Studio711.com – Ben Martens

Custom Murphy Bed

(Somehow I forgot to blog about this project from December of 2020 so I’ll make up for it now…)

I often walked past our guest bedroom and thought that it was kind of a wasted room or at least a luxury. We had entire room of our house that got used maybe a week out of the year. Then COVID hit and it was clear that we weren’t even going to have house guests for even that one week of the year. We decided it was a good time to put in a murphy bed.

It’s not a cheap project though. First I had to buy a hardware kit. There are a number of similar items on the Rockler website, but I chose the Vertical Deluxe Murphy Bed Hardware Kit. I chose that one largely because it had a tension adjustment so that the spring could be tuned for the weight of our specific mattress. There was a lot of wood to buy for the project too, but since it was going to be painted, we saved some money with pine plywood and poplar for the trim.

I looked at a few designs around the web and we liked having bookcases and drawers on each side of the bed along with some extra trim and hardware on the front to disguise it a bit.

For the bed itself, I used the plans that came with the kit. I didn’t want to mess with that at all as the pivot points need to be very exact for everything to fit. For the side pieces, I mostly used some plans from a different murphy bed kit on Rockler’s site. It was a big build but nothing was too complicated. It was a bunch of boxes inside of other boxes, but I suppose most woodworking projects could be described that way.

I usually use random paint from the big box store, but this time I decided to try an water based acrylic alkyd paint from Sherwin Williams. You can read up on that kind of paint yourself, but it was supposed to give a nicer finish than a standard latex paint. The weather was too cool to paint in the garage which meant our bonus room got turned into a painting zone. I laid out drop cloths and painted as many pieces at once as I could fit. It probably would have been even nicer if I could spray it on, but it looked great even brushing it.

I had a difficult time getting the rectangle around the bed to be square (the part that stays upright.) I could hide the gap difference with the trim on the front/bottom of the bed, but it was very obvious when I put the bookshelves next to the bed. I ended up caulking the gap and voila, problem solved.

The bed and the shelves cover up an outlet so I added some recessed power strips to the bed-height shelf on each side. They have two power plugs and two USB plugs each which should be enough for people who are charging their phones at night. We’ll add a small lamp to each side as well, but we haven’t gotten around to that yet.

After painting everything and attaching the pieces to the wall so they wouldn’t tip, I moved on to the trim pieces. Everything on the face of that bed is fake. The whole bed folds down as one piece, but the trim and extra hardware pieces make it look more like cabinets and less like a murphy bed.

Elijah slept on it one night and declared it a success, but otherwise, the bed has remained folded up and we’ve been enjoying the extra space. It’s our Room of Requirement! Most often it has been used for puzzles so we can easily close the door and keep the cats away when we’re not in there.

This was a big project but I knocked it off in just a few weeks. I had a lot of vacation time to use up at the end of 2020 so this project kept me busy and made me feel like I wasn’t just wasting my vacation away.

Fantasy Football – Week 8

The Jaguars make the Seahawks look good! It was fun to watch a game where it was obvious that the Seahawks would win, and it was the first time I had ever seen an onside kick returned for a touchdown. Only 10 players have done that in the last 27 years. Believe it or not, the Seahawks are not in a terrible spot looking at the NFC wildcard race. They are currently on the bad end of some potential tie-breakers, but we’ll see where the season takes them.

In our league, everyone underperformed the Yahoo estimate except Nick. And Nick did that with a last minute scratch resulting in 0 points for his wide receiver. When you see that he has the closest loss, that hurts even more. In other painful loss news, Luke finally played the team with the second lowest score of the week and still lost. Ouch. Also, be sure to check out the record for winning with the lowest score because Andy just beat his previous record!

It’s going to be a busy week on the waiver wires as there are a lot of big bye weeks and injuries leaving empty spots for next week.

We’re over halfway to our league playoffs. There are only seven weeks left of the regular season in our league. I think it’s going to be tough for Luke and Chelsea to crawl back, but it’s not impossible and they can still have fun playing the spoiler. The top four positions are up for grabs for everyone else, but Tim is starting to get into must-win territory.

Power rankings:

  1. Logan
  2. Nick
  3. Ben ▲ 1
  4. Tyler ▲ 1

On to the weekly awards…

 This WeekThis SeasonAll Time
Highest Team ScoreBen had 124.51Andy had 167.86 (Week 6)Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team ScoreLuke had 81.39Andy had 68.06 (Week 4)Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest BlowoutBen beat Tim by 22.93Chelsea beat Andy by 77.04 (Week 3)Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest WinLogan beat Nick by 2.66Ben beat Nick by 1.96 (Week 5)Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning StreakLogan and Ben have 2 game winning streaksAndy and Logan had 3 game winning streaks (Week 3)Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing StreakChelsea has a 4 game losing streakTie: Luke had a 4 game losing streak (Week 4)Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring PlayerJosh Allen had 33.46 on Chelsea’s benchJustin Herbert had 50.82 for Tim (Week 5)Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Lowest winning scoreAndy beat Luke with with 89.80Was: Andy beat Nick with 94.7 (Week 3)Tim beat Jim with 79.34 (2015)
Highest losing scoreNick lost with 116.65Logan lost with 143.14 (Week 6)Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (2019)

Federal EV Tax Credit?

