howeird: (Default)
The bird feeder I put up on the front porch was completely ignored until it rained. And then in three days it was completely emptied. Re-filled it when I got home tonight. Meanwhile the hummingbird feeder has hardly been touched. They seem to prefer the flowering bushes across the street.

Work was a cavalcade of data entry and reading specs and boss sent us our assignments for the upcoming product, through November at least.

Did some more research on the Nissan LEAF,  which showed that the tax rebate might make it affordable, also saw some debates about its range. Some claimed 100 miles EPA says 75, or 85 for 2014 model. Punched Sunnyvale Nissan into the GPS, and was getting close when the Target sign drew me in (I was down to my last Breath-Right strip and had the discount coupon in my wallet). Bought a bunch of stuff on my "back of my mind" list and cogitated about the LEAF. Bottom line is even 100 miles is craptastic - can't get to Yosemite or Moro Bay on a single charge, and even Capitola becomes iffy. I don't drive those distances a lot, but it would suck to not be able to. The problem is more how long it takes to charge.

So I nixed the visit, and decided "wake me when you can do 200 miles or recharge in an hour"

Home, the right Little Shop CD was in the mailbox. I'm playing it now. I have no idea how I am going to nail down Mushnik's songs. Oh well, live theater is always a challenge.

Vacuumed up the cat barf. I knew I shouldn't have given Domino all the American Singles cheese she wanted. :-(

Finally was able to upload my POIs to the in-dash unit - it wanted them on a USB drive, not an SD card. Now I need to figure out how to build another POI list from Google Maps or Earth. Used to be easy to get the GPS coordinates, but they messed up the UI big-time.

Plans for tomorrow:
1-on-1 if it isn't postponed/canceled
Much more data entry & spec reading for the additional features on my list. Yesterday there was only one.
howeird: (Default)

The day started out fine, with me rushing to make it to the library by 10 for a talk/showcase of all-electric cars. There was a line to get in the front door. Huh? Turns out the library opens at 10, the talks started at 10:30. The format was a multiple panels thing, which was done somewhat ineptly. They had four panels of 5 people each, each person was given a chance to pour their heart and soul out about their particular EV. So instead of finishing at 11:30 it took 2 hours. It would have worked a lot better (for me) if, instead of using every volunteer, they had designated one person per model.

There were two glaring common denominators to the panelists:
1. They were all over 40
2. They all owned a house (which gave them the opportunity to go solar and get paid to charge the car)

I'm now in that demographic, and my days of driving to Seattle or LA are done, so I'm in that demographic, except my roof won't support solar panels and part of the lease requires me to stay on the grid (the park provides our electricity & gas feeds).

Two of the women on the panel were so jazzed about their cars that they are now working for the dealership selling them. Both were at the point of "retire or 3rd career?"

I just bought my Corolla in May, but maybe it's time to look into an EV. After the talk we went to the parking lot where all the panelists had their cars on display, plus a couple of models which had been parked by dealers but not represented by a human. Talking with the folks and looking at the cars, the Nissan Leaf looks like a good fit for me. Hybrids don't have enough trunk room because they have two engines and a battery pack and a gas tank. But pure electrical cars only have the smaller electric engine and the battery pack is in a less obnoxious location. There were a couple of Rav4s, but they are too big and ugly as a brick. Some of the other models are more like enclosed golf carts. I was telling one guy that I needed something my baritone horn would fit in, and he plays bass so he knows that's not a problem.

The initial price might be a show-stopper, but my Corolla is new enough to get almost as much back as I paid for it. Maybe more because they gave me a generous trade-in. Hmmm.

While at the talk, I used Great Clips' app to "check in". By the time I got there, it had expired. But it didn't matter because checking in does nothing for you. You still have to wait in the order that you physically arrived. Inept. Which for me was 25 minutes. Very inept. More inept was the trainee at the check-in. Okay, Plan B was to chill out at Starbucks in the Safeway next door but inept cashier was arguing (politely) about a customer trying to use a Safeway coupon. As it turns out, they don't accept Starbucks apps, they are on Safeway's register system. Customer decided to pay for an armful of groceries there. I walked out.

This store has a set of tables and chairs with umbrellas, which kept them dry. They are tolerant of homeless folks parking there all day, and there was some interesting chat by a woman telling a friend all about her morning appointment with the psychologist. When she was done I wandered back to wait another 10 minutes for the haircut. The list got confused because one guy came in with his son, and the trainee couldn't understand that he woud skip his turn so he could watch the kid, and then get cut by the same barber.

Next stop was Kaiser, to pick up some insulin and test strips and load up on B&D alcohol swabs. But there was a long, slow line and I needed to pee, which reminded me I was due for my quarterly lab tests, and one of them was pee-in-the-cup. The lab was almost empty, now serving 41 and I was 43. That all went well, but the line at the pharmacy was a prime example of inept layout and staffing. Huge banners all over proclaim that they will ship your prescription for free if you order online, but it ignores three things:
They won't ship insulin
They won't ship OTC items
It can take 2 weeks to get the stuff they do ship

Half an hour later I had my items, and went to the Starbucks across the street, where they were very ept, and there was a place to sit and read (the tables are too small for a laptop and mouse), and there was some eye candy from Kaiser but more from the Korean supermarket.

Weather was still blustery and intermittently raining, so I went home. Pulling out of the parking lot, I tried to use the split screen in the backup camera, and found that the Kenwood had forgotten it could do that. When I got home I re-updated the firmware, which seemed to fix it, but it forgot after 5 minutes.

