#CO2Fre come Home

Last week I mentioned my struggles about eliminating the squeak from #CO2Fre. Then, of course, I was forced into a one-room cell as a hypochondriac put me into lockdown. On Sunday, I was released. I would say I finally had a clean bill of health but the truth is I was always healthy and just had to deal with irrationality. But that’s yesterday’s story and today I want to talk about how I wanted to finally pick up #CO2Fre… and couldn’t.

I got a ride to the Tyson’s Corner Service Center and used the Tesla app to find #CO2Fre. She was parked in the back, against the side of the building. I had to open it with my ancient iPhone 5S. We sanitized #CO2Fre and then my ride left. There was a large Tesla Model X in front of her. Much as I try to inch her out of the space, I can’t do it. I get within a couple centimeters of the car next to me only to have to give up as impossible.

Trapped #CO2Fre
#CO2Fre is trapped at the Tyco Blvd Tesla Dealership. Her service plan was agreed to, her repairs made, but she couldn’t escape the clutches of Tesla. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs.

I scanned the QR Code and indicated I was there for pickup. I also called Tesla and left a message. I told them I couldn’t move #CO2Fre and my key wasn’t inside. Then I asked my ride to return as I waited for the callback that never came. I figured it wouldn’t because it was Sunday, but then it never came on Monday either, so I was rather distressed.

Finally, I called them on Monday and they agreed to move #CO2Fre to an accessible area where I could pick her up Tuesday morning before opening. They also arranged where I could pick up the key. I just hope my ride wakes up in time. After all, she was also my jailer…

#CO2Fre Moved
#CO2Fre was moved on Monday to a location where she could be safely retrieved and finally come home.

Hopefully soon, I can get back to cruising on a cloud.

Nowhere to run?

This is going to be one of my hardest articles for me to write because it’s extremely personal. I covered this issue somewhat with my article about Sheltered in Place with a Domestic Abuser, but when you add in the paranoia of hypochondria, things get even darker. So, alas, I need to go deeper.

It’s also hard to justify my including myself in a post that is ostensibly categorized as Equal Right. After all, I am, quite frankly, not—nor could ever be—a cis-woman.

To be clear, when we talk about equal rights, we don’t mean that should apply to more men getting abused. Reducing abuse overall should be our goal. I do think, though, men are feeling more opened about admitting when something doesn’t feel right, when things go from simple disagreement to some of the hallmarks of abuse.

That said, I’m sad to say the majority of abuse is and probably always will be of the form men against women, and that’s why this type of abuse deserves the most coverage. That is indeed the main focus of a wonderful article by Sarah Fielding in The Guardian dated 3 April 2020: In quarantine with an abuser: surge in domestic violence reports linked to coronavirus.

One caller to a domestic violence hotline reported that her husband threatened to throw her out into the street if she coughed. Another reported they had been strangled by their partner, but feared going to the hospital because of the threat of coronavirus. An immunocompromised man from Pennsylvania called in after his emotionally abusive girlfriend began hiding cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer from him.

Fielding, Sarah. “In quarantine with an abuser: surge in domestic violence reports linked to coronavirus.” The Guardian 3 Apr. 2020: Online.

I am very happy Ms. Fielding was able to show, what I consider hypochondriac controlling abuse, isn’t only affecting women. I feel for both the women is tossed onto the street with a cough, and even more for the one who was strangled (way to social distance, m*th*r f*ck*r!). But that poor man being withheld from necessary sanitizing agents, that’s pretty tragic as well.

Advocates are concerned that this bleak reality has reached the United States, where experts say one in four women and one in seven men face physical violence by a partner at some point in their lifetimes.

Fielding, Sarah. “In quarantine with an abuser: surge in domestic violence reports linked to coronavirus.” The Guardian 3 Apr. 2020: Online.

Statistics tell the whole story. While one in four women are likely to be the victims of an abusive relationship, one in seven men are just as likely. So, while women make up the majority of victims, for every two women victims, there is at least one man.

Of course, some may find that hard to believe. How could a big, strong man be abused by a “feeble” woman? But that’s because the ways a woman might try to control or belittle or isolate a man, they are different than what a man might do to a woman. A woman typically won’t use violence against her man, though even if she did, many men are cultured to never raise their hand against a woman, even in self-defense. Many men eschew violence and would never use it to assert themselves. So, assuming a man can always prevent abuse because he’s bigger and stronger totally misses the point of what abuse is all about. Abuse is abuse, regardless of gender.

