Apr 10

The comforts of a car

We’ve been offered a “gift” of a new car.  The string attached, is that the car must seat 5, comfortably.  You know, unlike our MINI Cooper. The last 3 cars we’ve bought were months and months of research and test driving. I think normal people do it much quicker. This “gift” is a race against time. We’re worried that if we don’t find a car we like, one that we don’t like will be purchased for us. Considering our lifestyle and the thing we want to do, but can’t due to our current car, we’ve been considering wagons. He wants an WRX. I looked at the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Nissan Rogue, but neither have manual transmissions. Other options are the Jetta Wagon or a used Audi A3. I’ll look into options from Hyundai since many of my friends drive them and like them.

Our MINI is 8 years old and falling apart; the glove box is broken, reading light buttons are broken, CD changer is broken, chairs are broken, sunroof is broken, windshield is cracked…and then there’s the small issue of the damaged panel.


I’ve written several times over the years on why our MINI is a piece of crap car. Oddly, it took just looking at websites of other automakers to fully appreciate what we do have in MINI.  I had assumed that 8 years later, many items that we have in our MINI would be considered standard in cars nowadays. Well, that’s not the case.

We’ve been spoiled by our MINI Cooper.

We have the sunroof/moonroof on our car and that has a built-in deflector and screening. There are audio controls in the steering wheel, which I love just as a safety feature. The car came with a 6 CD changer in the boot and a valet key. We have 4 carpeted floormats, 2 cargo nets and a cargo cover.

Needless to say, I love these features and thought that for certain cars, wagons to be exact, that some of these items would be standard. I was shocked to see that a sunroof or moonroof package on a car, was a separate fee from installing a wind deflector on the car.  Some cars we’ve looked at don’t even have screening for the sunroof.

So, as we talk, we find that features we have in our craptastic MINI are the ones that make driving enjoyable or safer. We each have items that we want/need in a car, but I’m afraid that under $25K, that car doesn’t exist…unless we get another MINI, which is out of the question.

Today, we test drove a Mazdaspeed 3. It’s interior was insanely ugly and boring at the same time. I asked the salesman if you could open the trunk with the key. I have that ability on the MINI and it’s great when carrying many things or heavy items. He said the feature is only available in the sedans. I was surprised at his answer.

My husband’s focus on a car is that it has power, AWD with a manual transmission and matches his personality. My focus is that it gets good gas mileage, the chairs don’t hurt my back and arms, and that the suspension isn’t too bouncy. I drive a lot for work purposes, often logging over 200 miles in day. We want a car that will make us happy.

The MINI is a joy to ride, especially when I have to log 200+ miles one way. The psychological joy we both get from our oversized sunroof can not be minimized. Most cars without a sunroof feel claustrophobic to us. I feel so much safer driving down the freeway, using my steering wheel to control the volume or mode of music, than I do jabbing at buttons while trying to watch out for other drivers.

Obviously, there are things about the MINI that I detest or that don’t make sense now that there’s 4 of us.  I can’t wait to have a car where I can put almost any sized cup in the cupholder. I crave sun visors that actually block out the sun and don’t block out the traffic lights. We do need more space, since all the gear we keep in the trunk takes up too much room. We now often have to pile grocery bags on top of the kids and the passenger. I can’t wait to be able to go to Ikea with the whole family without worrying about if we’ll need to have our items delivered or if a second trip back solo is in order.

Feb 10

iPad: Poll Numbers and Spin, or Why You Should Pay Attention

I got an email from Telecom TV with the screaming headline:

Oh dear! 52 per cent of consumers don’t want an iPad

I know, right? So I click the link and start reading. Keep in mind that Martyn Warwick will never be called a fan of Apple or Steve Jobs.

?Last month, before the new device was launched, an earlier survey showed that 26 per cent of consumers who were aware of the hype surrounding the imminent arrival of the iPad had no interest in buying one.

Now a follow-up study indicates that, as the Retrevo blog puts it, Apple has suffered “a failure to convince any new buyers to consider the iPad.” It adds, “Not only did Apple fail to convince new buyers, it may have lost many potential buyers who now say they don’t think they need an Apple tablet computer.”

That’s because, to quote Retrevo again, “Consumers lost interest after the [iPad] announcement. Retrevo’s study asked consumers whether or not they had heard about the tablet before the tablet was introduced and again after the announcement. The word definitely got out as the number of respondents saying they had heard about the tablet rose from 48% shortly before the announcement to over 80% after the media frenzy on January 27th.”

Wow, right? But guess what? I’m not a tech person and I’ve never heard of Retrevo before this article. I’m not going to just take this at face value. I want to know the polling size, how the people were selected, the questions…in other words, the details. So, I searched for “Retrevo ipad survey” (without the quotes) and noticed a link to MacDailyNews at the top of the search results touting the same exact survey.

