Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The old Mercury Mountaineer is still my main ride. I think the mileage is getting worse, or maybe it just seems that way because the price of gas keeps going up.
Whatever it is, I'm still dreaming of getting my GM Chevy Volt.  I know GM has some large sunk costs into the Volt electric car, but I'm having trouble overcoming two issues:

First, the cost.  For me as a consumer, the cost is about $10,000 out of reach. I know that there are tax rebates, but... it feels like they've jacked up the price of the car so that they are effectively usurping the rebate.  I know... billions in sunk costs, yadda yadda.  But  I have a family to feed, a mortgage to pay.  Before I can drive a Chevy Volt, I first need to afford one.  And right now, as badly I as I want one, I can't afford it.

Second, there is the uncertainty over the battery. I understand it will cost more than $10,000 to replace the battery if something happens to it.  Eventually, it will need to be replaced.  So that cost is out there no matter what. I wish I could amortize the cost of the replacement battery, perhaps by buying a warranty of some kind.  For a car as expensive as the Chevy Volt, this is an extra cost burden I'm not excited to bear.

Started using Lockbin email encryption service today. My job requires that I trade sensitive information with another party, and I'm bound to protect it. Lockbin is the easiest, best way I've found so far to send documents securely without a huge cost or complex key exchange involved. Check out Lockbin.

Meanwhile, life here goes on. I'm stuck driving my gas guzzler for now, but I'm hoping the Chevy Volt will eventually reach some kind of threshold where it makes sense for GM to sell it for about $30k.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mitt Romney earns "not very much" from speaker's fees: $374,327.62.

It is unbelievable just how out of touch Mitt Romney is with ordinary Americans. The guy doesn't have a clue what middle and working classes are going through.  With Romney, money is just an afterthought. Truly, he doesn't have a fucking clue.

The New York Times reported Romney earned $374,327.62 in speakers’ fees from February of 2010 to February of 2011, at an average of $41,592 per speech.

“And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much," said Romey.

Read it here.

$375k is just a piddly little inconvenience to one of the richest men to run for any office in America. I'm not prepared to trust my future and my children's future to a guy who is so far out of touch with the values of 99% of Americans.

You can wrap a pig in denim, but that doesn't make him a working class pig.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We failed...

When it came right down to it, I wasn't able to put down the money.  For a new geothermal system, that is.  The bid was about $30,000.  That price would have been offset by a $10,000 tax credit, for a total cost of (if my math is correct) about $20,000.

We signed the contract, opened a line of credit at a local bank, but at the last moment we called off the project. It would have greatly lowered our carbon footprint.  Other concerns trumped green heat:  the need to construct a new deck on our home, two aging automobiles, and uncertainty with my wife's employment situation.

It makes me wonder now if I'm going to be able to pull the trigger on a Chevy Volt purchase.  I've been waiting years to buy this car, but at $40,000 (before tax breaks) its just beyond our grasp.

Even if our hearts are in the right place, and even if we really want to embrace new technologies that will help lower our carbon foot prints, eventually we will have to come face to face with that price tag.  In my case, as a middle-class who cares about the earth, I wasn't able to do it.

Uncertainty about the future is the first problem:  I wasn't able to take on additional financial risk while not having great confidence in the future.

High prices were the second problem. Even with a government tax rebate, the price was just too high for us.

We will continue saving, and will re-evaluate the geothermal heat this summer.   But one thing I've learned... I can't make these kinds of significant financial decisions on a whim, even if I desperate want to adopt and help these green technologies. The prices simply must come down.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Going Geothermal in Minnesota

My wife and I decided to take a step forward in the greening of our lifestyle. We've signed a contract to install a geothermal heat pump. It will be going in over the next two months. It will consist of seven wells, each 180' deep. This is over sized for our 2400 square foot home, but we think the extra capacity will help the efficiency of our system.

The entire system will cost about $27,000. A 30% federal tax rebate will shave about $8100 off the system. Our electric coop will pay about another $2000. For less than the cost of an average vehicle, we believe we will conserve about 50% of our heating costs while lowering our carbon emissions.

