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My Unbelievable Experience with Boost Mobile

A few weeks ago, my Samsung Galaxy S10 developed an issue that prevented it from charging. I brought it to a repair place and was told the charging port was bad. He said the entire motherboard would need to be replaced and it wasn’t worth the cost.

I thought it might be a good time to change carriers. My wife has two business phones with T-mobile and pays $55 per month for both together. I went to T-mobile thinking that four lines would be cheaper per line than two lines. Instead, the man there told me it would be $160 for four lines. He also said that the $55 deal was no longer available for new accounts so I couldn’t just get two two-line accounts.

I ended up checking the Boost Mobile website which said I was elegible for a discount on a new phone. I found one I liked, a Motorolla Edge Plus that was regularly $749 but was marked down to $149. I wanted to make sure there was no catch, like a ten-year contract. I checked the fine print but saw nothing bad. I still wasn’t convinced so I called Boost to confirm that I didn’t have to give up my first born or something like that.

When I called, their computer didn’t recognise my phone number. When I was able to talk to a real person, they couldn’t find my number in their system. “Your kidding?” I said. “I’ve been a customer since 2009.”

I ended up giving my wife’s phone number which he found. He told me the only stipulation was that I couldn’t get the phone unlocked to take to a new carrier for one year. I thought that was reasonable, so I went back to my cart on the website. It said my total would be about $160. I clicked the buy button.

A few seconds later an email arrived with a receipt for $802 dollars. I was shocked and immediately called Boost back. I told the woman on the phone what happened, and she told me I would have to wait until the phone arrived and then send it back. “I said, “No, no, no! I just ordered it five minutes ago. You need to cancel the order.”

She said she couldn’t do that. I said, “What do you mean you can’t do that? The phone hasn’t been shipped yet. Just cancel the order.”

She repeated that she couldn’t cancel the order. “I said, “That’s crazy. You are now going to tie up $800 of my money for God knows how long while I wait for the phone to arrive, which hasn’t even been shipped yet. I then have to send it back, pay for postage with my money, and hope that the post office doesn’t lose the package.”

The conversation went on for quite a while and eventually I was transferred to a supervisor who told me the same thing. He sympathized with me but there was nothing he could do. I might have asked if Moe, Larry and Curly were running the company. The supervisor mentioned that he had a similar problem earlier that day when a woman’s child ordered a phone without her consent.

I thought then that this must happen multiple times a day. Multiply that by many years, it was shocking to know that company as big as Boost Mobile had no way to deal with the problem. It seems like such an easy fix. To let the problem linger for so long tells me they don’t want to fix it.

I learned from the supervisor that my wife was eligible for the discounted phone, but I wasn’t. It turns out that a year or so ago we switched from individual plans to a family plan. Somehow my wife’s number became primary and mine became secondary. Actually, not even secondary. My account essentially became so unimportant that they couldn’t even find my phone number in their system.

My wife thought we should order the $149 phone too, so through the supervisor, we ended up placing another order for a second phone that we were told could be used with my phone number. We ended up having to wait for both phones to arrive and then make sure we sent the expensive one back. The last time I ordered a phone it took two days. This time I waited five days before the expensive phone to arrive and another two days for the cheaper version of the same phone. I took the expensive phone to the post office, bought the extra insurance, and shipped it.

Friday my wife asked me to call Boost Mobile because they had the phone in their possession for two weeks but have not reimbursed us the $802. When I called, they still didn’t recognize my phone number, even though the supervisor told me he would report the problem. When I got someone on the phone, he told me it would be two to four weeks before we would see the money back in our account and since it was not four weeks yet, we needed to wait another two weeks.

I’m sure I don’t have to spell out how insane all of this is. The thing I regret most is purchasing the second phone. I should have just sent the one phone back and put Boost Mobile in the rear view. I would love to protest their treatment by going with another carrier but now I’m stuck with them for another year.

Three Books in Six Months

I self-published my first novel, Identity Crisis, on July 9th, 2023. Granted, it took 20 years to start writing it and five years actually to write it, but I did it. I then wrote and published my next book, The Last Healer, a little more than two months later in September of last year.

Once I knew I could actually write a book everything seemed to become much easier. That is what I thought after I finished my second book. Then things got hard. The next book I started went well for a few chapters but then I got stuck. I had the beginning and I had a good idea of the ending but I couldn’t figure out how to expand the middle without boring the reader. That story just wanted to be a short story so I gave up.

I then tried something different. I decided to write a family friendly story. A story you might see on Disney back when Disney was family friendly. Unfortunately, after several chapters, I just couldn’t get excited about the story so I stopped writing it.

