Second Guessing My EV Purchase.

I was worried. I bit my nails, I wondered whether I was making the right decision. What if I buy this expensive thing and in a short time it becomes obsolete. I’d feel like a dinosaur and people would laugh at my clunker when the sped by me.

It was towards the end of 2013 and I was just buying a brand new Chevy Volt. The salesman said to lease it, not buy it, because the technology moves so fast. I saw that it got about 38 miles on the battery and then a backup generator would kick in and I could drive on gas for about 35 miles per gallon. At the time no other plug-in hybrid even came close to that much battery life. But what if after 3 years of owning it I would say “I regret this, I want one of these fancy new electric cars instead!”.

Well, it’s more than 3 years later. I would have returned the lease by now and would be in the market to buy a new car. What plugins would I look at buying?

  • Hyundai Sonata Plugin is 27 miles on battery, then 39 mpg on gas
  • Kia Optima Plugin also goes 27 miles on battery.
  • Volvo XC90 Plugin also goes 27 miles on battery, and 30 miles per gallon on gas.
  • Toyota Prius Plugin goes 25 miles on battery, then 43 mpg on gas.
  • Ford Fusion plugin goes 22 miles on battery, then 42 mpg on gas.
  • Ford Cmax Energi goes 20 miles on battery then 38 mpg on gas.
  • BMW i3 REx goes 83 miles on battery then 35 mpg on gas.
  • Chevy Volt goes 53 miles on battery then 42 mpg on gas.

Well. Uh, so my 4-year old car still does better on battery range than most new plugin hybrids on the market in 2017. Except for the newer version of the Volt, and the BMW i3. I took an i3 for a test-drive when it first came out because I thought that maybe it would make me feel sorry for having bought instead of leasing. Turns out… no. I think the i3 looks cool, drives ok, and has impressive EV range. It also had a terrible gas range because its tank was tiny, and has some complaints about its ability to drive up mountains on gas. One of my use-cases is driving up to Tahoe, which is 8,000 feet of climb often in snow. So, while the new Volts and the i3 look appealing, they’re nothing that makes me look at my car and think “aww, I want to sell it and get these fancy new ones”.

It’s good thing I don’t want to sell it because the depreciation on plugin cars is painful. Truth be told, my Volt’s list price was $40,000, and I paid $22,000 after end-of-model-year discounts, plus state and federal government incentives, and haggling the dealer until he threw me out of his office (twice!). Today, Kelly Blue Book lists it at $9,000. Ouch. Even if you look at depreciation from purchase price, then it’s 40% of what I paid for it. Not a good percentage. Other EV and Plugin owners feel the same way. This trend will continue with electric cars and with plugins for the foreseeable future. So today, if I bought an i3 or a new Volt then I would be looking at the same depreciation problem. New Volts are $33,000, new i3’s are $42,000. 4 years from now they will also be valued at $9,000 or less.

So, the dealer was right. The lease would be a better deal than the depreciation of the car, and the technology on the Volt did advance. The dealer was wrong in that the whole market didn’t move that fast, in fact my 4 year old car is still competitive with most other plugins being sold today.  So, in the end, it may have been marginally better to have leased.

Am I getting enough B12? Are you?

I don’t know about you, but to me both dementia and anemia sound pretty scary. They can be brought on by Vitamin B12 deficiency, which is shockingly common among the elderly, those in underdeveloped countries, and vegans/vegetarians. Are you in any of these 3 groups?

 

The older we get the poorer our stomachs absorb what we need, so the elderly can keep eating the same diet that once gave them enoughB12 but surprisingly find that now it’s not get enough. The poorer we are the less freedom we have in choosing our food sources, so diets in the developing world are often lacking in many vitamins and nutrients, including B12. Finally there are vegans and vegetarians.

 

I fall into this last group (sort of), so I’m worried about whether I get enough B12. If you’re reading this, chances are than you are vegetarian too (or at least thinking about it). I’ve been trying to limit my meat consumption for a variety of reasons, but mostly health. Our bodies were not built to have meat all the time. Over 200,000 years of evolution our ancestors were selected by how well they thrive on a diet of mostly nuts and berries, some other fruits, some veggies and occasional windfalls of meat from a hunting party. So I figured that in order to avoid the increased incidence of obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc. that are caused by our modern meat-heavy diets I would eliminate meat from what I buy. I still occasionally get small pieces of meat when social decorum would dictate (e.g. my mom’s cooking, or to avoid causing a scene with a group of friends, etc.) Ok, so I fall into a group of people who are more likely to get B12 deficiency. Why and what can I do?

