A Week With Scarlett

On February 4, I posted how excited we were to have been able to order our new Tesla Model 3, which we were affectionately going to name “Scarlett.” Because of being given the reservation from our friends, who are in Mexico right now, we thought we’d have to wait until they returned to take delivery. That would be the middle of March.

However, through a series of fortunate events and some wonderful Tesla people along the way, the four week expected delivery date changed to two, we got “the call”, our friends did not have to be there at delivery,  and we were able to pick up Scarlett from Tesla PDX last Saturday.

Just two weeks after ordering her.

Thank you, Tesla!

So this blog post is a reflection on one full week living with an all-electric car. Our friends who allowed us to use their reservation have said they will never buy an ICE (internal combustion engine) car again. And I think I have to agree.

First, the less-important aspects of Scarlett. The red multi-coat paint is unbelievable. This is probably the most beautiful red we’ve ever seen. The styling and “look” of the car both inside and out are so elegant and clean and classy. You have to experience it to really fully appreciate it.

Next, the operation of the car. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve watched, I think, pretty much every fan video about the Model 3. I’d like to address some of the comments criticizing aspects of the car and talk about the fun aspects of Scarlett.

The door handle operation is simple and easy. Most of the critical remarks come from people who want it to be motorized or automatic like the Model S. Get over it. It’s easy and simple.

I had a conversation with a friend about there not being a speedometer right in front of you and how it’s distracting to look to the side. My experience is it is no less distracting to glance slightly to the right as it is to glance slightly down.

The wiper controls being on the screen are no issue if you set them to automatic. That’s what we have done and the sensors work actually very well. When it starts to rain, the wipers come on and when the rain stops, they shut off. This also fits well with the headlights, which we also have put on automatic. As dusk approaches, the lights come on, the screen switches to night mode and all is good with the world.

The regenerative braking took a little while to get used to. In an ICE, you pull your foot off the accelerator and coast, then brake. With an electric car, if you simply pull your foot off the accelerator, you slow down rather quickly. This does a couple of things: it recharges the battery slightly and it saves wear and tear on your brakes. We have found in City driving we hardly use the brakes at all. The adjustment period on that was fairly quick.

Having our phone as the key also is a bit of an adjustment and I’m still not quite there yet. When we get ready to go out, we have found ourselves checking our pocket for the car key, then realizing we don’t need one. The downside to that is I always carry my phone, which is good for always having my key, but bad because every time I walk near the car in the garage, it unlocks, then locks again. Not a big deal, but a little annoying.

Handling is superb. I have had a VW Turbo Beetle and way back a Porsche 914. Both had great cornering, acceleration and handling. Scarlett is right up there. The acceleration is the fastest of any car I’ve ever owned (I think their 0-60 in 5.1 seconds is underrated. It seems faster). She also corners amazingly well. I think the combination of the 19” low profile wheels and tires and the battery being low and central for weight distribution makes a huge difference.

Delivery. I need to talk a bit about customer service. Tesla is known for its quality, safety, etc. But I’ve not heard a lot of talk about their delivery team and customer service. Our first contact was Nina at Tesla in Las Vegas. She worked out the details of delivery date, “paperwork” etc. She was VERY pleasant, congenial and helpful in walking through the process. Then, when we arrived in Portland to take delivery, Cindy and Kyle were our main staff and were just as pleasant. Our appointment was at 3:00 and they were running a bit late detailing our car (they had delivered TEN Model 3s THAT DAY). They greeted us, apologized for the delay and made the whole process so nice. My car purchase history has always been sitting in a small room with the sales rep trying to sell you undercoating and extended warranties and dickering on the price. The Tesla experience is WAY different. The price is what the price is. There are no extended warranties, undercoating or extras they try to add on. Cindy was there primarily to educate us on the operation of the basics of the car. Paperwork was quick, easy and a total of 8 pages (my parents just bought a new VW and they have a stack of paperwork).

We are now making excuses to drive places and can do so with little guilt about our carbon footprint because we are now 100% electric. And, once the sun comes back to Oregon, we will be charging with solar. We made it almost a week on one charge (136 mpg equivalent) but we’ve been giving rides to friends and family and making extra trips simply because Scarlett is just flat out fun to drive. I’m sure that will settle down a bit; our goal is to charge every week or two during the day with solar.