I then started writing my latest book Shooting Star. This story I felt better about writing and was able to get through the first draft pretty quickly. I wasn’t entirely happy with the story after the first draft although no first draft is ever perfect. At 30,000 words it was too short for one thing. I also felt that the characters needed more depth.

I spent some time working on the story. I added a little more romance between the characters and increased the word count to about 36,000. It’s still fairly short but it falls into the novella category. I suppose I could have added scenes to make it longer, but I didn’t want to dilute the story. Often times when I am editing my writing, I find deleting parts of the story works better than adding to it. In the end I am happy with the final version of this book.

For now, the book is available only on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats. I wanted to enroll in the KDP program. Doing so means that I can only sell it on Amazon for 90 days, but I can offer the eBook for free for, I believe, a total of five days during that period. So today and tomorrow you can get the Kindle version for free. I am hoping I can get people to read it and leave a review for me. If you would like to help me by reading my book and leaving a review, you can get the book here.

I would also appreciate reviews for my other books. I can’t offer those for free, but I can offer my gratitude and a good story. Thanks for reading.

Writing My Next Book

My first novel, Identity Crisis, took me five years to write and more than 20 years to start writing after the original Idea occurred to me. I published it this year on the 9th of July, and I started writing another book on the 22nd of July. I finished the first draft of that book on the 1st of September.

I don’t know why writing my latest book, The Last Healer, was so much easier. Perhaps finishing the first one showed me what I was capable of, so I was more motivated to write the next one. It still wasn’t easy, though. Like the first one, I started it without knowing how it would end. Sometimes, it feels like the story writes itself, and I’m just there to type the words.

This one is not quite novel length, but I feel it is a good story. I think this one will appeal to women more than my first book. I didn’t start out with the intention to write a mystery romance, but that is the direction the story took. There is also a bit of science fiction mixed in.

I hired a different cover designer for this book. The last one was good but took way too long. This one was a great artist, but I think she lacked experience with formatting for print books, so after several failed attempts, I was able to fix all the formatting issues and upload the cover art to Amazon. I published the ebook on September 22, but because of the formatting issues, it took until yesterday to get the paperback published, and I am still waiting for approval on the hardcover.

I also decided not to enroll this book into KDP Select. That is supposed to give authors more opportunities to make money in exchange for having the book solely available on Amazon. I found it, at least in my case, to contribute almost nothing extra to my bottom line. Instead, I went with a company called Draft2Digital. They distributed my ebook to several booksellers. Some of the booksellers where my book is available can be found here. Others, like Google Play Books, I’m still waiting for the book to go live. I’m also considering offering a print version through Draft2Digital, but my profit would be much lower than I get through Amazon, which still isn’t that much after printing costs and Amazon’s cut.

I feel like I want to write another book now. The problem is that my few ideas would make good short stories, but I can’t yet think how they could be expanded into full books.

Writing My First Novel

Recently I finished writing my first novel and plan to self-publish it as soon as the cover is ready. How I got to this point is the real story.

I had the idea for the story floating around in my head since 1996 or earlier. I wanted to outline the story before starting, but I never could come up with an ending or even a decent middle, so I put it on the back burner and thought about it occasionally. Finally, on July 30, 2018, I started writing. I hoped that the story would resolve itself as I wrote.

It went pretty well for a while, but I soon hit a roadblock. I made many changes to what I had written, so the story became different from what I originally envisioned. Still, I couldn’t think about where I was going with it. So for nearly five years, I would add to the story only occasionally.

Things changed after St. Patrick’s Day this year. That day the company I worked for went out of business, and I was out of a job. I found myself with time on my hands while I looked for work. During that time, I was writing with new enthusiasm. I managed to break through the roadblock and finished the first draft of the book around the first of May. So it took me about six weeks to go from less than 24,000 words to over 60,000 words. I’m sure most writers could do that easily, but considering how long it took to write the first 24,000 words, I thought it went well, especially since I had no outline to follow.

I then read through the book two or three more times, correcting errors and inconsistencies. I gave a copy to my wife in hopes that she could find mistakes for me, but she was way too busy, so I sent it to my mother. She read it and sent back three pages of corrections. I was amazed that I missed so much. After that, I added Gramerly to my Word program, which helped me catch many more mistakes.

I read through my book six or seven times before I was ready to publish it. Then I had to wait for the cover. I contracted with someone on Fiverr to illustrate it for me on June 8, but he was swamped and gave me a delivery date of July 8. He finally finished the front cover a day late and I was able to publish the ebook on my birthday. I’m now waiting for the back cover for the print edition. If you are interested you can find the book here.

