Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Volvo XC70 Phasers, Photon Torpedos & Tractor Beam

Recently, DDF and I upgraded our 2007 Mazda 6 station wagon to a newer, more modern model.
There was nothing "wrong" with the Mazda 6.  I'd been running full synthetic Castrol oil in it since we bought it with just 50 miles on it.  Regular filter changes, routine inspections, 2 sets of rear brake pads and one set of front pads, and 4 Yokohama tires (the front 2 which wore out faster than the back two when I fell behind on rotations).  It made it to 81 thousand miles without any major (or minor) problems, driving around Arizona, and then to California, and back to Arizona again for a Mardi Gras trip 2 years ago.  It's been a good car, and I will be driving it to our son Nathan Jr's home later this year.

When we got the XC70 home, DDF asked me "what are those things on the windshield?" (pictured above, onto which the rear view mirror was mounted).  I looked at them, and replied "Oh, those are the photo torpedoes, the phasers, and the tractor beam."

Pedestrian Sensor Array, blocking engine cooling air-flow
You see, this Volvo is covered in sensors.  Blind spot sensors, pedestrian sensors, back-up sensors, collision avoidance sensors, a 10,000 image library of "similar images" that the on-board computer tries to compare on-coming obstacles to and determine if it is a threat (person, raccoon, bike, bridge abutment...) or if it is benign (sign post not on a collision course, rock on the side of the road, turtle that has crossed the street, etc...).

This vehicle has more I/O than the first two projects that I ever designed and built back at Michelin Tire in the 80s, combined.  It is a technologically advanced machine, modern, and very impressive to the engineer within me.  And it cost substantially less than Mercedes, Audi, Cadillac, Porche, Land Rover, or BMW.  There's ultrasonic sensors for the curb sensors, digital imaging cameras and range finders for the collision avoidance and image libraries, and at highway speeds, the ultrasonics kick up their range to double as blind-spot vehicle detectors All Around the vehicle.

There's front bumper, rear bumper, left and right front quarter panel near the fog lights, left and right rear quarter panel near the tail pipes, rear camera, front camera, rain sensors for automatic wipers, And all the collision avoidance.  THere's almost so much technology that is Could lull the driver asleep or enable distracted driving, but so far I am enjoying the sensor feedback and driver-interaction.  There are options to turn off the sensor arrays while driving, but I've not found them overly intrusive or annoying yet, so I keep them on.

The XC70 has the same engine as DDF's C70, turbo-charged inline 5 cylinder, 2.5 liter, 250 HP, 266 ft-lbs, dipsticks included. Volvo (along with Audi & BMW) is moving away from dipsticks to this ridiculous "computer controlled maintenance schedule" that is supposed to tell the driver when to add & change oil.  No thanks, I'd Much Rather do it the old-fashioned, more accurate, and less-dealer-interactive way that has worked for over 100 years, with a dipstick and rag.  The 4 cylinder 2 liter engine was fancier, had no dipstick, but was not available on the AWD model, so that's not what we bought.

And, since it's a Station Wagon, and not a SUV [superfluous un-useful vehicle] it fits in my cramped, Tetris-like, barely a 2-car garage.

Sadly, it has Pirellis...  but those will get replaced with Michelins once they quickly wear out. At 235/50 R18s they are the LARGEST tires I've ever had on any vehicle I've owned in my life... but I am secure in my masculinity and have no need to put on Huge, over-sized tires or desire to "sit up higher than everyone else" on the road as apparently so many Umerikuns are afflicted with such a height
jealousy disorder.

I would have been happy buying another Mazda, had they not stopped making station wagons in 2007 for the American market.  I test drove a Toyota Venza, but it was huge, bulky, low tech, unimpressive.  I was interested in an Acura Station Wagon, but Honda decided in 2012 to stop making Acura wagons... and all the used ones I saw were unusually high mileage vehicles, so I passed.

I could not buy an Audi or VW since they falsified their emissions and have a corporate culture of dishonesty.  Looked at the Porche SUVs and laughed at the +$60K price tags. No thanks. (and they're part of the VW corporate culture).  Buick makes no station wagons, just SUVs.  Cadillac stopped making wagons in 2014.  Mercedes wagons are famously prone to chronic mechanical and electronic defects & operability issues.  BMW stopped making a 5 series more than 5 years ago in a wagon, and the 3 series was just too small.  Ford's Flex was far too boxy and far too expensive for what was included when compared to the Volvo.  Mazda's CX-5 sat up too high, never would have fit in my garage, and was too small for what we needed it to do.  I Really Wanted a V70 (we had one back in 2000, and it was a very good car), but Volvo only sells them in Europe, and I was not going to wait 10 to 14 months to have one shipped over, modified to meet California emissions, and then have the Only 2017 V70 in California where I could never find a part for it.   Europe and Australia get all the good wagons.

So with El Niño upon us, combined with the fact that Northern San Diego County is remarkably hilly, an AWD vehicle was not a hard choice to make.  And if we ever drive it to the mountains or off-road, the AWD and 18 inch wheels will give us clearance and traction advantages as well.

The mirrors turn in when I lock it, which is one of the coolest features... no more wondering "did I lock it, or did I forget?".  All 4 windows roll down, and go back up, All The Way, with a single touch - as every car should but most American cars don't.  There's handy grocery bag pop-up holder walls and straps in the cargo area, seat position and mirror position memory tied to his & her keys, blue tooth, USB ports, 12V charging, a large center counsel digital display... it is the fanciest & most advanced vehicle I've ever owned.  And it will likely be the last internal combustion engine car I ever own as well, as a Tesla or other electric vehicle will probably be the next car we get in 2 or 3 presidential election cycles from now.  
This was the sunset that I witnessed the first time I made a blue-tooth call from my phone, through the car, to my parents, while parked next to the PCH, US Route 101, watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  The call came right after I enabled the Sirius Radio, and personalized the dash board display.  

It was almost 80F here today, with a gentle breeze.   Yeah... life doesn't suck here in Southern California.  You should come visit.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Republican Hyperbolic Allergies to Islam

The Washington Post has a nice article today about how Republicans presidential candidates and primary voters are all in a tizzy about President Obama visiting a Mosque yesterday... yet 15 years ago, George W Bush did the same thing and there WAS NO OUTCRY.  (Link here)

The hypocrisy is so thick, it's ridiculous.  W can visit a mosque and no one denounces him, or says he's being divisive.  President Obama visits a Mosque and he's obviously a secret Muslim, or trying to divide Umerika, or stirring up religious divides??? No Rubio... you're incorrect, again.  Short-sighted, fear mongering, myopic fools.
Bush visits a Mosque in 2001... no Republican Outcry resulted.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Peacocks' Evening Calls, 2016

I am marking my calendar, that today, at 5:40pm 26January 2016, is the first time this year that I've heard the neighborhood peacocks calling to each other at dusk.  I understand the mating season is February to May, so this is just the beginning of the calls.

I had the opportunity to take my mom and dad to the local park where the peacocks and peahens roost in the neighborhood, and they thoroughly enjoyed the displaying peacocks and the coy peahens.  It's nice to live in a neighborhood with very little road noise, no military fly-overs, rarely a siren, and the melodic natural sounds of peacocks "Ca-CAWing" to each other. and hummingbirds buzzing through he air around my home.

Kubrick's The Chickening (2016)

I stumbled upon this video today that made me literally, laugh out loud, and it had me glued to the screen.  Too funny!!!!  Tons of embedded props and imagery in the back ground of each scene as well (watch it more than once).
Since DDF and I had recently watched The Shining at Halloween (it had been more than 20 years since I saw it previously) the hilarity had even more impact.  Beautifully done! The Chickening!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Russia Apparently Loves JustJoeP

I checked my "audience" stats, and apparently, Russia has latched onto JustJoeP.  The Internet Explorer hits from Russia are far out-weighing all the rest of the globe combined.

Sucks that Google Blogger eliminated the "zoom in by country" stat feature they used to have, where you could see which cities were hitting your blog, and not just country granularity.  All the hits from Russia might be from one node of hackers who are using JustJoeP as a proxy to launch / match / obfuscate other traffic...  dunno.  I'm not inter-webs savvy enough to figure out all the from-and-to details.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Childless Single Men Who Masterbate to Anime

I was watching Chris Hayes this evening, when one of his guests - Rick Wilson, Republican Strategist - said the following about the devout followers of Donald Trump:  "They are (for the most part) childless, single men, who masterbate to anime" .

It made me guffaw!  It made me rewind my DVR.  It made me howl!

19% of the American Electorate are white males over 35 years of age.   The majority of Trump supporters are also caucasian.   Ugh.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Happiest Girl... In song


Apparently, there's no intuitive way to upload a you tube video... Via phone ��

Location, photos... Sure... But no link insertion. 

"No iPhone For Old Men"


Happiest Girl This Sunday

Watching the Seahawks Panthers playoff game this morning, I was struck not only with how the Panthers are dominating the game in the first 1/4, but also how ecstatic one little girl was made.

#28 Stewart easily waltzes into the in zone, goes to the crowd, sees a little girl with her parents, and hands her the game ball...
Her parents, decked out in full Panthers attire, help her to draw in the ball, and then...
She REALIZES what just happened... Pure, unabashed, overwhelming joy!  A fan for life now.  ������

(This is my first Ever iPhone blog post... So if it is clunky ... My apologies)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Irony or Destiny?

The White House Press Secretary has a really crappy job.  You have to go in front of reporters
everyday who are trying to "scoop" each other, who are probing for information (much of which you can't comment upon) and nearly 1/2 the country despises you.  You're an outsider in the confidential halls of the White House, but a public face to the administration.

So it makes me wonder, is the current press secretary's name ironic, or was it destiny?
  1. 1
    tease (someone) in a playful way.
    "he loved to josh people"
  1. 1
    good-natured banter.

  1. resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction.

Since I do not believe in destiny, I will say it is coincidental irony, and leave it at that.  = )

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Revenant

Yesterday afternoon I took my retired parents to the Carlsbad Cinépolis to see the movie The Revenant.  Cinépolis costs more then a normal movie but it has drinks service during the film and you get to sit in the reclining leather chair with foot rest and assigned seating so that know one blocks your view.  Headquartered in Mexico City, Cinépolis has multiple theaters in Southern California.  I had seen several films there previously, and I was not disappointed.  

My father absolutely loved the leather recliner and catered atmosphere.  I ordered a pineapple martini and he ordered an Icee, raspberry flavoured, with my mother abstaining from any delicious beverages.   The theatre darkened, and the film began.   

I will not spoil the film The Revenant but I will say that it is an excellent piece of cinema. There is a substantial amount of blood and violence depicted in the film.  Filmed in Canada i& Argentina the scenery is spectacular.   If you go into the theatre with any romantic or idealised notions of the 1800s in the Western North America, you will find those notions quickly obliterated in the opening 10 minutes of this film.  The next 2 1/2 hours continues to grind the heel of reality brutally into the romantic illusion to destroy any idealized notions of the "Wild West".  

Leonardo DiCaprio's Golden Globe was well earned.  This movie is a cinematic masterpiece.  If it does not get an Oscar there is something wrong.  

Intense. Remarkably sad. Violent. Carnal, base, unaccountable evil, juxtaposed with magnificent scenery, fantastic acting, cut to the bone writing, and superb direction... I will go see it again with DDF sometime later this month.   (She had to work, while I hosted my visiting parents).   

If you are squeamish about blood and violence, then you probably should not pay the price of a theatre ticket to go see this… But you will be missing out.  

On a closing note, Tom Hardy shows that she can again play a complete asshole, like unto his Batman Bane character, if Bane had been a mercenary & ruthless fur trapper in the early 1800s.  Since this theatre was the same theatre I watched Mad Max Fury Road, Hardy's performance impressed me tremendously.  Also, being fluent in French, I was able to understand the slang spoken (and written) in French without subtitles, which was an unexpected pleasure.  

Sprouts Grocery Divas

At 1:30 PM on Tuesdays, the bitchy, selfish, self-centred, oblivious Divas of Carlsbad go to the Sprouts on Rancho Santa Fe.   I made the mistake of trying to go shopping for some tea.   I won't repeat that same mistake again on a Tuesday at 1:30.

What do I mean by the above description?  Picture one woman holding up each item to the cashier asking her how much it costs and then saying "I don't want that" & then handing it to the cashier to put aside.  Apparently she never learn how to read a pricetag that are ubiquitous on all sprouts shelves.  

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I could not tolerate waiting behind that woman so I changed lanes. The neighbouring lane had only one shopper in it. Sounded like a good idea, no?  No! The shopper ahead of me was not yet done shopping and had decided during the time that the cashier was ringing up her groceries, to go get more items including organic celery and a hot lunch item from the deli.   Don't mind the three shoppers building up behind you, no.  Your ugg boots and yoga pants broadcast that you understand you are the most important person in all of Carlsbad and everyone needs to wait for you, regardless of how long you delay everyone else.  

Aggravatingly, they didn't even have the tea that I wanted and were out of stock. "Check tomorrow" a stocking clerk told me, Unhelpfully.  I did purchase four bottles of organic wine from California all priced at Less than $10 a bottle... il faut voir.  Perhaps information about these organic wines will be posted here later in the future.  ...il faut voir.