Thursday, July 31, 2014

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Yesterday, it was business as usual. A number of left over from home things to take care of in the AM.  I managed to attend a yoga class in the lodge at 10:00. Different from the yoga I do at home, I enjoyed it very much.
Later, in the afternoon, we decided to head to town, do a little grocery shopping and  join the clammers at low tide. We didn’t make it out of the park. The Bronco battery showed a caution light, not charging. We returned and read for the afternoon.
The park is beautiful and I remembered that on our visit in 2011, I saw many black squirrels. We didn’t spot one. Where did they go?  I went back and looked at my previous blog. I recognized photos from a camera not nearly as good as the one I have now. That the squirrels were very interesting and I’m still fighting an injured shoulder. And, a big black crow just walked on our roof.

The blog:
Today is moving day. Our time at Birch Bay has been uneventful, restful and a time to catch up on small projects.  We walked the park, enjoyed the mature trees, and pure black squirrels. This is the only place I’ve seen black squirrels in the many places we’ve traveled.

I looked them up in wikipedia and found they have an interesting background that you can read about at this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_squirrel


A woods loving plant prolific here.  I’m bothered by how few plants I can remember  names for. There was a time when I made it a point to know the names of everything that grew within my sight. I was heavily into gardening in another life.

For what reason the park managers cut this mature fir is anybody’s guess. It shows no signs of rot or damage.  Fir trees predominate and they are beautiful at this time of year with light green tips on darker old growth.

The next three days we’ll be boondocking and I’ll miss this pretty park and a friendly bird that walks on our roof every morning.
But most of all I’ll miss my daily swim. The pool is wonderful therapy for my injured shoulder.  But, the magic of RVing is looking to what’s next? What will I see?  Who will I meet?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MURPHYS, CA. TO BELLINGHAM, WA.

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As I sat on my deck and read over a list of what I needed to pack for Bellingham, I caught a beautiful sunset on my last night in Murphys.  I’ve been away so long, preparation was almost as complicated as packing for my trip to Turkey.
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Since it’s  over two hours to get to the airport from where I live, I’m lucky to have family I can stay with the night before my flight. My son-in-law, Cedric, drove me to the airport in the morning.
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We enjoyed a glass of sangria and conversation on the patio. Since they will be moving to Australia before I return, I won’t see my daughter’s family until December, hopefully, if all goes as planned.
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Owen demonstrated his most recent skill learned at Circus Camp. Its called flower toss, proof that the hand is quicker than the eye, at least the eye of the camera. He can flip the third flower stick into the air, but I’d miss it every time, his hands just a blur.
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Jim picked me up at the airport and we drove to our campsite in Birch Bay. He got a recommendation for a restaurant right on the water front, called VIA BIRCHBAY.
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From the windows we could watch clammers cavorting around at low tide. Most were actually digging for clams, something I’ve never had an opportunity to do. Maybe this week.
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So, of course, we ordered the aioli pesto and parmesan stuffed clams. I can’t say enough how delicious they were. We ordered more toasts and slurped up every bit of the broth in the bottom of the dish.
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Since the appetizer was so good, I chose another in place of an entree, Seafood Moltov with garlic in a brandied cream sauce, topped with smoked mozzarella. Yum. It had scallops, shrimp,mussels and clams. To die for. Very rich food has been off the table for me for a long time, but, we don’t do it often. We spent a leisurely afternoon, catching up, and realized with my sisters death, my trip to turkey, and family reunion, I only spent six weeks since last October in the Motor Home.
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I enjoyed a Black & Jack brew, new to me. It was good beer, and the breeze was delightful coming through the open windows. I took a picture of the colorful bartender. Jim has a theory that people who dress for display, tatoos, piercings and multiple rings, want to be looked at. I enjoy colorful anything, and that includes people. I want to go back once more before we leave. Great place. If you visit Birch Bay, don’t miss VIA.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

SALESMEN PROMISE, THE BOSS DOESN'T DELIVER.

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I ordered a 20 foot storage container from an on-line ad, and sealed the deal on the phone. I wanted it placed by my well to hold yard furniture and other extra stuff while also holding solar panels on its roof to pump my well during this and any future droughts. I explained that before I made my purchase, I had a tight circular driveway area that would only accommodate a truck 45 feet long.  Sales: “No problem.”
Me: I’ve cut trees, had railroad ties dug in, its steep, but my brother has made it up this driveway with his 45 foot rig, unloaded and gotten it back down.  Would you like to verify by looking at my driveway on Google Earth?
S: “No, we don’t need to look. Our drivers are experts, they can get into the tightest spots. They’ve never failed to deliver and we’ve never had a complaint.” The picture above shows the rig with his second container on it.