While I was messing with it, I went back inside, went online and found instructions on Garmin's site on how to upload points of interest (POI) from files I'd backed up on the PC. Followed the directions, but instead of adding POIs it erased the entire map and all its built-in POIs. I tried to do and "update maps" but it insisted I had the latest map. 

I emailed support, but they will probably want me to buy a map SD card for $100. Meanwhile, one more reason to get a Leaf. It has a really nice GPS, and the woman who became a salesperson played classical music on its sound system,and it sounded great.

One other chore I did was once again unfurl the flags. The American flag keeps winding itself around the pole, and the Thai flag makes one loop before it is stable. Tomorrow I'll that the pole down and store it and the flags until the weather calms down. I shouldn't be flying them in the rain, anyway.

Dinner was in two parts. A snack of roasted corn chowder, and later ravioli in Alfredo sauce with mixed veggies.

Plans for tomorrow:
Nothing in the morning
noon-ish, slog to the light rail and take it downtown, meet Janice to see an all-female cast production of 1776. I frankly did not like the two productions I've seen, and probably will like this one even less, but the level of talent is amazing, I have been on stage one place or another with more than half the cast.


howeird: (Train)
Last morning in Morro Bay, the plan was to take Hwy 1 up the coast to Hwy 46, and there to 101 with a stop for lunch somewhere.

Checked out of the motel a little before 10, made one false start along the embarcadero, forgetting that Hwy 1 is not on the coast at that point. GPS found it for me. Hwy 46 was quite a ways up there, but I knew that, and it was the well-designed road I expected it to be. A much safer route than the shorter Hwy 41. Since it's a true 55 mph all the way, not riddled with curves like 41, Hwy 46 only took a little bit longer to get to 101.

Somewhere along 101 my left eye started feeling irritated. Maybe I got some sunscreen on there when I applied it at a viewpoint on 46. Maybe it was an eyelash. Either way, I pulled off at some little town, long enough to use the water bottle as an eyewash. It seemed to work, but after another few minutes of driving the eye was stinging again. I had broken my best driving sunglasses on the final whale trip, and had bought replacements at a boutique and at Rite Aid, one of them grey UV ones the other amber polarized ones, both aviator style. I switched them, and that seemed to help.

King City was a stop for gas, the trip meter hit 300 miles, but it took 9 gallons.33 mpg, not very good for highway. The guage did not show the tank that low, it was not even down to 1/4. The gas station shared a parking lot with Denny's, so I had lunch there, after pulling my bottle of artificial tears out of the luggage and giving both eyes a couple of doses. By the time lunch was done, my eyes were fine.

Back on the road, between Gilroy and Morgan hill I was fading, but just taking an exit and slowing down, and stopping at some stop lights was enough to cure the highway hypnosis. And boosting the air conditioning because it was around 90° out there. Odd, the weather in the central valley was cooler than Silicon valley today.

Home, both cats tried to escape outside. Kaan came back in when I yelled at him, Domino never made it out the door, she is not very fast.

Unpacked, and spent the afternoon and evening processing the photos, which are now in several sets on Flickr:
Mission San Juan Bautista:

VisionQuest: which includes one I think [ profile] lemmozine will like:

Mission San Miguel: and the photo I went for:

Morro Bay: (a short set, which includes a Coast Guard boat with a sailboat lashed alongside)

Whales (and sea lions and lots of birds): 

Hwy 46 viewpoint:

I also spent 25 minutes on chat with because their system would not let me return the Fire HD. Last night I got to the point where I could print out a UPS label, but I didn't have a printer. Tonight I had a printer but it wouldn't get me to that point, it kept referring me to support. The bozoid on the other end of the chat did not understand anything, and spent way too much time between responses. Finally got it done, and will send that puppy back tomorrow.

And it's only 10:15.

Plans for tomorrow:
UPS, return the Kindle Fire
howeird: (Naga)
I think I woke up 6 times between 4:30 and 7 am. And then slept through the 7 o'clock alarm about 12 minutes. Been having some dreams which were interesting while I was having them, but I can't remember anything when I wake up except I know I laughed out loud at least once.

Got to work at a reasonable time, and now that I no longer live at the apartment from speed bump hell, the two speed bumps at work are nor such a BFD so I have been parking in the back lot where the rest of my team does, because it's a direct shot to the lab from the back door, and through the lab to our cubes.

The fun stuff today was this:

Workers had installed the ceiling units a week or two ago, today a couple of Israelis installed the receivers on top of the cubical walls, and were aligning them when I left tonight. It's pretty ridiculous, because we already have the same speed network wired to our desk machines via USB. These still use cables from the receivers to the PCs, so it's pretty much a boondoggle.

In other news, engineering finally gave me the answer I was waiting for about a test case, and while it was not the answer I wanted, it was an answer. As a result, I had to nuke a test case instead of automating it, and file a lengthy bug so they could fix the documentation to show the wrong answer is now the official answer. In all honesty, the impact on the customer is almost zero. The part which is not zero is only a matter of philosophy and won't affect the end user in any way.

Spent some of my break time seeing if a weekend return to Morro Bay is feasible, and emailing links to my photos to the folks at the whale tour company.

