My Latest Favorite Song #25: Styx– Snowblind

Everyone has their odd loves. One of mine is Paradise Theater, by Styx. This is a great album. Maybe you know Too Much Time on my Hands, or Best of Times. You should learn the rest. It’s a great album, with just about every track a winner. One of my deepish cut favorites is this track, Snowblind. Moody and rocking.

They had great harmonies, great melodies, great songs, and very underrated guitarists. This album has many creative touches all throughout. The last few minutes of side two, from the middle of half-penny two-penny until the last tinkling rolls of State Street Sadie, are as a good a medley of musical ideas and themes as anyone else has ever pulled off.

If you ever liked this album, pull it out and give it another try. And if you have never heard of this album, give it a try.

Tesla Product Experience Schizophrenia

A Tesla costs a lot of money. Mine costs far more than any other car I’ve ever bought. It was two and a half times as much actually, and I got the cheapest Tesla you can get.

You get a lot for that money. It’s an amazing machine. It shouldn’t be called a car. It’s a car like an i-phone is a phone. An Iphone is not a phone (“To me the phone is just a seldom used app on my phone.“). An Iphone is a software platform. The Tesla is a software platform thrown onto an amazing piece of hardware.

Like the Iphone, your first one is an experience in product design. It’s truly a joy to drive. Everything about it gives happiness. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s also a remarkable piece of machinery. The folks who designed this deserve many awards.

But.

While the car experience has been nothing but amazing, the experience with Tesla overall has not. The purchase experience is awful. Let’s not even talk about the months of wait time to actually get one. Let’s start with the actual purchase. I hit the button, spending the most money I’ve ever spent on anything outside of houses and college tuition. Do I get “Welcome to the Tesla family!”? No. Do I get “Congratulations, you just made the best decision of your life!”? No. I get instructions to add my drivers license, call my insurance company, track down form 392-Q for tax reasons, get here fifteen minutes early, use the side door, and can we send you marketing updates? It’s miserable. It takes a joyous occasion and ruins it.

The real schizophrenia is the nickel-and-diming and pricing strategy. Consider these three examples:

1) The live street view (where you see a real-time abstracted visual of the world around you, complete with trash cans, pedestrians, and traffic lights with the actual color displayed) ends up costing an additional $10/month.

2) Garage Door Opener is not included. Home link and garage door opening is pretty much standard on every car but the Tesla. They deliberately hold this feature back unless you pay them over $300.

3) Floor mats are not included.

Compare the cost of these features against the purchase price of the actual car, they are basically nothing. But the spirit of them is some financial analyst figuring they can squeeze a few more bucks out of each customer. These are features that obviously should be bundled in with the original purchase. Doing it this way just gets me pissed off.

And that’s how Tesla is. You pay a lot of money for an incredible product, and the rest of the experience sucks.



Tesla and Time Arbitrage

It was six months from the order to ownership of the new Tesla. That’s very different than other makes. I can’t just walk into a Tesla dealership and drive out in my new car. Six months is a long time! A couple months in, I wanted to change the color. That would have meant going to the back of the line. Not worth it!

I strongly considered upgrading to a higher-level model and paying several thousand dollars more just so I could get it a few months earlier (the higher the level, the shorter the queue).

Mrs. Muttrox put in an order last week. It won’t be ready until January of 2023, ten months away! We’d definitely pay some extra money to get it tomorrow.

What we’re seeing here is the value of time. Like Disney World, the currency of time has real value. People will pay extra to reduce wait times. Particularly people with the means of your average Tesla owner.

That leads to the arbitrage opportunity:

Find the best selling Tesla model and options. Order five of them. Wait the many months. Pay for them (yikes, I could have gottten a house instead!), drive them home. Congratulations, you now own five new Teslas that you don’t want. Now turn around and sell them. Find some Tesla buyers who will gladly pay you full price for a brand new Tesla. Full price, plus several thousand dollars tacked on for the convenience of getting it today instead of ten months from now.

Could this work? Is it happening already?

How cost-effective is a Tesla?

I recently got a Tesla. It may end up being the subject of many posts because I am indecently in love with it.

How much cheaper is it to operate? This does not account for purchase price, tax incentives, cost to rewire a garage outlet to 240v etc. Or that I can charge for free at work. Just looking at mile to mile costs.

Total driving and electric usage so far: I used 262 kWh to travel 1,057 miles.

I pay $0.106 per kWh on my electric bill (That’s an all inclusive rate, which bakes in all the random fees and sales taxes. The ‘pure’ rate is $0.083, so I’m taking a 27% hit here). That works out to a total expenditure of $28.29 to travel those 1,057 miles.