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Mine was dropped off on the road because not only could the bigger truck not turn into my driveway, but the truck was aimed up the canyon and we had no idea how, on our one way road, that narrows as it goes up the canyon, he could even turn his rig around. With some careful maneuvering, spending some hairy time with one wheel in a ditch, with my son’s help, he got backed up my neighbors driveway which has a wide sweep and was able to crank it around and get in position to leave in the opposite direction.  The container got dropped on my road on a wide pull-out another neighbor built next to his place.

Did I tell you that two nights before the delivery, I was given a number in case I had any questions.  I repeatedly called but the BOSS never answered and his mail box was too full for messages.  I emailed sales staff, explained again, don’t send a double rig, NO, YOU CAN”T BRING A BIG RIG UP THIS ROAD. NO! NO! NO!
I was tempted to send it back, which would have impacted the driver negatively. Instead,  I paid a  tow service to pick it up and deliver it to my site. The driver finally got the BOSS on the phone. He was nasty. Son Doug negotiated with him to pay half the tow bill.  The driver had come all the way from Los Angeles area.
(Sales: “We are located in Oakland.” )
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My little storage container is seated perfectly where I wanted it. But, it took four hours of hassle to get the job done, with many phone calls, waiting on the tow service, whose staff at Sam Berry Towing,  nicely moved their rigs around to get to us within thirty minutes. It was worth the extra $55. The salesman promise but the boss doesn’t deliver as promised.  The name of the company is Storeitmobile.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BLACKBERRY PICKING PLUS

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Norma, Jose and the kids missed the family & friends reunion, but we both were able to squeeze in an afternoon for a bit of berry picking and barbeque Sunday last.
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Jose was scheduled to work, but decided he needed the day off more than the work. He commented on how quiet and peaceful it is here, especially when we walked up the canyon and got into the berry patch. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Six year old Abbie got something picky caught in her sandals. Help dad!

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The berries were fat and plentiful and early this year.
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Doug and Jose did most of the picking and we put a quart of berries in my freezer, and another in Jose’s ice chest.
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Anthony agreed that berries and ice cream is delicious.
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Little miss Abbie had a  good time with some hair ornaments that were headed to the Good Will. She has the most beautiful, lush hair you’ve ever seen. Of course, I’m jealous since I inherited my father’s thin strands instead of my mother’s beautiful tresses.
It was nice to take an afternoon away from a far too busy schedule.  I’m still fielding work progress on the Oregon property. Yesterday, I did a final program on the Quyle Kiln’s 60th Anniversary for Public Access Television. Today, I’ll finish a written piece for Ceramics Magazine. I finished my inventory for insurance, a massive photo project, that took five days to complete between refining the watering system to withstand the water reduction requirements of the drought. (I always take on projects instead of saying no.) And, finally, I can think about what I’m going to pack to return to the Motor Home. I’m looking forward to being back on the road.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR MONEY QUICKLY.

It is an exciting thought to double your income in less than a year, like Red Emerson, the billionaire owner of vast tracts of timber land in the Sierra Mountain Counties like Calaveras, Alpine, Shasta. First you do a bit of Union Busting, so the employees in place of your operations have no one to report your shoddy practices that sometimes lethally ignore safe working conditions..

It helps to get a couple of politicians in your pocket before you go to Hildalgo, Mexico and hire by contract workers willing to sign on for forest tree trimming work, for two years, at 16.47 an hour. The Department of Homeland Security and Labor unearthed documents and evidence that these men were kept in the forest as virtual prisoners, working seven days a week, sleeping  in tents on the ground, eating rotting food with no refrigeration, for which they were individually charged $120 a week, and left to drink tainted water from a nearby creek. No sanitation facilities. In one affidavit, workers were threatened by men with guns to work harder or they would be shot in the head. Check the link from the Sacramento Bee below for details.

