Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
My dad, Dick Ike, Jr., would have turned 104 tomorrow, August 8th, an age his own father had reached. But Dad’s colon cancer was higher up and more invasive than Grandpa’s, and he only lived 9 years after diagnosis and resection. But he died a happy man, as he had lived. Just as his retirement years exceeded his Fisher Body working years (by one), he spent many more years with the burden of a son (nearly 51) than without (only 34). Regardless, I’m so happy he and Mom brought me home from that Grand Rapids hospital in ’52.
One of my duties right after he died was to compose and deliver his eulogy. Others would deliver remarks, but mine were to be committed to a pamphlet put together by undertaker Jon Durham, who happened to be my best friend’s little brother. I reproduce that document here, so you can all read about what a great man my dad was.
In an old country with a proud history like Ireland’s, you’d expect a lot of that. This morning’s side trip from Beaufort to Cork brought me to a sterling modern example of this phenomenon. We set out to hike nearby Tomies Woods, at the edge of Killarney Park.
The trek we’d take took us a mile in then 131 steps down, where we could catch a look at Eas Ui Shúileabháin (O‘Sullivan’s Cascade), a little set of falls as the water came down the rocks from draining waters from Tomies Mountain (735 m elevation) into Loch Leane, where we’ve been yesterday touring Ross Castle.
According to legend this waterfall once ran not with water, but with whiskey instead. The Chieftain of the Fianna, Fionn MacCumhal, resided above the Cascade on Tomies Mountain. It was here that he kept his personal supply of the finest uisgebeatha (whiskey). O’Sullivan of Tomies was lucky enough to share this delightful drop, being the only man bold enough to stand up to Fionn. Unfortunately when the Sassenagh (The English) invaded Ireland, it changed into water and became known as O’Sullivan’s Cascade. (1). Damned English.
There were no good angles for an iPhone camera
This image kyped from the net does it better justice
After the walk back, we headed for the Gap of Dunloe, between the highest mountains in Ireland (McGillycuddy Reeks) and Killaney’s Purple and Tomies mountains. The River Loe flows through the valley, linking its five corrie lakes: Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough. Such makes for fabulous adventuring, from rafting to rock climbing to serious hiking. The Gap was unfortunately closed to these activities through the end of August. Closed for maintenance? So the Gap was left to its other primary activity, fleecing tourists. We’d been there the day before, dropping into Moriarity’s shop, which seemed to be an appendage to the restaurant next door. Their bar seemed no great shakes, so we thought we’d check out the knick knacks at their cheesy shop. Little did we know they purveyed high end Irish woolens. Kathy emerged with a beautiful purple cape that set her back several hundred euros.
But appearances are deceptive in the Gap. We thought Kate Kearney’s Cottage was just a little gift shop and lunch counter, passing it by our first time up.
As I read, I learned that Kate ran one of the 10 best pubs in the area, so that was our destination today. She provided a nice Killarney IPA and a Paddy’s uisce bump for me. I had no expectation for any more satisfaction from her place. Everything there was prim and modern, obviously recently updated. Getting back to the men’s, nothing countered this perception, although the sign on the door suggested mischief.
I promised I’d adhere. Tile and sinks were clearly almost new, and shy eliminators had their own little rooms
But to the right, against the wall, was the magnificent installation of someone who still cared.
That such instillations can occur in these modern times speak to some hope that the best of the past might be preserved. If only American pissoir designers might take heed, we beleaguered older males might find some joy as we seek our way through these modern times.
Eire comforts in many other ways, with its slower pace, marvelous locally grown (and caught) food, traditional music, un-peated uisce, beer that satisfies far beyond Guinness, smiling buxom lasses, and a comforting countryside that blends just enough mountain with long stretches of green. And all that water! Add to that a summer climate where the temps rarely exceed 65, and you’ve got a place to which I’m coming back.
“A bad doctor makes the same mistakes day after day and calls it experience” – Tommy Palella, 1982.