The crux of my point is that, if you combine a controlling partner, a partner who actively tries to isolate and belittle, with an abuser who is also a hypochondriac, you end of with a cough fit chucking you out on the street—or sequestered in a single room, hoping for some water, not allowed to exit confinement.

I write this from my spare room. I am prohibited from leaving this room because on Tuesday and Wednesday I had a runny nose and the bridge felt so tender, like it had been punched. I had no fever, and I know for a fact that these are not symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, but still I have been ordered not to leave this room, except to use the facilities. If I want something to eat or drink, I must make a request, and be at the whim of the hypochondriac. I may not be out of this room when the hypochondriac is around. And, even if I wanted to leave, #CO2Fre is still at the dealership, so I couldn’t go anywhere even if I wanted.

Nothing is, per se, forcing me to stay here, to be sure. But when you’re told to do something in such a commanding tone, it’s not worth trying to fight your prison sentence. I want to leave my cell, but I am afraid of the consequences if I do without consent. So, here I lie, on this bed, no free chair in the room, wishing to be free but not having the savings to make it so.

And neither do the women and men in Ms. Fielding’s article. That’s the rub.

Only, it’s not.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline will help. I posted this before but it bears repeating because this is such an important issue and needs to be published. Please, if you are in any danger, call or text the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. They will help.

1980x540-COVID19-POST_Website-Banner-2
The Domestic Abuse Hotline statement on SARS-CoV-2. They’re here to help. If you’re in trouble and afraid, please give them a call.

As for me, I was told I could get out of quarantine jail and retrieve #CO2Fre tomorrow. Then again, I was also told that yesterday…

Stay safe my lady—and gentlemen—friends!

A Virtual Tesla Meetup

Our esteemed leader Kevin Sadeghian of the Northern Virginia Tesla Owners Group, like all of us, misses our occasional Tesla meetups. The last time we met, I was late, without #CO2Fre, and had just voted, and so was a bit out of it, not even appearing in the group photo. That was just the start of the Week from Hell for me, which was the same weekend I got a $1,800 bill from Tesla and was at the whim of lackadaisical Uber drivers.

So Kevin, realizing we’re all at home, Sheltering in Place, created a virtual meetup. He took an empty parking lot, with a photo of his Tesla, and invited all of us to photoshop our Tesla in there with him, as if we were actually meeting. Starman, my good friend Mel‘s Tesla Roadster, #PascalTesla from my dear friend Margie Hunter, and many other members.

Unfortunately, because of the events from the Week from Hell. Fast forward to today and with the scare surrounding the Weather and Safety Leave, which I’m still not willing to talk about publicly, I was so afraid when I researched that last weekend that I would not be paid because of some documents I read on the Internet. I thus refused to add #CO2Fre to the photo, decrying that I was worried I would not be able to keep here if I was to go for months without pay on Weather and Safety Leave. I am still facing one week of unpaid leave due to the Week from Hell, bringing the total cost for that seven day nightmare close to $5,000 out of my pocket—not to mention my Hedge Fund has tanked to July 2017, initial levels after just making a $2,300 commission payment in December.

However, when the office confirmed I would be on paid leave, I figured I could in fact weather the storm. I would be bankrupt and #CO2Fre would doublessly be repossessed if one more tragedy befell me, but for now, I’m just okay. And so I put #CO2Fre right next to #PascalTesla.

Virtual Tesla Meetup
Here, #CO2Fre is parked next to #PascalTesla with #Starman and of course our wonderful leader Kevin’s ride and others. © 2020 Northern Virginia Tesla Owners

Vive la #CO2Fre! Until we cruise again!

Low Acid, Low Acid, my Kingdom for Low Acid!

I ordered some Low Acid Orange Juice from Safeway early on Saturday and was in giddy anticipation all weekend, despite some rather dastardly events that happened on Friday. But let’s not talk about that except to say I’m a wizard with Python and a very diligent worker.

I’ve been craving Low Acid Orange Juice since Covidapolis, and I could see the end in sight. Monday arrives and while I’m chatting on the phone, another call comes from the delivery bloke. I call him back when my call is over and I tell him I’m here to receive the groceries and he agrees to head back to my place.

Since I was in my garage—I miss #CO2Fre—I decided to go out and meet him at the door. Alas, he had only one bag. No Orange Juice! Only the sundry items I bought to get my order to the minimum size for delivery.