If you do decide to purchase my book, I would really appreciate a review.

Setting Up My First Dirted Aquarium

About a month ago, I started considering putting an aquarium in my house. We had a 55-gallon fish tank about 15 years ago, and I thought that would be a good size again. Unfortunately, we have no room for a tank that size in the house. The best I could do was a 29-gallon fish tank. There was barely enough room for that on a cabinet in the dining room. Our cats like to lie on that cabinet and look out the window, so I would have to take that away from them.

I didn’t want a typical fish tank. I wanted something as close to nature as possible, so I did a fair amount of research. I discovered something called the Walstad method, also known as a dirted aquarium. Diana Walstad wrote a book called Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, which I bought. I found it written more like a scientific journal with much more information than I cared about. Instead, I went to YouTube and learned from people using the method. Most of the videos I watched were similar, but everyone had a slightly different method or list of ingredients.

Last Friday, I was in Petsmart and saw they had a 29-gallon aquarium kit on sale for $120, down from $150. I decided to look online when I got home and found the same aquarium kit on the Petsmart website for $75, so I bought it and arranged to pick it up in the store the next day.

The Walstad method requires a layer of soil topped by a layer of sand. The consensus is about one inch of dirt topped by two inches of sand. Some people only use organic topsoil, while others have a recipe of a half dozen things to supplement the soil, including peat moss, compost, manure, epson salt, bone meal, iron oxide, and diatomaceous earth. The substrate, meaning the sand and soil, should eventually be self-sustained, but that could take a year or more, so the additives help until a balance is reached.

A symbiotic relationship should exist between the plants, fish, and all the microorganisms in the tank. I don’t know the exact process, but the microorganisms break down fish waste and dead plants and convert it to plant food. The plants then help remove ammonia and nitrates and provide oxygen for the fish. I’m sure many other things are going on as well.

I went to Home Depot before picking up the fish tank. I compromised because I could not find most of what I was looking for. I bought topsoil that contained peat moss. I also bought a combination of manure and organic compost. I finished by picking up a bag of play sand and a bucket.

I had epson salt and diatomaceous earth at home and decided to skip what I couldn’t find.

I mixed three-quarters of topsoil and one-quarter of compost/manure in a 5-gallon bucket. I added a small amount of epson salt and diatomaceous earth to the mixture. I then added about one inch of it to the tank. I had a spray bottle filled with water and sprayed the dirt until it was soaked.

I put two inches of sand on top and pushed it down along the front glass with a wooden turner to hide the dirt.

The next step was to add water, but it needed to be done carefully. If the pressure from the water exposed the dirt, there would be a big mess. I placed a paper bowl upside down and brought in my garden hose on the sprayer setting.

I used a paper bowl because I didn’t want to wash sand down my sink, but the bowl started floating, which complicated the filling a bit.

Once I had the tank filled, I added a small amount of Prime, a chemical designed to neutralize the chlorine in the water. After that, I added the plants I bought while I was at PetSmart. Later we bought six Tetra fish and added them to the tank.

I forgot an important step that I did the next morning. I went to a nearby creek and pulled a stick and a few leaves out of the water and added them to the tank. This was to introduce beneficial bacteria and microorganisms to the tank.

I bought a few more plants a couple of days later at Pet Supermarket, which had them for a fair amount less. As I write this Thursday evening the fish are still well and I will probably look for another type of fish to add to the tank within the next few days.

I will follow up in a couple of months to let you know how it is going.

My Transition Back to Film

In 2002 I sold all my film cameras and bought a 4-megapixel digital camera for $500. One of the cameras I sold was a Yashica Mat-124 medium format film camera. Recently I was feeling nostalgic and thought about getting back into film. The problem was the cost versus the benefits.

What are the benefits of film? I could only think of two; the first is hard to put into words. It just looks different. It has a more gritty feel. Some subjects look better on film. Street photography is one example.

The second benefit is that it costs more. I know that doesn’t make sense but hear me out. I did some research and calculated the cost of film, the cost of mailing it to the film lab, the cost of developing and scanning, and the cost to have the negatives shipped back to me. In my case, I went with the cheapest 125 black and white film and sprang for the upgraded scanning service. The total cost was around $48 or $4 per photograph. When you know that every shot costs four dollars, you are going to be more careful with your shots. You will think about each one and make sure all your settings are correct. It is a great way to hone your skills and become a better photographer.

When my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I gave her a link to a used Yashica Mat-124 camera that was up for sale on Ebay or another platform. I believe it was around $250, which was cheap compared to similar cameras out there. I was surprised by how much these cameras were selling for. It showed that film was far from dead.