I’ve swapped patients for posts, and surely had a few duds, but have been at it a while and it’s been quite the experience. I thought I’d learn from WordPress that this would be my 300th post. Instead, I see I’ve tallied 287 posts but 53 drafts! So depending on how you count it, I’m either a little short or way over. As I had much of this composed in my head while out on the trail this afternoon, why waste it? Not all of those posts were very pithy. The very first – “Introduce yourself” – was provided by WordPress. Some were “shameless plugs” announcing books, and others were tables of contents meant for readers of those books to access. But I started on January 12, 2020 and intend to keep going. Putting my thoughts out there for the public has been immensely fun and satisfying, and I’m pleased at least a few of you joined in.
The number 300 brings to mind a movie:
Hard to believe I’d be so fond of a movie about Spartans, but their battle against the vastly larger Persian army was a glorious thing to watch. Of course, this has nothing to do with writing, other than the number.
The trail we were on wound though the Killarney National Park and ended up at Caisleán an Rois (Ross Castle).
It has at least half again as many years on it as I have posts, built in the early 1500s. It sits on Loch Leane (Lake of Learning) across from a monastery dating to the 7th century that schooled the first King of Ireland. It was the last Irish castle to be taken by Oliver Cromwell’s navy in 1652, victim to a battleship that had been disassembled into 7ths, take to the lake, and reassembled to batter the castle. Residents of the castle and monastery met horrid ends.
We learned these details from the driver who took us on his horse cart back to the city center. There were a song about the English perhaps I’d better not repeat.
The horse carts gather conveniently near to many pubs and shops. We ventured down High Street but turned onto narrow Sráid an Phluincéid (Plunkett Street) where the entertaining pedestrian traffic continued with nary horse nor automobile. Courtney’s pub looked inviting, and indeed it was. A compact set of taps contained all you might want, including 2 fine IPAs: O’Hara’s 51st State and Kilkenny’s Full Circle IPA.
The barkeep said O’Hara was not wading into America’s controversy about DC, but wistfully thinking that Ireland had so much in common with America maybe they should be the 51st state. I assured him I’d be honored to see a shamrock up there among our 50 stars.
Should you want a bump with any of these fine beers, there were many choices.
I went with the special, and it was outstanding.
There were a couple of tables out front for those rare days in Ireland when outside might be inviting, like today’s 20 degree sunny offering.
Drinking like that, such seats can’t be occupied in eternity. The road back in the pub, as it often does in this country, brought wonder. Again the genius Irish engineers had constructed a gleaming temple to men’s needs. I haven’t felt this satisfied since they took the troughs out of the men’s rooms at Michigan Stadium.
It was a sporting event drawing in patrons in the early afternoon.
This was the championship game for hurling, a uniquely Irish sport. Held at Dublin’s Páirc an Chrócaigh (Croke Park), the third largest sports arena in Ireland, all 82,300 seats were filled. I did some hurling back in high school, but I believe this is a different sport. Played on a “pitch” like soccer, the game is much more lively and fast paced. Ya gotta love a sport where the game starts with a ”throw in”. Let ‘em have at it!. Played by men in short pants wearing helmets who tussle with each other at every opportunity, the aim is to propel a small yellow ball through the goal in two different manners using what look like long spoons. There are actual goalposts involved, with similar goalposts also used for Irish football, making the countryside schools look like a place Harbaugh should come recruit. At the base of the goalposts is a net looking much like a soccer goal, manned by a goalie, into which a successful shot garners 3 points. But most of the scoring comes from scooping a ball from anywhere on the pitch up through the goalposts, getting 1 point. The shots were pretty amazing. Limerick – favored by the locals – was ahead at halftime, when we left. By the time we got to Beaufort, they’d won. The game is fun enough I hope we can find it on TV at home.
Beaufort’s where we’re at for the rest of the week. There’s a castle on the grounds that will see my mom’s 2nd 90th birthday party tomorrow. We’ve learned of the Dunlap Gap, Danny Man, and Tomies Wood, so should have plenty of activities to accompany our drinking. Éirinn go Brách!