Welcome to Tesla Tuesday! We’ll see how long the series last but there are a few things that might be interesting to share so I’ll put them up on Tuesdays.

Last Tuesday was the very long post about our rationale for ordering a Model Y. One thing that wasn’t in there was any mention of federal tax incentives. D.C. has been kicking around so many different options for most of this calendar year, that we made our purchase assuming that there won’t be any savings when we take delivery. Teslas don’t qualify for any of the current federal tax credits because Tesla has sold too many vehicles. The only thing we get here in Washington state is no sales tax on the labor for installing chargers in our homes.

Some of the variables in the proposals are caps on the MSRP of the vehicle, caps on the salary of the purchaser, whether or not unions were involved in the assembly of the vehicle, how much of it is made in America, how many EVs the company has sold previously, and differences in how the money is given back (tax credit, point of sale, etc.) These things change dramatically with every iteration so I don’t get too invested in any of them, but the current bill would give us between $7,500 or $10,000 back as a tax credit. It’s notable that this is currently worded as a non-refundable tax credit which means that if your tax bill is less than the credit, you don’t get the difference back in cash.

This whole thing is obviously fraught with politics. Plenty of union lobbyists are working to keep Tesla from getting any benefit. Additionally, each side of the aisle has their own views on government spending combined with thoughts about whether an incentive like this actually drives EV adoption and whether or not that’s good for the environment and/or for our citizens. I have my own thoughts about how the government takes my money and uses it, but whether I would personally vote for it or not, you can bet that if they’re handing out money, I will be taking advantage of it. Until then, I’m not holding my breath and I’m prepared to pay the number on the screen when we clicked Order.

Disclaimer: I own Tesla stock.

Fantasy Football – Week 7

After seven weeks of the season, Logan, Andy and I are all tied at the top with 5-2 records. Nick Tyler and Tim aren’t far behind, but Luke and Chelsea are really going to have to pour on the coals to make a run for it.

There weren’t really any close games in our league this week. Logan came back to beat Luke on Monday night but he ended up winning by 19 points. I knocked off first place Andy (even though Mahomes gave me less than 8 points), Tyler beat Tim and Nick beat Chelsea.

Power rankings:

  1. Logan ▲1
  2. Nick ▲ 3
  3. Luke ▼ 2
  4. Ben

On to the weekly awards, where Luke picks up the “Highest losing score” again. The old record for the toughest season schedule was Tyler in 2018 where his opponents scored an average of 133.22. Luke’s current season opponents are coming in at a whopping 146.35!

 This WeekThis SeasonAll Time
Highest Team ScoreNick had 150.67Andy had 167.86 (Week 6)Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team ScoreAndy had 86.84Andy had 68.06 (Week 4)Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest BlowoutNick beat Chelsea by 46.66.Chelsea beat Andy by 77.04 (Week 3)Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest WinLogan beat Luke by 19.37Ben beat Nick by 1.96 (Week 5)Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning StreakNick and Tyler have 2 game winning streaksAndy and Logan had 3 game winning streaks (Week 3)Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing StreakChelsea has a 3 game losing streakLuke had a 4 game losing streak (Week 4)Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring PlayerTua Tagovailoa had 34.54 for TylerJustin Herbert had 50.82 for Tim (Week 5)Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Lowest winning scoreBen won with 125.37Andy beat Nick with 94.7 (Week 3)Tim beat Jim with 79.34 (2015)
Highest losing scoreLuke lost with 126.56Logan lost with 143.14 (Week 6)Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (2019)

Why We Bought A Tesla Model Y

Tyla and I are now the proud owners of a Tesla… order. Yep, we’re jumping into the battery powered vehicle game, but there are so many other orders in right now that the currently estimated delivery date is May.

It’s Electric Boogie Woogie Woogie!

Our Escape has around 95,000 miles on it. It should have more life in it, but we haven’t had the best relationship with it and it’s giving us more and more reasons to worry about it’s longevity. So we went car shopping and landed on a Tesla Model Y. Specifically, here’s what we ordered:

  • Model Y Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive
  • Deep Blue Metallic Paint
  • All Black Premium Interior
  • Five Seat Interior
  • Autopilot

There was a lot of research between “Hey, let’s buy a car” and “Hey, let’s get a Tesla.” So this post will get long, but I’ll go through a bunch of my questions, and if you have others, feel free to shoot them my way. Even though I will cite many references along the way, I’m not going to take the time to cite everything. I’m not here to convince you that you should do this too. This was a way to help me go through all the questions I had and organize my thought process. But if you’re EV curious, I think some of this will be helpful to you too.