The camera arrived in good condition but not perfect. There was an issue with the case not closing correctly and there was a crack in the lens cap but everything seemed in good working order except the light meter. That needed a battery that they don’t make anymore.

Believe it or not, it took me a month to take twelve photos. I chose to use black and white film partly because it is cheaper but mostly because I wanted my film photography to be as different as possible from my digital photography. For that reason, and the fact that I did not have a zoom lens for the camera, landscape photography seemed like the best choice. Unfortunately, having a full-time job and a wife that likes to do things with me on the weekends that don’t include walking through nature parks, picture opportunities didn’t come up often.

During the next month, I did find time to go to two nature parks and a botanical garden. For the most part, it was difficult to find a scene worth four dollars but I managed. I downloaded a light meter app on my phone and hoped it was accurate. I then was very careful to get my exposure right. While being very careful in that area, I forgot something else that was very important. I forgot to focus. I have been so used to my camera focusing that it didn’t occur to me to focus manually until I was on frame seven or so. I think I paid attention to the first two photos but then a week later it slipped my mind.

When I finally sent the film out I had to wait about a week or so before I got an email saying my scans were ready. The guy warned me that it looked like there was a light leek and he was willing to fix it for me if I wanted him to. The leak was obvious in the first photo I took. It is a picture of my son with his son and girlfriend on Christmas.

The next couple of photos had problems with the light leak, and after that, there were some photos slightly out of focus, but they got better.

My second roll of film is still in the camera, I loaded that before I knew about the light leak, but I think I know how to fix it without repairing the camera. I think the leather case blocks the light leak so the next time I load film I will put the case back on before I advance the film to frame one. That might solve the problem.

I have thought about ways to make black-and-white film photography cheaper but shooting 120 film complicates things a bit. Years ago I bought film in large rolls and rolled it into empty film cartridges. I then developed it myself. I even bought an enlarger so I could print my own photos. It was quite fun. Unfortunately, that was all 35 mm film and I have no experience with developing 120 film. I’m sure I could learn to develop my own 120 film but then there is the matter of scanning that film. I have a 35 mm film scanner that was relatively cheap but a similar scanner for 120 film is way out of my budget. I could afford it but I wouldn’t scan enough to make it worth buying. Perhaps that will change in the future. I don’t know. For now, I will continue to shoot digital and bring along my Yashica for those times when it is a better fit.

Don’t Believe All Criticism of Electric Cars

I have been reading negative stories about electric cars lately. Some are legitimate concerns, some are so minor they are not worth mentioning and others are arguments that are not well thought out. Here I want to give you my opinion on electric cars and why they are not as bad as the naysayers want you to believe.

Currently, I drive a 2022 Nissan Leaf and my wife drives a 2022 Tesla Model Y. Previously I drove a 2015 Nissan Leaf, which I regrettably traded in for a truck that I thought we needed. After a few months, when we suddenly didn’t need the truck, I traded it for another leaf.

The main reason our government is pushing electric vehicles is that many believe they will help reduce carbon emissions and thus global warming. That is not why I bought my first electric car and it is not why I bought my second, either. I bought them primarily because they are practically maintenance-free and because they are far cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles. The large tax rebate didn’t hurt either.

Carbon Emissions

Let’s start with carbon emissions. My Leaf has the words “Zero Emission” displayed on the back which, as many naysayers will claim, is not true. Actually, it is usually not true but sometimes it is. It all depends on where the power comes from where you charge your car.

If the power you use to charge your car comes from a power plant that burns coal or other fuels, then the miles you drive indirectly translates into air pollution. If the power comes from a hydroelectric, solar, or wind turbine electric plant then it is truly zero emission.

The real issue is that the energy used to charge your electric car is generating pollution but nobody talks about how much pollution. According to the EPA, the average co2 emissions from a gallon of gas is 8,887 grams. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average co2 emissions from the electric power industry is 0.85 pounds per kWh. This equates to 385.5 grams.

So let’s do some back-of-the-envelope calculations. My leaf is currently getting between 4.2 and 4.4 miles per kWh. Let’s round down and just use 4 miles per kWh. The EPA says 22 miles per gallon of gas is average. So, 8,887 grams, divided by 22 miles per gallon, equals 403.95 grams of co2 per mile. Times that by 4 and you get about 1,616 grams per 4 miles. Divide 1,616 by 385.5 and we see that the average gasoline-powered automobile pollutes 4.19 times that of an electric car that gets 4 miles per kWh. If we are really conservative and assume the average electric car driver gets 3.5 miles per kWh. That is still 3.67 times more carbon dioxide emissions from a gasoline vehicle.

