Faster than a speeding locomotive

Paul behind the wheel of a Tesla P90D

The acceleration was breathtaking. The amenities were amazing.

I’d say I want one, but it’s so far out of the realm of possibility that I’ll just say it was a lot of fun.

Our test drive was totally free. Mark set up the appointment to take a Tesla P90D for a spin. He drove out, I drove back. His son Zach spent the whole time sporting an ear-to-ear grin. Our salesman Drew completely understood that we wanted to go fast and have fun.

We tried out the auto-pilot mode – the car drove all by itself. Parking with no assistance was effortless.

Little features like the dashboard’s real-time speed limit sign display were captivating. Design inside and out reminded me of the perfection of many Apple products – like door handles that disappear after you’re in the car.

Back to that acceleration – the salesman claimed that only two cars are faster – the Bugatti Veyron ($1,500,000) and the Porsche 918 ($850,000). For a mere $145,000, the Tesla P90D is a steal. We drove the whole way using the Ludicrous Mode. The first time Mark mashed the pedal to the floor, my sunglasses flew off my head into the back of the car.

Tesla run on pure electric power – at least as pure as the source of that electricity (which isn’t very clean when coming from a coal-fired power plant). Electric motors have much smoother power delivery than any gas or diesel engine can provide. From 0-60, it was one smooth rush.

I’ve never tried cocaine, but this is the automotive equivalent. The acceleration was completely addictive.


Photo by Zach.



three color spectra - copyright 2016, paul merrillI’m a huge fan of the idea of spectrums. So many aspects of life can be described by spectrums.

Spectrum 1:

Pleasure seeking: Some people put pleasure so high on their priority list that they are willing to die for it (heroin addicts and canyon-jumping motorcyclists).

Pain avoidance: Some people are so averse to the idea of pain that they refuse to leave the safety of their bedrooms.

Spectrum 2:

Ideology: Some people believe in their cause so much that they are willing to die for it (Muslim terrorists).

Lack of beliefs: Some people are so open to worldview that they don’t believe anything.

Spectrum 3:

Chaos: Some people are willing to have thirteen children and let the crumbs fall where they may.

Neatness: Some people wipe the table under their guest’s plate before they have gotten up.

Spectrum 4:

Germs: Some people never wash their hands.

Sanitation: Some people wear gloves in public.

I think everyone has tendencies to fall on one side of the center in each of these spectrums. (Note that I am using extreme examples. Humanity is like a bell curve – most people fall into the middle.) We all move around on spectrums during the course of our lives – or in the course of our days.

A beauty that lies at the extremes is that some of those people push the envelope of human experience – and that can benefit everyone.

Psychologists sometimes dump various spectrums under blanket names such as “autism” or “OCD.” But the human experience is enriched by people living off the center of spectrums.

Footnote: I know that some say the plural of “spectrum” is “spectra.” But “spectrums” is also acceptable English, these days.


Skip the secret sauce

My shelf of hot sauces

Superior State University (ironically named) has an annual list of banished words. This year’s list includes: conversation (as in, “join the conversation”), problematic, stakeholder, price point, secret sauce, giving me life, and physicality.

Part of my job involves putting words together to communicate the value that the company I work with offers. There’s a fine balance between being interesting and being too interesting.

Overused catchphrases can induce rolled eyes, soft sighs of pain or simply a click-away from the web page.

This year, let’s strive to write with words that communicate well, without harm to our readers.

Special thanks to the Wall Street Journal for pointing me to the Superior State University list.