How far does it go on a charge?

For me, electric vehicles were synonymous with “range anxiety”. But battery tech has improved rapidly and the Model Y that we ordered has an estimated range of 326mph. We rarely go more than 100 miles in a day (average is 80 on school days) so even if we keep our battery charge between 20% and 80% for maximum battery lifespan, we still have double what we need.

Are there chargers near me?

The short answer is yes, but we’ll rarely need them. We’ll only use chargers on a road trip, and when we’re on a road trip, the Tesla charging network is pretty hard to beat. The Tesla website shows all of their super charging stations. On top of that, Teslas can be charged at regular EV charging stations too.

This video shows an example of taking a Tesla, a Mustang Mach-E, and a gas car on a 1000 mile road trip. I’m sure not every trip with a non-Tesla EV would be that frustrating, but it certainly gives one example of how Tesla’s vertical integration is a bonus for owners.

How long does it take to charge?

If you stop at a super charger, you can get 30% battery life added in 9 minutes. 80% takes around 30 minutes. At home, it will be slower and it depends on the circuit that you’re charging from. The Tesla site has a handy chart that gives an estimate of the mileage gained per hour of charging. We’ll have a NEMA 6-20 adapter which means that our Model Y will recover our ~80 miles per day in 6 hours. Thankfully I had a a 220v 20amp circuit put in for the table saw and since I use that very infrequently, I’ll share the circuit for now, being careful to unplug the Tesla when I’m woodworking. We might add a dedicated higher-amp circuit in the future but that will likely require a subpanel so I’m not eager to jump on that project.

From my research, it seems like non-EV owners think about how long it takes to charge the battery and EV owners remember how long it used to take to fill up with gas including the drive to the gas station. EV owners comment on how every time they walk out to their car, it’s full. It’s like having someone stop by your house every night and fill up your cars with gas. There’s no waiting for the battery to charge because it usually happens when the car is in the garage and you’re doing other things. Assuming that a night of charging will refill what you used during the day, the only time you care about charge speed is when you’re on a road trip.

How much does it cost to charge?

The Model Y comes with a 75kWh battery. We pay $0.10/kWh so even if we charged it from 0-100% that is $7.50 (plus some lost electricity to heat, etc). Or if you’re trying to compare with gas prices, our Escape averages around 23mpg. It would cost $0.53 in electricity to power the Tesla for the same distance as a gallon of gas in the Escape.

What kind of maintenance is needed?

This is one of my favorite parts. There’s so little maintenance to be done. We’ll still need to buy new tires and maybe a bit more frequently since the car is heavier than a gas car, but other than the scheduled maintenance list is pretty bare. I thought electric cars went through lots of brakes, but the opposite seems to be true. When you lift off on the gas in a Tesla, the motors reclaim the energy meaning that you generally only use your brakes to stop the final few mph or in a panic situation. So we’ll need to replace our cabin air filter, rotate the tires, and that’s about it. It sounds like tires might need to be replaced more often but it’s hard to tell if that’s because the car is a bit heavier or because people like to experience the acceleration.

Which kinds of cars are better for the environment?

I almost didn’t include this in the list because my motivation is mostly monetary. But I did look into some of the claims that electric cars are worse for the environment than gas cars. It doesn’t take much looking to realize that electric wins out pretty easily. Even if the battery pack needs to be swapped out, the old one is mostly recycled. I’ll leave the rest of this to a short video and you can do your own research if this is a big point for you.

How would we take road trips?

I don’t know if I could make the EV leap if I didn’t have a second car, but we’ll still have the truck. I’m hoping to keep that around until it’s dead. Even with the extra gas price, we do love the extra room and easy packing for road trips. So if we ever need to take a trip and don’t want to mess with charging, the truck is our go-to vehicle anyway.

While driving, Tesla keeps an eye on your battery levels and where you’re planning to go so it can suggest charging stops. Their website has a similar trip planner. A long cross country trip adds up to a lot of stops, but when’s the last time I was more than 300 miles from home? So in almost all cases, a road trip would mean a stop for 20-30 minutes (or a couple 10 minute stops) to get us comfortably back home.

Let’s use Cannon Beach, OR as an example since that’s one of the longer trips we’d make. The trip planner says we would stop in Kelso, WA for 25 minutes on the way there and 35 minutes on the way back. But given how often my family needs to stop at the bathroom, I could easily see turning that into a few 10 minute stops along the way. But again, if we’re going to Cannon Beach, we’re probably taking the truck anyway.

How long does the battery last?