Environmental Impact

There has been a lot of talk about the negative environmental impact of mining lithium for EV batteries. This is one area where the critics may be right but they fail to consider one very important fact. The importance of demand.

Many people don’t know this but electric cars were popular in the late 1800s but were killed off in 1912 when Henry Ford developed the modern assembly line and outpriced electric cars by more than half. Since then, electric cars were more of a novelty and nobody put any money into research and development because they knew they would not get a return on their investment. Thus, electric cars spent decades in limbo.

In the late 1990s, GM produced the EV1, which many thought was a great car, but it did not do well. GM produced 1,117 EV1s, all leased, and reclaimed the cars, only to destroy most of them. Some claim GM deliberately marketed the vehicles badly to prove to California regulators that electric vehicles were not a viable option.

It wasn’t until Tesla came on the scene in 2008 with its electric roadster and then Nissan with the all-electric Leaf in 2012 did electric cars start to gain traction in popularity. These last few years have really seen a spike in electric car sales, especially when gas prices started going through the roof the past year or so.

All of this demand, and profit, spur research as we have never seen before. If people do not buy these imperfect machines now, there will be no money or incentive to make future versions better. Today there are several companies working on battery technologies that will not only make batteries more efficient, longer lasting, and faster charging, but they will also be made with materials that are more common and cleaner to produce. I suspect in ten years we will see incredible advancements in batteries for everything from cars to cell phones to backup power for homes, all because EV sales funded the research.

Range

Another complaint you hear about electric vehicles is that the range is not sufficient. It is true that, with a few exceptions, most electric vehicles cannot drive as far as a gasoline-powered vehicle can drive. I believe that does not matter in almost all cases. According to Kelley Blue Book, Americans drive an average of 14263 miles per year. That is roughly 39 miles per day. Most people just drive to work and back five days a week and maybe travel a little bit farther on the weekends. With few exceptions, all that driving is easily within the range of even older electric vehicles.

A high-range Vehicle is only necessary when you will be traveling hundreds of miles and that usually only happens once or twice a year when people take a vacation. Even then, people often fly to their destination and only need a vehicle that can bring them to the airport. If you do need to travel a long distance, you have a couple of options.

First, you can rent a car, which is actually a good option even if you own a gasoline vehicle because it will save wear and tear on your vehicle and it will keep the value up because you won’t be adding so many miles to the odometer. This also gives you the option of getting the perfect vehicle for your trip, whether it be an SUV for a family trip or a convertible for a trip up the coast with your spouse.

The other option would be to map out fast chargers along your route. This is perfectly feasible today and we’ll get even easier in the future as more charging stations come online. The only downside is that you will need to make a few more stops and spend a little more time at each stop. One upside is that if you are staying in a hotel, many now have charging stations so you can plug your car in while you sleep, so when you get up in the morning, you have essentially a free tank of gas.

Maintenance and Repairs

Another argument critics make is that electric vehicles are more difficult to repair because many mechanics are not trained in repairing them. This argument doesn’t make sense to me because if your car does need to be repaired, the chance that the problem is related to the electric motor is slim. On the off chance the electric motor is the problem, there is probably a dealership nearby that you can take it to.

As I mentioned earlier, the lack of maintenance is one of the main reasons I bought an electric car in the first place. They are practically maintenance-free. They don’t need oil changes, cooling flushes, spark plugs, or fuel injectors. They also don’t need an alternator, transmission, muffler, or catalytic converter, and I’m sure a lot of other things too. I had my 2015 Leaf for about four years and four months. During that time it was in the shop three times, once for a computer issue, once for the air conditioner, and once for new tires. It was never in the shop for an oil change, tune-up, or anything related to the electric motor.

I read a story a long time ago about Zenith, which I believe was the last major television producer in the United States. Zenith made their televisions in a modular way that made them very easy to repair. Then a company called Sony came along and made televisions that were harder to repair but didn’t break down. Which company is still around? This is not a perfect comparison because electric vehicles are only harder to repair by untrained mechanics, but you get the point.

Electric Grid

Some will also say that all these electric cars will overload our electric grid. They fail to take into account that everyone will not be charging their cars at the same time. In addition, when people do plug their cars in, it will usually be when electricity is cheaper and local consumption is low. Someday when most of the cars on the road are electric there may be a need for upgrades to our power grid, but there is plenty of time to plan and implement those changes. I also suspect many more homes in the near future will get electricity from solar panels or small wind turbines and thus be no burden at all on the power grid.

