Progress report: one year in, and grandpa joins the space age

by Mick Rhodes |

Last July 8, on the occasion of being named the Courier’s seventh editor in its then 114-year history, I wrote, “I will stumble. I will make mistakes. I will likely make you angry once in a while. Again, that’s life, and that’s journalism. I know I don’t have to tell our readers that letters to the editor are always welcome here at the Courier.”

Well, y’all have certainly responded with gusto. I’m thankful our Readers’ Comments section continues to offer a vibrant public forum. And I’ve certainly made mistakes.

“In the meantime, I want to hear from you,” I wrote last year. “I want to know what you’re passionate about, because passionate people tell great stories, and that’s what it’s all about.”

I intended to give Courier readers a glimpse into my modest vision in that introductory column. Some of those plans have been realized, others not. I was able to bring on a wonderful freelance writer Lisa Butterworth, but the diversity of our newsroom is still an issue. I’m working on it.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that we just can’t cover everything. Previous to taking over as editor, I had been the Courier’s education reporter. That education reporter position remains unfilled. I’m still working on plugging this weak spot in our coverage.

Yes, I’ve angered some of you, as predicted. But I’ve also endeavored to offer space to proponents from both sides of every issue. Sometimes you’ve taken me up on this, as evidenced with the recent Second Amendment repartee in these pages. Overall though, one year in I believe we’re slightly tipped toward thumbs up.

It’s been an eventful, humbling year.

Thinking back brings to mind a phrase with which most parents are likely familiar: “He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.” I had an idea about what this job would be, and some of that turns out to have been accurate. Much of my trepidation was for naught. Other things I could never have foreseen are still confounding.

I’ll keep at it, keep making you angry, and hopefully, make you think, or at least laugh or empathize.

Many of my goals remain the same: I’m still hoping for more voices from the community in these pages, from all angles. We’ve had many contributors step up with viewpoint and opinion pieces, and our Everyday People feature seems to be getting some traction. All good news, as far as I’m concerned.

So here we go, charging into year two. Again, thank you for trusting me, and our journalists, with your local newspaper.


Grandpa goes electric

My transportation drama took an unexpected turn last week when I decided to take the leap, go full-on space age, and purchase an electric car.

As I wrote June 22 [“Old Gold: the girl who will not quit”], my intention had been to find a low-mileage used hybrid. Instead though I opted to enter a new realm of crunchy environmentalists and man-bun hipsters, and grinded out a deal on a 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric.

Being old, I had, well, a battery of questions for the sales force at the dealership, mostly practical: how far does it go on a charge? (258 miles.); why is this thing beeping at me as I drive, poorly? (Blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, etc.). All new information for this fossil fuel fossil.

My curiosity also veered into some questions I instantly regretted, such as, “Can I take it through the car wash, or will the battery get wet and stop working?” This one caused the otherwise reassuringly calm “finance specialist” Johnathan, to pause and scrunch his eyebrows at me, as in, “Is this a joke?” “Yes,” he answered after a beat, “The battery is protected from all the elements, and you can take the car through the car wash just like any other.”

My initial impression of the Kona was it was too small. But after two test drives, and a couple more in hybrid models, and hearing about how the hybrid engines/batteries worked, I came to appreciate the simplicity of the EV. Yes, it’s a little boxy and doesn’t have nearly the trunk space of my dearly departed Volvo XC90, but it’s also not going to cost up to $100 a week for gas. In fact, with any luck you’ll never see me at the gas station again.

So after three hours of driving, negotiating, and haggling, I struck a deal that made sense for our family. It was the first time in my life I’ve participated in the theater that is the Glengarry Glen Ross thing, complete with “closer” and all. I drove away feeling I’d been an informed, hardnosed negotiator, though truth be told I’m sure I gave away more than I should.

Charging is weird. It came with a “level 1” charge cable, which uses a standard 110 volt circuit. It takes about 50 hours to go from 0 miles to capacity (258) this way, so I invested in a “level 2” charger, which takes as little as seven hours to get from 0 to capacity. It also needs a 240 volt power source, so my electrician is installing a special circuit. It’s a lot, but when I think about the roughly $1,000 investment for the level 2 quick charge as opposed to years of filling up at Arco, it doesn’t look so bad.

Over the now two weeks I’ve been driving the as of yet un-nicknamed little gray spaceship, I’ve come to appreciate its fancy, futuristic features. I’m getting used to the beeps that indicate when I’m within 6 feet of another car. It’s cute how it’s looking out for me. It’s a needy little thing, this EV.

Its most striking feature is the lack of any noise whatsoever. There is a bit of a whir, but aside from that it’s eerily quiet. And fast. This thing is a rocket. I guess it’s good to know I’ve got all that horsepower if needed, but honestly, with apologies to all elderly Pomonans, I drive like a little old lady from Pomona, so the firepower’s mostly wasted on me.

So thus concludes — hopefully — my vehicular drama. So far, it’s been smooth sailing in the EV. I’ll report back with reportable quirks or problems.

And of course our beloved 2001 Toyota Sienna van, “Old Gold,” is still in the driveway, available on a moment’s notice to transport large items or large numbers of children. So when the need arises, you might see me at the gas station after all.

In the meantime, I’ll see you out on the road. I’ll be the big gray-haired dude in the little gray spaceship.

1 Comment


    As a Conservative in an 80% Liberal community, I truly value the Courier’s willingness to post some of my “Reader’s Comments” over the years. I believe an open uncensored dialog between opposing viewpoints is healthy for our society and our country.

    I believe everyone has bias. It’s a natural phenomenon in that we’re all unique individuals created by a loving God with opinions and experiences.

Submit a Comment

Share This