Car Buyer or Cult Member?

Am I having a midlife crisis? Or did I just join a cult? I’m way too old for either, but here we are.

I feel like I have done the car buying equivalent of bungee jumping, except I haven’t jumped YET. I’ve been strapped in, led to the edge, and am waiting to either jump or be pushed. My emotions keep swinging from exhilaration to terror. What have I done? The bigger question: Does every future Tesla owner go through this while awaiting delivery?

First, let me say that although I am still in shock that a car can cost almost as much as our first house, I didn’t buy one of the super expensive Teslas. And our little first house, bought decades ago, was in Ohio, a much cheaper area of the country. Still, for someone who views a car solely as a means of transportation, it’s a LOT of money, even for the Tesla 3, which is the least expensive model. (I DID spring for the mid priced 3–the one with the battery that lets you go a longer distance. The top of the line, the Performance 3 is DEFINITELY for those with a need for speed.)

So, how did this happen? How did a non-car aficionado end up ordering a cool set of wheels? Simple. My son guilted me. He took the number of miles that I drove last year plus the amount that I spent on gasoline, and converted it into how much carbon I released into the atmosphere. Not as much as most, because for the last 11 years, I’ve driven a Prius. Even so, he calculated that in 2019, I was responsible for one TON of emissions. He’s an electrical engineer, so the odds are good that his calculation was accurate. But then again, he knows I don’t have the skills needed to check his math.

He knows my vulnerabilities. I am passionate about protecting the environment. For years, I’ve carried a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags (including reusable produce bags). I recycle, reuse and refrain whenever I can to minimize my carbon footprint. Because I love to travel, I figure I need to do whatever I can to offset my the carbon from the flights I take.

I also really liked the Tesla’s safety features, such as blind spot monitoring, and assisted cruise control. For an additional $7,000, I could have had the self driving feature. I didn’t get it, and not just because of the cost. Quite honestly, when I tried it out, I was terrified. What is REALLY cool, however, is that all of Tesla’s model 3’s (built after 10/2016) have all of the sensors, cameras and radar needed for self driving already built in. Should I become comfortable enough to add that feature in the future, all I have to do is pay for it, then download the software via wifi. And that’s another cool thing: Tesla updates the software regularly, so once you own a Tesla, you benefit from the updates that flow over your wifi network. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse. Only time will tell.

But back to those safety features. Even if you don’t spring for the super duper self driving feature, you still get “auto pilot”. If you are like me, and get into your zen mode while listening to the radio, you know that sometimes your foot gets heavy and you lose track of space and time – or maybe just the speed at which you are traveling. Am I right? Auto Pilot KNOWS the speed limits of the road you are zipping along, and will limit you to a number that you choose ( like +5 MPH over the limit). You can override the limit, but usually my problem comes from going too fast, not too slow.

Anyway, I am 4 days away from picking up the car that I ordered 5 weeks ago. What have I done while waiting? I’ve been reading the manual. Mike has been busy too. He oversaw turning our garage into a charging station. His mission was accomplished today.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hanging out on the Tesla Message Boards. I wanted to find out things like, does it get hot in the car because of the glass roof? Approximately how far can you go on 1 Kilowatt of electricity? (And is it a Kilowatt or a Kilowatt hour? ) How much does it cost to use a Tesla Supercharger? Stuff like that. Instead I found posts like this one, chosen at random and cut and pasted:

I have a pair of Model S non-P caliper in my garage just for that purpose. However, I’m on the fence about it once I did more research. The big gain for the RB S caliper option is the increase thermal capacity of the larger and thicker rotor. On the other hand, the P3D pad is slightly larger than S pad. And there are already a number of track oriented pad on the market for P3D. Whereas the S pad is available in street pad only, the only other car that uses the same pad shape is Chevy Cruise econobox.

Did it scare me. You bet. Even though I am generally fluent in English, I had no bloody idea what that post was about! But then I realized that many of the Tesla buyers are engineers or car enthusiasts — most likely both. I am neither. I’ll stick to reading the manual. And keep my fingers crossed. Four more days, but who’s counting.

Small Town Love

Our family is like a little solar system.  At our center is our sun, my sister Sue, radiating warmth and love that sustains her six siblings, who, like planets, revolve around her.  Although she never had children of her own, she is a second mom (and now grand-mom) to satellite nieces, nephews, cousins’ and friends’ children.

Although four of the seven “kids”  have moved away, Sue, our sister Sandy and brother Tom have all  lived in the same area their entire lives, accumulating a glorious galaxy of friends.  (See how you think after being married to an astronomer for four decades?)

Recently, Tom’s daughter gave birth to premature twins.  Sadly, one died shortly after birth, but thanks to the wonderful medical team in Providence, his twin has grown from 1 pound 6 ounces to just under 4 pounds.

Modern medicine is truly amazing; it is also really, really expensive.  Even with insurance, the high deductible, coinsurance, and uncovered expenses all equate to huge bills, as any parent with a sick child can attest.  So, Sue decided to gather the troops to create a benefit dinner– “Pasta with a Purpose”.