Then, I received this email:

Safeway Fail: No Low Acid Orange Juice
I ordered some Low Acid Orange Juice on Saturday, 21 March, 2020, as well as some other items to make the order large enough to qualify for delivery. I had to wait until Monday, 23 March, 2020 to get my delivery… and guess what? No Low Acid Orange Juice!

Needless to say, I am rather angry at Safeway. They didn’t charge me for the Orange Juice, but all I wanted was Low Acid Orange Juice. They totally wasted my time and money by delivering all but that. They should have told me when I ordered that it was out of stock.

I miss Orange Juice.

The March 2020 EVA/DC Meeting I never went to

Which is to say, I attended the EVA/DC meeting, but I did so virtually using Zoom. Overall, it was a lovely meeting with some great discussions. I ended up coming in about 15 minutes late but was able to give a summary of all the goings on in Richmond with the Virginia General Assembly.

We had some wonderful discussions about outreach, youth engagement, and updating our famous Info Sheet. We have many EAA chapters who adapt our sheet for their organization. I’m so proud of Doron Shalvi for that!

All in all, another wonderful meeting. Just sorry I accidentally messaged my favorite roller-coaster riding astronomer during the meeting. D’oh. And I’m just sorry #CO2Fre felt so left out!

Idle Electric Car
For the first time in a long time, I attended an EVA/DC meeting without my electric car. That’s because it was a virtual meeting I enjoyed while #CO2Fre sat idle. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Coloring through CSS

Someone mentioned some of the links were hard to see on my site because I was only changing the text color and not the link attributes. Now, this should be a lot easier to do because instead of coloring my text blocks manually, I will be coloring them with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Using the palet of CSS, I came up with a number of potential color schemes.

For Coder posts, I’m using this theme.

For Musical posts, I’m using this theme.

For Gaming posts, I’m using this theme.

For Speech Making posts, I’m using this theme.

For Author posts, I’m using this theme.

For Vegetarianism and Diet posts, I’m using this theme.

For Thespian posts, I’m using this theme.

For Science posts, I’m using this theme.

For Polyglot posts, I’m using this theme.

For Electric Car posts, I’m using this theme.

For Foreign Travel posts, I’m using this theme.

For Doctor Who posts, I’m using this theme.

For Aspiration Aviation posts, I’m using this theme.

For Equal Rights Amendment posts, I’m using this theme.

For Cosplay posts, I’m using this theme.

For NPVIC posts, I’m using this theme.

But what am I using this theme for?

With this template, I can check all the themes before they’re deployed to see how they look, at least in terms of text and hyperlinks. I will add CSS for Spoilers and other special text like #CO2Fre and #CO2Fre1, but for now this is what I’m working with. And I’m available for hire.

The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities

Because of the issues with #CO2Fre’s tyre, it only just finished this book in time for our meeting today.

I started this book right after finishing 18 Miles: The Epic Dreams of Our Atmosphere and Its Weather. Overall, I found the book a bit repetitive but it does bring up some interesting topics. I think the conclusion of we being born of both order and chaos is a nice ides given other books I’ve read that go into great detail on how unusual it is for biologic life to arise and how even more astronomical the odds are that a bacterium would take up residence in an archaea to make eukaryotes.

The survey of extrasolar planetary configurations was fun, however. I love the description of unusual systems like tight packing of planets, binary star systems, and life evolving on a Gas Giant moon. Although there are multiple ways a binary star system could have planets. For instance, one could have one star is a large (but not huge) one like our sun, and the other is a red dwarf, a bit larger than Jupiter, with the planet orbiting only the major star. But what Caleb Scharf seems to present is something more akin to two stars of relatively close mass orbiting one another tightly and a planet much farther out which orbits them both. In the later case, the idea that suns eclipse each other in regular cycles making the nature of a solar-centric universe much more amenable to budding intelligent life was a great and interesting flight of fancy that will help inform my better authorship of Science Fiction.

My main nit goes back to the first issue, though, with the mention of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in the prologue. I thought the author did better introducing astronomical elements than he did biological elements and it was in the biological sections in which I was bogged down.