That’s probably enough to talk about today. It’s early Friday morning, I just received the notification on my phone that Scarlett is completely charged and ready to go and we have some errands to run.

Tesla Model 3 “Scarlett”


On March 31, 2016, Day 01 of the Tesla Model 3 reservation, we had some friends who were able to get in on the ground floor of this game-changing car. Knowing they would have to wait around two YEARS to take delivery, they opted to purchase a Model S.

Knowing we had committed that our next car would be all-electric and that the 2001 VW Passat we had owned for 12 1/2 years (at that time) was getting older by the day, they gave us a call and asked if we wanted to assume their reservation.

We, of course, said “yes.”

When we built our new home in 2015, we had pre-wired it for two car chargers in the garage (future-proofing) and I had our electrician come back in December 2017 to wire in the NEMA 14-50 plug and breaker. This will give us about 30 miles per hour of charge. With the 310 mile battery, we could easily charge from 0% to 100% over night. But we probably won’t be charging at night; more on that later.

Fast-forward to January 2018. Tesla has been slow rolling out the Model 3. They started with employees of Tesla. Our Passat was now approaching 17 years old and we’ve had it for about 15 years. The last new car we purchased was my Beetle, also in late 2002. We felt it was time for a new car. Our friends called again and said they received the email that we could now configure and order our car.

This part was easy because Brenda and I had been immersed in the details of the Model 3. Well, truth be told, I had been immersed (watching every video out there on Teslarati and Youtube) and had relayed every tidbit of information to my very very patient wife.

We had by this time decided on red (I hadn’t had a red car since my first car, a 1974 Chevy Nova SS) with the nicer wheels. We also knew that for the onboard computer, you have to “name” your car when you configure it. So after a pretty extensive Google search for an appropriate name for a red car, we are 90% sure we will name her “Scarlett.” We ordered her on January 27, 2018.

Because our friends are currently out of the country and they have to be there when we take delivery (Tesla won’t allow them to simply transfer the reservation; I think to minimize “scalping”), we won’t be able to actually take delivery until close to the end of March when they return.

That really isn’t too much of a problem. Since we have been waiting two years, what’s another week or two?

There are so many things about this car that intrigue us (well, me for sure). An EPA rating of 130 mpg equivalent. The idea that we can drive on a full charge 310 miles for about $5 of electricity (at retail). Our idea is that with our solar on our house we can charge during a sunny day and only cost us a net of about $1.60 for a “full tank” from empty. This is what our friends do since they also have solar panels. $1.60 from empty to full. Mind blown.

I will blog more after we get the car with our impressions. I know virtually every review from people on line has been largely positive. I also would, at this point, just be repeating all of those comments.

But I believe this is the future of autos. Tesla is a 7-year-old company that has turned the auto industry upside down. As of December 2017, Tesla was more valuable than Ford. In seven years! VW lost us in about 2007 when I asked when they would be coming out with an all-electric car and received a terse response then of “we have no plans for an all-electric car.” Things have certainly changed in the last decade. Now most every major manufacturer is working on an all-electric car option. Even VW. Too little, too late for us.

I do think I will resist doing the “we’re-taking-delivery-of-our-Tesla-Model-3-today-live-video-blog” because I want to enjoy the experience and not be distracted by a camera.

There you have it for now.

Bye bye Beetle. Hello, Scarlett!

A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

bikesAs we sat on our front porch this afternoon, we took pause to reflect on our now almost two years (!) living in our neighborhood. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long!

Today was a beautiful, sunny spring day with some clouds, a fair amount of sun, and a cool breeze. We went for a walk to the local supermarket and on our return decided to just take a bunch of photos on our walk home. Some I posted on my personal Facebook page and some I didn’t post. But we enjoyed everything from my barber shop just a few blocks away to rows of houses, all with front porches, to our mail carrier and a neighbor all converging near our front porch at the same time.

As we relaxed on this sunny Saturday afternoon, enjoying mochas on our front porch, bicyclists went by as well. Not as many as a couple of weeks ago (44 in just 30 minutes; I didn’t count today), but quite a few nonetheless.

Last night we went on the First Friday ArtWalk downtown. Enjoyed the Delgani String Quartet at the public library, visited our friend, Susan, who owns Mosaic Fair Trade Collection, our other friend, Sandi, who runs Pacific Rim Art Guild, then finished with dinner at Ambrosia and a pleasant walk home.

