A Huge Tesla Fan Chats with his Pragmatic Wife about the Brand and their Test Drive

http://jeffmyrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Tesla-conversation-7_8_15-9.06-PM.m4a   My wife is very wise, but also very cautious.  She tolerates my rabid interest in Tesla but would certainly not consider such a purchase even if we could afford it.  In this audio blog post, she and I talk through how she went from not interested to very interested in Tesla’s challenge to think differently about...

What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla? …Plenty.

What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla?  …Plenty.

This is about Education. It’s also about innovation, creativity, thinking differently, technology, opportunity, sustainability, and the future. These are all things teachers are passionate about! It’s also about an amazing car, and I’m pretty passionate about those as well. Why am I such a fan of Tesla even though they’ve never so much as favorited a tweet of mine? Because, like Apple did with computing and mobile tech, they are going to transform the way my children perceive transportation and energy. They aren’t the only ones mind you; but their role will be significant. Right now the brand is primarily associated with cars, but the really exciting part is that they (specifically Elon Musk) are focused on infrastructure and renewable energy outside of transportation as well (TheVerge article re: utilities). Here’s a link to a recent post of mine about Tesla that addresses some big-picture things. My job here is to let you know that innovative technology has arrived and to describe it first hand. Over time, the price point will come down, so I want to spread the word sooner than later. And maybe they’ll learn a thing or two about customer experience from Discount Tire or Warby Parker along the way. And just so we’re 100% clear, this is all me. I admit my interest in Tesla is stalker-like, but I’m receiving no compensation, I promise. The Car The Tesla Model S is kind of like the Batmobile for the whole Wayne family. It’s big and crazy fast. But it uses no gas. It performs like a Porsche, but has 31.6 cu.ft. of cargo space (trunks in the front and back) because guess what’s not in the front? An engine. Look at comparable cargo numbers below: Lincoln MKS: 19.2 cu.ft. Chevy Impala: 18.8 cu.ft. Mercedes S550: 16.3 cu.ft. There are two options for the Model S based on battery type: 65kWh and 85kWh. There’s a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive option as well, but that’s a separate ball game. I drove the 85kWh. It has a realistic range of about 250 miles. The tour started with the massive touch-screen that controls literally everything. (Click the images for better detail.) In the above picture you can see that we’ve chosen to display navigation across the entire screen. The red dots are Superchargers. From where we are in Brentwood, I pretended like I needed to travel to Atlanta. I selected a Supercharger in Atlanta and with the help of Google Maps, it told me that I would be about 12 miles shy of my destination without recharging.  It recommended that I stop in Chattanooga at a Supercharger for about 20-40 minutes, just long enough to grab some coffee or lunch and use the bathroom.  If you don’t know what I mean by “Supercharger,” read my other post. When the Energy app is selected (above), it offers some customizable range data based on driving habits. It also lets you know when you actually gain energy. More about that in a second. This image also shows how you can customize the screen to split as needed. The settings screen above causes you to realize that you’re actually using a device similar to your smartphone that also happens to be a car. There are several fascinating features here but I’ll address just two: Creep You know how your car will “creep” forward when you take your foot off the brake? An electric doesn’t do that. So “creep” makes that happen. Why? Because you’re used to it. Regenerative Braking When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car is able to actually create energy through regenerative braking. In “standard” mode, you’ll actually feel that the car is braking as soon as you let off. In “low” mode, it will feel more like your current car coasting as you let off the gas. Why? Because you’re used to it. There are some incredibly cool features related to traction and suspension, but I’ll just quickly address one that blows my mind. Assume you have a really steep driveway. One that typically causes your car to bottom out. You can set the suspension to lift the car when you arrive at your driveway. But how is it going to know when you arrive at your driveway? Are you ready? GPS! Imagine that same technology at work in the P85D with a top speed of 155mph. You can research that on your own. The Web app is exactly that. But video is not an option for safety reasons. The camera feature is available not only in reverse but any other time as well. When parked, the bottom half of the image below shows anything...