I am happy though to concede that with the modified Drake equation: \(N = R_* \cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_i \cdot f_e \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L\) where,

  • \(R_*\): the average rate of star formation in a galaxy
  • \(f_p\): the fraction of those stars that have planets
  • \(n_e\): the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
  • \(f_i\): the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life (like bacteria or archaea) at some point
  • \(f_e\): the fraction of planets with life (like bacteria or archaea) that develop complex life (like eucaryotes)
  • \(f_i\): the fraction of planets with complex life (like eucaryotes) that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
  • \(f_c\): the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
  • \(L\): the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

We know \(R_*\) is about three percent more stars per year, and that \(f_p\) is often greater than one, perhaps an average of four in modern surveys. \(n_e\) is a little harder to determine as we generally define it as a goldilocks zone, but as the book points out, life with radically different chemistry could have a different universal solvent than water. Methane, CH₄, for instance. \(l_i\) is a harder one but it seems this may indeed be quite common in any planet large enough to have plate tectonics and a hot core. The harder question is if \(l_e\) is common or not. As we don’t exactly know how eucaryotes evolved or, more specifically, how such a symbiosis could evolve so stably without consuming it. Finally, \(f_i\), \(f_c\), and \(L\) are all based on how intelligent life evolves and sustain itself, which, again, we have only one data point and can’t draw any conclusions from that at all. The main point though is we are getting closer to answering the first five terms at least and all are looking, even \(f_e\), a bit like we are not alone.

One of the most interesting aspects, however, were the Zodiacal Light display. I never knew that was possible and now I definitely have it added to my Bucket List. It was fascinating to learn about all the planetary and extrasolar debris that just sits along the ecliptic plane. And I enjoyed the author’s discussions of the origin of our solar system and how it compares to the many other stellar systems possible.

Talking about how Copernicus made our universe more knowable by virtue of it being ordinary and nothing special was a great way of presenting the conundrum between Anthropocentrism and ubiquity implied by Copernicus. I think that is the most important conclusion: that we are both special and ubiquitous. That our journey to intelligent life was unique, but that there are many ways of for the universe to know itself, and we are only one of those ways.

The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities
The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities

Overall, the text could have been tighter and less repetitive but the overall conclusion seems sound. We are, indeed Unique and Ubiquitous. Now, on to, The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human

See you later, my friendly fellow sapiosexuals!

Custom Track Mode

When I got home from work yesterday, I was notified of software version for #CO2Fre from Tesla. Turns out, I was one of the first as TeslaFi, which informed me last night that TOS 2020.8.1 was detected in the wild in Florida. turns out, as I was getting a ribbon at yesterday’s event, #CO2Fre was just waiting for me to push the button to install 2020.8.1 on herself.

When the update came down, I was shocked, and melancholy. On the one hand, I always wanted to try Track Mode. Now, Track Mode is even customizable. You can configure different settings for how your Tesla performs based on the track you’ve taken her to. Awesome!

Track Mode Settings
It’s hard to see but the Handling Balance is a slider between front and rear wheel drive power, and the Stability Assist is a more or less graph. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

The problem derives from the simple fact that I can’t afford to go to a Track to test it. That’s to say, I probably could afford to go if I really wanted, but I’m just too lazy to find a good track that would be fun for me to ride in my Tesla. Also, I’d probably not want my Insurance to find out. But I so want to do it! I didn’t may $10,000 to maintain Performance Tyres on #CO2Fre for nothing, did I? Did I?!?!

What’s more, ever since my USB Stick stopped working in #CO2Fre, I’ve been worried about buying a replacement that won’t fail so quickly. Getting videos of my Track sessions would be icing on the cake, if only I could find the right drive.

DashCam for Laps
“When Save Dashcam for Laps is enabled, Track Mode stores a video of your driving session when using the Lap Timer in addition to the car’s telemetry data. Save Dashcam for Laps requires a supported USB drive plugged into your car. Please refer to the Owner’s Manual for USB Flash Drive requirements.” © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

All in all, I’m excited to try the new features out even if sad that I probably will have to wait and probably be forced to replace my Performance Tyres before I get the opportunity. Alas, and alack.

But a person can dream…

Persuasive Influencer: Level 1: Evaluation

Today I evaluated an absolutely wonderful fellow Toastmaster. Rick Halstead is no novice to Toastmasters, but today was his Ice Breaker. That’s because anyone in ToastMasters these days is now using the Pathways system to progress through their journey and Rick, though an old hand and excellent Toastmaster, had yet to start his Pathways journey. I was very honored to be his evaluator when he took this first step in a new direction.

