Category Archives: General

Tesla’s Self-Driving…

Given that Tesla’s main claim to fame is that their vehicles are electric -no gasoline use at all- one can be forgiven for forgetting another very big element in their arsenal: Their self-driving feature.

I must admit, when I did the test drive of the Model 3, the Tesla employee showed me how to use the self-driving feature and for a very, very short time I clicked it on before clicking it right back off.

It’s an unnerving thing to try this technology!

The Tesla employee assured me the self-driving feature was quite good, that he uses it to make long treks, but I was rather skeptical.

Welp, I’m not so skeptical anymore.

I will say this: The autopilot currently available in my car -and all Teslas which have that function- is far from something one should completely trust, especially when driving in the city. It doesn’t recognize traffic lights or stop signs and essentially “follows” street lines as well as the cars in and around your vehicle.

In other words, it senses the lines on the road around you and, if there are cars to your side, behind you, and especially in front of you, it will allow distance between you and them while maintaining safe speed limits. You are able, by the way, to manually increase the speed beyond the speed limit.

I find the best use of the auto-pilot is when you’re on the highway. No traffic lights to deal with and only the other traffic for your car to deal with. Further, no pedestrians!

Having said that, I’ve used it within the city as well but here you must be far more cautious. Again, the current software doesn’t “see” traffic lights or stop signs. If you’re behind a few cars and they come to a stop before a red light, the autopilot will stop -safely!- well behind them. However, if you’re traveling with no car before you and you see the upcoming light turn yellow, prepare to hit the breaks because the car will continue through the intersection, at least at this point and with the software I have in my vehicle.

Also, be careful about pedestrians. The other day I was on autopilot and a couple were making their way across the street. The Tesla “saw” them but when they stopped -waiting to see if I’d let them cross- the car would have gone on and, given the pedestrians and I made eye contact, they assumed I was going to stop and let them through, so they were inching forward. I hit the brakes and motioned for them to cross but the autopilot would have gone on.

So if you’re using the autopilot feature, please please please note that while its quite good in many ways, this is still a more rudimentary version of the autopilot and requires the driver keep their hands on the wheel and are alert to anything that happens around you.

I’ve seen video of people sleeping in their seat while allowing their Tesla to move on the highway and this is alarming as hell.

I suspect in a couple more years the self-driving software will become better refined and far more “sensitive” to things like traffic lights and stop signs as well as pedestrians.

But it isn’t quite there yet.

Will it ever end…?!

POLITICS!

BEWARE!!!

Today, the Mueller Report will be sorta/kinda released.

From the look of things, William Barr, the recently installed Attorney General, is trying to put his thumb on the scales, first releasing a very positive summary of the Mueller Report, which he subsequently said wasn’t a summary, to today releasing a redacted version of the same but not before coming before the cameras (in approximately 30 minutes) and, many suspect, trying to put a positive spin on the findings before, hours later, actually releasing the same.

Huh?

Here’s the thing: I’m getting vibes of the whole “drip… drip… drip” of the release of information that will stretch out way beyond today.

In other words: If you’re releasing only some of the stuff, do you really expect people to be happy with that? Do you expect all questions to stop at that point?

This much I’m certain: It won’t end today.

Holy cow…

It’s been two full weeks and finally –finally!– I’m feeling like my old self.

How debilitating this illness was!

A flu? Strep throat (as I thought originally)? A severe cold?

I was prescribed anti-biotics but they didn’t seem to do much of anything so it was up to the ol’ body to take on this illness with the help of Advil and some cold medicine I had.

The symptoms were plenty of phlegm, bronchial/sinus issues, and, at times, fever.

The first week of the illness was easily the worst, including two days where I literally felt I couldn’t do anything and mostly stayed in bed feeling miserable.

The second week, the recovery week, I felt better but still had coughing fits/phlegm to deal with.

When I started to feel better and took my new car out for a spin, I suddenly realized I had gotten the car and almost immediately got so ill I couldn’t use it. So I got to use it more and more and enjoy it for truly the first time this past week.

Now that I’m feeling much better, its back to the grind.

Time to work on that next novel!

