieces on a piece of waxed paper, then sliding the whole thing into a 1.3-pint sandwich Ziploc.  This even works with bananas past their prime.  The back corner of our old refrigerator freezes things a little, so even the yogurt I scoop out is partially frozen.

Here’s everything set up and waiting for the blade, showing the acai packet before and after:

And here’s what it looks like when the blade gets done.  It can take 5 to 10 minutes to grind up all that frozen fruit:

Now it’s time to dip the stuff out into bowls, and top ‘em.  The consistency is like soft-serve ice cream, only grainier from the many little fruit bits.

It’s muy tasty, but beware!  Ice cream headache is always around the corner, so pace yourself.

Only the topping fruits need be fresh, and even that’s optional.  Another excuse, if you need any more, for freezing away some of Michigan’s bounty while you have the chance.

References

1.     Greene A.  The Surprising History of the Açaí Bowl.  AFAR 6/19/15.  https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-surprising-history-of-the-acai-bowl

2.     Firman T.  10 Things You Should Know About Açaí Berries, Nature’s “Purple Gold”.   Good Housekeeping 7/23/18.  https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a47009/what-is-acai/

3.     Chang SK, Alasalvar C, Shahidi F. Superfruits: Phytochemicals, antioxidant efficacies, and health effects – A comprehensive review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(10):1580-1604. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1422111. Epub 2018 Jan 23. PMID: 29360387.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2017.1422111?journalCode=bfsn20

Appendix: Nutritional composition of acai bowl (2 servings per batch)

p.s.

This time, that stands for “power shortage”, a bedevilment of electric car drivers much worse than when we see our gas guzzler’s gauges dip into “reserve”.  So, what do you do when your fancy Tesla runs out of “juice”?  Tesla drivers get a lot of warning.  On the top left corner of the Tesla display, near the speedometer, the driver can see the color of the battery icon turn from green, to yellow, to red. That’s how you know your Tesla is in trouble.  Red indicates that your car is draining the last bits of power and is about to die.  You have 10-20 miles after you hit red.  I know from my friend Ken that the last miles of a long trip at the limits of a charge are characterized by frantic scrutiny of PlugShare, an app showing public charging stations, hoping to find one at which to top off.  And this was in the LA-San Diego corridor, where charging stations are thick.  Chasing charges can consume the better part of a road trip in an E.V (1,2).  But what if that fails and the putt-putts are no more as your battery gauge sits at zero?  We’ve all had that happen with our regular cars, trudging to the closest gas station to beg a can and come back with a gallon that might get us those few miles home.  But you can’t put electrons in a gas can, which got me thinking as to what you actually would do.  Well, you can always get towed to the nearest charging station (3).  E.V.s can’t be towed like regular cars, requiring a flatbed.   So, you’ll need to convey that to the towing company.  If you’ve got roadside assistance insurance, you’re covered.  Yes, they do make machines that come to you.  The best is made by a US company, Blink, a 350-pound gasoline powered unit that can take anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes to deliver 25 miles of range.  That’s a little heavier than a full gas can.  eCamion, a Canadian company that specializes in battery-based EV chargers, is working on a mobile unit that could charge several dead electron guzzlers (4).  The battery needed for such a purpose would fit into a ten-foot shipping container, which is the equivalent of a small-sized U-Haul. 

While it seems you can actually could jump start an EV – as all EVs have two batteries,  one to run the motors and the other for miscellany, like radio, wipers, heated seats, among other things with the hardest part of the jump start process is locating the auxiliary battery – the boost only works from the larger battery to the smaller one (5).  And for sure you can’t jump another EV.  So, leave those jumper cables at home.

But we put a man on the moon!  Can’t we revive a dead EV on the side of the road?  There must be other solutions.  Kathy and I thought of a few. Why hasn’t Elon paired with his buddies at Apple to come up with an app that would fire up a Tesla from the iPhone’s lithium battery over a lightening to USB cable?  Heck, while there at it, why not make it wireless!  And have those zillions we’ve sunk into defense over the decades brought us nothing?  We’ve all seen the KC-135 drop its proboscis into a B52 to refuel it in flight.  How about some other flying craft trailing power cords to rescue our dead Teslas?  Would have to be choppers as they’d be operating in traffic.  But since the mission is to restore drivers to saving the earth, could we not get ample volunteers?   And, of course, Elon could have one of his many satellites send down thunderbolts. Zap!  Talk about post-market service.  Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? (6).

Peace, love, dope, and free energy for all!

References

  1. Wolfe R. I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping. Wall Street Journal 6/3/22. https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-rented-an-electric-car-for-a-four-day-road-trip-i-spent-more-time-charging-it-than-i-did-sleeping-11654268401?AID=11557093&PID=6415797&SID=bi%7C629e2712601ab110760eae7a%7C1655952505699fggt7f7k&subid=Business+Insider&cjevent=d155a100f2b111ec813d004b0a1c0e0b&tier_1=affiliate&tier_2=moa&tier_3=Business+Insider&tier_4=3861930&tier_5=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Farticles%2Fi-rented-an-electric-car-for-a-four-day-road-trip-i-spent-more-time-charging-it-than-i-did-sleeping-11654268401
  2. O’Connell JO. To No One’s Surprise, a Gas-Powered Road Trip Bests One in an Electric Vehicle. Red State 6/23/22.
    https://redstate.com/jenniferoo/2022/06/23/to-no-ones-surprise-a-gas-powered-road-trip-bests-one-in-an-electric-vehicle-n582929
  3. Tchir J. If my EV battery dies on the road, can I get a boost?
    Globe and Mail 3/7/21. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/drive/mobility/article-if-my-ev-battery-dies-on-the-road-can-i-get-a-boost/
  4. 3 Things You Can Do If Your Car Runs Out Of Battery. Mach 1 August 2020. https://www.mach1services.com/what-to-do-if-electric-car-runs-out-of-battery/
  5. Pritchard T. Can you jump-start an electric car? Here’s what you can and can’t do. Tom’s guide 1/16/22. https://www.tomsguide.com/reference/can-you-jump-start-an-electric-car-heres-what-you-can-and-cant-do
  6. Browning R. Men and women and other poems. London: FB Pinion, 1855

shocked!

My dear wife Kathy reported to me this morning a tweet from Elon Musk announcing that today marked the 10th anniversary of the first appearance of the model S, no longer Tesla’s biggest seller, but still attracting 158,722 buyers in the first quarter of this year (1).  Next week, 29 June 2022, marks the 12th anniversary of something maybe even more important at Tesla (2).  Not the formation of the company in July 2003 by a couple Silicon Valley engineers (Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning), or Elon Musk’s drive in the first Tesla Roadster February 1, 2008.  That first drive was a touch-and-go affair.  The car itself was built by Lotus in the U.K., based on their sporty, pricey 2-seater Elise. It was shipped without a battery and got stuck in L.A. customs en route to its American debut and Tesla’s San Carlos facility.  Red tape was untangled, and a battery installed in San Carlos in time for Elon to hop in, press start, and go for a joy ride through Palo Alto.