I took an Uber to the meeting as I had leftover credits from Tesla and #CO2Fre needed an update, but I’ll write more about that tomorrow. It was close, but I arrived just on time. I was able to convey Rick’s wishes to make sure he didn’t embellish too much and advised him afterwards how you could use a little more embellishment to his advantage, including a summersault. But overall, Rick was very hard to evaluate as there was so little fault with his to all intents and purposes perfect speech. Spend most of my time in fact rattling off all the things he did right like dynamics and gestures and our shared love for New Zealand.

My friends Laura and Leigh-Ann were both stiff competition as wonderful evaluators today and I felt sure one of them would get the ribbon for best evaluation. But to my surprise…

Best Evaluator, March 2020
For the 5 March Meeting of Loudoun Toastmasters, I delivered an award-winning evaluation for my friend Rick Halstead. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

…it was in fact me! Wow! Thank you Loudoun Toastmasters!

Talk to you again in a fortnight my fellow orators!

The Hidden Costs of Owning a Tesla Performance

Well, I have the Autopilot Hardware Version 3 installed, that’s the good news.

I took my car in for a slow leak in my driver’s rear tyre last Thursday, also asking them to check the squeaky breaks and to rotate the tyres as I’ve not done that in a while. As mentioned before, I got a call to install the 3.0 version of the Hardware during the same visit. The whole thing would have cost $409.50, mainly because of the $234.00 brake inspection. They expected to be finished by Friday just before our Northern Virginia Tesla Owners meetup at Fuddruckers on Saturday.

Then I got text just before the car was supposed to be done telling me that the tyres were fine, but I needed new rims. New rims!?! I had no choice but to authorize it.

Today, my car should have been totally fixed and But they haven’t even got the rims in stock yet and it might not be before Thursday!

I look forward to when the car will finally be fixed and I won’t have need to order any more Ubers after my final drop-off at Tyco.The Uber may be covered by the Tesla Voucher, but I still have to pay the tips, and those range from $3–$11 per trip! At least, though, I don’t have to drive and every driver I’ve been with deserved his tip.

The thing is, though, those Aluminium rims are expensive. The tyres themselves aren’t cheap either, and in 41,877 miles of driving #CO2Fre, I’ve had to replace no less than 5 tyres and 7 rims for a total of $7,701.70 over the last 18 months!

Date of ServiceNumber of TyresNumber of RimsTotal Cost
2019-03-0401$807.90
2019-04-0822$2,336.60
2019-05-1011$1,168.30
2019-11-0411$1,178.90
2020-01-0310$426.00
2020-01-30(Patch Only)0$78.00
2020-03-0202$1,706.00
2020-03-3120$842.00
Total77$8,543.70

I have no original tyres and am almost on a complete set of second rims! Because I495, the Capital Beltway, is so prone to potholes, there’s, like 4,000 of them! And that doesn’t even include the fact that I have no original glass, be it windscreen, roof, or back. I’ve had to replace my roof twice, in fact, and the latest panel doesn’t even have the cool, reddish sheen.

But my point is this: the Performance Tyres are too expensive, especially for everyday driving. I can’t afford keep dropping nearly $8,000 every 18 months. I’ll have depleted my saving account before I can even pay off #CO2Fre.

It’s come to the point where I am seriously debating cutting my losses and getting some cheep, wide-profile tyres and just give up on my beloved Performance Tyres. If I do go to cheap tyres, I’d still like my Performance Tyres for the track, when, someday, I’m able to bring #CO2Fre to the track, but otherwise just use regular tyres. The thing is, I’d have no place to store the Performance Tyres when I’m not using them, never mind have nowhere to store them.

If I give up my Performance Tyres, I’m probably giving them up for good. $4,000 or more, down the drain, a sunk cost. I just don’t know. It’s a little over $425 per month in addition to the loan payments to maintain the Performance Tyres, and that’s more than I earn in the same period. I just can’t afford to keep them. But I don’t want to lose them either.

On the other hand, since the major expense is the rims, could I just get steal instead of aluminium so they don’t bend so easily? I don’t mind the slightly reduced range if I can save $5,125 a year in tyre and rim replacements!

What do I do?

Update 2020-04-01: As of 1 April 2020, the total cost has risen to $8,543.70 thanks to a follow-up to the 2 March service when #CO2Fre started to have a squeaking sound in its steering and breaking under humid conditions. The table above has been updated accordingly.