Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Here we go redux

It started with this tweet:

Some schlub writer tweeted at an eccentric tech millionaire and it worked.

Areas of West Virginia like McDowell County (featured in this article: ) were the vanguard of what came to be known as the F.U. Environmentalism movement. Crowdfunding for crowds.

The conversation, according to rumor, went essentially like this:

"Huh, but that's not close to the most efficient place a project like that could be situated."

"Are you going to profit from it? Because by my estimate, you're going to profit from it almost immediately and continue to do so for years to come. And you'd disrupt major energy producers. And save small towns all across the United States."

"I don't like the United States."

"Actually you do. But, even if you didn't like the United States, this is the fastest way to advance your company's mission statement."

At the end of 2017, Trump was impeached. This was, at the time, and history may corroborate this, the worst thing that could have happened to the United States. On the other hand, at that point, maybe it was moot anyway. Maybe it was for the best, since moderate or progressive governments would have tried to work with Tesla, and that may have slowed down the process, and I’m not sure the earth, Gaia, humanity, would have survived a slower transition to a zero carbon footprint, global society. I can’t honestly say one way or the other, but I do know that early-mid post capitalism is far and away better than late stage capitalism was.

There’s a stick in the line for you, I suppose. And we can go from there. From there, back to the early teens and the twenties. I’m sure there were many people who didn’t go hungry or die. Who didn’t fear for their lives on a daily basis. They had to exist somewhere, during that time. And now

Part 2

At the end of the first three months, Trump, before his impeachment hearings, bolloxed trade relations with China. In 2016 the United States functioned largely due to products produced in China. By the end of 2017, it was impossible. China stopped selling the U.S. things. Apple products stopped being shipped to the U.S. and prices spiked beyond purchase points. A society predicated on buying things and stuff lost its momentum.

Interest rates spiked, too, to keep money flowing, but that sped the demise of the debt inundated middle classes.

Back to Elon Musk and that tweet.

Despite two oil pipelines that the president endorsed (in what (during slower times) would have been impeachable conflicts of interest) Elon Musk began funding small towns in the rust and bible belts. His ecological-capitalist thrust was on two fronts: Pumping energy back into the system (If you have a negative energy bill, the power companies pay you) and charging and recharging home battery packs.

Ostensibly, Tesla™ sold personal solar and wind generators. In practice, small towns took out loans from Tesla™ itself to fund farm collectives of alternative energy. In mid to southern states, this collective model was efficient enough for small towns to afford commerce (back then, commerce was still a thing) as well as pay back their loans to Tesla™ in the length of a mortgage or so, not that money was ever Tesla™’s long term goal. (You’ll see)

The battery pack thrust was a closer-to-capitalist feint, but it, too, paid off. An evolution of a product design from the early ‘oughts, the battery packs from April 2017 onward are able to sustain an average house for two days without recharging. For smaller houses, or those with less than average wattage needs, a single pack could last up to four days. These packs had a functionally infinite recharge cycle as long as an average sized roof covered with Tesla™ solar panels received ten hours of direct sunlight, every two days.

In the summer, even northern states could accomplish this, but during the winter it proved impossible. So you could rent batteries, and much like the milk trucks of old, soon there came battery trucks, and whether or not your phone (cracked, and probably two years old or a generic touch screen by this point) recharged or your stove worked could become a roulette game of how long you could stretch a battery charge; like playing chicken with the gas needle on outdated, fossil fuel cars, of which there were few, and even fewer still that hadn’t been converted to electric engines.

In this moment, Tesla™ had the best American Electric cars, beating out Justin Trudeau’s Canadian national Solar electric models, and being less efficient, but more reliable than Monterrey™ Kinetic Electric.

* * * * *

A day in the life of a battery delivery team.

Paul Mills has worked for energy companies essentially his entire life. He was forty-three years old at this point y desde hace cinco años trabajó para Tesla™ Pack Distribution, SE Michigan branch. Paul es conductor of an armored truck that delivers batteries to a suburb entre las ciudades Canton y Ann Arbor. His two gunners are Mariella De Los Santos Cruz and John Smith, who had just finished Distribution Training. Mariella y Paul eran viejos amig@s, y entonces se aprovechaban a John constantemente.

“Hey John, I heard your refrigerator was running yesterday,” Paul shouted without taking his eyes off the slate grey interstate. He added, “You see those bushes on the right up ahead?”

Mariella replied, “Sí, no hace calor con humanos, jefe.”

“Cool. HEY SMITH? YOU HEAR ME? I said: I heard your refrigerator was running the other day!’

“What? Because I’m so ugly or something?”

“Nah man, because you just graduated training and can finally afford to trade your battery!”

Mariella snorted.

* * * * *

In 2019, Tesla™ released their first solar collecting Tar. While less efficient than Wind and less robust solar panels, Solar collection roads were enthusiastically adopted in southern states almost immediately, again through loans to Tesla™, subsidized by the money earned from negative energy balances at power companies.

Cars. Roads and cars. Despite legislation against Tesla™ car dealerships in many states, the effect on the auto industry was glacial.

* * * * *

Look. When Trump failed to put coal back into depleted mines and when the myth of clean coal was finally debunked the government flopped about and wailed like mermaid out of water. Tesla™ picked it up, slid the mermaid back into the ocean, then built sustainable, essentially self sufficient housing in towns.

By the summer of 2017, Veolia™ had formed a partnership with Tesla™ and together with JJT construction began selling Earthship homes.

These Homes were designed as part of the ecosystem. Imagine hobbit homes for humans, with grey water reclamation units and electricity for weeks. Paid for under contract for percentages of profits they made feeding energy back into the fraying municipal electrical grids.