Energy Cost

You might also hear that you are paying for electricity just like you are paying for gas. They make it seem like you are not saving money with an electric car. Let’s examine this more closely. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost of residential electricity is 14.92 cents per kWh. This does not distinguish between peak and off-peak which is important because most people charge their cars during off-peak hours. Most new cars and some chargers let you set a timer so that it only charges during off-peak hours, or super off-peak hours, which is even cheaper.

I assume the average of 14.92 cents is a combination of peak and off-peak hours, so we can use the number but it will probably give us a cost that is a little higher than reality. My state, Florida, has an average rate of 13.58 cents which is better than average but still close to the center. I tried to get a breakdown of the exact cost for peak and off-peak from my power company, Duke Energy, but I need someone with a degree in power company rates to help me interpret it. The rate schedule has 27 lines of numbers, some, I think, are fees that one pays no matter what their power usage is. Others are called adjustments that I think are negative numbers but it’s hard to tell. There are two sets of numbers that I believe are the actual usage rates, the energy charge and the fuel charge. I believe adding them together gives us the true rate. According to the chart, the peak rate is 16.742 (10.610 + 6.132). Off-peak is 13.81 (9.1 + 4.71). Super off-peak is 9.533 (6.029 + 3.504). All of those numbers are in cents per kWh.

Let’s start with the national average of 14.92 cents per kWh. If 22 miles per gallon is average, then we need to know how many kWh it takes to drive 22 miles and what that costs. That will give us an equivalent cost per gallon. My car gets about 4.3 miles per kWh, so that would be 5.12 kWh (22 / 4.13). According to AAA, the average price of gas, as I write this, is $3.956. The equivalent cost of my electricity would be 76 cents per gallon (14.92 x 5.12). If I only charge my car during super off-peak hours, my cost drops to 49 cents per gallon. If we assume an average of 3.5 miles per kWh, those costs then become 93 cents per gallon for average rates and 60 cents per gallon for super off-peak rates, which is still many times better than the cost of buying gas.

There is also another option for saving money with electric vehicles. There are many free chargers available throughout the country. In addition to the hotel chargers I talked about earlier, you will also find free chargers at many grocery stores, airports, and other public locations like libraries or city halls. Most of these are level two chargers but I have a free level three quick charger at a public park near my home.

If you are still reading that means you were able to make it through all the boring math. I hope you learned something useful today. Let me know what you think.

My Thoughts on the 2022 Nissan Leaf

After four months of owning a 2022 Nissan Leaf, I thought I would share my opinion of the automobile. This is my second Leaf. The first was a 2015 Leaf that I considered to be my favorite car up to that point. The reason I traded that car in was discussed in a previous post.

The first thing you notice when comparing a 2022 Leaf with the 2015 model is that it looks more like a normal car and less like a big frog. That means that you won’t get the attention that you might have gotten driving the older version but that could be good or bad, depending on how much attention you want. But this is not meant to be a comparison between the two cars.

2022 Nissan Leaf
2015 Nissan Leaf

I bought the Leaf SV with a 40 kWh battery. The Leaf has three models, an S, an SV, and an SL. The S is the most basic, followed by the SV, and then the SL which has the most features. If there is a “Plus” after the designation, it means it has the larger 62 kWh battery. It also means it is $5,000 to $6,000 more costly.

Since I rarely had a problem with the range of my old Leaf, which had a 24 kWh battery, I didn’t feel the need to spend the extra money. If I was going to be doing a lot of long-distance driving, then I would want the bigger battery, but 90 percent of my driving is within 5 miles of my home. Most of the rest is within 20 miles of my home. If something came up where I had to drive across the state, I would either map out fast charger locations or rent a car. Renting a car on rare occasions is far cheaper than springing for the larger battery.

The official range for the 40 kWh battery is 149 miles but that depends on how you drive. It could be more or it could be less. There is a feature on the dash that shows you where you are on the efficiency scale. It is actually a good way to challenge yourself to try to push up your efficiency rating. I often find myself driving like an old lady so I can increase my rating. I started at around 4.1 miles per kWh and eventually pushed it up to 4.4 before settling in at 4.3. I believe the calculations only count recent miles but I do not know the formula. Lately, I dropped down to 4.2, which still translates to 168 miles on a charge.

The reason I get better than average economy is partly that I drive conservatively but mostly because I drive almost exclusively around town. If I were to take a trip on the highway and drive over 70 MPH, then the miles per kWh would drop. I am not sure why but, unlike with gasoline-powered vehicles, city driving is more efficient than highway driving in an electric car. I’m sure part of the reason is that no energy is expended while sitting at a light, unlike gasoline engines which must idle.

