Saturday, May 13, 2023

Are quiet children better?

Pet peeve: parenting that is rated upon how unintrusive one's children are in any situation in life.

Children have a right to exist--in fact they are essential to the future of our economy and our world. Adults are not the only people who matter on this planet.

How do you achieve completely compliant children who never make noise without abusing them? I can't find a credible source that would suggest this is possible, let alone achievable or desirable.

Children need to be safe--to explore, to express themselves. They also need to be raised to know that some places require being quiet or proper manners. But they also are allowed to exist. Especially in their own home.

If you come to my home and my children make noise--it's because they feel loved and safe. It's because they are human.

To those who think children should always be seen but not heard--I would suggest you either have a generalised amnesia regarding your own childhood or you did not have the right to exist as a human being in your own home during your youth. Don't force that upon another child.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

EV Ownership: Divided by a Common Language (US vs UK)

Before I go into ownership experience and costs, I thought it would be helpful to lay some groundwork for terminology.

Browsing facebook, forums, youtube, twitter, etc. one begins to see that there is a general confusion between people who DO understand the subject matter, simply because they live in different countries. I want to address this before diving into helping those who have no background in EVs understand the concepts and to provide a reference generally.

The biggest points of confusion? What is 'fast charging' and what do we call various levels (or speeds) or AC charging. 

Additionally, it's worth pointing out that in North America, all chargers come WITH a tethered cable. In Europe, AC chargers may come with or without, leading to tethered (with cable) and untethered (without cable, bring your own) options. DC charging in Europe always has the cable tethered to the charger, same as in North America.

Here's a handy chart that I've created as a basic explanation. The specifics do vary slightly by country.

I've also ignored Tesla entirely: for the simple reason that they aren't consistent globally and are an exception to the rest of the industry. Tesla use a proprietary plug in North America, but use a modified Type 2 plug on older vehicles in Europe, shifting to CCS2 for newer Model 3/7 vehicles. As a result, there are 3 different types of plugs that Tesla may use for AC or DC charging and there may be more than one implementation within a market. Furthermore Tesla use a single wire can (SWCAN) communication protocol, rather than J1772, CHAdeMO, or CCS (Homeplug Green Phy, aka Powerline Ethernet), although their AC chargers can (if configured correctly) fall back onto J1772.

So let's get started here: portable charging:

North America

  • 120 volts AC 60 hz
  • 8-15 amps
  • up to 2 kW
  • This cable probably came with your car and can be plugged into an ordinary wall socket/receptacle. 
  • J1772 connector (Type 1)
  • Known as 'Level 1' 

United Kingdom

  • 230 volts AC +/- 15% (realistically 240-245v) 50 hz 
  •  8-10 amps (if you use a wall socket at 13 amps, prepare to melt your plug)
  • 1.8-3 kW
  • Connector
    • Usually Type 2 Connector (with equivalent to J1772 signalling)
    • Sometimes J1772 connector (Type 1)
  • Known as a 'Granny Cable'
You'll notice that using a granny cable in the UK is not dissimilar from Level 2 speeds in North America. That's why there is a continual debate as to whether or not people should just charge off a wall socket for convenience and cost, or if a dedicated hard-wired charger is a safety requirement.

Moving on to AC charging with fixed, wall or post mounted chargers:

North America

  • 220 volts 60 hz
  • 16-80 amps
  • Single phase
  • J1772 connector (Type 1)
  • 3-20 kW
  • Known as 'Level 2'

United Kingdom 

AC charging in the UK is more complicated, because several vehicles can use 3-phase charging. This includes Tesla, Renault, Vauxhaul, etc. When this happens, more power can be delivered with lower amps, which is why when we get to our higher speed charging, there will be an AC option alongside DC.