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/17/6561903/court-documents-reveal-probe-into.html

You can check out some of the details at the link below dealing with spotted owl habitat.

http://www.wildcalifornia.org/blog/billionaire-emmerson-destroys-spotted-owl-habitat/

Sierra Pacific Industries has clear-cut large swaths of land in Calaveras County with local activists tracing and photographing the ugly patches from the air. What we have to offer here is tourism, natural beauty, lakes and rivers. But it costs us far more to repair the damage caused by SPI in dollars and lives, than we ever get from their operation in "good jobs" and wages. Run off from clear cuts clog streams and have caused mudslides, wiping out a bridge, and so on. WE pay to have it fixed, of course.

Just because it is called "private property" does not mean that someone should have carte blanche to destroy our infrastructure and environment. Everything should and could be done in moderation with care and respect for the land. When you go to the lumber store, don't buy boards stamped SPI. Ask your dealer where your lumber comes from and don't reward this obscenely rich, dirty handed owner of SPI, Red Emerson, who considers himself above the law. He should be fined every cent he made off those workers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A SHAMEFUL POWER PLAY.

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Last night, just as it was getting dark, the power went out. We have no street lights and when it gets dark, it is black hole dark. I spent the evening in my chair trying to read by candle light. Makes you appreciate your power company, but that kind of power is not my subject today.

I’m disgusted by John Boehner’s  frivolous lawsuit against President Obama. I’m remembering Kenneth Starr’s useless pursuit of the Whitewater Case during the Clinton Administration. The guy didn’t even give up his day job to investigate and cost we taxpayers millions of dollars for no indictments of anybody in the Whitewater case. He stretched out that investigation for months and bilked all of us.  Now, Boehner expects the taxpayers to pay for this lawsuit?

There has never been such an obstructionist congress since the constitution was ratified, and our founding father’s were a contentious bunch. But, their aim was the betterment of all. I believe this lawsuit is purely a power play at our expense.

I’m not a great fan of Obama, but let the guy do his job. If you don’t like him, and his cohorts, offer a better plan and vote them out.

Lets take a look at where we are. Food stamp use is skyrocketing, more Americans are unable to live on their wages. Not good. But it was congress who cut food stamps from $7 a day to $6. Can’t blame that on Obama. And businesses like Walmart, MacDonalds, etc. who pay their hundreds of thousands of workers half the poverty level wages while we taxpayers have to subsidize them with food stamps and medical care? The Republicans were lock step against raising the minimum wage.

Both parties, everyone including Obama, seem to be against regulating Wall Street interests and taxing the super rich to the previous working checks and balances.

Even so,  the jobless rate is forecast to drop to 6.1% from 6.3%, and many cities and states  are raising minimum wages, and many major economic indicators are pointing to a steady economic recovery. The real estate market is virtually recovered, though not at bubble prices. And millions of people have medical insurance who didn’t have it before.

Obama hasn’t performed miracles, but he ended two wars, secured the world’s loose nukes, got rid of Bin Laden and brought the last POW home. He disarmed a middle-eastern madman without firing a shot, and dashed Putin’s hope of a new Soviet empire. Now, if he could just get congress to work instead of pontificate, it really would be a miracle.

There are still pressing world issues, like climate change, extreme weather costs, women’s choices, equal pay, decisions made from an anti-scientific attitude. School textbook companies re-writing history to please the religious beliefs of a minority. Extremists trying to break down the wall between government and religion. But hey,  let’s sue Obama and spend a lot of taxpayer money and take attention away from any real issues.  It disgusts me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ILLEGAL MARIJUANA VS. LEGAL MARIJUANA?

Jim sent me an email from the Seattle newspaper about pot sales taxes and suggested I write a letter to Governor Jerry Brown to get on the bandwagon and cure California’s budget woes by legalizing marijuana. Hmm. Sounds good on the surface of it. Here is a copy of the piece from the news:

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington will haul in nearly $150,000 in excise taxes from the first three days of legal marijuana sales — and that doesn’t include state and local sales taxes.
Randy Simmons, the Liquor Control Board‘s project manager for legal pot, says that’s not bad, considering the market is in its infancy, with only a few stores open statewide.
The law voters passed in 2012 to legalize pot for adults specifies that excise taxes of 25 percent are imposed when producers sell their product to licensed retail stores, and another 25 percent is imposed when shops sell to consumers.
All excise taxes due from the first day of sales Tuesday totaled $61,604. The figure dipped to $30,924 on Wednesday, and rose to $55,728 on Thursday, for a total of $148,256.
If there was more to the article, it didn’t I didn’t see it. Not exactly in depth news.

