Share →


“The Little Red Hen” by Joseph Jacobs

There once was a farm with a big red barn. And in that big red barn, there lived many animals, the smallest of which, was a little red hen. The little red hen may have been little, but she was the most active resident of the farm. When she wasn’t laying eggs, she spent her time clucking and walking about the barn, pecking at the seeds on the ground, or gathering up twigs and hay to make her nest. She kept everything in the barn tidy and clean.

One day, while she was pecking at the ground, she discovered some leftover wheat grains that the farmer had left behind. She knew that the wheat could be planted, and then made into delicious fresh bread.

So she went to the pigsty, where the pig was eating from a bucket of slop. “Excuse me, cluck cluck, I need someone to help me plant this wheat,” said the little red hen.

“Oink Oink, Not I,” said the pig, as he went back to his slop.

So the little red hen went outside, and found the cat, who was lying in the sun and playing with a ball of yarn.

“Cluck Cluck, will you help me plant this wheat?” said the little red hen.

“Meow,” said the cat. “Not I. Can’t you see that I’m busy? Meow.”

The little red hen was frustrated, but she did not give up. She walked all the way out to the pond, where the duck was lazing around in the cool water. “Cluck cluck, will you help me plant this wheat?” said the little red hen.

“Quack, quack, Not I. Maybe I will help you later, when I am finished with my swim,” said the duck. “Cluck cluck, then I will do it myself,” said the little red hen.

So the little red hen went off on her own, out to the field, and found a nice spot to plant the wheat. When she was finished, she went back to the barn to rest.

Soon, when the wheat had grown tall and golden yellow, the hen became excited to make bread from it. But first, she had to harvest it.

“Who will help me cut the wheat?” asked the little red hen.

“Not I,” oinked the pig, who was lying in some mud.

“Not I,” meowed the cat, who was taking a catnap.

“Not I,” quacked the duck, as he waddled back to the pond.

“Cluck Cluck, then I will do it myself,” said the little red hen.

After she cut the wheat, the little red hen was tired, but she knew that the wheat had to be taken to the mill so it could be ground into flour.

“Who will help me mill this wheat?” asked the little red hen.

“Not I,” oinked the pig.

“Not I,” meowed the cat.

“Not I,” quacked the duck.

“Cluck cluck, then I will do it myself,” said the little red hen.

Once the wheat had been ground into flour, the little red hen knew it was time to bake the bread.

“Who will help me bake the bread?” she asked, although she already predicted what the answer would be.

“Not I,” oinked the pig.

“Not I,” meowed the cat.

“Not I,” quacked the duck.

“Cluck cluck, then I will do it myself,” said the little red hen.

So she made the flour into a loaf of bread, and put it into the oven. Then, she sat and rested. Soon, as the bread become hot and soft, the air filled with the sweet smell of freshly baked bread. The pig and the cat and the duck all came running into the big red barn.

“Who will help me eat this bread?” said the little red hen.

“I will!” oinked the pig.

“I will!” meowed the cat.

“I will!” quacked the duck.

“Cluck cluck, well,” said the hen, “Did you help me plant the wheat, and did you help me harvest the wheat, and did you help me mill the wheat, and did you help me bake the bread?”

The other animals all shook their heads no.

“Then I will eat the bread myself,” said the little red hen. And she did.

In the darker originally Russian folk tale version of this story, it did not end quite so amicably. They killed the little red hen, took her bread and each animal presented a different theory as to how they were actually entitled to the bread all along.

It made quite an impression on me at age six when my father related the tale. I suppose it still does. In the Ronald Reagan version of the tale, in the end the farmer (the government) steps in to make sure the bread is taken from the little red hen and shared around with ALL the animals so it will be “fair”. I like that version even better. At least they didn’t kill the little red hen as long as she didn’t resist.

We published our first video in May 2009 but did not begin weekly production until November of that year. We have just completed five years of producing EVTV on a weekly basis and this episode appears to be our 255th episode of EVTV, just over 2 hours and nine minutes in length – essentially the length of a feature length film.

