All posts by EdwardM

Transportation: One-third of cars sold in U.S. no longer carry a spare tire

One third of cars sold in the U.S. no longer include a spare tire. Instead, they provide a limited puncture/sealant kit and a 12 volt air compressor. “Sealants” are convenient but extremely expensive to replace. Third party puncture kits are good for fixing a nail or screw puncture and the tire can be sequently repaired properly in a tire shop.

AAA notes that these kits only work for selected situations, and won’t work for big punctures, side wall problems, blow outs, or failed air valves. For that the manufacturers expect you to call for roadside assistance.

Which is great for AAA and insurance companies to sell you roadside assistance solutions.

Where you have cell phone service.

If you do not have cell phone service, you are stuck in the middle of no where until someone happens to come by and help you out. I’ve had 2 tire blow outs and one valve stem failure – but I had actual spare tires. I’ve driven in off road locations where it is even recommended that you carry two spare tires.

Continue reading Transportation: One-third of cars sold in U.S. no longer carry a spare tire

Transportation: Other than Tesla, EV sales not doing well

EV sales have actually gone down year over year. And sales have gone well primarily where government offer deep discounts through subsidies.

Source: EV Sales Fizzle

The article blames cost, range anxiety, style and gas prices are low. A related issue, that I do not understand, is that auto makers, especially in the U.S. have abandoned the small vehicle market – they only make trucks and SUVs. Supposedly, few people in the U.S. want to buy small, fuel efficient, less expensive vehicles.

Not surprisingly, US auto manufacturers are planning a lot of very expensive, very big, SUV-type EVs in 2020.

Continue reading Transportation: Other than Tesla, EV sales not doing well

Transportation: Tesla cars do not have a spare tire

No spare tire. No jack. No lug nut removal tools.

Most drivers are expected to call for Tesla Roadside Assistance. A few, I see, carry tire puncture repair kits and/or sealant, and a small air compressor, to potentially make a tire functional and drivable until the puncture is properly repaired. And that may work for simple punctures.

Tesla’s expectation is you’ll call for help and they’ll send a truck out to lift you on a flatbed to a repair center, or send a truck out with a jack and new tire – the environmentally inefficient way to get a spare! And Tesla, apparently, does not repair flat tires – they replace the entire wheel, which can cost up to $800 or more, according to some online posts (if you do not have a service/warranty policy in effect). It does appear that tire shops might be able to do the repairs for you at lower cost.

What if you have a tire blow out, or a valve stem failure (both have happened to me) – and you are in the middle of no where? What if this happens where you have no cell phone service? Puncture repair kits are useless for these situations.

Being in the middle of no where without cell phone service is common in the mountainous west. 50 minutes traveling on the state highway to my west we then lose cell phone service for about an hour of travel. Headed east, there’s almost no service for 100 miles, then service in one small town area, then no service for another 75 miles.

Continue reading Transportation: Tesla cars do not have a spare tire

Energy: Global prices for electricity

Page down the chart – prices range from 1 cent to 41 cents per kilowatt hour.

Source: Electricity prices, June 2019 | GlobalPetrolPrices.com

The U.S. has an average price of 15 c/KWH. Where I live its about 10 c/KWH but there is a separate monthly charge for the power company’s infrastructure including distribution networks. That makes sense because when you have solar PV net metering (like us), we pay for the distribution network in the fixed part of the monthly fee, and they pay us for excess power production and we pay them when we do not produce enough.

Lower costs, presumably, make access to electric vehicles more compelling.

Personal finance: “FIRE” doesn’t really mean “retire early”

True:

In truth, “FIRE” should be “FICC” for “financial independence change careers.”

Source: What I learned about the FIRE movement while making a doc about it

I have followed several “FIRE” blogs from people who save aggressively (generally a good thing) and “retire” at 30 or 40. I admire them for practicing frugality (something we have practiced too). I am now retired, albeit, at the age when many people have retired (old dude, ok?)

I too noticed that most FIRE practitioners did not retire, exactly, but often took advantage of their near financial independence to work independently, on their own schedule – instead of the usual corporate rat race. That’s not  bad thing either – in fact, it sounds like a great opportunity for many!

