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I will share a little secret. Sometimes the difference between a marvelous life and a mediocre one is paying attention and just learning a few basic tricks. I’ve actually got more than my share of these as I’ve paid pretty good attention throough the years.

The problem is that most little tricks have a barb in them. Something that is hard to swallow. If you swallow it, you get the trick. But they are usually counter to human nature, or they would not be little secret tricks. Everybody would know about them.

You are all familiar with my call for 100,000 guys to go into their garage and build an EV. And I’m sure you wonder why I think they will actually do so. Well, the reason is, I went into my garage and built one. And they were already GOING to go into their garage and build one at about the same time. So asking them to do something, and predicting they would do something, they were already going to do, is not quite the black art it first appears.

And the basis for this is and was the realization that I am not actually truly unique. In fact, I’m not even special. Not just in the sense that I didn’t ride the short bus to public school every morning. I am really NOT anything special. And that realization is actually a little sekert trick I can use over and over.

From our earliest days as a toddler, our parents and grandparents constantly shower us with constant reminders and really kind of “program us” that we are indeed special. And almost all human literature and religious doctrine teaches that each one is precious and totally unique.

So picture 28 million baby boomers, all toddlers at exactly the same time, with 56 million parents telling each of them they were totally unique. Then all 28 million toddled into the living room to watch Captain Kangaroo and Mr Greenjeans, Mr. Mouse, grandfather clock and bunny rabit, at EXACTLY the same time each morning for YEARS. And every day bunny rabbit DID get the carrots. The 28 million baby boomers ALL hated carrots. But they all watched. Every morning.

Our media, the communal campfire of our age, supports this with special stories. And special stories are about “special people.” Because each and every one of us is in fact special. Unique in our own right, right down to the final bean on the final strand of DNA. And so 50 or 60 million of us watch these special stories about special people together.

The problem is not one of these people can actually count past a hundred. Oh, they can count it, they can’t VISUALIZE what a hundred is. So picturing 300 million, the population of the United States is a little difficult. And the 7 billion planet wide is kind of a stretch as well.

As it turns out, we are not so very special after all.

Skip to the concept of synchronicity. Ever notice how everything happens at the same time. We all don’t have cell phones. Then we all do. And while we love em, suddenly there’s a smart phone. And then we all have that. In fact there are dozens of them. This is not really all theft of intellectual property. OVer and over through history we find two or three or even more people all inventing the same thing at about the same time with no knowledge of each other. Usually based on some OTHER technological development that has enabled this further step. I call this synchronicity. Actually, somebody else called it that and several million of us adopted the term.

One morning some twenty years ago I decided I needed a new printer for my PC. Horrendously expensive as they were at the time, and however badly they printed at the time, it had gotten to be “time” and the old Epson MX-80 I had been so COMPLETELY thrilled with a year or two prior just wasn’t cutting it anymore with the pale blue dots you could barely see on the page.

The noon mail came with the latest issue of BYTE Magazine – with the cover covered with photos of printers and SPECIAL PRINTER ISSUE blazoned across the top. How the hell did they DO that? How did they know that just NOW I needed a printer, and they had to write and photograph and layout this magazine weeks or months before to get it here 30 minutes after I needed it?

Info in hand it didn’t take me long to figure out which was the best value and price and feature set for MY “special” needs. I called the guys selling them, and… would you believe…..they had just SOLD OUT of that model? And so I called another outlet that also carried that line. And another. And another.

Would you believe we ALL decided that was the printer to have? And it was six months later before you could get one? At ANY price and six months later woudl you believe the price had gone up so much that I didn’t want one of those any longer?

This weekend I was mostly editing the current show you see on screen. But while it was compressing or outputting or any of the various time consuming things that go on with a 4 GB HD video that is two hours long, I perused the Internet O SPhere as I am wont to do. And I came across an interesting and to me very new development. It was a “semi-flexible” high efficiency solar panel. And it was a little jarring. 200 watts. 3 mm thick and you could bend it. It weighed 2.2 kilograms. And 20% efficiency claimed – like 5 feet long and 2 feet wide and 200 watts.

sunpower flexible solar

Anne Kloopenborg lives in a land where the streets are made of water. Like Venice only more Dutch. And the DMV regulations for converted vehicles is actually quite restrictive there, along with very high petrol prices. So he did an electric boat – a kind of sun weathered Glastron. We corresponded over this quite a bit and I posited that there would be nothing cuter in the world than a 356 Speedster on the water – little two seater that lets you buzz about. It doesn’t have to be a racing boat, but if it could do 40 km per hour on the water it would feel like 100 mph in a small boat like that. And relatively quiet compared to the roaring outboards, many of them 2 cycle fire breathing oil slick spewing monsters at that.

Wouldn’t it be magical to live in a land where the streets are water and everyone glides about in noiseless, odor free, oil slick free electric boats powered by the sun. And indeed one of Anne’s larger builds actually LED the Solar Boat parade a week or two ago and in this week’s episode he does a walk around of his fire engine red Delta Flyer which is basically the Porsche Speedster 356 of the water I described.

Aside from MUCH less regulation, which I don’t understand – very few people have ever been sunk or drowned in an automobile, boats have another interesting characteristic. The value proposition is graven in Jello. You see about 1/2 of one percent of the population of the world actually NEEDS a boat. They are horrendoulsly ugly things used to catch fish and do water work and so forth, usually very old and dirty and with its own set of odors. Working boats. But for the rest of us, NONE of us NEED a boat. We might want a boat. We might buy a boat. We might even HAVE a boat. But none of us need one.