The Lost Week… so far…

It’s been a hell of a long time since I caught something like what I’m currently battling. A flu… a virus… some kind of bacteria… who knows.

Last weekend, I started to feel a scratchy/painful throat. It felt unusually painfully, moreso than when I usually catch a cold. For me, colds work like this: I get a scratchy throat followed by general low energy, then possibly fevers, then it moves to my sinus and there’s plenty of yummy phlegm to deal with but the throat problem, simultaneously, leaves as it moves to the sinus.

I’ll feel bad for a few days but by the time I’m dealing with a runny nose and coughing up mucus, I’m on the way to recovery.

Which is why by Sunday of last week I knew something else was brewing. The pains in my throat simply weren’t getting better and I feared, as I mentioned in the previous post, that I might have contacted Strep Throat.

One week to this day, last Monday, I headed to an Urgent Care Unit nearby and was seen there. They examined me, noted there was an infection in my throat and sinus but the Strep exam came back negative. The Doctor told me this was not terribly unusual if the infection is in its early stages and gave me a prescription for anti-biotics and sent me on my way.

With anti-biotics, it usually takes a couple of days for them to start working, so while I was miserable Monday, Tuesday, and into Wednesday, my hope was that good times were right around the corner.

Not so.

Thursday I was at my absolute low. I felt horrible and seriously considered taking myself to the ER. My throat continued to be in incredible pain and I was coughing like crazy without moving any phlegm from my system. My sides and stomach ached from the coughing and there was little I could do.

The next day, Friday, I felt a little better. My wife had an appointment with our regular Doctor and I considered going with her so he could see me as well. Ultimately I decided not to. As bad as Thursday was, and it was mighty bad, Friday I felt better.

Perhaps the anti-biotics were finally kicking in?

Saturday morning comes and I feel even better. So much so I’m optimistic I’ve finally turned the corner.

Not so.

By the afternoon, I’m feeling whatever has me in its grips is staging a comeback. I’m coughing like crazy, this time more productively (ie, with plenty of phlegm) but, frankly, I’m feeling pretty down and out… even if not quite as bad as I felt on Thursday.

Sunday, the bad -but still not quite as bad as Thursday’s- feeling continue. I’m coughing and spitting up all kinds of garbage, though the phlegm is becoming clearer and the infection, I was hoping was now dying out.

Still, the weekend was no picnic.

So here we are, Monday morning, one full week since I went to Urgent Care to get checked up and was given the anti-biotics. I’m still feeling low but, unquestionably, this virus -or whatever it is!- is on its way out. Slowly, but certainly.

I hope so.

It feels like I’ve lost so much time not being able to do what I need to do!

More on the Tesla…

First, though, its been a tough few days. Caught some kind of bug and its laid me pretty low. Suspect its strep throat -I had it twice many years ago while in High School- and its feeling about the same. Went to a nearby urgent care and am now on anti-biotics (the strep test came in negative but the doctor said that’s not unusual in the early stages of the disease. He also noted there was definitely something going on in my throat and sinus).

Alas, I only started the anti-biotics yesterday so until maybe tomorrow I’m still feeling pretty grim. Last night I woke up to my teeth chattering so badly I was afraid I’d cut my tongue in two.

Hope that’s the worst of it!

But returning to the topic on hand (and which I labeled this post): My Tesla 3.

Today marks a week since I got the vehicle and it continues to impress the hell out of me. Driving in a car without the sound of a combustion engine is incredibly tranquil and the music played through your radio is incredibly clear. Humorously, there have been times when I was stopped by a light and the sound of the engines of other cars around me were so damn noisy compared to what you experience driving an electric car.

Yesterday the electrician finally installed a 240 volt plug near where I park my car. Until yesterday, I was using a regular 120 volt plug and the difference is mindboggling.

My Tesla has a range, if 100% fully charged, of approximately 320 miles. However, it is recommended one charge the battery to around 80-90% unless you’re about to take a long trip, upon which you should fully charge your vehicle.

It may sound complicated but Tesla’s app lays all this information out very easily when you’re charging the car. Thing is, using a 120 volt plug gave me a mere 5 miles for every hour charging it. Thus, if I had a full charge and brought the car’s range down to, say, 200 miles, it meant there was roughly 80 miles worth of charging to do. Which meant that when I was using the 120 volt plug, I had to keep the card plugged for 16 hours to get the car to that 80% charge.