In medical news, my diabetes doctor is putting me on U-500 insulin, which is 5x more powerful than the regular stuff. The theory is it only takes half an hour to kick in, and it lasts for 24 hours. Which for me probably means and hour to see results and gone in 12 hours. He is also prescribing a different syringe, because the U-500 doses are in ml and not insulin units. Frankly, the insulin syringe units are easier, 100 units is 1 ml. He has prescribed the dosages in .46 ml and .32 ml which would be 46 and 32 units on the insulin syringe. Multiply by 5 and that corresponds to the 230 units I take during the day and the 160 I take at bedtime. And here's the irony - the insulin is ready to be picked up today, but the syringes are on back-order.

I'll be sticking my finger a lot to see what it really does. And I stocked up on ice cream in case I "over-shoot".

Lunch today was Hometown Buffet, which has suddenly developed a salad bar which almost rivals Sizzler. I went there because I needed to stock up on next=door Rite Aid's  generic benadryl spray and cream.

Two package pickups after work. At the apartment was what looked like a coffee table book box from Amazon, which turned out to be six pairs of reading glasses. At UPS was a USPS Priority Mail box which had the Nikon 16-85mm lens which is the complement to the 70-300 which I used on the whale trip. There were times wandering around town when I could have used it, and it would have been a good lens for taking pictures of people on the boat, but the boat was rocking too much (4 foot swells) to risk changing lenses. And I don't really want to carry two cameras (did that in college and in Peace Corps, it wasn't pretty).

News from Toyota, they think they can get my HOWEIRD plates re-issued from the DMV, they want me to send them the same form I sent to get the non-HOWEIRD replacements. Maybe as a dealership the DMV will do things which they won't do for Joe Slob Public. We'll see.

The Nexus 7 I ordered from Best Buy online when they said the store was out of stock was supposed to have shipped 8/7 but UPS didn't get it till today, delivery set for Friday. And now the stores have it in stock. I may just swing by the store tomorrow and pick one up, and refuse the UPS package when it arrives. 

Plans for tomorrow:
1-on-1 (Should be interesting. Boss will have seen the whale pix - he's a friend on Flickr - and I've seen his White Sands/Yellowstone pix from his last week vacation)
howeird: (Weird Load)
In the one piece of good news today, I picked up the refund check from Toyota for their botched backup cam installation, and was pleased that it was for the full amount, the overpriced camera and the way overpriced installation charge.

I guess there was another piece of good news, Michelle the manicurist was made up and dressed very sexily, wearing a thin knit top pulled down to bare her left shoulder, and much of the dragon tattoo there. She is so beautiful.

Work was not so sweet. Boss had suggested four test cases for me to prepare for automation, one is still stuck on "is it a bug or a feature?", one has been sent to automation to finish, two turned out to have already been automated by others on my team. And they had been marked as such months ago. Corporate training still has not fixed the link to the class I want to take, so I basically had nothing useful to do most of the day.

Tivoed the 9ers' pre-season game from work because I had not known it was this soon.

On my way home I wanted to shove the Toyota check into an ATM, but there was a major backup in both directions on the road to the nearest one, so I just went home. Waited till 6:45 to go to band practice, watched the game until I left.

At band we practiced mostly music we have not played in a while, some of it illegible because of cuts and cut-and-pastes. Two pieces were just too fast for me to play. Baritones are not made for clarinet scales. And one of my valves kept sticking, not because it needed oil but because my finger pushes it at an angle. It shouldn't do that, probably needs to be re-plated. I think I'll go down to Starving Musician and see if they have a simple 3-valve used horn for a reasonable price, and if they might want to buy mine.

After practice I went to the CU and deposited the check, and since Safeway was next door I went shopping. On my list was ice cream (including Klondike bars) because for two mornings in a row my morning blood sugar levels were low, and ice cream is the perfect antidote because the fat slows down the metabolizing of the sugar. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Also, I get flavors which can be eaten without teeth, because if I'm having a low Hgl in the morning I probably haven't put in my dentures yet. Also bought some frozen meals, and a couple of bags of frozen fish fillets. And could not remember if I had tartar sauce so I bought a bottle of that. 

Home from practice, made a small frozen dinner. Then another. Then had some coffee ice cream. All this while watching the 9ers game. After the first half, it was clearly a game to fast forward through. Poor offense on both sides. I hear the Seahawks kicked butt in their game.

Oh yeah, Toyota customer relations woman was out of the office today so no progress was made on the missing license plates. She emailed the same people I had emailed a month ago, so that's not going anywhere. It really needs her to actually go and LOOK, and not rely on the word of people whose answer is "Huh?".

And in other news, after three days on one level of Candy Crush, it broke out of its rut and moved to the next level. Then two more almost instantly. And it dawned on me that online there was probably a hint which would help. And there was. Turns out what I thought was the point of the game wasn't, and what I thought was a graphical glitch was actually the whole point of the game on 40% of its levels. 90% of the lower levels. I'm not doing any better at the game, but at least now I know why.

Plans for tomorrow:


Not MyKea

May. 30th, 2013 10:53 pm
howeird: (The Gov - Arms Wide)
Spent the work day expanding my script to look at 4 video programs instead of just one. tcl's inane syntax bites.

Lunchtime took me to Michelle's Nail Spa, this time I had an appointment. Glad I did, the place was packed. Michelle is a cutie, and runs the place well. There was some serious eye candy at the manicure stations, both giving and receiving.

