The major backlog of container ships at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is the worst its ever been, with 100 ships waiting to enter and unload as of Tuesday.
Guess what? Another 45 ships are expected to arrive at these ports by Thursday.
In better times, and before the pandemic, there would be one ship waiting, or none! (To be fair, imports are at record levels at some ports, and Americans are buying everything they can lay their hands on).
I was just fearing that the keyboard that the repair shop had ordered for my notebook computer, might still be sitting in on a ship in Los Angeles or Longbeach .. but they called me today saying that it came in, and that I can pick up the computer.
Here are the ten busiest ports in the US:
1. Port of Los Angeles, California (known as ‘America’s Port’)- more than 9.2 million TEUs* in 2020
2. Port of Long Beach, California – more than 8.1 million
3. Port of New York & New Jersey, New York – more than 7.5 million
4. Port of Savannah, Georgia – more than 4.6 million
5. The Northwest Seaport Alliance (Seattle & Tacoma), Washington – more than 3.3 million
6. Port Houston, Texas – more than 2.9 million
7. Port of Virginia, Virginia – more than 2.8 million
8. Port of Oakland, California – more than 2.4 million
9. South Carolina Ports, South Carolina – more than 2.3 million
10. Port Miami, Florida – more than 1 million
*Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit
A TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) is a measure of volume, expressed in units of twenty-foot long containers.
Today marked the opening of the 4.3-mile extension of the Seattle area’s Link light rail system towards the north, with three new stations: U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. These are the final stations in the system that was proposed to voters in 1996. So it took twenty-five years to get it all planned and built, a lot longer and much more expensive than planned, but it’s here at last. The price tag for this last phase was $1.9 billion.
Central Line is now called Line 1 with its 19 stations. Line 2 to Bellevue is under construction and will open in two years in 2023.
I realized on Sunday, driving around in the pouring rain, that’s it’s a new experience for me in my car (it’s been dry ever since I had gotten the car at the end of June).
The windshield wipers switch on automatically, but at times they seem to be a little too frantic (enthusiastic?) with the wiping. I intervene then, and adjust the wiper frequency down a notch.
I like the stalk on the right of the steering wheel to push on*, to get to the wiper controls (and not to have to go through the console screen selections).
*Tesla’s new steering wheel on the Model S and X has none of that, as the steering column is not equipped with any stalk.
‘One or more items in your order will be ready for pickup at Apple, University Village’
– Text message from Apple, complete with map and QR code
I took this message to believe my new phone and its leather case were ready for pickup.
The phone was indicated as ‘available’ on Friday when I placed the order. And did Tim Cook not say (at the Apple event, Sept. 14) that there would be enough phones out of the gate, this year?
Long story short: I left the store without my phone. (It’s not a big deal. It’s just an illustration of how the best-laid plans can go off the rails).
Inside the store after a long, long wait for the phone to show up: No— they did not have it— and would not have it for another four weeks.
I suppose I could have double-checked online if both my items were ready, before going out to the store.
In hindsight, the other red flag was that my credit card was charged only for the case as I placed the order on Friday, but not for the phone .. but I thought that was because they would check the condition of my trade-in phone, and then finalize the charge amount today.
So the message & QR code they had sent out, the time slot of 11.45- 12 noon for the pickup, the careful choreography in the Apple store, was all for just picking up a phone case.
Back at home came the e-mail from Apple with my receipt, and the standard invitation to provide feedback of ‘my experience at the Apple store’.
I basically wrote back:
‘I took your text message & QR code as confirmation that both phone and case were ready for pickup.
Why on earth would your ordering program assume I would want to come in to your store, fight the traffic piling up for the University of Washington football game nearby, to come in and pick up only the case for the phone?
Somewhere along the line there should have been a clear message saying that the phone would be unavailable/ not ready for pickup’.
P.S./ Two days later There was in fact in e-mail sent out by Apple on Friday, that stated that the phone was not available. So yes, I should have checked the status of my order inside the e-mail before I went out to the store.
‘We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to The Visitors.’
– ABBA, at the announcement of their first new album in 39 years
The suspense is over for ABBA fans, and hey! a whole new reunion album of their music is coming. (At first it was just a new song or two that were promised.)
As far as I understand, the 80’s supergroup made themselves into avatars for a virtual world tour, so that they would not have the hassle of traveling the world over in the flesh (and in a pandemic). Who can blame them for not wanting to travel for work? I do not.
‘It’s intended to be friendly, of course, and navigate a world built for humans. We’re setting it such that at a mechanical and physical level, you can run away from it and most likely overpower it’
– Elon Musk describing the Tesla Bot
Yesterday, Tesla hosted what was billed as ‘AI’ (Artificial Intelligence) Day, in the same vein as last year’s Battery Day. The intention was/ is to draw attention to Tesla’s prowess in developing the AI that will power self-driving cars. It’s good for marketing & promoting the Tesla brand, and for attracting talented people from fields such as Machine Learning, to join Tesla.
After the presentation and just before questions, ‘one more thing’ was announced: the Tesla Bot, a ‘definitely real humanoid robot’. Tesla Bot will leverage some of the hardware and software used in Tesla’s cars, it was said. The robot will be able to do unsafe, repetitive and boring tasks, ‘essentially helping the company solve the problem of labor to some extent’.
Hmm. Is this thing for real? I think I go with the view of technology news website The Verge: ‘Don’t overthink it: Elon Musk’s Tesla Bot is a joke’.
The Puget Sound Energy (electric utility) website has a cost calculator for equivalent electric and internal combustion engine ‘ICE ‘(gasoline) vehicles.
Here are the results for a Tesla Model 3 Long-range vs. a BMW X1 sDrive2Bi. Bottom line for me: It’s no contest. The Tesla wins from Day One (zero emissions), and outright from a total cost of ownership perspective, after 4 years.
A typical gas-burning passenger car puts 4 US tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere every year: 20 pounds for every gallon of gasoline burnt. It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline (about 6.3 pounds), could produce 20 pounds of CO2. However, most of the weight of the CO2 doesn’t come from the gasoline itself, but from the oxygen in the air that it combines with.
I was out of milk and eggs, and thought to go check out the new Amazon Fresh store on 23rd Avenue & Jackson St.
The technology that Amazon had built into the ‘dash carts’ works fine, and made for a smooth experience. Is it something that will save me so much time that I will come back to the store just for that? I don’t think so— but then I have the luxury of extra time in my day, and I can avoid the crowds at stores (by going at a quiet time).
I discovered footage of myself on my car’s sentry video log. The ‘suspicious motion’ behind my car is me :). I am retrieving a tennis ball that had bounced out of the tennis courts by Lower Woodland Park, and landed behind my car.
When suspicious motion near the car is detected, the front & rear and left & right cameras begin recording. A lot of entries are generated simply by people parking their cars next to yours, and getting in or out of their cars.
If a significant threat is detected— a break-in or a collision— the alarm system will also activate, and the will be owner notified via the smartphone app that an incident has occurred.
I had groceries on the back seat of the car when I pulled into my garage tonight. I stepped out of the car, took the groceries out, closed the door, and put the charging cable in.
As I stepped into the house, the car reported ‘The rear driver side door has been left open’ on my phone. Well, it was open for a minute or two but I’m sure I closed it, I thought. I popped my head into the open garage door. Yup, it’s closed.
But 16 mins later the message came again, and I went and took a closer look.
Sure enough: the car was right. The door was ostensibly ‘closed’, but not latched properly (firmly). So to the car, the door was open.
Here’s my navigation screen as I drove south on Interstate 5 towards the city in heavy traffic today. It was 2.01 pm and 85 °F (29.5 °C) outside.
I am getting more confident using the standard autopilot function of my car (that is, autosteer to stay in the lane, and using adaptive cruise control).
It was time for the Will-o-Watt Wagon (my car’s name on the Tesla app) to get out of the city and take the long road for a trip to Ellensburg today.
I used my car’s standard Autopilot functions extensively for the first time, on today’s drive. Standard Autopilot means letting the car steer, accelerate, and brake within its lane. It was a good learning experience —and definitely a little hair-raising at times, such as trusting the car to stay in the lane on a curve in the road, with vehicles in the lanes next to you, and oncoming traffic as well.
The primary skill to master with standard Autopilot is to allow the car to steer itself, while still having one’s hands on the wheel. If the driver holds the wheel too firmly, the car interprets it as an override, and cancels the Autopilot steering. If, on the other hand, the car cannot detect that the driver is holding the wheel, it issues a message— a series of messages, actually, ending with an alarm and a screen with red hands on the wheel that says ‘Autosteer Unavailable For The Rest Of This Drive’. I managed to avoid ending up in that dog box and state! Success!
P.S. News broke today that Tesla has officially launched its Full Self-Driving subscription package for $199 per month. Full Self-Driving is really ‘Almost Full Self-Driving’, since the driver really still needs to hold the wheel. However, it is a really big step up from standard Autopilot, in that the car will stop, start and navigate by itself. So it will stop at intersections and traffic lights, wait for traffic or the green light, and go by itself, and turn on the turn signal for turns and lane changes where needed.
Tesla’s highly anticipated beta* version 9 of its Full Self-Driving software is out. This is the version of the software that is called Tesla Vision (camera) only; so it is not using the radar sensor’s input. (I don’t have FSD. I opted out of the FSD functions when I bought my car).
*A version of a piece of software that is made available for testing, typically by a limited number of users outside the company that is developing it, before its general release.
Gali @Gfilche on Twitter took his Model Y for a test drive through the streets on Capitol Hill here in Seattle at 2 a.m. this morning. Here are a few screen shots of a video (on YouTube channel HyperChange) that he posted shortly thereafter.
My dishwasher is 19 years old and kaput.
I thought I could just waltz into the Albert Lee appliance store today, and order a new dishwasher.
I was wrong.
There is a widespread home appliance shortage in stores: wall ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers.
I want a machine from German manufacturer Miele. ‘You can pay in full to get a place in line’, said the saleslady, ‘but be prepared to wait 4 to 6 months’.
At home I checked Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy. No dice. Looks like I might just have to wash my dishes by hand for a while.
I took my car to the Tesla Service Center this morning for two very minor repairs. A new owner gets 24 hours after delivery to report any defects, and then these are repaired free of charge. (In my case a tail light cover had a slight chip on the corner, and the trim on one door was slightly misaligned).
Here’s the Tesla supercharger station at the Northgate Mall off of Interstate 5.
It’s super-easy to supercharge the car. The hardest part for me is to back it nicely into the charging bay in one go. (It’s a new experience for me to use a car with a rear camera view for back-in parking, but I am learning quickly).
Park the car, plug it in. No credit card, no PIN, no thumb print or retina scan :), no nothing— the charger knows it’s your car, and how you will pay. Relax or go grab a coffee, and monitor to see when it’s done.
Well, the wait for my Tesla Model 3 (Long Range AWD) car was over on Wednesday.
A Tesla delivery person showed up with my car at my house shortly after 10.30 am. I signed some papers and handed over a check. We linked up my phone with the car, and that was it, for the delivery.
As for getting behind the steering wheel, completing the setup of the car on the touchscreen, and starting to drive it: I am very fortunate to have friends that have been Tesla owners for awhile, and that have provided me with invaluable pointers and ‘tech support’ from the day I had put in my order nine weeks ago. It would have been a very steep learning curve, with many stumbles, without them.
The 15-in. touchscreen shows the car’s position in traffic, its speed and a navigation map with (optional) driving directions. The screen is also the interface for entertainment and a host of other controls for the car.
There is a standard turn-signal stalk & a gear selector stalk (R N D P) by the steering wheel, and buttons on the wheel for volume control & the sideview mirrors.
Modern cars are all high-tech, but Teslas are still several notches above that. The software that controls the car’s interface and functions will be updated from time to time through my home wi-fi network. The car has no key: your phone is the key. ‘The car knows you want to drive when you get in’, as Elon Musk likes to say. On long trips, the navigation map will work out which chargers to go to, and will indicate how many open chargers are available at nearby locations.
My car came standard with some Autopilot’ functions – which I can choose to engage at any time. I opted out of getting the ‘Full Self-Driving’ functionality. (‘Autopilot’ is an advanced driver assistance system: automated steering within a clearly marked lane, and matching the car’s speed with that of surrounding traffic. ‘Full Self-Driving’ is automated driving functionality that actively guides the car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including lane changes, navigating interchanges, automatically engaging the turn signal and taking the correct exit).
I love the high-tech, but at the end of the day I am just thrilled to have a car that drives on electricity. No more fill-ups at the gas station for me. I hope that in the not-too-distant-future, all the cars in the world can become electric.
The body is mostly steel, with some aluminum. The 2021 Model 3 replaced the chrome door handles, side mirror trim, window trim, and camera covers with a black finish. It has a double-paned windshield, a powered trunk, and a new center console. Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection. Curb weight is 4,072 lb (1,847 kg).
Two electric motors (‘dual-motor all-wheel drive’).
Front motor: Alternating Current (AC) Induction.
Rear motor: Alternating Current (AC) Permanent Magnet.
Automatic, one-speed fixed gear, 9:1 ratio.
82 kW-h capacity. Rated range of 353 miles (568 km).
Aluminum, aerodynamic covers. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system; regenerative braking to extend battery power.
LCD touchscreen in landscape orientation that combines the instrument cluster and infotainment. Heating and air-conditioning cooling efficiency increased by heat pump with octovalve.
Another week, and still no call from the Tesla dealership (saying ‘your Tesla is ready for pickup’).
I still don’t have my vehicle identification number (VIN), though, so I did not really expect a call this week.
The VIN is needed to finalize/ update one’s auto insurance policy, prior to taking delivery of the car.
A Tesla bot or a Tesla person did send me an e-mail today, saying ‘We are working to get you behind the wheel of your Tesla as soon as possible‘.
Here’s a new BMW i3 that I found this morning, on the way to the Safeway grocery store. (I tagged along for a little test drive of one in 2014).
I see more Tesla Model 3 cars here in the city than I do BMW i3 ones. Or could it be that I have eyes for Teslas only? That’s definitely possible.
I went to the BMW website and mocked up an order for a BMW i3, and the car actually comes to a few thousand more ($44,450 MSRP as built) than Tesla’s Model 3 Standard Range Plus (cheapest Model 3).
This for a compact car with a 153 mi range vs 263 mi for the Tesla & 42 kWh battery vs. 54 kWh. The BMW might be more suitable for navigating the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets of old European cities, though.