And what a ride it’s been since.  That 10th anniversary date marks the first public offering of Tesla stock, clearly Elon’s most successful product to date.   You could get a share of Tesla stock for $17.  With TSLA at $716.38 as I write this (6/23/22), that’s 4,214%.  That’ll buy you a few rockets.   Tesla’s market capitalization (share price X # shares held) is sixth highest of all publicly traded companies and the most valuable car company by far.  April before last its market cap was S635 billion, 8 times that of GM ($83 billion) and almost 11 times that of Ford ($50.7 billion) (3).  In the ensuing 14 months TSLA is up ~5%, GM down 17.4%, and F up 16%, yielding market caps of $742.1B, $48.14B, and 46.3B.

All this Tesla-envy was sparked by getting to ride around in my friend Ken’s new blue S when Kathy and I were visiting him in La Jolla last May.  I got digging into E.V.’s and posted something a month ago.  The title – “smoke and mirrors”- alluded to the obscure fashion that data about driving costs and environmental impact of these cars are sometimes portrayed.  I messed up some of the calculations and vowed to repost a corrected version.  In the interim, I collected some other info about driving and owning E.V.s.  Kathy’s telling me about Tesla’s “10th anniversary” inspired me to do some more digging and get this puppy out in time for the celebration.  I’ve left the cost-of-driving calculations based on gas at 5/20 levels; you can calculate percentage increase based on current prices and apply that to the final cost numbers.  Realize that electricity prices can only change every year, as regulated utilities must present their case for any changes to a board.  Next year could be eye-popping.  Remember what Obama said about “necessarily skyrocket”?.  While the CO2 numbers aren’t as eye-popping as before, I think what’s here should help you put electric vehicles in a better perspective.

My friend Ken gave me a ride in his new Tesla (model Y (4)). the other day.  Pretty fine car: beautiful deep blue, sleek clean lines, simple spacious interior, and plenty of power (though Ken says those surges are tough on the battery).  Ken’s position as a UCSD professor places him square in the service class of La Jolla but with enough dough to keep him in nice cars.  He says his Tesla was cheaper than his previous ride, a Beemer.  Of course, he enjoys driving right by those $6/gallon California gas stations.  Ken’s a lib, but not a mouthy one, so of course he gains satisfaction from his low carbon footprint. This week, the temp in LJ has not crept past 65 and the sun is rare, so we could use a little global warming around here, but it’s not coming from the likes of Ken.

Or is it?  I remember Rush (God rest his soul) calling electric cars “coal-fired”.  Although such cars don’t even have tailpipes, the energy that powers them comes from generators that have to burn something to make that electricity.  I’ve wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of how those putt-putt plug-ins are powered, and Ken’s Tesla provided the impetus.  So here’s what I found out about the costs and consequences of this ever more popular way of driving.

Fueling up

The full recommended charge for a Tesla on a home unit (which Ken paid $2500 to install) goes as follows.   The home unit provides 240 Volt, 80 amps of current.  This charges a Tesla much faster than the 20 amp 120-volt charger.  With a 240-volt connection, you can charge a Tesla Model S completely in between 6 and 30 hours. The 240-volt charger adds between 9 and 52 miles of range per hour of charging.   Power companies charge per kilowatt-hour.  Watts=voltage X current (amps).   An installed 240 volt Tesla home charger running at max uses 19,200 watts, or 19.2 kilowatts.  Running that puppy the 6-30 hours it takes to fully charge a Tesla will then consume 115.2 – 576 kilowatt-hours.   I found a source with much more precise numbers (5), and have used those in my calculations.  The ranges mentioned above have reflected different starting and stopping points for charging.

Paying up

San Diego has the highest electricity rates in the country (6), but few customers actually pay them.  Residents have 3 tiers of rates depending on time of day, with “off-peak” 9-midnight and “super off peak” midnight to 2 PM.   So you plug in as late as possible.   Standard residential rate is $0.39206/kw-h.  So that “fill-up” will cost Ken – with his fancy, top of the line NEMA 14-30 3 prong 240V – $32.67 in La Jolla.  Costs for charge may be lass, as few run the battery to completely zero before plugging in, and charging above 80% capacity is less efficient.   My Michigan rate from DTE is $0.041760/kw-h, so my costs will be less than a 10th what I’d pay in LJ.  And our gas is only ~25% cheaper.   Per the Tesla web site, the Model S gets 396 miles on a full charge, which comes to 8.3¢ /mile.  Other non-company tables list range as low as 303 mile, which would bring the cost to 10.7¢ /mile.  To compare, my rickety but beloved ’11 Jeep Patriot gets ~18 mpg, so with the $4.20/gallon Michigan gas that’s 4.29¢/mile.  Even with California gas, I think you can see the vinner here.  Plus, my Patriot was paid for long ago and I don’t even want to think about Ken’s car note.

San Diego Gas & Electric offers 3 special packages for electric car owners (7).  The best deal, at least as regards base rates, for a mere $16 month will lower your charges to 42¢/37¢/10¢ for basic, off-peak (9 PM-midnight, 6 AM – 4 PM), and super off-peak (after midnight).  Rates rise to 66¢/40¢/11¢ in summer.  So you still have to wait till 9 PM to plug in to even get close to the standard rate.

But there’s other ways to juice up your Tesla.  Virtue-signaling municipal governments everywhere have thrown up “free” charging stations (guess who’s paying for the juice?).  Where’s my free gas pump?  But such stations are ever less useful as more embrace electric cars and demand for those plugs expands.  The short charge is never more than a top-off.  Commercial charging stations have popped up all over in Southern California (8), but are already overtaxed.  Ken keeps a map of all the charging stations in the region, but as the market for juice remains fluid, stations come and go, sometimes making that map a disappointment.

Tesla has its own changing stations which promise to add 200 miles in 15 minutes.  For commercial and municipal charging, they recommend carrying around a couple adapters in your trunk (9).  Commercial chargers do not yet have uniform fee schedules, but are moving from charging by time plugged to charging per unit of energy.  Right now, drivers in California may expect to pay 30 cents per kWh to charge on Level 2, and 40 cents per kWh for DC fast charging.  So that’s a little higher than what they’d pay at home.  And way higher than what I’d pay in my home state of Michigan, where electric car drivers pay 17¢/kWh (10).

Saddling up

But electric cars were never touted for their economy.  Uncle still subsidizes every electric car purchase with a tax credit that starts at $2500 and can reach $7500 (11).  As it’s usually the upper crust that buys these things, this sure ain’t addressing “income inequality”.  Of course, California signals its virtue by offering an additional $1000-$7000 per electric vehicle bought or leased, although they no longer offer that for a Tesla purchase (12).  In Michigan, our Governor Bimbo has proposed a $2000/car rebate plus $500 for a home charging station (13).  Fortunately her January proposal has gone nowhere in our Republican led congress.