  •  230 volts AC +/- 15% (realistically 240-245v) 50 hz
  • 16-32 amps (it's unusual to have a considerably higher amp rating... usually 11kW+ is 3 phase)
  • Single or Three Phase AC
  • Connector
    • Usually Type 2 Connector (with equivalent to J1772 signalling)
    • Sometimes J1772 connector (Type 1)
  • Known as 'Slow Charging' if less than 6 kW (typically below 25 amps), 'Fast charging if 7kW or faster (26-32 kW)
The fastest, most rapid charging speeds:

North America

  • 350-1000+ volts DC
  • 25-500+ amps (can vary by standard)
  • CCS1 or CHAdeMO
  • Known as 'Fast charging', 'DCFC', 'DC Fast Charging', or 'Level 3'

United Kingdom 

There's a slight AC exception in this category, that essentially caters to 1 vehicle: Renault Zoe.

    • 230 volts AC +/- 15% (realistically 240-245v) 50 hz
    • Three phase
    • 64 amps
    • 43 kW
    • Type-2 Connector
    • Known as 'Rapid AC Charging'
    Most people would use a DC option, however!
    • 350-1000+ volts DC
    • 25-500+ amps (can vary by standard)
    • CCS2 or CHAdeMO
    • Known as 'Rapid Charging', 'Ultra Rapid Charging' (if over 100kW), 'DC charging'

    Bonus terms!
    • A place to stop at the side of a motorway or highway
      • North America: Rest Stop
      • United Kingdom: Motorway Services Area (MSA)
    • A physical brake to keep car from moving when parked
      • North America: Emergency Brake
      • United Kingdom: Hand Brake

    Wednesday, February 22, 2023

    The Necessity of Children and Optimism

    Children are an interesting topic, because they are divisive often for completely unrelated reasons. Within families or social groups there might be the pressure to have more children regardless of taking into account the wishes of said people who could make a child; on the contrary, there are a litany of reasons why one might not want to have children.  These range from general annoyance to a question about the future of the planet.

    We live in very interesting times, with threats of global warming and war. With injustice running rampant in our communities and a question of what world might follow us on. A world which I worry is made worse by a fatalism that we might be unable to prevent the destruction and end of life as we know it. It's why some focus on the afterlife and others the possibility of colonising other planets.

    We also face the question of economic justice: is the middle class being erased because of a lack of childcare funding? Will we end up with only those who qualify for benefits and the uber rich being able to procreate? Is the Musk family view that we should spread the genes of the 'intelligent' a new form of eugenics? Is having children in the first place just fundamentally selfish?

    I would argue that we must balance several factors here. Firstly, humanity has been in a constant fear that we live in the worst times--a state of coming doom or apocalypse for a variety of reasons. This gives me faith, not that the end is near or inevitable--though they may be; but that our very existence today on this planet is a sign that we are sufficiently resourceful to find new ways of living that will make it possible to go on. 

    There are some people who feel as though the world is overpopulated and that we cannot sustain a larger population due to overcrowding or a lack of food or perhaps resource utilisation. I even had a friend who suggested that Hitler and Stalin were trying to save the world by killing as many people as they did during WWII, a theory that I find completely implausible as well as shockingly repugnant.

    What I believe is that through technology we will find better farming techniques, we will find sustainable ways of living and travel. These will enable our children and their children to continue to travel and meet other cultures whilst also adapting to a world where we must consciously share resources and use them judiciously.

    My greatest fear now, is not overpopulation, but rather than we fall for a fatalism that the multinational corporations that feed on greed and pollute our planet are unstoppable and that profit is the only master. It's as if we've missed the devil's own hand in our undoing.

    It may be that the seas rise or the climate changes, but even then, I believe we will adapt. We will learn to build dikes like the dutch, we will build higher, we will find ways to remove carbon from the air, we will do whatever it takes. But this will only happen if we care. And it only makes sense to care if there are humans who will be here after us to take care of this gift we've been given.

