Road Tripping in an Electric Car

A few weeks ago I guest posted on The Hungry Goat, and I figured this would be a good one to share with you today, since C, Khaleesi and I are hitting the road this morning.  Also, my mom was asking questions about this very topic, so here you go, Mom!


 

With the holidays coming up, I know many of you will have some sort of road trip in store to see family– we’re making the 10 hour drive from Orange County to Flagstaff, AZ for Thanksgiving, and I am actually looking forward to it. Road trips are one of my favorite traditions, but last year we complicated this tradition a bit by purchasing an electric car (a Tesla).

tesla

One of the major hesitations people have about electric cars is the range it can get. We hear it all the time: sure, it’s a nice car, but you can’t exactly go very far, can you? It’s not something you can use for a road trip. 

Au contraire! We’ve made several trips up to Northern California, even to the windy coastal highways of Big Sur, without ever having to purchase gas. In fact, it’s really not much different at all, and so I want to dispel the myth that electric cars are impractical.

First, it’s important to know that there are many electric car charging stations just off of major highways. Tesla has a network of superchargers up the west coast, down the eastern corridor, and along two routes that connect the two coasts. With the superchargers, you can get a full “tank” of electricity in about 25 minutes– a full charge gets you about 265 miles. Now sure, 25 minutes is longer than the 5-10 minutes it takes at a gas station, but it’s free, and you can walk away from your car while it’s charging to go grab a cup of coffee or some lunch.

A Tesla Supercharger station.

A Tesla Supercharger station.

There are some lower voltage chargers available too, and here’s where it takes just a little more planning than a regular trip. We usually make reservations at hotels that have a charging outlet, and let the car charge overnight. More hotels have them than you’d think, as it really only takes the voltage of a clothes dryer. It just needs to be an accessible outlet. Imagine staying at a hotel AND getting a free tank of gas– that would never happen, but with an electric car, it does! We’ve found some of our favorite hotels this way (like the posh but accessible Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara or the cozy Hillcrest Lodge in Big Bear) by searching forums and websites like Plugshare.com.

That’s the other thing: there are a lot of resources to help you map out and plan a road trip. There’s EVJourney that let’s you plug in your destination and plans the best route, or Plugshare, which let’s you know about charging stations in any city, including hotels.

So, the only drawback (if any) is that you must have a little bit of a plan in mind. You can’t just plan on hopping in your car, filling up along the way at whichever gas station you come across, and stopping at the first motel with a “Vacancy” sign.  But the planning itself is so easy; we’ve booked a place on Air BnB the night before we wanted to leave, charged the car overnight, and took off to the desert just like that.

But. But! The best part is that you never pay for gas! A round trip from L.A. to San Francisco will always cost me at least a hundred if we took my Mini Cooper, and that’s an efficient little car. Driving to San Francisco in the Tesla means that we make a couple of stops for about 30 minutes each, but we pay nothing!

My hope is that as more people see how little life changes with an electric car, the cars become more mainstream. No matter what your political leanings, I think that we can all agree that becoming less oil-dependent is good for many reasons. If you have questions about life with an EV, let me know in the comments!

Understanding Privilege

Yesterday I came across this story on Buzzfeed, and I’d really like to share it here today:

“I once saw a high school teacher lead a simple, powerful exercise to teach his class about privilege and social mobility. He started by giving each student a scrap piece of paper and asked them to crumple it up.

Then he moved the recycling bin to the front of the room.

He said, “The game is simple — you all represent the country’s population. And everyone in the country has a chance to become wealthy and move into the upper class.”

“To move into the upper class, all you must do is throw your wadded-up paper into the bin while sitting in your seat.”

The students in the back of the room immediately piped up, “This is unfair!” They could see the rows of students in front of them had a much better chance.

Everyone took their shots, and — as expected — most of the students in the front made it (but not all) and only a few students in the back of the room made it.

He concluded by saying, “The closer you were to the recycling bin, the better your odds. This is what privilege looks like. Did you notice how the only ones who complained about fairness were in the back of the room?”

“By contrast, people in the front of the room were less likely to be aware of the privilege they were born into. All they can see is 10 feet between them and their goal.”

“Your job — as students who are receiving an education — is to be aware of your privilege. And use this particular privilege called “education” to do your best to achieve great things, all the while advocating for those in the rows behind you.”

