Thursday, December 28, 2023

Rivian R1S Review After Six Months and 12,000 Miles

I haven't blogged much the past few years. I don't really expect that to change. I like writing, and I do write sometimes, but I publish a lot less than I used to. At some point I'll probably write a book. However, today, while I am on day four of a covid quarantine is as good as any to write a blog post about my switch to an electric vehicle. If you are looking for the quick answer of do I like it, yes, thumbs up! But like anything, the full feeling is more complex.

First Time Plugging It In

For starters, I had a reservation for two years before my number came up in June 2023 and I have something like vin number 11,XYZ so it's one of the first 12,000 R1S vehicles made. From an initial quality perspective it's been great! No rattles, nothing that bothered me about the early quality of the vehicle. I did take it into the service shop once, because sometimes when my wife would sit in the passenger seat the passenger airbags would be turned off, but turns out that it takes 125 lbs. of direct weight on the seat to activate the sensor, for people below that weight it's deemed more safe to not activate the air bag sensor. I had no idea but I guess that's US standard in 2023. 

Another feature I really like is not creating exhaust and emissions while I am sitting in traffic. I never really thought about it before, but I really like the feeling when stuck in traffic of not belching out a little smoke for all of the people stuck in traffic around me to breathe. Sure, somewhere there are emissions at a power plant that charges my car, but it's nice when it's not 12 feet away from me. It's a very satisfying feeling. I think many of us have gotten a heavy whiff of exhaust in our lives and coughed in reaction, and now I don't have that problem when I'm loading the car, like I did on my 4Runner occasionally.

As for general driving, 800 horsepower is seriously too much. I've only floored it a hand full of times maybe 12-15 and 0-60 in 3 seconds is about as fast as my brain can handle. It's a different world, by the time you realize you are moving, you're going 40 mph. It's changed how I drive, when I see an opening in traffic and I'm trying to change lanes it's easy to speed up and get over then let off the accelerator and let the regenerative braking slow me down. I can slide into a lane change so easily. 

One pedal driving is great! However, in stop and go traffic, like going from Denver up I70 in traffic there is a bit of jerky start and stop that will make my wife get car sick after enough time. Some software updates have made it a little better. The first two months of ownership July and August 2023 we drove in towing mode, but then the modes were changed in a software update and we drive in all purpose or snow mode. I wish low regenerative braking was available in all purpose, that might help with my wife's car sickness. Even by myself I normally drive in standard regen because it brakes so fast I rarely have to use the brake pedal and it's not as jerky as high regenerative braking. One software thought is that it would be cool is there was a deadband on the pedal between the accelerating and regeneration, like a comfort mode where the car could cruise without a lot of acceleration or braking, the way a gas car coasts when you let off the accelerator and before you press on the brake. In other words, the drive modes of Rivian are not quite caught up to Tesla. 

We've camped in the Rivian three times, and once was below freezing. It's a delight to camp in compared to the 2007 4Runner we used before, it's wider and longer so sleeping in the back is easier. Camp mode for leveling the SUV is really nice, it makes the bed quite flat, which again makes it easier to sleep.


I only have maybe 15 miles of four wheel drive road miles on it, it didn't get to Colorado until the end of August. But so far it works great. I haven't tried to push it's capabilities yet and with the 21 inch road tires that I have I don't plan to push it. It's very easy to drive off road and one pedal driving allows you to stop just where you want, there is no wheel rolling when you get off the gas and get onto the brake like there is in traditional gas car off roading. It's a smooth off road experience, although the air suspension does make it feel like a boat going up and down and rocking back and forth. I expect I'll put a lot more trail miles on next summer. I did not get the 20 inch all terrain tires for two reasons, they were like $1800 more expensive, and get about 10% less range, and I figured, correctly, that I would spend a lot more time on roads than on trails and a longer range would be a benefit. I might get the all terrain wheels in the future, when I'm more confident in my charging routines around the state of Colorado, but for now the 21 inch road tires is the right choice for me.

The cruise control with the car detection ahead is really nice, I use it most days on my commute to work. I don't use the lane keeping very often, I still have my doubts about that. 

The cameras are great! The overhead view when parking makes parking so easy. I like the rear doors, I think they are the perfect configuration of half fold up, and half fold down. Cup holders are mediocre, the 4Runner cup holders that can fit a Nalgene are probably my favorite. There aren't that many cup holders either. 

