I am in another capital…in another country…but also in another state. To explain will require a lengthy post.
It is about time, though I should no more believe I can make up for lost time and lost blog posts than any of you who are *still* driving with gas can make up for lost miles. The future isn’t going to wait for you to arrive. Clearly it is already here.
A few of you are already aware of my penchant for going off on long tangents, and sometimes forgetting where I’m going with them. For a full explanation, you will have to wait for the book; there’s not time now, and check out here at the Fairmont Empress is at 11 am. But with my mind for a moment on tangents, let me offer at least a brief explanation–though it is by no means an apology–for my conspicuous scarcity of updates. I can’t tell you how much the support of the countless people I’ve encountered–either physically or virtually–has mattered. It literally has made the difference. However, I also cannot possibly compensate you with words any more than to say thank you. Both literally and figuratively, there has been no gas in the tank.
Ironically, I did not realize this until I awoke this morning–far too early–with what anyone else might have described as a hangover. Nothing very vicious, but a perceptible, throbbing headache of a “what the hell just happened?” hangover. I couldn’t have known how run down I’d gotten until I found myself in another country meeting with a couple of very sharp tacks in Mike Barnard and Jerry Kroll–both of whom are world-class conversationalists. I am certainly not a dummy, but the speed and agility with which those two traded industry names, developments, and predictions left me sitting as if at a stoplight in a gas-powered Subaru (no offense, mom.) I was glad I had more or less catalyzed the meeting, but I had precious little to offer the dialogue other than to be a simple witness to it. (Mike, that was my small way of thanking you for the introduction to Zach Shahan and all the other things you’ve done and keep doing–not just for me but for what I’d call ‘developments which matter.’ Someday we’ll be even…that is, if I’m ever flying across the Norwegian Sea in a helicopter and I find you bobbing in the waves like Walter Mitty.)
It is hard for me to offer a very comprehensive summary of either of these two gentleman from just the short time I had with them, but what I will say is that I dropped quickly into absorb mode. Both are storehouses of information with impressive skills and credentials to offer the developing EV ecosystem. Frankly, I didn’t need to guide or even actively take part in the dialogue so much as I needed to catalogue what was transpiring. When it becomes a question of “which form” rather than a debate of “whether” or “when” it seems to me that the revolution is nicely on its way. I suspect you’ll get plenty more newsflashes than just this one, but I’m here to tell you, the days of oil-powered cars are over.
They are just plain over.
There is no reason to drive a gas car anymore–certainly not with any regularity. Call it an overstatement if you like, but then be prepared to back your assertion with a quantitative and qualitative analysis of what you’re costing yourself and the world by arguing for increasingly marginal convenience over increasingly common sense and responsibility to future generations.
This is not the same world as it was even ten years ago, and despite the fact that I’ve driven my last 50,000 miles without a drop of yesterday’s fuel, I didn’t grasp the severity of the changes until I woke up this morning. It is just not the same anymore.
The shock to my system came when I plunged myself into a culture (Vancouver, B.C.) sufficiently contrasting what I’d call familiar just at a time I was one day short on sleep (fourish hours) after being many days short of good rest. I had barely rested in over fifteen weeks, and as it sometimes happens, I didn’t realize how far out on a limb I’d climbed until someone else politely pointed it out.
I simply didn’t realize how thoroughly exhausted I’d become until someone noticed for me and offered generous guidance in the right direction: to the Fairmont Empress hotel. This is what usually happens to people when they marginalize themselves, or otherwise engage in selective analyses. One day it hits you, and then it becomes, “well I should have…” And with regard to the topic du jour, your kids or their kids or their kids after that are going to ask it as a question: why didn’t you?
In 2015, why didn’t you?
I was doing the same damn thing the entire gas-driving world is doing. Running on fumes.
The difference between most of them and me is I have bipolar disorder. I can variously be excused for taking leave of my senses from time to time. I do my best to keep track of it, and I have great friends and family who help me monitor my condition, but I sort of have an excuse for taking leave of my senses from time to time–if only in letting myself get so sufficiently run down that I expostulate a bit too much and lose track of what I’m trying to say now and then.
I don’t know what sort of moccasins the rest of you are wearing, but I do know that very few of us have an excuse for so thoroughly taking leave of our senses–or to put it more accurately, so selectively engaging our senses–as to dismiss one of the most important considerations of our time: how to get from place to place.
Setting aside the obvious selection bias for those reading this, if you’re like most people, you have absolutely dismissed it from serious consideration. And while driving with fossil fuel may be excusable, doing so without engaging in a serious consideration of the obvious alternative is not. It is inexcusable, and the worst part about it is that the people we ought to apologize to for it aren’t even here to apologize to yet! If they are, they’re still looking up at us from their cribs with wide open eyes of astonishment about all the amazing things they think we’re capable of doing…just not this. Their vote doesn’t matter, because we’re by and large engaged in the last politically correct form of prejudice: Era-ism. Our era is more important than anyone else’s, and certainly if you’re not born yet your vote doesn’t matter, right? Good God how human we are!
How can we not stop ourselves? It is the same as continuing to sit on the couch after your favorite TV show ends, straight through the commercials and into a show that you can’t even stand just to see how bad it will get. Most of us are watching ourselves take part in a show that is due to be cancelled!