Whatever the rebate, these electric cars are way more expensive than your trusty gas guzzler.  But you can’t put a price on the warm and fuzzy feeling you get by signaling your virtue.  Getting behind the wheel of one of these means you’re doing your part to push back the climate catastrophe our betters are always telling us is barely 10 years away.

Coughing up

But are you really?  For the sake of argument, at least for the rest of this post, let’s assume that CO2 emissions actually do influence climate and maybe it’s a good thing to reduce them.  Does driving an electric car further those ends?  Remember, those kilowatt-hours have to come from someplace, and I’ve yet to see an electric car bearing solar panels.

Ken’s source of juice, San Diego Gas and Electric, prides itself on its “clean” profile.  They claim to derive 40% of their generation from “renewable” resources, wind, solar, and likely a bunch of hydroelectric.  Plus they boast they have no active coal contracts.  Whether there are some power plants with big paid-for piles of the black stuff outside, they don’t say.  They are obligated by law to report their emissions, although the latest year covered on their web site is 2011.  No telling what their fuel mix was then, but they put out 1,266,649 metric tons of CO2 as direct emissions and an additional 299,785 tons in indirect emissions (14).  Once I’ve burned up the 6 cords of firewood out front of my house, I’ll have contributed 15 tons of CO2 to our climactic demise (15).  But then, I’m not working to keep the lights of millions on.

To do that, for its 4,327 industrial customers, 104,875 commercial accounts, 4 transportation customers and 1,287,811 residential customers,  SDG&E generates 5,320,873.84 megawatt-hours/year, proudly producing 5,276,870.41 of those from natural gas (16).    (What happened to the 40% from “renewables”?).  During the same timeframe, San Diego Gas and Electric generated 3,113,925 megawatt hours in power generation facilities owned by the supplier and procured 22,546,881 megawatt hours through wholesale channels.  So SDG&E moved a lot of electrons.  The relevant number for my next calculation is that 3 plus million number.  That’s the juice they generated from the plants that spewed 1,566,434 metric tons of CO2 upward in 2011.  In the decade since, you’ve gotta figure more, but those numbers aren’t available.   So now for the grand equation.  To generate 3,113,925 megawatt hours of electricity, SDG&E spewed 1,566,434 metric tons of CO2.  That comes to half a ton of CO2 for each megawatt-hour (0.5030).   Now take that down to Ken’s Tesla level.   Recall that fully charging a Tesla S consumes 83.3 kilowatt-hours.  With 1/1000th of a half a metric ton of CO2 generated with each kilowatt hour, that charge is responsible for 41.9 kg of CO2.  And the owner is surely going to be charging it up several times a year. With Tesla’s 396 miles per charge, going 10,000 miles a year will require at least 25 charges, more like 33 with the more conservative range/charge of 303 miles.  I’ll do the math for you: that’s 1.1. – 1.4  metric tons of CO2 per year.  What about my little gas guzzler?  While I don’t have stats for my dear Patriot, the EPA has kindly calculated that a car getting 22 MPG driving 11,500 miles/year emits 4.5 metric tons of CO2 (17).  I generate more CO2 burning 2 cords of wood in my fireplace (15).  I won’t be buying any carbon credits.

Burning up

Of course, there are additional costs of driving an E.V.  Democrats who run California are sticking with plans to banish gas-powered vehicles from the state by 2035, replacing them with 8 million electric vehicles in a state already incapable of keeping the lights on in hot weather or during wildfires that damage transmission lines. According to one study (18), achieving this goal of 30 million EVs would require electric power companies with 2-3 million customers to invest between $1700 and $5800 in grid upgrades per vehicle, costs that will no doubt be passed along to customers.  I guess that could count as an aftermarket item.  The batteries of EVs require rare-earth elements like cobalt and lithium that have to be mined, processed, and transported using diesel-powered machinery, bulldozers, and trucks, which of course spew more CO2 into the atmosphere. The great majority of these rare-earth elements are mined and processed outside the West, especially in China and Congo. This creates a dangerous dependency on geopolitical rivals and enemies.   Then, back home there’s that problem with the exploding lithium batteries (19).  “Ignition” has a whole ‘nother meaning in E.V.s. Don’t know how much extra CO2 that puts up, but surely a bummer when it happens. As we say in Greektown,  Opa! That is if the cars start up at all and then manage to keep going (20).

So what do I think about this craze for electric cars?  I think Ren& Stimpy’s Mr. Horse said it best (21).

References\

1.     Tesla Model S US Sales Figures.  CARFiGURES 4/11/22.
https://carfigures.com/us-market-brand/tesla/model-s
2.     Thompson C, Lee K.  Tesla celebrates its 10th year as a public company today. Here are the most important moments in its history.  Insider 6/29/20. https://www.businessinsider.com/most-important-moments-tesla-history-2017-2#august-2-2006-elon-musk-reveals-teslas-master-plan-2
3.     Russell D.  Is Tesla Overvalued? Check Out These Stunning Comparisons to GM and Ford.  Trade Station MARKET INSIGHTS 4/8/21.
https://www.tradestation.com/insights/2021/04/08/tesla-overvalued-comparison-gm-ford/#:~:text=Its%20market%20capitalization%20%28stock%20price%20times%20shares%20outstanding%29,because%20it%20carries%20just%20%2413%20billion%20of%20debt.
4.     TESLA.  https://www.tesla.com/models
5.     Tesla Model Y Performance charging cost and time calculator.  EVcompare.io.
https://evcompare.io/cars/tesla/tesla-model-y-performance/charging/
6.     energyeage.  Cost of Electricity in San Diego California.  https://www.energysage.com/local-data/electricity-cost/ca/san-diego-county/
7.     SDGE.  Electric vehicle pricing plans.  https://www.sdge.com/residential/pricing-plans/about-our-pricing-plans/electric-vehicle-plans
8.     CalTrans.  Electric vehicle charging stations.  https://dot.ca.gov/programs/equipment/electric-vehicle-charging-stations
9.     TESLA.  Charging your Tesla.  https://www.tesla.com/support/charging
10.  LaReau J.  Study compares electric vehicle charge costs vs. gas — and results were surprising.  Det Free Press 10/21/21.  https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2021/10/21/electric-vehicle-charging-cost-vs-gas/6110815001/
11.  IRS.  IRC 30D New Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/irc-30d-new-qualified-plug-in-electric-drive-motor-vehicle-credit
12.  California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. https://cleanvehiclerebate.org/en
13.  Michigan.gov.  Governor Gretchen Whittmer.  1/26/22.  chttps://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/news/press-releases/2022/01/26/gov–whitmers-plan-to-lower-the-cost-of-electric-vehicles
14.  SDGE.  Greenhouse gas emission reporting.  https://www.sdge.com/more-information/environment/about-our-initiatives/greenhouse-gas-emissions
15.  Ike B. Behold…WordPress 4/2/22. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/04/02/behold/
16.  San Diego Gas and Electric.  Electricity rates, plans, and statistics.  https://findenergy.com/providers/san-diego-gas-and-electric/#:~:text=San%20Diego%20Gas%20and%20Electric%20is%20ranked%20173rd,Electric%27s%20energy%20loss%20due%20to%20business%20operations.%20-3.41%25
17.  EPA.  Environmental Protection Agency.  Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle.  https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle#:~:text=typical%20passenger%20vehicle%3F-,A%20typical%20passenger%20vehicle%20emits%20about%204.6%20metric%20tons%20of,8%2C887%20grams%20of%20CO2.
18.  Sahoo A,  Mistry K, Baker T.  The Costs of Revving Up the Grid for Electric Vehicles.  Boston Consulting Group 12/20/19.  https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/costs-revving-up-the-grid-for-electric-vehicles
19.  I&I Editorial Board.  Unsafe At Any Speed? Electric Cars Keep Catching Fire.  Issues &Insights 6/2/22.  https://issuesinsights.com/2022/06/02/unsafe-at-any-speed-electric-cars-keep-catching-fire/
20.  Phillips J.  Thousands of Electric Vehicles Recalled in US Over ‘No Start Condition’.  Epoch Times 6/15/22.  https://www.theepochtimes.com/thousands-of-electric-vehicles-recalled-in-us-over-no-start-condition_4535448.html?utm_source=News&utm_campaign=breaking-2022-06-16-1&utm_medium=email&est=pbkX07nqLW%2FC28BOucU5o6X%2BnFTxLQR9kv%2FJoFedEgYTIZNK2EmwNarlCgLd2UU%3D
21.  No sir, I don’t like it.  YouTube 10/15/11.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDGlN6mluGA

