Take Me For a Ride in Your Car, Car

Here’s a brief collection of new chum articles, all having to do (in some way) with automobiles:

  • The Emblem. Here’s an encyclopedia of automotive emblems and their meanings. If you find logo history interesting, this is for you. I still remember the old Mazda emblem and the emblem on my 1977 Toyota Corona. For example, did you know that, with respect to the Toyota logo: “The ovals overlap one another, symbolizing trust between the automaker and its loyal customers. The white space that occupies the emblem signifies Toyota’s future potential. And the three ovals together represent the collective hearts of the customer, the cars and the technological opportunities ahead.”
  • The Computer. Car security is a big risk. Here’s a good article looking at all the risks in your car from the internal computer systems. Hmmm, that old-school Corona is looking better and better. The key point is near the bottom of the article: “For end users, the first thing they can do to protect themselves is demand that manufacturers put in place the security requirements that’s been mentioned. If their customers stand up and demand something, you can be certain that manufacturers will listen or they could face losing revenue as people walk away from them.”
  • Parking. If you drive, nothing infuriates you more than how others park. Why can’t they park within the lines? Why do they insist on parking their SUV in a compact space? It turns out that Americans are very ugly parkers. The article notes: “Parking lots inspire a unique rage in Americans. They’re one of the few public spaces citizens feel emboldened to police themselves, and reprimand those who don’t follow an assumed set of etiquette. Americans spend an average of 17 hours a year parking, but rather than get used to it, drivers allow themselves to become entitled and aggressive — emotions that don’t bode well in communal spaces, but which Americans are very good at showing. A 2014 study found that 20 percent of men and 12 percent of women have had a verbal confrontation with another driver in a parking lot, and 8 percent of men and 2 percent of women have actually gotten physical over a parking incident.”
  • The Smell. Here’s one of those list articles on smells that are slowly disappearing. #3 and #8 are car related: the smell of diesel exhaust (those who grew up in the 1960s will remember the smell as the bus pulled out), and #8 is that new car smell. Of the latter, they write: “That aroma we smell today upon delivery of a brand new set of wheels is very different from the new car smell of 30 or so years ago. A lot of that smell comes from off-gassing synthetic materials, plastics and chemical additives that are used in modern vehicles. In 1960, the average American-made car contained 22 pounds of plastics; in 2012, that quantity had increased to 250 pounds. And there’s also matter of the flame retardants and antimicrobials that are now added to the carpeting and upholstery for additional “safety” (even though some of the fumes have been proven toxic).” Me, I still really miss #1: Spirit Duplicators.

Rolling Stock

Subaru UserpicThe user pics (those icons on posts at the top, to the right) have traced the evolution of how I have traveled since I joined LiveJournal back in 2004. From personal vehicles to vanpools, through Hondas, Toyotas, and now Subaru, they’ve shown how I’ve gotten from there to here:


From my wife’s 2002 Honda CRV, to my recent 2006 Toyota Matrix (which replaced a 1999 Honda Civic that got cow-tipped), and to the Matrix’s replacement, a 2016 Subaru Impreza; from all the various vanpool vehicles I’ve driven. All have been portrayed in userpic.

For the last few days, I’ve been teasing a different picture on my Facebook:

For those unfamiliar, this is a picture of a Outback towing an Outback, parked in the outback of an Outback. There was a reason: we were in the process of replacing my wife’s car. ALthough she picked out the car last Saturday, it took a week because the car dealer’s server was down. Mind you, this didn’t shut down just one dealership, but an entire family of dealerships, the week before Christmas. The server came back on Thursday. Friday we were out in Santa Clarita, and I posted another picture:

We are now a two-Subaru family, having added a 2018 Outback to the family for my wife. Guess it is time to make a new userpic…


Travelin’ Style

This collection of news chum brings together a bunch of articles that all have to do with travel or things we use when traveling such as maps:

  • Bordering on the Crazy. Most of us think of borders as straight lines. Perhaps another line meets them, bringing three entities together. Sometimes it is a form of a +, bringing four entities together. Sometimes it is even weirder than that. This article explores 11 different international border oddities, including multiple levels of enclaves (enclosed countries) and divided villages.
  • Art on or In The Road. Canadian artist Roadsworth likes to take existing street and sign markings and turn them into street art. Literally. I find them quite cute, but I wonder if people notice them.
  • Las Vegas Remembers. Las Vegas may not be keen on keeping the past (as the hotels go boom!), but it is keen on remembering it. It does this by…. naming streets. You’re familiar with the dead hotels memorialized in street names: Sands, Dunes, Riviera, Sahara, Tropicana (oh, right, that’s not dead yet). It also does it for start associating city — most recently, when it renamed a stretch of Riviera as Elvis Presley Blvd. Elvis Presley Boulevard, formerly Riviera Boulevard, is four-tenths of a mile and runs from the Strip to Paradise Road near the Convention Center and the Westgate. Other streets named after celebrities include Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. drives, all of which meet behind the Mirage. Jerry Lewis Way can be found south of that intersection, also intersecting Dean Martin Drive. Not far from there is Mel Torme Way, off of Spring Mountain Road near Fashion Show. Tony Bennett Way runs east of Paradise in between Twain and Flamingo. Debbie Reynolds Drive is near Convention Center Drive, and Hugh Hefner Drive is just off of Flamingo Road. UNLV’s most famous basketball coach has Jerry Tarkanian Way in the southwest along the 215 Beltway. Wayne Newton Boulevard is near McCarran International Airport. You get the idea.
  • Belugas in the Air. Airbus has released photos of the Airbus Beluga XL. This plane, a modified A330, is used to fly aircraft components across Europe for manufacturing. Some think it is pretty. It reminds me of a Pontiac Aztek.
  • The Speed of Sound. A bit faster than the Beluga is the Supersonic Jet designed by Industrial Engineer Charles Bombardier. The Paradoxal resembles a stingray, and would not be suitable for autonomous operations. But it would go fast, being outfitted with two rim-rotor rotary ramjet engines that would give it enough power to climb to 60,000 feet and reach Mach 3. At that point, the air-breathing engines would transform into rocket engines by injecting liquid oxygen injected into the gas exhaust port, placing it on a parabolic suborbital path with an apex of 65 kilometers (approximately 40 miles)—a cruising level well above the stratosphere. The plane would be made of standard civil aviation materials using current aircraft manufacturing techniques, and would be compatible with all existing airport infrastructure and services. However…. a few of its mechanisms have yet to be developed: for starters, the proposed R4E engines, though they could be replaced with existing turbines that use afterburners to increase thrust.
  • Bye Bye 747. United Airlines has announced that it will be pulling its last 747 out of service this year. The 747 was a revolutionary plane when it was introduced in 1969, but its four engine design makes it a gas guzzler in an era where both fuel consumption and exhaust output must be minimized. Further, the economics are increasingly not there — profits are easier on an appropriately outfitted A330 or 767, and if you need BIG, there’s always the A380 or the 787. The 747 remains a cargo workhorse, given how much it can hold.