The front trunk is great! I use it to store the charging cable and camping gear and some towels and pillows. It's great for those "dirty" items that you don't want rolling around in the back. 

Pet Comfort Mode is great, it has made it so that the Rivian is our default vehicle all the time, because we can bring the dog along, heat or snow, from little errands to going skiing the temperature usually remains constant.

The Dog in the Rivian

I don't actually have the spare tire yet. I left it off to have a lower base price and have not purchased it yet. So that's a risk. I did have a tire chunk come out, so I went to Discount Tire and had them replace it, ouch $450! But they did then warranty all the tires from that happening again in the future. I have not rotated the tires yet either, I need to do that this month. I'm hoping that they will last a full year and since I generally don't drive the vehicle hard, I expect that will happen. I've never had a car less than 11 years old before, so I was unfamiliar with the fact that when you drive it off the lot, the tires don't fall under any kind of warranty.

Tire Gouge


Charging is a common question I get and I have a lot of thoughts on it. While charging is more about electric vehicles overall than Rivian specifically, I think it's the single biggest part of the switch to EVs to solve. So I'll break it up by charging level.

Level 1 Charging

Level 1 charging is 120 volt alternating current single phase, 12-16 amp changing. For the R1S I get 2-3 miles of range per hour when charging with a standard 120 volt plug. While it's low value, there is value there. In fact, I think more employers should simply add 120 volt outlets on the outside of their walls, where a lot of employees park because for many people, 8-10 hours of 1-1.5kw of power is enough to cover their daily commute. Plus, it's very cheap to install maybe $500-1000, and it will only cost the company $1-3 per day per employee, but it goes a long way toward supporting the EV adoption. 

I think level 1 charging is a huge overlooked way to support the transition to EVs. Canada and the north is a step ahead of most of us, because there are often outlets for block heaters on diesel trucks at hotels and public parking.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 is 240 volt alternating current single phase, 15-80 amp charging. In my mind there is level 2A and level 2B, 2B being 6 kw (24 amps) and below, and 2A being 8 kw (32 amps) and above. Why do I say that? 6 kw is a pretty common level 2 charging speed, for the Rivian that's around 12 miles of range added per hour. For smaller sedans that's probably more like 20 miles of range per hour. While that's nice, that speed is almost useless for less than three hours of charging. It's useful at home and at work, maybe at a trailhead, but it's more or less useless at restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores, grocery shopping, or any place you would run an errand. Plus, for such a big battery as the Rivian, at 6 kw speed we're talking roughly 20 hours to fully recharge the vehicle from say 10% to 100%.  

That's why in my mind level 2A charging of 8 kw (32 amps) or 11.5 kw (48 amps) is a lot different. I have a home charger installed that gives the 11.5 kw, which is about 26 miles of range per hour. When I was in California I had 8 kw speed charging at my apartment, by unplugging my oven and plugging in my car. 11.5 kw is fast enough that I can charge the vehicle from 10% to 100% in about 10 hours. Which, in a hypothetical situation is deciding at 8 PM on Friday night that I want to ski Saturday morning, and for some reason the vehicle is nearly empty, I would still be able to leave at 6 AM. That gets to a big difference of EV ownership, you do have to plan ahead. You can't literally just go and figure out where to charge later. 

I'm very fortunate that I currently have EV charging at work, and during the week I have just enough charge left over from my commute that I basically only have to use my home charger on the weekends for various trips that I do, like going into the mountains. 

Most public level 2 chargers are 6 kw speed and again this really only makes sense if you are charging for multiple hours. While nice at a grocery store or restaurant, it's like putting 1/4 of a gallon of gas in your car, it's almost not worth the effort to open the gas tank, unless it's at a place like a ski resort, a hotel, or an apartment complex where you would park all day, or all night. 

A note on electrical usage. Most devices are designed to use 80% of the available power. So on a 60 amp circuit the charger will deliver 48 amps to the car. 48 amp chargers are the typical maximum hard wired level 2 speed. However, 80 amp and 100 amp circuits do exist, so there are a few third party 19 kw level 2 chargers, out there. I've never used one, it's kind of a mythical beast that would charge my car at about 44 miles of range per hour, now that would be cool at a restaurant! However, I've never actually used one.