Naturally, I didn’t bring the car’s charge down too far. If I had, for example, used up some 179 miles, leaving roughly 100 miles, that would have required me to charge the damn thing at 120 volts for a mind-boggling 35 plus hours before getting the thing up to where it needed to be.

But by having a 240 volt plug, I’m not getting some 30 miles of distance per hour of charge, ie six times the amount of the old 120 volt plug.

So now, if I drain the battery as described above and need to “fill up” some 179 miles, it will take the 240 volt plug about 6 hours to reach that point versus the absolutely crazy 35.

The point is this: If you’re considering an electric car, research the charge times. The fact of the matter is that regular 120 plugs, while good for slow overnight charging, may require too much time if you’re driving more than, say, 40 miles each day. Unless, of course, you don’t mind charging the car each night.

If you’re able to, absolutely get yourself a 240 plug (these are the types used by electric ovens and driers).

Of course, you can always use one of Tesla’s superchargers. They are found in many places and the onboard navigation system will point them out to you, if you need a very, very quick charge. There’s also the PlugShare app which offers community exchanges of information regarding all chargers, Tesla included, available in your area.

Next thing: For the first time on Saturday I tried the Tesla “autopilot” feature.

It was nerve wracking, to say the least!

I was on a stretch of highway that didn’t have too many vehicles on it and turned it on and… I’ll be damned if it didn’t work perfectly fine!

Yeah, I had a severe case of the nerves each time we reached some curved section of the highway, but the car sensed and took these turns well. If I wanted to switch lanes, I simple hit the indicator and the car did this on its own.

Truly, we are living in the future!

A week driving and I’m more convinced than before that I made the right choice. I know there are those who are cynical of Tesla and, especially, Elon Musk.

To you guys I would again say: Forget about all that ancillary crap and go to a Tesla dealership and take a test drive.

I can’t help but think you will be impressed.

Not to brag…

For the past few years and if you know me personally, the subject of electric vehicles has come up.

Around these parts I’ve made my feeling known about the so-called “ICE” vehicles -those which have “internal combustion engines”- and my feelings they are a technology society should have done away with many years ago.

ICE vehicles pollute the air and are incredibly inefficient. There are those that argue electric vehicles and the batteries they use are also “dirty”, but few argue they are dirtier than the use of gasoline. Regardless, to my mind still using ICE vehicles is akin to buying a computer and settling for some 1980’s/90’s tech instead of the latest tech.

Over the past few years I’ve been reading up with great curiosity about the rise of Elon Musk’s Tesla. The reviews of their vehicles, in general, have been incredibly positive and, its fair to say, this has gotten the attention of the big car companies. Today and as I write this, almost all of major car manufacturers are now working on or have released their versions of an electric vehicle.

As fascinated as I was about electric vehicles, as much as I salivated for the opportunity to drive one, it wasn’t until just shy of two weeks ago I finally did.

That’s when things really changed.

Intrigued as I was about EV vehicles and Tesla in particular, I was unsure when/if I’d get it. That test drive, along with the fact that Tesla was having a sorta/kinda end of the quarter sale, sealed the proverbial deal.

Now I know there are those who are suspicious/weary of Tesla and, especially, CEO Elon Musk. He’s gone off the wall at times with some oddball tweets. And yeah it is scary to spend a bunch of money on a car that uses a whole new technology versus the tried and true gasoline.

But I’ll tell you this: If the driving population of not only the United States but the world itself goes to a Tesla dealership and asks to test drive the car, I suspect a good 80+ percent of them that give it a fair shot will come away sold on the idea that the Tesla vehicles are very much worthy of all the attention they’ve gotten.

So impressed was I with the test drive -along with the previous research I did on the vehicle- that I took the plunge. I paid the $2500 deposit and ordered my Tesla 3. Yesterday, I got her…


Driving home was my first extended trip in the Model 3 and it was as delightful as the test drive. When we got there, my wife had her first drive and she was every bit as impressed with it as I was.