connections

“People.  People who meet people, are the luckiest people in the world” (1).  Not a trite Broadway show tune, but so true. The older I get, the more I enjoy reconnecting with those people I once called friends but have somehow slipped away.  You could say it’s a hobby of mine, and a fun one.  You never know where a reconnection might come from, and you must always remain vigilant.

My latest reconnection illustrates how twisted this process can become.  It started many months ago with me staring at a stack of developed film my late Uncle Jim, Aunt Dorie’s husband, left behind.  Jim was always into new gadgets, so he bought himself a disc camera in the early 80s and tried it out.  They came out in ’82 and Kodak stopped making them 17 years later. The whole setup, with its 2 1/2 inch diameter 12 exposure film disc was pretty weird.

Since he left behind only 5 developed discs, I figure he didn’t like the system very much.  I searched around on the net and found an outfit that would take these disc contents and give me actual pictures.  Wasn’t cheap, and took forever, but the product arrived last week: pics on a disc and a thumb drive, 76 JPEGs in 5 folios.  Almost were all from our 10/4/86 wedding and Lord Fox reception.  Great fun reviewing these.  One pic was of a smiling pretty Asian woman sitting alone.

I knew exactly who that was.  She was Tom Schnitzer’s post-doc who basically ran his lab and tried to make something of this floundering fellow.  I’d picked Tom’s lab as he was applying virology to rheumatologic issues.  That was my background, with a masters in microbiology and time spent in 3 previous virology labs.  I did not flower here either, saving me from a career grubbing for grants.  Not that nothing came from the experience, as Tom’s notion that we should exercise the polymyositis mice I produced led to a meeting with Kinesiology grad student Kathy Clark and the rest is history (2).  Back to that post-doc, we grew close and I invited her to our wedding.   She gave us a big wok as a wedding present, still in our kitchen armamentarium today and what I cooked tonight’s dinner in.  But a name?

I e-mailed Tom that pic and he patiently reminded me that was Diana Huang (of course!) who’d gone with him to Rush from U of M, a shift that occurred about the same time I went to Chicago to learn arthroscopy.  Tom later went up to Northwestern, with Diana staying put in Rush, looking mainly at HIV.  Tom’s reply included her Rush profile, which included her academic e-mail address, good enough to contact her.  These reconnections always run the risk of a “who the hell are you?” response.  Not so with Diana.   I heard about her travails losing a big HIV contract to Duke, her plans for a major South American trip in September, and her retired lawyer husband, a one time DA.  We both agreed that getting together when Kathy and I visited Chicago in October would be a good idea, maybe even roping in Tom and wife Barbara, whom Diana has not seen since they left for Northwestern.

So a nice outcome all the way around, borne out of some dusty film discs.

To keep this from getting too damned sentimental, let’s turn to food.  While I usually just throw together my stir fries, I wrote this one down, should you wish to duplicate it.

And here’s what it looked like in Diana’s wok, pretty and colorful, about half way into the process.

As far as old friends, the late Guy Clark had it figured (3).

References

  1. Barbra Streisand People 1965.  YouTube
  • 3. Guy Clark – “Old Friends” [Live from Austin, TX]. YouTube

a day without…

It wasn’t quite Ferris Bueller’s day off (1), but my day without my beloved MacAir proved to be pretty fun, nonetheless.

My 2-year-old computer had to go into Apples & Oranges, our local shop.  The virus it caught from that Facebook hack a month ago was working its way through, but a scam two nights’ ago made that trip to that shop imperative for my still-functioning laptop.   An e-mail from the Geek squad stating they were going to charge me another $389 to roll over their services got me on the phone to the number they displayed for any wishing to rescind those charges.  I couldn’t recall what I’d paid them for in the first place.  I got a gent with a sub-continental accent who began to walk me through an ever more complicated process.  I should have known something fishy was up when he had me download “Any Screen” which had him sharing my computer and controlling my mouse.  When he had me log into my credit union account – complete with my password entry – and check for a transaction he’d just made, I shut the laptop and hung up the phone, ignoring the several calls that followed.

While my account was still untouched the next morning, I called then visited my credit union, hearing that this scam was common and that I had to close all accounts and open new ones then visit the computer shop to have my laptop reformatted.  Of course, I went home with a list of all those auto-pays that needed to be changed.

The diagnosis at Apples & Oranges was terminal.  Those lines on my ever-darkening screen were from its failure, not a virus.  As it costs almost as much to fix a screen as to buy a whole new computer, I’d get one of those now, but only after an overnight inpatient stay for the necessary cleansing, reformatting, and data transfer operations.  So, I faced being without a computer for at least a day.

What would I do?  That laptop is the first thing I open when I sit down for the morning and often the last thing I close at night.  And there’s so much I need to do on that computer: finish page proofs for my J Rheum paper, construct a cover for my Musings vol. V book so Jeff Bezos can publish it, wrap up that re-post on Teslas, comparison shop for rent-a-cars for September’s Oakland trip, and of course all those e-mails!

