The Hourlings Podcast—Episode 5: Happy Hour

For fun, we decided to make our fifth episode about chewing the fat and spinning some yarns about what we write and how we get our ideas. Then again, maybe that sounded pretentious. After all, here I am talking about how I love #CO2Fre, my Tesla #P三D. But then, what folks don’t know I spent over a decade writing about electric cars on the Affordable Electric Car NOW site. I struggled and even had to quit my job to afford the car I drive now. It was through a lot of pain and suffering that gave me the chance to drive my dream car—or, more to the point, have my dream car drive me.

Of course, that’s all non-fiction, and these days I prefer to write fiction. Indeed, I’ve been writing published fiction since 2013, and I have so much more left to write.

Another Finely Structured meeting, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, have a drink with us, be it beer, whine, spirits, tea, or just plain Hydrogen Hydroxide, also known as water. Stay thirsty my friends and see you next week.

My Statement to the Virginia DMME

Today is the last day you can leave comments for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy with respect to an electric car rebate for both new and used Electric Vehicles. If you do wish to leave comments, please try to watch the video attached to the comments form.

For the record, here is my testimony:

Thank you Delegate Reid for proposing HB717. I am sorry it’s taken so long for me to add my testimony but what I want to say is to add, as I said in my committee testimony, that providing Rebates on new and used Electric Cars has long-term CO₂ benefits. Considering first when someone is interested in buying their first vehicle. If we put a rebate on that first vehicle, new or used, then the buyer will be more inclined to stick with electric for the second, third, and fourth car. What’s more, it makes her family more likely to continue the tradition of an electric car family.

Secondly, some of the most polluting vehicles in our Commonwealth are owned by those Virginians of lesser means. The problem for them is that electric cars are too expensive, even used electrics. We need a rebate that puts the $5,000 LEAF into the hands of those folks who now drive the most polluting ICE vehicles of all. This would give us the biggest bang for the buck. They are also usually the least fuel efficient vehicles, and thus moving them to use fuel generated right here in the Commonwealth would greatly reduce our local fuel imports.

That is why we need a rebate of the maximum amount for both the cheapest of vehicles and for first time car buyers.

This is also why it must be a Rebate at the dealership. It shouldn’t be like Maryland where the application is submitted and the buyer has to wait for money allocated in the General Fund. The Virginia bill should be based on a fuel tax, in this case, I think a tax should be passed on all coal and natural gas (CH₄, methane) plants which generate power for the electric car. That would have the dual benefit of pushing Dominion to move more of its generation to renewable. Since electric cars will be generating more revenue for the Power Utilities, using a tax on Dominion to pay for more revenue for Dominion seems very apropos. What’s more, this will get us out of the trap of waiting for more money from the General Fund when many used vehicle drivers can’t afford to wait that long. Indeed, ideally, if the dealership could apply the rebate and then file it with the Commonwealth to be reimbursed, then this would be idea for first time electric car buyers. If that can’t be done, having the dealership file the paperwork and send the check to the buyer would be acceptable.

Beyond that, please consider not the MSRP of a vehicle when setting the cap on the Rebate, but rather the value used to generate property tax. None of the feature add-ons like Tesla Autopilot should put a vehicle outside of the price cap. AutoPilot is a feature that makes electric cars safer, and pricing it out of the rebate could result in fewer cars with that feature and thus less safe vehicles.

I think the Maryland cap of $60,000 is good for Virginia as we are similar states. I would also accept $50,000, which is still available to the base model Tesla if Autopilot is ignored. But the top of the cap should be graded, such that, if the cap is $50,000, a $49,000 vehicle gets a maximum of $1,000, a $48,000 gets $2,000 max, until the price goes down to a point where the full cap can be realized. That would alleviate any shock by the price going up astronomically at $50,001.

As for how to scale the rebate, I would like our goal to be based on the total number of vehicle registrations in the Commonwealth. Ideally, we should target total registrations, like 1% of all vehicles registered in Virginia be the goal for full funding, and 2% of all registrations be 66% of the rebate, and 3% of all registrations grant 33% of the rebate. I don’t think those are necessarily the best drawdown numbers, but I think the drawdown should be in those terms.

Finally, as I said, first and cheapest cars should get the biggest rebate, regardless. But for vehicles not in those categories, that still fall under the price caps, I’d like a sliding scale based on the battery pack size. Any battery rated at least 10kWh or more would qualify for the full rebate, but each kWh less removes 10% from the rebate. Thus, a 5kWh battery gets 50% of the rebate.

Thank you for reading my comments and I look forward to the final report.

