Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Here's An Idea: How About a Car that Just DRIVES?

So in last Sunday's Trib section "Rides" - there's an article by someone talking about the "useful versus wasteful" new doodads on the cars. 

This reporter says that there are 5 "keepers" and 5 "wastes of space." In my humble opinion, he's got his priorities wrong. The entire list of doodads are idiotic and will greatly contribute to even more driver distraction. 

Let's start with the "waste" list:  

Picture navigation: You're supposed to meet someone and you're not sure of the exact location, so they text you a picture of the location, you download the picture and open it in Audi's smartphone app. Theoretically, the app can pull data from the photo, including GPS coordinates, and then that data is sent to the car so you can find your friends. 

How about we just give really good directions and just drive there?

Basic calendars: Ok, first, may I say that my car really doesn't need an "infotainment" center. It's for driving. The car, I mean. "Infotainment." Really? When did my car become a media center??? Anyway, these particular calendar apps in some of these cars won't sync with your smartphone and don't allow you to add anything to them. 

Why do we need these? How about we just wait on making appointments, and just drive?

Compass: Well, I'm directionally impaired. You need to tell me to go to the crossroad and turn toward the firehouse. Don't tell me to "get to the intersection and go west." My truck (a Ford Edge) has a nifty compass. So if I have to figure it out, I can do it, but this app this reporter is talking about is just a little more. Like we need "a little more" cluttering up the dashboard? 

How about we stick to the compass already in 90% of vehicles? Or, I'm sure your local auto parts store will sell you a stick on thingie you can use. And then we can just drive.

Photo galleries: Do I really have to go into the absurdity of this? I didn't think so. How about we just drive? 

Poor menus: Again. Let's just drive. 

I will tell you that I appreciate the voice controls; just that for some reason, my Ford and I don't know how to communicate above anything basic, but that's ok. 

The "keepers" this guy listed are also "wastes" in my opinion, but there was one particularly egregious one.

Action shortcuts: This includes something called "split-screen mode" where this reporter says it "allows two apps to be displayed at once, meaning the navigation doesn't have to disappear when someone wants to scroll through an iPod playlist."

Seriously, people are speeding along and someone wants to scroll through a playlist?? 

How about we just drive? 

Amelia Edge
Speaking of cars, though - I met a student at the university when I was coming out of the mail room. He laughed and said, "I haven't seen a color like that since I left the Army!" My car is green. He called it "olive drab." And we had an animated discussion of the fact that according to Ford Motor Company, the color is actually "ginger ale." I swear. And I have no idea why, unless it's because the color of a CAN of ginger ale is this pale metallic sage-y green. 

I have named her Amelia and yes, she's got some whiz-bang features, but primarily, we drive. 

Sorry about the dull photo. It's raining. And she's really only pretty when the sun shines. 


Again, where do I start? Well, let's start in Washington. The House is set to leave on December 13 and the Senate on December 20 - for the holiday... Because, you know, they work so hard during the year. 

And they have a big honkin' bit of unfinished business, which of course nobody's talking about because we're all about "The War on Christmas." Here's one for you, Mr. Scrooge...

If they don't take care of this unfinished business, millions of Americans, including those who are unemployed, Pentagon contractors and the like, will lose their benefits. We're talking 1.3 million people who will lose federal emergency unemployment benefits after Christmas; milk prices will skyrocket due to Congress' failure to renew a farm bill; and of course, those on food stamps will face cuts. 

Because, you know, those people on food stamps are a blight on society. Like the active duty military who are on food stamps, the unemployed teachers, and seniors. Right now, even if there is an agreement, some 4 million people will potentially be kicked off the food stamp program. 

But hey - the politicians have worked hard. On average, they work in DC anywhere between 130 and 180 days per year. How nasty is it that we actually expect them to work harder for us to come up with something reasonable to help our economy AND the citizens who are currently embroiled in this slow period of growth? Once again, Republicans are refusing any tax hikes and Democrats are refusing more spending reductions. 

Here's my take on it, and no, it's not the "household budget" thing because that's a silly argument. Our country's budget is built on taxes. Those are "income" and you need taxes to fund essential government services, like food stamps, certain subsidies and the like. You can't just cut and cut and cut and find a miraculous pile of money under the cabbage in the White House garden. There has to be something put into the piggy bank as well as some judicious cutting of fluff in the budget. It's not like your household budget because it's so much more expansive than that. For your family's budget, you don't have to worry about defense, education, etc. Well, maybe education if you send your kids to private schools. But you don't have to worry about infrastructure, your police and fire protection, etc. The feds and state do have to worry about that.

And worrying needs to be resolved by actual action. Hopefully not on the backs of the poor, seniors, kids and the unemployed, but maybe on actually taxing corporations at a decent (Eisenhower-like) level, cutting benefits for those companies that "create jobs" overseas, and rebuilding our manufacturing. 

But right now, apparently, what we have to worry about is the fact that milk could go to $8/gallon. Makes $4/gallon gas look downright reasonable, doesn't it?

I'll have to tackle Illinois politics in another post. I'm still digesting what Quinn did...