Final note on level 2 charging, instead of installing $500-$1000 hardwired EV chargers, making a 240 volt 40 or 60 amp dedicated circuit with a NEMA 14-50 outlet is ideal if you want to future proof a garage, or have friends visit often with an EV. Sure you can't really charge people to use it, but it's very adaptable to all types of EVs and for residences and businesses is a small fraction of the overall new building electrical cost. Plus the outlet is "dumb" with no added software or hardware needed for EV owners. It can't really break, except to trip the breaker and would save $500-$1000. In other words, it's the simpler and cheaper solution than adding an actual level 2 charger, and accomplishes the same goal more reliably. 

Level 3 Charging

Level 3 charging is direct current fast charging typically 400 volts, but 800 volts is gaining traction, And 150-400+ amps. So when I moved back to Colorado from California we road tripped in the Rivian, pulling my old Honda Insight, and made 13 charging stops in 1,220 miles. Most EV charging is not at all designed for towing. Spots where you can pull through (like a gas station) are few and far between, maybe 5% of fast chargers. We probably could have done a few fewer stops, but towing really saps the range and we didn't want to be stranded. Here again I think of level 3 charging in level 3A 120kw+ and level 3B below 100 kw. There are a fair number of 50 and 62.6 kw chargers level 3B size, that make a lot of sense for restaurants or slow stops, when you will be there for an hour. But at those speeds, charging the Rivian from 10% to 100% will take a little under two hours. 

Georgetown ChargePoint

People out there reviewing chargers often make a big deal out of 300 kw speeds or some new 400 kw speeds, and while the Rivian does charge at up to something like 225 kw speeds, practically speaking, when I'm actually getting 150 kw, I'm happy. So often fast chargers are de-rated that you plug into a 350 kw charger with 30% battery and get 80 kw speed... it's super frustrating. The infrastructure of the US is just not ready for everyone to drive an EV yet. To give a specific example, the Electrify America level 3 charger at Walmart in Frisco, Colorado almost always has issues. It's a super high traffic spot, and that charger being broken will actively hinder EV adoption in Colorado. Just down the road the ChargePoint level 3 charger at the Target in Silverthorne is better, and often full, but the location is a little more out of the way. Another example, there is a 62 kw level 3 fast charger in Leadville with a single charging stall. We used it once and it was a good experience, but twice we've driven past and see someone towing using it... it's a nightmare location to try to get a trailer into, but it's a key location for a lot of adventures with the next nearest fast chargers all being 30 miles away, and usually crowded or broken. 

Another thing that's different with EVs is that you don't use 100% of the range. The lowest I have gotten was 13%, and I've only been that low once. I think we have gotten down to 18% three times I think. I would like to get down to 10% actually, as it's more efficient from the time spent and paid at fast chargers. Similarly, it's rare to charge above 80% at a fast charger, even charging above 60% will significantly slow down how fast it gives out electrons. In other words, on a road trip, charging from 10% to 60% is the best to minimize the length of the charging stop in a Rivian while still having a little buffer, and at a 150 kw fast charger or faster that is only about 25 minutes. 

I've started to think about fast charging stops as two different types, first is a bathroom break, and given that my wife and I usually have a dog with us, it takes us about 15 minutes to walk the dog and go to the bathroom. This is where 150kw+ is necessary, and second as a meal, a stop of 40-80 minutes where we do the walking the dog, and bathroom, and also get food. Unfortunately most of the fast chargers are not within a block or two of a restaurant. There are a few exceptions, the Rivian Chargers in Truckee, CA and Montrose, CO are great examples, the Chargepoint charger in Aspen is another good example.

Towing Rivians in Glenwood Springs

To get specific about my situation in Colorado, roughly the farthest spot in Colorado away from me is Telluride, which is 375 miles with a lot of ups and downs going over passes, per the Rivian app it suggests I drive a little over three hours to charge in Rifle for 23 minutes, and then again two hours later in Montrose for 14 minutes and then finish the last hour and 15 minutes for a total travel time of 7 hours and 9 minutes. The problem is, 23 minute stops only really work if there is fast casual dining within walking distance. I think a more realistic cadence is drive for two hours, take a 10-15 minute bathroom break, drive for another two hours, eat a meal for a half hour, drive for another two hours and another 10-15 minute bathroom break, another two hours and hopefully you are at the destination. From Denver, the normal outdoors destinations in Colorado are all within about 7 hours of driving and 400 miles. So with a 300 mile range, it should only take one fast charge on the road for 15 minutes to arrive at the furthest reaches. This of course gets more complicated going to places like Moab because highway speeds of 80 mph really eat into the range more than going 60 mph through the mountains. 

