First Car

I have written previously about my new car. It represents several firsts.

It is my first electric car
It is my first Fiat
It is the first car that I have owned about a which song has been written.

Lush 500
Published in: on 25 November, 2013 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

The Doctor

Today is 23 November 2013; fifty years ago to the day a BBC programme aired for the first time. It’s first broadcast was overshadowed by the previous day’s events in Dallas, Texas. No one would have thought that half a century later, both events would be commemorated. Today, a special fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who will be broadcast simultaneously around the world.

Here in California it starts at 11:50am and will be shown without commercial breaks. It is also being shown in 3-D in some cinemas; unfortunately the tickets for the SF show were sold out before I could procure one. I shall watch it on TV; although the cinema close to work is showing it on Monday evening, so I might be tempted to rewatch.

Last night, we watched a dramatization of the story behind the start of the show and the first actor to play the lead role. It ended with the decision to let go of William Hartnell and have the Doctor regenerate so that he could be played by a different actor. The sacking was necessitated by failing health and increasingly curmudgeonly behavior on set. That change enabled the show to continue to run for so many years, as it provided a way to change the lead actor at will. The drama carried a surprisingly emotional impact; even effecting my Who-sceptical wife. 

Here is to the next fifty years.

Published in: on 23 November, 2013 at 11:19  Leave a Comment  

Begging 101

A few weeks ago I was on BART, a San Francisco commuter rail system. Two women, a mother and daughter, came through the train. The mother was asking for money. The impact of the begging was somewhat reduced by the daughter’s choice of accessories, which included an excellent condition Louis Vuitton handbag.

Published in: on 17 November, 2013 at 8:48  Leave a Comment  

That Should be Illegal

In the UK there are laws that prevent changes being made to historic buildings; you cannot install PVC replacement windows in a timber framed house. This preserves the appearance of beautiful old buildings. I think a similar law should be passed here in California for motor-cars; no one should be allowed to use paint such as this on a car as gorgeous as this. (Seen on corner of Ocean and Santa Monica Boulevard)

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Published in: on 17 November, 2013 at 8:43  Leave a Comment  

Rental Car Shuttle

We were on a shuttle bus taking us from LA airport to a Rental Car office when I noticed an odd sign: “No Standees in raised section of bus”. I was baffled. I would have understood a notice that stated “No Standing”, or even “No Standers”. I wondered if “Standee” was even a proper word. It turns out that that it does exist, thus suggesting that buses around LA airport need to address a problem unique to the movie industry.

A “Standee” is one of those free-standing cardboard cut-outs that are frequently seen in the foyers of cinemas. Should you be traveling with a life size two dimensional Keanu Reeves (indistinguishable from the real thing) and plan to travel on a rental shuttle bus, please ensure you pack it or carry it in the non-raised forward part of the bus.

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Published in: on 16 November, 2013 at 9:46  Leave a Comment  

Missing Plates

In the UK when you buy a new car from a dealer it will have the number plates on the car. Here in the US, the car arrives without any plates. The dealer submits paperwork to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and the plates will be mailed to me. This can take several weeks; a colleague who recently purchased a new car told me that his plates had arrived quickly – in less than two months. This is clearly a definition of quick that would only ever be used by someone with many years of experience with the glacial pace of the DMV.

This lack of plates does cause a couple of problems. I need to drive across a toll bridge every day. I have a transponder that will allow me to go through the toll booth without stopping and without needing five dollars in cash. However, the transponder must be associated with a license plate number; something I shall not have for several weeks.

Moreover, without a license plate I cannot apply for the sticker that allows me to drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle lane, which allows me to pay half the toll. Once I have the plates, I need to print a form and mail it with a cheque to the DMV. There is no online option for this service, so that again is a process that may take months or if it moves quickly just four to six weeks.

Published in: on 10 November, 2013 at 9:53  Comments (1)  

Curvy, Dark Italian

I have had a Lexus IS350 since moving to The Bay Area in late 2006. This was a thoroughly entertaining drive whose thirst for fuel was not an issue with my low mileage. Now that I have a fifty mile daily commute, I needed to look for a car that could get more than the 24 miles to the gallon I was seeing from the Lexus.

I looked at various Hybrids and even a plug in Hybrid. The latter offering the added advantage of use in the High Occupancy lanes on the freeway and half price bridge tolls. The plug in Hybrid, a Ford Fusion was very expensive compared to the Hybrids; which more than offset the savings.

I liked the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, a stylish and comfortable car, was so gutless that I could not imagine getting any driving pleasure from it.

The hybrid Avalon was a better performing car, but was too pricey for what it offered; again offsetting any fuel savings.

I did enjoy the drive of the all electric version of the Toyota RAV4, but that was let down by uncomfortable seats. Moreover, the interior looked as though it had been designed by engineers that have been released by Ford now that they have good looking and we’ll laid out interiors.

The problem seemed to be a conflict between wanting a fun, engaging drive and the requirement to find a fuel efficient ride.

Then we found the perfect balance. A pure electric car that gets the equivalent of 120mpg (about 140mpg in Uk gallons). A car whose acceleration and handling gave me a broad grin. A car whose monthly payments were less than the savings in fuel and tolls I would get. To complete the desirability, it scratched my itch for Italian automotive engineering.

I now have a Fiat 500e, a car only available in California. It is a curvy, metallic black, car with cute styling and go kart handling. The one drawback is that there is not enough room for adults in the rear. However, since the car is intended for me to commute that is not a major problem.

The range of the car is about 90 miles, so I can get to work and back on a single charge. I can plug it in at home overnight. There are also a large number of charging stations in the area, so I can park and charge for a day out that is beyond the range of a single charge.

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Published in: on 5 November, 2013 at 20:41  Comments (1)