Takeaways from Senate HELP Committee on Fixing No Child Left Behind – 1/27/15

Takeaways from Senate HELP Committee on Fixing No Child Left Behind – 1/27/15

This was an unexpected opportunity. Our Tennessee AMCHP team was scheduled to attend the Tennessee Tuesday event Senators Alexander and Corker host each Tuesday, but I had no idea until that morning that the Senate’s HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) committee was holding a hearing on “Fixing No Child Left Behind:  Supporting Teachers and School Leaders” the same day.  My wife and I were able to catch about 90 minutes of the two hour hearing. Senator Alexander and Senator Murray co-Chair the HELP committee. I was very impressed with the bi-partisan manner in which they exhibited preparation and knowledge about the issues related to the craft of teaching and the educational landscape in their opening comments. Using this link, you can view the hearing and read the prepared comments of the witness panel. Overall, I was disappointed that the only Senators who participated in the entirety of the hearings were Senators Bennet and Baldwin, and the co-Chairs, Senators Murray and Alexander. The others in attendance, Senators Cassidy, Burr, Warren, Isakson, and Franken, asked questions of the panel and left when their questions were answered. Several were not there at all. I realize this might be commonplace and may meet a sympathetic response from many of you, but I was not pleased in that it took my full concentration to follow the complex nature of the issues being addressed, and this is my craft. There is no way to fully digest the intricacies of this topic without listening to more than just answers to your own questions. This is why constituents are sometimes frustrated with politicians. Too often the emphasis is on the sound bite or the leading question rather than an authentic desire to fully grasp the topic. After all, the meeting was only two hours long and moved incredibly fast. To close this point, Senator Cassidy’s line of questioning was hostile and felt much more like that of a prosecutor to a defendant than a servant of the people focused on listening with humility. The purpose of the hearing was to allow subject matter experts at various levels on the educational career ladder to share what they believe are the most pressing educational concerns toward which the federal government should put its focus. The witnesses were also given the freedom to share best practices and innovative ideas. Interestingly, in their opening comments, both Senators Alexander and Murray addressed the need for a career ladder for teachers. I have several times lamented the fact that there is no career ladder for teachers. Specifically, a teacher cannot move into a leadership role and receive a significant increase in pay without exiting the classroom and entering administration. We often lose our best teachers to administrative roles for this reason. Dr. Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education, explained “Kentucky is working to develop specific career pathways to provide multiple pathways for teachers to become leaders. Many teachers want to gain leadership roles without giving up the ability to teach. Kentucky is working to model what the most successful systems in the world provide to teachers for career pathways.” Both also addressed some of the complex sticking points of this debate such as teacher evaluation and what it should be based on, NCLB waivers, and the primary contributors to student achievement, especially in the most difficult environments. Each of the witnesses made their own unique contributions based on expertise and experience. Dr. Dan Goldhaber is Director of both the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research at the American Institutes For Research and the Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington. As one might expect based on his titles, he did a fantastic job of pointing to solid research on some of the most critical aspects of public education: Encouraged no change to annual testing requirement Overall, underscores significance of the profession – ties teacher quality to long-term consequences for students’ later academic and labor market success Leads to idea that educator quality affects nation’s economic health Reveals that teachers differ significantly from one another Disadvantaged students tend to have less access to high quality teachers Generally, there are small differences in terms of effect between the two major teacher prep tracks (traditional certification vs. non-traditional such as Teach for America); however they are not equal; the small differences could be due to several reasons Professional development is a ubiquitous strategy but the evidence suggests it does not make a strong contribution to teacher effect Financial incentives somewhat address this problem but the impact is small Other contributing factors toward teacher retention are the quality of leaders and collegiality with...