The car has several safety features that are nice. The one I like most is a blind spot warning. If you put on the turn signal and there is a car next to you, the car gives you an audible warning, and a yellow light blinks in your mirror. Another feature vibrates the steering wheel if you start to drift out of your lane. It has collision avoidance features too that involve automatic braking but I have not had any desire to try them out.

The driving display allows you to cycle through several screen options. The one I like shows the driving efficiency, as shown above. It also shows the total miles and miles left on the charge. Another screen has the remaining miles more prominently displayed along with the power usage. There is another display that shows what you are listening to and, if you want to navigate old school, you can bring up a compass.

The media center touchscreen display allows a bit of customization but it is cumbersome to change and could use an upgrade. It does sync with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is nice.

There are also a couple of buttons near the shift knob that helps with efficiency. Eco mode decreases motor output somewhat and also increases slightly regenerative braking. Regenerative braking essentially recaptures kinetic energy when slowing and puts it back into the battery. If you turn on e-Pedal, that is like regenerative braking on steroids. Some people call it one-pedal driving because when you take your foot off the accelerator, you can feel the car rapidly slowing down while it recaptures energy. Driving with the e-Pedal on means you never have to use the brake pedal except in an emergency. Of course, it does take a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it it will be like second nature.

The car is quiet, like all-electric cars, but I noticed a slightly louder hum than on my 2015 leaf. There was over a six-month gap between trading in my old leaf and buying a new one so my memory could be faulty. What hasn’t changed is the loud, annoying noise the car makes while backing up. I would like to find a way to muffle it a little so I can back up my car early in the morning without waking the neighbors. My wife’s Tesla, on the other hand, sounds like a relatively quiet alien spacecraft landing nearby. Nissan should do something like that on future models.

My 2015 leaf came with a home charger that plugged into a 110-volt outlet. The charger that comes with the 2022 model will plug into a 220 outlet and has a 110 adapter. This is a great upgrade, even though I only have a 110 outlet near my driveway. I have not had a need yet to add a 220 outlet but it is nice to know I can do that. I could also pay to have a home charger installed and save the portable charger as a backup.

The Leaf also comes with two charging ports, a standard J1772 port for level 1 (110) and level 2 (220) charging, and a ChAdeMO port for fast charging. I read that the CHAdeMO port is outdated but with all the cars on the road that use it, I can’t imagine that the fast chargers out there will stop offering it as an option any time soon. Interestingly, the word comes from the Japanese phrase pronounced “o CHA deMO ikaga desuka,” Which means something like “How about a cup of tea?” The reason that is used is that the charge time is about the same time it would take to have a cup of tea.

All in all, I think the 2022 Nissan leaf is an excellent car for the money. Yes, my wife’s Tesla is better than my Nissan Leaf, but for the money she spent, I could buy two Leafs and still have $10,000 left over. That is a great deal in my book.

Check back soon and I will talk about the energy costs of electric cars and the hidden reason why buying an electric car is good for the environment despite the naysayer’s reasons why it is not.

Discovering My Ancestry: Part 4 – The Other Boleyn Girl

My ancestry research eventually led me fifteen generations back to Lady Catherine Mary Carey. The name didn’t ring any bells at the time but then I learned the name of her mother, Mary Boleyn. That name seemed familiar but I didn’t know why so I looked her up.

Mary Boleyn

I discovered that Mary Boleyn was the Sister of Queen Anne, the second wife of King Henry VIII, who was beheaded for High Treason. She was charged with adultery, incest and plotting to kill the king. But several years earlier, Anne’s sister Mary Boleyn, was the mistress of King Henry while he was married to Catherine of Aragon.

I had heard of the book and movie called “The Other Boleyn Girl” but never was interested in watching it until I learned that it was about one of my ancestors. I asked my wife if she wanted to watch the movie and she was more than happy to help me by watching a chick flick.

I realized that the movie was probably highly speculative and overly dramatic but it was still somewhat informative and I was interested to learn what life was like for an ancestor of mine at that time. The movie paints Mary as the younger, more reserved sister while Anne was outgoing, cunning and opportunistic. If my memory is correct, It also shows their parents as power hungry people who practically steer their daughters into the king’s bed. From what I have read since, Mary was probably the older daughter and their parents may not have been as bad as portrayed.

While Mary was the king’s mistress, she bore two children, Catherine in 1524 and Henry in 1526. Some historians believe that Catherine, and to a lesser degree Henry, were illegitimate children of King Henry VIII. Some point to the fact that Mary’s husband, William, received land grants from the king that coincided with the birth of Catherine and Henry. Others talk of the resemblance between Henry and Catherine.

