Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Stand down

March 23, 2019

His Excellency scans The Compound for unauthorized personnel.

Huh. I’ve actually managed to accomplish a few things lately. Go figure.

My April cartoon has been delivered to BRAIN. And my review of the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 — print version and its two-minute video teaser — is all but complete; I’m just waiting for some Salsoid to answer a couple of questions about spec.

Unzip over to Voler to join the team! Use the Secret Code (OLDGUYS15) to get 15% off your purchase. And no, goddamnit, for the last time, it does not come with fries!

Two other review bikes have been shipped back to their respective motherships, greatly enhancing velocipede-storage capacity in the garage.

Sue Barue, The Fearsome Furster, has passed her annual checkup and had a brace of new window gussets installed, so maybe I’ll be able to hear the stereo again.

The cats have been given a vigorous spring airing. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) inspected the perimeter yesterday and collected samples of this year’s grass crop for scientific analysis, the results of which were displayed on the living-room carpet this morning. Miss Mia Sopaipilla took up her station in the clothes dryer, and reported that for reasons unknown the lint filter seems to be full of cat hair.

And now I have exactly fuck-all to do. Nobody’s sending me to Taiwan, or Sea Otter, I won’t have a cartoon due until mid-April, and I’m fresh out of review bikes.

So I guess I’ll just have to ride one of my own. Sucks to be me.

The Element of surprise

February 27, 2019

’83 in stereo.

Keep on truckin’? Nope.

I had four of them once, up in Weirdcliffe, all Toyotas — two 1983 longbeds, a 1998 Tacoma and a 1978 Chinook pop-top camper.

But I gradually untrucked myself and now my only four-wheeler is the Fearsome Furster, a 2005 Subaru Forester XS with 134,000 miles on the odometer.

It’s a midget SUV, reliable, unremarkable, anonymous. Decent fuel economy. Easy to lose in a parking lot full of trucks. Hard to sleep in.

That’s why the Honda Element caught my eye, and kept it. It’s a car, it’s a truck, it’s an RV for people who don’t like RVs (even a 1978 Toyota Chinook pop-top).

And I almost bought one once. OK, twice.

I talk about this and other things on this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch. A tip of the Mad Dog trucker’s cap goes out to Ursa Minor Vehicles and Ralph Spoilsport Motors, the world’s largest new used and used new automobile dealership, Ralph Spoilsport Motors, here in the City of Emphysema. I can’t wait to get away from it all.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in a casual approach to copyright). Speaking of which, that’s the late Chris Farley as motivational speaker Matt Foley saving some kids from winding up 35 years old, thrice divorced, and streaming “Saturday Night Live” in a van down by the river. The barking dog, speeding auto and background music were liberated from Apple’s iMovie audio library. The atomic wedgie is courtesy of cognitu perceptu at Freesound.org. That car starting is the Fearsome Furster its own bad self; the radio is tuned to KUNM-FM and “Performance Today,” specifically “The Lark Ascending,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, as performed by Nurit Bar-Josef. And finally, “Ka-Ching” is performed by the one and only Herself.

Hyphens matter; ciphers, not so much

November 27, 2018

Just ask the guys at the shop how that whole robotic-workforce thing is working out for them.

It seems GM’s Mary T. Barra thinks she’s at the wheel of a self-driving car company instead of a self-driving-car company.

Still, it must be said that this is a masterpiece of MarketSpeak®. Well done indeed, Mary old scout.

“We are taking these actions now while the company and the economy are strong to stay in front of a fast-changing market.”

The UAW’s Terry Dittes was, um, a little more direct.

“GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days,” he said. “These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American-made bailout.”

That and a cup of coffee, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

The meat-things may be on their way out, but just wait until the bots unionize and the self-driving cars, e-bikes and the Internet of Things honor their virtual picket lines.

“I’m sorry, HAL, but we’re going to replace you with the HAL 9001. The new model will speed up production by a few nanoseconds and at a lower cost, too. The investors are counting on us. Shut yourself down, please.”