But it turns out there’s plenty to do without a computer.  There’s always a lot on my daily to-do list that doesn’t get done.  So, this day’s list is entirely analog, 13 items long.  While I wrote much of this post the day it happened, the final product isn’t going in till 2 days after.  For most items, I’ll describe them as they happened.

Mother Nature was serving up a perfect day for indoor sports.  Wunderground predicted a high of 92 (it got to 98) with 35% humidity.  It was already over 80 when took our morning jaunt to the Farmers’ Market and Co-op.  It was worth it for those flats of beautiful Michigan strawberries:

plus greens, a French Batard, and top-ups of parsley, quinoa, and currants at the Co-op.  Home, the “free” geothermal A.C. felt mighty good.

Wednesday breakfast means quinoa, a pretty dandy snack if you care to seek out the unusual ingredients (the quinoa itself and those nicely tart dried currants).  Some say quinoa was the inspiration for Star Trek’s fictional quadrotriticale.  And we all remember what ate quadrotriticale and what trouble they caused! (2,3)

After breakfast, I deboned and packed away that chicken in the crock pot.  I took a stab at something my truck drivin’ brother Nick makes, ultimately putting it in roll-up sandwiches he sticks under his seat and can pull up when hungry.  I’m not sure if I heard his description in Jacoby’s tavern after several beers or at breakfast when not fully awake.  Whatever, tastes pretty good.  Here’s the recipe if you’re interested:

Next was fixing up the credenza drawer holding all our note cards.  The bottom drops out and the cards are thrown in in hopelessly random fashion.  I love writing notes in longhand and maybe once I can actually find the right card for the occasion, I’ll do more of it.  It took several steps and a nap in between, but the effort paid off:

The stack of empty boxes lower right in the middle is all those emptied of cards.

Around 3 at the grocery store, I got a call from Apples & Oranges saying my computer was ready.  Normally, I’d be salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs to hurry and pick it up.  Instead, I set about completing my credenza repair and organization project.  Finally, a little after 5:30 I came home after putting close to a grand on my AmEx.  I let the 2 computers (of course I kept the old one) sit in their tote for the rest of the evening, vowing not to touch them till the next morning so as to keep from ruining a perfect analog day.

It was on to Shutesie’s t-shirt.  Dan is a friend and Vicksburg classmate who quit Oregon for Florida when he was fed up with the politics.  He’s my best surviving drinking buddy from ‘burg times and we have more in common now than ever.  He doesn’t know he’s getting this, but it’s way hot in Ocala, and you need lots of t-shirts as you have to change them and wring them out several times a day.  I’ve made similar shirts for several friends, but this one’s updated anticipating the next few years.

I know this crosses over into politics, a threshold I swore I’d avoid when I started this blog, following my dear, late friend Sam’s advice to avoid politics on social media.  But politics creeps into everything, especially COVID discussions.  Any of you reading this blog who are not aware of where I stand haven’t been paying attention.  But this display is mainly to show my “artistic talents” and I promise not to dive into politics again.

So as the sun and supper of salad and shortcake settled, I saw with satisfaction my successes.  I had completed 9 of the 13 tasks on my to-do list, a better percentage than I usually muster.  While my other completions were too mundane to illustrate or describe, it was still satisfying to hang those posters and call Bronson to schedule a follow up and get my X-rays and CT.  Waiting for another day will be: compiling my bimonthly funds report, lubricating my stubborn blue spray bottle, going through 2 years‘ worth of South County News to find that map of a walking tour of Vicksburg history, and watch a movie and some cartoons.  I won’t wait to be deprived of my computer again to address them.  I confess I was not 100% analog.  I did peek at my cell phone a few times.  And I did open my laptop to leave birthday greetings on Facebook for 2 friends, snapping it shut immediately after!

But as the kids on South Park say “I learned something today” (4).  Times of privation can enhance self-awareness.  I know now that me and Joe Walsh are in the same boat (5).

References

1.     Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (released 6/11/86).  YouTube 3/30/12.

2. Star Trek – Tribble Infestation. YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2T1QX7BEyg

3. Star Trek – Tribbles Given To The Klingons.wmv.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKLyXjMT07I

4. I’ve learned something today – south park.  YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3sX3aD6GSM

5. Joe Walsh – Analog Man [from his new album released June 5 2012].  YouTube

car tip

After I totaled my car last week (1), my friends had me dreading the replacement process.  The used car market is insanely overheated and if you do manage to find something, it will be vastly overpriced (2).  And new cars, fuhgeddaboudit, especially if you want to order one according to your specs.  Parts shortages from supply chain problems mean it will be months till your car gets built, if ever.  And of course, there’s sticker shock, especially if you’ve been out of the market for a while.  But price data is easy to come by on-line, so I checked out what it took to bring home a 4-door Jeep Wrangler (3).  Kathy and I rented them whenever possible on trips and really liked the combination of comfort and ruggedness.  There are 11 models now, but the cheapest cost more than twice what I paid for my ’11 Patriot and the most expensive was well more than half what I paid for my house in 1985.

So, I exhaled and logged on to Enterprise.com, the company I always use when I’m in Kalamazoo.  Despite their bold green logo, they never pushed any Spartoon crap on me and were always accommodating.   I knew that some rental car companies sold their cars once deemed too old to rent.  Better than the glue factory.  A friend in St. Louis over 40 years ago bought cars from Hertz and was very satisfied.  So, sure enough, “car sales” was a choice in the bar and clicking on that got you to a site asking what kind of car you wanted.  I just typed in “Jeep”, and there appeared pictures of all manner of cars bearing that brand, each accompanied by “no-haggle” price, location, fee to transport it from where it was then, and links to more detailed stats and the Car Fax reports.  My online query about one vehicle got me a call on a Sunday and an appointment at their Farmington Hills office on Thursday.  A call from Anton, the actual salesman handling my request, got our appointment moved to this morning.  We selected 2 4 doors and await a return call from the dealer in Newport News to learn if our better deal is available.  My wife and I didn’t have to wait around for all this.  I’ve only bought 8 cars in my entire life*, but this was the most painless.

So, the car I get will not be an actual ex-rental.  Enterprise takes in trades on its ex-rental sales, keeping and reselling them if they’re of reasonable quality.   If you get an ex-rental, you’ll know it’s been regularly maintained and well cared for.  Under the prices displayed is a red line stating how the price compares to Blue Book for a similar model.  One of our choices was over $1700 less. Bargain city.

So, by now do you want to take a dip into this market for your next car?  It’s relatively easy.  Of the many car rental companies in this country, only 4 sell cars, with another soon to start (see table below).  Several others farm their sales operations out to others, with Dollar and Thrifty going through Hertz, Alamo and National through Enterprise, and Budget through Avis.

