Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Electric Vehicle pros and cons

In May, after we got a really bad hail storm in Lakewood, I ended up buying a Nissan Leaf.  This is a 100% electric vehicle.  No gas.  No oil.  No rev or RPMs.  The only thing you put in this car is windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid and steering column fluid.  That's it.

This car is super fast and fun to drive.  My new favorite thing is to pull up next to a sports car at a red light and leave it in my dust when the light turns green.  If you think you have a car that can beat mine, let's set up a race!

I plug it in every other night or so, I can go 125-ish miles on one charge.  That's back and forth to work 2 days plus a few errands.  I recently calculated that the home electric bill went up about $15 a month.  People...that is less than a tank of gas was costing.  I'm saving over a hundred dollars a month in gas!

Because I have a good charger at home I don't have to rely on public charging stations very often.  When I do have to charge away from home there is usually some non-electric driving jerk who is parked in  the charging station parking space.  Those of us in the electric vehicle (EV) world refer to these people as ICE Holes.  Internal Combustible Engine, aka gas powered vehicles.  The charging infrastructure is growing but there are still limited places for us to charge our cars.  When we pull up to charge and there is a non EV parked there it is infuriating.

This happened to me yesterday and last week at the Whole Foods in Belmar.  There is a parking garage for the store and other businesses in the area.  The charging stations are close to where the office building doors are and the last two times some ICE Hole has been parked in one of those spaces.  Spaces that are clearly marked and painted bright green.  It's a parking garage!  There are hundreds of spaces, and in fact, the space directly across from the EV spot was empty!  Because the other charging spot was in use I had to get creative.

I drove around to the empty space and luckily the cable was long enough to reach my car so I could still plug in and charge.  Because this was the second time in two weeks I was furious.  Why are people so inconsiderate?  Would they park in a clearly marked handicapped spot?  Generally people are respectful and leave those spots for people who need them.

Last week the ICE Hole came out and got in her car and drove away as I was setting up to charge on the other side of the charging station.  I gave her a dirty look and that was it.

Now it's happened twice and I was pissed.  I stomped around.  I wanted to leave a nasty note.  I had no paper.  I rummaged through my purse and found the school supply list we used last weekend.  I ripped off a section and gave them a piece of my mind.

Then I stomped into Whole Foods to get my lunch.  I worried the whole time that the ICE Hole would key my car.  Would they know it was the EV across the way, the EV charging next to them, or someone totally different who just left the note and didn't charge.  Oh geez, what have I done?

I finished my lunch, went out to my car.  ICE Hole was gone.  My car was intact.  I had gained 8 miles in that 45 minute charging session.  All is well that ends well but next time, maybe I'll park directly behind the ICE Hole, pinning them in, and hook up the charger and leave.  See how they like that.

People, please don't park in the green EV spots unless you drive an EV.  Think about it this way, your car is on fumes, you pull into the gas station and there is an 18-wheeler at every pump, just parked, no driver in sight.  You wouldn't be able to fill up and you wouldn't be very happy about it.  Yesterday could have been an emergency, if I couldn't charge I may not have been able to get home.  Think twice before parking, if you wouldn't park in a blue space designated for ADA then don't park in a green space either.

If you are in the market for a new vehicle, I highly recommend going electric.  Lots of auto companies offer electric options so you can drive and compare.  Huge tax benefits, huge savings on gas and you get to drive a fun car.

Monday, July 24, 2017

My grandma is turning 100 years old this week.

Grandma Karrie was born in Kansas on July 28, 1917, right in the midst of WW1.  Her family was originally from Germany and at some point her father had done something iffy and they moved to the Volga region of Russia, now commonly known as Sochi, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2014.

Eventually her family made it to the United States and settled east of Greeley by way of Kansas.  When Grandma was young her mother died leaving her father with 8 kids.  So what did he do?  He went and married a woman with 8 kids of her own.  Of those 16 children, Grandma is the only one left.  I remember her telling stories about the family having to prepare meals twice each day because they didn't have enough pots, pans and dishes to feed everyone at once.

Grandma met her husband Jake and they got married and had 3 children of their own.  Betty, Jerry and Tommy.  They lived out on a farm and my dad used to tell stories about gathering the eggs and Uncle Jerry locking him in the hen house.  He also told stories about the mean turkey that would chase him around.

Some of the stories I remember him telling were about how much fun Grandma and Grandpa Jake used to have with their friends.  Grandma would laugh so hard telling stories from the past that tears would be rolling down her cheeks.

Mostly the stories I remember are about how tough Grandma was.  Growing up with 15 siblings isn't easy and there were always chores and work to be done.  Even when she was married the hard work didn't end.  She'd go out and kill a chicken for lunch to feed the workers on the farm.  During WW2 there were German prisoners of war held near Greeley.  Those POWs would work the nearby farms and people like my Grandma and her neighbors would cook enormous amounts of food to keep them fed.  Many of those POWs stayed around after the war and married some of the young women they met working on those farms.

When Grandpa Jake got sick they sold the farm and moved to town where Grandma nursed her husband until his death.

I don't know a lot about what happened after that but at some point she met Hank, who we called Poppie.  Grandma worked retail at the downtown Fashion Bar and then later at the Weld County Health Department.

Grandma and Poppie lived in various houses around Greeley but the one I remember most was south of Toddy's.  It had an apple tree and grandma was always making pies and apple sauce and apple butter with the apples from the tree.  Pretty much most Sundays we would end up at Grandma and Poppie's house for pie (she made peach too!).  Other times she would let us know that on Sunday she would be making "blina" which were these really thick, yeasty pancakes and were delicious.  It was a revolving door on Sunday mornings, Aunt Betty would be there with Renae and Amy, we would show up and my other cousins Tanya, Jeff and Jimmy would sometimes come over as well.

Grandma was the best cook.  She hosted many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and she and Aunt Betty and my dad would fight over the liver and other organs from the turkey--yuck.

We lost Aunt Betty and we lost Poppie.  Grandma moved to her current home and has lived there ever since.

One hundred years is a long life.  There have been 18 presidents since she was born.  She lived through two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Gulf War.  Women weren't allowed to vote when she was born.  Civil rights happened.  We had a black president.  Gay and lesbian people can get married.  Can you imagine?

The biggest thing is that technology has passed my Grandma by.  She never had a cell phone or a tablet or a computer.  She didn't have a DVR.  She didn't need those things, she lived an entire lifetime without needing them.  If she needed a recipe it was in the recipe box.  If she wanted to talk to someone she used the phone on the wall.  If she needed something at the store she drove there and bought it.

My grandma outlived two husbands and two of her three children.  She didn't always have an easy life but she has 7 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great great granddaughter who have brought her a lot of joy.  On Sunday we will all gather to celebrate 100 years of Caroline (Heberlein) Shearer and I hope it is the best day of her very long life.  Love you, Grandma!

PS:  She won't read this, remember, she doesn't have technology!