29 March 2009

"Pol Pot's laptop"

no matter how much I want that to be a palindrome, it's not.

Bug - post performance mods

look at the difference!

compare to here.

CNN's top 10 movie car chase scenes

from here.

1. Bullit
2. Ronin
3. The Italian Job (1969)
4. The French Connection
5. Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
6. Vanishing Point (1971)
7. The Road Warrior
8. The Fast and the Furious
9. Death Proof
10. Cannonball Run

I certainly agree with Bullit as #1, and I'm a big fan of Ronin, but The French Connection in the #4 spot? I'd have thought that'd be vying for #1. And I'd put the Blues Brothers on my list long before Cannonball Run.

27 March 2009


my tune is supposedly "mild". wow. wow wow wow wow wow. i don't know the hp, i don't know the torque, i just know that it goes like mad when i open the throttle. and what a sound it makes. in the word(s) of Jeremy Clarkson: "POWER!!!!!"

24 March 2009

day 3 with the Cobalt

unlocking the door with the key does _not_ disable the alarm.

when backseat passengers exit on the passenger side, i cannot put the passenger seat back to where it was without exiting the car and putting the seat back from the passenger side.

the horn is girly.

the very long doors on the 2-door model make the seatbelt very difficult to reach.

i'm still briefly distracted by the OFF light, wondering why my airbag has been disabled.

the sightlines are even worse at night with the rearview mirror set to dark. add in the spoiler, and i'm now unable to tell at all if there's a car behind me.

on the plus side, the driver's cupholder does hold a large beverage.

further, this car has lulled me into its mediocrity. if not driven too hard, it is easy to operate, and in a fairly predictable manner. if one were exposed to no other cars, i can see how one could come to the conclusion that this is an acceptable driving experience. it has decent pickup. it takes bumps (exception: speedbumps) fairly well, and it feels tame on the road.

i've got it for 3 more days. by no means will i grow to like it. but Cobalt owners no longer completely confound me; i think they just don't know any better.

23 March 2009

more bad Cobalt design

the Cobalt has a feature that auto-detects humans in the passenger seat and enables the airbag accordingly. okay, that's cool. however, inexplicably, the part of the dashboard that alerts you to that fact puts a big, lit "OFF" indicator towards the *driver's* side of that display.

wtf? even though i can read the bit that says "PASSENGER AIR BAG", *visually* it looks like it's referring to the driver's bag.

why is designing something intuitive so difficult for Detroit? i have to think that any random group of 10 sixth graders from the Detroit area could have come up with at least 5 better designs. it's just maddening.

and: it's the 21st century now. when i stomp on the accelerator, can i have a car that does more than make the engine scream for a few seconds before actually increasing the acceleration? is GM unable to make that smooth? it reminds me more of my '79 Pinto than the 2002 BMW 3-series my friend Josh drives. WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

Cobalt = rubbish

while my Bug is in the shop, i have rented a Chevy Cobalt (the "or equivalent" of the Ford Focus i selected when making my online reservation).

what. a. piece. of. crap.

i think it's actually not too bad looking, the front of it aside. but it's all downhill from there. when first getting in, it just felt cheap. the seat adjustment controls (manual on this car) were non-intuitive, and you can't even access the one that controls the angle of the seat unless the door is open (!!!).

like all GM cars i've driven, the controls and road-feel are vague, plus the decent (but horribly uneven) acceleration seems unmatched by its brakes -- yes, i can get up to speed quickly, but i have little confidence the brakes are up to the task of stopping all that forward momentum.

and the sight lines! until i adjusted the steering wheel ALL the way up, it obscured nearly the entire speedometer -- only speeds under 10 and > 110 were visible. and the rear-spoiler is perfectly positioned to obscure the turn signals of any car behind me.

who designs these things? i have to think that GM engineers are at least competent, but are somehow hamstrung by management. is driveability not a requirement? is a successful Chevy design nothing more than a checklist of features? it reminds me of modern house designs in that regard.

i dunno if Chevy is "too large to fail", but the Cobalt certainly isn't "too good to keep making."


22 March 2009

CNN headlines

perhaps they need to review adjacent headlines for consistency.

Land of Lincoln

i think it's time for Illinois to change its motto: "Land of Lanky Presidents"

21 March 2009

imminent fun

TODAY is the big day where we drive up to Madison to drop off my car with a TDI guru for repair and upgrades. sadly, the nozzles i wanted have been backordered since July, so i'm going with a milder set which should still be fun and preserve some mpgs.

the bug is running better than it ever has (including when new!), so it's primed and ready for some performance tuning.

i'll have it back in 6 days. and counting.

excellent window sticker

14 March 2009

joke of the day

Two drums and a cymbal fell into a trap.

Buh-dum kshhhhhhhhhhhh.


10 March 2009

new industry phrase

overheard in a meeting recently: "He is exception-path prone."

I will use it at my earliest opportunity.