TODCFORCYSHCNATAMCHP

TODCFORCYSHCNATAMCHP

This post is heavy on acronyms so I thought I would keep that theme in the title.  My wife didn’t see the humor in it either. I serve on the Family Advisory Council for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and I love every minute of it. This group explores ways to combine innovative healthcare solutions with high levels of customer service to people who are in complex situations. I have for years enjoyed finding opportunities to serve people well in the public sector (not always known for stellar service). Recently, I received an invitation to serve as Tennessee’s family delegate to the AMCHP (Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs) Conference in Washington, DC. I’m very thankful to the Tennessee Department of Health for the opportunity to serve in an area of interest and I’m pretty excited about going to DC as well. Simply put, AMCHP members consist of state directors of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Programs and Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Programs. These programs are funded by what is referred to as the Title V Block Grant (Title V of the Social Security Act). My focus is to fully understand what resources are available to CYSHCN and advocate for those families. Hopefully, whatever your politics, you can see this kind of work as within the role of government. Many of you know I have a son with Down syndrome. As a disclaimer, he is not a recipient of Title V funds. Tennessee’s CYSHCN Program is called Children’s Special Services and falls under the Department of Health. In short, “a child/youth is eligible for the program if s/he is under the age of 21, and has been diagnosed with a physical disability which requires medical, surgical, dental or rehabilitation treatment.” Clearly identifying diagnostic and financial eligibility requires research and the department is aware that not every family in need of the resources has access to this information. There lies the need for advocacy. Children’s Special Services of Nashville also offers a clear and concise summary of services. A quick Google search for MCH in your state should put you on your way toward resources. While at the conference, I plan to tweet about what I learn, so feel free to follow me on Twitter @jeff_myrick from Sunday, January 25th – Tuesday, January 27th and learn with...

Facebook Reluctance and Diversity

Facebook Reluctance and Diversity

I have been reluctant to join Facebook for quite a while. I have from afar watched divisive rants and hateful things I want no part of. However, I do enjoy engaging people. One of the things I am passionate about is engaging those on opposite sides of an issue with civility and collegiality. Interestingly, in my first week as a Facebooker, there are folks who have either accepted a friend request or extended a friend request who are all across a variety of spectra. As a veteran, I am happy to have defended the right to express an opinion, but my stance is that divisive and hateful discourse is not productive. What I know is that from 4th – 12th grades in Jackson Public Schools (MS), friends with a variety of skin shades surrounded me. I remember working on projects with, being taught by, getting in trouble with, and serving in leadership roles with friends whose lives at home were completely different than mine. We did not always hang out together outside of school, attend the same churches, celebrate holidays the same way, or even view the world the same way. But we were dear friends.  I remember engaging conversations, innovative solutions, shared struggles, and really cool performance experiences. Yes, there were tense moments, but I do not remember relationships ending because of them. I’m sure some did and I doubt all of my peers share my perspective. However, because of those experiences, I am rarely uncomfortable around people unlike myself. Those years, especially the ones at Forest Hill High School, are still having a profound impact on how I view the world at 40 years old. It has been such a sweet thing this week to watch those faces pop up on Facebook. I cannot tell you how many times in my professional life I have referenced my wonderful high school experience. Some of the folks I most respect and admire look nothing like me and a few do not even share my worldview. So, in the tense atmosphere of extreme partisanship and polarity that we’re in currently, I badly want to encourage civility. I know it’s more complicated than that, but if you share my desire to be a part of the solution, please join me in looking for and sharing ways that diverse groups of people are collaborating well. And by the way, diversity is more than skin color. How many folks do you know who live on a month-to-month budget that are really tight with folks who are wealthy? Socioeconomic diversity can be equally complicated; just rarely as hateful. Please feel free to share an article, a quick observation, etc. It does not have to be lengthy or time-consuming. For example, in the past, I’ve shared a comment as simple as this one after a visit to Atlanta: “Just spent a weekend in Atlanta…diverse groups of people left and right. Love it!” As an educator, I am about to exit the eye of the hurricane into January, but I will try to send periodic reminders through social media to be on the lookout for things to share. I’ll conclude by saying that I am no one’s judge; nor do I believe I am better or superior in thought. I’ve made some royal mistakes that I do not plan to share on Facebook. I stand in judgment of no one. Only One has that job...

