Friday, 30th of November, 2007
Tuesday, 27th of November, 2007
A subdivision in the DC area has a ban on pickup trucks. It's an old rule from the 60s that may have made sense at the time, but it's still around and people are spending quite a bit of time in the judicial system sorting it out. Trucks can visit, but cannot be parked overnight - basically banning anyone living there from owning a pickup truck unless they park it somewhere else and walk a bit home. For those who have jobs that require pickups, that is exactly what they do. Of course, the big trouble nowadays is that a lot of people have SUVs, and the rule doesn't apply to SUVs.
"Last summer, one pickup driver in the Stedwick neighborhood won a limited right to park his Ford F-150 in his driveway when a county Circuit Court judge ruled that his truck was nearly identical to a neighbor's Chevrolet Avalanche, an SUV allowed under the rules. In 2002, a court forced the Eastgate community to allow the parking of pickups overnight as long as they have permanent, matching caps over their cargo beds that give them the appearance of SUVs."
Nice. This person's quote demonstrates the irrationality:
"'Tell me how it makes sense that this one is okay and mine is not,' Lanahan said, pointing to a worn, rusted Chevrolet Suburban parked near his house. Sport-utility vehicles and passenger vans, even beat-up ones, are allowed under rules that exclude his $30,000 late-model pickup."
Sunday, 25th of November, 2007
Picture - This is the most amazing diagram I have seen all month. Those who keep up with the auto industry know that pretty much all auto brands are related to another in some way or another. If you don't care about cars much, you'll find this diagram to be a bit of a shock. Those who keep up might learn a thing or two about the relationships these manufacturers have outside of the U.S.
The twist on a subway map makes this the most clever way of representing such complicated material I've seen in a very long time. So complicated, in fact, that some of it is already outdated - as Lynn points out on solo2.org - "Mercedes ditched Mitsubishi several years ago. And recently got divorced from Chrysler. Ford no longer owns Astin Martin. I don't think GM is affiliated with FIAT anymore, either."
Saturday, 24th of November, 2007
Just attended the best St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert ever. The Rienzi Overture brought back great memories of All-State orchestra, and the Haydn 100th Symphony was well executed and a pleasure to listen to. Now the Shostakovich was better than any concert or recorded performance of that piece I have ever heard. Some of the tempos in that First Symphony were mad! And it sounds so good mad - I've decided it should be played no other way. They nailed all the difficult tempo changes and fast sections that some orchestras are forced to back off on. Parts of the second movement sent chills down my spine - it was extremely good!
Thursday, 15th of November, 2007
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - 2008 winners of Top Safety Pick - the results are out. What I would like to note that nobody has mentioned so far is that there is exactly one car manufacturer where the entire lineup made it onto the list of 34 vehicles that earned "Top Pick". It's not Volvo - try Subaru: Impreza, Legacy/Outback, Forester, and Tribeca.
The Detroit Red Wings' charter DC-9 got a little stuck at the downtown St. Louis Airport yesterday. "The pilot cut a runway turn a little short... and put one of the main gears in the mud." It's nice to have your own jet when all you're doing is playing at a stadium downtown and avoid Lambert commercial flight traffic - but I guess it is a smaller airport.
Wednesday, 7th of November, 2007
KSDK attempted to test the competency of local computer technicians. As usual, they spent a lot of time to discover almost nothing at all. Instead of taking a working computer and creating a common problem that a normal person would take a computer into a technician for, they throw a jumper on a Dell laptop's hard drive and call that a "simple computer problem". As if jumpers just magically appear out of nowhere and jump into hard drives, breaking your computer. That's like if you tore apart the ECU of your automobile and took a wire cutters to a few wires and expect a mechanic to be able to diagnose your problem.
But ok, let's go with their test, acknowledging it's obscure and a way to test who the most competent people are, and see which techs in St. Louis are honest and which rip you off. I used to do this for a living, so let me give my own professional opinion and a letter grade for each shop:
Circuit City Brentwood - B minus - Didn't charge a penny, sketchy service, but offered decent advice and was honest about their limitations. I've experienced the same thing in that very store - they wanted nothing to do with the RAM upgrade on my PowerBook G4, and it took forever to find the right guy to tell me that.
Swifttech - C minus - Mediocre diagnosis procedure - you can pay a high schooler $10 to get on the phone with Dell, but they charged $75. It would not surprise me that Dell came up with nothing (because, again, jumpers don't just appear out of nowhere) and they just passed that diagnosis to the customer. For $75 I expect more.
Everyone else - A (Clayton Computer, Software Centre International, Circuit City/Best Buy Chesterfield) - Didn't charge a penny, and offered good advice.
Computer Problem Busters - A plus - Actually gave the customer their money's worth - $65 to open it up and find out in what way they sabotaged their computer.
The main point where I disagree with KSDK's analysis is that when a shop doesn't charge a penny and advises the customer to contact Dell, they are giving an honest, helpful assessment. Getting to a laptop's hard drive is not always intuitive - ask me about replacing the hard drive on that Powerbook G4 some time. On a desktop, sure, if there's a hard drive error I instantly go into the motherboard settings and if that looks right the cover comes off to look at the cables/jumpers and the hard drive comes out.
But on a laptop, I will not criticize a shop that simply acknowledges it is something they don't want to deal with so they don't spent a lot of time and the customer's money to give them an inadequate diagnosis. Again, back to the car analogy, there are times that a place like Dobbs should say - "take the car to the dealer" because they don't have the knowledge to discover the problem. But now we're getting to my opinion of Dobbs, and let's not even start with that.
Friday, 2nd of November, 2007
Here's a news story that shows you the kind of imbecility that I experienced all the time going to and from work and and home in Maryland Heights:
"The two episodes involved motorcyclists who surrounded vehicles on well-known thoroughfares in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The cyclists in both cases drove Japanese-model motorcycles. Both motorists said that they were almost forced to stop on the roadway because the cyclists were throwing things at their vehicles or kicking them..."
While I never had an encounter with the street bike gang, such things don't really surprise me about that worthless part of town.