One floor half above ground and three models: one two and two and a half storey homes. But never more than one storey above ground, always with runoff capture systems nearing 70% efficiency.

Water, right? It’s all about water. Gift of life and all that.

Water reclamation: Peruvian fog nets connected to Veolia reclamation and purification systems, into which also run house expulsion pipes.The Veolia™ systems are municipal grade, shrunk in size and cost by collaboration with Abel Co.™ and Telsa™ designers and engineers.

* * *

Why bullshit? The truck driver for Tesla is my father in law, named Wayne. He lives in Westland, Michigan, north of Ford, close to the graveyard. He worked for Tesla from the moment they started doing battery deliveries, and before that he worked for DTE Energy. When he worked at DTE he was something of repo man, for energy. He did the turn ons and shut offs, and checked out gas leaks and has the build of an American Football defensive lineman, but iswhite, except summers, when he was dark like well oiled leather because he walked outside, job to job to job fifty to sixty hours a week.

I worked that too. My work looked different, though. I was a designer. I designed experiences for people and helped -- i worked at a university, a big university and I wrote workflows and I had been there a long time. I knew lots of people and I spoke honestly and evenly with everyone from the janitors to the president of the branch of the college that I worked for. It did the university good. I worked and I designed experiences and then I shared the work with others. About one hundred people a year at the height of that job. At its most expansive.

Two and a half years is not a lot of time.

I met a woman when I was thirty-six who changed my life. I had a wife and two children at the time. I met her in the community recreation swimming pool. An Arabic woman with pale eyes and dark skin and a sky blue bathing suit. The night we met was the night of the cooperative school board meeting. We were hosting, but children weren’t supposed to be in attendance and our two bedroom, one bathroom apartment wasn’t able to accommodate that, so I took my children to swim for the few hours while the meeting happened. The three of us, my children and I, were swimming in the area of the pool with jets -- hot a hot tub, just a part with a strong current, where filtered water from the main pool was reintroduced. She came in and asked for a floatation noodle and it matched her bathing suit. Outside, snow whipped against the glass door. We were warm in the water because I made sure that the showers we took ended on a frigid note and I told my children, six and four years old, that it would be cold and it would hurt, but only the shower would hurt and it would make the pool like a bath and I wasn’t lying.

She sat down on the edge and waved hello to my son --we had seen her before, he and I, and he paddled over and said hello and asked if he could use her noodle. She explained she needed it and he nodded and came back and she floated over to my children and I and said, “I love you. You need money. How much do you need?”

I laughed and told her to get by I would need thirty thousand dollars. She asked how about to do everything? I didn’t even hesitate. I’d thought about this before. Many showers were spent graciously accepting anonymous donations from strangers because of fantastic leaps of judgment, faith, devil’s bargains and God’s grace. “Three million and two and a half years,” I told her firmly. She nodded. She asked me my full name and my bank --no, please excuse she apologized. Asked me my credit union. I told her it’s name and she nodded and closed her dark, naked lids over her pale eyes and smiled a wide smile. She opened them and extended her hand and we shook, in a winter storm, in a swimming pool, in Michigan.

The next day, on my lunch break I wrote myself a check for $160 and deposited it another credit union where I had student loans. It covered the interest and a tiny bit of principle.

I didn’t look my anemic bank account again until payday, February first. Just the usual amount. I paid our bills and sighed and hoped for a quick tax return. I went to church by myself, as always, and I nodded to myself and smiled at my children and I worked hard at my job, for the people I served. Would be enough, here to simply write: I worked hard for the people I served. ? It seems important, because though the concepts are similar, the truth is that family isn’t work or obligation. Family is love. Family is connection. A job with hierarchies that pays money is work. Family is family and family is love. I paid the bills and made sure we had money to spare and when a windfall or a thank you note came through my job, I passed it to my family. Tuesday evenings I worked until 9:30pm and sometimes I walked through the snow to the bus stop, and sometimes a colleague would drive me back to the apartment complex where we lived. Family.

Despite continuing to go to the recreational center swimming pool on Mondays, Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays, (as was our routine, so my wife could have an even to herself) we had not seen the Arabic woman with dark skin and pale eyes.

Midway through February, I checked my credit union account and found it over drafted, the $100 overdraft protection kicked in. I sighed. I talked to my wife about it and we had an argument, silent, angry words flying through the aether back and forth.

My birthday is PI day: March 14th. I have so many friends whose birthdays are March 13th it is ridiculous. Reality just saying, “Here, this day. It gets all the physics that will break during your lifetime. Me, Jackie, Terry, Einstein, Belinda. All these disproven theorists. March 13th and 14th. The tax return came on my birthday, too and my heart raced and I stared and for two weeks. I sat on it. I checked with my wife about the correct amount that our tax return should have been, and I nodded and paid off credit cards accordingly, and on Monday, April 3rd I called the IRS and told them there had been a mistake and asked them to take their money back. I confirmed my social security number and the routing and bank account number and read them the nine digits that had appeared as an electronic transfer labeled Federal Tax Return and the man on the line clicked about then told me, no, that was correct. No errors, no system errors. No clerical errors. Simply, three million dollars more than we had filed for, which was the correct amount, plus three million dollars. “Oh, thank you, then.”

“You are, at this time, welcome to return it if you do not wish to have such a, ah, thing, with you.” He said.

I replied, “Thank you, I think I will keep it.” I hung up. I called my mom and told her I needed to talk to her accountant. I refused to tell her why, only that it was good news.

Without telling my wife, I paid off our credit cards, our student loans and our rent for the year. I am a horrible liar, but I can keep a secret. Finally, though, she asked. We were