Category Archives: General

Into the breach once more…

BEWARE: Tesla post!

I promised a while back I’d try not to post so much about Tesla and the electric vehicles. It felt, to me anyway, that I’d written quite enough about my feelings regarding electric vehicles in general (I love the concept of EV cars and feel combustion engines are an environmentally dirty, very old concept that is way past its time to be replaced) and my Tesla 3 in particular (still loving it!).

The past few weeks for Tesla have been, to say the least, a roller coaster. Their stock prices have tanked for several weeks and those who are salivating at the prospect of Tesla floundering (or, perhaps more specifically, of Elon Musk failing) were ecstatic.

I know little about stocks, other than they go up and down, but I’ve heard of the so-called Tesla short-sellers, people whose investments are a bet the company will fail, and I’ve also read things Musk himself has written/said noting that Tesla and its cars are a direct threat to some very big industries.

Regarding the later, he’s quite right. If Tesla -or EV vehicles in general- become the norm, the several billion dollar auto industry and its many ancillary industries will change in drastic ways. Starting with the oil industry, there will be no great need for gasoline. I wouldn’t say gasoline will suddenly, completely disappear, but the fact is that a sizable portion of the sales will dry up.

Secondary markets will also be affected: Gas stations, oil changing companies (whether on gas station grounds or individual businesses), battery companies (those that create batteries for the gas powered cars), transmission fluid makers, parts manufacturers, etc. etc. etc.

Truly, if EV cars become the norm, which I strongly suspect will happen, many, many industries will be subverted. Many may well go under.

So there were those -investors, industry, Elon Musk haters, etc.- who were very happy to pile on to the company’s woes following a weak first quarter of sales.

The tables, though, seem to have turned. From Lauren Feiner at cnbc:

Tesla had its second best day this week following report its offering hefty incentives to reach high delivery

CNBC, a business reporting company, is, at least according to this article by Zachary Shahan at cleantechnica.com, not necessarily a reporting organization that offers many positives regarding Tesla…

40 Tesla headlines on CNBC in 2 days -31 negative, 2 positive

It’s tempting, as a fan of my Model 3 and EVs in general, to say the sudden about face and turn from negative to positive will mean from here on out things are going to be good.

Not so.

Just as we had a period of dark news and now we’re moving into positives, I suspect at some point in the near future there will be more negative news coming regarding Tesla and EVs.

I suppose the point is the old cliche of a marathon.

It’s a long race and Tesla may be, for the moment, ahead of the game when just a few days before they were falling behind and things looked very dark. This could very easily change in the near future.

We’ll see.

Sorry for the dearth of posts…

It seems to happen at least once (or twice) each year: There comes a period of time where I’m slammed with something or another and it’s simply impossible for me to post new entries here.

This time around, it was helping my eldest daughter move halfway across the country to her new job, which involved the wife and I driving to where she lived (4 hours), then helping her pack up while simultaneously renting a Suburban to hold her stuff/furniture, then 1 full day (8+ hours) of driving the Suburban (me) and her car (daughter and wife) to the halfway point, spending the night there, then another full day (8+ hours) of driving to her destination.

Once there, it was time to unload her belongings, go off to buy items she needed, get a lay of the land, return the Suburban (thank the Gods for car rental agencies which allow you to travel half-way across the country and then leave the car you rented with them there!), and, finally, take a flight (3 and 1/2 hours long!) back home on Sunday.

The later point, the flight back, really makes one appreciate how good it is to fly versus drive such long distances!

Still, once again it seems like I can’t catch a break: My youngest daughter, who remained at home caring for the pets while we helped the eldest daughter, told us the brand new AC unit I spent some very hard earned money on was making strange noises.

That night, Sunday, the wife and I heard the strange noises it was making upon starting up. Then, I noticed that it was blowing air but not cooling.

To say the least, I was beside myself.

The unit, not quite a month old, was failing?!

WTF?!?

After one hour of it simply blowing air and fearing the worst and very strangely, the AC unit was suddenly working and blowing cool air?

WTF Redux?!

While no expert in AC units, I’ve had plenty of experience with them and it was, to say the least, very weird that the unit a) was making this very weird noise and b) not cooling for approximately an hour before doing so.