I swore several months go I’d blog no more about Mr. Corona, the “pandemic” behind us and figuring the annoying umpteenth generation variants of SARS-COV-2 as mere cold/flu agents. Hardly worth any attention, let alone a mask, vaxx, lockdown, or quarantine. But info trickles out about how things really turned out that deserves commentary. Released Friday were British data about deaths from COVID according to vaccination status. The bar graphs need no explanation. Read ’em and weep.
My pharmacist sister asked me at dinner why an intelligent man like me never got vaccinated. I told her that in addition to nearly 50 years in medicine, I have a masters in microbiology and research experience in 4 virology labs, understood what was going on, and chose not to participate. She left the room. I don’t think that even graphs like these would affect the likes of her, who drank the Kool-Aid long ago.
So, to those of you wise enough to have avoided the jab: prosit!
*PS. My U of M just selected a new President, Dr. Ono. Oh-no! At least his first name is Santa. The faculty with have their stockings hung by the chimney with care.
After our magnificent dinner at Half Door (1), Mom got a hankering to go to a pub and hear some real Irish music. She’d heard O’Flaherty’s was a good spot (2), so off we went. It wasn’t far, but the little side streets and Gaelic signage proved a challenge.
Fortunately, the proprietors emblazoned their name across the door in English, so we knew we were in the right place.
Once inside, looking around, it was easy to see this was the real deal.
It filled up as the evening when on.
We scored a choice table by the “stage”, actually just an open spot in front of the piano (never played) where the three then four musicians would sit and play. While the girls gathered Guinnesses, I paid a visit to the back only to encounter perhaps the most impressive feature of the place. Taking the basic design used in Shannon Airport (3), the Irish engineers moved from the marble/porcelain of the stone age to the gleaming stainless steel of the industrial age.
The result was almost as impressive as the pissoir I’d encountered in Vienna (4), maybe moreso as it hugged a corner. Like all good designs of such facilities, it cared naught for my aim and did not restrict my style, while welcoming others who might participate. One of my few regrets of the evening is that I did not consume enough Guinness to attack this structure repeatedly.
My wife, mom, and sisters did not understand my enthusiasm, but did enjoy the evening’s entertainment. At the bar, my sister Ish chatted up a guy with a guitar case who had not been to the bar in 30 years, but was recognized and asked to join the band. The four of them lept into a rollicking set of Irish tunes none of us recognized, although everyone else in the bar did.
The stamina of us Yanks did not match that of the locals. Mom had her soon to be 90 years as an excuse while Kathy was waiting for Danny Boy or some Van Morrison tunes. I was just tired, taking longer to recover from that transatlantic trip than I’d expected. My sisters went with the flow, and we were home by 11, still immensely satisfied with our evening. We’ve got 11 more days in the Emerald Isle, and the big stuff (Mom’s 90th) is yet to come. Let’s hope we can make it before the pipes, the pipes, are callin’.
* magnificent Irish engineering
One of the joys of this Ireland rip has been to hang out with Jolene, a.k.a. “Ish”, my 6’1” favorite sister, a pharmacist who became that when her plans to become a vet fell through. The main reason we’re here is to celebrate our mom’s 90th birthday, with a big blowout planned for Killarney next Saturday. See us all together at Mom’s place in Stanwood a couple Octobers ago as we gathered then to fėte her as she pushed off to Mazatlán Mexico for the winter:
Seated: Di, Amy (“Marge”, who died suddenly in May), Mom. Standing: Jolene (“Ish”), me
Jolene got that nickname in an offhanded fashion, telling some guy asking her name, as she exited a bar, that hers was “Ish Kabibble”. The name stuck. Growing up with Mom’s music, she was familiar with Spike Jones and with Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge, for whom the main cornet player was Erie Pennsylvania’s Meryn (Mern) Bogue. Before hooking up with the big bands, Mr. Bogue was a solo musical comedian (1).