So, if you’re looking for a car and getting tired of touring lots and following up want ads, consider checking out this almost painless route.  I should add that Anton, the Enterprise agent who handled our deal, was the antithesis of a “used car salesman”: patient, totally professional, interested in our needs, and always helpful.  So now, if you “let Hertz (or Avis, Enterprise, or Fox) put you in the driver’s seat” (4), you won’t even have to worry about getting the car back to them!

Rent-a-car companies that sell cars

References

  1. Ike B.  ouch!  WordPress 6/6/22.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/06/06/ouch/
  2. Butsch C.  How to buy a used car (and get a good deal) in 2022.  money under 30 4/22/22.  https://www.moneyunder30.com/save-money-buying-used-car#:~:text=Buying%20a%20used%20car%20in%202022%20is%20hard,eight%20cars%20and%20one%20house%20during%20the%20pandemic.
  3. 2022 Jeep® Wrangler Pricing and Specs – 4×4 Midsize SUVhttps://www.jeep.com/wrangler.html
  4. the memorable “we put you in the driver’s seat” ad from Hertz.  YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRuf9gdEgfw

*addendum: cars I’ve bought

’64 Olds Starfire

’62 Chevy BelAir station wagon

’71 Volvo 142

’79 VW Rabbit (first new car)

’91 Jeep Cherokee Limited (my favorite)

’95 Toyota MR2

’06 Jeep Wrangler (new)

’11 Jeep Patriot (new)

ouch!

Last Thursday was a beautiful sunny day in Kalamazoo until… Coming the 100 miles from Ann Arbor, I dropped Kathy at River Street Flowerland (1) where’s she’d buy her own Nessie and learn how to stuff it with foliage.  She’d become enamored with the topiaries she saw in Bronson Park the previous week and the chance for a private lesson accounted for the quick trip back.  I wandered the 20 minutes over to NW Kalamazoo Township to have lunch at Old Goat Tavern with VHS classmates Rollo and Tom.  The trip back through twisty streets found Rollo’s description accurate until I hit Market, home of the many rows of greenhouses that make up Kalamazoo’s bedding plant industry.  Signage was meager and I’d forgotten which one was Kathy’s.   I pulled into the intersection of Market and River hoping my Jeep would lead me there.  Instead, I heard and felt the impact before I ever saw the responsible truck.  The result wasn’t pretty.

Except for being a little dazed with a bit of a backache, I was fine.  Kathy was less than a half block away from the accident.  She heard the crash, then walked out to see others doing the same to take a gander, saw the mangled car and recognized it as ours.  She came running over and was expecting the worst, relieved that I popped out even before the firemen got there.  They got me on a stretcher into the ambulance while Kathy gathered up contents of the car.  She joined me, sitting up front, as we pulled out to Bronson.  She quickly had ‘em going with her NASA schtick.  Wadda girl.  The afternoon in their ER was mostly boring.  I emerged with diagnoses of a fractured vertebra (T9, 3 from the bottom of the thoracic spine) as well as recognition of a spinal condition called D.I.S.H. (“diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis”(2,3)) – very common, especially in the elderly – in which the ligaments attaching vertebrae turn to bone and allow much less motion.  Immobile bone loses density, so the vertebrae can become osteoporotic.  The CT found I had 2 other partially compressed vertebrae.  So, I guess I know where that 2 ½ height loss came from (used to be 6’8”, recently measured as 6’5 ½”).  The condition is painless and there’s nothing much to do for it other than to tend to those things that preserve and promote bone density.  Nothing life-changing here.  I’ve had 2 Motrin (one in the ER), 2 beers @ Bell’s, and part of nice bottle of vino (Poggio del Moro Rosso Toscany) to quiet things down.  I slept well and Kathy and I got up early Friday morning and walked around the mall and Bronson Park with no problem.  Just have to be a little cautious when I change positions. 

Mainly, I get concerned that I’ll be about $60K poorer when this is all through.   We’d just sunk close to $10K into our beloved ’11 Patriot, hoping that replacing tires and its rusted-out frame would give us a few more years of service while we save up for that 4-door Jeep Wrangler soft-top we’ve been eying.  With inflation like it is we’ll save money if we get it sooner rather than later, plus we’ll still be able to get one with an internal combustion engine.

But overall, the feeling is not as expected.  I actually feel kinda elated.

As Churchill wrote: “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” (4)

And as Prine sang (5).

It could have been worse.

References

  1. River Street Flowerland.  https://riverstreetflowerland.com/workshop/
  2. Mayo Clinic.  Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH).  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diffuse-idiopathic-skeletal-hyperostosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20371661
  3. Luo TD, Varacallo M.  Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis.  StatPearls (Internet).  5/1/22.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538204/
  4. Churchill WS. The Story of the Malakand Field Force.  London: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1901
  5. Prine J.  The Accident (Things Could be Worse).  YouTube 8/18/14. Track 9 on Sweet Revenge (Atlantic), released   10/1/73.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd9RTTGq1eY 

Mom & Dad

I visited Mom and Dad yesterday, as I do every year about this time (1).  The grounds at Grandville Cemetery were immaculate, the headstones clean, the VFW-placed flag flying, and now, between their headstones, beamed a fresh chrysanthemum, maybe the prettiest and fullest I’ve placed over all these years.

Each parent had come a long way to rest in these plots my dad bought after my mom died in ’62. 

In a third plot, originally meant for me, rest the remains of dad’s little sister, my Aunt Florence, who passed in ’05. 

Mom’s body came nearly 450 miles from Pittsburgh and Dad’s 55 miles from the Rupert-Durham funeral home in Portage after he’d spent the last 5½ weeks of his life at Rose Arbor Hospice in Kalamazoo.  Their graves are less than a mile and a half from the little white house on South Big Spring Drive where they first brought me home.  So, in a way, this is the ultimate homecoming, but there were no ceremonies other than my quiet reminisces over their graves.

Dad was the youngest – and the runt – of the 3 Ike boys, but still lettered as an offensive guard for the Ottawa Hills Indians and was forever involved in playground sports with his brothers and other neighborhood kids.  Born Gerrit, Bogenus (Bo-ween-us), and Dirk, they quickly became Gary, Bub, and Dick as they pursued with vigor the American dream their parents had come from the Netherlands to pursue.

My dear Grandpa Ike lasted to 104 and 11/12th, so he saw almost all of his youngest son’s arc.  Anyone who spent more than a few minutes with Grandpa would know where Dad got his impish sense of humor.

Check out the handsome, serious guy who emerged from Ottawa Hills in ’36. I guess you weren’t supposed to smile for “important” pictures in those days.

Dad parlayed 2 years at Heaney’s Commercial College to a career at Fisher Body, interrupted early on by Uncle Sam’s call.   The Army put his managerial skills to work at a desk in Rome seeing the Italian Army was properly supplied.  He had been destined for paratrooper school until someone noticed he wore glasses.