Continue reading →

Dec 09

New York Times suggest gifts for the people of color in your life

On FriendFeed, I was alerted to the fact that the New York Time’s Gift Guide for 2009, included a whole section for the people of color in your life.


I freely admit to being slightly amused by it. At first I thought it was a joke, but seeing articles and tweets about it, made me realize that it was an actual part of their guide. In 2009.

Naturally, I had to look it up myself. And…uh…well, read:

>>Of Color | Stylish Gifts


Somali fashion, do-it-yourself henna kits, children’s books that draw inspiration from the lives of Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor: it’s not hard to find gifts created for and by people of color this holiday season. Here are some possibilities.

There are some defensive people out there who think this is positively acceptable. They point out that the author of the section is black, so that makes it okay. Get it?

Now, I read some of the different suggestions on NYTPicker and kept thinking, “This has to be a joke.”, but uh…well…

For your Latino friends…

sotomayor Continue reading →

Aug 09

If I don’t get the Forerunner 405CX, I will die

Garmin Forerunner 405CX

Garmin Forerunner 405CX

I like my little Sportsline watch/heartrate monitor, but I really, really, really want need the Garmin Forerunner 405CX. I am…obsessed with this watch. I mean, I visit the website every other day.

As you may know, I track my workouts on All of my running routes and EA Sports Active workouts can be found there. When I’m running, I try to keep track of my heartrate. The only problem is that there’s usually an hour lag between the end of the run and the time I can actually input my data. This means that sometimes things are forgotten. If I had the Forerunner, I won’t ever have to remember! I can just connect it to my computer and upload the information to MapMyFitness.

Loaded with serious training features, Forerunner 405CX continuously records your time, distance, pace, calories burned and heart rate. Each workout is stored in memory so you can review and analyze the data to see how you’ve improved. And advanced training features will challenge you to step up your pace — race against Forerunner’s Virtual Partner® to improve your times, or set up interval workouts without having to circle the track. You can even download recorded courses to compete against previous workouts.

How can I resist that? How can I not own this perfect piece of gadgetry?

This will save me from having to remember what my route was when I ran. No more guessing. And as much fun as entering routes on MapMyFitness can be, it can also be pretty tedious. Uploading those routes would save me a large amount of hassle.

I need this watch.

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Dec 08

So long Instinct. So long Sprint

Samsung Instinct

Samsung Instinct

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to end my 8 year relationship with Sprint.  This is actually kind of painful to think about. Everyone knows that for the Los Angeles area, Sprint has the best coverage. I’ve only lost coverage high up in the mountains or in far-flung reaches of the desert.  I’ve never hit pockets of deadspace driving around the inhabited areas of Southern California, unlike those poor AT&T or Verizon users who can’t even use their phones on Sunset Blvd. or driving up Normandie.  Price-wise, there’s really no other carrier who can touch Sprint.  I’m paying $69/mo with unlimited texting and 1500 minutes vs. my husband who’s paying the same amount at T-Mobile (he ended his 13 year relationship with Sprint back in October to get a G1), but gets way less minutes than I do and is limited to only 400 text a month. I could complain about the small storage size (only expandable up to 8GB), but then not only do I have a phone that can be used for almost 5 hours on one battery charge, but I also can access my battery and have an extra one.  I don’t know how iPhone users live with a phone where they can not access the short-lived battery.  I could complain about the strangely useless shopping application, but then I remember that not only does my phone have voice turn-by-turn GPS, it’s incredibly accurate unlike the G1 and the iPhone, neither of which even have voice turn-by-turn.

With all this in mind, you’re probably wondering why I would want to drop Sprint.  The reason is that I am unhappy with what was Sprint’s bait-and-switch regarding the Samsung Instinct.  Keep in mind that my previous phone was a PPC-6700.  I could email work files, shoot videos that uploaded to several sites, and view most of the websites I needed on my phone.  Admittedly, my husband modified my phone with the HTC OS, which made it infinitely more usable for our work situation.  Syncing our Google calendar, emails and tasks were no problem.  I could modify items in Windows Office, view PDFs and still had games.  The only problem I had with the phone was its heft. I needed something lighter, so I bought the Instinct.  The only reason I purchased the Instinct was that it shot video (something the iPhone and G1 don’t do), it was light as air, and Sprint had made promises about what it was going to do.

