Out With the New, In With the Old

Part 1

In late 2019, I decided I wanted a Tesla. I thought it was cool that at the same time, it didn’t require a drop of fuel, and it had awesome acceleration. I had often sat in the sample Teslas at Mission Viejo Mall, and I really liked them. When I realized that December 2019 was the last chance to get the tax credit on the Model 3, I pulled the trigger and ordered a Standard Range Plus. It was ready for me to pick up in the late afternoon of December 31, 2019, just in time to get the tax credit. My daughter drove me to the dealership in Costa Mesa, and afterwards we celebrated with a sushi dinner.

One of the factors that helped me decide to buy the Tesla was the stated range of 250 miles. I soon learned that in real life, I would get nowhere near 250 miles. First of all, if you try to charge the battery to 100% full, you get a warning that doing so often will permanently reduce the long term capacity of the battery. So I tried 90%, which was 225 miles. Even then, I got a warning that capacity would be reduced, and regenerative braking would be disabled. So I ended up charging it to about 210 miles or just over 80%. 

It was then that I learned that I would get nowhere near even 210 miles of range. I guess my range was reduced by the fact that I used the air conditioning, and that I live up a hill. When I left the house at 210 miles, and drove to LA and back, about a 100 mile round trip, the battery reading when I returned home was about 70 miles. If you do the math, it is clear that the real life range is well under 200 miles. 

This limited range problem is compounded by the fact that the nearby Tesla supercharger stations are typically full with a queue of cars waiting for the next available one. If I had known about this in advance, I would not have bought the Tesla. 

There were also other annoyances with the Tesla. For whatever reason, the doors do not have a frame above the glass. To compensate for the fact that the frameless door might result in increased wind noise, the windows, when closed, extend a bit into the rubber trim on the car frame. When you open the door, which is done electronically, the window automatically opens down a bit. If it didn’t do that, the car trim or the window might get damaged. 

This window quirk has implications. Because you cannot rely on electronics to open the doors in an emergency, the front doors have an emergency manual door release. The user manual warns you to only use the manual release in an emergency, because doing so might damage the car. This has to be explained to passengers, who might instinctively use the manual release when opening the door. 

Conversely, when the door is closed, the windows are supposed to automatically reclose. But they do not completely reclose, and this becomes obvious when you hear the wind nose as you drive. So you have to get in the habit of manually closing all the windows completely after you shut the door, even though you never opened them. 

Even with the windows completely closed, there is still wind noise when driving at highway speed. A frameless door will never be as quiet as a standard door. 

Another annoying quirk with the Tesla is that the charging port opens automatically when even a little pressure is applied to it. This is very inconvenient when you are trying to wash the car! (Apparently, they have a fix for this now—car wash mode.)

More annoying quirks have to do with the fact that you need to take your eye off the road and look down at the touchscreen monitor to adjust the A/C fan speed, or the windshield wipers, both of which require multiple touches.  Even opening the glove compartment requires multiple touches on the screen.

Perhaps I could have lived with all these quirks. But the Tesla had another problem for me. The seat is low, sports car style, and this, combined with its extreme bucket shape, made it physically painful for me to drive for long distances. Sitting in the car for longer than 20-30 minutes would aggravate my sciatica, and for anything  longer than that, the pain became excruciating. I missed my old 2006 RAV4, which had a higher seat, which allowed my leg to rest at a comfortable 90 degree angle.

Because I didn’t want to be in excruciating pain whenever I drove more than 30 minutes, this became the straw that broke the camel’s back. No pun intended. A broken back is not funny!

Long story short, I traded in the Tesla and I am now the proud owner of a new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which I am very happy with. It’s the same color as my old 2006 RAV4, Blizzard Pearl, and it gives me comfort to know that I again have a white RAV4 parked in my garage. Call me boring; I don’t care.  The seat is a tad lower than the 2006 RAV4, and my leg is bent at close to but not quite 90 degrees, but it’s 1000 times more comfortable than the Tesla. 

Part 2

I bought my first cell phone in 1996, in anticipation of the birth of my daughter. I wanted to make sure I was accessible in case of any emergency. The phone was a Mitsubishi, and it had an antenna that extended upwards. I bought a case for it, and it was black. Through the years, I’ve had Nokia phones, BlackBerrys, Droids, and iPhones. And for each one, I had a black case.

About a month ago, my favorite case on my iPhone XS, the Apple silicone case, started breaking down, and it was time to replace it. So I went online to order a new case, and for some reason, I decided to do something different, and I ordered a blue case. The case was identical to the old case except in color. But almost immediately after putting it on my phone, I missed the black one. What can I say? I like what I like!

Every time I looked at the phone, I regretted getting the blue case, and I missed my black case. Even though I just paid the outrageous price of $39 (plus tax!) for a silicone case, I was prepared to buy another one so it would be black. 

I talked about it with my daughter, and she agreed that she liked the black case better. And she reminded me of Amazon’s generous return policy, so I returned the blue case. My new black case arrives tomorrow. Even exchange!