However, on the ACA front, Blue Cross will allow Illinois residents to renew their crappy insurance for another year, even though those policies don't meet the basic levels of the ACA. Oh, and I bet you never saw THIS coming:  "Blue Cross said it will allow renewals of those policies for one more year, while noting they may come at a higher price." So they'll blame President Obama for that one. Even though statistically, insurance policy rates have risen EVERY year. (The emphasis in the quote is mine, by the way.)


Tree, 2013
There is no war on Christmas, folks. Can we just put that story in the recycle bin?? Please tell me that you're intelligent enough to realize that this is right-wing agitation in progress. We have REAL wars to worry about: the ones our service people are fighting overseas, yes, but our own local wars are important too. The war on poverty (not going so well, actually, since there are more folks living in poverty while fewer and fewer own more and more); the war on education (also not going so well, since for some odd reason, the extreme right want to have a Taliban-style of religious indoctrination instead of working with, oh... FACTS); the war on women (we're in the middle of the 16 Days of Activism - still fighting the gender wars here and in other countries)... and that's just a few off the top of my head. 

On the home front, we're going easy this year. Here's what our tree looks like. For the past few years, we've done a small tree on the dining room table. Quinn, a/k/a "crazy puppy," is just too rambunctious, even at age 3.5, to be let loose with a large tree. And Arlo the Aged Canary is still with us (at what? Age 10 or 11??) and his table sits right where our Christmas tree should go. 

Hubby is doing some new decorations outside. I have scaled down the inside stuff. I just don't want to have to put it all away!! One of our recurring goals is to get our Christmas stuff organized. And rotate it each year. Like the true Cub fan that I am, I will utter those immortal words: "Maybe next year." 

Two ornaments
Do you love the TARDIS ornament?? Oh, and by the way - the one to the left is a pierogie. It's kind of a Polish version of ravioli, if you will. My great-granny used to make them with all kinds of fillings: fruit, meat, veggies. Usually potato, and most often, potato + sauerkraut. And then plum/prune. Fried in butter. Which is why I continue to struggle with my weight. If you want a constantly renewable source of insulation, that would be Polish fat. We usually haven't met a carb we don't adore... 

Speaking of which, Mary Schmich in the Trib today made a fantastic DECEMBER resolution: "Just because I bake the cookies doesn't mean I have to eat all of them." That's going on my fridge. We're only partly done with the baking; the majority of it will come while I'm on vacation. 

For our family's Christmas Eve thing, we are doing finger foods. We had done a traditional Slovak dinner while my dad was alive; my mom changed it because she hates fish. Then, we've gradually distilled tradition even more - we still all gather on Christmas Eve and this year, we make allowances for the babies (naps, etc.). But the menu has changed. As we're all getting older and facing the need to balance our tradition of heavy foods with our reality of relatively sedentary jobs (except for my sister and BIL, who have jobs which keep them running all day), we have adjusted the menu and I have had a request from my brother to go back to the "finger foods" thing with lots of healthy options. I can do that. Still nailing down the menu, but that's where we're going.


I just ordered Howard G. Buffett's book 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World. Here's the Amazon link if you want to look at it. It got decent reviews in the Trib, and I'm interested in what he's got to say. We try to do our bit in our community, through local volunteer work, church work and donations, but I'd still like to get some ideas. 

Still plowing away at the Jane Austen collection. I'm about 70% through Northanger Abbey. I should see if that's been made into a movie, which I'm sure it has. Well, there you go: IMDb has it... I love reading Austen, but sometimes it's as dense as Faulkner. 


No news to report. Still working on the sock. I did organize, sort of, some of the bags of yarn so that I have yarn + pattern in one place. I also downloaded the Booga Bag pattern, because I have some Cascade 100% Peruvian wool. It's a cute bag that takes no time to knit and you felt it like crazy. Makes a cute gift. 

I have a pattern for some sari silk yarn I bought - here's a link to what it looks like. I have a purse pattern...and I was thinking that since some of the reviews said that the sari yarn is kind of fragile in terms of wear-and-tear, I might knit along with something else. Just not sure what.

Random picture...

Puppy cuteness alert! This is Tippi & Quinn (top-bottom) last night as we were watching TV. I love that their paws are touching. Quinn is her typical "yogi dog" self, while Tippi is pretty much a lump of grey fur. 
Holding hands

She had a long day of therapy work yesterday, and by popular request of the students at Lewis University, we'll be back there next Tuesday morning (we usually go the first & third Tuesdays) because it's Final Exam Week. Tippi has guaranteed that if you study hard and rub her belly, you'll do very well on your exams. 

We will have achieved 50 visits, so we'll be applying to TDI for her TDIA designation. 

And I have to order more business cards. And update her Facebook page.

The benefit of a liberal arts education and 2 master's degrees is that you get to be the manager of your dog's therapy work... I already had to talk to Hubby because I was planning on coming out to Lewis at Tippi's normal time, but he scheduled her physical during her therapy time. He should have consulted the dog's schedule. Yeesh, some people never learn... 

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