Electric Car2Go is a Gas!

The all-electrtic Car2Go fleet in San Diego is not why we moved here, but we did sign up for the service as soon as we got here. Now, with nearly two years of experience, what do we think? It's a gas! Just take a look, and then read on...
Not all of these electric Smart Cars come with a highly-skilled driver like the one you see here, but they are all fun, whether you drive or are driven. Okay, we do have some quibbles that I will address in a moment, but basically this is a great service and the car is very impressive.

If I have to run errands involving more miles than I feel like walking then I often choose a Car2Go over our trusty old BMW 323. The iPhone app makes it very easy to locate nearby cars and reserve them.

At first, I tended to avoid Car2Go trips involving freeway miles, then my wife (the highly-skilled driver behind the wheel in the photo above) found the boost switch. You activate it with an extra push on the gas pedal when accelerating and it really helps with highway on-ramps and overtaking.

Of course, like all electric vehicles, the Car2Go can tap maximum torque at zero rpm, so it is always ready to leap off the line at the lights (great way to elicit gob-smacked looks from drivers of big sedans and hot hatches).

As for handling, the word is nimble. You can turn corners and cut U-turns where no other car would dare. I should point out that the ride is a little on the rough side over city streets, but most of the trips that I take in a Car2Go are too short for this to matter. The highway ride is acceptable. I did chat recently with someone who had ridden in her daughter's regular, bought-from-a-dealer, gasoline-powered Smart Car. She reported that it also had a somewhat rough ride on city streets (maybe someone should tell Mercedes Benz that America's city streets are not as well-paved as they used to be, and adjust suspension accordingly).

So far the electric-ness of the Car2Go has not been a problem. I have never run out of power. If the San Diego Car2Go fleet is short of anything it is cars-to-go. We can't always rely on there being one handy, and we live in the densely-populated Little Italy part of town. That would be one niggle. Another would be the length of time it takes to get the support folks on the line in the evenings.

Why would you need to call the support line? Well, it is possible to lock things inside these rentals. Yes, members have an RFID card that opens cars, but cars don't open to you if they are reserved by someone else or if they are out of service. So here's a scenario I encountered: Drove back from the supermarket in a Car2Go. Exited the vehicle with my groceries. Ended the rental. Then noticed that there was one more bag of groceries in the rear storage area. Tapped my card on the card reader but was told car out of service due to low battery. It took about 15 minutes to get through to an agent who could unlock the car.

Another problem I have encountered is missing cars. You see a car on the app, walk to its location, but it is not there. This may not be the fault of the system. Cars left in parking structures can give rise to this issue.

There are some restrictions on Car2Go, like not transporting our dog. I understand this policy: not all dog owners can be relied upon to keep the cars clean of dog hair, etc. And of course, only two people will fit in the car. However, they fit very well. I have a friend who is nearly seven feet tall and he owns a SmartCar. Not only that, his SmartCar was hit by another driver and protected him so well he got another.

So, bottom line: 9.5 times out of 10, my Car2Go experiences are 100% positive. So much so that they have allowed us to give our second vehicle to our daughter. So she likes Car2Go -- without ever driving one.

Sad Car2Go Postscript

At the end of 2016, Car2Go ceased operations in San Diego. Earlier that year it had converted the entire fleet from electric power to gasoline engines but it seems like Uber and Lyft killed it off. So, if you're visiting san Diego and wonder why you aren't see these cute little transport pods, that's why. Somehow this photo of our dog looking for something in the snow seems appropriate.


Adrenalectomy, from pain to promising signs of progress

This is a short note to record the successful execution of a laproscopic adrenalectomy by Dr. Allan Gamagami at Sharp Memorial Hospital on August 16, namely my left adrenalectomy. I talked about the need for this procedure in Cobb's Got Conn's, but not because I enjoy talking about myself. Okay, I do enjoy talking about myself, but the point of my writing about Conn's and primary aldosteronism is to help the many millions of people who might have this condition.

That's right, recent studies suggest that as many as 10% of people with high blood pressure could be cured by adrenal surgery. In the U.S. alone, where the number of people with high blood pressure is estimated to be 71 million, there could be over 7 million candidates for this procedure. And that's the funny thing about primary aldosteronism: you may be happy to find you've got it. Why? Because treating primary aldosteronism can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also mean lower blood pressure, or even an end to blood pressure medication.

A Gland Called Adrenal


When either or both of your adrenal glands pump out too much aldosterone your body:

  • a. retains sodium (we all know too much sodium is not good for blood pressure), and

  • b. leaches out too much potassium (while excess potassium can be deadly, too little can also have fatal consequences, like a stroke or heart failure due to atrial fibrillation). If you have primary aldosteronism you are likely to experience one of more of the health problems that I list down below.


If your doctor successfully treats your primary aldosteronism, then you may enjoy lower blood pressure with fewer or no medications, plus return to a regular heartbeat, and freedom from muscle cramps. You could well feel more energetic, given the reversal of your hypokalemia (low potassium).

Farewell My Left Adrenal


Thanks to some good old-fashioned medical work by my primary care physician (Dr. Adam Pacal) and gifted nephrologist (Dr. Jadwiga Alexiewicz) it was determined that I was a classic case of primary aldosteronism in which a growth on one adrenal gland is responsible for the over-production of aldosterone.

The culprit was my left adrenal and this was confirmed by some fancy testing, reinforced by my body's positive reaction to a drug called spironolactone, an "aldosterone receptor antagonist that causes the kidneys to eliminate unneeded water and sodium from the body into the urine, but reduces the loss of potassium from the body." (NIH)

Because the spironolactone was effective at lowering my blood pressure by several points, it seemed likely that removing the cause of the excess aldosterone would be beneficial. Surgery was scheduled.

Nine days after the surgery I can sense numerous positive changes in my body. For a start, I have not experienced any muscle cramps since the operation, despite not taking any potassium supplements.

Second, I feel either more relaxed or less stressed. (I'm not sure which term best describes my state of mind, and that state of mind might just be a temporary state, but so far I am enjoying it.)

My blood pressure seems to be better controlled, with fewer medications, although it is early days yet. Whether I can be weaned off HBP meds altogether remains to be seen. I am pretty sure that the trauma and lingering pain of the surgery elevates BP readings for days afterwards. I will report back at 15 and 30 days.

What Was Going On?


In the years prior to my operation I was dealing with all of these symptoms of chronic lack of potassium, despite a potassium-rich diet and supplements:

  • Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flopping in your chest (that's language from the Mayo Clinic)

  • Atrial fibrillation

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Leg and foot cramps


In addition, I suffered from excess sodium despite watching my salt intake. That meant high blood pressure which would sometimes spike and make me feel quite ill if I ate a particularly salty meal (something that is frankly hard to avoid when you travel a lot on business -- some restaurants simply lie about their use of salt, a phenomenon that includes some very fancy eateries). Throughout these years, my heartbeat was funky and my medication regimen included five pills a day.

And guess what? For years I had been attributing most of physical ills to an inverse trifecta of advancing age, plus the stress of the financial crash -- in which we lost our home and our life savings, plus my wife's illness and disability. Only when I was back on my feet and settled into a job that I really enjoyed did it occur to me to dig deeper into why I was continuing to have these symptoms. Now, despite the lingering pain of abdominal surgery, I am very glad that I did dig.

Now I need to write up my surgical experience to help folks who discover that they need one of their adrenals removed. A recent study suggests that five percent of high blood pressure cases could be like mine, curable through surgery. The operation is no walk in the park, but in my case it is proving to have been a positive step forward.