New Whip

What I wanted.

What I got.

Alternative title—Y Not.

Postscript. Forty-five years ago I drove, rescued, cleaned, and parked electric car(t)s at Los Alamitos Country Club in Los Alamitos, CA. For $2.65/hour. Initial impressions of this one after the drive home from Seattle as compared to the ones I herded in the late 70’s. Steeper learning curve, but a wee bit nicer.

Why I Cancelled My Rivian R1S Order

Like the sad (sick) superficial materialist I sometimes am, I fell pretty hard for the Rivian R1S when I first saw it on-line almost four years ago. The squared off looks harkened back to the 70-series Land Cruiser. And the performance numbers were hard to comprehend. And the interior, sumptuous. I watched videos, read about the founder, and coughed up $1k as a downpayment on a launch green with a limestone interior with wood accents.

One friend, who for some crazy reason thinks I’m too frugal for my own good said, “You’ll never follow through.” I immediately looked forward to proving him wrong one day in the not-to-distant future.

And then Rivian, almost as if they were conspiring with my friend, strung me along for three and a half years with false promises of delivery date after pushed delivery date. It felt like going to a restaurant and being told the wait will be five minutes, and then at fifty-five minutes, you seriously doubt whether you’ll ever be seated.

We interrupt these proceedings to state the obvious, this is a quintessential “first world” problem for which I seek no sympathy. It’s meant more as a free-market capitalism case study.

In hindsight, I fell for Rivian’s Apple-like marketing. The glossy profiles of the brilliant, hard-working CEO coupled with videos of the R1S tearing across South America covered in Andean dust. Unlike Rivian however, Apple is run by a keen operator whose genius is mastering supply chains.

During delay two or three or four, I lose track, right before RIVN went public, reports surfaced of a top female executive leaving amidst allegations of gender discrimination and a “toxic bro culture”. More recently, several other top executives jumped ship.

Sidenote. I wasn’t the only who was hoodwinked by Rivian’s mystique. Not even close. RIVN’s initial public offering price was $72/share and over the next few months it skyrocketed to $172. After thinking hard about investing in the initial offering, I wisely decided not to. Today, RIVN closed at $12.82.

Rivian’s communication with reservation holders was always poor. Of course, if in mid 2019 they had been completely honest and said, we’re confident you’ll take delivery by the close of 2023, very few people would’ve sent them $1k.

Fast forward to today. Seemingly every week some combination of new electric cars, trucks, and SUVs are announced. At present, I dig the Polestar 3. And recently, every couple of weeks, Tesla has been leveraging its market share to lower its prices, and thereby turning up the heat on every new entrant. Today, you can buy two Model Ys for the cost of one Rivian. And the Model Ys qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit while the Rivians do not.

Also, over the last two years, as people have taken delivery of their Rivians, I have perused on-line forums to get a feel for owners’ experiences. In short, the reviews are mixed. Of biggest concern to me was the large number of people who said the truck drove quite a bit better than the SUV. And the talk of wind noise, poor service, and “vampire” battery drain, all left me questioning whether I have it in me to be an early adaptor. Those concerns coupled with the fact that the nearest service center is a three-hour roundtrip lead me to prove my friend right.

I probably should’ve done what so many others are, taken delivery and then sold it since initial reservation holders like me are paying 15-20% less than the “price-adjusted” Rivians currently for sale. But I just wanted to wash my hands of the planned purchase and so I mailed the recently arrived charger back.

UPS confirms that Rivian received the charger two weeks ago, but Rivian can’t process the return, and therefore, hasn’t returned my deposit yet.

Here’s the most recent “explanation” from my “Rivian Guide”:

“Hi Ron,

Thanks for reaching out. 

To be transparent, this is an ongoing issue that I have surfaced to upper leadership.

We’re working on a solution to get wall charger return labels out faster as well as return processing times expedited. 

Many of my colleagues are running into the same bottleneck and we are working diligently to get this moving faster for all. 

Thank you for your continued patience.

Have a nice evening and we will be in touch soon, hopefully with good news!”

Had I written back to Alicia, I would’ve written “Dear Alicia, Whatever patience I had nearly four years ago, I’ve lost.”

No matter how great the vehicle, if a company can’t deliver in three and half years and can’t process a returned charger in two weeks time, it’s going to get destroyed by equally hungry, but far more competent rivals.

Do You Remember?

That kid in science class that was so smart they had a hard time relating to others of lesser intellect. Yeah, the one with thick hard plastic framed glasses that you weren’t very nice to. Your similarly insecure friends and you called her a brainiac and other not so nice things.

Remember losing track of her after high school? Probably not since since no one ever paid her much attention to begin with.

While you were spinning your wheels drinking too much and trying to “find yourself”, she completed three degrees in biology and other sciences. Threw in a post-doc for good measure.

Initially at least, you may wanna call her Doctor at the next reunion, but why would she attend given the grief your knucklehead friends and you gave her?

She’s a contact lens wearing tenured professor of epidemiology now with 162,000 twitter followers. Drives a Tesla Model S Plaid and knows more about viruses than all your high school homeboys and you combined. Turn on the right cable news station at the right time and you might catch her helping everyone who slept through science better understand covid’s innumerable complexities.