Next stop was Toyota, I brought Celine (sales rep) a bag of Lindt truffles and one of my 2013 calendars. She was happy to have presents, and we made a lunch date for Thai food Monday. :-)

Rebecca was also there, she promised to look into the refund which had not arrived in my Discover account yet, and I read her palm as I'd promised. I also read Celine's. Simplest of readings, life, brain, heart and travel  lines.

Picked up a package at UPS, the Kenwood backup camera.

Back to work, at 4 there was a meeting with the IT people who are re-designing the lab. We have more equipment coming, and they need to do a better job of managing what we have. We used to have a lab manager of sorts, but he wasn't very organized and was let go when Google bought Motorola.

One of our team has a talent for making meetings last longer than they ought to by about 50%. :-(

Left work with one last try at today's code running. To be continued.

Home after work, measured the hodgepodge of plastic drawers which are in the office closet. Time to organize that stuff better, and get new containers which are not bent under their own weight. They have moved so many times...

In the drawers are mostly tools, printer paper (T-shit press-ons, biz card blanks, greeting card blanks, labels, etc.) and office supplies. The bottom drawers of the two cabinets have heavy tools, and are very hard to open.

Went to Ikea, and found nothing in their top floor room displays, while I was up there I had dinner - Swedish meatballs. Went downstairs and found some not-quites. Either they were too wide or the drawers were mesh. Not good to store screwdrivers, nails and such.

Home, went online, Walmart has some possibles. I may head there this weekend. Depends on logistics.

The plan is to call Audio Designs and try to make an appointment for Saturday morning to get the current camera uninstalled and the new on installed. If that doesn't happen I'll shop instead. Avenue Q at Bus Barn Theater Saturday night.

Plans for tomorrow:
Call Audio Designs
Call Rebeccah, tell her the refund finally showed up
CalTrain to Redwood City for round two of Sexbot 2600 at The Dragon
howeird: (screwed)
Dropped the car off at 8:30 am to have the nav and backup camera installed. They called at about 2 to say they were still waiting for the installers. At about 3:30 they called and said it was done.

6 pm Automation Guy drove me there. 6:15 there was not a single rep in the service offices. There was one rep outside handling the folks who were dropping off their cars. There was one other customer waiting to get her car. 15 minutes later, someone shows up and tries to help me, but the paperwork is nowhere to be found. It's pre-paid, so this should not be an issue.

Another 20 minutes and someone finally shows up with the key and points me to the car, but still no paperwork. I drive off after noting that the backup camera in the vehicle is a cheap piece of crap and not the $800 one I asked/paid for.

They also put the iPod cables in the wrong place (there's actually a space for it in the Corolla), they used the big glove compartment instead. The smaller glove box would have been okay. FAIL.

Had to pull over a few blocks later - they had not completely unfolded the passenger side mirror.
Not much to say about work. More tcl beating my head against the wall. Brought my lunch because no car.

Home, put the cargo bin into the trunk, and then the camp chair and music stand. The trunk is slightly smaller than in the older car, but everything I need to carry in there will fit with room to spare.

Emptied out the bag with all the stuff from the glove compartment. Found many things. I pared it down to what I really needed, and put that in the car.  Found stuff included:

11 pens, a pair of scissors, 4 sets of reading glasses, 3 screwdrivers, 6 Imodium tablets, 30 "forever" stamps, a personalized note pad from when I worked at HP Labs in 1990, two packages of cough drops plus 8 unpackaged ones, a roll of quarters and a plastic spice jar with a handful of quarters in it, needle nose pliers, several expired registration and insurance cards, a bag of about $10 worth of Thai temple coins (for purchasing food at festivals), an audio cable, an Pod cable, a small Maglite flashlight, a telescoping magnetic pickup tool, a tool for prying off the inside car door covers, two rolls of glucose tablets and a bottle of Afrin and a bottle of ibuprofen.

Plans for tomorrow:
Make an unhappy call to the Toyota accessories person about the camera
Maybe take out the garbage
howeird: (Default)
Rebecca from Toyota called, they have received all the stuff to install the after-market nav/backup cam/iPod player system which I gave her the details about yesterday. Apparently others have decided the built-in system from Toyota is suckage, and the same Kenwood model I wanted is something they keep in stock. They just needed to order some cables. So I'll drop the car off in the morning, they will give me a ride to work, and Automation Guy will take me there when it is done.

Today's work was a whole day of trying to make incremental improvements to the tcl program which was working yesterday, but there is some syntax which is a piece'o'cake in every other language I know, but a piece of crap in tcl. Even the tutorials on the web were no help. Tomorrow I will ask Automation Guy to help. It should only take him a minute or three.

Lunch was Barn Thai, an unfortunate spelling of บ้านไทย which is pronounced Baan Tai - Thai house. For those of you who have joined the program in progress, Germans effed up Thai transliteration - in German and Thai, Th is a hard T, not the soft sound we have in English. Same rule for Ph (hard P, not F) and any consonant followed by an H is the hard version. Thai has had and not-so-hard versions of many letters. T is almost a d, P is almost a b, K is almost a g, and so on.

Anyhow, I ordered the drunken noodles, which were very good but a couple of stars spicier than I am used to. Handkerchief came in handy. They have a dessert roti which is to die for, though it is served differently that what you would get in Thailand. Over there, the roti is drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, and sprinkled with crystalline sugar, then rolled up into a cigar shape and served either in a wax paper or aluminum foil sheaf. Here they put the roti on a plate, cut into little pizza-like wedges, with a small (wasabi-sized) bowl of sweetened condensed milk and a tiny spoon in the center.