I'm still not explaining this well. It's common to see Tesla drivers at super chargers just sitting in their cars,  on their phones while their cars charge. Despite what people say, no one wants to do that. We essentially want the public interstate or state sponsored rest stop, where we can plug in a car to fast charge, and then use the bathroom and get a drink of water and talk a three minute walk. Then we want to also be able to charge the car while we eat a meal. The problem is the infrastructure is not at all set up for either one of those options to be convenient. Rest stops that gas cars use all the time are great, but due to how public utilities work it's unlikely that they will add EV charging because then the state would profit off selling electricity and the electricity companies do not like that, even though that's the perfect location for drivers.  And restaurants are not always a good place for fast chargers because it's not common to have 480 volt three phase electricity at restaurants. I used to think that Starbucks was missing out for not having EV charging, but then I found a few Starbucks that do have EV charging, and I learned how charging works and it makes less sense. You can assume that everyone with an EV wakes up with a full tank of electrons, so in the morning, on the way to the adventure, people don't need to charge, their batteries are probably at 80% or something, it's in the afternoons on the way back from the adventure, when they are getting a late lunch or eating dinner that they need to charge. 

I think they are a few possible solutions. 

  • One is to use large, battery banks, supplied by continuous 240V to fast charge cars. This would be easier from an infrastructure point of view. For example a 500 kWh or 1 Mw of batteries, basically a half semi trailer of batteries that could be supplied by a 240 volt circuit to continuously be charged, but would have enough to fast charge 10-20 people in a day, and in Colorado Saturday and Sunday have got to be the busy charging days. These could be at relatively remote locations.
  • Another solution is more level 2 charging at destinations. To my surprise there is a place I go near Grand Junction often that is 275 miles away from my house, but it requires going up and over three passes which all drain the battery. I think I could make it on a single charge without charging, but it would be close, and when I get there there is only 120v level 1 charging, so arriving with 8% battery would not be good, because sleeping over night I would wake up with something like 15% battery. This isn't a fear when I'm driving home, that's where I am not afraid to push the range a little bit because I know when I pull into the garage I have 11.5 kw power ready to charge the car at about 9% of battery per hour. If every parking lot and garage had level 2 chargers, especially 8 kw or 11.5 kw speed, a lot of Colorado road trips would not need a fast charger. 
  • Gas stations adding EV fast chargers. One option is to add the chargers along the side of the building, as most gas stations have a side lot. A second interesting option is to add the EV chargers on the gas pump islands, but further outboard from the gas pumps, so the pumps could be used, or the EV chargers.
  • Highway rest stops adding EV charging, preferably level 3, but honestly even level 2 would be nice. 

I realize that's a lot to say about charging, but frankly I think that's going to impact people's experience of owning an electric vehicle, and a Rivian in particular a lot more than the adjustability of the seats. In Colorado owning an EV is not an issue, I can drive from my house, up to Copper Mountain, go skiing, eat lunch and dinner in the mountains with the vehicle in pet comfort mode the whole time, and then drive back home without charging. There are fast chargers basically even 50 miles on the major roads, and yet it still takes a fair amount of planning, because there isn't excellent destination charging yet. 

To wrap up the review, it's an awesome vehicle and it works for me. I realize I'm a bit of an early adopter and frankly, a lot of people aren't ready for electric vehicles. I hope to have this thing for the next decade, and in 10 years when it's time to get a new vehicle, I hope that I can get the same capabilities or even longer range in a package that weighs 1000 lbs less.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Owning a Rivian After Three Weeks

Well, after never having a car loan in 37 years of life I have a very large car loan, larger than my house mortgage in rural Kansas. That’s the obvious downside. With that out of the way, wow, this car is a game changer!