In fact, I have been holding off buying a new car for several years. I'm still driving my 2004 Mercury Mountaineer. It is a gas pig, but for years now I have vowed to drive it until I can buy a Chevy Volt or a Nissan Leaf. Those vehicles are not available in my area yet. Hopefully, I'll get the bank loan paid off on the geothermal system about the time my Mountaineer is ready for the recycling heap, and use the line of credit to buy the Volt.

Extra costs for the geothermal system will include the electrical wiring, and landscaping to repair the damage to our backyard and sprinkler system.

Our propane furnace will remain installed so that we will qualify for the low dual-heat rate, which is $.051 instead of .097, a big savings.

The permitting process is underway. I'll post some pictures.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 - Will I Finally be able to buy a Chevy Volt This Year?

I've been waiting years to get a Chevy Volt. I started following this story around 2007, and have watched the car go from concept, to almost total elimination in GM's bankruptcy, to a reality. Still, the Volt is not scheduled to be in show rooms in my area until 2012. I hope that means that the 2012 models will be in Minnesota sometime in late 2011, rather than late 2012.

Meanwhile, my 2004 Mercury Mountaineer is beginning to show its age. I've held off buying a new car on the hopes that my next car will be a Volt. I like the Nissan Leaf and the new electric Ford Focus, but I live in the countryside. A round trip to the city for me is 100 miles, which the Leaf may barely be able to do, but its cutting it too close. With a lack of electric charging stations, I need the Volt's gas powered electric engine in order to avoid range anxiety.

Volt is a terrific idea. I've been ready to buy for years, as this blog will attest. Come on, GM! Lets ramp up the rollout! Customers are waiting.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How much oil has BP spilled into the Gulf of Mexico so far?

BP would like to keep the amount of oil spilling into the gulf as quiet as possible. Be sure to slide the "spill-o-meter" all the way to your right to get the most accurate estimate.

This disaster is just beyond words, beyond compensation, beyond repair. While Republicans try to put the blame on Obama (ridiculous! as if BP had nothing to do with it, and as if Cheney-Bush didn't put the energy policy and de-regulation in place that lead to this disaster) and simultaneously scream "drill baby, drill," the oil continues wash up on America's shores.

While BP may be able to shamefully push around little Banana Republics, America must stand up to the BP bully. This company should be liquidated. Its officers should be jailed for life, or worse. An terrible example must be made of BP to send the message that this must NEVER EVER happen again.

Nobody has ever heard of an "air spill" at a wind farm. And the sun spills its energy every day. Why oh why do we remain addicted to these terrible, hellish fossil fuels pollute our waters and air, poison our children, contribute to global warming and keep us kissing the asses of Petro-Dictators and turning a blind eye toward human rights.

Shame on all of us for buying the lie that "We must use oil for the foreseeable future." The oil-lobby (I call them Fossil-fools) has been saying that for 40 years to discourage any organized effort to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

Where is my electric car!!! GM, I'm still waiting!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Offshore drilling and exploding oil platforms... just say no

Drill baby, drill! That annoying shrill cry of Sarah Palin resonates like manicured finger nails on a chalkboard.

President Obama has shown himself to be a big too pragmatic when it comes to offshore drilling. Now in Louisiana comes a stark sinking reminder why we have not permitted it for so long.

Predictably, the oil industry assures that technology has advanced to the point where we no longer need be concerned about a single drop of oil polluting our shores. Lies from fools.

Offshore drilling pollutes our shores and waters, pollutes our air, and contributes to what even George W. acknowledged as our "addiction to oil." Nothing good comes from offshore drilling; it simply maintains the status quo and does no long term good for America or humanity.

President Obama, this latest episode of offshore drilling horror must open your eyes. Stop reaching out to the Repulicans, the party of no... They'll never vote for a progressive agenda anyway. Don't give Sarah Palin and her lunatic fringe a victory. Permanently close American shores and pristine wilderness areas to offshore drilling now. On this issue, the Democrats should be the party of "No."