Again, I do not intend to brag. I am extremely fortunate to have the means to pick up this vehicle, though in all fairness the version I bought was hardly the most expensive model I could have gotten (I wouldn’t have been able to afford the very top end options, anyway!). Having said that, I strongly urge everyone out there to give the Tesla a try.

Perhaps you won’t come away from the experience as impressed as I. Perhaps you won’t feel it is truly the next generation vehicle I believe it is.

But if you do give it a shot, it might clear much of the haze surrounding Musk and Tesla and the fanboy mentality of many out there while allowing you to focus on the vehicle itself.

A vehicle which deserves, IMHO, many of its kudos.

More shocking news…

A while back, lawyer Michael Avenatti made something of a splash as one of President Donald Trump’s most visible antagonists.

Image result for michael avenatti

The above photograph shows Mr. Avenatti with his most famous client, porn star Stormy Daniels. For a while last year he worked very hard to get Trump to admit having made payments to keep her quiet about an affair and the non-disclosure agreement made by her at the behest of her previous lawyer, who may well have colluded with Mr. Trump’s team to get her out of the way while the election was going on.

Even now I find it difficult to believe all those shenanigans happened and this man is President!

Yeesh.

Anyway, the situation was sordid to say the least yet I had to give Mr. Avenatti credit: During his TV appearances he looked sharp and was a witty talker who seemed at times to strike blood.

Welp, things started to go bad for Mr. Avenatti. A while back Stormy Daniels let him go and he no longer is her lawyer, though to be fair it seems he helped the case along and got her freed up to say everything about the affair (I think!). Further, there were odd rumblings of things amiss with his career and personal life.

Then the following incredible news broke. Written by Hayley Miller and presented on Huffingtonpost.com, it appears Mr. Avenatti’s world is coming crashing down:

Michael Avenatti charged with with embezzlement, trying to extort $20 million from Nike

The details can be found in the link provided above and they present a very sordid story. It would appear Mr. Avenatti is facing considerable serious legal jeopardy .

Ah well. So much for the figure that created, for a little while anyway, this image of the striving lawyer representing a David and going after the corrupt Goliath/President.

Is there no one involved in politics, directly or indirectly, who is clean?!

Don’t look a gift horse…

The full saying is: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. What it means, according to phrases.org is:

Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

Why do I mention this?

POLITICS! Beware!!!

Because of the release of the Muller report and the subsequent “exoneration” claimed by those in the Trump White House of his very questionable actions leading up to the election and beyond.

Yeah, Muller found he couldn’t quite pin “collaboration” between Russia and the Trump team during the election, though I suspect this was a very near call in the end. Yet he didn’t exactly clear Mr. Trump of obstruction, even if he ultimately didn’t charge Trump or more of his bizarro friends/family in the process.

So in that respect, things look like they’re done on this front and, you know what?

I’m fine with that.

I think Trump has been sufficiently burned that he’ll probably try not to fuck up any more than he has to date. Whatever he did or didn’t do up to the election, I strongly suspect there will be a lot more eyes very wide open for any signs of any suspicious activities.

Further, I’m kinda glad we don’t have, at least for the rest of this year (perhaps) the prospect of an impeachment.

Why?

Because I’m old enough to remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton. In the end it was a stupid, pointless exercise and all it did was turn people off of Republicans and their excesses. I feel Nancy Pelosi is operating very cleverly here and remembers what happened then like I do. So she’s playing it cool. She doesn’t accept the findings until she sees the full report but neither does she jump up and down pronouncing crimes under every rock while making herself -and the party- look silly.

Leave that to the experts as Trump does that well enough on his own.

With impeachment off the table, if indeed it remains that way until the next election, Trump will have to run on his record and I suspect there won’t be all that much to be proud off, despite all his grand pronouncements.

Yeah, it sucks that a stronger case wasn’t made against him. I still suspect he’s guilty of collusion and obstruction, at the very least and that’s without mentioning all the questionable financial issues dogging him.

So take this down this very hard pill to swallow (another nice little cliche!) and when election time rolls around, there is no excuse for those who share my opinion to do what they should: Vote the man out and rid ourselves once and for all of him and his clown show.

Too big…?

