Sierra Nevada, Traversing

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Routes Traveled

For almost eight years now Julia and I have been traversing and exploring the Sierra Nevada from west to east and back again. We plan to take all the east west crossings there are, but figure this will take quite some time. We’re not in a rush.

So far, we have made the following crossings and incursions in to this mighty range of mountains.

Crossings:

Hwy 80

We have traveled 80 many times now all the way into Utah and back. This drive across the Sierra Nevada is nice, but certainly not the most splendid.

‣ Hwy 50

We’ve traveled the loneliest road from Utah to California, and it is surely very, very lonely. The drive on this road through the Sierra Nevada is spectacular and offers magnificent views of Lake Tahoe.

‣ Hwy 88

We just completed this crossing through the wonderful mountains and the views of granite peaks, mangled volcanic conglomerate rocks, and deep green forests is without comparison. Silver Lake, Kirkwood ski resort, and Thunder Mountain will welcome you as you take this road.

Hwy 4

So much spectacular scenery on this drive you’ll want to stop and take pictures constantly. It is the place to hike Wolf Creek, which is a Sierra wonderland of a place and fills me with marvelous memories.

Hwy 120

This beautiful drive takes you over the top of the Yosemite Valley and surrounds you in the most amazing granite the Sierra Nevada can offer. There are many small and remote lakes not far from the road that are all worth hiking to.

incursions:

Kings Canyon

Redwood Mountain Grove is a nine-mile hike and picturesque location. It is noted as the world’s largest remaining forest of Sequoiadendron gigaremainin (Sequoia trees). Sounds awesome, and it was!

Yosemite Valley

What can I say about the Yosemite Valley that has not already been said except, if you haven’t visited this place you simply must.

Given what fun we’ve had so far, we’d like to continue our crossings and incursions of these magnificent ranges and add the following routes to our list:

‣ Hwy 178

‣ Hwy 155

‣ M-50

‣ Hwy 190

‣ Hwy 180

‣ Hwy 168

‣ Hwy 41

‣ Hwy 108

‣ Hwy 49

‣ Hwy 70

‣ Hwy 36

‣ Hwy 299

As you can see there is much to be explored and discovered. We’ll keep you posted.

Advertisements

All good things come to those that wait

Tesla Powerwall Installed

It’s official, my Tesla Powerwall is fully installed, approved, operational, and functional. It took Tesla almost one year to achieve this, but they did achieve it when on April 16, 2018 they got final approval from Oakland City for the installation. April 16 happened to be my birthday and so I got a great birthday present this year; a fully operational Powerwall.

Shortly after the final approval Tesla made an update to their Powerwall software, which enabled the following modes of operation via the Powerwall’s Internet connection:

Powerwall Operating Mode Charging Priority Discharging Priority
Backup-Only

100% of your Powerwall is reserved for backup always.

1. Any solar * Only during grid outage
Self-powered

Use stored solar to power your home after the sun goes down.

1. Excess solar 1. Net usage
Time-Based Control: (Balanced)

Use stored solar to power your home when electricity is expensive and after the sun goes down.

1. Excess solar (Off-peak)

2. Excess solar (Shoulder)

3. Any solar (Off-peak)

4. Any solar (Shoulder)

1. Any usage (Peak)

2. Net usage (Shoulder)

3. Net usage (Off-peak)

Time-Based Control:

(Cost Saving)

Use stored low-cost energy to power your home when electricity is expensive and maximize your savings

1. Any solar (Off-peak)

2. Any solar (Shoulder)

1. Any usage (Peak)

2. Any usage (Shoulder)

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

The Powerwall is sending power to my home and diverting solar power to the grid at peak grid period

As you can see from the table above, it’s easy to become cross-eyed when trying to understand the ways a Powerwall enables strategies to reduce your carbon footprint and generate revenue.

When my Powerwall was first made operational before it had official approval from Oakland City it had only two modes of operation: Backup-Only and Self-Powered.

The Backup-Only mode is straightforward to understand as the name says it all. One hundred percent of the Powerwall is used to act as a backup to your home in the advent that grid power is lost. Solar power is used to charge the Powerwall to 100%, but then the Powerwall sits and waits for a grid power outage before any of its power is used to power your home.

The Self-Powered mode gets a little more complicated as you can reserve a percentage of the battery to act as backup and use the rest to collect solar energy that is not used by your home to charge the battery. When the sun sets what ever power you have stored in the battery (down to the amount you reserved for backup) is used to power your home. When the battery reaches the backup limit your home is powered by the grid.