Tonight, we are off to the Wildish Theater to see Guys and Dolls, the Rose Children’s Theater production directed by our neighbor, Scott.

We live such a rich and blessed life. It’s awesome!

Bye Bye Beetle

IMG_3912In October 2002, I bought a new 2003 VW Turbo S Beetle. 6-speed. Fast. Loved it.

In June 2009, we bought our lot where we now have our new home. The idea was to be able to walk more and be less car-dependent.

In June 2015, we moved into our new home. From day one, we decided we would see if we could live using only one car. The Beetle had 111,000 miles on it. Our thought was, if we could do this thing, we would sell one of our cars. We have been blessed to have two cars our entire married life.

I started riding my bike to work. Every day. We walked most everywhere on the weekends. I would start and drive the Beetle every once in a while just to keep it running. I bought a battery trickle charger for those weeks I would forget to start the car.

Now, one year later, and 130 miles more on the Beetle (yes, I only drove it 130 miles in a year), we put it on Craigslist and within four days it was sold. A little bittersweet, I must say, because I’ve had the Beetle almost 14 years. It’s been a good little car. It’s been a fun little car to drive.

But times change. Lifestyles shift. And we are in a new chapter of our lives.

Has this last year using only one car been easy? Actually, yes it has. I’ve enjoyed biking to work. I biked a lot prior, but now it’s even easier and more direct. We have enjoyed walking more. The bus, when needed, is actually quite easy and convenient most of the time. I still have my Car2Go app for when we take Amtrak to PDX or SEA. We’re still hoping they come back to Eugene someday.

And I just downloaded the Oregon Taxi app today. Just in case.

Bye bye Beetle.


One Year Today


IMG_3897One year ago today, we moved into our new home. It has been an amazing year!

We have not only met virtually all of our neighbors, we’ve become good friends. We’ve gone to plays, concerts and had dinner together. We had a Memorial Day Potluck that was a blast with 22 friends from the ‘hood.

Brenda and I have loved living downtown. We walk most places, so much so that the VW Beetle we own will be for sale soon; no need for two cars anymore.

The house is performing impeccably well. Energy use is so low, we actually are a “net producer” both for the house and the cottage. As of today, the cottage has generated 867 kWh more electricity than it has used and our house has generated 1,073 kWh more than we’ve used. So not only have we achieved net zero, we’ve exceeded it.

And as you may have noticed from my Facebook posts, our garden is going nuts. This is the first house we’ve had where we have enough sun for a garden. I don’t post food pictures, but last night we had sautéed crookneck, zucchini, green onion and basil pesto, virtually all from our garden.

Lovin’ it downtown!


Zeroing in on Net Zero


[UPDATED 29 April 2016] I haven’t posted for a while. We’ve been enjoying the neighborhood and our neighbors and settling in. But we’ve had a couple of pieces of “news” that I wanted to update you all on.

First, our LEED certification is OFFICIALLY complete (finally). Looks like the main house needed 86 points to achieve Platinum (the highest rating) and we scored right at 101 points. The Cottage needed 80 points and ended up right at 98. Woo hoo! [Also, our HERS ratings are 9 and 18 respectively; find out what that means at HERS]

And add to that, we’ve been through the winter and now are generating more solar electric. As of yesterday, we have received to date from EWEB 4,361 kWh since we’ve moved in and have delivered 4,663 kWh, about 300 kWh more than we’ve used. The Cottage is at 2,254 kWh and 2,558 kWh respectively.

That means both houses are currently running at net zero. Pretty exciting.

I’ll post more updates along the way, but we’re having family over and getting ready to bbq.


“Right Sizing” and Durability – Part Two

The initial cost of a home is far from the total, real cost. As I mentioned in my previous post, the long-term life-cycle costs account for 85% of the monetary cost of a home; only 15% is that initial cost. A significant portion of that 85% is maintenance and repairs.

I am actually amazed at the number of builders and consumers that don’t really consider the durability and longevity of a product when purchasing a home. There are so many aspects to consider, but I’d like to highlight just two in this post: plaster walls and good paint.

There is a huge difference between drywall and a plaster finish on your walls and ceilings. Drywall is probably 15% to 20% less expensive initially than thinwall plaster. However, thin wall plaster has a number of advantages. It is much more durable. Try the “finger nail” test. Use your finger nail and see if you can dent drywall then see if you can dent plaster. It’s very telling. The ease with which drywall dents should be a good indicator.