I thought battery packs would degrade pretty quickly, but Tesla warranties them for 8 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first with minimum 70% battery retention. That 70% number looks scary, but remember that’s the warranty line. If you look at actual data, Model 3’s and Model Y’s (similar battery packs) are going 400,000 before they hit 20% battery degradation. So even if the number is somewhere in between, it’s far enough out that by that point I’ll want newer battery technology anyway.

Does it drive itself?

Sort of. Let me break it down.

  1. Drive it yourself like a normal car.
  2. Engage cruise control. It is a “Traffic Aware Cruise Control” so the car will automatically slow down if someone pulls out in front of you, etc. You can adjust how closely you want to follow other cars on the highway if the car in front is going below your set speed.
  3. Engage Auto Pilot. At this point, the car will steer for you too. Think of it like cruise control that includes both speed and steering. It will stay in the lane and adjust speed as necessary but you still need to change lanes, stop for stoplights, etc. Some people have described it as driving with a new teenage driver. You need to pay attention and it doesn’t always anticipate things until after the point where you get a little nervous. You still have to pay attention and the system will warn you and disengage if you’re not attentive, but it takes a lot of pressure off once you’re comfortable with it. This comes free with every Tesla, and it works on almost all streets, not just on “mapped roads” like most other car makers.
  4. Full Self Driving. This option costs $10,000, not because it adds any hardware to the car, but because of the feature that it unlocks. With this option, you can tell the Tesla where you want to go and get end to end automated driving. It will stop at stoplights, change lanes on the highway, navigate to your parking spot, etc. This is also the feature that enables things like “summon” where your car will come to you in a parking lot. I love this tech and the incredible effort that’s going into it behind the scenes, but it’s too much money for me right now. Plus, we will have the option to subscribe on a monthly basis for $200, so maybe we’ll try it out at some point. The feature was very recently released in beta to a wider group of people, but it’s not something you can just jump in and use immediately. You still have to get selected for the beta based on your driving safety.

What’s the cost comparison between an electric car and a internal combustion car?

This is the big one. Aren’t Teslas for rich people? Is an EV really cheaper than a gas powered car? For me, it’s close enough to a gas car that it’s hard to say for sure. If I take a serious look at gas cars, I think we’d probably end up with a nice version of a Ford Escape. Pricing that out, the Model Y is about $20,000 more expensive. Let’s compare the two cars for a lifetime of 8 years because that is how long we’ve had our current Escape. The mileage numbers now are significantly different because Elijah goes to school 20 miles away (80 miles per day.)

  • At 18,000 miles/year and an average gas price of $3.50, the Escape would use about $22,000 in gas. (That gas price feels conservative to me if we’re talking about eight years but let’s go with it.) The Tesla would use $3,300 to go the same distance. We’re already in the same ballpark.
  • In the last 8 years, our Escape has cost us $4059 in service. The web gives numbers of $800-$1000/year for service on a gas vehicle but that is probably more true for cars when they are out of warranty. Estimates for Tesla service/year is in the $300-500 range. The exact numbers are difficult to pin down here, but the Tesla likely is coming out at least a couple thousand ahead here.
  • Now for a really difficult one: resale. How much is that car worth after 8 years? Fast forward 8 years into the future and my opinion is that it’s going to be a lot more expensive to drive a gas vehicle as the switch to electric has really intensified. The market for gas vehicles will be dropping, but even ignoring all that, the resale values for Teslas is stronger than for Escapes.

Even if I take somewhat skeptical estimates in favor of gas vehicles, I at least end up with a comparison that is pretty even and the longer I drive that electric vehicle, the more the scales tip in its favor. The up front price tag looks huge and I have a hard time paying it, but if my experience is like most other people, it will pay off… and I’ll be having a lot of fun driving the electric vehicle while it’s paying off.

How do updates happen?

The car downloads updates frequently. Updates can include anything from new functionality in the infotainment center to better range through improved battery management or even adjustments to airbag deployment algorithms to make the car safer. It’s not like the cars we are used to buying that rarely, if ever, receive a software update.

And the exciting thing about Tesla building an EV from the ground up is that seemingly everything is connected to the computer so when someone has a good idea bout a new feature to add to the car, it’s just a software update. For example, the Tesla has folding mirrors. And the Tesla has GPS. That’s not unusual… but you can program your Tesla to automatically fold in the mirrors when you get close to your garage and unfold them after you leave. Or how about that reverse warning speaker that’s on the bottom of the car? They released an update so you can play Spotify from it while you’re washing your car or at a tailgate. The possibilities are endless.

Can I watch video on the big screen in the car?

Yes. You can watch Netflix, YouTube, and other providers while the car is parked. And remember that this is all battery power. So if you’re waiting to pick your kid up somewhere, you can be sitting there with the heat or AC on, watching a video. It’s not like the old days where you’d be freezing or sweating because it wasn’t worth running the engine just for climate control and entertainment.