For starters, charging at home is unbelievable, it’s such a great experience. And yes, in my little apartment that means running an extension cord out my second floor, back door to my little off street parking. I was doing only 120 volt charging most of the first two weeks, which added maybe 30 miles of range in a 10-12 hour overnight. While not very much, my normal round trip daily driving is 16 miles round trip to work, so it’s actually totally acceptable. However, I stretched the cable, bought a NEMA 10-50 adapter, and managed to plug into my 60 amp 240 volt electric stove and oven plug! That managed to charge something like 70 miles of range in less than four hours! I realize that these numbers are minuscule, and when taking a road trip most vehicles get 400-500 miles for a three minute gasoline stop. However, that gasoline is costing you money, probably $50 or more, while even my 70 mile charging session I estimate was less than $4 since I was charging at night when the electricity rate is less expensive. It feels kind of like getting interest on a savings account, my mileage balance goes up over night and at the end of the month my total electricity bill will likely be only $15 higher. I didn’t realize how much enjoyment I would get out of charging my car at my apartment over night. Plus, I’m driving a brick of a vehicle, a more efficient little car could probably get away with 120 volt charging. I should write a blog post about how offering free standard 120 volt outlets is a very easy way for businesses to support electric vehicles, without having to install $1000 charging stations. 

I’m probably going to write more about the charging aspect, because it was just so cool to fill up at home. I haven’t tried a single fast charger yet or public charger yet, looks like I probably won’t for another month or so.

Other things to like, people are definitely going to say the acceleration, but frankly I’ve only accelerated fast a handful of times, because it all happens so fast that on a city street or in Bay Area traffic it feels reckless. I told a few people, I was excited for an electric 4Runner style vehicle with a 300+ mile range, off road capabilities, and ability to car camp, that I would have bought it with 300 horsepower, not the 800 hp the Rivian has. The backup camera and overhead views are great! The cruise control, with the radar range finders on the front of the car are really nice. I’ve had that on a few rental cars and it’s great! I have not tried to activate the driver assist feature where the car does the steering, I’m skeptical of that functionality based on some previous use of it in Teslas. The front trunk is cool. I can easily see how road tripping or car camping that compartment is going to come in really handy. The wireless phone charging is pretty cool. It’s not super fast, but it’s fun to get a few percent charge into my phone on my 20 minute commute. One pedal driving is really nice when it comes to stopping. When you have mostly let off the pedal the regenerative braking slows you down, so you don’t have to hop off the accelerator and on to the brake really fast like you do in an internal combustion engine when the traffic in front of you suddenly stops. I think I like sport mode better than all-purpose mode for driving, it’s only about 1% less efficient, but the SUV is lower to the ground and has a stiffer ride. In all-purpose it feels sometimes like I’m on a boat bouncing up and down, and it’s pretty high for me to get into. 

I only used the navigation once, and it seems to work well but at this point that’s the bar for entry… not a cool feature like Google Maps was on iPhone in 2008. I haven’t camped in it or taken it off road yet. I've only begun to explore the features in the menus. I haven't used the camp speaker yet. The automatic hood is unnecessarily complicated. It's cool, but too many moving parts, but probably cost like $1500 compared to a traditional hood hinge at $25. I have the 21" all purpose, longer range tires. At some point I'll probably switch to 20" all terrains, but clearly like most new electric vehicle drivers I am worried about range, so it's nice to see the 338 mile range estimate in conserve mode with these tires.

Already, for short trips at least there is basically no going back to  a gas car. When I'm idling in a traffic jam, it's so rewarding to know that I'm not emitting smog in that moment. I know that somewhere a coal powerplant is pumping out a cloud of smoke, but in the moment, driving the EV, I just don't need to worry about carbon monoxide if I run the vehicle in the garage. It makes traffic jams more pleasant. I wasn't expecting to have an emotional reaction to not idling a car, but I do. My lungs are strong, but fragile, and I've always been frustrated when I don't have clean air to breathe, like when people are idling a car unnecessarily and I'm near the tailpipe. I've bicycled behind cars and trucks at times to go fast, but there is often the wafting smell of the emissions making it a little harder to take a deep breath and keep up with the car. It's a satisfying feeling, one I didn't expect.

At the end of the day it's a mechanical and electrical collection of parts, yet somehow it represents a way forward for us to take a little bit better care of the air in the world, and also have a really exciting time in the process.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Design, Manufacturing, and Testing are the basic categories for all types of engineering.

It's taken me years, but I now feel that most engineering roles can be broken down into design, manufacturing, or testing. This is probably more applicable to hardware than software, but it's not limited to hardware. To summarize:

  • Design - People at the start of the product lifecycle process, who design the thing to meet requirements.
  • Manufacturing - People who build the product.
  • Test - People who make sure that the product meets the requirements.
To some extent this is a narrow view, because when it comes to things like requirements, there is a market and a business case that drives the whole engineering process. If there was no business case, it's just a hobby and not a business. Why am I writing about this?