As someone who snagged a seat towards the front of the classroom, not only am I aware of my privilege, but I WILL advocate for those who got a seat behind me.

ferguson police

“Let’s not just make noise. Let’s make a difference.” — Mike Brown’s family.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I must be what the kids these days call a “basic bitch,” because I do love pumpkin flavored things. And no, I did not burn out on pumpkin in October, and I hope that you didn’t either.

That’s because these cookies are a fun, autumnal take on my favorite cookie: The Snickerdoodle.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles

A snickerdoodle is good any time of the year, but throw in some pumpkin and white chocolate, and you’ve got yourself a real winner for that office potluck you probably have before Thanksgiving.

They’re super chewy and moist.

Yes, I said moist. Why is that suddenly the word that everyone hates? Oh yeah, because of that episode of How I Met Your Mother. Get over it, people. These cookies are moist.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles 6

This recipe relies on the pumpkin bringing most of the moisture, with no egg added. This makes the cookies really soft, but it also means that you need to cool them on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

This recipe comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction, but I’ve doubled it for you here, since these are sure to be gobbled up quickly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips

Start by melting the butter in the microwave, and then whisk in the brown sugar and half of the granulated sugar until there are no more lumps, and then blend in the vanilla and pumpkin.

In a larger bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, half of the cinnamon, and the pumpkin pie spice. Pour in the wet ingredients, blending with a spatula, and then gently fold in the white chocolate chips.

Sneak a few bites, and then chill the dough for 30 minutes at the very minimum. You can’t skip this step, because you melted the butter earlier, and you need this dough to harden up some. If you refrigerate them overnight, you will need to let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so that you can roll the dough.

When your dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix together that other 1/2 of the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Roll the dough into small balls, and then dip them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. You’ll want to flatten out the cookies a little on the sheet, because these will rise more than they will spread.

smush 'em down a little

smush ‘em down a little

Bake these for 8-10 minutes, and then like I said before, allow them to cool for about 10 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. If you don’t, they may fall apart, and then you will have to eat them all so no one sees your sad broken cookies.  This can make for an excellent excuse to gobble them up, but if you want these to look nice to serve to others, let them cool for a little while.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles 5

And there you have it! These are so nice with a cup of tea and a good book. If you’re a “basic bitch” like me, you’ll love these.

white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles 3

It’s Been Awhile.

Aaaaand, I’m back.

I took a little hiatus there, thanks to, well, life. I was busy with work and stressed out with my second Krav Maga test, and I just needed a break from blogging. I missed some of it, but to be honest, it was nice to not worry about what I was going to post each day or feeling guilty when I didn’t respond to comments.

But what I did miss was getting to spill my thoughts onto the screen. C has been working a lot, and Khaleesi is an okay listener (but a bit judgey sometimes, ya know?). So here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

Training for this Krav test was a bit too much for me, and I wish I had skipped a testing cycle. I’ll explain more about it later, but for now, I finally feel like I can take a deep breath (which is a little ironic, since the test consisted of almost 5 hours of gasping for air).

Is anyone else excited about the return of The Newsroom? I love it, even though all of the characters’ monologues sound like those speeches you write in your head when you can’t sleep at night and you’re thinking about what you wish you had said in that moment. So no, none of it is realistic. But damn, those “re-written” monologues are good.

Popcorn with truffle-infused olive oil and a little sea salt is amazing. I make it at home with my cheap little air popper and some truffle olive oil I got on sale at Home Goods, and I feel all fancy.

I continue to be inspired by my international students. Writing a thoughtful essay in a language you are still learning is no simple task, and yet they rise to the occasion.

I totally respect people’s dietary restrictions/lifestyles, but Thanksgiving is not the time to be an asshole about it. Sneering at anything not paleo, making comments about how you don’t want any dead animals on your table, or complaining about the gluten in some dishes just makes you a douche. Shut up and just navigate your way around what’s on the table. Trust me, there’s something there that you can eat, and you won’t starve. The next day you can eat all of the vegan/gluten-free/paleo stuff you love.

I am not including a picture in this blog post because I just don’t feel like it. Deal with it.

 

 

No, Not Those November Goals!

November seems to be the month that everyone makes all sorts of grand goals: NaNoWriMo, Buy Nothing November, No-Shave November, you name it.