Finally, she’s the center of attention.

Sentences to Ponder

From “Tesla unveils redesigned Model S with new interior and 520-mile range option.

“Tesla has just announced the first major redesign of the Model S since it launched the electric sedan in 2012. This new version, which starts shipping in March, has a refreshed exterior, a simplified interior, and the option for a more powerful powertrain that lets the car travel at least 520 miles and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under two seconds.”

Dear Elon, when does public safety factor in?

Tuesday Required Reading and Viewing

1. Bet you can’t guess the top global health story of 2020.

2. Bet you can’t guess the ‘secret’ to longevity.

3. Bluetits and Bluebells: Essex’s open water swimmers – a photo essay. Remember, I don’t write the headlines, I just share them.

4. It’s not that hard to buy nothing. After reading the top comments, a suggestion. Dear wealthy people, advertise your minimalism at your own risk. The non-wealthy are (still) not having it.

5. The future of electric cars. This really good ‘free’ advice proves you don’t always get what you pay for.

Weekend Required Reading

Three day weekend in the United States, so I expect local readers to read all of these especially closely. 

1. Online Privacy Should Be Modeled On Real World Privacy. Gather round, John Gruber is fired up.

“Just because there is now a multi-billion-dollar industry based on the abject betrayal of our privacy doesn’t mean the sociopaths who built it have any right whatsoever to continue getting away with it. They talk in circles but their argument boils down to entitlement: they think our privacy is theirs for the taking because they’ve been getting away with taking it without our knowledge, and it is valuable. No action Apple can take against the tracking industry is too strong.”

2. The Secret Adjustment Factor Tesla Uses to Get Its Big EPA Range Numbers. Outsmarting its competitors.

3. In Washington State, the revolving door between government service and lobbying is well-greased. 

“Washington’s revolving door received renewed scrutiny last year when then-state Sen. Guy Palumbo, a Democrat, resigned his seat to become a state lobbyist for Amazon. Prior to stepping down, Palumbo had been the prime sponsor of a bill to require state agencies to adopt cloud computing solutions for any new information technology investments. In urging his colleagues to approve the bill, which passed the state Senate but died in the House, Palumbo touted Washington’s homegrown cloud computing companies. ‘Namely Microsoft and Amazon who are the worldwide leaders in this space, Palumbo said at the time.”

How to get rich? Step one, get elected.

4. Police reforms face defeat as California Democrats block George Floyd-inspired bills. This is the substantive stuff to pay attention to as the media spotlight shifts.

5. The man who defied death threats to play at the Masters My friend RZ loves golf. The Masters is his favorite tournament. He’s also a sociologist who studies Blacks in the elite. This one is for him.

6. ‘Greatest Met of All Time’: Tom Seaver Is Mourned Across Baseball. How can anyone read that and conclude you have to be mean and nasty to be an elite athlete?

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s Required Reading

1. What Anti-racist Teachers Do Differently.

“I have witnessed countless black students thrive in classrooms where teachers see them accurately and show that they are happy to have them there. In these classes, students choose to sit in the front of the class, take careful notes, shoot their hands up in discussions, and ask unexpected questions that cause the teacher and other classmates to stop and think. Given the chance, they email, text, and call the teachers who believe in them.”

2. The Tesla of masks. How ’bout it Captain?

3. Take this new and improved personality quiz. Isn’t there still a built-in complication–our inherently subjective sense of self?

4. Democratic ad makers think they’ve discovered Trump’s soft spot.

. . . unlike four years ago, they are no longer focusing on his character in isolation — rather they are pouring tens of millions of dollars into ads yoking his behavior to substantive policy issues surrounding the coronavirus, the economy and the civil unrest since the death of George Floyd.”

5. France bans Dutch bike TV ad for ‘creating climate of fear’ about cars’.

6. Corina Newsome: A birder who happens to be Black.


I’ve been a wee bit sloppy lately.

Middle brother, who self identifies as “Smarter Brother” wrote in to say Mother Dear did not gift the Gremlin to him.

“I paid FULL blue book for that car… dad even made me pay the extra $35 for the AM/FM cassette player.”

That is the most funny thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. Middle/Smarter brother added that it took “serious game” to attract women in a purple 73 Gremlin. I concede that point.

Which begs the question, what WAS the Blue Book value?

“$1800.  I had to call the guy at the AMC dealership to get the number… I wanted to pay $1000, dad said ‘No.’  I walked up stairs and grabbed the cash and fat-stacked him at the dinner table… the look on his face was classic! He and mom always thought I was out messing around, when in fact, I was at work.”

The second most funny thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. Damn parents. Glass is always half empty.

Finally, for a correction on the driveway accident see comment #2 at the end of the “Tesla-fy What?” post .

Secondly, it’s somewhat worrisome to me that the Gal Pal informs me that we both went to see Pulp Fiction and walked out somewhere in the middle. We were in a distinct minority. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, “There’s a special kick that comes from watching something this thrillingly alive. Pulp Fiction is indisputably great.” To each is own.