I have no problem purchasing first-gen tech and I’m willing to put up with some glitches here and there. What I can not abide is lying and lying is exactly what Sprint has done.  When I purchased my phone in July, I, along with other Instinct users, many of whom have broken their contracts and moved on, were told that applications that would increase usability would be available “soon”.  The only problem was that in June while we were told what kind of apps would be available, Sprint was also sending out press releases for an App Developers contest.  This contest was to find the person/group who would get the job of making these promised apps. By the end of July, after some waffling and unfounded rumors, we were given a late date in September. This was to coincide with the strangely secret developers contest.  How they planned to release apps before the winning developers actually worked on them became a great source of amusement among Instinct users on forum boards and blogs.  This was the pebble that started the avalanche of disenchantment among Instinct users.

As the date of the contest winners announcement drew closer, the G1 was getting ready for release.  People were getting antsy and there was a wait-and-see attitude spreading.  Some users had already decided to cut their loses and go get a G1 as soon as it was available for non-T-Mobile customers.  Others had talked their spouses or friends into getting a G1 so they can make side-by-side comparisons.  The date of Sprint’s announcement of the winner of the App Developer’s contest came and went. It wasn’t until the day AFTER the announcement was supposed to have been made that Sprint put out a release.  The release didn’t announce a winner. Instead it stated that the announcement was being pushed back to late October.  That’s it. A slide started where Instinct users fed up with Sprints lies, decided that breaking their contract would be in their best interest and most of them went get T-Mobile’s G1, which has a lot more functionality than the Samsung Instinct. Incidentally, it’s now Dec. 31st and Sprint has never released the names of the winners of their supposed contest.  This could be because they quietly opened a page for Java Mobile developers, but even more interesting is that most Instinct users no longer care because they’re all leaving Sprint.

Continue reading →

May 08

I want a Wii Fit


Of course, I haven’t used our Wii in a very long time, but I still want one.

May 08

Noisy Kid Toys

One thing I failed to mention in the video was that most of the toys that drive me crazy were actually gifts. If I bother to buy my kids toys that make noise, they’re always educational…okay, except for the Uniqua doll, that one’s just cool. Other than that, the noisy toys we have were gifts. Gifts from childless friends or grandma; people who won’t be living with that noise any time soon. I’ve asked people to give me books or clothes (or gift cards for books or clothes if they don’t want to think about the gift), but you know the excuse they always give, “I just can’t help it!”.

Apr 08

Crazy for Crassula

P4180891Image by fabooj via Flickr

Yesterday, driving in Pasadena we drove past the California Cactus Center (see my blog post on LA Metblog for a review of the store) and dropped in to check it out.  If you’ve ever shopped for succulents or cactus, you know expensive they are.  We saw some really beautiful and small plants that were flirting with the edges of $90!  Happily, they did have 3″ pots that are comparable to watch you find at any nursery, with the added advantage of actual healthy and happy plants.  I already have enough cactus for my small needs and I went agave and echevarria crazy last year.  Now, my goal is more crassula.

But first, this photo is of the baseball plants (Klipnoors) we got, we saw a few of them that were pretty nice and big and $$$, these tiny guys were affordable.  We also got living rock, but the focus are the new crassula, I’ll just post the pics and let you drool:

I can’t wait to put them in their spots and watch them spill over the ground.

Apr 08

Chronicle Wine Cellar

That’s the sign outside Chronicle Wine Cellar. I wouldn’t know anything about the prices though. They’re only open “when the flag is out” and I’ve only seen the flag out 3 times in the past year and all 3 times we either didn’t need wine or the kids were acting up, so the thought of going into a wine shop was far in the back of our minds. One of these days I’m going to take $40 and go there and get a bottle of wine. One of these days they’ll be open when I need to get a bottle.

The Chronicle Wine Cellar is located at 913 East California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106. We are hidden just behind the Pie N’Burger shop. Cellar hours are Monday through Friday 11:30am – 6:30pm, Saturday 10:00am – 4:30pm, and Sunday 11:30am – 5:00pm.

Apr 08

$4-what per gallon?

And our clients wonder why I want to charge for mileage.  At $4.29gal (and I do use premium), it’s almost not worth it for me to shoot one site a day.  I’d much rather wait and pile up sites, shooting an area in batches.  I never thought I’d pine for $1.49/gal gas.  Of course, I’m slap-happy we didn’t go with a diesel engine car.  We’d have to sell our firstborn in order to fill up the tank.  The price of diesel is killing everyone. I can barely afford to eat now, since everything is that much more expensive.

This gas station is on Alameda, next to Olvera Street.  One of the most amusing things about this gas station is watching the prices rise on a Friday afternoon.  I’ve seen the price of gas go up 20 cents in a space of 45 minutes.  The workers there deny it.  The oddest day was right before we moved here, I had driven past there, on the way back to the apt. and sat on Alameda for about 20.  The price of gas when from $2.19 up to $2.49 (keep in mind I only look at the premium price) then down to $2.09.  It dropped to $1.99 for a heartbeat, and 4 cars swooped out of traffic to get gas.  Then it was back up to $2.29