One of the tunes in his repertoire was “Isch ga-bibble.”, a phrase derived from a mock-Yiddish expression, “Ische ga bibble?”, which was purported to mean “I should worry?”
The phrase lived on on Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Newman’s lips as “What, me worry?”. There is an actual Yiddish phrase – “nisht gefidlt” – meaning “it doesn’t matter to me,” from which the term “ish kabibble” may derive. Fannie Brice (“Funny girl”: 1891-1951) used this phrase in her act (2). It stuck with Mr. Bogue and he had a long career playing cornet and cracking jokes as Ish Kabibbile. Kay Kyser had rescued him from West Virginia Law School in 1931 and employed him till the band broke up in 1950 (3). Ish managed the band for most of that stretch.and appeared in 10 movies. Spike Jones lured him away for a year, but Ish did not like the experience. After the breakup, Ish continued to perform with the band’s singer, his good friend Mike Douglas, who went on to have a long career as a television host.
I was happy to learn a few years back that my sis Ish loves her nickname and likes being called that. During the early days of COVID, out grocery shopping and listening to the student radio station on my earbuds, I was surprise to hear the DJ identify herself as “-ish” (4). While some of the young DJs at WCBN have an impressively deep knowledge of old music, I wondered whether this “-ish” would know anything of Mr. Bogue. I’ve not yet e-mailed her. It’s possible her name instead applies to the modifying suffix used by sloppy speakers and writers of English everywhere.
Jolene actually prefers a longer contraction of Mr. Kabibble’s name: “Ishka”. Grocery shopping last night after hitting town, we were surprised to see her name staring at us from the shelves of bottled water (5). Hard to say ho they came up with that word, other than founder Michael Sutton’s recollection that “My Mum was a great Irish speaker and she came up with the phonetics for the Ishka brand.” (6). No word if she was a fan of the Big Bands
Needless to say, it’s what we’re drinking, at least when the choice of beverage is non-alcoholic. Here’s to my Ishka!
PS. If you’re wanting to learn a little more about the original Ish, here are a couple videos (7,8).
6. .O’Connor F. We had an idea and we bottled it: How the good times keep on flowing at Ishka. Independent.ie. 12/12/21. https://www.independent.ie/business/we-had-an-idea-and-we-bottled-it-how-the-good-times-keep-on-flowing-at-ishka-41137573.html.
When yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, after close to 24 hours of travel , we finally landed in Shannon prepared to head to Dingle to start our 2 week family Irish adventure*, you can guess the first place I sought out after clearing customs and heading to baggage claim. SNN is a charming airport – all direction signs are in Gaelic as first language – with over 75 years of history. In 1935, the Irish Government took a decision to initiate a survey “to find suitable bases for the operation of seaplanes and landplanes on a transatlantic service” (1). By 1939, the first planes were landing.
I wasn’t expecting my little necessary jaunt to take me back in time. As you may recall from previous posts, the old ways of handling men’s emissions have a real pull on me (2). So you can imagine my delight as I came through the door and saw these magnificent white slabs standing ready to take what I could offer. I don’t know if they were porcelain or marble, but I was ready to attempt to slam them down in a contest which of course they would always win. Yes, they go all the way to the floor.
Alas, the orange plastic barrier signifying repair in progress. Well, even Mt. Rushmore is closed for repairs sometimes.
I’ll pass back through Shannon if about 2 weeks. Maybe they’ll be done by then. I’ll be ready, as always. If not, there’s always next time. This Irish charm and my Irish blood will definitely bring me back. But, please don’t fuss with the design!
My birth mother will turn 90 7/16/22. We’ll celebrate in a castle I. Killarney, prceded by a week in Dingle and followed by a week in Beaufort
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
1. Tesla Model S US Sales Figures. CARFiGURES 4/11/22.
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.
4. TESLA. https://www.tesla.com/models
5. Tesla Model Y Performance charging cost and time calculator. EVcompare.io.
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
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