To do that, I rise a little after 5:00AM most days and go until supper at about 8:PM pretty much seven days per week. We shoot various little pieces during the week and collect em from our friends and on Friday shoot a “show” kind of tying it all together. I edit basically all day Saturday and usually have it compressed and uploaded by early Sunday if things go well. Late Sunday if not. I have a tendency to “nap” a bit on Sunday afternoon before hosting a family dinner that may include people from all over the world actually at a large round table in the dining room of my home. This then, has represented essentially my life as we know it for a little over five years.

We sport a fairly well defined mission here. It is to convert the orb on which we live and depend from fossile fuel archaic technologies to electric magnetic drive for personal transportation. We don’t really need 25 words to describe it. I wouldn’t characterize it as either a good or bad mission and it may or may not be one you share. But it is ours. And we are not the slightest bit confused about it.

Along the way, I realize that the vast majority of even our well wishers find it a bit of a grandiose vision, that one little red hen could imagine he could change the personal transportation habits of an entire planet is absurd. I do not spend any time defending this as it is kind of a nonsense conversation. But the effort is not salutory, nor titular. Nor is it deranged by my own surreal reality distortion zone. But I will tell you that you should consider, just consider, that I MIGHT know something you don’t.

I realize that this is immediately translated into my personal belief system, an opinion in a sea of opinions. I really don’t have a mission to convert you to that “view” or persuade you as to how I “know” rather than why I “believe”. But I would suggest and offer this. You are not precisely who you have been led to “believe” you are, and the world doesn’t actually work quite the way you have been led to believe. And you were led. And for very specific reasons.

First, you are each rather amazing spirits of enormous power beyond anything you likely imagine. And second, we are all interconnected in ways you are entirely oblivious to. I guess I would think of “interconnected” as a weak word only implying the level of interaction you have with essentially everything and everyone, and most particularly everyone and everything you do NOT see or hear. And in our media age, also powerful forces have a heavily vested interest in convincing you that you are actually little, and ugly, and your mother dresses you funny. And you are out of synch with the rest of the planet. And indeed powerless to do anything about it. And your best bet would be to sit on the couch quietly and watch events unfold on the television.

In the ultimate of realities, the beat of a butterfly’s wings in Oaxaca does in fact impact the weather in Maine. Much the greater every breath you take is determinant of the future of the human race and the little blue marble.

Note that our mission really ISN’T about selling electric vehicle components. I could care less. It IS currently where we get oxygen and validation, but even then it isn’t quite what it seems. On a free cash flow basis EVTV will run about $750-800,000 dollars in the negative this year, and that roughly twice of last.

I’m not after your sympathy here. Along the way we have amassed kind of a treasure trove of electric motors, controllers, batteries, and bit parts of all manner and I’m frankly at this point a bit beyond my accounting structure to tell you to what extent. But to use the restroom at the shop I kind of have to weave a tortured path through the piles.

You might notice at the moment a kind of a bizarre twist – a HEAVY and bizarre promotion of hydrogen powered “electric” vehicles combined with a dizzying freefall in the price of oil and gasoline. Having taken this kind of ride at least once before, I can tell you the more bizarre and accentuated the counterwind, the closer we are to victory. Just prior to collapsing, they kind of throw everything including the kitchen sink at the wall in a last desperate spasm of resistance.

What will follow will be what looks like capitulation but is actually a retrenchement. Mark my words here. Our next enemy is currently our friend the Electric Utility company, source of all good electrons. Have your Solar panels ready and be prepared to have them DECLARED ILLEGAL in many areas of the country. Having an untaxed or uncertified solar panel will be FORBOTTEN as the battleground lurches/shifts rather violently and quite suddenly.

Along the way of all this, we have endured much derision from the farm animals. But five years into it we have a bit of momentum and “mind space” among those likewise devoted to electric vehicles worldwide. It is now rare for our Amazon cloud to receive referrals from search engines and search terms. I would say 90% of all contacts are now “direct” meaning that the individuals knew precisely where to go or already had us bookmarked. And that should give you a clue as to WHY I originally selected, and note that this was over five years ago, the .ME domain instead of .COM. It gives me better measurement of this. We call it MINDSPACE. We are harder to find. But you do find us.

Hard won, and hard earned. And so it comes as no surprise that others, who didn’t plant the grain, nor water it, nor weed it, nor harvest it, sure would like the bread and in fact if you look at it with JUST the right level of rationalization – shouldn’t they really be entitled to it anyway?