I have a 22 foot Cobalt runabout. It sits in the hangar. Its been three years since I was out in it although I’m looking out the bedroom bay window at the Mississippi River while I write this this morning. As I’ve told Anne – west to the Gulf of Mexico. Turn right onto the Mississipi on ramp. First house on the left past the suspension bridge.

SO I have a $48,500 top of the line Cadillac of all power boats that will do 70 mph and holds about $250 worth of petrol that I almost never use. But I WANTED it. In shopping for it, I found the value proposition a little muddy. There were inflatables for about $250 and aircraft carriers in the $3 billion range. And everything in between. Pick your year, model and features. ALl come with a price but it is such a RANGE of sizes, models, features and prices that our ability to gage value gets a little crazed. I could have bought a used and abused Crown of the same length for about $4800. Pretty much the same seating. Go fast. Make a lot of noise. Somehow $48,500 at Dri-Port Marine in St. Louis sounded like just the ticket for me. And having already become a veteran with about 30 hours in the boat since, I guess I think $1616 per hour is a little pricey, but what the hell. The old saying if it f**ks, floats, or flies – rent it, is just all too true.

Point being, the premium we pay for electric drive components and batteries are easily hidden in a boat price as the prices are all graven in Jello anyway. ANd you buy a boat because you WANT it not because you NEED it.

We have always laughed at the copper foil helmet crowd that wants to power their cars with solar panels. Yes, I know there is actually a Solar Powered car race in Australia going on now and indeed we all saw the solar boat parade. But PUHleeze people. Everyone knows the panels are too heavy and the area required too large and the power output too small for any of this to make any sense.

Except…… . If the panels were a LITTLE more efficient, and a little lighter, and you needed some shade to get out of the sun anyway, and a boat IS out in the sun almost everyday ALL day whether you use it or not…. now what would that look like????

It would look like a staple of the midwest – the Heartland of America, the Red Neck Yacht Club’s SECOND favorite boat after the venerated 18 foot aluminum john boat —–


And it has occurred to me more than once that instead of the Cobalt Power Boat, I SHOULD have bought a PONTOON BOAT. These are more like a 25 foot by 8 foot patio. The back porch of boating. You can have your barbecue grill, your beer cooler, color tv, and Stratolounger ALL on a Pontoon Boat. Man, that’s styling. Kicked back in the BarcoLounger with a cold one watching the old lady grill some brats with the Cardinals on TV. For a 58 year old 300 pounder from Missouri, it just doesn’t get any better. America’s Cup? Let me tell you. America’s CUp is RED and it says POLO on it. And it holds Budweiser or Stag beer. And any penny loafer wearing Bay Area earth worshipping pansey can get em some of THAT.

Pontoon boats are cool. They don’t go very fast. But they are very stable. No rocking about. And very comfortable. And they are all about PARTY. Anne can speed up to the Pontoon boat, DOCK there, get out and pop a cold one with the rest of us. It’s a floating patio with all the amenities.

Sometimes you get a little sunburned out there though. More shade than the little rag bimini offers might be nice.

So I spent the weekend shopping 25 foot tri-pontonons, with an eye to making them electric, and building a roof over them out of lightweight aluminum rigging to carry the very light, very thin, flex solar panels that are 20% efficient. And if I could get 10 of those 200 watters up there, that’s 2000 watts – about 5 hours a day. That’s 10 kiloWatthours. That SERIOUSLY extends my batteries, range, everything. And if I leave this tied up to a dock somewhere, it actually could ENTIRELY charge the battery pack in three or four days. Now we’re talking. Maybe an ELECTRIC grill on the barbie.

Monday morning, John Scrivener drove down from Mt Vernon Illinois. After many years as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Mt. Vernon, he sold his company and guess what the plan is. He needs about $20,000 worth of components RIGHT NOW. He’s building THREE pontoon boats and is going to make his next fortune in electric red-neck boating. Tri-hulls of course. And he wants to put solar on them whether it makes sense or not.

Twenty years ago, John Scrivener and Mark Weisheimer were running electronic bulletin boards in their basement, reading Boardwatch and were inspired to become Internet Service Providers. Mark is actually on our Electric Vehicle Ass Clowns International team with a Siemens and DMOC645 working on the GEVCU and here’s Scrivener, apparently a regular silent watcher of EVTV who claims ownership of EVERY episode, launching an electric boat business.

I have both of them convinced TWICE now that I had something to do with it. WHat I know, and they don’t, is they were both going to do it anyway, both times.
We’re not really very unique at all. I’m out two months ahead of you and running as FAST AS I CAN to keep you from catching up. I have to work 100 hours a week to maintain that 2 month lead. And I doubt I can ever stretch it to 90 days as hard as I try.

The other little thing I know, is there are 99,998 guys twelve days behind THEM.

There are always a few that actually ARE unique. Jeff Southern was building and selling electric outboards ten years ago. Nobody cared. So he quit.

And I sold my June 47 Tesla Calls in April – at $8.00. More than a little out of synch there, leaving about $1.8 million on the table.

Oh well. The point is, if you go to bed tonight thinking about Green Eggs and Ham, understand that about 100,000 other guys were thinking the same thing. Synchronicity.

The other boot under the bed? 100,000 represents about 0.00142857 PERCENT of the Worlds population.

Maybe we are ALL a little special after all….

Jack Rickard

PS. A bit of a correction. I got the 800,000 Intelligence employees and 275,000 NASA employees off the boob tube of course – though the numbers were repeated on at least TWO channels. Turns out NASA has about 19,000 direct reports in 2012. That’s a pretty big margin of error. I stand both corrected and publicly humiliated. I should know better…

PSS. I promised the rules of wolf.
“The Rules of Wolf”