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.

Miramar

The ol’ Commander sang that he knew where paradise lies (1), but I don’t know if he ever made the 44 mile hour and a half trip south from his Stinson Beach home to Miramar Beach to eat and drink at the Miramar Beach Restaurant.  For Kathy and me, that’s where paradise lies, especially after a long trip west come to visit the fam in nearby Pescadaro.  Smack on the Pacific with the waves crashing in onto big rocks, California sun shining down, there’s no place we’d rather plunk ourselves as we wait for our seaside rooms to be ready at the generically named “Oceanfront Hotel” (once “Landis Inn”) next door.  It’s a ritual we’ve been following for at least 2 decades: beers and a plate of oysters plus a view of the sea.  It was the first place I seriously cheated during my enforced pee-tested abstinence in ’11, sipping that forbidden beer knowing they couldn’t chase me into the hills of Silicon Valley.

Miramar is a place name of Spanish and Portuguese origin. It means “sea-view” or “sea sight” from mirar (“to look at, to watch”) and mar (“sea”).  Many luxurious places around the world bear this name.

The Miramar Beach Restaurant is steeped in sin.  It was designed and built as a prohibition roadhouse.  Half Moon Bay was an ideal site for boats laden with Canadian booze to unload, transferring their cargo to cars bound for nearby San Francisco.  Then there was that prostitution thing.  Let me paste in the story from the restaurant’s website and let that tell the story.  From 1918 to 1955 a redheaded madam named Maymie Cowley, aka “Boss”, ruled the Miramar.  During her reign, the roadhouse was raided numerous times for illegal liquor, gambling and prostitution during Prohibition. During this time the Miramar was a notorious drop off point for illegal liquor. Smugglers bought their booze in Canada and shipped it down the coast to Half Moon Bay. Under the cover of darkness, small vessels, known as “rum runners”, met the large ships off the coast and transferred the illegal cargo to shore. Rum Runners, because of their speed, were ideal vessels to make the transfer from ship to shore. Due to their agility and speed they were often able to out run Coast Guard patrol boats. Half Moon Bay was the ideal location for the transfer of this illegal cargo, as it was a small isolated yet still close enough to San Francisco for transport by car.

The Miramar Beach Restaurant (known as the Ocean Beach Hotel during this time) was originally designed and built as a Prohibition roadhouse. This meant that in order to keep the contraband hidden during raids, secret compartments and revolving kitchen doors were built into the building. The upstairs of the Miramar served as the Bordello. Ten small rooms each equipped with a sink, a light, hat rack and bell system to the kitchen below allowed the restaurant to serve their customers upstairs.

Since the Golden Era of the Half Moon Bay Coastside, nearly all the speakeasies of that time have disappeared. Miramar Beach Restaurant is one of only a handful of buildings from that time period still standing.

So as I sit in their outdoor deck taking my pleasure in my beer and the view, I wonder how my pleasures pale compared to prior denizens of this place.

But those pleasures are nevertheless ample, so let us review

Here’s the restaurant as a Rum Runner might see it (although I think they sailed at night).

You can only see the deck a little bit to the right, but since it’s a major feature now, see it all, inside and out

and what do you see from that perspective?

That’s Pillar Point off to the right.  There’s been a military base there since 1940.  Currently, that tower with the little ball is used by the United States Space Force for tracking polar-orbiting space satellites and operational intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from Vandenberg AFB,

But you can’t live by the view alone.  The Restaurant offers an ample array of tasty victuals, mostly from the sea, of course.

Beverages are important, and you might figure a place born in Prohibition would appreciate booze.   As indeed they do.  I’ll bet the beer they serve now, even from their meager 8 taps, is tastier than anything those boats once deposited.

I can vouch that their 2 IPAs – Big Daddy and Animal – are outstanding.

The management has taken things a little modern here and there.  They’ve even got a slick logo.

But thankfully, I don’t think the place has changed much since times when the action on the shore involved more than the crashing waves.  Of course, now, I don’t think “Boss” can help you out with your desires upstairs.  So far as I know.