After the software update two new Time-Based Control options were added to the Powerwall. Both options allow you to avoid using peak grid power, which is the most expensive electricity.

The Balanced option stores any excess solar power to the battery during off-peak and shoulder grid power periods. Then the Powerwall will supply power to your home first at peak, then at shoulder, and finally at off-peak grid power periods if there is any power left in the battery.

The Cost Saving option stores all solar power to the battery during off-peak and shoulder grid power periods. Then the Powerwall will supply power to your home first at peak and then at shoulder grid power periods.

The difference between the original Self-Powered and the two new modes is: The two new modes enable the Powerwall to sell power back to the grid at peak grid power periods, which is when you make the most money for your solar power. The Self-Powered mode focuses solely on powering your home via your stored solar power. This is a terrific way to lower your carbon foot print as your home consumes all the solar power you generate.

The Balanced mode allows your home to be powered by solar power (during off-peak and shoulder grid power periods) and stores any excess solar power to the battery. The Balanced mode then directs the Powerwall to power your home during peak grid power periods, while selling any solar power generated back to the grid during this peak period. As the name of this mode suggests, use of solar power to power your home is balanced against selling solar power back to the grid at peak grid power periods.

The Cost Saving mode diverts all solar power to the battery during off-peak and shoulder grid power periods. Your home is powered by cheaper off-peak and shoulder grid power during this phase. The Cost Saving mode then directs the Powerwall to power your home during peak grid power periods, while selling any solar power generated back to the grid during this peak period. This ensures you earn the maximum amount for your solar power generation. Of course, solar power is solar power. It really doesn’t matter if your home consumes it or your neighbors consume it via the grid. But in this mode, you make the most money selling your solar power and you help the power company off-set peak period power loads. It’s a win, win situation.

TOP

Tess, of the drivervilles

Goodbye NAV Missy

The NAV Missy

Julia and I said goodbye to our beloved 2013 Nissan Leaf on 03/22/2018. It is such a great car and served us so well for almost five years. It was our first experience with electric drive and it exposed us to the pleasure, and sometimes anxiety, of driving electric cars. She hasn’t gone to the scrapheap she’s in fact found a new home with our dear friends Margo and Todd. Here she will serve Todd as a trusty commuting car shuttling him back and forth across the San Francisco Bay for many years to come I’m sure.

Electric cars have far less moving parts than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Less moving parts means less servicing and lower probability of mechanical failure. Electric cars do have far more complicated electronics. But integrated circuits either work or fail soon after they are placed in operation and are easily replaced. This makes electric cars far superior to ICE cars from the standpoint of longevity and maintenance. So it was with our Leaf. During the five years we owned it I replaced two tires.

Electric cars are far cheaper to operate than ICE cars. Gasoline is not just destructive to the environment it is extremely expensive. In fact, if you add the price we pay in the loss of human life, destroying other countries to obtain oil to make gasoline, and the damage we cause to our environment, the actual cost of gasoline is astronomical.

Of course, electric cars use energy, but in California we generate 30% of our electrical energy via renewable sources and this is on the increase.

The estimated proportions of generation from each renewable technology type in California in 2017

So, say hello to our new 2018 Tesla Model X 100D who we’ve named: Tess, of the drivervilles. This is an homage to Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel: Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the amazing Roman Polanski film of the same name.

Tess has a 100 kWh 350 Volt lithium-ion battery that gives her a 289 to 310-mile range on one charge. One of the most amazing things about Tess is she is all American made. She’s certainly not a lite car weighing in at 6,658 lbs. gross weight. But, Tess can jump from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, which is not too shabby given her weight. She has four-wheel-drive and a maximum ground clearance of 9 inches. This gives Tess the ability to serve as our sole car. She can transport us from the market and back as well as transport us across the country via the most extensive charging network in the world today. And she can take us down the occasional dirt road Julia and I find ourselves on while looking for hiking trailheads.

We’ll miss the NAV Missy, but we look forward too many years traveling this great country in Tess of the drivervilles.

TOP

Tesla Power Wall

Tesla hasn’t figured it out yet

Twenty-seven percent reserved for backup

Okay, this is a long and sad story that I feel compelled to share, so please bear with me. My hope is Tesla will learn and improve their Power Wall offerings and services.