I’ve personally had misgivings about marijuana use and believe medical marijuana is a good idea, but I’m wondering about the full legalization of marijuana. It is an addictive substance and people can drive impaired just like using alcohol.  I looked on several websites about growing marijuana for medical use in California. Nothing much about how it is grown. And, most of it is grown by the person for personal use, I expect. It isn’t very clear.

But what is clear, California growing regulations for Marijuana mention nothing about the actual cultivation, except the number of plants and a background check for growers, and on and on about stems and leaves and carrying it, and so on. Of course, recreational users can loop hole themselves around the regs. The problems is, California’s marijuana harvest is vast—and getting vaster all the time.

According to Mother Jones, “To meet demand, researchers say, the acreage dedicated to marijuana grown in the Emerald Triangle has doubled in the past five years. Like the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, this “green rush,” as it is known locally, has brought great wealth at a great cost to the environment.
Whether grown in bunkers lit with pollution-spewing diesel generators, or doused with restricted pesticides and sown on muddy, deforested slopes that choke off salmon streams during the rainy season, this “pollution pot” isn’t exactly high quality, or even a quality high.
“The cannabis industry right now is in sort of the same position that the meatpacking industry was in before The Jungle was written by Upton Sinclair,” says Stephen DeAngelo, the founder of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, a large medical marijuana dispensary. “It simply isn’t regulated, and the upshot is that nobody really knows what’s in their cannabis.”

Washington State has well thought out regulations that tracks the use from seed to sale at State stores with a stamp that it is state produced. Legalizing marijuana is beginning to sound better and better to me. People are going to use it whether it is legal or not, that is very clear. But, it is still smoking and we know so little about marijuana’s affects on the body. What few studies are available say that no long lasting affects of impairment remain when the person quits using. And, people with mental or psychiatric disorders are more likely to be negatively affected by marijuana use. Hmm.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

TOURIST IN MY OWN TOWN.

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My car needed an oil change, it is a hybrid meaning gas/electric car, so, of course it needs regular maintenance. I decided to have it done right close in town at  7 am and walk around town and look at it from a tourists perspective. A coffee klatch was enjoying coffee and sweet treats at Aria Bakery. And another group was sitting outside at tables at Grounds.
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It used to be the coffee crowd gathered at the “famous” Murphys Hotel. They were empty both outside and in. Change is the only constant in life, so ’tis said.
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Not all change is pleasant. The necessity to have to chain a table to prevent theft at this one time coffee shop turned real estate company made me sad. In fact when we first moved to town, I remember a rancher complaining that he hung his long-sleeved shirt on the fence when it got warm, only to have it stolen and he groaned about the changes with new people moving in.

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I forget how charming it is to have a creek running through town. I took a similar picture at a campground in Monroe, Washington. But I had never looked closely over the bridge in town. Trees and vines and burbling waters sluicing over the rocks.
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On the opposite side of the bridge, the folks who live there have built up an inviting patio with a water wheel to run their barbecue spit.
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The bench at this candle shop was left unchained. Maybe it is all a matter of trust.
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In the backyard of an old friend, since deceased, is this unusual tree.
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He told me it came from another country as a seed in the pocket of a miner headed for the gold fields. He had no idea what it is. The light green pods are beautiful and unusual. I tried to grow one from the seed and failed. I’m going to try again.
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A cute idea to paint a rusting old sprinkling can and hang it on the fence with a plant in it.
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A cluster of bird houses is always a good idea. Made for very small birds, decorative and useful enough to foil a cat from reaching into one.
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An appropriate sign for a store that sells bathroom machineries. They are most unusual and I always haul people inside for a look. Probably the most fascinating store in Murphys. Plus, the employees believe they have a ghost.
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On one of the back streets stands a rustic gold miner’s shack, a fairly large one compared to others I’ve seen. It was occupied by a Miwuk Indian man when I first moved to Murphys. He had a chair in the Murphys Hotel where he sat everyday and told stories to anyone who would listen.  Gone, now, too.
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Whenever I see a beautiful sunflower I automatically think of  Van Gogh,  such a pleasant thought.
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This corner covered with a showy clematis vine made a worthy picture. Part of my somewhat intense scrutiny of downtown gardens was triggered by having lunch with a friend about June 1st. We wandered town and I happened upon a lavender colored rose that was also very fragrant. I wanted to find it again, hoping I could talk the owner into giving me a cutting from it. It is rare to find a fragrant rose these days. But I couldn’t find anyone around town who knows this rose, or could help me find it. I smelled a lot of blah roses.
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An obvious antique something or other decorates another garden. But what is it?  I looked and looked at it without discovering a use for it. I suppose it could be a fence “post” corner. Maybe someone else knows?
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After my car was finished, I drove to the chiropractor’s health center in Tuolumne County. Change is a constant? This climbing wall was once 12 feet tall. It has grown to 45 feet tall. Wow!  Not for the timid. Good exercise no doubt and a competitive sport . I’d like to see it in action. Maybe someday.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON THE BRINK.