Epilog

The black case arrived, and I am happy as a clam with both a white RAV4 in the garage, and my iPhone wrapped in a black case. As things should be!

They say, “Embrace change.” I understand that sometimes change is inevitable. But there is something to be said for sticking with the tried and true. 

Perhaps the biggest change I’ve made in my life was having my daughter. And that’s a change I will never regret. Hey, she saved me $39 plus tax by encouraging me to return the blue case!

Fire and Ice

We can make a computer this thin.

The Apple M1 chip, the central processor powering the iMac, the MacBook, and the iPad Pro, contains 16 billion transistors. I don’t know the actual size of the M1 chip, but it’s small. It’s the gray rectangular gizmo here with the Apple logo on it.

We are so successful creating consumer technology products, yet we are helpless to battle the hurricanes ravaging the eastern part of the country and the fires ravaging the west. Hurricane Ida, bearing winds and rain and hail, left one million people in Louisiana without power, including the entire city of New Orleans. Thus far, over 2,800 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the California wildfires.

If we have the brains to make such wonderful computers, can’t we apply our brainpower toward preventing these disasters?

I am not saying stop creating these wonderful electronic devices. We can do both. We have close to 10 million unemployed people in the United States, many of them brilliant scientists and engineers.

Ironically, the micro architectures used in the M1 chip are nicknamed “Firestorm” and “Icestorm”.

Olympic Memories

My first memory of the Olympics was watching Mark Spitz swim in Munich in 1972. I remember the announcer mentioning that butterfly was Spitz’s weakest stroke. Nevertheless, he won the gold and set a world record, as he did in the other six events he competed in.

Another deep memory is Jim McKay. When I think of the Olympics, his face is the first thing I see. When the Olympics moved from ABC to NBC, I was not happy. I never liked Bob Costas. Probably because he was not Jim McKay, which I realize is unfair to Bob. I think Mike Tirico is doing a good job this year.

Jim McKay was not the main announcer until 1976. In 1972, it was Chris Schenkel. Not that interesting, except that he’s in my earliest memories. I remember Chris Schenkel talking about Olga Korbut winning several medals. (“Medaled” was not yet a verb back in 1972.)

Whenever I see gymnasts compete on the uneven parallel bars, I think about the first time I saw someone perform on them. It was not in the Olympics. I have a vague memory that it was in the Miss America pageant, of all places. And I also have a vague memory that the woman who performed was Miss Pennsylvania.

Luckily, we live in the age of Internet and Google. So I did a search, and after a few seconds I found that sure enough, in 1970, Miss Pennsylvania performed on the uneven parallel bars in the talent competition! Here is a photo from The Press of Atlantic City!

Before the age of Internet, if I had to confirm such a vague memory, it would have required me to go to the library and perhaps spend hours looking at pages and pages of microfiche. And probably come up empty.  Gotta love the Internet!

Love Has a Nasty Habit of Disappearing Overnight

I woke up this morning with the Beatles song I’m Looking Through You (1965) in my head, in particular, the line “Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.” The night before, I dreamed that I was listening to songs by REO Speedwagon. 

Yesterday, after my dream, I listened to my REO Speedwagon playlist during my daily walk. I noticed that the songs on my playlist were primarily about relationships. It’s interesting how the REO Speedwagon songs can be juxtaposed to tell a story of the stages of a relationship (similar to what I did a few years ago with Beatles songs in this blog post).

The first song in the story is Can’t Fight This Feeling (1984). It describes the wonderful feeling of newly discovered love.

I can’t fight this feeling any longer
And yet I’m still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show

I tell myself that I can’t hold out forever
I said there is no reason for my fear
‘Cause I feel so secure when we’re together
You give my life direction, you make everything so clear

The story continues with the song Take It On The Run (1981).

Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you been messin’ around
They say you got a boy friend
You’re up late every weekend
They’re talkin’ about you and it’s bringin’ me down

Here, the narrator has heard that his partner has been unfaithful to him. He is not sure whether he should believe it (“But I’m telling you, babe, that I don’t think it’s true, babe”) or break up with her (“If that’s the way you want it baby, then I don’t want you around”).

The story continues with Keep On Loving You (1980). Now, the narrator admits that he knows about his partner’s infidelities, but he still loves her and still wants her. 

And you know, I know all about those men
Still I don’t remember
‘Cause it was us baby, way before them
And we’re still together
And I meant every word I said
When I said that I love you
I meant that I love you forever

And I’m gonna keep on lovin’ you
‘Cause it’s the only thing I wanna do
I don’t wanna sleep
I just wanna keep on lovin’ you

Finally, the story ends with Time For Me To Fly (1978). The narrator realizes that the relationship is not working out, and it’s time to end it.

I’ve had enough of the falseness
Of a worn out relation
Enough of the jealousy
And the intoleration
Oh, I make you laugh
And you make me cry
I believe it’s time for me to fly

The question is why have I been dreaming about and waking up to songs about relationships? For myself, I retired from that endeavor long ago. My last relationship ended almost four years ago.