Testimony by Jeffrey C. Jacobs to the Virginia DMME

I’m quite fond of the sliding scales in terms of tapering rather than full cutoff for the rebate and the reduced payout for smaller electric car batteries. I didn’t mention the poverty rate and left it vague in those terms, letting others fill in those details. I also spelled Delegate Reid’s name incorrectly, though it is fixed here.

The DMME plans to have its final report ready around October so it’ll be interesting if they incorporate any of my ideas into the final bill. I wish I could have attended the original public session but the news got to me too late. This is all I could do.

I miss cruising upon a cloud these days, but I hope this passes so more can enjoy the pleasure!

Jeffrey’s Jammin Birthday Bash

Join me to find out how I like my new job, the exciting plans I have for the upcoming year, and so I can give a personal thanks for your personal friendship!

Please note, the official start time is 20:00 because I want to make sure not to start it before I finish my first full day of work at the new job. If I finish sooner, I will open the room earlier. This is, after all, an exciting time for me. My first new job in 18 years, and the first of four steps on the route to make me a better man, and much, much happier!

This event is opened to everyone who claims to know me! All of my software colleagues, all of my fellow authors, fellow science readers, fellow Doctor Who fans, fellow cosplayers, fellow Electric Car drivers and enthusiasts, all of my Equal Rights Amendment sisters and brothers in arms, all of my National Popular Vote Interstate Compact supporters, all of my avid gaming friends, all of my friends abroad except those in Europe—have your kip, mates—all of my fellow Toastmasters, all of my fellow aviators, all of my fellow musicians, tous mes amis qui parle français oder Deutsch или по-русский o italiano, my acting friends and my friends who eschew meat!

The only thing I ask is you be respectful, kind, and know that I hope you all consider any friend of mine a potential friend of yours!

There is a password to this event. It’s not hard to guess if you know me but if you want to know, and you are reading this on from Twitter, message me, on Tumblr, message me, on LinkedIn, again, message me, or join me via the Facebook event. Or, just comment on this blog, with your email address, and I will mail it to you.

See you all next Wednesday!

Meeting does not exist: 83969414860.

18 Years and thanks for all the Fleets

Today I tendered my official resignation with the Naval Research Laboratory. I worked at the Laboratory for 18 years, under three Presidents and many Congresses. In that time, I pushed for at work EV Charging in the FAST Act, I started the NRL EV Group (link accessible within NRL), I sang with Polly and the Saccharides (no link available), and I even gave some Toastmasters speeches (NRL Link).

I very much enjoyed my time there and really am sad to go but I have been having so many problems paying for #CO2Fre and its maintenance that I have no choice but to accept a new job in the private sector. My only other solace—besides finally getting to write code again—is that I can finally use a part of my McGill degree that I’ve not been able to exercise beyond writing fiction.

Thus, it’s not so much an end, but a new beginning. And who knows what the future may bring! After all, I would like to return to Federal Service on day and accrue at least two more years to get my FERS to 1.1%. The only thing for sure is I’m a lot less available as a coder now.

Tesla OS 2020.16.2.1

Finally!

TeslaFi had been spamming me with news about TeslaOS 2020.16 for a while and I’ve been itching to see what, after giving us the amazing stop at a stop sign in the last minor update.

Turns out, not much. I am mostly unimpressed by Tesla with this update, though nonetheless very appreciative. Autoformatting a DashCam drive—I wonder if it supports 2TB yet—and a better layout for Easter Eggs are, after all, improvements, even if the Easter Eggs aren’t really hidden gems anymore.

The coolest new feature, though, is the new SuperCharger filter, allowing the driver to only see Version 3 stations and filter out all the slower ones. I love the fact that I have free, lifetime SuperCharging, and one of these days, I’m gonna cross the continents with that perk.

Overall, I’m not disappointed despite being underwhelmed. And one rumor is that this, or a soon to be released version will add V2G to the Tesla. I can’t wait until that rolls out as the Tesla Battery Pack may make for a new, mobile Powerwall. Mind you, even if #CO2Fre could do V2G, my house isn’t equipped for it anyway. So, even if it doesn’t have V2G, it’s still a cool update!

Tesla OS 2020.16.2.1
Tesla OS 2020.16.2.1 adds a new toy box interface, a SuperCharger filter, and auto-formatting of DashCam media. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Gentle reader, if you have been keeping up with me since 11 February of this year, you know that I have been posting once a day since then. As such, today marks a hundred days of a hundred daily posting. Through that, I’ve shared with you exciting electric car news, updated to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, my struggles to get the Equal Rights Amendment to be our Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, written about my many works of fiction, and the many books of nonfiction I voraciously read to be a better scientist. I’ve shared with you my cosplay adventures, and my love of Doctor Who, my love of games, and a bit of my speaking in tongues as well as delivering speeches and singing to my heart’s content. I’ve talked about international travel and how I love to fly there in my own plane, discussed my acting and my dietary needs. And most of all I’ve told you I’m an excellent coder who is always keen for new work. Thanks for riding with me as we cruise upon the cloud to another one hundred posts!