Then, the finish you use for the walls, the paint, is every bit as important. Cheap paint may last a year or two or even five. But really good paint can last much much longer. Coupled with the durability of the plaster walls, good paint can last a very long time. Think about that the next time you may be tempted to use a cheap paint, then ask yourself in the whole scheme of things is that extra few hundred dollars (or even less) worth needing to paint more often?

I love to use the example of our last house. We finished the walls with plaster then used a very high quality paint (in 1998, the trim paint was $50 per gallon). We lived in the house until 2014, raised two teenagers and never repainted and it still looked brand new. Yes, 16 years later, the wall finish was still in great shape. It wasn’t even looking like it needed to be repainted.

We did the same plaster and high quality paint in the Lawrence house.

I could go on about things like wood floors in lieu of carpet and vinyl, high quality windows (durability and long-lasting energy efficiency), LED lights (which will last virtually forever) and so on.

Bottom line advice is to look at the long-term efficacy of the product and determine whether or not it will have the durability you desire. Will it reduce (or even eliminate) long term maintenance and what is the length of time you can expect before you have to replace it? That will be the telling factor in how cost-effective a product really is.

Oh, and the picture of the shoes? Those are a pair of $180 shoes I bought in 2005. I still wear them and they still look great.

“Right Sizing” and Durability – Part One


There are many aspects of a home that are important. I want to highlight two of them in my next two posts: Physical size of the home and the durability of the materials. I’ll talk about size in this post and touch on durability in my next post.

As you can see from the chart, in the last 30 years, the average home size in the US has increased by over 50%. During that same period of time, the average household size DECREASED from 2.73 to 2.54 persons (a decrease of about 7%).

During this same period of time, the average Honda Civic went from 161″ in length to almost 180″ (a 12% increase) while its gas mileage (and this with all our newer technology to make us more fuel efficient) went from 34 city/47 highway all the way DOWN to 28 city/39 highway (almost a 20% DECREASE).

Ahhh, such is the American Way. Even the new Fiat 500X is somewhat affectionately dubbed the “Americanized” version of the traditional Fiat 500.

In America, we are often of the mindset that bigger is better and more is also… well… better. So we want bigger houses with extra rooms and space and bells and whistles… just because. We have a separate game room, a separate office, a separate media room, a computer room, a game room. But what we often forget is not only do we pay for that extra size in the INITIAL cost of the home, we pay extra EACH MONTH in higher utility bills, higher property taxes, higher maintenance costs, higher repair costs, etc.

Brenda and I “downsized” to our Lawrence Street home. The kids had grown and gone out on their own and we didn’t need the extra square footage (we actually only went upstairs to clean and dust). So we went from 2,754 sq ft to 1,617 sq ft. No media room, no game room, just a master bedroom, a guest bedroom and an office plus the main living/dining/kitchen space.

And it fits us perfectly.

The added benefit is our utility bills are still running negative (assisted by our 6kW solar system and super insulation). We have about 40% less house to clean, maintain and repair. Granted, the house is new, so we won’t have to do much in the way of repairs and maintenance for a while, and I’ll cover how we addressed this in my next post on durability. But when we do have maintenance and repairs, they will cost less than would be needed in a larger home.

I know of people who have purchased a larger-than-needed-home either because they could (I want to show everyone I have “succeeded” financially), or they “got a really good deal” (Look at all this square footage I got for only $200,000!). But the money they may have “saved” in their upfront costs will only go out each and every month in utilities, taxes, maintenance and repairs.

Only 15% of the true cost of a home is the initial cost; the other 85% is in utilities, taxes, maintenance and repairs.

We would serve ourselves well to factor that in when we are purchasing a home. “Right Sizing” should be one of the major factors in our decision to buy a home.

Next: Durability

Thinking of Net Zero


We’ve been in our home 4 months now (coming up on 5, actually). Time sure flies.

As of the end of October, we have been using an average of about 295 kWh of electricity per month (remember we are 100% electric, no gas). And we have built up an 1,800 kWh CREDIT going into the winter.

We may just make that goal…

Moved in and Settled

lawrence-01We have moved in. We have settled in. Pictures are hung on the walls. Landscaping is complete. Fence is in. Electric bill is still a negative dollar amount. Have not driven my car to work in almost four months. Walking a lot. Biking a lot. Loving it.