I like this place because they are at home speaking English or Thai with me.

Stayed at work till 6:30, finally gave up on the programming and went to Petco and bought some products which purport to calm down cats so they don't fight with each other and relax enough to groom them and trim their nails. I fed two of the pellets to Domino, and adorned her with a pheromone collar. She still was hissing at Kaan an hour later. And won't hold still for me to do her nails.

From Petco I went to OSH looking for blind spot mirrors for the Corolla, but they had none. BFD, I can pick up a pair at Toyota tomorrow. From there to Starbucks, where I read some more Sheri S. Tepper. Just when I think I am coming to the end of one of her books, there are 7 more chapters, at least. :-(

Came home to find Kaan had pooped in the bedroom. He had never done that before. While I was on the PC he made an archaeological site out of the first litterbox, scattering poop across the floor. Sigh. It was almost time to change the cartridges, so I did.

At work I ordered a pair of camo suspenders to be sent as a gift to the sales manager at Toyota who liked mine. He will laugh. I also looked for Thai restaurants near the dealership, found a great one, but they don't advertise gift certificates online. I will have to go there and see if they offer them, a gift for the sales rep. If not, Plan B, which I don't have one of yet.

And finally, after 4 months of waiting, ScanCafe finally posted that the 1800 B&W negatives I estimated I had sent them was really closer to 1400, and they were online for review. I deleted many which they should not have scanned at all - the leader into the first frame of the roll, a couple which were badly scratched and some which were too blurry. There were 42 rolls, and the ones which I did not delete will be put on a DVD for me. I expect the originals and the DVD in a week. I won't link to them, because their service was very slow, the estimate for completion was off by more than a month but they didn't keep me up to date until I asked. And they did not get the exposures right on a large number of them. Photoshop can fix most, so there's no excuse. Especially at 69 cents a frame.

These are all photos from my Peace Corps days 1975-77.

Plans for tomorrow:
Drop off car
1-on-1 with boss
P/U car
Put cargo holder from old car into new one, and also selected glove compartment items, the camp chair and the music stand.
Maybe unbox and set up the exercise bike, which will go in the livingroom where the cargo holder currently is parked. That box is in the foyer by the door.
howeird: (Default)
I slept well last night, I think. But I was up before the alarm, and somewhen before I went to work I was online looking up Corolla inventory at Toyota of Sunnyvale's site. I had decided I did not like/want the Yaris. The ride was like it had no shocks at all, and the reason I didn't notice that on the test drive is I test drove the LE, which has a less "sporty" suspension that the SE I actually bought. And the hatchback space was almost non-existent, way too small for the music stand and the baritone to co-exist. And it almost felt like it would roll over when I came across some speed bumps.

One thing they emphasized when I bought the car is they have a no-questions-asked 3-day return policy, and a 7-day exchange policy. I doubted they get much action on that, but I was ready to test it.

And then when I found the Corolla inventory, there was a pop-up which said there was a $4500 discount on the Corollas. The prices on the web site were now about the same as for the Yaris.

So when I got to work, and it was reasonable to send a text, I sent one to Celine, my sales rep, telling her I wanted to do the swap, and could she please have Lee (her manager) and Ali (Finance Guy) let me know the pricing.

She replied that Lee was not in till noon. Fine.

At 3 she texted that the swap was all ready, and asked if I could come in right away. Yup, I could do that, nothing pressing at work. I had to stop off at home and drop off the music stand and get the second set of keys from the kitchen drawer. Also good I went home because the exercycle was in a box in front of the apartment.

Got there a little after 3:30 on account of long red lights and missing the entrance because people were parked in the red zones either side. It's a long pair of U-turns to recover.

So, Celine asked if I would like to pick one out, I showed her the two VIN numbers on the site which were in the color I wanted. She found the second one, and we drove to the gas station where she filled it up, then to the detailing center, where she dropped it off. Then back to the showroom, where she punched in the new info. Ali came by to tell me it would be a bit of a wait, but then Rebecca found me and went over the prices to get the nav system and backup camera I wanted, and the remote trunk release. Another lovely friendly person. The prices were about the same as doing it elsewhere, but the fact that they had that nav system in stock told me they would probably do a better job.

Finally Celine got the call to take me upstairs to Ali's office. I still had not been told how much I was going to owe on the exchange.

As Ali handed me form after form to sign, it became clear that not only didn't I owe them anything, they owed me. The Corolla comes with ding coverage which is not available on the Yaris, so that's a $500 value right there. All said and done, they will be sending me a check for $100.

Celine got tied up with a customer, so it was a 15-minute wait to get the car to the main parking area, and she needed to get the Yaris' keys because I had left the iPod and my water bottle in there (on purpose - didn't want to carry them around in the office).  And then she needed to get the Corolla book package. That gave me time to plug in the iPod and discover there was a covered slot for it. The stock radio shows the playlists and albums and such, it just doesn't show the album art. Nice unit for a standard feature. Also paired the phone to its bluetooth.

Finally got out of there at about 5:40, and back to work at 6:05. Just as Boss was leaving, so at least he saw I got back.

I don't love the Corolla's ride, but it is far better than the Yaris, and I do love the trunk space and the much more comfortable seats. The Yaris seats are black with navy trim, and it was 93° when I drove there, the aircon was not keeping up. Corolla has a beige interior, much brighter/cooler.  There are a couple of WTFs in the 2013 - they made the storage console between the front seats smaller, and 1-ply instead of 2-, and took away the power outlet which was in there. And the rear passenger head rests are too tall, I will be removing them. I also need to get blind spot mirrors,  but they never had those.