And here my goal is just trying not to lose my mind.

november goals

But really, November is going to be a busy month. It’s going to be busy work-wise, and I’ve got another Krav Maga test this month. Still, I want to accomplish some degree of awesomeness, so here’s what I hope to accomplish this month:

  • Lose (dum dum dum) 8 pounds. I feel like I am setting myself up to fail with this one, but we’ll see. On the one hand, training for my Krav test will probably tip the scale in my favor. On the other hand, Thanksgiving.
  • Speaking of, I just hope to pass my Krav test. 5 hours of demonstrating technique between orders to drop and give 20 burpees– if I make it without throwing up this time, I will be surprised.
  • Clean out my shoe closet. It’s filled with shoes I haven’t worn in years, and I need to take that crap over to Goodwill already.
  • Read The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. After reading This is How You Lose Her, I want to back to Oscar Wao. I don’t remember much of it.

Looking back at October, I think that I mostly did alright. Here were my October goals:

  • Lose 5 pounds. This is where I failed. I only lost 2! I chalk this up to snacking on cashews and a few wine nights– hence the 8, rather than 5, pounds for November. It’s time to be more disciplined.
  • Read This is How You Lose Her.  Done. I dug it.
  • Not eat Halloween candy– success! I did eat a few fancy gourmet pumpkin spice malt balls that came in a subscription box, but I don’t count those as Halloween candy, do you? It also took me almost a week to eat them.
  • Blog every day for Blogtober– success! Although I did keep getting confused and calling it Blogtember. Whatever. I’m not a fan of these portmanteau blog terms anyway, and you all knew what I meant (right?). It was definitely different from what I am used to blogging about, and it was a fun challenge. I hope you didn’t mind getting all personal with me last month!
  • Get in my Oktoberfest fix– success! The beer and sauerkraut were soo worth it, even if it contributed to failing at the first goal.

So there you have it. What are you hoping to accomplish in November?

Happy Halloween!

It’s here! It’s here! Not only is it Halloween, but it’s also the last day of Blogtober, and I managed to post every day this month. Woohoo!

So how am I going to celebrate? With a glass of wine, watching a marathon of Treehouse of Horror episodes, and passing out Pirate’s Booty popcorn to neighborhood kids. I wasn’t going to bother dressing up for Halloween, until I came across this at Target:

tiger halloween 2 tiger halloween 3

tiger halloween

 

If it looks like I am wearing pajamas, that is because I AM. This beautiful, cozy onesie was on sale at Target, and how could I say no?!

But let’s bee honest: you know who really steals the show this Halloween? Khaleesi:

halloween khaleesi

She’s not a fan of the hoodie antennae since they don’t fit her massive ears, but she loves running around in this bee suit.

halloween khaleesi 2

I mean, sure, she ripped into a package of RayBans I had shipped (no damage; no worries) but how can you be mad at this sweet little bumble bee?

So have yourselves a Happy Halloween, folks! And remember, Bee Safe!

 

Helene in Between Blogtober

The Facts of (My) Life

You want the facts? I sure hope so, because I’m about to pass them out like Halloween candy for day 30 of Blogtober:

red sweater 2

 

I was born on March 26, 1981

I am 5 foot 4 inches tall

I have a mom, (no dad; he died when I was young) and a brother who I love. My brother’s girlfriend is also pretty rad.

I’m not married, but C and I are practically hitched.

I earned a B.A. in English in 2004 and then an M.A. in English in 2008.

I teach at the same university that I attended.

I have a 7 month old German Shepherd named Khaleesi, and two crazy black kitties named Rex and Lula.

I drive a black Mini Cooper, and C drives a Tesla. I often volunteer to be the DD so that I can drive the Tesla.

I could eat pizza every day and never tire of it.

I’ve never broken a bone nor been stung by a bee.

Much of my paycheck is spent at Target.

My hair is naturally light to medium brown but I have been highlighting it since I was a teenager.

I hate loud noises.

I am team Android (as opposed to Apple, not as in androids versus humans)

I currently train a few days a week in Krav Maga. So don’t mess with me.

I waited tables through college and grad school, and I attribute a lot of who I am to lessons I learned there.

I have a 310 phone number, and I doubt I’ll ever give it up.

I cannot function without coffee.

I also cannot think up more facts, so do me a favor and drop me a question in the comments. I promise I will answer!