On Monday I called the people who installed the unit and arranged for them to come see it. Thankfully, they came relatively quickly and I told them what we experienced. He was also bewildered.

He checked the Freon and machinery outside before moving inside. He said everything looked like it was good. Then, he realized the problem…

Image result for p-trap

What you see above is a “p-trap”. All sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and, yes, AC units have such things. The p-trap is used in the water exhaust of the above items. The point is the water comes down the tube on the left, hits the curved p-trap, and that speeds the water along to the right and out.

What the people who installed my brand new AC unit did was put a p-trap very near where the water comes out… and didn’t realize there was already another p-trap on the outside of the house and near the end of the exit line where the AC water is discharged into the lawn.

One can only have one p-trap per exit line. If you have two of them, the exhaust water gets trapped in the tubing between the p-traps and this can cause problems.

Like what I was experiencing with the AC unit.

Luckily, the fix was extremely easy: Remove the outside p-trap.

Whew.

Anyway, I’m still getting my legs back and am still very exhausted from the trip and the move.

I’m also very eager to get back to my writings, which I’ve understandably had to set aside for the past week.

We’ll be back to them.

As soon as today, later in the evening.

The Joys of AC

If you’ve been following the hilarious/high-cost events of my life these past days, you know that 1) I had to replace the entire east side water exit line because the cast iron pipes had corroded to the point where they were plugged up and 2) My central AC unit died.

Both things have cost me dearly -from a money standpoint!- and the bloodletting isn’t quite done. My east side yard is turned over dirt and rocks and will need to get a new layer of sod. The AC unit was finally replaced yesterday and not a moment too soon. The heat my family and I faced for the past two days and nights (really three with Friday, but at least that night there was still some residual cool air in the house) were bordering on unbearable.

Yeah, I know. First world problems and all.

Monday was really rough, having the AC folks there and seeing them slowly …sloooooowwwwwwlllllyyyyyy… take the old unit out and then put the new one in… It was so hot and I was so damn sweaty and at several points I was ready to jump out of my chair and tell them I’d help in any way possible to get this done quickly.

By around 4 P.M. they were finally done, though there was a moment of high tension when the main AC guy connected the wiring and my thermostat was reading that something wasn’t connected right. For five terror filled minutes I wondered if the new unit was somehow defective but, thank the Gods, it seemed all that happened was a couple of the wires he connected didn’t quite… connect.

When the AC started, I stood under one of the vents, hoping for a freezing blast. It didn’t come, not right away, but within a few minutes the blazing hot/humid air blowing out of the unit became colder and colder and, I knew, things were going to be OK.

I slept like the proverbial log last night and still feel exhausted today.

Now, to get the yard and that bathroom (the one part of the house that also had to get the exit line redone) fixed and the financial bloodletting will be done.

P.S.: Thanks to everyone out there buying and/or reading via Kindle Unlimited my Corrosive Knights novels. Ever since releasing the seventh and concluding novel in this series (though I can say with confidence there’s more stories to tell set in this wild universe!), I’ve been delighted by the steady stream of readers and I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you so much for making these last few months so damn enjoyable!

It almost makes up for the past week and a half! 😉

Now the Universe is just laughing at me… Part Deux

The AC “fix”, putting Freon into the machine, lasted a whooping two whole days before we were back at square one.

We called the company that “fixed” the unit and reamed them out.

Though I’m far, far from an AC “pro”, I’ve had enough experience with various household issues, electrical, plumbing, etc. to have some idea of what’s what. When the tech originally came, I told them that two days before we had the plumbing people over and I worried they had nicked a line and this caused the Freon to dissipate those two days later.

The guy didn’t think so but did conduct a cursory -but not full- search for the leak and was clearly in a hurry. Why? Because all through his visit, he was being called (at least three times) by his company because he needed to get to his next job(s).

So he added Freon to my machine and told me they would schedule a more in depth look into the leak possibility.

Welp, as I mentioned above, two days later, ie yesterday, we were back to the AC not cooling at all.

Furious, we called the AC company back this morning, they said they couldn’t come until Monday, we threatened to use another company and, not willing to lose us as long term customers, they sent over the same guy from the other day.

He looked around and this time found the leak.

That’s the only good news to come out of his second visit.

