Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

The Monitor in the Merrimack

February 11, 2020

C’mon. When you’re staring at this much screen you want a box of popcorn, a big ol’ soda, and a preview of coming attractions that does not include the honking 18-wheeler into whose lane you have strayed.

I have an ironclad disagreement with the notion of a multiplex in motion.

My argument is a simple one: If you want to drive, get an automobile. If you want to text, tweet, phone, Facebook, Instagram, eat, drink, smoke, shoot, or stream anything other than your own bad self down the road, why, get a sofa and some fixed location to put it in.

Our discussion of the Escalade Multiplex with its 38 inches of curving OLED real estate caused me to remember an earlier screed on this very topic, from the pages of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News circa 2014. For a change I cited sources other than the voices in my head, though of course they too were interviewed at length.

Rather than simply reprint the column — c’est ennuyeux! — I barked it into the old Shure SM58 and presto! Yes, yes, yes, out popped another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

Too late for this year’s Pulitzer for Audio Reporting, but hey, there’s always next year, amirite? Or maybe 2024, when the sonofabitch will be 10 years old and journalistic standards may have declined even further, perhaps to my level.

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 a Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. Post-production voodoo by Auphonic. The background music is “Well Oiled Machine” from Zapsplat. Sound effects from Apple’s iMovie effects bin and Your Humble Narrator.

Road-rager found guilty

January 29, 2020

Who says there’s no such thing as good news?

A jury in Fanta Se has convicted Jacob D. Brown of Moriarty in a March 2018 road-rage incident that left three cyclists with broken bones after he first exchanged words with, then backed his vehicle into, a group of riders.

Sheriff’s deputies took Brown into custody following the verdict. He could be looking at more than four and a half years in the hoosegow when he faces sentencing next month.

Props to everyone who fought for this victory over senseless violence, nearly two years in the making. Let’s hope it sends a message to anyone else who thinks they own the road along with the automobile.

A spokesman for Seniors on Bikes told The New Mexican via email: ““We are thankful that Santa Fe citizens are supportive of the rule of the rule of law and that cyclists are not considered targets on our roads. We hope everyone stays safe: motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Get outa my Waymo(fo)

January 23, 2020

Phantom 309 gets a phantom Big Joe.

Oh, good. Waymo is bringing its self-driving minivans and trucks to New Mexico.

The Duke City’s drivers can’t wait to take their hands off the wheel for real. Then they won’t have to steer with their knees while texting, smoking meth, swigging hooch, spitting out the fire in their laps (spilled hooch and pipe sparks), and shooting at the punk-ass bitch who gave them the side-eye at the last stop light they ran.

I don’t know much about ART, but. …

December 5, 2019

Once again, tragedy strikes Albuquerque.

Albuquerque Rapid Transit has been on the road less than a week, and already three of its 20 buses have been involved in collisions that left two of them knocked out of service and in need of repairs.

All three crashes occurred while motorists were attempting left turns. In two incidents the motorists apparently mistook the bus lane for a left-turn lane, because that’s what it would be pretty much anywhere other than ART’s nine-mile route down the center of Central Avenue.

That there was a giant garishly colored bus in the way did not deter the motorists from attempting to seize the lane. Burqueños, who get their driver’s licenses for free with their first six-pack of convenience-store lager, know that in the Duke City the first driver to acknowledge another vehicle’s presence surrenders the right of way. Plus, you take your eyes off your phone, you risk missing a text.

It’s not clear whether any of the drivers spilled their beers.

‘It’s stupid not to bike.’

November 9, 2019

Grandpa John whiled away his retirement making miniature pianos, replicas of JFK’s rocker, and other lovely bits of woodwork instead of riding a bicycle. For transportation he preferred a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior.

I don’t care to live in Copenhagen. The climate seems ill-suited to a worshipper of Tonatiuh who knows why his bog-trotting, ring-kissing, pub-crawling ancestors invented the uisce beatha.