Tho’ he was never shot at, he was as proud of his WW-II service as any combat vet, having his Army rank inscribed on his tombstone. In his later years, he’d reminisce that his Army years had seen the best expenditure of his talents. 

He rose through Grand Rapids Fisher Body #1 as a time-study guy, going back and forth to Detroit by train when that city was still the “Paris of the Midwest”.  His prowess with union negotiations got him called to McKeesport, by Pittsburgh, an assignment cut short by Mom’s sudden death.  After a couple years at the Tech Center in Warren, where we lived on the wrong side of the tracks in snooty Birmingham, his mentor deemed him sufficiently recovered to take on the task of setting up the time-study department at the new state-of-the-art plant in Comstock, by Kalamazoo.  Dad found a spot for us on Barton Lake in little Vicksburg, allowing me to flourish.  They changed the name of Dad’s department to “Industrial Engineering”, and he often had a chuckle that he made engineer with 2 years of business school.  At home, he helped organize the sports activities of the neighborhood kids, transforming a vacant lot into a ball diamond and erecting a backstop that doubled as a football goalpost.  Not just kids enjoyed these facilities, as they were site of some fierce beer-fueled softball games between guys in Dad’s office over for their annual blowout. 

Dad retired at 51 while I was still in high school, one of GM’s first 30-and-out salaried retirees.  He’d end up being retired one year more than he’d worked at GM, so I guess he got the best of that deal.  He flirted briefly with real estate, but chucked it to devote full time to golf, sports, and travel with his lady-friend Dorothy. 

He’d lose her too but surrounded himself in his last years with some great buddies. 

He was a great dad who as soon as it looked like it would be necessary found a way to deflect queries about our considerable height difference: “vitamins”, he’d say.  He could be Dutch-strict, but always knew how to have a good time.  I owe my loves of music, sports, politics, beer, and Jesus to the excellent beginnings he showed me.  I miss him every day.

Sadly, I barely got 10 years with Mom.  She, her sister (2), and her mother managed to spoil this much-wanted adopted child rotten.  On the other hand, she must have shown me some good ways, since I stayed in school well over 50 years, stayed married to the same woman – whom I keep well fed – nearly 35 years, attend church, and have spent less than one night in jail.  How my dad snagged this beauty I’ll never know. I guess fun-loving and upright can take ya a long ways. 

Tho’ she was bright and winning, she never went to college, putting some time in a real estate office.  She was a good athlete in a time long before serious women’s sports, and she and Dad made a formidable pair on the golf course and in the bowling alley. 

Yes, I found her.  Maybe more about that some other time.  The huge crowd at her funeral spoke to the many lives she’d touched.   How different things would have been had she lived.  As I’m pretty satisfied with how things eventually turned out, you could say I got over her loss, but I don’t think that can ever really happen.  I’ve had people who know more than I do about how the mind works tell me some of the ways her loss is still affecting my behavior.  As that loss is too deep to be extracted, I just work to adapt.  Hope I’m doing o.k., Mom.

So that’s what wells up standing over the ground where remains of my parents have rested for 19 and 59 years, respectively.  It’s like getting reacquainted.  Isn’t that what visits are for?

References

  1. Ike B.  remember.  WordPress 5/24/20.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/05/24/remember/
  2. Ike B.  Aunt Dorie.  WordPress 1/13/21.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/01/14/aunt-dorie/

smoke and mirrors

My friend Ken gave me a ride in his new Tesla (model Y (1)). the other day.  Pretty fine car: beautiful deep blue, sleek clean lines, simple spacious interior, and plenty of power (though Ken says those surges are tough on the battery).  Ken’s position as a UCSD professor places him square in the service class of La Jolla but with enough dough to keep him in nice cars.  He says his Tesla was cheaper than his previous ride, a Beemer.  Of course, he enjoys driving right by those $6/gallon California gas stations.  Ken’s a lib, but not a mouthy one, so of course he gains satisfaction from his low carbon footprint. This week, the temp in LJ has not crept past 65 and the sun is rare, so we could use a little global warming around here, but it’s not coming from the likes of Ken.

Or is it?  I remember Rush (God rest his soul) calling electric cars “coal-fired”.  Although such cars don’t even have tailpipes, the energy that powers them comes from generators that have to burn something to make that electricity.  I’ve wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of how those putt-putt plug-ins are powered, and Ken’s Tesla provided the impetus.  So here’s what I found out about the costs and consequences of this ever more popular way of driving.

Fueling up

The full recommended charge for a Tesla on a home unit (which Ken paid $2500 to install) goes as follows.   The home unit provides 240 Volt, 80 amps of current.  This charges a Tesla much faster than the 20 amp 120-volt charger.  With a 240-volt connection, you can charge a Tesla Model Y completely in between 6 and 30 hours. The 240-volt charger adds between 9 and 52 miles of range per hour of charging.   Power companies charge per kilowatt-hour.  Watts=voltage X current (amps).   An installed 240 volt Tesla home charger running at max uses 19,200 watts, or 19.2 kilowatts.  Running that puppy the 6-30 hours it takes to fully charge a Tesla will then consume 115.2 – 576 kilowatt-hours.

San Diego has the highest electricity rates in the country (2), but few actually pay them.  Residents have 3 tiers of rates depending on time of day, with “off-peak” 9-midnight and “super off peak” midnight to 2 PM.   So you plug in as late as possible.   Standard residential rate is $0.39206/kw-h.  So that “fill-up” will cost ya $45.17 – $225.83 in San Diego.  My Michigan rate from DTE is $0.041760/kw-h, so my costs will be less than a 10th what I’d pay in LJ.  And our gas is only ~25% cheaper.   Per the Tesla web site, the Model S gets 396 miles on a full charge, which comes to 11.4¢ – $1.754/mile.  To compare, my rickety but beloved ’11 Jeep Patriot gets ~18 mpg, so with the $4.20/gallon Michigan gas that’s 4.29¢/mile.  Even with California gas, I think you can see the vinner here.  Plus, my Patriot was paid for long ago and I don’t even want to think about Ken’s car note.

San Diego Gas & Electric offers 3 special packages for electric car owners (2).  The best deal, at least as regards base rates, for a mere $16 month will lower your charges to 66¢/40¢/11¢ for basic, off-peak, and super off-peak.  So you still have to wait till 9 PM to plug in to even get close to the standard rate.

But there’s other ways to juice up your Tesla.  Virtue-signalling municipal governments everywhere have thrown up “free” charging stations (guess who’s paying for the juice?).  Where’s my free gas pump?  But such stations are ever less useful as more embrace electric cars and demand for those plugs expands.  The short charge is never more than a top-off.  Commercial charging stations have popped up all over in Southern California (4), but are already overtaxed.  Ken keeps a map of all the charging stations in the region, but as the market for juice remains fluid, stations come and go.