 

B12 doesn’t occur in plants. If you only eat plants, where do you get 2.4 micrograms of B12 every day? Sure there are supplements. But why would I want to take a B12 pill or a tablespoon of yellow goo full of B-vitamins, if I’m trying to avoid taking pills. Hell, I eat healthy and run 3x per week specifically so that I won’t have to take pills. Not to mention that Most of B12 supplements go right through you thus making your pee smell a UTI. I’m looking for something that I can do while I prep my food.

 

If you’re pescatarian, then shellfish like clams are jam-packed B12. But eating a ton of them at once won’t help. While our livers do store B12 for later usage, our stomachs can only absorb so much in one sitting. Only the first clam would contribute anything, after that my body just lets the rest of it pass through. So adding a small clam to lunch once in a while wouldn’t be so bad. Bonus: lots of calcium too.

 

I love milk. A LOT. I really really love milk. Whole milk is my favorite. I learned that one cup of milk contains about half of the daily intake of B12 that I need. Also, lots of calcium. Ok, so I’ll keep drinking milk every day.

 

At the end of the day, it sounds like I do need to take a little bit of a supplement, and I should do so around a different meal than the one where I drink milk. I’m OK with once in a while adding a clam into my meals (again, a different meal from both milk and supplements). With those healthy habits I should be building up my supply of B12 for the days where I can’t get either a glass of milk or a supplement. Who knows, it’ll come in handy to have some in reserve for when my body stops absorbing it in old age.  What other methods have you found to boost your B12?

On Politics

I’ve been meaning to write a lot about how I feel about the current political climate. During the elections I was for Hillary Clinton and not so much against Donald Trump. Usually my preference is for supporting things over opposing things, I’m a positive person in that way, you know? Now it’s after the elections, and the political climate is a bit unsettling to someone with my background.

I’m a political refugee, that’s how I came to the USA. My parents were part of a movement that overthrew an oppressive regime and eventually restored democracy in Poland. At a price: we had to leave behind family and friends and flee to a new country where everything was alien to us. Learning from their example, this heroic achievement was simply not worth it. Governments come and go, and their churn simply eats the hopes and dreams of those who stand in its careening path. My hopes and dreams are not political; my hopes and dreams are to build a family, build a career, build the future of technology, and to live happily in what I’ve built. Why then, would I put myself in the path of this government?

Ultimately, I do believe that we are stronger together, and that America is great because America does good. Hopefully we will continue to be. I believe that I can stand up for these things in my daily life without getting tangled up in a political sphere. Others can stand in opposition, others can #resist. I think such protest is an important thing for the proper function of democracy. It’s not a place for me anymore.

 

Election Season

Now is the time that the general population starts paying attention to politics. We have two very interesting candidates who have been thoroughly destroyed by the media. 2 months from now on November 4th we take an annoying but important journey to our polling booths. So if you haven’t taken a look at the policy positions of each one then please look now, and if you aren’t registered to vote then for the love of cute kittens, please register now.

Outsiders

How’s this sound?

“I don’t trust those establishment doctors. They’re all corrupt, pill-prescribing, pricks. I want to choose a doctor who is an outsider. Somebody who’s never been a doctor before because they will bring fresh new ideas to the practice.”

Sounds insane right? If somebody told you the above statement you would recommend that they see a psychiatrist… and not an outsider psychiatrist, but a professional one with time-tested proven techniques for treating whatever mental illness fueled the above statement.

How come then, do we hear basically that sentence every day in political news? Think about the value of professionals before voting for an “outsider” political candidate.

Goodbye Bitcoin Community.

 

Bitcoin excites me. The way I see it: Bitcoin is the first ever way of transferring value on the web that is native to the internet. Other online money services like PayPal, or Google Wallet, are third parties whom you borrow credit from and they will eventually settle your payments in the old, slow, non-internet system. Bitcoin, by comparison, is money that’s already in the web and your transaction is settled by you when you make a purchase. Wow. Not only that, but this money is open source, border-less, pseudonymous, and distributed… just like the internet itself. While bitcoin excites me, its proponents do not.

Some in the bitcoin community are a bit turn off, more so than other early adopter communities. Now, I understand that new technologies have to get a core userbase of sometimes extravagant and sometimes unsavory people to get the project ready to cross the chasm and achieve mass adoption. I get it, really I do. I’ve been an early adopter on so many new technologies. I’ve been using Linux since university over a decade ago and I was able to work with the neckbeards and held my nose at LUG’s before Linux started to run AWS and Android. I was using Git for years before my company, my favorite FOSS projects, and any of my private clients switched to it, then I taught bunches of new users about git. I’ve been driving an electric car for years and am used to fighting for timeslots around car-chargers with other long-haired hippies. I’ve been dealing with the early adopter crowd for a long time. Early adopter communities can be rough.Trust me, I get it. But holy hell is the bitcoin community a piece of work. Let me tell you how.

Early adopters must be idealists in order to put up with the shortcomings of a new technology: people who can tell themselves “it suck now, but I’ll use to to create a better future”. I’m an idealist too, so I can relate to early adopter communities. The early adopters of the bitcoin community have a very peculiar idealism though. Bitcoin’s early adopters sometimes believe that a systemic banking collapse is imminent and that this digital gold will be the only unit of value to survive. Bitcoins early adopters sometimes revile the centralization which comes with corporate services as being some kind of evil force that must be raged against viciously. Bitcoins early adopters include people with religious beliefs that bitcoins must never be spent but only be “hodled”. Bitcoins early adopters sometimes have a fixation about price, where most every piece of news gets filtered through the lens of market movement. Bitcoins early adopters are sometimes so ridiculous in their “to the moon” mentality that they are easy fodder for trolls (and outright bullies) who publicly congregate in a forum called buttcoin. Bitcoin early adopters are much much much more unhinged than other early adopter communities I’ve seen before. This leads me to worry about the future of the technology. But wait there’s more.

A toxic community is not such a bad thing in and of itself. A community that self-immolates is another matter. Some bitcoiners try to silence those whose ideological view of bitcoin is different from theirs. This is blasted as “censorship”. For example, there’s a technical debate about ways to scale bitcoin and the number of proposed solutions explored is still small. But already some people are entrenched in one way or another so they try to remove proponents of one method from the conversation, or remove one company from a listing because that company agrees with one method not another. Even though that company (coinbase) is fricken awesome. Another example is companies like FoldApp and Purse.io which are on the edge of opening up something awesome. They’re growing towards online exchanges where you can buy goods at a discount through an intermediary (something which is only enabled through an internet-native currency) but frequently the community response to the mere mention of their early efforts is cries and wails of fraud and money laundry. Apparently the only proper way to use Bitcoin is to spend it on drugs on the dark web, or something. These, and more, are self-destructive habits of the community that repeat themselves ad nauseam.

If the way that you think about a new technology is influenced by the petty anti-patterns I described above then you may not realize the full potential of the thing that you’re trying to explore. As you can tell: I love bitcoin and I think it’s the coolest thing since gold. I want to dive deeper into bitcoin and I want to bring new people into bitcoin and explore the ways in which the onboarding experience is being improved. But in order to do that I will stay far away from the bitcoin community. Furthermore, I will keep any people whom I introduce to bitcoin as far away from the community. It’s been fun everybody. But this is goodbye.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

 

Merry Christmas,

I wish all the best for you and your loved ones this holiday season, and that your hopes and dreams come true in the new year. May I ask, what is your new years resolution?

Last year I made a resolution to better stay in touch with good friends. It’s been so much fun catching up with long lost schoolmates,fraternity brothers, coworkers, and buddies. I’m gonna try to keep it up. I found that the biggest obstacle to deep connections is the shallow connections one has on Facebook, or on forums like Reddit. It’s an obstacle to other kinds of happiness in life too. So this year my new years resolution is to wean myself off of a kind of internet addiction that keeps me chasing the next update, next meme, etc. Instead of surface-level stuff I hope to get lots more depth through conversations (chat or phone), books, and reflection, in the new year.

What’s your new years resolution?