Enough already. Bottom line is Toyota of Sunnyvale not only lived up to their no-questions-asked return/exchange policy, they did it in a friendly, professional way with total "please the customer" attitude. I have scattered glowing reviews across the Interwebs, and will be sending Lee and Celine a Lovely Parting Gift™. 

Went to BASFA after writing the review, and retold the short version of my story there. I was unaware that [ profile] johnnyeponymous was unaware I played baritone horn.  mentioned on FB and will repeat here that it was great to see [ profile] johno and his lovely and talented Chris there - they have had some nasty medical surprises in the last few weeks, which have all apparently been resolved in a good way.

Boss approved my PTO for June to join up with my oldest and youngest sisters in Poulsbo. Oldest is coming from Israel. Booked flights this morning from work, spent some time after BASFA to book the rental car and lodgings. Younger sister's birthday is the 19th, older's is the 22nd, and I would have stayed for that, but it's Saturday and she's extremely Orthodox, so she'll be spending that at Temple and with people who share her superstitions.
Plans for tomorrow:
howeird: (Slarty Animated)

Plan A actually happened, I went to all three dealerships at the appointed times, test drove several cars, got usable prices for everything I was interested in, and made a decision. It was not the decision I had expected to make.

10 am Toyota
Read more... )

11:00 - Trader Joe's, got natural peanut butter (chunky) and hummus. Diabetes doc said those were good for snacking, and I like them. They were out of almond butter (there's a shortage, he said) and no sign of their killer fondue mix (seasonal, coming back in October, he said). This is a new store, in the space formerly occupied by Borders Books. It is a really great space, but a craptastic location on account of the parking lot being designed by the same folks who do bumper cars. To their credit, TJ's had two or three "security" midgets in reflective jackets helping direct traffic and pretending to make it safer for pedestrians.

11:30 - lunch at PF Chang's. I had the Mongolian Beef, which was superb, but the steamed rice was short grain and dry, and the cucumber salad was soggy.  Egg flower soup was hot & sour base with a little bit of egg. However, the service was lightning fast, and they got my order right, so I left a big tip.

1 pm Honda
Read more... )

2:15 - Starbucks, used my free drink credit on a frapuccino, set up the laptop and played on FB. While I was there, Tim from Ford called to confirm my 3 pm appointment.

3 pm Ford
Read more... )

Home, did a spreadsheet with the Toyota numbers, and at $5/gal, 10,000 miles a year (I have 52,000 after 6 years) it would take 5 years (50,000 miles) to make up the price difference between the Prius C and the Yaris. And I enjoyed driving the Yaris more.

That done, it was time to go to the Storytelling meetup in Campbell. A very nice woman named Lori hosted it in her little art studio, and 7 others showed up. All but the last latecomer told a story, the theme was travel. The meetup organizer started with an intro, and then people got up to sit in the tall chair in front of the semi-circle. Most of the folks have no idea how to tell a story, but they all said interesting things. I pulled an old story out from the 70s, and it was well-received. If they have another when I am free, I'll go.

Home at about 9:30, printed up some checks in case I have to write one tomorrow. Got the title from my Corolla out in case I'm selling it tomorrow. Went online to the Toyota dealership and found three Yarises which were a color I could live with and the features I want. All of them list for $1k more than the one I got the quote on, but that's okay. I figure I can suck that much out of them. Even without the trade-in I can still pay cash.

Plans for tomorrow:

Call Celine, tell her I'm coming in at about 11.
Buy a car
Sell  car
Coffee with Janice at 5:30

howeird: (Default) said to look at the Mazda3. I did, and it has Tom Tom nav with voice commands. I had a previous entanglement tonight, so I'll bug them after work tomorrow. Nearest one is Stevens Creek, PIA to get to during rush hour.

Work was another scriptfailfest. Team meeting was short because we're done with our projects, and the next one is a few months away. So the word is to hone automation skills. :-(

Yesterday I found a command which did not work, today I found a command which errors out, telling me I am missing a variable, but the syntax dictionary doesn't list another variable. Automation Guy is out till humpday, I'll have to ask his backup. She's fun -she grew up in a town in Malaysia which I visited often when I lived in southern Thailand.  It was basically the next major town on the train line south of where I lived. I amused her once with the number system in malay being one off from Fijian. Well, not really, just that "dua" is 2 in Malay and 1 in Fijian. And 5 is "lima" in both.

Lunch was split between waiting in a SLOW but not all that long line at Costco for gas. It was apparently National Drop Your Credit Card Under Your Car Day. Coupled with Oh, I Have To Swipe My Costco Card First? Day. That gave me just enough time for a Western Bacon Cheeseburger and a shake at Carl's Jr.

After work I headed for one of my old haunts, Cupertino's Oaks shopping center, which has the cheapest (in every way imaginable) cinema in the Bay Area, now aptly named Bluelight. It was Oaks for the longest time, then went under, and is now reborn. I got there early enough for dinner at Togo's, but not early enough to hang out at Coffee Society.