Over at Hollywoodreporter.com, Georg Szalai and Paul Bond have an article which notes:

Disney Closes Fox Deal, Creating Global Content Powerhouse

I’m not surprised by these developments. Disney has been on a roll of late, making buckets of money on their parks, their movies, and their TV shows. When Disney bought up Marvel Comics, they went on a further roll with the various Marvel Universe films featuring Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.

Though Disney owned the characters published through Marvel Comics, it was Fox which had the rights to making movies featuring what were arguably the most prominent Marvel Comics characters: Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four.

Now, I’m not suggesting the only reason Disney targeted buying up Fox was to get all the Marvel characters’ movie rights under one umbrella, but given some of the loads o’ cash these films make, it had to be a consideration.

So, for those who long to see an Avengers vs. X-Men film, it looks like it could well be on the horizon.

On various boards, people who are fans of Disney’s Marvel films are happy for this possibility, but I’m rather disturbed by the whole thing.

Why?

Because we seem to be reaching a point these days where there exist one or two or three companies that control virtually all the entertainment being fed to us.

AT&T recently purchased Warner Brothers. Now Disney owns Fox.

I worry when we reach a point where there are so few companies responsible for so much. Will our entertainment get more and more bland?

I suppose.

I suppose its also possible that new, independent artists can catch fire, but given the size of the giants out there, how long before their concepts/ideas are bought out as well?

There is also this, found in the Disney/Fox article:

Disney has promised $2 billion in cost savings from the Fox takeover, with some in the industry expecting between 4,000-10,000 layoffs.

Ouch.

Egg Boy…

Heard of him? His name is William Connolly and he achieved a level of internet/cultural super-stardom because he cracked an egg on the back of Australian Senator Fraser Anning’s head.

Why did he do this to this to Mr. Anning? Because Mr. Anning, a self-avowed White Supremacist, stated the horrific massacre of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand a couple of days ago was somehow their own fault.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article by Andy Campbell and found on Huffingtonpost.com:

Australian Senator Blames Muslims for New Zealand Massacre

So, Mr. Connolly, a 16 year old boy, cracked an egg on the back of Mr. Anning’s head and the resulting reaction by Mr. Anning and his people, as detailed in this article by Briana Ellison and found on Washingtonpost.com:

Punching a teenager over an egg really isn’t a good look for a politician

Here is a video of the entire encounter:

I thinks its fair to say no one likes the idea of assaulting people. I certainly don’t like the idea of someone hitting another person with a fist, an egg, a tomato, or whatever.

But you know what I hate even more?

Fifty people killed by a maniac with a semi-automatic weapon -and some 50 more in critical condition- and then hearing some loudmouth ignorant politician justify the actions of this homicidal maniac as the victims getting what they deserved.

An egging seems pretty tame in comparison.

But to some, the egging was a deadly sin. James Woods, no stranger to right wing frothing, denounced egg boy’s actions. So too did actor Dean Cain, who stated on twitter: I would have knocked that kid cold.

This led to plenty of criticism, much of which you can find in this article by Ed Mazza and found on (again) Huffingtonpost.com:

Ex-Superman actor Dean Cain’s Hot Take on Egg-Boy

The pile on against Mr. Cain was swift and at times brutal.

I want to move away from Mr. Cain, Woods, and Anning and state: What the hell is going on with the world these days?

I worry the influence on current political figures and their at times subtle and at times in your face statements are having a negative effect on people. It seems like we’re unleashing people’s collective ids and, yes, it seems to coincide with the election of one Donald J. Trump.

I’m not saying he’s to blame for all this. The hatreds were clearly there, mostly under the surface, perhaps held back. But nowadays hearing people excuse the actions of terrible people, as Anning did, then somehow fault a relatively harmless action by a teenager as deserving a whipping, seems odd at best and scary at worst.

Mr. Cain, Mr. Woods, Mr. Anning: How in the world can you on the one hand seem relatively un-bothered by the cold-blooded murder of fifty innocent people in a house of worship (I don’t recall seeing any mention of them tweeting about that to any degree… if they did, my apologies) and then they get riled up with the mischievous and certainly non-lethal actions of a teenager?

The world has truly turned upside down.