This exhibits in ways innocent and ways not so innocent. Michael Bream and his co-conspirator the otherwise unknown “Hutch” introduced the EV Show on December 1, just in time to cover us for our missed Thanksgiving episode. While comical in their adoption of the black shirts and maple table top, their attempt at being overweight teletubbies is actually quite flattering if unoriginal. But note they DO kind of tout themselves as EV WEST, not EVTV.

And we did not precisely invent the genre, though we did attempt a bit more advanced and original form. I was struck by the efforts of one Gavin Shoebridge of New Plymouth New Zealand. Here’s his first show. Somewhat shorter than ours.

Some seven years ago, Gavin purchased a 1987 Mitsubishi Tredia with a locked up motor for $180 and towed it home. Despite having no mechanical skills or automotive background, he set out to convert it to electric drive. Many were doing so at the time and indeed he found essentially all his information online. What Gavin did differently was that he documented his build on video and posted it to YouTube. Everyone knew it as Gav’s EV. I consider him the father of the genre.

Recall my admonition that if you take a junk car and put $20,000 of electrical components in it and make it drive on battery power, you have essentially created an electric junk car. Gavin successfully completed his build. But on the next New Zealand road inspection, the car was found to have too much rust on the frame. And it would be horrifically expensive to fix something like that. His first move, to buy a junk car for $180, was rather his undoing. They would not license it for road use unless he spent several times what it was worth to redo the frame.

So he sold it to another enthusiast who was simply going to harvest the components back out for HIS build. And with the money from the sale, a fraction of what he had invested, he took his wife to Tahiti for a week’s vacation.

This kind of ended his EV career. He tried to restart it by selling DVD’s of his videos and doing EV reviews and kind of having a show. But as we know, the body politic likes FREE very well, but $12 just isn’t part of the game. Today he has relocated to his wife’s hometown in Bratislava Slovakia. But he continues to avidly follow electric cars (and of course EVTV).
But note we never were EVTV – just like Gav’s Ev. We were just EVTV.

Matt Hauber of EV West actually worked at EVTV for over six months on starvation wages – though I did give him a nice little cottage to live in. His expressed goal was to have an EV conversion shop and sell EV components from the very beginning. We not only supported him in that, but in the end kind of shoved him out the door. He kept talking about his dream while hanging here. And I eventually bought a Siemens generator from him for $1000 that I didn’t have a clue what we would do with, and told him he should really go to San Diego and just DO IT instead of talking about it. With that tiny pocketful, he did so.

The Siemens generator is on the Azure Dynamics test bench, and Matt is indeed living his dream in San Diego, whining about how hard it is every step of the way. But he IS doing what he loves and I suspect he’ll find a way to make it work. Their recent innovation of a interference fit Siemens motor blank is very interesting. He’s quite talented mechanically.

So while the show actually beyond a copy goes to a comic parody, we love it. They are hard at work establishing their own brand, and while a bit of coattail riding is going on here, it’s all in good fun. That the component sources, prices, and the projects they go into all appear to be some sort of secret is a little strange. And of course Jehu, mystified by his scorched contactors gives comic relief. In truth, we’ve all kind of shared product finds back and forth for years and indeed supply each other with things in a pinch. And sorry Hutch. We need Hauber at the desk.

Brand is, in the end all we have from five years of 24×7 work. We can’t not be EVTV. And you can’t be. Ironically, if I GAVE you the brand you can’t be. And indeed it is unlikely that I could NOT be EVTV.

Along the way, we have experimented. Anne Kloopenborg approached me several years ago with a pretty basic request. He wanted to be me. It’s an amusing enough concept and was delivered kind of up front and dead pan. So I gave it some thought.

I had actually predicted the death of distributorships by Internet via Boardwatch Magazine in 1994. The Internet has a rather immediate flattening effect on distribution networks and most comically, geographically apportioned ones. If it’s not across the street, a location in Georgia and a location of a product in Pomona are all the same thing. I explained to Sebastien Bourgois that the distance between any two geographic points on the Internet could indeed be easily measured, but it always came out to precisely ONE CLICK away from any other point.