2011 through 2018 I was at a company with very developed processes, and rather static hierarchy, which all worked very well for that company. The company was well over 100 years old, so they had a long time to sort out a system that worked well for them. Then I joined the world of startups and young companies, because it's thrilling and an adventure. However, young companies don't have their processes and hierarchy all worked out. 2011 through 2018 I started in analysis (a sub-set of testing) and then moved over to design. When I started in the startup world I started in design, and then moved over to manufacturing. Through several different organizations I now see how the three basics of design, manufacturing, and testing are really the foundation of bringing a product to market. 

A really small company can have the design engineers build the product and test the product, however that doesn't scale very well beyond the first one, not even to 10 total units. So in the world of race cars, Mars landers, and other highly highly specialized, super low volume products it works, but by the time the volumes creep up to something like the Concord airplane or B2 Bomber (about 20 units total), there needs to be division of labor to keep up with any sort of production schedule and make sure that each role is adequately resourced. Some sort of program schedule takes shape and goes something like this:
Design, Manufacture, Test

Obviously that's an overly simplistic representation of a product development process. In today's world, a lot of testing can happen before the final product is manufactured through virtual analysis tools. And of course, the goal is for the prototypes and production to be the same... but of course that rarely happens and leads to a whole other topic of change control. Also left out of this discussion is requirements for the product. The better the requirements are defined in the beginning, the easier this whole process will be down the road. Defining requirements is hard, and frankly, there comes a point where it makes sense to just start designing and building the product prototypes in order to learn all of the formerly unknown requirements.

I once had the experience where the assembly design (and bill of materials) was released/confirmed on a Wednesday and the very next day the expectation was that we would build it... needless to say supply chain had not bought all of the parts to make that possible. I've also been asked in the past why it's hard to build something without a released bill of materials from design engineers, with the simple answer being, if you want manufacturing to buy all of the parts and use all of them in the product, then yes we need a bill of materials to go off of. I've had another example where some test engineers were adamant that the wrong assembly was built, and yet all three physically built prototypes, and the original virtual design, and the work instructions were all in agreement about the particular issue.

In all three examples, people were upset. They felt like they had been failed by their peers, but it was really a misunderstanding of what their peers needed as inputs in order to do their jobs well. Yet going back to 2011, when I was in analysis (testing), I remember saying that a 25 mm steel plate would work in a location, the design guy said nothing, but the manufacturing engineer said that was unreasonable and we needed to figure out how to use a smaller plate, so we did, because we now had a better requirement (no 25 mm thick plates on this assembly), and this all happened two years before prototypes were built. I remember that interaction as something of the gold standard for getting design, test, and manufacturing in the same room, two years before the assembly was first built, and four years before production, so that when we went to production that particular assembly was very smooth.
The general flow of engineering information.

And again, this image is a simplistic understanding of engineering. However, for the purpose of this article, this is really about organizational structure, schedules, inputs and outputs. It's not possible to do everything at once. Many things can be parallel pathed but you can't drive a car without wheels. You can't drill a hole without a tolerance. You can't weld two plates together if you don't know the materials. Hopefully this small overview gives non-engineers a little more context into the different areas of engineering, as well as perhaps new engineers information about different roles that I didn't understand until I had years of experience engineering. My advice to new college graduate engineers, get your hands dirty doing a little of all three. It doesn't really matter what you do the first two years of your career, just learn how things are designed, manufactured and tested. You can figure out which part you like best when you understand the engineering industry better.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Wedding Day Info

Hello Friends and Family! We are writing this to give out some more details for our wedding in a few weeks. For starters, the venue had a limited number of seats so to our friends that we weren't able to accommodate, please come visit sometime!

The general schedule is:

  • Ceremony at 4:00 PM which will take place outside, unless the weather is bad, then it will be inside.
  • Happy hour with drinks and appetizers immediately following, while we take a lot of pictures. You can wander around outside and inside, there is a lot of cool stuff at the farm.
  • Dinner around 6 PM will be inside the large barn.
  • After dinner we will cut the cake.
  • After the cake cutting we will have a dance!
  • At 9 PM dancing will conclude due to a Boulder County sound ordinance that the venue must adhere to and it's time to go home!
When you arrive, park behind the red barn, you will go past a house and two smaller barns on a narrow dirt road after you turn off the main dirt road. We don't recommend Uber or Lyft because the venue is about 10 miles from Boulder and Longmont, so there might not be many drivers still working at 9 PM willing to drive out in the country.