But there are some hidden “gotcha” expenses that may be lurking for FIRE adherents in the near future …

Continue reading Personal finance: “FIRE” doesn’t really mean “retire early”

Climate: Eating vegetarian has little impact on your household carbon emissions

In spite of popular claims that eating vegetarian offers a dramatic reduction on your personal carbon emissions , the actual reduction is about 2%. Which means it is one of the last places you should focus your attention, in terms of having a meaningful impact.

I run a separate blog called Social Panic, focusing on how propaganda messaging influences our thinking. One trick to combat propaganda messaging is to practice what the late Dr. Hans Rosling calls “Factfulness”.  That means, basically, verifying what you are told. As he learned, almost everything the general public thinks they know, is actually wrong! (Read his book Factfulness to understand that issue).

We practice “Factfulness” when we try to verify claims. Let’s do it.

From the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan comes this chart showing an allocation for an “average” person:

From this chart, it sure looks like eating “Meat” has a large impact on your carbon footprint. Some in the climate advocacy community take this one step way too far:

which is a straight out lie!

The food pie chart is itself a small slice of a much larger pie. Many people, such as the linked climate advocate,  see charts like the above  and promptly misinterpret the chart, fail to understand that food is only one small slice of the household’s emissions, and falsely believe eliminating meat from their diet has a large impact on their carbon emissions.

Continue reading Climate: Eating vegetarian has little impact on your household carbon emissions

Climate: Tried using the EPA Household Carbon Emissions Calculator and its a Fail on first Question

The first question on the EPA Household Carbon Emissions calculator is to select my type of household heating:

  1.  Natural Gas
  2. Electricity
  3. Fuel Oil
  4. Propane

We heat our home with locally produced wood pellets. Since I cannot answer the first question correctly, the entire calculator fails.

I used this one at the University of California, Berkeley and it estimates our household annual carbon emissions at about 20 tons of CO2e per year, or 62% less than the average  American home.

I used a different one in the past (link not saved) and it estimated our usage at around 16 -17 tons, and said the average home was about 40 tons/year, which seems inline with the UCB calculator.

Transportation: E-scooters do not work well in the winter?

This is in Sacramento – that’s California – they do not have real winters and they have to pull scooters because of weather?

On the safety front, Lime notably temporarily pulled its scooters off Sacramento streets this winter for both safety and economic reasons. Lime officials said scooters are used considerably less in inclement and cold weather, and they are more risky to use.

….. The scooters will be back on the streets, Lime said, when the weather improves and ridership demand spikes.

Source: Electric scooter injuries skyrocket nationally, new study reports – oregonlive.com

Transportation: How Safe is Bicycling? No one actually knows

It’s not that there is a lack of data. Instead, it is that the data are inadequate to answer the questions. No one has good statistics, for example, on crashes per mile ridden

Source: How Safe Is Cycling? It’s Hard to Say – The New York Times

Decent data is available only on bicycle versus vehicle collisions as many of these crashes are reported to police.

Somewhere I read an estimated 90% of bicycle crashes do not involve a vehicle and as such, are virtually never reported. Most bike crashes are bicyclist versus road hazard or cyclist colliding with another cyclist and even drunk bicyclists. No motor vehicles involved.

Media stories focus on car versus bike and rarely  mention the far more common bike crashes.

As a consequence , there are no useful statistics on bicycle safety (except for car versus bicycle).

We know that about half a million bicycle related injuries are treated in ERs each year (CDC, 2015 data) but some estimates are even higher – there is no estimate on the number treated at doctor’s offices. Some think this could be low millions per year with estimates ranging (typically) from 1 to 2 million. And many are self treated (road rash, lacerations, soft tissue injuries).

Continue reading Transportation: How Safe is Bicycling? No one actually knows

Transportation: Hitting an ordinary pothole causes $2700 damage to Tesla Model 3

Tesla strikes a  highway pothole in Illinois, flattens two tires and destroys the rims. Everyone else just whizzes by without suffering the same fate. 100 minutes later, his vehicle is towed  to a Tesla service center and he gets a bill for $2668 to replace the two tires and rims and do the alignment.

I was shocked by this. First, pot holes are pretty common in our part of the country. Regular vehicles rarely suffer blown tires and rims. And the cost for repair is vastly less than that for the Tesla as shown in this video. Wow.  Seriously, I just lost interest in the Tesla after watching this, which is not what either the presenter (a good guy) or us want.