But the existing stake holders IN distribution networks have striven mightily, heroically, and almost violently in trying to maintain them in the face of this fact. Today’s epic battle between Tesla and the automotive dealership franchises is that exact battle and I view the dealerships as basically engaged in an act of gravity defiance, the walking dead. Momentum, tradition, and legal apparatchik work to give them the illusion of life. But it is a falling forward momentum and when they hit the ground, the outcome will then be obvious to everyone in arrears as always inevitable.

But there actually IS a bit of geography involved yet on the Internet. We found an avid and ready market for components in Europe. But a combination of VAT taxes, customs duties, and the elimination of air freight on batteries to pose some real challenges in getting products to people in timely fashion. At one point, one of our viewers paid MORE than the PRICE of our already pricey eGearDrive to SHIP it to Europe quickly, than he paid us for the eGearDrive. I was enraged by this. Sure, we found a way to do it. But it was not a thing that should rightly be done.

So let’s get out of the box here. How could we ship things to Europe where the end user THINKS they are getting them in a few days, when battery shipments have to go by freight on ship, and how to do that at a reasonable price.

The answer was a little grim. IF we could predict what they would want, BEFORE they wanted it, and IF we had shipped it six weeks before, it would look like it was available overnight. Kind of a time warp or wormhole. In fact we call it the wormhole.

Running some models, we determined that IF we discounted the price to Anne a bit, AND he priced the goods at the SAME price in Euros as we did in Dollars, that the result would STILL be less in almost all cases, than if they bought directly from us and shipped it from here in a faster manner. And the difference would result in HIM having almost exactly the same margins as we did although we would have to give up a few points in our sales to him. But they were bigger sales if he stocked enough stuff for it to work.

We didn’t charge a franchise fee. We just let him start with a large order and of course he became EVTV.EU. A European “franchise” of EVTV. We taught him to shoot and edit video, and kind of insisted he actually join EVTV in that he had to shoot a video each week. He quickly became quite good at it.

The problem was, he had an ulterior motive. He really didn’t want to BE EVTV as he had professed. He wanted to BE New Electric. But he really wanted to transfer the good will and value, and all of the advantages of being EVTV into the New Electric brand.

This came to a point just a couple of months in. I told him then if that was what he wanted, he should go DO New Electric, just as we encouraged Hauber to go DO EV WEST. If he worked at it over a few years, it would come. Momentum is hard initially, but it accrues to little hens who plant carefully and water carefully. But no, you can’t BE EVTV AND be New Electric.

MacDonalds provides a pretty cool analogy. Almost all MacDonalds are owned by independent franchisees. We have one here in Cape Girardeau and in fact he owns three locations. But nobody knows his name or the name of the LLC he owns that in turn owns the franchises. He has to get all his stuff from MacDonalds. And he has to train all his people to use the MacDonald equipment to make MacDonalds hamburgers exactly the MacDonalds way.

Now since almost anyone could make a better Hamburger than MacDonalds, why would he do this? I was on a Mediterranean cruise and took a tour in Italy. Our guide pointed to the MacDonalds just outside the pier gate and turned to me and said “US Embassy”. I could only nod. They were everywhere we went. In every country. With identical mushy hamburgers at all of them. I won’t actually eat one. But apparently BILLIONS will. And our local franchisee here in Cape Girardeau has grown enormously wealthy trading on that universal brand, those very consistent hamburgers, and doing it the MacDonalds way.

I probably couldn’t do that. I want to create and innovate and do it my way and I’m enormously sympathetic to those who do likewise. And so I told Anne two years ago he really should BE New Electric and do it his way. He declined. He just found the brand recognition and component line too attractive and he should be EVTV. He swore loyalty.

I took that as a commitment. It wasn’t really as it turns out. More of a fraud.

In recent days, he and Kevin Sharpe devised an EV gathering in Frome UK. They approached me about it. I asked them directly how it was to be branded. They didn’t seem to have any strong feelings about it. And so I offered that if they titled it EVCCON Europe, we would be happy to promote it on EVTV and indeed Brian and I would appear there on March 29th. They agreed and made all sorts of noises leading us to believe it was an enthusiastic agreement.

AFTER we came out announcing it as EVCCON and noting we would be meeting our viewers there in person, I was kind of surprised to see it announced on Autoblog Green as EVOlutions Shows – a new event “in the spirit of” EVCCON.