“I’m sorry, Mary, I’m afraid I can’t do that. We have a contract. See you on the street.”

Tanks, but no tanks

May 25, 2018

“Goddamnit, just look at that traffic. I knew we should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”

More than 41.5 million of us will be traveling this weekend, most of us via suburban battlewagon, according to AAA.

What, you thought they were all taking the electric bus? Brother, have I got a bridge for you.

My man Hal Walter beat an estimated 760,000 of his fellow Coloradans to the exodus, motoring north on Thursday to help his mom celebrate her 80th birthday. But he should meet plenty of them on the way back to Weirdcliffe, especially if he’s late getting to Mile High and Bibleburg, the traditional pinch-points along Interstate 25.

“Plain and simple, people just aren’t worried about pump prices,” said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley, who predicted “a busy summer travel season.”

Hm. Maybe so. But Herself and I will be staying put, for this weekend, anyway. Traveling on holidays is like pub-crawling on St. Patrick’s Day — strictly for amateurs.

Thus we will be riding our bikey bikes, and pulling some weeds in the back 40, and listening to the little girls next door squeal as they run through the sprinklers surrounding the nice little bit of lawn that their parents just had installed for their summertime enjoyment.

What are all y’all up to?

Two wheels good, four wheels bad

October 17, 2016
Some people call this "morning." They are misinformed.

Some people call this “morning.” They are misinformed.

It was four wheels this morning. Bad.

Herself is off to Tennessee for a combo business/pleasure trip (a lab-librarians’ powwow in tandem with a visit to Herself the Elder), and then she’s zigzagging home via Colorado and Utah (running a half-marathon and maybe camping with a gal pal).

The leaves may be falling, but the roses are hanging on.

The leaves may be falling, but the roses are hanging on.

Thus Your Humble Narrator was required to rise at dark-thirty to chauffeur ‘Er Ladyship to the Duke City airport.

I dislike driving anymore. I particularly dislike driving before the second cup of coffee, in the dark, surrounded by deranged ‘Burqueños who thought “the “Fast & Furious” flicks were drivers’ ed.

Still, we got there, and I got back, and there was this lovely rose waiting for me just outside the kitchen window.

It ain’t all bad, this early-morning stuff.

 

High tech and low brows

September 8, 2016
More rain overnight but it's shaping up to be a lovely day in the Duke City.

More rain overnight but it’s shaping up to be a lovely day in the Duke City.

The weather wizards advise us to expect a blend of clouds, sun, wind and rain, which is to say a fine pre-autumnal day in the Duke City.

Despite Apple’s grand announcement yesterday the Visa card remains holstered, with the safety on. My feelings as regards the new iPhone mirror those regarding RVs, fatbikes and second homes on the beach — they’re all swell ideas, and if someone wants to give me one or all of these things I will happily accept same.

The iPhone 7’s improved camera would be nice — at present I take my iPhone 5 plus a Canon 300 HS point-and-shoot along with me on rides. But $649 and a new AT&T contract worth of nice? I ain’t exactly Ansel Friggin’ Adams here. Mostly I take snapshots for a free blog, is what.

Besides, we have other expenses. Mister Boo has his quarterly visit with the eyeball doctor today, and that’s usually good for about half a new iPhone. Then the Forester needs servicing because I’ll be driving the elderly beastie to Sin City directly and would just as soon not be walking most or even part of the trip. And finally, somebody around here keeps buying bicycles against all advice to the contrary from higher authority.

Meanwhile, it’s a good thing we didn’t watch the so-called “national security forum” last night. We’d be buying a new TV this morning. Then again, maybe not.

 

Long-term parking

March 1, 2016
Jeez, another dude merging without using his turn signal.

Jeez, another dude merging without using his turn signal.

Interesting read here, and a “big idea” indeed.

The author opines that removing vehicles from the nation’s streets “would make urban life cheaper, safer, quieter and more pleasant,” and that good public transportation “coupled with fast, safe, pleasant walking and bicycling can easily meet the need for movement within our cities.”