Please make sure to check the weather in Boulder County and dress accordingly. We have heaters for the reception, however, we hope to have the ceremony outdoors and it's known to snow in April.

For food, we will have a variety of appetizers after the ceremony that will probably have something to appeal to almost everyone. For dinner we will have a buffet with multiple vegan options, most dishes are dairy free, most are gluten free, there is a pescatarian dish, and then yes we have a meat and diary dish which will probably be the favorite. There will also be dessert, and a gluten free dessert option upon request.

For drinks, I recommend the wine, it is vegan and comes from Dave at Chill Switch Wines. We will also have beer, Rowdy Mermaid kombucha, a little bit of champagne, yerba mate, a small keurig for coffee, and of course water. 

We do have a wedding registry, contact us for the link if desired. We don't really need more things, so you are also invited to donate in our name to Give Directly, or the Adams County Food Bank.

Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions. Thank you all for coming in a few weeks, we know that many of you are traveling a large distance and it's greatly appreciated! We look forward to spending a fun evening with you to celebrate this love that we have found!

With love and appreciation, 

Isaiah + Cherelle

Sunday, March 19, 2023

No Races in 4.5 Years!?

I haven't run a race since the 2018 100 km world championships. At my second world championship I DNF'd after 40 km, which took over 4 hours and where my heart rate had averaged over 180 beats per minute. 

About six weeks after that race I discovered I had a pulmonary embolism that I had been battling since March of 2018. Only six month later I broke my ankle skiing and that proved to be a harder injury to come back from. I'm not sure I ever will come back actually. However, in April 2022 I had a procedure to take stem cells from bone marrow in my hip out and put into my ankle bones and ligaments and honestly the ankle is feeling really good. I haven't pushed it or done any big mileage runs over 8 miles due to mild setbacks like muscle cramps and knots that have hampered my progress, but it feels good even on the days after I run, which wasn't the case for much of the last few years. 

I've put on about 20 pounds from my racing weight, and I'm 36, so I don't recover like I used to when I was 26 and 130 pounds. 

...But I'm not done. I don't want to be done. I've only run eight ultramarathons and three "serious" marathons in my semiprofessional running career spanning 2011 to 2018. I definitely don't know what the future holds for me, and I don't want to live in the past... yet the thrill of preparing for and arriving at the starting line ready to give it my best, and then those moments in a race when things are going well and the miles are clicking off... it's so hard to find a comparison to that in other areas of my life. It's such a simple joy. I don't think I ever really took my running ability for granted. I'm definitely a late bloomer, not breaking onto the national scene until 2014 at age 28. I'm nowhere close to race fit right now, but I want to run races again. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Unemotional Pivot?

I've been working on a project for the last eight months. We committed to the process in June 2022, and now in February 2023 we are saying this doesn't work, we're essentially canceling this project and pivoting to something that we know we can make work.

What changed? Well we originally picked the old process based on assumptions we had about lead times, and technical ability to do certain things. And we did have progress. We broke ground in areas that I don't think anyone else has explicitly done. We read published literature and didn't find anyone doing exactly what we were doing. We also had (have?) a path to success using that process we committed to, however we all came to realize that the amount of time and money needed to make that successful was more than we had available. Doing a new cool thing for the sake of doing a new cool thing doesn't make businesses successful. It's about making and shipping a product to a paying customer, or some variation of that as it relates to delivering a service. So we decided to make a change.

For all practical purposes this was essentially a secret development. Only a handful of people actually understood what we were doing. So in the spectrum of failures, it wasn't even remotely public, even across the organization. However, as I've thought about it the last couple weeks, I feel this sense of emotional defeat and personal failure. I advocated for this process, and it failed. As much as I try to make it an unemotional pivot, we tried a technical path and it didn't work, so we're going to go to a more well established path, there is still that sense of failure. 

As I reflect on the failure, there are three technical pieces of information that had we known any one of them at the beginning we probably would not have gone down this path. One was an obvious one, but also one that there was some limited published papers suggesting that it was an issue that could be solved. Unfortunately we ended up solving that problem in an expensive way by adding a whole other process. The second and third issues were unfortunately specific to the application of the process that we chose. I'm trying to avoid any hint of specifics on this because it's part of the secret sauce in my industry. Those second and third issues, had we known from the outset, would hopefully have stopped us in our tracks.