The infotainment unit also includes built in Spotify (though you need to connect to your account). You could still pair your phone via Bluetooth if you want, but you can also just have the car use it’s own cellular connection.

The cellular connection for the car costs $10/month and enables traffic display on the screen along with video and music streaming. Alternatively, you can tether your phone via WiFi and let your car use your phone’s internet connection without paying the $10/month to Tesla. I wasn’t thrilled about this fee, but we already pay for Sirius so we’ll drop that and add this for a few bucks more. Or maybe we’ll get to the point where we always pay for unlimited data on our phones and then we can drop the Tesla subscription and use tethering instead.

Does Tesla accept trade-ins or offer financing?

Yes! Tesla does offer financing, and for trade-ins, you get a quote right from their website. So just like any other car dealer (at least in our state), that means you pay less sales tax on the new car. The quote isn’t good forever so you need to keep updating it while you wait for your car to arrive. On delivery date, you drive in your old car and drive out your new car. Or you can sell the car to Carvana, CarMax, or a local dealer. So far, all the online sales sites have given me similar estimates. I’ll check with my local dealer when the actual delivery date gets closer. They’ll have to be significantly more than what Tesla offers since I’ll be saving on sales tax if I trade it to Tesla too. And if you’re wondering, Tesla immediately resells the cars unless you’re trading in another Tesla.

How long does it take to get a Tesla?

Tesla offers shorter waiting time for higher margin vehicles, but if we order today (October 2021), the default Model Y has an estimated delivery of August 2022. If you pick any upgrades on the Model Y, then the estimated delivery date is May 2022. These dates are due to some combination of extreme numbers of incoming orders and supply shortages.

On a side note, this article from Fortune is an interesting read about why Tesla isn’t as impacted by the chip shortage as other car manufacturers.

Why Tesla?

I said “Tesla” a lot in the answers above, but why not another EV provider? Ford is coming out with the Mach-E and the Lightning. Nissan has had the Leaf for years. Chevy has the Bolt. Volkswagen seems like they’re a pretty strong contender in the EV market, so why not one of those?

Longest history

Tesla has been building electric vehicles for a very long time. The first Tesla roadsters were sold in 2008, and they aren’t moving at a slow pace. Some of the big automakers scoff at them and say building a electric car is a lot harder than making some batteries and motors. That’s true and Tesla has had their struggles, but build an electric car is also a lot harder than building a chassis and suspension. The big automaker have a long way to go to catch up in battery technology and production, and even though they have a lot of factories built already, EVs require a lot of new materials to source, particularly for batteries. Will they be able to find enough materials to make use of their big factories?

And of course it’s not like the big car companies are immune from quality problems either. Ford mocked Tesla for the recall for the glass roofs that could come off in some circumstances and then had to eat crow when the Mach-E had the same issue.

Car and Driver did a 1000 mile comparison of EVs from all the companies and Tesla didn’t just take the top spot, they took the top THREE spots.

Safest

When you look at a gas powered car, they have a giant engine block under the hood which isn’t very good at absorbing impact. EVs have huge amounts of crumple zones in the front and back. On top of that, Tesla has tons of data about every accident every one of its cars has been in. They use that data to continuously refine their models and they can even improve the safety of the car through over-the-air updates. The Model 3 was the safest car ever tested by the NHTSA and if you watch the video linked in the previous sentence, you’ll hear them say that the NHTSA requirements are just a drop in the bucket compared to the real world situations that they are testing.

Most popular

The Model was the first EV to sell 1 million units and the Model Y looks to be on pace to hit get there even faster. Europe is much farther down the EV conversion road than the US, but over there, there are more Teslas sold (15.3%) than diesels (13.8%). Yes, you read that right. 15% of all cars sold in Europe in September were Teslas. The Model 3 was the most popular car (not just EVs) sold in Europe in September. In Norway, 80% of vehicles sold are electric and over half of those are Teslas. Globally more Model 3’s are sold than other cars in its class like BMW 3’s, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4.

Anecdotally, driving around this area, we average seeing about one Tesla per minute on the roads and there are more and more sold every day. It took us a month and a half just to get a test drive! Demand is through the roof in our area. (In fairness, our first test drive was scheduled right at the end of Q3 and Tesla made a huge push to deliver EVERYTHING to help their numbers so we had to reschedule.)

Highest market cap

There’s generally something to the wisdom of the crowds and the stock market has given Tesla a higher market cap than all the other car makers combined and they are currently one of the few companies in the world to be valued at over a billion dollars. Hertz recently put in a $4.3 billion order to make 20% of their fleet be Teslas. All this investment doesn’t mean that Tesla is definitely going to win, but it’s a positive sign.