Our AC unit, he explained, has a leak in the coils in a place where it can’t be sealed. He showed it to me and… when you’re right you’re right. Normally, the outdoor unit which has the leak would be replaced but since my AC unit is old (15+ years) and therefore uses a different form of Freon (who knew?), there is today no company that makes the outdoor compressors that use that Freon and therefore that unit cannot be replaced.

The bottom line is the entire AC unit needs to be replaced which they will do on Monday.

In sum: 1) If this keeps up, I’m going to have to declare bankruptcy, and 2) I get to enjoy two more days of sweltering heat within my home!

Hurray!

Whatever it was I did to deserve all this must have been quite the whopper.

Now the universe is just laughing at me…

Yesterday I posted about my lovely plumbing problems so what happens that night?

My AC goes out.

Luckily, got someone to come in today and its working -and after spending a not so insignificant amount of money getting it repaired- and I can’t help but wonder if maybe the plumbing work (and ripping the east side of my house) somehow caused the AC failure, which amounted to losing the AC’s Freon.

Hey, universe, you’ve clobbered me twice in less than a week.

How about now giving me just a tiny little break?!

Just when you think everything is going great…

…that’s when you’ve got to watch out!

Yeah, things were going well for me. Work, home, family… it was all going well.

And then came this past weekend. One of the bathrooms had problems with the water going down. Water came out from the bottom/base of the toilet.

Uh oh.

So you call the plumber and they try a snake through the pipes and… they hit a wall somewhere within the pipes. We get a camera down there and… its bad.

Living in a home ‘round these parts made in the late 1950’s, that’s a worry because the exit lines in many of these structures are likely made of galvanized metal. It works, for a while, but inevitably you get a slow blockage developing over time and that appears to be where I was.

The fix? Redoing pretty much the whole exit line from that bathroom to the street and out into the city line.

Lot’s o’ mess, lot’s o’ money spent, and now I gotta redo that bathroom (to replace the old metal lines they had to open the floor and get down below it) plus have to get someone to also replace the grass along the entire side of the house. To put in the all new PVC pipes (which will apparently last 100 years or longer), the plumbers had to bring in an excavator and literally rip the whole side of the house up so they could lay down the new pipes.

Sheesh.

Fresh headaches -and smaller wallet- and more work to be done.

So much fun!

Oh, Canada…!

End of the week, decided to indulge myself with a little Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (their Hazelnut latte really hits the spot!).

In front of me in line was a road construction worker. I could tell because of his reflective safety jacket.

Anyway, he makes his order and it comes to $5.02.

He asks the lady at the counter if she could please round it down to $5.00 because he didn’t want to carry around 98 cents jingling in his pocket.

The lady at the counter didn’t know how to react to that. He had to repeat himself a couple of times before she understood what he was asking and, in that time, I pulled two cents from my pocket and offered it to her.

The road construction dude thanked me and repeated how annoying it would be to spend the workday with 98 cents jingle jangling in his pocket and I told him I could totally understand.

Now, I’m not posting this to show just how magnanimous a person I am. Rather, to point out the following, which some of you out there may not know:

In February of 2013 Canada officially did away with their pennies. They noted that it took 1.6 cents to make a 1 cent penny and therefore it was -obviously!- silly to keep making and using them.

The last time I visited Canada, stores still charged regularly for items.

However, if the total of your sale was, to pull a number completely randomly out of thin air, $5.02, you would be paying $5.00 for your item(s).

If, however, the total of your sale was $5.03 or $5.04, you’d be paying $5.05 for your sale.

In theory, this balances out sales to you over time.

While there will certainly be times you lose as well as “win”, it seems to me the Canadians are on to something.

Certainly that road worker wouldn’t have had to ask the cashier to please keep him from filling his pockets with change.

Tesla… one more time

Ok, promised I wouldn’t write about Tesla for a while…

…unless something interesting appeared worthy of talking about.

Over at jalopnik.com, Jennings Brown writes about:

Tesla autopilot malfunction caused crash that killed Apple engineer, lawsuit alleges

At the risk of giving away everything in the article, the family of Mr.
Walter Huang, an Apple engineer, filed a lawsuit against Tesla because Mr. Huang’s Tesla Model X, while on autopilot, crashed into a median wall and killed Mr. Huang.