 

Helene in Between Blogtober

My Most Embarrassing Moment

Once upon a time, I embarrassed myself.  As in, this morning. And the day before, and the day before that. You see, I embarrass myself pretty much on a daily basis, and I have learned to just embrace it.

However, if you’re asking about my most  embarrassing moment (and you are, Blogtober), I would have to say that it goes back to the fall of my senior year of high school.

Who would think this could cause so much humiliation...

Who would think this could cause so much humiliation…

You see, we had a bunch of cats because I love animals too much and when my cat had kittens that weren’t later adopted, I couldn’t bear to turn them over to the shelter. So we had too many cats, and one male came of age before we could get him fixed. As you may know, male cats mark their territory with a most foul spray. Like, that shit REEKS.

Well, this cat decided that my backpack was his territory. And I didn’t notice that it was his territory as I rushed out the door to meet my ride to school. In fact, I didn’t notice it until I got to school when everyone else also noticed it because as I said, that shit REEKS.

At my high school, we also didn’t have lockers–something about fear of kids stashing drugs and guns or something. So I had no place to stash said stinky bag. I tried to leave it in the corner of my first period teacher’s room, but she found me an hour later and told me that she knew a cat had sprayed my bag and that I definitely could not leave that bag in her classroom.

So I had to be that stinky girl, carrying around that bag all day. Of course everyone talked about it, and of course I was then the gross crazy cat lady.

Sigh.

Don’t feel too sad for me though. I’m living better than about 75% of my former classmates (per anecdotal Facebook evidence, of course). I still love kitties, and I totally embrace the “cat lady” insult– we have 2 cats and I adore them. So suck it, high school and all of your embarrassing and awkward moments.

The Daily Tay Blogtober14

What I Don’t Believe In

Today’s Blogtober prompt is What Are Your Superstitions?

So here’s what: This girl, right here, is not superstitious about anything. Sorry. But there is not a damn thing that I can’t chalk up to logic or probability or science, and I kind of like those things.

I’m going to take it a step further:

I also do not believe in Karma.

karma

What?! I know, I know. Karma is one of those lovely thoughts that help people sleep at night, and it’s all about balance and justice and yeah yeah. I just don’t believe that there is some cosmic force doling out justice, and if there is, it really sucks at its job. There are some people in this world who were dealt a really shitty hand , and that is never going to change. And there are some really awful people who will never truly know suffering.

Karma is one of those ides that makes people feel better when someone else wrongs them, like, oh but don’t worry, karma will come back to get him. But what happens when something shitty happens to you? Do you get a flat tire and think, Oh, that must be my karma for taking that parking space that someone else wanted.  No. When a family member gets cancer, do you shrug and think, well, he must have done something really shitty. Of course not! Because when people believe in Karma, they only believe that it serves to avenge those who they think deserve it or to reward them for a good deed. It never affects YOU badly; you’re only the victim of someone else who now deserves bad karma.

People embrace Karma in the same way they do superstitions– it gives them a sense of control in an uncontrollable world. No amount of salt over your shoulder or knocking on wood is going to change any of it, so just embrace the wild ride. Be a decent person not because there will be some Karmic reward for it, but just because it’s the decent thing to do.

Well that’s my two sense on things. But what about you? Are you superstitious about anything, and if so, why?

 

Helene in Between Blogtober

A Letter to My Younger Self

A Letter to my Younger Self

Same picture as my" letter to myself in 10 years post," because laziness.

Same picture as my” letter to myself in 10 years post,” because laziness.

 Dear self,

Quit caring about whether people like you. There are people who don’t, and that is okay. There will always be people who don’t like you, and you will probably not even know about them, and you know what?

It’s okay.

In all of that time that you worry about trying to impress others, you could actually be doing shit. Like, important shit. Plus, there are people who do genuinely like you; pay attention to them instead.

Focus on your education, because that is some important shit. But don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. No one really does. Okay, maybe some people do, but don’t trust them. Life is all about figuring it out as you go and learning from your mistakes. Own up to your mistakes, and don’t trust people who don’t.

Be humble. Be patient. Be grateful. When life gets rough, just remember that it does indeed get better.

Wear sunscreen. Save your money.

But most importantly, enjoy every minute of it.

Love,

You in 2014.

 

Helene in Between Blogtober
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