Car buying experience

We walked into a dealership twice and walked out on our own time without anyone making us feel awkward or pushing a sale on us. When we finally decided to order the car, my biggest decision was whether to place the order from my phone or my computer. The car buying experience is magnificent compared to the hassle of haggling with a dealer on price, trade-in, warranties, and financing. The experience inside a Tesla store isn’t an accident. It’s a careful ballet to make sure they don’t cross into illegal territory by talking about sales. This video does a good job explaining the laws around dealerships and why they continue to exist for other car manufacturers.

American made

Everyone likes to say they are American made but the reality is that today’s cars are global creations and some percentage is done in the US. Tesla takes two of the top three spots for being most American made.

Why the Model Y?

The price of the Model 3 is what sucked me in. Back then it was under $40k. The comparison to a gas power car gets REALLY easy at that price point. But then I started thinking that I would like to have all wheel drive which bumped up the price. Then I started looking at the size difference with the Y and thought about how much we’ve enjoyed the space in the Escape. So we bumped up to a Y (which is currently only sold with all wheel drive so that works out.) The Model 3 and the Model Y are very similar in construction so most of the benefits I had found of the 3 generally apply to the Y as well. It was hard to swallow a sticker price that high but I kept reminding myself that I was optimizing for the total cost of the vehicle over its lifetime… and I was getting really excited about owning a Tesla after doing all the research!

Why choose those options?

There aren’t a lot of choices to make when ordering a Tesla, but we decided to pay extra for the blue paint instead of the default free white color. There are so many Teslas around here that it’s nice to not have the default color and we both really liked the blue. I’ve always wished we had paid for a nicer color on the Escape so this time we’re just going for it.

We were very close to paying for the 20″ black rims and the tow hitch too but decided against it in the end. The black rims look fantastic but tires are more expensive for it and it’s a lot of extra money for something we could change later if we wanted to.

The tow hitch was a similar cost decision. Tesla will add the same thing for us later for just a little bit more money or I can install an aftermarket hit myself for ~$600 cheaper. I don’t see us ever towing anything with it, but it’s a great place to add a bike rack. I’ve already thought about adding a tow hitch bike rack to the truck to make packing for trips easier, and the receiver is the same size on the Tesla so one bike rack would work on both vehicles.

What could go wrong with this plan?

The biggest concern I have is that my math is wrong. Predicting the future of gas prices, how long a car will last, and how much service it will need is pretty flaky. I spent a lot of time debating whether we should try to push the Escape into the 160k-180k range or take advantage of the high resale rates now and dump it. In my research, there appears to be a big drop off in the longevity of the Escape in 2013 (our year) when they switched to the new Ecoboost engine. They made some goofy design decisions in the first years after the switch that are giving people fits. I’m not a mechanic and maybe it would still be cheaper to keep it even if we had to replace the transmission or the engine. I will probably always wonder.

From the political angle, there is lots of news about Tesla’s self-driving features, especially with the recent appointment of a very anti-Tesla NHTSA senior safety advisor. Tesla is taking a different approach to a lot of things so it’s not impossible that some laws could come down that crack down on the features that we already paid for (like Autopilot.)

I’m also assuming that by the time we are ready to sell this car sometime in the 2030’s major car manufacturers will either have stopped producing gas vehicles or the end is near (for most common consumer situations.) I’m expecting tax penalties for gas vehicles and Washington state has already said they want to be one of the first to implement those. So if we were to buy another gas car today, I would buy it with the knowledge that I probably won’t get much for it when I try to resell it. Or maybe they’ll be hot commodities if it’s hard/expensive to buy new ones. If any of that doesn’t pan out and this EV thing dies like it did last time then I made a bad choice.

When I was in high school, I read a book with survey results from a bunch of people who were self-made millionaires. (I think Chris Hogan’s Everyday Millionaires book is a similar, but updated, book to whatever I actually read.) That book from the 90s said that a huge percentage of self-made millionaires had never bought a car for more than $30,000. Obviously that needs to be adjusted for inflation now, but that sentiment has always stuck with me. Cars are generally a terrible thing to spend money on. Investing the same amount of money as a car would have a huge positive impact on retirement. So buying any new car is a huge decision for me and even more so when I’m paying more up front and hoping to recoup it over time.

Another big issue is that Tesla could fail. If they go down the tubes, I don’t expect the government to come bail them out. They clearly have no problem with demand for their product, but if they can’t ramp up their supply side, the whole thing could come crashing down. They have two giant new factories coming online in Berlin and Austin but there will have to be more in the works too since the lead time on a new factory is so long.

Yet another risk is that our current car could die before we get the new one. What do we do if we have to put another grand or two into the Escape before our Model Y is ready for pickup? If we really get into a bind, we can cancel our Tesla order and choose another route. The lead time on the Tesla is one thing that makes this a challenging decision.