My last car got roughly 18 miles to the gallon in the real world, so that would have equated to 59.3 gallons. At $4.00 per gallon, that’s $237.10 to go the same distance in a gas car.

All in all, the Tesla costs ~12% as my last gas car to drive. Wow. 12%. Over eight times cheaper.

My Latest Favorite Song #24: Joseph – White Flag

I thought I had mentioned this one already. I don’t know anything about this band, but this song is great.

I watched the video just now for the first time. They look exactly like the music made me think they looked. Posting this, then going to see if their other material is also good.

Rolling Stones in Concert Review

I saw the Rolling Stones for first time in 2015, and it was maybe the best show I’ve ever seen. Mindblowlingly good. I got to see them again this week. How was it? Honestly, not nearly as good. But still a great show.

Mick: Amazing. At 78, looks and moves like he is 50. Especially compared to Roger Daltrey who is just done, it’s amazing how good his singing is. It probably helps that his style was never to push the vocal limits, it was always about the phrasing, the groove, the style.  And he plays a great guitar and an amazing harmonica!

Keith: Oh, this hurts. This hurts. I hope he was just mailing it in. I hope it was just an off night. Because if not, he has lost more than a half-step. On most songs it felt like he was going through the motions, and not particularly well. He woke up for Honky Tonk Women and his own material, but mostly might as well have stayed in the background. He flat out missed many riffs. Listen to this solo in Sympathy for The Devil below. The same riff repeated endlessly, a striking lack of confidence and creativity. The guitar tone was awful as well, enormous attack creating unpleasantness on many songs. The beginning of Start me Up was just… wrong.

Conversely, Ron Wood was marvelous. Every time he stepped up to do a solo, it was like a new concert. Blazing solos with touch, and feeling, and plenty of grit and balls. He was everything you’d expect and more. I just wish they’d let him talk, he’s got some great patter.

Steve Jordan: He gets an A in difficult circumstances. It’s not easy filling the shoes of such an amazing drummer as Charlie Watts (Number two on my list of “drummers I would get for my fantasy band”). If you played a recording of this show and compared it to Charlie, you’d be hard pressed to find much difference. That somewhat makes sense, since he’s been working with the band for 30+ years. The only off-note for me, the very distinctive beat of Satisfaction was changed for some reason.

Catalog/song choices/arrangements: One of the great things about these old bands (McCartney, The Who, Queen, etc.) is their catalogs are ridiculous. They could have played another thirty songs that everyone knows. They didn’t, they pulled out a few obscure ones, and that’s to the good. Each night they do one song that’s voted in. Our show featured She’s a Rainbow. Not in my top fifty, but I guess the Ted Lasso fans took over. I wish they had a few more non-hits from their grand slam of albums (Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street), but it’s hard to complain too much. They threw in Let’s Spend the Night Together and Slipping Away, some of my faves. Miss You is a huge high point of the night, the extended breakdown is wonderful.

Here’s a plug for The Session. If you want to understand how songs are put together, listen to the 20 minutes on Honky Tonk Women.

The rest of the band was predictably amazing. They’ve been playing together a long time. A special shout out to Sasha Allen. Filling the shoes of Merry Clayton in Gimme Shelter is about the toughest job out there. But she was the latest of the Stones singers to rise to the occasion. She was dressed much like Tina Turner, from whom Mick Jagger stole most of his stage moves. (My video from last night was too big to load, this is from a couple months back.)

Opener: The Zac Brown Band was very competent in a genre I don’t care for. Their hit song Chicken Fried sounds like a parody of country music. I’m not exaggerating, I heard it on the radio and started laughing. The lyrics are literally one country music stereotype after another. That said, they are good performers. They unexpectedly covered Bohemian Rhapsody, and ya know what – it worked! Maybe I’m the jackass here.

Highlights: Tumbling Dice, Miss You, Gimme Shelter, Connection, Slipping Away, patter about Atlanta, Honky Tonk Women, Paint it Black, real time requests, Gimme Shelter, Sympathy for the Devil, shoutouts to Charlie, and also let’s not forget Gimme Shelter.

Lowlights: Let’s call them mediumlights, as there were no true lowlights. Shattered (still a boring song), She’s a Rainbow (still a Sgt. Pepper wannabe), and (ouch) mostly Keith.

Summary: There ain’t nothin’ like ‘em. The Stones are the Stones. I likely won’t ever see them again, but grateful I got to be there. I spent a lot of the next day in the basement, playing along to their greatest hits. It’s the Stones baby.