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Just a small sample of the raffle items

Fortunately, Sue has a talent for choosing loyal and giving friends, that are just like her.  Sheila, an elementary school buddy, has worked in the restaurant business for years, and like our brother Tom, is an amazing chef.  Who expects benefit food to be good?  It was at THIS benefit, thanks to a team of cooks.

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But the real stroke of genius was making friends with Debbie, who like other elementary school teachers, is a force to be reckoned with.   Teachers know how to create something out of nothing, how to get the unruly to behave and how to keep calm in the midst of chaos, and how to make great displays.   Let’s hear it for the teachers!

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Within three weeks, family and friends had secured the Knights of Columbus hall,

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The “elves” worked hard to get this all set up and orgnized

gotten food and raffle donations,

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As the evening progressed, donations kept coming in– we were running out of space!

found a DJ,

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sold hundreds of tickets, enlisted student volunteers to serve food,

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These kids were “on it”, serving, clearing, and setting up for the next round of diners

and taken care of the hundreds of tiny details necessary to make the event a success.

And what a success it was!  All to help this little guy and his loving parents.

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With so much negativity and violence these days, it is heartening to see how people can come together to support each other in time of need.

Our family includes the normal mix of in-laws, out-laws, and sheep of all colors.  If you were to chart us — along economic, political, and religious lines, you’d find someone on just about any point in the spectrum.  But when it comes to things that really matter, that all gets put aside.  It is family and friends,  all the way.

So in addition to paying tribute to my amazing sister, Sue, this is a huge thank you to all you small town inhabitants with big hearts, who came out on November 5th to show the love for Haylie, Greg and Baby Spencer.  Forgive me for not mentioning or photographing all of you who did so much to make the day so special.   You know who you are, and so do we.

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Could this be the start of another lifelong friendship?

 

 

Citizens of Planet Earth

The first time I visited our nation’s capital was in 1970, when I hopped on a plane (another first) to join with hundreds of thousands protesting the Vietnam War.  My college roommate and I had no idea where we would be staying. and as typical college students, we had very little money, but somehow it all worked out.  Like Blanche DuBois, we depended on the kindness of strangers, and we weren’t disappointed.

Fast forward 47 years. Sadly, so many of the issues we THOUGHT were being addressed are still problematic. Though we recite the pledge of allegiance, we still have to work to make  “liberty and justice for ALL”  more than just empty words.  Surprisingly some of the truths that Tom Jefferson thought were “self evident”, today are not.

Yesterday,  Mike and I arose at 4:30 AM to board a bus for D.C. with 50 like minded citizens to participate in the People’s Climate March.  Spirits were high. On the drive down, Stacey, our efficient and amazing leader, reminded us of the rules of engagement established by the March organizers: No violence, verbal or physical toward anyone, be respectful  toward all people and property, look out for each other, pick up after ourselves.  Essentially, reminding us to behave the way we should every day.  Got it.

It was not surprising that this year’s march had a bit of a political bent to it, given our current president’s assault on the environment.

Isn’t it hard to believe that it is necessary to demonstrate for clean air, clean water and the preservation of our planet for future generations?  Who could possibly be against that?

Perhaps companies and innovators will view the masses of demonstrators as potential customers for their energy efficient products.  Perhaps our legislators will recognize that they have a constituent or two (or a few thousand) that cares about our beautiful country.  One can only hope.

I marvel that suddenly politicians are glorifying working in a coal mine.  Is it worth defiling our nation’s waterways to allow miners the opportunity to get black lung disease?  Loretta Lynn isn’t singing “Proud to be a coal miner’s grandmother”.   Full disclosure.  My knowledge of mining is limited to watching Loretta Lynn’s movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter”and reading the news, but I believe that miners are like the rest of us, wanting a good job, healthcare and a better life for their children.   I also have a sneaking suspicion that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell wouldn’t be thrilled to have THEIR offspring going down into the mines doing those jobs they are hell bent on preserving, but I digress.  Back to the march.

How wonderful to see all ages represented, from babies in strollers to seniors carrying pictures of their grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Despite there being marches throughout the country, many marchers traveled great distances to surround the white house.  We encountered travelers from Minnesota, Ohio and Iowa. Now that’s what I call commitment!

It was difficult to get a sense of the size of the crowd while we were in it.  Fortunately, photographers along the route were capturing images like this one ( grabbed from 350.org’s facebook page).  Despite a late start, and April temperatures that should have made believers out of any climate change deniers, the crowd was focused, disciplined, polite and spirited.   “This is what Democracy looks like” was a popular chant, as we made our way to the White House.

I offer photos from this inspiring day in the hope that you will join us, in whatever capacity you can, as we all continue to protect Pachamama (the name given to the earth, by the indigenous people of the Andes–a goddess indeed).  It isn’t a march, it’s a movement!  Remember–

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

   

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