It's not all negative, I've learned a ton in the process. There are some technical things that I now know, with many applications, that were very difficult lessons to learn. I now know from experience some things which could potentially save my company even millions of dollars on future projects. Still, in this moment, it feels like a waste. As I like to say, we created "desk art" which is to say very expensive pieces of hardware that will never be used because they were ultimately a failure.

Can you have a big pivot and not have emotions attached to it? I'm not sure. The more time and effort that gets invested into something the more sunk cost hope there is that it will succeed. By the same token, it's okay to feel bad about going down a dead end. Now you know it's a dead end. One day you might even laugh about it.

While the result of going down this path for eight months hurts emotionally as it feels like failure, I'm really proud of the team that worked on this and pushed the technology forward! We learned an incredible amount. We did things that are truly cutting edge technology. And like most business projects we developed a number of new business relationships that you never know how they might be mutually beneficial in the future. It's a small world, and it's fun to be a part of it.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Why I'm buying a Rivian

In June 2021 I finally put in a deposit for a Rivian R1S SUV. I have had my eye on them since 2018, and when I returned from Denali, having recently turned 35 I thought, 'now is the time.' My estimated window is this year, in the fall, and I've been watching videos and thinking about getting it, and I wanted to lay out why I want a big electric SUV.

For starters, I've spent a lot of time on glaciers, over six months of my life, between time on four longer expeditions and a number of smaller mountains. While I don't have evidence that I have collected myself to quantify climate change, I can tell you that the glaciers are melting. The streams in them are big, some nights the streams don't freeze completely. Other times the rockfall is far higher than it would be if the rocks were frozen. These places just feel precarious. Like if they were a little colder they would be stable, but they are not that cold.

The evidence from scientists says that carbon dioxide and methane from burning fossil fuels is an enormous contributor to climate change. And as anyone who has stood behind an idling 4runner knows, it's just not that fun to choke on exhaust from an off road capable SUV that on it's best day gets 21 miles per gallon.

On top of this, I've never had a car less than 11 years old. My daily driver just turned 21 years old. My weekend adventure 4runner is 16 years old. Yes I can definitely continue driving these vehicles. I've never had a car loan and the thought of one scares me. I like low insurance costs. However, I've been saving money for years, and as I looked ahead to my 40s I thought, 'am I ever going to buy a new car, after all what am I saving for?' My college plan had been to get a job out of college and quickly buy a Mini Cooper, however my 2010 year of unemployment dissolved that idea, and I've been driving at least 11 year old used cars ever since. So I had a bit of a reflection and decided that you know what, I could in fact afford such an expensive car as long as I kept working. Plus, the Rivian comes with an 8 year powertrain warranty, which puts it into my mid 40s by the time it would be out of warranty. I hope that in that time my financial situation looks even better than it does now.

Finally, given all of the above, I feel an obligation to do more about climate change. I think a lot of people either don't care because it's a slow moving crisis, or are overwhelmed because the scale is so big that they don't take any action. Since I make a good income, I feel like I need to take action. Yes, hopefully battery prices get cut in half and the size and weight of batteries gets cut in half in the next five years, and charging infrastructure becomes as reliable as going to gas stations, but until that happens the market (people like me) needs to step in and encourage research, development, and infrastructure build out by creating demand for those products and services. Me buying this expensive car shows Rivian and other companies that there is demand for these types of vehicles. And when I inevitably charge it on road trips, that shows the charging companies that they need to have reliable chargers. 

I test drove a Mitsubishi i-Miev way back in 2012 or 2013, and then a Tesla Model S in 2015. I've had my eye on an electric vehicle for a long time, but nothing really fit the bill to do the things I wanted until the Rivian came out. I like to take road trips of several hundred miles to four wheel drive trail heads and camp there preferably in the car, not exactly what the average EV was designed for. At some point this year I will be taking delivery. And I want to give as many people test drives in it as possible. I want to let others get behind the wheel and experience electric vehicle driving. From a mechanical point of view EVs are simpler than internal combustion engines. It stands to reason that they should last even longer than the existing vehicles on the road. Perhaps you need to replace the battery pack after 10 years, and then you can get another 10 years out of the vehicle. I don't know. It's going to be an adventure!