    Life in my view is not merely our immediate enjoyment. Although we live in the present, my goal is to live in community and build for the future, a future that our children will build after us as well. If our children do not exist, it may be that the solutions, technologies, and causes that will address challenges in our world will never be addressed.

    This is why the view that children are annoying and should be kept out of sight or that we should force them into outward compliance to avoid bother is abusive and actually ruining our future. We should teach our children every day to be well-mannered and brilliant, but it requires them to be involved, not distant. It requires us to give up our resources, our time, our comfort. It's a selflessness to give of ourselves to the next generation rather than to decry their existence that will save our planet.

    This is not to say that everyone should have children. If you don't believe you are the right person, I would ask that you help those around you who have embarked on the journey--when a child stops in the street and blurts out an inane question, that you inspire them and give them wisdom. All the world really needs is for us to care. 

    For those who do want their own children, I ask that you don't fall to the fatalism that would keep you from this journey, this journey that will cost you your freedom to party and do as you will with your life every moment, this journey that asks you to lay down your immediate wants and to invest in your longer dreams, the dreams only your children can realise. 

    For those who want children but cannot have their own for whatever reason, I ask that you see if you can be the light in the life of a child who has already been born into this world. Whether that's just helping in your community or being a good neighbour, or if it's fostering or adopting.

    We will solve the challenges of the future, but it might not be our generation that finds the answers. Let's make sure we love and give confidence to the generations who may find the answers for us. Those who will also in turn grow our economy and pay for our retirement, those who will find a way to right the wrongs of our ancestors and to deal with the debts of the past that harm the present and the future.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2023

    Logic and the Path to Electrification

    April 2022, Using Tesla Public Supercharger Pilot Programme in France

    Something I’ve realised over the years is that people do not actually apply logic in their daily lives. We are typically too busy to consider the full ramifications of each habit and it becomes simpler just to accept that the way we’ve grown accustomed to doing things as individuals or any other level such as society as a whole must just be normal.

    Periodically, someone will come and challenge the status quo and offer a different view. This will usually trigger a whole bunch of hand flailing and complaints that the world is being ruined. Conversely, another group may realise our habits and therefore our inaction may be ruining the continued existence of our world.

    What usually then happens is that people fall into tribal factions, where the concept of using logic is short-circuited by the efficiency of just confirming what the peers in their group also think, which is often set by vested interests, rather than based an actual net benefit to the community.

    In order to further prevent change, conspiracy theories then begin to proliferate. Disinformation campaigns, even completely astroturfing campaigns arise, where paid imaginary people influence laws and public consciousness, either in town halls and legislative arenas or simply on your personal social media, such as Facebook or twitter.

    Some issues are understandably difficult to determine where the facts lie, when the concepts underlying them cannot be broken down and misleading information is propagated. For example: it’s difficult to convince people as to how the climate is changing and assuming it is, whether or not any human activity could change that.

    What to me is less difficult to understand is the direct impact on the air and water that we breathe from pollution. Additionally, the costs we pay for things like fuel can actually be calculated. These are not up for debate, but most people actually have zero idea how much anything costs until they see a monolithic bill come in the mail.

    Right now, I believe we are at a golden moment of opportunity for moving away from fossil fuels, something consumers and investors both stand to benefit from. The only downsides are if you’ve invested heavily in fossil fuel industries.

    My decade-old EV charging in Belgium, driven from London

    I’ll be discussing my love of electric vehicles here in more detail later, I’ll explain what it’s like to own an EV, what it’s like to own an EV that’s even over 10 years old. If you’ve only read things in tabloids or seen a bunch of worrisome items, where you think, ‘that sounds right, did anyone think of x’, don’t worry—there’s probably an answer for it.

    There are some people who will not benefit financially from an EV for now, but I would argue that’s an increasingly smaller minority of people, when you start objectively looking at the data for the air we breathe and the wallet in your pocket. 