I have spreadsheets and lot of tossing and turning behind me. From this long post you can see where we landed on the decision. If you remember my F150 purchase post, you know that I heavily analyze all this stuff. This Tesla decision is definitely skewed toward the fun/luxury side but I also don’t think it’s a gratuitous or ostentatious purchase. Maybe it’s a couple years early to make the jump to EV, but in 3-5 years, I think this decision will be much less surprising or difficult. I’m willing to lean towards the future even if I can’t say with 100% certainty that this is a cost effective decision today.

Disclaimer: I own TSLA stock. Nothing that I say should be taken as stock advice. Do your own research.

… I can’t drop that disclaimer and end the post without saying more. I’ve said before that I’m all about sticking with a simple index investment plan. I stick to that very strictly, but during my research, I got so excited about Tesla and where I think it’s heading, that I bought one share of their stock. That being said, I might sell it soon because I feel dirty looking at my portfolio and seeing more than just my three beloved index funds.

Note: Amazon links are referral links which give me a small kickback at no extra cost to you.

Xfinity Mobile: 5 Month Review

We’re about five months into our experiment with Xfinity Mobile (see previous posts) and we’re still really happy with it. The service feels identical to what we had with Verizon, and that makes sense because it runs on the same network. I wondered how easy it would be to switch between plans from month to month and I don’t think it could be easier. I just click a couple buttons on my phone and it’s done. I did go through a couple support calls though to understand how the billing works so I’ll share my experience here.

  • Bumping up your plan: When you go over your data for the month, buy extra gigabytes gets more expensive than if you just had a bigger plan. But don’t worry. Even if you catch it after you’ve gone over, you can change your plan and just be on a bigger plan as if the overage never happened. So we just leave our plan set to 1GB and then a day or two before the end of the billing cycle, I look to see if we should have a bigger plan and I make the adjustment.
  • Decreasing your plan: Similarly, at the end of the month, if you’ve been paying for the 10GB plan but you only used 3GB then switch down to the 3GB plan before your billing date and voila, cheaper plan.

We also spent a month on the unlimited plan. I just flipped it on for both lines and we did whatever we wanted for a month. the next month we were back down to the 1GB plan.

I love how easy it is to switch and how cheap the service is. As I mentioned before, we’re already used to light data use on our phones and we spend most of the day at the house with WiFi anyway, so many months we end up with a total cell phone bill (including both lines) for under $20. If you have Xfinity internet and you get a good Verizon signal at your house, this service is a winner.

If only their Internet and TV side of the business bore any resemblance to the way the Mobile division is run…

Fantasy Football – Week 6

I didn’t have much hope for the Seahawks without Russell Wilson or Chris Carson, but Geno Smith and Alex Daniels made a run for it.

In our league, Luke is no longer winless! He put up the second highest score in the league and it paid off with a victory. It’s still early enough that I feel like he’s going to have one of the playoff spots, but he has a long way to go. We had a battle for first place between Andy and Logan with Andy coming out on top. He set the highest score of the season (topping his previous record from week 1.)

There are a LOT of big name players on bye weeks coming up so please pay careful attention to your rosters. Nick had a couple empty spots on Sunday but was able to fill one before the game on Monday. Let’s keep those rosters full please.

Power rankings:

  1. Luke ▲1
  2. Logan ▲ 2
  3. Andy ▲ 4
  4. Ben ▼ 3

On to the weekly awards…

 This WeekThis SeasonAll Time
Highest Team ScoreAndy had 167.86Was: Andy had 166.61 (Week 1)Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team ScoreTim had 103.01Andy had 68.06 (Week 4)Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest BlowoutNick beat Tim by 26.99Chelsea beat Andy by 77.04 (Week 3)Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest WinTyler beat Ben by 2.31Ben beat Nick by 1.96 (Week 5)Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning StreakAndy has a 2 game winning streakAndy and Logan have 3 game winning streaks (Week 3)Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing StreakChelsea has a 2 game losing streakLuke had a 4 game losing streak (Week 4)Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring PlayerJosh Allen had 34.72 for ChelseaJustin Herbert had 50.82 for Tim (Week 5)Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Lowest winning scoreNick won with 130.00Andy beat Nick with 94.7 (Week 3)Tim beat Jim with 79.34 (2015)
Highest losing scoreLogan lost with 143.14Was: Luke lost to Tim with Luke lost with 141.69 (Week 5)Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (2019)

Desk for Elijah

Elijah’s room doesn’t have a lot of storage space and with him having more homework to do in the coming years, a desk felt like a natural project. I looked around at some different ideas and designed something from scratch (though the design is anything but groundbreaking.)