My stepgrandfather on my mother’s side was a Dane, but he didn’t want to live in Copenhagen either. He lived in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was retired from the railroad and whiled away the hours drinking beer and smoking cigars, maintaining a medium-heavy vegetable garden in the back yard, and making lovely bits of this and that in a basement full of woodworking tools.

I don’t recall ever seeing Grandpa John aboard a bicycle, though he certainly had the leisure time for cycling. He drove a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior, because that’s what a fella did in America.

Which is a shame, really. Because if we hadn’t built our cities around Grandpa John’s stately maroon Cadillac with cream interior, The New York Times might be writing stories about Albuquerque, the cycling capital of the Southwest, where the residents neither own cars nor care to, because the bicycle “is typically the easiest way to get around.”

Albuquerque probably has Copenhagen beat when it comes to cycling weather. Today, for example, we’re looking at mostly sunny conditions with a high in the low 60s, and more than 10 hours of daylight, while Copenhagen can expect a high in the low 40s, rain, and less than nine hours of daylight.

But if you think I’m gonna ride my cargo bike to the Sunport to fetch Herself home when she jets in from Florida, well, think again, Jens old scout.

First, the Sunport is a 25-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo, with a thousand feet of vertical gain. Second, Herself travels about as lightly as Hannibal crossing the Alps. And third, the roads seem to be full of cars for some reason. Not stately maroon Cadillacs with cream interiors, mind you, but suburban tanks about the size of Hannibal’s elephants. And their mahouts are all inattentive, impaired, or insane.

Anyway, I don’t have a cargo bike. Because for better or for worse, Albuquerque isn’t fucking Copenhagen.

And until we rethink our cities and how we get around and about in them, we’ll have to settle for reading about Paradise from our parking lots.

Rough commute

October 26, 2019

That’s one way to beat the traffic at the Big I.

I mostly get to ride mostly whenever I please, so it’s always something of a shock to ride when circumstances dictate I do so.

Like, say, Tuesday, when it was pretty much the coldest morning we’ve had so far this fall.

How’s this for your basic socialist-realism selfie? “Forward, comrades!”

Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster needed her 30,000-mile checkup, so off we went to Reincarnation, down off 1st and Mountain.

And since I had things to do while the rig was on the lift, this meant (a) fetching a bike along for the 15-mile trip home and (2) digging out the winter kit to go with it — tuque, tights, long-sleeve jerseys, jacket, wool socks, long-fingered gloves, in short, everything save the shoe covers.

It was worth it, though. I got two rides in, the last considerably warmer than the first. And I saw a balloon sailing low along the North Diversion Channel Trail just south of I-40.

I wonder how often the pilot has to have his rig serviced. Makes me glad all my mechanicals occur at ground level. I bet AAA won’t tow a broken-down balloon.

Roof roof roof

July 15, 2019

Behind the garage the sun is working its leisurely way up the east side of the Sandias.

Otro día, otro dolár.

Bicycle Retailer wants a cartoon, and Adventure Cyclist wants reviews. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. All is well, save for … well, you know.

Swear to God, this pendejo is gonna start strolling around with his little orange dingus hanging out, because why not?

Now, the Secret Service doesn’t have anything to fear from me, because I am renowned as a man of peace. But if some itty bitty brown woman with an interest in MMA were to start slapping all the rabies out of Orange Julius Caesar on CNN at prime time, well, I’d probably watch.

Speaking of spectacles, I am not watching Le Tour, though I check in from time to time via Cyclingnews or The Guardian. However, friends are over in Frogland for a closer look at La Grande Boucle.

One couple recently relocated from ’Burque  to Lyon, which enjoyed a ride-by during stage eight, from Mâcon to Saint-Étienne. Another is just visiting, but I forget which stage they get to see. One more than me, I expect.

As far as I know, neither couple is motoring around in a Citroën 2CV. But they could be.

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.”