Back in May 2017, I placed a deposit for a Tesla Wall installation. On January 10, 2018, I finally got a functioning Tesla Wall system installed at my home. The product, after two failed attempts and much trauma and rewiring of my home electrical systems, was finally installed. So, I got what I wanted even though it did take nearly a year to achieve. Well sort of. As I write this, it is March 2018, and I still do not have final city approval of the electrical work Tesla performed at my home.

During the year it took to complete this project some five or six individuals from a combination of what was once Solar City and then Tesla was assigned. Each account manager fell by the wayside as the project stumbled along. To make matters even worse, each group within Tesla had no idea what the other group was doing or had done. The confusion meant every time Tesla assigned a new account manager, to this ill-fated project, I had to explain to them exactly what had transpired before their involvement.

This is a typical winter’s day with solar and the Power Wall

Tesla Energy Products is in dire need of reorganization. It seems that Elon Musk can reach into outer-space and build amazing electric cars, but I believe he has met his match when it comes to project management of electricians and building contractors.

As I write this, I’ve spent at least five days of my time waiting at my home for contractors and inspectors that never arrived. Tesla sent no email or voice messages to me, just silence. If I did not contact Tesla regularly, I’m sure I would not have progressed to this point.

The system they finally installed works, but not as advertised. It does indeed capture and store power from my photovoltaic cells and releases this power back to my home as the sun sets. It does indeed allow me to allocate some portion of the battery storage as a backup for my house in the advent of a loss of grid power. But, it does not allow me to schedule charging of the battery during off-peak grid power periods, Tesla assured me that the Power Wall would do this.

This is our grid power plan

I hope that Tesla will finally complete my project and achieve the final sign-off of the electrical work by the city. And I hope that eventually, they will update their Power Wall software to allow me to schedule off-peak charging. But mostly I hope that Tesla will be able to learn how to project manage electricians and building contractors and offer reasonable service to their Power Wall customers.

TOP

The Cure, imagine there’s no religion

The story of my latest novel

Six years ago, Julia and I attended a party of fellow skeptics. Skeptics, like everyone else, enjoy a goodtime and a drink every now and then. Skeptics might not be enamored by virgin births or untestable emotional energies, but we do like a drink. At this vivacious gathering we were all chatting and sharing each other’s company when a thought popped into my mind: “what if there was no religion?” Perhaps I’d drunk just a little too much and was having just a little too much of an enjoyable time. However, after the thought manifested itself it never left me.

Six years later and my new novel “The Cure” is almost finished. It is in the final round of editing and polishing as I write this. During these last six years, I wrote other books and made several films, but that indelible thought would not leave me. It followed me about like a stalker prowling around in my mind occasionally surfacing and causing me to imagine a world where there was no religion. What would this world be like and more importantly what would we be like?

Although the thought never left me over this ocean of time I did fall in and out of love with the idea of writing this book. At times the task seemed simple and within reach and at other times it seemed a herculean chore and well outside my meager capabilities. But, I persisted and persevered. I fought hard against the many periods I grew overwhelmed by the endeavor, put the work away many times, but always I eventually came back to it a new.

This love-hate, on-off, relationship went on, and on, and on for the last six long years. Six years does seem like a very long time, but when you’re sixty years young it is surprising how fast time can pass.

At times I felt just like the character Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece film the Shinning. Isolated by my typewriter (computer) but endlessly busy writing, writing, and writing. In the film Jack was able to produce only: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I hope my work is more substantial than this.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of my new novel and let you know when it’s available. Do read it and let me know what you think.

Title: The Cure, imagine there’s no religion

Author: David Millett

ISBN-13: 978-1985265226

ISBN-10: 1985265222

BISAC Category: Fiction / Science Fiction / Genetic Engineering

Search Keywords: Religion, Truth, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Theosophy

Web Site: http://davidmillett.net/Books/TheCure/TheCure.aspx

Video: https://vimeo.com/257809231

Description:

Throughout the known history of humanity, we have believed in supernatural beings. Archaeologists have found apparent intentional burial sites from as early as three hundred thousand years ago, which they have interpreted as evidence of religious ideas. At African sites, that date back to the Middle Stone Age, archaeologists have discovered symbolic artifacts, which also support the notion that humans were engaged in religious thinking.

Today most of the seven billion humans on our planet still believe in supernatural beings and stories. The more than two billion Christians and the nearly two billion Muslims are unmistakable evidence that our twenty-first-century world is as religious as it has ever been.

But what if there was no religion?

What if everyone used the scientific method of establishing truth?

What if human greed could be curtailed?

What would our world look like then?

This book “The Cure” explores these questions.

Coming Soon

TOP