The answer lies in my Facebook feed. In this fresh new year of 2021, I’ve already seen four engagements announced, and it’s only three weeks into January! And three of those engagements were announced in the last three days! I call this phenomenon “The Covid Engagement”. After a disaster of the year 2020, caused by both the pandemic and increasing incivility between what people perceive as “us versus them”, wouldn’t it be great to start the new year with a fresh new hope of a wonderful life together? Happily ever after. 

Statistically, fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce, higher for second marriages. So I guess I subconsciously did the math, and that’s probably why I was thinking and dreaming of those songs. But as I sit here today, wide awake, I have a good feeling about these upcoming marriages! We all need something good to kick off 2021!

Oh, and if it’s not too late to say this, if the statute of limitations has not yet passed (watch S1E1 of Curb Your Enthusiasm for a discussion), Happy New Year!

Not Beep Beep

I was listening to Blondie yesterday, and the song Dreaming came on. I looked up the lyrics and learned something new.

“Feet feet, walking a two mile
Meet meet, meet me at the turnstile
I never met him, I’ll never forget him”

Feet feet? Meet meet? Wow. I always heard this as “Beep beep”. At least the first one.

This reminded me of the Road Runner cartoon. As a child, I always thought the Road Runner said “Beep beep.” But I later read that he was actually saying “Meep meep.” And if you Google it, you’ll find that there is some controversy about it.

Well, one thing I can be sure of is that Donna Summer said, “Toot toot, hey, beep beep.” Right?

Classic Movie Night

I decided to finally watch Marty (1955) tonight. It won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor, as well as Best Writing and Best Director.

1955 was a different time. When someone was explaining something, they would end their sentence with “See”. When addressing a stranger, they called him “Mac”. And perennially single Marty was told to go to the Stardust Ballroom, because it’s “loaded with tomatoes”. 

Oh, did I enjoy the film? Yes. Sweet touching story. Good acting. Nice movie to watch by yourself on a Saturday night. And I think a lot of us can identify with the two protagonists.

https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Marty/60010636

That Day

I was the quiet one
Invisible to everybody
Watching the world go by
But nobody ever noticed me

I walked and walked
Then something made me turn around
And there you were smiling
I was not alone!

Now many years later
In quarantine-induced solitude
Memories of that day
Turn sadness into smiles

More Than A Woman

I was listening to the radio in the car on the long drive home from LA to Orange County on the 405, and a cover version of More Than A Woman came on. I’m not sure who the artist was, but this might be it. 

It wasn’t terrible, but it made me want to listen to the real Bee Gees singing it. So I switched to The Bee Gees playlist that I have on my phone. 

The first song that came on was To Love Somebody. I’ve recently started to listen more closely to lyrics of songs I’ve heard before hundreds of times. So I listened intently. 

You don’t know what it’s like
You don’t know what it’s like
To love somebody
To love somebody
The way I love you

Sounds like it’s about unrequited love. And the twist is that it’s being sung directly to the woman who doesn’t love him back. Interesting! And sad.

The next song on my playlist started. 

Tragedy
When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on
It’s tragedy
When the morning cries and you don’t know why
It’s hard to bear
With no one to love you
You’re goin’ nowhere

Another really sad song! The Bee Gees had a number of sad songs in their repertoire! Or at least the playlist I created included a number of sad songs. 

Let’s see what comes next. Any guesses?

How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart
And let me live again”

Three for three in the sad song department.

One more Bee Gees song before I reached home.

When you reach out for me
Yeah, and the feelin’ is right
Then I get night fever

If Night Fever were about the coronavirus, those lines would give new meaning to the words “more than a woman”. 

After Life

I’ve started watching a new series on Netflix. It’s called “After Life”. It stars Ricky Gervais as Tony, a man who just lost his wife to cancer and becomes depressed and suicidal and tries to plod onward as best he can. 

The first episode was indeed depressing. But I somehow already started developing an attachment to the character, so I watched episode two. I’m glad I did. Episode two was better. The humor started coming out, some of it laugh out loud funny, and characters started forming relationships, and it’s now the show that I most look forward to watching every day. 

I won’t say too much more about the show. You can try it and see if it is for you. I imagine it’s not for everyone. But one last thing I want to mention regards one of the differences between US and English society. (The show takes place in England.)

Here in the states, when you want to get out of a conversation, it’s often uncomfortable and awkward. You say something like this. “Well, it’s been really nice talking with you, but I have to go. I have a thing.” You know, the THING! Or if you are at a party and are not leaving, you have to come up with something else. “I need to get some food.” That does not always work, because the person who doesn’t stop talking to you might follow you to the food table. So maybe you tell them you have to use the restroom. But sometimes they don’t take the hint, and they follow you there too. Ugh! Annoying. 

In England, as I’ve learned, it’s very easy. You just say “Cheers” and walk away. Nice and simple and short and sweet. Works every time. 

Cheers!