We decided to paint the project so I built the whole thing out of poplar. In each project I try to tackle at least one new skill and there were a few new ones in this project:

  • I wanted solid wood for the top so that it’s easier to sand down and repair if it gets some dents or gashes in it. I’ve done a few big panel glueups in the past but I never feel like I’m good at it. It’s a challenge to get everything smooth and flat while avoiding cupping. This one turned out pretty well. I used biscuits to help with the alignment.
  • I love pocket hole joints, but they would have been very obvious for many of these joints, so I wanted to do some kind of mortise and tenon joint. I got a Beadlock system from Rockler and had a good time learning how that worked. It’s so much faster than traditional mortise and tenon and cheaper than a Domino. If I was doing this for a living, the Domino would be worth it, but for a weekend warrior like me, Beadlock was perfect.
  • I sprayed the paint on. I have a Rockler sprayer, but I’m always hesitant to use it. I went for it this time and was extremely happy with the result. I sprayed Sherwin Williams water based acrylic alkyd paint. I had good luck with that same paint on the spraying it worked well too, though I did thin it with some water. I sprayed in the garage with the HomeRight spray tent and it worked really well at keeping overspray from getting all over everything.

The final step was figuring out the drawer pulls. I looked through various options but ended up finding penguin drawer pulls on Amazon and they looked great when I installed them!

Note that the Amazon links are affiliate links so I get a small kickback if you use them at no extra cost to you.

Fantasy Football – Week 5

Russ is out for an undetermined amount of time (4-8 weeks?) because of a ruptured tendon in his hand. Geno Smith made an impressive start marching the team 98 yards down the field for a touch down, but we can’t expect that with every drive. It’s clear that the Seahawks were not going anywhere this year so I guess this is a season to tread water and see what can be improved without Wilson driving the bus.

Our league continues to provide a lot of entertainment. There are two big stories from this week.

  1. In general I feel like point total is more important than win/loss record because scoring points is what wins over time, but Luke is certainly the exception so far. He’s now 0-5 despite having 96% of the point total of first place. If we ranked by total points, he’d be third instead of 8. If we compare his “Points against” with first place Logan we see that Luke’s opponents have scored 45% more than Logan’s opponents! I don’t have the data to prove this, but I’d be amazed if a team in our league has ever had this many points and been winless after week 5. Chelsea is next in line to see if Luke’s streak will continue.
  2. Going into Monday night’s game, I was 13 points behind Nick. He had a RB (Jonathan Taylor) remaining and I had a TE (Mark Andrews) and a DEF (Baltimore) remaining. Taylor put up 30 points for Nick and at the start of the fourth quarter, Yahoo predicted that I had a 1% chance of winning. But before the end of the game, Andrews caught not one but two touchdown passes. That still wouldn’t have been enough to catch up but the Ravens went for two on both TD’s and both times Andrews caught the pass which was just enough to push me ahead by less than a total of 2 points. In poker they would call this sucking out on the river. #sorrynotsorry

Logan and Andy are both tied for first place and they are facing off next week. Andy is doing all of this with only the roster he drafted. He hasn’t made any roster moves yet!

Power rankings are back too. Each week I’ll show the top 4 teams according to my super secret formula (it’s mostly based on points scored in previous weeks with an emphasis on the most recent weeks):

  1. Ben
  2. Luke
  3. Nick ▲4
  4. Logan

On to the weekly awards…

 This WeekThis SeasonAll Time
Highest Team ScoreTim had 155.42Andy had 166.61 (Week 1)Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team ScoreTyler had 89.37Andy had 68.06 (Week 4)Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest BlowoutAndy beat Tyler by 52.05Chelsea beat Andy by 77.04 (Week 3)Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest WinBen beat Nick by 1.96Was: Ben beat Tim by 2.47 (Week 1)Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning StreakTim has a 3 game winning streakAndy and Logan have 3 game winning streaks (Week 3)Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing StreakLuke has a 5 game losing streakLuke had a 4 game losing streak (Week 4)Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring PlayerJustin Herbert had 50.82 for TimWas: Derrick Henry had 44.70 for Nick (Week 2)Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Lowest winning scoreBen won with 133.42Was: Andy beat Nick with 94.7 (Week 3)Tim beat Jim with 79.34 (2015)
Highest losing scoreLuke lost with 141.69Was: Luke lost to Nick with 134.59 (Week 2)Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (2019)

Adjust Web Cam Settings In Any App

Working from home means that I regularly have calls on Zoom, Teams, and GoToMeeting from a variety of web cams. Some apps and cameras are better video settings than others, but thankfully I found some instructions about how to get the camera properties app to show up even when I’m in a call no matter what app I’m using. This is a bit on the geeky side so consider yourself warned.

  1. Install ffmpeg.
  2. Open a command prompt to the folder with ffmpeg and run this to figure out the name of your camera:
    ffmpeg -list_devices true -f dshow -i dummy -hide_banner
  3. Create a desktop shortcut with “Start In” set to the folder where ffmpeg lives and “Target” set to the following but be sure to change the file path as necessary and adjust the name of your video camera.
    “C:\Program Files\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg.exe” -f dshow -show_video_device_dialog true -i video=”USB Live camera”

Now when you execute the shortcut, you should get this screen: