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Recent Posts

Flash Parking Receives $250 million

Flash has announced that it has received a quarter of a billion dollars in venture capital money. Wow! I spoke to a source there this morning and the excitement was palpable. Words like growth, purchase, and expand filled the conversation.

I commented that infusion from VCs was the beginning of major changes for companies, with the higher the amount, the greater the change. The news release noted that Flash expects to hire 200 more people in 2022. My contacts note that they hope to expand their entre into EV charging.

Knowing the potential land mines that await in influx of VC capital one can only wish Flash and its management team well. Flash CEO Dan Sharplin made the following statement:

“When FLASH was founded, the parking industry was poised for transformation and digital mobility platforms were nascent. We are rapidly future-proofing urban mobility infrastructure by providing an agile, cloud-based, mobile-first platform for the myriad opportunities facing cities, citizens, asset owners, utilities, and parking operators. We are thrilled to welcome Vista as an investor and partner whose expertise and experience will ensure we continue innovating to advance the connected mobility experience.”

Stay tuned.

JVH

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Focus

I have glanced back at the recent blogs in this space and find that few if any deal with our hot topic, parking. I don’t want to downplay the topic, its important to all of us as it deals with how we make our respective livings. However with all that’s happening in the world, I find it difficult to focus on it.

Inflation is destructive and cruel. It affects the least among us and makes it difficult for them to thrive. War or the threat of war is not good. Its destructive forces know no limits. It kills and maims the innocent as well as the guilty. Rampant crime destroys our culture, our homes, and our lives. It brings fear where it should not be.

Our children are being robbed of their innocence. Its OK for them to be kids. To run and play and get into mischief. Its how they learn and grow. We don’t need to expose four and five year olds to what they are not ready to understand.

I could go on but you get the point. With all this, try to think about parking, with all its foibles and intricacies. It just doesn’t seem that important.

History tells us that it is cyclic. Things will get better. They have before and they will again. I am certain of that. Remember the graffiti on the walls of Pompeii. Something to the effect “Teenagers are acting like hoodlums, There is no hope for the future.” We went through the dark ages, and then the rebirth, the renaissance. We survived the horrors of the wars in Europe, the world wars, the nuclear age. And we will survive this.

Still, its difficult to focus. But I will give it the old college try. Look for parking in our future. It sounds strange but much depends on it. Particularly in our personal lives.

JVH

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I Eat Crow – And It’s My Fault

I will open this blog with a bit of crow eating. My buddy Tony in Portland has criticized me for using the term “our betters” in various articles I have written over the years. It is a facetious way to name the elites, the government officials, and those who run the media and spend their lives telling us what to do, how to act, and generally interfering with our way of life.

I have given this topic a lot of thought, urged on by a couple of colleagues, and I have come to the conclusion that its not ‘our betters’ that are leading us down primrose paths and setting our way of life on a course to destruction. Those to blame for all our troubles are “us.” Yes, those sheeple named you and me who follow ‘our betters’ blindly and accept what they say without question.

Our President, Governor, Mayor, Hollywood elites, moneyed folks from Silicon Valley aren’t where we should be pointing a finger. Its all of us who somehow have gotten it into our thick skulls that these people know more than we do. After seeing the failure after failure in governance, the movie after movie that not only makes no money but insults our intelligence, or the money machines created by tech oligarchs that ‘create’ stuff with the sole purpose of selling it to Google or Apple, and then there’s the folks at Google or Apple who pay megabucks for this stuff, only to have it disappear never to be seen again.

And we rely on them to be our ‘leaders’ and swoon on every word. As George Lucas said through Obi-Wan Kenobi “Who’s the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?” That was before Lucas made is first billion and Episodes 1, 2, and 3 went to hell.

I will top up this part by writing one word that should prove my point: “Kardashian.”

Do we have so little faith in ourselves that we can’t pick out a “T” shirt, select a beer, or figure out for whom to vote without relying on the input of someone whose claim to fame is conning the populace out of their hard-earned dollars. What does being able to dunk a three point shot, being a mediocre quarterback, or have an inborn talent to sing or act have to do with telling me how I should live my life?

We have been suckered in, fair readers, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

I wish I could blame all the problems we see today on the current administration, but frankly they have been coming for years. We actually believe the claptrap we hear about climate change, that the poor downtrodden who break the laws need our help, not prison, the hatred spewed forth pitting race against race is true, the ‘fact’ that we can spend money we don’t have and it’s OK, that we can talk our way out of dangerous situations both at home and abroad. We have allowed ourselves to be conned into a belief that we can rely on others to take care of us. All we need to do is support this cause or that, vote this way or that, allow others to tell us what is right or wrong, and all will be right with the world. We believe that there are free lunches around every corner. Somehow, we believe that five year olds should be told about sex, and by doing so we steal their innocence. We are told that a man can become a woman by simply saying so, and then compete against women in sports. And we actually believe this stuff.

This isn’t Biden’s fault, or Trump’s, or Jeff Bezos’. We can’t blame CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. Sorry but even the Kardashian’s get off Scott free on this one. Its your fault.

Its time to step up and take responsibility. While “our betters” are partying maskless at the French Laundry, or infecting each other at the Super Bowl, or cutting off our supply of oil and then buying it from our enemies or spending us into oblivion we sheeple are simply allowing them to do it.

While inflation is out of control, and it costs $100 to fill a tank of gas, while a dictator invades a nearby country that should be under our protection, while crime, drugs and homelessness destroy our cities, while the supply chain is such that you can’t get an elevator repaired, while our schools are ranked lower and lower yet we pay more and more for them, while all this is happening, we spend our lives looking for someone to blame. Yet the answer is as close as the mirror on your dresser.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to grow up and take control of our lives. All of you that are spending time blaming others for our problems, shame on you. There is no mystery here. Dammit, it’s your fault.

Einstein said that insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Is that not what we are doing. Are we not electing the same people, supporting the same causes, believing the same claptrap (see above) and expecting things to get better, that is, expecting a different result?

Look around, people. Is it not time to accept responsibility? Is it not time to question all those Kardashians in our lives? Is it not time to stop doing the same thing over and over?

To me there is no question. This is the only solution. We must begin to accept responsibly for our world’s troubles, to get the facts, to read history, to learn about our world and how we fit in it. Then you need to act.

Do what you know is right, not what “our betters” tell us is right. If you stop blindly following, you don’t have to become a leader. Just apply those ‘little gray cells’ and be ready to admit that you just might be wrong. Hey, I did it in the first graph.  You can too.

JVH

 

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It’s not what they say, it’s what they DO!

My Mother was a staunch Democrat. We said that she would vote for the devil himself if he had a “D” after his name. In many places, the election officials helped you out with this by having a “D” or and “R” lever. If you pulled that, you voted for all the “Ds” or “Rs”. Made it easy.

Mom lived through the great depression. She was convinced that “D” FDR saved the country and it became ingrained in her DNA that “D” equaled good and “R” equaled bad. It was what she believed, and nothing was going to change it.

The problem is that all politicians lie. I know it is heresy to say so, but even FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Obama, the Bushes, Trump, and yes, even Biden, they all, in one way or another lied. They twisted the truth to fit their goals.

It’s not only politicians and their supporters that lie, but leaders of movements lie, through their teeth. The Greens, the Progressives, the Liberals, the Conservatives, Black Lives Matter, The Teacher’s union, they all lie. And frankly, they may not even know it. If the narrative fits, use it.

Politicians of all types seem to forget the first rule of holes. If you find yourself in one, stop digging. The government approach to the pandemic was a great example of this. Very early on, politicians started making statements, virtually all based on absolutely no facts (we really didn’t have any) and once the statement was made, they twisted themselves into pretzels to not admit they didn’t know what they were talking about. They kept digging. They never consider that greatest of all laws, the law of unintended consequences.

So how do we, kind reader, fix this problem. We are being led down a primrose path by politicians, the world is upside down, inflation is rampant, the Russians are acting like Russians, gasoline prices are through the roof, so what to do. If we acknowledge that all politicians lie, how do we make a decision when we go in to ‘pull that lever.’

A very wise pundant, who has a radio talk show nationwide, made a statement once that hit home with me. It was meant to fit all situations, and I think it goes hand and glove with this one. “Don’t worry about what people say, it’s what they DO that counts.”

Patton may not have been the nicest guy on the planet and he was certainly not the most politic. However he could win wars. Hitler was to many, a nice guy. He signed treaties, he liked dogs. We all saw how that worked out. Jimmy Carter was a really nice guy. His presidency, by any measure, was a disaster. You get the point.

I guess first you have to look into your soul and determine what outcome you are seeking. For foreign policy, read history. Does evil attack weakness or strength. The goal needs to be our own safety. Do we want to be liked, or safe? Is our goal to make the world in our image, or to protect the image we have? You need to make that decision. Is fighting foreign wars to our best interest. Are those battles making us safer? Seems like a quick check of history could answer that question.

If possible, get some facts. Not what people say, but what is real. A fake picture of a polar bear on an ice flow may attack you heart, but what about the facts that polar bears are thriving in the polar regions, to the point that they are becoming pests. We are concerned, and rightly so, about global warming, but what are the facts. Since 1979, the planet has increased in temperature .13 degrees C per decade. At that rate it will take 80 years for it to increase one degree. Much less than projected on climate models. Facts folks, are pesky things.

When we vote, is it possible to consider what a politician has actually DONE, not what he or she has said. What laws did they support? Do we agree with those laws? What did they DO as president? What actions did they take and what was the result of those actions?

Don’t listen to me, look out your window. Is the world a safer place today? Are prices skyrocketing? Is crime on the upswing? Is that homeless camp still under the 405? Rather than look for someone to blame, why not give someone else a chance at it. Its easy to make excuses, harder to fix problems.

All change is good.

JVH

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Why do we do things?

I’m frustrated. We seem to be locked into a path of self-destruction. Folks jump on this bandwagon or that, and because it ‘feels right’ or because our betters tell us it’s the right thing to do. we simply follow blindly without thinking through the result.

Case in point

Electrification of the transportation fleet. That means, turn all cars, trucks, buses, and trains into electric vehicles. We are moving headlong into his new electric world, without thinking through the ramifications. The goal appears to be to make the world pollution free. Fair enough. However have we really thought through the process.

A study done by Volvo has shown that to have the carbon footprint of the average EV be better than the average ICE, it must be on the road at least eight years.  Since the average life of a vehicle is 10 years, well, we get only about 2 years of benefit from the EV. This study takes into consideration the mining of rare earth for batteries, the manufacturing and disposal of same, the generation of electricity to charge the vehicle, and of course all the various materials and activities that go into the manufacture.

But that aside, just what are we doing to our citizens in the meantime. The current government at the federal and most state levels is on a campaign to make EVs popular and ICE vehicles unaffordable. Mostly through increasing the cost of fuel for ICE. It is not an accident that gasoline and natural gas prices have doubled in the past year or so. The policies of our government have caused it.  They freely admit this is the case.

A quote from our Transportation Secretary tells the tale. “If gas prices are high, buy and electric car.”

We know of course that EV’s are more expensive than ICE vehicles. High gas prices and costs of cars don’t affect those who have the resources to pay an extra $20 or $30 to full up, or when they drive off the showroom floor. The rest of us, not so much.

Rather than allow the free market to set the price of gas, we seem to be going out of our way to make it as expensive as possible.

In addition, the headlong race into changing how we drive, heat our homes, cook our food, seems to also be affecting our ability to maintain our freedom in an ever dangerous world. Rather than be energy independent, we have decided to rely on our enemies for oil (can you say Iran or Venezuela) and are now in a position to have to plead with the OPEC countries to increase their production. In addition, the current war in the Ukraine is being funded by energy purchases by the west from Russia.

I’m agnostic on the green movement. I’m sure there are reasons, and some good ones, to be concerned about our environment. My frustration, however, is that we can’t seem to get it right.

Why not continue to use fossil fuels whilst and at the same time, as the Brits would say, move realistically into an EV world. Spend the time necessary getting the infrastructure in place to handle an electric world. Rather than force electric vehicles on the populace, why not take the time to get to the point where they are truly environmentally sound, cost effective for the average person, and let the world truly understand the costs involved.

For instance. People think that EVs today are virtually free to charge. Will that be the case in 20 years when the drivers have to pay for the increased power generation and the infrastructure required to move it to your vehicle. It is possible that $2.50 a gallon gasoline will look cheap in comparison. Has anyone done those numbers?

The cost of everything is reflected in the cost of fuel. The cost of food, clothing, houses, cars, literally everything we buy is affected by the cost of fuel. If may ‘feel right’ to Stephen Colbert, who makes $75 million a year, to pay ‘a few bucks extra for gas’ – he drives a Tesla – but for the rest of us, the cost of milk, eggs and lettuce is through the roof. Why do we simply follow blindly the elites who seem to think they know better than we do?

Just sayin

JVH

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‘I Need Ammunition, Not a Ride’

When Winston Churchill wrote “The Gathering Storm” he was describing the pre WWII years between the end of WWI and the west’s capitulation to Hitler in Munich. An honorable man like Chamberlain felt he was dealing with an honorable man in Hitler. Churchill knew better. He knew that tyrants respect only strength.

Unfortunately there was no Churchill writing from the wilderness this time. We, that’s the west, enabled a tyrant by funding his plans (through oil purchases) and put ourselves in a untenable position by listening to those who would ensure that we are weak and unprotected. So be it.

Where have the heroes like Churchill gone. Apparently to Kyev. Ukrainian president Zelensky is a leader with heart and soul. When asked if he needed a lift out of the Ukraine to save his life, his response is now viral: I need ammunition, not a ride.

With a population a quarter the size of its opponent, it would seem to be a country that would quickly fall to Mother Russia. However the Ukraine has been planning for an assault for the past decade. Its military is relatively well armed and well trained. The Russians seemed confused, il prepared, and riddled with mistakes. What should have been a cakewalk, turned out to be mired in supply chain problems and mud.

No one can predict the outcome of this crisis. However much like England in 1939, the Ukrainians seem to be weathering a terrific storm and holding on. Experts in this feel that time will defeat the Russians. The question remains, Does Zelensky have the time?

Strategic bombing can be devastating, but as proved by Churchill and the English during the blitz, a society, well led and motivated, can survive.

Heroes are made, not born. Zelensky may have what it takes. He certainly seems to have so far.

JVH

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I wonder where people get their numbers – EVs and Charging

I was reading a story about the EV charging industry and what operators should expect in the coming decades. Two figures stood out to me. First, the number of cars on the road is expected to decrease by 40% by 2050 and second, the number of EVs on the road are expected to be 42% of that number.

I guess that means that we would expect that EVs on the road in 2050 to be 42% of 60% of the number of cars on the road today. This is in the face of the fact that the US Government expects a 5 million car INCREASE over the next eight years. Plus ridership on public transit is unchanged over the last 70 years, at about 15% of the total number of commuters. TNC traffic is in the pits, but even if it increases, it will do so in the face of substantial ride cost increases which we have seen has made the Uber/Lyft world less popular with the riding public. You can only give it away so long.

The article goes on to discuss three types of chargers, Type 1, which fully charges you overnight, Type 2, which will fully charge most vehicles in Five to 13 hours, and Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) which will charge most EVs to 80% in about an hour. Costs Range from about $5000 for Level one, $15,000 for Level 2 and between $28,000 and $140,000 per stall for the fast charging DCFC.

It was also noted, to reduce stress on the electrical grid, that most cars should be charged at home, which begs the question as to why we are installing a gazillion charging stations around the country. But as Peter would say, lets forget that. What bothers me is that there is a very large number of people, mostly those who are ‘income challenged’ (read that poor), who don’t have off street parking near their homes. Plus these are the people who are most likely to use their vehicles in their jobs (gardeners, repair and maintenance folk, even TNC drivers.) As is usually the case, it’s these members of our society who get it in the neck, not only as to ‘where to charge’ but also in the fact that gasoline has nearly doubled in price in the past year.

All that aside, the article discusses how many charging stations you might need. My advanced calculus is far in the rear view mirror, but suffice it to say that in the end, the article recommends that you install 60% of your spaces with charging stations, and a load management system that will coordinate the charging stations, ensuring that only 15% of them are charging at any one time and then switching to another when one has completed its task. This will keep your system from overloading and…

Of course, charging for electricity is frowned upon at this time as we are attempting to get citizens to switch to plug in electric vehicles. (Can you say $5 a gallon gasoline). However once the goal is reached, then it is expected that one will charge for the electricity used.

I have no problem with that as long as the charge is equal to the cost of supplying the electrons. Won’t an EV owner be surprised to find that charging his EV will cost the same as filling an ICE vehicle with gas.

I do apologize to the authors of the piece mentioned above. I did cherry pick it a bit. But frankly not that much. This entire subject is fraught with pitfalls what with range anxiety, cost and location of charging stations, the variation of charging times for different vehicles, and studies that have shown that EVs aren’t that ‘green’ at all – See the Volvo study in Peter’s column in the upcoming April edition of PT.

JVH

 

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The Road to Kyiv   We forget History at our Peril

As we watch events unfold in the Ukraine, it is important that we don’t forget what has happened throughout the millennia. Whenever despots push, they push against weakness. In every case, whether it was the Greeks, Romans, Mongols, the Muslims, the warring factions in 18th century Europe, the Germans, the Russians, they all pushed out against weakness. Or at least what they thought was weakness.

When Ben Laden attacked the US though hijacking the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he was attacking what he felt was the ‘weak horse.’ The Japanese, attacking the US at Pearl Harbor believed the same. The Germans couldn’t understand why the British didn’t give up after a year’s bombardment in the blitz.

Now we see Putin thinking he can waltz into the Ukraine and take over. He is gambling that the rest of the world is coming from a position of weakness, and that the Ukraine is not really a separate country, but simply an undefined group of people who will roll over at the first provocation. We are now five days into the invasion, and it seems that Mr. Putin may have misjudged the situation. Major European countries are falling in line behind the Ukraine. So called sanctions are being put in place and beginning to squeeze the Russian economy.

More importantly, the Ukrainian people are not rolling over but are raising all sorts of havoc with the Russian troops. Putin may find himself in a situation where he will win every battle but lose the war.

Its important now to consider just how we got here. Classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hansen has written a long review of the history of this invasion, and the mistakes the west has made in keeping Putin in his box. You can read it here.

VDH has spent a lifetime studying the history of aggression and warfare. His conclusions might not parallel your thinking, but as we are on the brink of war, it might be a good idea to at least consider his point of view.

The tragedy that is taking place in the Ukraine is heartbreaking. People are dying, homes are being destroyed, a city that was a metropolis when Moscow was a small village is surrounded by tanks. While we grasp our pearls and fall on the fainting couch a culture is being destroyed. You don’t have to walk too far down streets in most US cities to find people who have friends of family in the Ukraine. You will also meet Poles, and also those  from other Eastern European countries that border the Ukraine and Russia who see this as Putin’s first step in domination. They fear for their lives.

As much as I hate to say it, this is happening in our back yard. Stalin murdered five million Ukrainians in the run up to World War II. Who knows what the next weeks will bring? We ignore what is happening now at our peril.

JVH

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EV Battery Breakthrough, not if, but when

Over on Parknew.biz, Astrid has posted three, count’em, three stories about EVs. One on the money the feds are supplying for charging stations, one on the top three EV models, and one on a new Siemens charger. That’s all in one day. EV’s are in the news.

There is one story that I’m sure will be appearing shortly on parknew.biz from the Wall Street Journal. It quotes a paper from a Harvard researcher basically saying that all the articles about a ‘break through’ in battery technology may be overstated.

Seems words like ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘possibly’, and ‘seems’ creep into the articles, but reality is quite different.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Given what’s at sake, it’s easy to chalk up exaggerated claims about new battery breakthroughs to the tech industry’s propensity for hyperbole and grandstanding. A typical example: Researchers invent a tweak to a type of battery that has long shown promise but has never come close to commercialization. That gets spun into claims that an electric car with a 2,000-mile range is within reach.

“People like a breakthrough, but when we write papers we try to avoid using these kinds of words,” says Xin Li, a researcher at Harvard University whose team recently published a paper on a new kind of higher-capacity solid-state battery in the scientific journal Nature. “There are too many battery ‘breakthroughs’ in my opinion in the past 5 years, and not many can be implemented in a commercial product.”.

“When we started Tesla in 2003, the batteries were just good enough, but what we had noticed was that they got better at about 7% to 8% a year, and had for a long time,” says Marc Tarpenning, a co-founder of the company. “It’s been 19 years, and we still haven’t had a step change in battery capacity—it just ticks along at 7% to 8% per year.”

Although cost is a big problem in making EV’s more attractive, range is right up there as a consumer concern. Astrid wrote about range anxiety a decade ago, and it still creeps into an auto purchaser’s vocabulary. The popularity of the hybrid Toyota Prius which has unlimited range with a gas/electricity combination, shows this point.

Putting half a million charging stations on the street will help. But folks are still used to filling their cars in five minutes, not an hour. Charging overnight is fine, but if you are forced to park on the street it becomes problematic.

The ‘breakthrough’ will come. It’s not ‘if’, but ‘when’.

JVH

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Airports are Booming –  Mask Mandates are History

For those of you who haven’t traveled much lately, be aware that airports are booming. I flew from LAX to PHX and return this week, and both were jammed. The planes were full. People are traveling. Both for business and pleasure.

Frankly, it seemed like, except for the masks, that things are back to normal.

People’s attitudes were back to normal, too. They were happy, engaging, and were having fun. Families were on the go. I saw a large number of kids with their parents heading out. There was definitely a feeling that was prepandemic.

I was particularly taken by the young woman who has a service dog. It was obviously a pit bull. She, the dog that is, was pretty and friendly. I my case, she attempted to lick me to death. Just a fun dog. I noted to the owner that pits were great dogs and often friendly. I did note that if someone had a negative comment about pit bulls, one could always mention that they were Staffordshire Terriers. That got a laugh.

Mask mandates are on the way out. Even stick in the mud Los Angeles has loosened its indoor mandates. The CDC is expected to lower its requirements today. Nevada (home of PIE 2022) has removed mask requirements, as have most states.

All of this is due to the substantial decrease in Covid 19 cases, the decrease in severity of cases, and the decrease in hospitalizations. Its time to get out and live our lives. Its time to plan for the road to PIE.

Registrations are running well ahead of previous years. PIE 2022 promises to be the best yet. You can register on line here.

 

JVH

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