What it costs to NOT run #CO2Fre

During the entire month of April, I only went for a drive a few times. Once was for my Earth Day demonstration. On that day, according to TeslaFi, I drove 6.01 mi / 9.67 km, using 2.64 kWh and reducing #CO2Fre‘s range by 11.11 mi / 17.88 km.

The other drives were when I took #CO2Fre to the Tyson’s Corner Service Center to have them investigate a squeaking sound when I turn in the rain on Tuesday, 31 March. I dropped of #CO2Fre and couldn’t pick her up for a week, which is why #CO2Fre didn’t charge from 1–7 April. The drive there took 12.32 mi / 19.83 km and used 3.14 kW. On Wednesday, 1 April, the service people test drove #CO2Fre for 6.00 miles / 9.66 km, using another 1.72 kWh. I could finally pick up #CO2Fre on Tuesday, 7 April, and burned another 2.74 kWh on the 10.84 mi / 17.45 km trip home.

Other than that, I didn’t drive anywhere and apart from testing, and testing, and testing my DashCam, I didn’t even approach #CO2Fre.

What’s more interesting is the amount of vampire power #CO2Fre uses. For the entire month of April, which is to say 23 March–22 April, which is my billing cycle, I used 39 kWh of electricity. Since the driving only used 10.24 kWh, at least 28 kWh was burned in idle usage and the occasional climate control.

Though this may seem mysterious, I do know exactly where and when #CO2Fre is drawing current thanks to Dominion’s smart meter. I have over ten years of data, in thirty minute increments, collected in a Google Spreadsheet.

Day01:0001:3002:0002:3003:0003:3004:0004:3005:0005:3006:0006:30Super-Off PeakOff-PeakOn Peak
Mon 23 Mar0.30.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.30.00.0
Tue 24 Mar0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Wed 25 Mar0.02.60.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.02.60.00.0
Thu 26 Mar0.30.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.30.00.0
Fri 27 Mar0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00,20.00.0
Sat 28 Mar0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Sun 29 Mar0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Mon 30 Mar0.50.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.50.00.0
Tue 31 Mar0.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Wed 1 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Thu 2 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Fri 3 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Sat 4 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Sun 5 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Mon 6 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Tue 7 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Wed 8 Apr5.75.84.60.00.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.016.30.00.0
Thu 9 Apr0.60.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.60.00.0
Fri 10 Apr0.50.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.50.00.0
Sat 11 Apr0.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Sun 12 Apr0.00.20.00.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Mon 13 Apr0.00.20.00.00.20.00.00.20.00.00.20.00.60.00.2
Tue 14 Apr0.40.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Wed 15 Apr0.40.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Thu 16 Apr0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Fri 17 Apr0.80.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.80.00.0
Sat 18 Apr0.40.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Sun 19 Apr5.72.20.00.20.00.20.00.20.00.20.00.28.50.20.2
Mon 20 Apr3.10.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.03.10.00.0
Tue 21 Apr2.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.02.00.00.0
Table 1: Time-Of-Use Data for the month of April 2020

However, even with this low fuel usage, I still get a bill every month from Dominion Virginia Power. This is because, even if I used no electricity, I have to pay Dominion for my Time-Of-Use Smart-Meter. This allows me to charge between 01–05 in the morning for dirt cheap electricity. The base rate for this service, in a two meter household, is $2.73, so my fuel always costs at least that, even if I don’t use any electricity.

The final tally was for all that was $5.42 for just 35.17 mi / 56.60 km of driving.

I hope to spend more kWh cruising upon a cloud again soon.

Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1

Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1

As I went to bed last night, I decided to check #CO2Fre to see if there were any Tesla Operating System Updates. TeslaFi sends me emails when a new TeslaOS is found in the wild, so I had a feeling I might be due for another update. I was not disappointed. Just before bed, I set #CO2Fre to update. After the update finished, I had Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1, and the 01:00 charge began.

I was eager to see what the new TeslaOS would bring. Alas, technically, it was nothing new. I’m guessing it may be internal improvements to Stop at Stop Signs, but since I can’t test that—or the DashCam viewer, it’s kind of moot. Nonetheless, pretty cool to get a new TeslaOS.

Stop at Stop Signs
This is the same message from Tesla OS 2020.12.5 and it’s unchanged in 2020.12.11.1. Still, can’t wait to try out the automatic stopping at stop signs and stop lights. © 2020 Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Overall, I was happy with the update and I want to share a screen capture of the release notes, even if they’re unchanged. I then wanted to share version number page just to confirm I was upgraded. I didn’t think much of it but then I was startled by a field I hadn’t noticed.

Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1
New Tesla Software, version 2020.12.11.1. The release notes are unchanged. Note though, the Premium Connectivity! Yes, I purchased #CO2Fre in Bergen, Norway, on the tram, at 10:59 AM 24 May 2018, meaning I have Premium Connectivity for Life! © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

I never noticed before that I also had the Premium Connectivity package. I was unsure what that was, so I looked it up. And that’s when I was astounded.

You see, I purchased #CO2Fre in Bergen, Norway. I was on holiday and was checking my email as I was waiting for the Cable Car to the top of the Ulriken. I had delayed ordering #CO2Fre despite getting the option in April, because I wanted all-wheel drive. So, that morning, I spotted an email from 01:48:06 local time, which was 16:48:06 Pacific Daylight Time, and, nine hours later, I was seeing it.

I didn’t hesitate. I clicked the button to order and elected every premium option. I waited this long, I wanted #CO2Fre to be fully loaded. When I was finished, it was 10:59:16 local time, or 01:59.16 Pacific Daylight, Thursday, 24 May. Ironically, I ordered the car, in a sense, minutes after receiving it when adjusted for time zone.

In any case, the point is I ordered #CO2Fre before 30 June, 2018, meaning, it seems, I qualify for Lifetime Premium Connectivity.

That’s awesome, as that means I can watch as much Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and RiffTrax as I like on Twitch, ready for anytime I’m stuck at a Free V3 SuperCharger. And when I’m done with filling up on lifetime complementary fuel, I can get back to cruising on the cloud.

Grand Moff Tarkin admiring #CO2Fre

May the Fourth be with you, 2020

In this era of lockdowns, thanks to SARS-CoV-2, it feels like we can get a little stir crazy. Try to stay sane my friends and maybe go for a walk. But if you do go out, do it in style. It is, after all, May the Fourth and you know what that means?

Grand Moff Tarkin admiring #CO2Fre
“I wonder if this may be of use to the Empire” Grand Moff Tarkin admiring #CO2Fre. May the Fourth Be With You. © 2019, Donald B. Holmes

Thank you Don for taking this wonderful photo of my Grand Moff Tarkin cosplay. This so makes me want to cruise on the cloud again.

May the Fourth be with you my friends—or let it be crushed by the Empire!

Bessie with #CO2Fre

Twice the Electric Car Fun

Today, I attended two, virtual Electric Car events. First, my friend Mark Czajka hosted the first MDVolt virtual meetup. We met Tom Moloughney from InsideEVs. Unfortunately, I was multitasking though this meeting as I also host the Loudoun County Writers Group (LCWG) on Saturday mornings. Normally, I would skip my writing group on Saturdays for one of Mark’s MDVolt events, but this time, I could cheat and attend both, because they were both virtual.

I haven’t spoken much about the Mini-E — so far only in my EVSE installation post — but this car has been on my mind a long, long time.  When the leases were announced for 2009, I jumped on the chance to get one of the 500 East Coast orders.  But alas, my region wasn’t one of the privileged ones, so there was no Mini-E for me.  On the bright side, at least I saved over $800 per month for the last 2 years!

Two Years and 119 Cars! (Today)

I’m so jealous Tom got one of those Mini-Es. I was very desperate to get one back in 2011, when I wrote about it on the Affordable Electric Car Now site, as you can see from the quote above. Tom and I have both been writing about electric cars since 2009 so it’s nice to hear from a kindred spirit. One of these days, I hope he invites me to one of his barbeques.

It was also wonderful seeing my friend dear friend Vanessa Thomas at Mark’s event. She was nice enough to come to my virtual demonstration of #CO2Fre and it was wonderful seeing her here, even if it was hard to see anyone on my tiny phone—LCWG got the computer. Fortunately, Mark uploaded to YouTube, so I could finally the event and focus fully on the content. Check me out in the Pinball video.

Pity I couldn’t show off Bessie with #CO2Fre.

Bessie with #CO2Fre
Picture is #CO2Fre with the Doctor’s car, Bessie © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Mark and I agreed we’d not embed the video here, but if you’d like to watch it, you can find it here.

Electric Car Event Number 2

Then, in the afternoon, my friend Charles Gerena from Drive Electric RVA hosted an event with Phil Englander at Hart Nissan in Mechanicsville. Phil gave a great walk-through of the latest Nissan LEAF. Great presentation, Phil and great seeing you again Vanessa. She and I were the only people to join both events!

Phil Englander at Hart Nissan in Mechanicsville walks us through the newest iteration of the Nissan LEAF, which has been sold globally since 2010.

Posted by Drive Electric RVA on Saturday, May 2, 2020

So nice to talk about electric cars since it’s been far too long for me since I was able to cruise on the cloud.