There’s hope, certainly, but it isn’t the kind of hope we’re trained to believe in. We have silver bullet fixes and Lone Ranger heroes so ingrained in our culture that we seem to expect something along those lines to give us the signal. Some obvious flag to drop, a pistol to fire, and the cameras to be rolling before we get ourselves started. I kind of suspected it was this way, and when I left New York almost four months ago, I figured I’d try to fire the starter pistol as best I could. So that people would start to realize how shameful it is to carry on with plan Alpha despite that plan Beta is more than ready for prime-time. A “wow, he went everywhere, maybe at least I can drive around my hometown with one of those” type of thing. A signal that electrics were worth giving a try. Those who have seen the car know that the flag is flying. It keeps right on flying, and I would argue an EV is the only kind of car you’ve got any business putting an American flag on. For a moment dispensing entirely with the political discussion of militarily policing our oil interests.
I’ve done the best I could. I really believe I have. I’m wistful too! I’ve heard some comments about “well he should have done this” or “he missed out on that” but at the end of a day, there are still only 24 hours. At the end of the day, the harps playing “well he should have had someone who knew something about PR” are playing a tune I’m very damn familiar with.
There has been Zan Dubin Scott, who offered quite a generous amount of assistance, and put me in contact with NPR LA, to top it off. There have been my EVCHARGEHUB guys who are undoubtedly running on empty trying to push electric vehicles and their adoption as best they can, there have been the Sal Camelis, the Jerry Ashers, the Peggy Armstrongs, and the Mike Barnards to name just a handful of the countless people who put a ton of spare time into what I hate to keep calling “the revolution” and who have offered me assistance along the way. Most are people who don’t even get paid for what they’re doing, nor do I. Not all of us are completely coordinated with what we believe is best to further the goal of mass electric vehicle adoption, but it’s pretty damn hard to expect coordination when there IS NO COORDINATOR. If you want to lecture someone, lecture Nissan.
Yes, lecture Nissan. Specifically lecture Nissan Corporate for being asleep at the wheel where at least in my case I’ve remained awake and pretty close to vigilant. While it’s been the thrill of a lifetime, at the end of all those 24 hour days, this trip is going to cost me a comparatively large amount of money, to say nothing of time or energy. Those of you who know what being on call is about might try thinking in terms of what being on call 24/7 for over 100 days straight would be like. Not especially easy, is what. And the best I can receive from the top of the Nissan North American corporate sales ladder is a preemptive “we’re not going to comp you the mileage”? Er, thanks…
You’re going to threaten me with keeping a car I’m obviously quite fond of?
Have you seen the car, Tony? It would take me a week to get all the stickers off of it.
My daily tasks–which might easily be and have been argued should have included more social media work–involve talking to real people on the ground *every single day* and multiple times every single day–at virtually every charging stop and explaining/familiarizing/advocating electric vehicles to people who might not have seriously considered one for another year, two years, or God forbid five. Suggesting in as many ways as I’ve been able to think of to ‘go test drive one.’ They’ve included educating countless Nissan dealerships (primarily on the middle quarter of the U.S.) on how to keep their DC fast chargers working (at least for those who even appear mildly interested in doing so), re-navigating around dealerships which have represented, in sum, the least reliable source of a charge out of any place I’ve targeted, repeated calls to charging station operators to report conditions, and finding places to stay overnight that I won’t very likely get a ticket for the ‘offense’ of sleeping in the car. I’ve worked with a 6 gig data limit in the most technologically barren places in the U.S. Think about that, for a minute, and before you offer the ready answer “well there are McDonald’s everywhere with free WiFi” try to wrap your mind around where I’m compelled to always be: within a relatively short walk of a charging station. Try to wrap your mind around not even being officially offered the No Charge to Charge program by Nissan Corporate as the mildest thanks for pointing and shouting “this is the best car in the world” from the top of everywhere including Pikes Peak.
Wrap your mind around hours spent planning before and during, hours more spent handwriting well over a thousand cards, and lest anyone forget–planting trees in damn near every state I’ve been through. But I’m only averaging 200 miles a day, and I haven’t been great about being a volunteer one man PR team. Taking those “suggestions” in stride with a good laugh is what I’m doing, though many who don’t know me especially well will probably see it as getting defensive.
I’m sorry if it sounds defensive, especially because it’s here, but I can’t apologize for the approach I’ve taken nor can I seriously engage in a discussion of the “wouldve’s, shouldve’s, couldve’s” as a friend of mine used to say. I have come around to the viewpoint that we all do the best we can, and I have given very serious consideration to the sincere suggestions I’ve been offered on how to approach a job that really hasn’t even been fully invented: Full time EV promoter.
There are God knows how many suggestions to try to follow, and I really do seriously try to follow them as frequently as I can. My brother, who is one of those who typically offers the most sage bits of advice, has cautioned me more than once to take nonconstructive criticisms in stride: “I appreciate the feedback, thanks” and “that’s great information, thanks.” He also says to “keep things short.” I don’t always; my tendency is to write long, not to write short. I’m a novice at social media in general, and my data limits (ignored for the moment at a wired connection at a too-nice hotel room Mr. Barnard generously lavished on me) have limited my photo and video uploads, but I do the best I can. I think we’re all learning something if we’re engaged at all, and hopefully we all work toward doing the best we can. Thinking (while driving and hardly ever listening to music) but not agonizing does help this.
I will say the happiest I have been along the way is at the times I used to feel foreign and uncomfortable about: when I am the least knowledgeable taking part in the discussion. I sat with Trish and Ty Haveman, and talked with Ray Ishak, Keith Kemp. and now Mike and Jerry in the past few days and discovered all kinds of things I knew nothing whatsoever about. About what I had started thinking fondly of as “my specialty.” My specialty–if I have one–is figuring out how to make it work when it might not otherwise.
I think it’s been a great 21,700 mile ride so far. And I’m actively trying to improve as I go along. But here’s first notice that I’m refreshed and (almost) as good as new. I can’t think of a place better than The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia to have accomplished my revivification.