    You don’t even need to care whether or not the ocean might rise, everyone can understand getting asthma or seeing the Gulf of Mexico covered in crude oil are bad things. Saving hundreds or thousands a year in your bank account is also something that most people would objectively like as well. And if you’ve seen recent articles suggesting you won’t save money? Don’t worry, we’ll discuss that too!

    Saturday, February 4, 2023

    What is the Meaning of Legacy?

    Some of you may have traced your family lineage or have had it done for you. Many would appear to consider this frivolous and yet others become oddly obsessed with the project. If you know a person in your circle who has an interesting ancestor or relative, you've probably felt as though been told too many stories about them at some point. I've often been guilty of too many retellings, but I hope you'll stick with me because I have a few thoughts this all leads to at the end.

    George Washington and Christopher Gist crossing the Allegheny River (Museum exhibit, Mount Vernon)

    In my family, many of us share the 'Gist' surname as a middle name. My grandmother, aunt, cousins, myself, even my son all have this same middle name. The big reason for this, is our family hero, Christopher Gist. Christopher Gist became friends with George Washington and may have saved his life when Washington was sent to demand the French leave Ohio by Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia. This friendship persisted until Gist's death. 

    Author with portrait of Brigadier General Mordecai Gist
    Office of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, 2010

    What isn't always as well known within the family, is the Gists were involved in plenty of other interesting activities. Whether it was commanding some impressive units in the revolution (Brigadier General Mordecai Gist), starting the civil war (Governor William Henry Gist, South Carolina) or keeping West Virginia in the Union (Joseph Christopher Gist, W.Va. State Senator 1861). There's even the idea that Sequoyah, the man who invented the Cherokee alphabet was also known as George Gist and may be a cousin. Invariably, there are plenty more people who have done interesting things, and a special mention is worth for our cousins the Blairs and the Lees. (Notably, Montgomery Blair was Lincoln's Postmaster General and Blair Lee III was both Lieutenant Governor and Acting Governor of Maryland as well as having served in other offices.) 

    Bruce Lee, Justin Gist Preuninger, Robert Lee

    I had the privilege of meeting some of the descendants of the Blair/Lee cousins, because when I was working in Silver Spring, it transpired they owned the building I worked in. I like to say the story is that I noticed the street names in the area matched my genealogy and I approached their receptionist to ask about it and instead of rejecting this sort of odd question, she introduced me to Blair Lee IV. 

    My grandmother, aunt, and uncle returned to America after World War II on this ship.

    All of this is a short history of some of the highlights, but frankly the stories go on and on. As I explore the journey that my ancestors and our relatives took, we've been on both sides of many great conflicts. There have been many thinkers and intellectuals such as my grandfather who had a doctorate in German language; even my father did his masters in German language, but ended up working in the aviation industry instead of academia, which actually was incredibly educational to my upbringing because I was able to travel internationally nearly every year growing up.

    Champollion 200 Year Anniversary Exhibit
    Louvre, Lens (France) 2022

    When I consider all of this, I think it's something that has helped me to connect with history, but also appreciate my place in history. It's also sometimes a bit confusing how some people react to bits and pieces. I'm also a French citizen, through my mother, and speak fluent French. Recently I was in France, at the Louvre in Lens (an extension of the Paris museum) for the 200 year anniversary Champollion exhibit regarding decipherment of hieroglyphics and I was having a conversation with a woman in the children's media area whilst our children were doing activities. What was interesting, is as much pride as I have in the history I come from, I think we are all human and we all have our own choices and path to make. And when I suggested that anything is possible, she responded and said that I could only have that attitude because I came from a 'great family'. 

    And this is the point I wanted to make here. Legacy can inform the future from the past, but it cannot take the place of our own initiative. It provides the inspiration and perhaps the encouragement for great things... but it cannot be everything. We cannot simply accept that because our family and our ancestors were interesting, or even on the contrary might have been boring, that our life must be limited to a particular path. We should not say, because of the actions of our ancestors, our choices are limited or that we no longer need to put effort into our own story.

