I feel like I’m being followed

I posted a message last year on the Tesla forum about an upcoming round trip of about 200 miles and whether I could make it on my then Model S 60. The consensus was that I’d have to find some charging solution at my destination. Shortly before the trip, Tesla opened its Supercharger in my destination of Columbia, SC.

My next challenge was a round trip to Birmingham, AL. Again, I was going to have to find some local charging solution that was going to be very inconvenient. But a month before the trip, Tesla opened its Supercharger in Birmingham.

So a couple weeks ago, I was visiting family in Martinsburg, WV. Now with my Model S upgraded to 75 kWh, this round trip was fairly easy, but still if I drove a lot at my destination I’d have to find some charging. When I got there, I was greeted with “Oh, did you know they’ve built a new Supercharger here in Martinsburg?” It’s not on Tesla’s map, but the station is physically complete (photo following), but wasn’t online. I’ll be back there often.

Now I have several likely trips coming up to Charlottesville, VA. Last time I went there, charging was messy. I had to use some 120 V AC charging, and then for an unexpected side trip I had a 20 minute drive to get to Martin Horn Inc. to charge at his solar-powered HPWC, and a long sit in the car. On another trip there I had a long sit in the car at a Nissan dealership in the middle of the night. Guess what Supercharger is under construction now?

[Update: 9/23/2017] The Charlottesville Supercharger is complete, and I charged there this week.

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Habitat tablet

So I was out on the Habitat build site in Greenville today, using my Habitat tablet computer. As you can see from the photo, it sports a 7” diagonal screen and has a convenient kick stand. You can write on it with the optional stylus, shown.

It is extremely useful for database applications, such as storing dimensions for construction. It can be used with windows.

Photo of Scrap piece of drip edge with carpenter's pencil

Check out some of my other Habitat photos.

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Don’t order online from Pizza Inn

I get email offers from Pizza Inn from time to time, and some of the coupons are pretty good. Today I clicked to order online and the order for two pizzas was $3 more than what it said on the coupon. I thought it was an online glitch and that the store would charge me the amount on the coupon.

Wrong. There is a hidden charge of $1.50 per item ordered that they tack onto the order. Nowhere do they disclose the charge that I can find, nor is it detailed when you print out order. All it says is that your $8.99 pizza costs $10.49. In fact, the Terms and Conditions explicitly says that there are no fees for ordering online

6. Fees Schedule

QuikOrder does not add any fees or costs to your order when you place an order or use this site.

I can’t blame this on the restaurant because the web site added the $1.50 fee—there was no discrepancy between the online price and what the restaurant charged.

To add insult to injury, when I got home, what I got wasn’t what I ordered (too spicy pepperoni instead of pineapple). I was too bothered by the overcharge at the store to check the order carefully.

I call it fraud.

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My new car

What? You only bought a new car in September!

I upgraded my Model S 60 to a Model S 75 “over the air.” I paid some money and my old car turned into a different model. It took about 10 minutes. The car’s range increased by 39 miles, and the top speed increased from 130 to 140.

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Got my 15 minutes of fame

Kevin with Model S High ResI’ve been trying to identify exactly what my personal “15 minutes of fame” has been. I have a new candidate, only this one is limited to Japan. Late last year, a reporter from The Nikkei, the leading Japanese business daily publication, came to South Carolina to interview me about switching from a Prius to an all-electric Tesla Model S. Nikkei had seen my article here titled “Prius to Tesla Transition.” We had a nice talk, and the reporter took a photo of me and my car. I gathered that the focus of the article is the disruption in the auto industry that will be caused by the change to electric vehicles.

The article was published in Nikkei on January 5 past. The article itself is behind a pay wall, and it is only in Japanese. Nevertheless the photo, reproduced above, was a very nice one and I have my 15 minutes of fame.

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A radical solution to my data problem

My doctor told me to get more exercise, and so now I walk a couple of miles a day. I usually do it about 4 pm when “All Things Considered” is on NPR. There’s an app for that and I can stream the program or other NPR content while I’m walking, through my mobile phone’s data plan.

Today I looked at my mobile data usage for the month, and at the current rate I’ll use all my data allotment (I have a small plan) plus the rollover from last month, and next month I would go over. That’s a problem.

Then I had a radical, thinking out of the box idea to reduce my data usage: use a radio!

This little radio is about the size of a pack of playing cards and it fits in my shirt pocket. I get stereo with headphones. It uses rechargeable batteries, and it was just wasting space on the shelf. I reviewed the PL-118 radio on this blog in 2011 and you can read it for more information.