And so to bed.   Fortunately, right next door, the Oceanfront Hotel.  Don’t try to book it online.  Call 650-483-2228.  All rooms face the ocean and who couldn’t sleep to the music and rhythm of those Pacific waves crashing against the rocks.

Reference

1.         Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries – Commander Cody.  YouTube 5/2/13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Cvg5VCpT4

Mink

Settling in at two of the precious 6 stools at the bar at Mink brought back the same feelings when we settled in to a special evening at that hidden downtown Detroit gem Albena over 2 years ago (1,2).  I felt compelled to communicate my find to my friend, now retired colleague, and fellow foodie Tim.

Hey, Tim.  I’ve found another little Detroit hole-in-the wall for you and your Kathy should you be feeling adventurous.  Our dear Julie Welch gave me the tip as I was bemoaning the demise of Republic and whining how hard it is to get to her niece-chef Sarah’s award-winning Marrow on the East side.  Julie didn’t just pick this one out of the air.  Sarah’s fiancé’s a mover for this new place.  They’ve been open less than 2 years and seem to have survived COVID.

It’s an easy shot from AA.  40 minute drive on M-14, 3 blocks down Trumbull off the Fisher Service Drive, tucked next to a boutique aside a parking lot you can’t use.  The place is only 360 square feet, but the waiter says they can hold 40 if they seat outside.  The choice seats are at the bar where you can see the 4 chefs in action.  You can book on line (3).  They feature seafood, but don’t expect a big slab of Chilean sea bass on your plate.  Oysters are always featured.  Their prix fixe tasting menu (see below) will give you a few, but you might want to order some extry on the side.  You can get your prix fixe with pairings, and those are adventurous.  Our oysters came out with little glasses of sparkling sake!  Didn’t even know there was such an item, but it went perfectly with the bivalves.  Not much of a wine list if you want to supplement, but choices are high quality.

Kathy and I found the whole experience satisfying and thoroughly entertaining.  The food was interesting and tasty, and nothing I could replicate in my home kitchen!  The antics of the chefs were entertaining – you should see their blow torch! – and the wait staff friendly and accommodating.   It was a pre-DSO dinner, and we left

thinking even if the performers at Fisher Music Center sucked, we’d have had ourselves a swell evening.  Indeed, we ended up leaving

Paradise Jazz Series Big Band at the break, mainly ‘cause we were exhausted and anticipated more of the same in the second half.  Not that it wasn’t a good show.  But back to my main point, should you and Kathy be up to a foray into Wayne County to eat, you couldn’t do much better than Mink.

References

1.         Ike B. the other Detroit restaurant, day after Christmas 2019. WordPress 1/13/20. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/01/13/the-other-detroit-restaurant-day-after-christmas-2019/

2.         Ike B. ‘squeat*!. WordPress 2/1/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/02/01/squeat/

3.         Welcome to Mink. https://www.minkdetroit.com/

more links

My Musing Through a Pandemic series is coming to a close with Volume V. On the Sidelines. Foodies!, a celebration of all that eating and drinking that sustained us.

As a service to those who might be reading the paperback, I’m offerring this link that will allow them to access any of the posts and the links therein. So here’s the TOC, each one “hot” and linked

Out

restaurants Jan 12, 2020

the other Detroit restaurant, day after Christmas 2019 Jan 13, 2020

from Ike to Mike: advice for a trip to Ann Arbor Jan 15, 2020

Cigar City Jan 24, 2020

ice at the US Grant Jan 29, 2020

dinner with the McCarthys Feb 1, 2020

empties Jun 6, 2020

‘squeat*! Feb 1, 2021

drink down Dunedin Mar 3, 2021

two triple cheese… Apr 17, 2021

eat Harold’s May 23, 2021

ARB-KAL Jun 29, 2021

mainly a beer run Jun 29, 2021

green new deal Nov 7, 2021

Blue LLama! Feb 14, 2022

land of enchantment Apr 11, 2022

drinking down the Spit Apr 12, 2022

Mink Apr 30, 2022

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