Bridge Tolls

Most of the locals pay $5 every time we cross one of the local bridges; I pay just half that because I have an electric car. The toll covers the cost of maintaining the assorted bridges in the Bay Area.

I am sure that the toll would be lower if the Golden Gate Bridge was not destroyed by rampaging aliens/mutants/monsters. Today we saw it broken yet again in Godzilla. Please leave it alone.

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Published in: on 31 May, 2014 at 18:12  Leave a Comment  

Continuity Problems

There are several continuity problems with X-Men:Days of Future Past; not the least of which is Professor Xavier being alive after being disintegrated by Jean Grey in the third movie. But the issue that bugged me was a groundskeeper painting lines on a baseball pitch at RFK stadium in 1973. The Senators had left for Texas two years earlier and the stadium was used exclusively by the NFL team with the offensive name by 73.

Published in: on 26 May, 2014 at 18:54  Leave a Comment  

Lofty Ambition

We went for dinner and a movie on Saturday evening. We finished dinner and decided that we were not really in the mood for a movie. As we drove home through the rolling golden hills that separate Vallejo from Fairfield we decided to take a drive to enjoy my wife’s new car. We turned onto Red Hill Road and followed it as it curved alongside the freeway and finally brought us to the waterfront town of Benicia. We parked and wandered along a pier, enjoying the sunshine and cooling breeze. A couple of Canadian Geese were ignoring the notices that said “Keep Out” of the environmentally sensitive area, and human couples were cuddling in parked cars. 

We then strolled up First Street; until my wife spotted “The Loft Wine Bar” across the road. We headed over and took a look at the menu which listed a varied collection of wine available by the glass, half glass, bottle, or retail. The owner came out, introduced himself, and explained the bar’s mission; to offer wines of which you had not heard. He had picked wines that appealed to his personal taste. He asked us what we liked; recommended a white to my wife and pointed me at the flight of five wines in reaction to my indecision.

We sat outside as the waitress, who seemed every bit as enthused by the choice of wines as the owner, brought be five generous pours. There was one good wine and four outstanding wines. I had heard of two of the vineyards, although in the case of Stags Leap, I did not associate them with Petite Sirah. The sad truth is that whilst you can get pleasant wine for under ten bucks a bottle, these truly complex and individual creations are the other side of fifty. 

I would happily return there and drink any of the wines by the glass or share a bottle. The menu also looked appealing, even for two people who had just eaten. A delightful way to watch the sun go down over the Carquinez Straits, made doubly so by the unplanned nature of the visit.

Published in: on 24 May, 2014 at 20:26  Leave a Comment  

Farewell My Friend

I moved to the US in July 2006. In December of that year I purchased my first US car, a Lexus IS350. It was a dealer demo with 15,000 miles. Seven and a half years later we sold it. I had added less than 60k miles, mainly due to my walking commute and the acquisition of Sophia the electric Fiat in November.

It was sad to see the car go, despite last week’s repair bill, the first in our acquaintance. We got our asking price, and have a good offer on my wife’s car. I had no sadness on letting my very first car, a Ford Escort, go, but my first car here in the US was such a blast to drive that I shall miss it.

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Our Memorial Day weekend will probably involve looking for a new car for my wife.

Published in: on 23 May, 2014 at 22:04  Leave a Comment  

All Grown Up

Our niece moved up to Northern California to attend school. She has just finished her first year and is staying with us for the summer. Just over a week ago she passed her driving test. On Thursday we went to collect her first car, a second hand, low mileage Toyota Yaris. This is the second Yaris with which we been involved in purchasing in the last twelve months; as we helped my mother-in-law buy one whilst she was staying with us last summer.

Seeing my niece in her very own car reminded me of this TV advert.
TV advert

Published in: on 23 May, 2014 at 7:51  Leave a Comment  

Government Subsidy

No one, at least with a straight face, has ever claimed that government policy is a model of common sense and consistency. Nonetheless, it is odd that here in the US, where the idea that government should cover health care costs for all is controversial, there are countless incidents of the public purse being used to subsidize professional sports teams.

Local councils pay tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to build and repair stadiums for baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and football teams. This use of taxpayers money is usually prompted by a blackmail threat by the team to leave the city.

This behavior is so prevalent there is a great website dedicated to reporting on the details of these government subsidies that drain money from education and other causes. The website manages two to three posts a day, so we are not talking about isolated incidents. The site is called Field of Schemes.

Published in: on 13 May, 2014 at 5:35  Leave a Comment  

There and (hopefully) Back Again

For the first time since I have had my electric car I drove to a destination which used more than half of the charge in the car. I drove to Oakland Airport for a day trip to LA and our company office in Santa Monica. I arrived with 48% charge.

I could probably get back home on that remaining charge, if I kept the speed down to below 60; in contrast with how I drove here at 70 in the carpool lane. I shall not need to play that game, as Oakland Airport provides a dozen charging stations in the carpark. There were four other cars already charging when I arrived at 5:30am (Another Fiat, two Leaves (assuming same plural rules apply to the car name), and a Tesla)

The other advantage of the charging stations is that they are the closest spots to the airport.

Published in: on 12 May, 2014 at 5:21  Leave a Comment  

I Love the Smell of Bacon in the Morning.

This last weekend we drove North to stay in Cloverdale, which lies at the Northern edge of Sonoma County in Alexander Valley. It was a chance to relax, stay in a charming Bed & Breakfast, and enjoy wineries outside our usual sphere (Suisun, Sonoma, and Napa Valleys). The major resort in this area is the town of Healdsburg, but we stayed in its lesser known neighbor, Cloverdale. The house a beautiful Victorian within a block of the town’s compact main street. A host with excellent local knowledge, a restful garden, and gourmet breakfast made for a great place to stay. The stuffed French Toast Bread Pudding was an especial treat.

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We visited several tasting rooms over the course of the weekend, including Francis Ford Coppola’s winery. It is odd, I would not make an effort to see a film made by a great vintner, but I went to taste wine from a great film-maker. The booze was indifferent, the food merely serviceable, and the service terrible. The view from our table was good, but even there, it could only manage second place behind the gardens at Ferrari Carano (The second picture below)

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Published in: on 4 May, 2014 at 17:51  Leave a Comment