I tried it out today, and it worked great. It didn’t have any of those annoying gaps or replayed sections that plague the TuneIn app. A radio is a rather elegant solution for listening to radio. 😳

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Do lots of undocumented aliens vote?

imageThis article comes in the context of Donald Trump’s claims that 3-5 million illegal aliens voted in the 2016 general election and that is why he didn’t win the popular vote. Trump offered no evidence that these voters exist outside his imagination, but there is no shortage of websites making similar claims. One such web article is “Illegal Aliens Really Do Vote – a Lot” by William Campenni at a website called American Thinker.

I have found American Thinker to be an essentially dishonest enterprise, and that’s the case with the article above. So let me start off pointing out the attempt to trick the reader, its title: “Illegal Aliens Really Do Vote – a Lot.” In the article, there is not a single instance of a vote cast by an illegal alien cited, not one. The article says “a lot” and Trump says “3-5 million” yet neither can produce a single one.

Headlines such as the one at American Thinker, and even some on more respected news sites, may be all a reader actually sees, and the careless reader might conclude that if the headline says it, then the body of the article supports it. That’s a mistake in the age of manipulation and fake news.

What one finds underneath these illegal voter headlines are actually claims that aliens are registered to vote, not necessarily undocumented ones, and not undocumented ones who vote. Neither Mr. Campenni’s article at American Thinker article nor any other I have seen give any examples of undocumented aliens who voted; however, they at least make an argument that they exist and that’s what we’ll look at next.

First let’s look at a related claim close to home to explore how these things work. Here in South Carolina there were some articles a few years ago that said hundreds of dead people had  voted. The State Department of Motor Vehicles ran the voter list against their records and came up with at least 900 who they claimed were dead, and the claim was publicized by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, who said:

We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.

This all came out as South Carolina was debating a new Photo ID law. One immediately suspected something was amiss when the DMV initially refused to release the names of these “dead voters” to the Department of Voter Registration.

What DMV did was to use the social-security number on the voter registration files to match DMV records. That’s a good starting strategy, but it’s only a start. Such results have to be validated, and Wilson’s claim was irresponsible before validation. Just this week, I had a problem with my doctor’s medical record system because they had switched two digits on my social-security number. If it had been my voter registration record, I might have shown up as a dead voter. The State Law Enforcement Division was called in to investigate, and they published their report that found clerical errors and poor record record matching, but no dead voters. We are fortunate to have a detailed 476-page report showing the voter fraud claims were bogus.

The preceding story is like illegal voter registration stories. Claims of undocumented voters are made based on some kind of record matching, which we see is guaranteed to have errors, but not actual cases.

Now it is a fact that in some jurisdictions, being a U. S. Citizen is not a requirement for voting. States make that decision. Some reports correctly say that aliens are registered to vote and then make the statement: “and we don’t know how many of them are illegals.” Well, if you don’t know anything, why say anything? Get the proof before you start slinging accusations.

Mr. Campenni’s article, after wasting the reader’s time with vague anecdotes and unsupported statements, finally gets to some citations. It uses the words: “In fact numerous studies document the fraud….” What immediately follows is described as “A well researched report on illegal alien voting in my home state of Virginia” which “revealed more than a thousand illegal alien registrants in just eight counties.” Campenni misrepresents his source by using the word “illegal” when the study doesn’t say that at all. It says only that they were aliens. Was the study done by the University of Virginia? The State Voter Registration Department? No, it was done by an interest group called the “Virginia Voters Alliance” and “The Public Interest Legal Foundation.” Their report at least has claims that some number of persons who were not citizens had been removed from the voter rolls by the state, but not that they were undocumented aliens. So I commend the State of Virginia for cleaning up their voter registration list. Mr. Campenni next cites “a new study confirms similar voting fraud in Philadelphia.” Another independent report? No. It comes from the same Public Interest Legal Foundation that issued the Virginia report. That report also claims that aliens are registered to vote, not that any of them are here illegally. The data is wholly based on aliens identified by the State and removed from the rolls.

Next Mr. Campenni cites “a CBS 4/Miami Herald study” saying “as many as 180,000 non-citizen legal resident voters.” The 2012 article itself does not use the 180,000 number at all, but only says 2,000 in Miami-Date County (among 1.2 million registered voters in the county). And it does not say that these 2,000 were non-citizens, but only that they were being investigated. Interestingly, the study found that of the challenged voters, their party affiliation was evenly split between Republican and Democratic. I should remind readers that Florida has a reputation for removing eligible voters from its rolls through faulty record matching.

So Mr. Campenni provides citations that a few non-citizens were registered to vote, and some of them apparently voted. It would amaze me that among the millions of undocumented aliens in the country, at least a few hadn’t registered to vote fraudulently and had actually voted. But why can’t people who claim that there are “a lot” or “3-5 million” actually come up with some?

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