At the cinema was the world premier showing of an indie movie (which had, I am told, and $3k budget) called Black Cat Whiskey. My long-time theater buddy Jeremy Koerner stars as the creeptastic gangster. The plot is basically: Vulnerable Southern woman is married to a moonshiner, but she doesn't know it until he gets killed by his gangster customer, who comes around to collect the 300 cases of prime whiskey he thinks her husband had hidden in their house. Tired of being slimed, she goes to the FBI where one agent pretends to help her, but really just wants One Thing™. No spoilers version, much violence ensues, orchestrated by FBI guy. And then by her. The opening scene is what happens at the end, but not quite. I would bet real cash dollars there were other endings written.

Very well acted and directed, photography was very good throughout, as was audio. It screams for a higher effects budget, but they did well for what they could afford. There is one scene which I thought was far more violent and long then it needed to be, in part because it is way over the top compared to the rest of the film.

Worth missing BASFA for. Well worth missing car shopping for.
Plans for tomorrow:


howeird: (Default)
I wasn't wrong to disbelieve the forecasts of rain today, but the heat wave broke and it was mostly cloudy when I went out at about 1 pm. Headed across the Bay to Ardenwood Farm hoping to get pictures of the new baby sheep. The clouds were high enough that shooting conditions were excellent. I've been there a few times before, so already had pix of most everything else, so I didn't take many.

Got to the animal pens, and saw the baby sheep were no longer newborns, a news article about their birth was dated February. Merino sheep, fluffy and round and cute, but not babies. However, there were baby goats. They were pretty cute. And a baby turkey vulture, who wasn't.

I didn't get any outstanding pictures, nothing worth sharing.

At 3 I headed for Fremont Auto Mall Parkway, stopped off at the el-huge shopping center for lunch, and was still early for my appointment at Chevy so I stopped by Honda to refresh my memory of the console of the Fit. It has the speedometer in the center, which is Good.

On the Chevy, the internet salesguy was great, but it was clear the available packages for the Cruze didn't fit what I was looking for. We also tried the voice control, and it was a total joke. It didn't follow its own syntax, and mostly just misheard me. And the rep. It kept asking me if I wanted to switch languages to French.

We did, however, solve the in and out problem - position the driver's seat low and back.

I'm closer to a decision, now. Not much, but some:

If I get a Honda or Chevy, it will be without Nav, I'll put in an after-market unit.
For Ford, I would get their nav system.

No hybrid - the price tag and amount of space the battery eats up are not worth the emotional spike.

Honda Fit
Ford Focus
Chevy Cruze

are the finalists. Toyota Corolla is sort of in the running, but Toyota's prices may knock it out of contention.

Back home by way of the bridge, I had  chance to test my FasTrack unit. Have had it for almost 3 months, but did not make any bridge trips or rush hour commuter lane runs. No cops chased me, I figure it worked.

Dinner was baked beans and a slab of Costco beef ribs, which were scrumptious. After dinner as I was watching something on PBS, Kaan hopped up on the recliner, and spread himself along the left arm, and was happy to stay there till I got up.

Got a notice that my Google bonus shares, which normally would have been doled out over 4 years, had all vested. I sold them all, which means paying income tax on the gross and capital gains on the net. It wasn't many shares, but Obama will get about 1/3. :-(

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (10 am team meeting)
Black Cat Whiskey world premiere at a cinema in Cupertino, an indie movie starring a long time theater pal Jeremy Koerner. 
howeird: (OMGWTFBBQ)
Why am I still awake at 11:30 pm? I don't know. I had a dream last night that I had insomnia, and found myself awake at 4:30 am looking up Dodge Dart info on my cell phone. :-(

Never did get back to sleep, thanks, and this may seem ironic or something worse but it isn't meant to be anything except honest, to Kaan hogging 3/4 of the bed and then both cats deserting me.

My PC powers up automatically at 6:30 every morning. When I heard the tune which says Windows has started, I headed for the computer room. No, wait, I only thought about doing that, I actually waited until all the apartment lights automatically power on at 7 am. The tune, by the way, is the first few bars of Go The Distance from Hercules (a French Horn fanfare of great majesty and pomp). 

Went to (Kelly Bluebook) and then and punched in for info on the Dodge Dart. What got me to the Dart is I realized this search for The Best Nav System In Cars was being done backwards. My favorite map system is Garmin, so I searched for car companies partnered with Garmin. Chrysler showed up first, but they really still are your grandfather's car, so I looked at Dodge, and even the lowly Dart can be equipped with Garmin nav with voice recognition. Voice recog extends to all the controls in the in-dash unit, including the phone, radio, iPod, CD/DVD, air conditioning and midwifery.

I sent in a "give me a quote" request, and as has happened almost every time so far, the Internet Salescreature responded later that morning with "when can I call you?" as if I had not spent half an hour selecting what stuff I wanted in the car. I replied with what I wanted, and said I would drop by after work.

Skip to after work, walked into a dealership with all the staff sitting around a table chatting with each other, no customers in sight. This is the only dealership in Silicon Valley, they represent Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram. It's also the oldest building, which was once a fast food place. They found the internet guy for me, he only remembered I wanted a blue car. I had to tell him I wanted mostly to demo the voice/nav system. It took a while for him to find one, and when he did, it was broken (it kept showing "loading voice recognition....please wait"). Another 5 minutes and he found one which worked, sort of. It had the very pretty Garmin maps, and he wanted to punch everything into the touch screen, but I hit the voice switch and tried some commands. They display the 12 possible commands and syntax on the screen, so it should be easy.

It wasn't.

It rarely understood what I said. Even when I was saying line numbers as in "please choose the line number of the item you want". The biggest WTF was when I said "Tune 88.5 FM" and it gave me a list of the 5 nearest pizza places.