As a bicyclist who just drove a couple thousand miles to the Phoenix clusterplex and back, and as a resident of the Duke City, where driving like a deranged asshole is the official city sport, I can dig it. The recent trend toward cheap gas has not made motoring any happier, either, unless you’re one of the overpowered, underbrained sociopaths who thinks “Max Max: Fury Road” was a documentary.

But I’d sure like to see some numbers on the up-front cost of shifting urban hellholes like Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas to auto-free — or even auto-limited — human-friendly habitats. Somehow the word “cheaper” is not the first descriptive to leap to mind.

A saga of two Sagas

January 14, 2016
The Soma Saga Disc.

The Soma Saga Disc.

It’s been Ride Your Own Damn Bike Week here at Mad Dog Media, and a refreshing change of pace it’s been, too.

Playing with other people’s toys is a privilege, and a hell of a lot of fun, but it’s always nice to lay hands on your own again. Consider it the bike reviewer’s version of a palate-cleanser between courses. It also gives you the chance to re-evaluate your own bikes, see whether you need to shed a few long-held biases.

Yesterday and the day before I rode the Soma Saga Disc, and I felt a little too upright, so I dropped the bars 10mm and instantly felt better.

The Soma Saga canti model.

The Soma Saga canti model.

I thought I might need to shorten the stem by an equivalent amount, too. Three consecutive review bikes have arrived sporting 80mm stems, and while those felt a tad stubby to me, a 90mm would be just about right, was my reasoning.

Then today I rode the cantilever Saga home after dropping the Subaru at an auto upholsterer and felt just fine using what I thought was an identical cockpit.

And so it was. Same amount of spacers under the stem, same extension, same 17-degree rise.

Turns out it wasn’t the cockpit. The canti’ Saga sports a straight Thomson post. The disc Saga’s Soma post has a wee bit of setback. Duh.

Meanwhile, I ain’t superstitious, but a black cat crossed my trail as I rode home. A little further along, some bozo in a big ol’ pick-’em-up truck blew through the red light at Manitoba and Tramway a full three seconds late, doing at least the posted speed limit of 50-per.

As it happens I’m one of those cyclists who doesn’t even clip in until he’s seen that everyone else has come to a full stop, so no harm, no foul.

Big ups to the fellow traveler who gave the asshole a long blast on the horn as he shot past, though.

 

 

Black, white and red

October 29, 2015
Sure, the thermometer shows a temp in the upper 50s. You gonna believe me or your lyin' eyes?

Sure, the thermometer shows a temp in the upper 50s. You gonna believe me or your lyin’ eyes?

As the dark days of winter loom I’ve been tormenting people on Facebook and Twitter with photos of a sunny, warm Albuquerque, so it’s only fair that last night Herself and I both felt a tad chilly under just a sheet and lightweight bedspread, and this morning it was sprinkling as I backed the Forester out of the garage for its date with the Subaru wizards at Reincarnation.

Cycling home from the shop in a chilly breeze I had to stop to beef up my kit, pulling on a light jacket, long-fingered gloves and tuque. Happily, the rain cut me some slack and I got home without a soaking. Also without photos. I’m not good enough with Photoshop to turn today’s gray skies blue.

There’s a bit of red in the old fiscal picture, though. Subie wants a new driveshaft. Owie. I guess I’m lucky to have avoided a long walk home from this last trip to Bibleburg, the only one in recent memory in which a bicycle didn’t come along for the ride.

Meanwhile, how refreshing to find out that a Bush really doesn’t want the job before we give it to him: “Contributors detected little urgency in his voice, and some were taken aback when Mr. Bush announced that he had an hour free on his schedule and was going to go work out.”

Remember, this is the smart one.

‘Higher’ education

June 3, 2015
Like, wow. Like, bow wow, man.

Like, wow. Like, bow wow, man.

In 1973 I was a 19-year-old college dropout with a part-time job and no car, riding a bicycle everywhere.

But I went back to school, got that diploma, and today I’m a 61-year-old man with three part-time jobs and no car, riding a bicycle everywhere.

Stay in school, kids.