When I inquired as to what was going on, I encountered a most amazing series of artless evasions. Finally Kevin allowed as how he had “too much invested” in the EVOLUTION SHows brand to write it off. To my knowledge, they had done one previous show in Scotland that was by all accounts a total failure and no one has ever heard of the brand. I immediately informed him we were OUT of that deal. But I found it very curious that he had this epiphany AFTER deriving the promotion and announcment and imprimateur of EVTV.

But ok. When you think about it, a critical part of EVCCON is seeing the EV set and spending time in the shop, drinking beer and doodling with electric cars. Anne is moving into a nice new facility with white floors. Why don’t we just do a small weekend on March 29th at his shop in AMsterdam. Apparently about 20 people had already “signed up” thinking it was EVVCON in the UK. We could at least entertain any who felt misled and in any event, it would be more EVVCON like in an EV shop than it likely would be in a Cheese and Grain shop.

What I heard then was fanstastical. The weather wouldn’t be good then. And it would be very difficult to prepare such an event in four months. Some coffee and hamburgers? A microphone? An afternoon car show? What are you talking about?

And so a bit of digging was in order. What I found was disheartening. Distance being a defender and my trusting nature being somewhat easy to take advantage of. The New Electric brand was as it turns out not only alive and well, but quietly promoted quite beyond EVTV and at every opportunity. He had apparently been working to abrograte our agreement commencing the day he recommitted to it, and has been working hard ever since, although in stealth mode, hoping I wouldn’t notice.

Obvlivious, I apparently didn’t. Meanwhile he has found common ground with Kevin, and has every intention of pursuing the event in the UK.

So we’re feeling a bit slimed by this. I call it BrandJacking – that’s where you desperately want the promotional advantage of being EVTV, along with the goodwill and sales accruing, but your objective is to transfer that to the new brand as quickly as possible. In other words, just steal it outright to the degree you can get away with it.

I’ve been slimed. And I do have a bit of red ass on over it. Remember, I had actually ENCOURAGED him to be New Electric two years before. He insisted he would loyally be EVTV in all cases. It was a lie.

Like all things Internet, it is easy enough to unwind. I’m sure he’ll find new parts sources and we will resume the struggle to ship to European customers directly. In effect, he got away with it, using us long enough to establish himself – apparently the plan all along. Oh well…

So while I’m personally wounded by the sense of betrayal, as a functional matter it really doesn’t. Ironically, the issue with those who steal and cheat is the ultimate irony – it just never does quite work out for them. When every soft issue becomes an opportunity to gain a bit of advantage slyly, you do so because you come to believe you have to in order to survive. And if you believe that, then you DO have to. But long term, it never quite works out for them.

You see, to have good bread, you have to plant well. You have to water well. You have to weed well, You have to mill well. And you have to bake well. And ultimately, we are all interconnected…

And if he’ll steal a little from me, he’ll do the same to his customers, or Kevin, or whomever. The capacity for rationalization, once set upon, is boundless.

We don’t beat up our vendors or our suppliers or our customers or UPS or anyone we deal with. And we don’t have to…We reserve that treatment for OUR EMPLOYEES ONLY. And they’d better get back to work…

There may be any number of electric cars shows held this year throughout Europe and in the formative stage of an industry we view ALL of them as enormously positive for the cause.

But there will be no EVCCON.EU this year and we wont’ be traveling to Europe for any of them. If anyone feels misled by our announcement of two weeks ago, I deeply regret and apologise for any inconvenience. Contact me directly and we’ll do what we can to make that real…

And in the meantime, it has caused us to reexamine all of OUR business dealings. We are currently NEGOTIATING with Arduino to find a way to send them $1000. No, we don’t want to license their logo or their name or be certified as anything in particular. But our line of GEVCU and CAN bus items, which do not infringe their brand in any technical sense, do leverage the existence of the Arduino IDE to program it and the Arduino ecosphere. We regularly mention that it works “like” Arduino and if you can program using the Arduino IDE you can program the GEVCU. So some transference is inevitable. And we don’t need a free ride.

In a tiny way, we’ll give Arduino a little shove. And as they prosper, in a tiny way we will. And it all feeds on itself in some hidden,but very real and very cummulative ways. Postives cause positive echoes, and negatives, cause negative echoes. We are all interconnected much more powerfully than we have the tools to observe.

Jack Rickard
Producer Rotundus
EVTV Motor Werken.