Wealthy Nashvillians, It’s Time to Buy a Tesla

Wealthy Nashvillians, It’s Time to Buy a Tesla

I see high-end models of the following brands every week in the Nashville area: Maserati, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche. All of them have an MSRP of around $100,000. There are plenty of exotic cars as well, but I want to focus on the $100,000 price range.  I want to challenge those willing to shop in that price range to consider another equally impressive option while taking part in a revolution. First, a disclaimer. I am a huge fan of Tesla Motors. I am also a stockholder (a whopping 14 shares). Their story, though somewhat scandalous, is extremely exciting to me because I am a fan of innovation as well. In the Model S, Tesla has created a beautiful and unprecedented machine.  In the P85D version of the Model S, for $104,500, revolution meets thrill ride. The Electric Revolution This is the primary reason I’m writing. For far too long, the auto industry has delayed this next chapter in automotive history, but Tesla has taken away the typical excuses. Range One of the most common reasons drivers are reluctant to adopt EV (Electric Vehicle) is range. The Nissan Leaf can take you 84 miles on a single charge. The Chevrolet Volt has an EV range of 38 miles. The Tesla Model S (P85D) has a range of 285 miles at 65 mph. Aesthetic Pleasure The Chevy Volt is a pretty cool looking car. But let’s be honest, the Leaf is not. Now look at the Tesla Model S.                         Performance The P85D is a groundbreaking dual motor all wheel drive with over 600 hp and a top speed of 155mph. Let that soak in for a second. Infrastructure This is the most exciting part to me. I’m not saying Elon Musk can do no wrong, but he is a very intelligent man who I believe is literally transforming the way we view personal transportation around the globe. The Supercharger station is Tesla’s answer to the gas station. teslamotors.com       “So what are they gonna do, build a bunch of ‘Supercharger’ stations all over North America, Europe and Asia just so people can use their cars?” Yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Check out the map below of current stations in North America. http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger           Now look at the number of planned stations for 2015.           The current map of Europe is impressive enough, but look at 2016.           Asia, 2015.           Coast-to-coast travel in the U.S. is currently an option and will include 98% of the U.S. population by 2015. At a Supercharger station, a Tesla Model S (85 kWh) owner can get a half charge in 20 minutes for free. It takes 40 minutes to get to 80%, which is typically sufficient to get to the next Supercharger. “Superchargers are located near amenities like roadside diners, cafes, and shopping centers. Road trippers can stop for a quick meal and have their Model S charged when they’re done.” The Persuasive Power of Presence We all know that one of the most powerful tools for introducing a product into the marketplace is seeing the product in use. I believe that getting more Teslas on the road will have a domino effect on innovation and conservation. As scale increases, I suspect Tesla and other companies will introduce more affordable products into the broader marketplace. Nashville has become known as a hub of innovation in recent years. We also are unique in that we have an extraordinary number of millionaires in our relatively small middle Tennessee metropolis. I am simply asking that some of you take a risk that would be akin to me buying a new laptop. And by all means, if you don’t like the car, let Tesla hear about it. Let me hear about it. And don’t buy another one. But after all, it was Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year. And hey, if you have the kind of disposable income with which you are willing to put one on the road, but for whatever reason you don’t want to drive it, please let me know and I’ll gladly help you out with that. It starts at $69,900. I used the P85D to make my case, but you can get into a Model S (60 kWh) for $70,000. You can pre-pay for all service needs up to 100,000 miles for $3,800. History is being made. I really do believe early adopters will be taking part in historic change with respect to automotive technology. Most of...

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