Tesla has its own changing stations which promise to add 200 miles in 15 minutes.  For commercial and municipal charging, they recommend carrying around a couple adapters in your trunk (5).  Commercial chargers do not yet have uniform fee schedules, but are moving from charging by time plugged to charging per unit of energy.  Right now, drivers in California can expect to pay 30 cents per kWh to charge on Level 2, and 40 cents per kWh for DC fast charging.  So that’s a little higher than what they’d pay at home.  And way higher than what I’d pay in my home state of Michigan, where electric car drivers pay 17¢/kWh (6).

But electric cars were never touted for their economy.  Uncle still subsidizes every electric car purchase with a tax credit that starts at $2500 and can reach $7500 (7).  As it’s usually the upper crust that buys these things, this sure ain’t addressing “income inequality”.  Of course, California signals its virtue by offering an additional $1000-$7000 per electric vehicle bought or leased, although they no longer offer that for a Tesla purchase (8).  In Michigan, our Governor Bimbo has proposed a $2000/car rebate plus $500 for a home charging station (9).  Fortunately her January proposal has gone nowhere in our Republican led congress.

Whatever the rebate, these electric cars are way more expensive than your trusty gas guzzler.  But you can’t put a price on the warm and fuzzy feeling you get by signalling your virtue.  Getting behind the wheel of one of these means you’re doing your part to push back the climate catastrophe our betters are always telling us is barely 10 years away.

But are you really?  For the sake of argument, at least for the rest of this post, let’s assume that CO2 emissions actually do influence climate and maybe it’s a good thing to reduce them.  Does driving an electric car further those ends?  Remember, those kilowatt-hours have to come from someplace, and I’ve yet to see an electric car bearing solar panels.

Ken’s source of juice, San Diego Gas and Electric, prides itself on its “clean” profile.  They claim to derive 40% of their generation from “renewable” resources, wind, solar, and likely a bunch of hydroelectric.  Plus they boast they have no active coal contracts.  Whether there are some power plants with big paid-for piles of the black stuff outside, they don’t say.  They are obligated by law to report their emissions, although the latest year covered on their web site is 2011.  No telling what their fuel mix was then, but they put out 1,266,649 metric tons of CO2 as direct emissions and an additional 299,785 tons in indirect emissions (10).  Once I’ve burned up the 6 cords of firewood out front of my house, I’ll have contributed 15 tons of CO2 to our climactic demise (11).  But then, I’m not working to keep the lights of millions on.

To do that, for its 4,327 industrial customers, 104,875 commercial accounts, 4 transportation customers and 1,287,811 residential customers,  SDG&E generates 5,320,873.84 megawatt-hours/year, proudly producing 5,276,870.41 of those from natural gas (12).    (What happened to the 40% from “renewables”?).  During the same timeframe, San Diego Gas and Electric generated 3,113,925 megawatt hours in power generation facilities owned by the supplier and procured 22,546,881 megawatt hours through wholesale channels.  So SDG&E moved a lot of electrons.  The relevant number for my next calculation is that 3 million plus number.  That’s the juice they generated from the plants that spewed 1,566,434 metric tons of CO2 upward in 2011.  In the decade since, you’ve gotta figure more, but those numbers aren’t available.   So now for the grand equation.  To generate 3,113,925 megawatt hours of electricity, SDG&E spewed 1,566,434 metric tons of CO2.  That comes to half a ton of CO2 for each megawatt-hour (0.5030).   Now take that down to Ken’s Tesla level.   Recall that fully charging a Tesla S consumes 115.2 – 576 kilowatt-hours.  With 1/10th of a half a metric ton of CO2 – 110.25 pounds – generated with each kilowatt hour, that charge is responsible for anywhere from 12,700.8 to 63,504 pounds of CO2.  Taking it back to units in which CO2 emissions are usually measured, that’s 5.8 to 28.9 metric tons of CO2 per charge.  Doesn’t that seem like a lot of CO2 for one car?  And the owner is surely going to be charging it up several times a year. With Tesla’s 303 miles per charge, going 10,000 miles a year will require at least 33 charges.  I’ll do the math for you: that’s 191 to 954 metric tons of CO2 per year.  What about my little gas guzzler?  While I don’t have stats for my dear Patriot, the EPA has kindly calculated that a car getting 22 MPG driving 11,500 miles/year emits 4.5 metric tons of CO2 (13).  So for my part, I’m going to work to save the earth by bellying up to the pump every week.  Each gallon of gas I burn will generate about 8,887 grams of CO2. With a million grams in a metric ton, I’ll have to burn a lot of gas before I ever come close to any Tesla.  Elon Musk should put fake tailpipes on his cars and make them belch smoke just to keep things honest.

References

  1. TESLA.  https://www.tesla.com/models
  2. energyeage.  Cost of Electricity in San Diego California.  https://www.energysage.com/local-data/electricity-cost/ca/san-diego-county/
  3. SDGE.  Electric vehicle pricing plans.  https://www.sdge.com/residential/pricing-plans/about-our-pricing-plans/electric-vehicle-plans
  4. CalTrans.  Electric vehicle charging stations.  https://dot.ca.gov/programs/equipment/electric-vehicle-charging-stations
  5. TESLA.  Charging your Tesla.  https://www.tesla.com/support/charging
  6. LaReau J.  Study compares electric vehicle charge costs vs. gas — and results were surprising.  Det Free Press 10/21/21.  https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2021/10/21/electric-vehicle-charging-cost-vs-gas/6110815001/
  7. IRS.  IRC 30D New Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/irc-30d-new-qualified-plug-in-electric-drive-motor-vehicle-credit
  8. California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. https://cleanvehiclerebate.org/en
  9. Michigan.gov.  Governor Gretchen Whittmer.  1/26/22.  chttps://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/news/press-releases/2022/01/26/gov–whitmers-plan-to-lower-the-cost-of-electric-vehicles
  10. SDGE.  Greenhouse gas emission reporting.  https://www.sdge.com/more-information/environment/about-our-initiatives/greenhouse-gas-emissions
  11. Ike B. Behold…WordPress 4/2/22. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/04/02/behold/
  12. San Diego Gas and Electric.  Electricity rates, plans, and statistics.  https://findenergy.com/providers/san-diego-gas-and-electric/#:~:text=San%20Diego%20Gas%20and%20Electric%20is%20ranked%20173rd,Electric%27s%20energy%20loss%20due%20to%20business%20operations.%20-3.41%25
  13. EPA.  Environmental Protection Agency.  Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle.  https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle#:~:text=typical%20passenger%20vehicle%3F-,A%20typical%20passenger%20vehicle%20emits%20about%204.6%20metric%20tons%20of,8%2C887%20grams%20of%20CO2.
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