    It's also something I think about even more clearly with the recent deaths of several family members, both close relatives and cousins that makes me think about my everyday actions. In so much of life, my experience is that I am waiting for something to get better... a relationship, my bank account, a job situation, etc. And whilst I am waiting, my life is escaping me. As the scripture says, in Ephesians 5:15, we must be "redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (KJV) 

    Somewhere I recently saw a meme that said tradition is, 'listening to peer pressure from dead people,' and I think this is also an angle to consider. Our ancestors likely did not become great by being simply average; if they distinguished themselves beyond their family, it is because they took risks. But as a parent, it's also a question of how I live out my story and how I impart the legacy to inspire the next generations. I want my children to look at my passions and interests and find what brings them joy and what helps their community--much how I've looked at my father's lessons on discovering how machines and technology work and how to identify the best value for my money. Or even how I've wanted to be a peacemaker because of his desire to find a path forward, but also a debater from my mother's energy. To me, the inspiration is clear and it's had a direct impact on my life. I hope that the love of learning that I gained as a child is something my children will also absorb and take to adulthood.

    And this is where I want to set out my path for future generations. I want there to be descendants in the distant future who can come back and think on the fact that we paved a path for them to have the confidence to make their own way, to take their own risks, to show what love means to the people they are close to, and for them to be able to do the same going forward. To do great things in the context of the world they will live in, a world which may not resemble the one that I, my parents, or our ancestors grew up in. There will be new technologies and different politics, different fashions--but fundamentally humans with hopes, desires, frustrations, and dreams.

    Wednesday, December 28, 2022

    It's been way too long!

    Hello friends of the blog!

    It's been over 8 years since my last update. Shocking.

    A lot has happened during this time and much is still to come.

    I'm going to look to re-organise the content here and focus on the viewpoints that I've come to thanks to the life experience I've gained during the intervening time.

    In addition to traditional blogging, which hopefully I will start up again soon, I'm looking to launch a website focused on being a repository of useful, actionable information that can help you be more successful in your projects. This will cover fashion (obviously), but also travel, green energy, technology, immigration, and other topics that may or may not be niche but should serve to help you enrich your life.

    Additionally, I am going to be launching a website to unofficially represent Maryland interests in the United Kingdom--this site will contain information about recipes that are designed with ingredients and measurements appropriate to the UK to create Maryland favourites, information on commonly asked questions, as well as resources designed to enhance collaboration in both tourism and trade for both private individuals and businesses. If you have ideas and suggestions for this project, please submit them here!

    In short, whilst the last several years with the pandemic have been a bit chaotic, now is the time to really gear up and start launching our potential going forward.

    I hope you'll join me in these adventures and I look forward to being in touch with all of you!

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Major Update: Just got Married!

    Editors Note: As of 2022, the marriage is being dissolved. 

    Dear readers, I know I have been way behind with this blog, but it is partly because my life has been particularly interesting and busy this last year! One of the things that has had me most busy recently was getting married at the beginning of July! 

    I may have overly enjoyed telling people that because it was on the 4th of July that 'there would be fireworks', but it always had such a good ring to it. (no liberty bell pun intended)

    Lisa and I were married at All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland

    To our satisfaction, the weather was about as good as one can hope for in Maryland!

     Wedding party with Father Tom!

    The reception was a few blocks away at the Courtyard Mariott:

    For the first dance we used 'Miracles Happen' performed by Jonny Blu, as featured in 'The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement'

    My best man, Kevin gave a great toast!

    Lisa's sister Kelley, the maid of honor, gave a lovely toast as well!

    And now we are on to many more adventures! 

    Thank you to all our friends and family who have helped us become the people we are today. Whether it is by helping us through various parts of our lives and careers or introducing trials which have required us to rise to the occasion, you have been invaluable to us.

    I'm going to see about doing another post to cover the fashion and design aspects!