Amending our precious constitution is not something to be done lightly. It takes a serious issue and serious consideration for that to happen. The Supreme Court’s Decision Citizens United  certifying forever that a corporation is a citizen was such an offense to the American people that the movement for an amendment began almost immediately in 2010. One columnist stated, “…it won’t happen in my lifetime.”

Well, friends, guess what?  That very amendment passed out of the Judiciary Committee and will soon come up for a vote in the full United States Senate. Do everything you can to help it pass. Write or call your Senators and Representatives and let them know our Democracy should not be hijacked by corporate money and interests.

Like one soldier said:  I’ll believe a corporation is a citizen when I see one come home in a body bag.” The Amendment is supported by 80 per cent of the American people.

Here is what the amendment will do:

It will restore a First Amendment that has been grievously wounded by the Supreme Court’s confounding inability to distinguish between speech and money, between people and corporations.

It will give Congress and the states authority to keep corporate election spending from drowning out the voices of everyday citizens.

It will allow We the People to end the outside spending — by super PACs and “dark money” outfits  that corrodes our democracy no matter what side of the political fence they are on.

It will RESTORE limits on the total amount the super-rich can donate to candidates, parties and PACs or spend on their own self-financed campaigns.

It will give us the freedom to replace our current system of legalized political bribery with a robust public financing system.

There will be big money opposition from those who like the power to run a country and overwhelm the citizens one presidential candidate called sheep and followers.  But, don’t listen to the strident, scaremongers who are attempting to turn our country into a two class society, the rich and the poor. This amendment will help the middle class rise again. We should all be stakeholders in our country and have our first amendment rights for THE PEOPLE only.
AMEN!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HYBRIDS

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I love my Toyota Prius so much, I don’t’ want it totaled. Thus, it is still unfixed. I filed a complaint with the Insurance Commission and they agreed with me that Triple AAA should revalue my car because I installed a new EV battery pack in it 18 months ago. So, now I wait. The wheels of justice from insurance, complaints, etc. turn slowly.

Today, I went on line and looked at other electric vehicles, thinking maybe I’d  buy a second hand EV. Wow, the resale value is very high.

But, check out this:
The numbers are in – the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the most affordable electric vehicle in the entire United States2. A federal tax credit of $7,500 reduces the total cost to $15,495. Your monthly payment will also be significantly cheaper than a combustion-engine vehicle, since the i-MiEV is 100% electric. That means no paying for gas, oil changes, transmission overhauls, or combustion-engine specific maintenance. As an owner of an electric vehicle, you also get a carpool access lane sticker, so you can get where you’re going even faster. Make sure you check your state for any additional savings!  The car gets 110 miles per charge and has several charging options.
Not Bad
I also checked Gas 2.0
 Volvo Planning Plug-In Hybrids For Every U.S. Model.
Another bit from Gas 2.0 which originally was published on a website I’d never heard of
EVobsession 
Here is the story:
Prime Minister Tobgay, of the mountain Kingdom of Bhutan recently visited Japan. While there, he asked executives at Nissan and Mitsubishi to help him replace every car on the capital’s roads with EVs.
Furthermore, these EVs would be powered by green, sustainable hydropower, which fuels Bhutan 100%. It actually produces so much excess power that 95% of it is exported to neighboring India. Bhutan had been trading this excess energy for petrol to power vehicles, but now that energy could be directed right back to residents’ homes. Could Bhutan be the first nation to go 100% electric?
Interesting thought. The U.S. should be so innovative and try for one small state and keep leveraging from there, state by state with gas stations given incentives to offer charging stations.  Think of the savings of no transmission rebuilds, oil changes, and so on. I like it.