The car itself is a heavy beastie, even with a 6-speed automatic it only gets 19 MPG city. Horrible for a compact. It's just barely easy enough to get into and out of. Sight lines are okay. Rear camera has color-coded zone lines. It probably would be clearer if they took the protective plastic off the lens. Price tag with all the features I wanted was about the same as a hybrid. Stupid design - the odometer is analog, tiny, and off to the right behind the wheel.

During the demo the rep took a personal call, switched to a dialect of Spanish which I actually was able to understand some of. Not good form, dude. In San Jose you can't expect a customer, even a Gringo, to not know Spanish. He did have the sense to step outside before completing the drug deal.

Anyway, the Dart is a non-starter.

Back to my day. Got to work at about 9, played some more with the automation scripting language and discovered some stuff which did not work as advertised. And some that did. Corp sent us email pointing to the PTO entry screen, but it would not let me log in.

Lunch was at Sizzler. I love the wings they have at the salad bar. And the clam chowder.

Got email from Fremont Chevy's Internet guy, inviting me to take a test drive of the Cruze. I replied with "How about Sunday?" because there is no way to get to Fremont before they close at 8. I figure I can spend some time at Ardenwood Farm with my camera, and head up to Chevy after the farm closes at 4.

Which reminds me, I need to figure out a way to get my Giants' ticket from [ profile] dave_gallaher, since I will be going to a friend's indie movie premiere instead of BASFA Monday night. The game is Friday night.

Stopped by Safeway on the way home from Dodge, lots of people from foreign lands with more children than they had hands to keep from wandering off. Nearly ran 3 of them over with my cart. Darwin would have approved.

Dinner was microwave frozen stuff, and sensor-reheated garlic/cheese bread. I am liking this replacement replacement microwave.

Plans for tomorrow:
Get some sleep
Research which cars I could buy which the Kenwood will fit into. Corolla seems like a good bet.
Maybe take one more look at the Ford Focus/ C-Max?
Coffee in PA with Janice
Miss Saigon at PA Players
howeird: (Default)
None of the cars I have looked at have all the features I want. I thought the 2013 Corolla might, but they have done the same stupid thing with the speedometer as Ford & Chevy. My 2008 has it done right.

Today I checked out the Prius C, model 3 out of 4 which has everything except power seats (their pump-action height adjustment is stoopid. Chevy Cruze also has that). The sight lines are very limited, almost no rear view, and the side mirrors only show half the next lane. The nav system has all the street names, but they are pretty small, even zoomed in, and the color scheme is not contrasty enough. While the voice system recognized most of that I said, there are just too many menus, and the system keeps going back to the main menu in between commands, no matter how deep into the menu you are. Annoying. Let me clarify:

Say "navigation"
and it brings up the map
Say "chinese food"
and it brings up the list of possible POI categories
Say "restaurant"
and it goes back to the base menu, and asks what category, and after 5 seconds brings up a list of the categories
say a category
and it goes back to the base menu and after 5 seconds brings up the list of restaurants in that category

And so on

With Ford, say "find chinese food" and it gives a list of the nearest 5 chinese restaurants.

It was not too hard to get into the car, but tricky to get out of. Chalk some of that up to being parked too close to the next car.

Cup holders are near the floor under the dash - awkward. Center console is too far back, awkward.

I looked at a Corolla through the windows, the saleswoman was not too keen on selling me a car for $12k less. But seeing the speedometer had been placed off to the side was a leveler. If all the cars in the <20k range have that FAIL, I may as well get a Ford.

I think I should give this a rest for a while, not knowing if I'm going to be laid off soon.

Speaking of which, we got official email that all out Google bonus shares will vest in a couple of days, which would give me about 8 shares, big whoop. After taxes that may be a month's take-home. I suppose I could use it as a downpayment.

Work today was mostly trying by trial and error to hack up one of the tcl scripts from the class to make it do something useful for me. I managed to lock up the automation system. Automation Guy fixed it right away. I did manage to do what I set out to do.

Lunch was at Starbucks, I am in love with the new hot dog croissant. That and iced green tea and I'm a happy camper.

After work I picked up a package at the apartment office, something I have not done since getting the UPS box and finding out about the amazon lockers. It was a repaired in-dash navi/entertainment system which had been in the car previously, but it kept resetting to factory defaults, and locked up when I tried to update the maps. Turns out it had a defective CPU. $185 to repair a $1200 system, well worth it. If it had voice commands I'd put it into the next car I buy, but now that it's fixed I will probably sell it on eBay. I'm pretty sure Kenwood has a system with voice recognition, maybe that's the route I should go. Buy a car without a radio and have that installed after.

Walked in the front door and one of the kitties had left a small pile of mostly liquid poop in the foyer. Yuck. Cleaned it up. Both of them looked guilty, I couldn't tell whodunnit.

Next was the aforementioned trip to Toyota of Sunnyvale, where a young Chinese woman named Celine helped me. It took a few minutes to get the hang of her accent, but she knew her stuff, and did a good job.

Home by way of 7-11 and amazon locker, where there was a pair of NewBalance shoes to try, now that the similar Brooks ones have put blisters on my left foot.

Dinner was a Marie Callendar turkey plate. Following the timing directions on the box, the new microwave undercooked the first pass and overcooked the second. Not by much, though. No smoke, no flames, no Cajun blackened anything.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work - more tcl
San Jose art walk? Not sure.

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