The family, as the lawsuit alleges, feel Tesla’s autopilot feature is to blame for Mr. Huang’s death.

Reading the article, one feels a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Huang’s family. It is indeed a tragedy whenever anyone dies, whether by natural causes or accident. Worse yet if, as the lawsuit alleges, by a malfunction of a product.

However, one line in the article I found very interesting (the bold lettering was added by me):

In a blog post published a week after the crash, Tesla said that the car gave Huang one audible alert and several visual alerts throughout his drive that morning, and the car detected that his hands were not on the wheel for the six seconds leading up to the wreck. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken,” the blog states.

As I’ve mentioned before (and it must get boring or bordering on bragging on my part by now!), I recently purchased a Tesla Model 3. I’m absolutely delighted with the car. I have been experimenting with the auto-pilot feature and find it absolutely terrific.

However, I realized rather quickly the auto-pilot feature, as wonderful as it was, was not a full self-driving feature.

There is a difference.

The auto-pilot is effectively a better version of cruise control. It drives the car by following road signs and cars around you and, especially, in front of you.

But it is far from infallible.

If the road lines are too faded or not there, the car will lose track of the road. If you are not behind another vehicle when approaching a red light, the car will cross the intersection as it does not at this point “read” lights or stop signs.

In the case of Mr. Huang, I suspect (and this is all it is, a suspicion) that he either dozed off or had some kind of problem which prevented him from realizing the situation he was in.

While it may not seem like much time, not having your hand on the steering where for six seconds before the crash is an awful long time. Don’t believe me? Count down six seconds: One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…

In that time and had he been paying attention, Mr. Huang should have seen the dangerous situation he was in.

When I’ve used the auto-pilot feature, there have been times the car has lost track of the road and I’ve had to take sudden control. It is quite easy to do so, by the way. Tap on the brake, turn the steering wheel. You instantly regain control over your car. Further, the car makes a very loud noise to alert you if the autopilot feature is experiencing difficulty.

But most important is that you have to anticipate where potential problems may lie, especially when using the feature. Curvy roads. Upcoming road-work. Pedestrians. Other cars around you that may try to merge into your lane.

You need to pay attention to all those things. Just because you’re in an “autopilot” mode doesn’t mean you can doze off or no longer pay attention.

Again, I have a great deal of sympathy to the family of Mr. Huang. I can’t imagine the agony they’re going through having lost him.

But I wonder if maybe, just maybe, the fault more lies in his inattention moments before the wreck rather than Tesla’s autopilot.

We’re killing ourselves…

Found this very depressing, IMHO, article by Jack Guy over at CNN.com…

Scientists find cocaine in UK shrimp

Its long been clear that we’re doing great damage to the environment. Whether it be clearing forests or polluting the air and water, humans are, sadly, very destructive creatures.

The above article shows how we affect creatures around us. In this case, we’re talking about freshwater shrimp found in 15 different sites in the UK county of Suffolk.

The counties are rural and the fact that these shrimp show signs of cocaine -and banned pesticides- in their system proves, as I said before, how what we humans do affect the environment -and its creatures- around us.

How very sad.

News of the weird…

Growing up in the 1970’s and early 80’s was an odd experience. There was incredible intrigue around the notion of “unexplained” mysteries. You had popular books like…

Chariots Of The Gods.jpg

Which theorized aliens visited Earth in ancient times and built all kinds of things those primitive humans simply could not.

There were plenty of other mysteries out there to explore. How about…

Related image

…or perhaps UFOs? How about Bigfoot? Or the very mysterious fate of hijacker D.B. Cooper?

Image result for d.b. cooper

Yes indeed, a weird, entertaining time to be an armchair detective, sorting through the half-truths presented in various books/magazines and, yes, even TV shows hosted by… Leonard Nimoy?!

Yeah, a fun time to be around, even if many of these purported mysteries were likely far less mysterious than the presenters would have us know.

Welp, now and again certain “mysteries” bubble up. Some are relatively new (the chupacabra!).

With great amusement I found this article by Julia Hollingsworth and found on CNN.com concerning…

“Yeti” footprints sighted claims Indian Army tweet

I can see the upcoming documentary now…

😉