King Henry VIII and Catherine Carey Knollys

It was also noted that Queen Elizabeth I, The daughter of Henry and Anne, gave special favors to Catherine and Henry, more than would be expected for mere cousins. It also seems unlikely that Mary would name her first son after the king if it was William’s child.

Whatever the truth is, it complicates my family tree. I have had to stop research on that part of the family because of the uncertainty. It would be helpful if family tree programs could allow people to have two or more branches that are listed as uncertain. I wondered why nobody ever did a DNA test on living ancestors to determine if Henry did indeed father Mary’s children but I learned that none of Henry’s four known children produced children of their own so there are no confirmed living relatives. I suppose DNA tests could be performed on decedents of close relatives of King Henry’s but those findings could be made more difficult by the fact that Mary Boleyn was actually a distant cousin of Henry’s, as we shall see in my next post.

Discovering My Ancestry: Part 1 – A Difficult Beginning

As I have aged, I have gained a respect and curiosity for those who have come before me. I have become interested in learning about my ancestors. I kick myself now for not being interested when I was young. So many people then could have told me so much, but now that knowledge is lost.

I think I became seriously interested in researching my family’s history after my father and three of my grandparents had passed away. It was the year 2000 or 2001. My only remaining grandparent at the time was my mother’s mother, Sadie (Thomas) Blake. I asked her about her parents but she said she knew nothing and had no interest in knowing anything.

That attitude came from the fact that she and her younger brother, Pat, were put in an orphanage when they were young. She had older siblings that did not suffer the same fate and I assume she was still bitter towards her parents for doing that to her. I don’t know the reason. Perhaps it was during the great depression and her parents were desperate.

I did manage to get some information at that time, although I don’t remember from where it came. I obtained photo copies of several important documents from both sides of my family. These documents had useful information but some also complicated my research.

For example, one document was my father’s mother’s passport. Elizabeth Höffler came to the United States when she was three years old with her mother, Eva. My grandma had told me years ago that she was from Hungary but her passport said she and her mom were both from Yugoslavia. Another problem was the spelling of the last name. The document spells the last name as Höfler in two places, with one “f,” but the signature is “Höffler.”

A couple of years ago I was able to clear up some confusion with the help of a Serbian coworker. She explained that many Hungarians lived in Yugoslavia at the time. She also pointed out that the alphabet is different there and the name was probably translated during their trip out of the country and the spelling was arbitrary. In fact, she said my grandmother’s name was really “Erzabeth” or something like that. My uncle also said that the time was just after World War One and Hungary did not really exist as a functioning country so it is possible that they entered Yugoslavia to get the proper paperwork to leave for America. What throws doubt on that theory is the fact that her Certificate of Naturalization in 1943 lists her as Yugoslavian. Since she was an adult at that time she probably would have corrected that if it was wrong.

Another problem is that Eva left with her three year old daughter but not her husband so I don’t know what her father’s name was nor do I know Eva’s maiden name. Perhaps Höffler is her maiden name and she was never married. My grandmother told me years ago her father was a German diplomat but my uncle said he was a German sailor. In either case, I was told he did not want to come to America and instead returned to Germany after the war.

On the other side of my family My mother’s father’s father was Irish and his mother was German. One document lists her as Tilly Williams and another as Matilda Bouer. Since her married name was Blake, one of those names is wrong or she was married to someone else first, which is probably unlikely since it was a hundred years ago and people didn’t get divorced like they do today, although her previous husband, if she had one, could have died.

These just illustrate some of the problems I had during my early research. It also is typical of geneology research in general. I have since encountered many conflicting documents that have complicated my research.

Another problem I ran into was finding information on my Grandmother’s parents, the ones who put her in an orphanage. In particular, her mother was listed on her delayed birth certificate as Rubina Slaughwhite, born in Marble Mountain, Canada. At the time, Google returned zero results for “Slaughwhite” or for “Marble Mountain” but Google was young at the time and there were far fewer web pages. Today I get 113 results and it asks if I mean “Slaunwhite” which I believe is the correct spelling. That spelling now produces 118,000 results. I also get 25,300,000 results for “Marble Mountain Canada.” What a difference 18 years makes.

I gave up my research for over a decade and when I started looking again I found more than I could have hoped for, at least on my mother’s side of the family. I uncovered many interesting stories along the way that I want to tell in future posts. One of those stories I wrote about a few years ago that you can read here. I hope you will join me for more.