Election-Free News Chum Stew

Observation StewTake a deep breath. Three days and the national nightmare begins — but at least we won’t have the ads, the fake news stories, and the FB battles. To hold you over, here’s a bit of news chum I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks:

  • Math and Knitting. Two articles related to mathematics and knitting. The first article is about a couple that have focused on knitting mathematical objects: Together they have knitted and crocheted about 90 mathematical afghans, as well as other mathematical objects. The other article is on illusion knitting: Knitting that takes advantage of the 3-D nature of knitting to show different images depending on how the knit object is viewed. The simplest kind of illusion knitting uses one color of yarn. From the front, you see a swath of, say, green. From the side, you see an alternating checkerboard of green squares. Or take the knit below, which appears to be a multicolored grid straight-on but from an angle reveals circles within the grid.
  • Food Triggers. Two articles related to food that can trigger medical problems. The first looks at a group of proteins that have  been identified as the possible cause of non-gluten wheat sensitivity. This group, called amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs)  are a small group, representing about 4 percent of wheat proteins, but they’re powerful. The scientists found that consuming pure ATIs can cause all manner of nasty reactions throughout the body, triggering inflammation not just in the gut but also in the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and brain. That same inflammation can exacerbate autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease. The second article looks at why some foods trigger migraines. It turns out it isn’t only the food, but the microbes in the mouth. The research team analyzed 172 oral samples and nearly 2,000 fecal samples taken from the American Gut Project, and sequenced which bacteria species were found in participants who suffered migraines versus those who did not. And it turns out, the migraineurs have significantly more nitrate-reducing bacteria in their saliva than those who don’t suffer these headaches.
  • Paying Rent. This went around a few weeks ago, but its still fun: London is still paying rent to the Queen on property rented in 1211 (it seems they didn’t know about “lease-to-buy”). The rent? A knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails. Further, no one knows where the property is anymore. Each fall, usually in October, the city and the crown perform the same exchange, for no particular reason other than that they always have. You have to admire the Brits.
  • Popcorn. Here’s another interesting piece of history: why do we have movie popcorn? One didn’t always eat popcorn at movies, but it came into vogue during the depression. At that point, people began to expect it, and theatres realized they had a moneymaker.
  • Internet Problems. Have you found the internet harder to read of late? Even after you take out the election posts, is it hard to read? There could be an answer. Scientists believe that what is making the Internet harder to read is a trend towards lighter and thinner fonts. Where text used to be bold and dark, which contrasted well with predominantly white backgrounds, now many websites are switching to light greys or blues for their type. “If the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails the open access by excluding large swaths of people such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low quality screens.”
  • New Cars and Car Washes. Have you bought a new car of late? Ever take it to the car wash? Many new cars won’t work in car washes because the additional safety equipment locks the wheels even when the car is in neutral. Those cars need special configuration to go through a car wash, and it isn’t just a “car wash” button — but it is buried in the manuals. The issue is automatic parking brakes, which put on the brakes, even if in neutral, to prevent the car from rolling into people or things. It does this if it detects things near the car.
  • Homelessness and Cars. Sigh. The city has passed an ordinance to prevent people from sleeping in cars or RVs in residential districts. This is an example of a law that the privileged pass against the unprivileged, instead of helping.
  • Jacob Neusner Z”L. A passing you may have missed: Jacob Neusner, one of the top Jewish scholars of our generation. Neusner almost singlehandedly created the modern study of Judaism. In doing so, he revolutionized our understanding of the history of Judaism and our perception of what Judaism can mean to Jews today. I know I was reading Neusner’s books when I was at UCLA in the 1980s.

Transposing the Matrix: Update 2 – Downselect Harder

userpic=matrixPreviously, on Transposing the Matrix: If you recall, Tuesday I had an auto accident resulting in my 2006 Toyota Matrix being totaled. Friday, we began the search for a new car. That post detailed some of the requirements for any replacement vehicle: cargo capacity, not too big, being able to work with my iPod Transpod, convenient Aux jack, backup camera, decent gas mileage. In the last episode (Update 1), we had narrowed the field to three contenders: : the 2016 Scion iM [brochure], the 2016 Honda Fit, and the the 2016 Subaru Impreza 5-Door.

Today we visited the dealers again to reexamine the cars, to test drive the Fit, and to re-test drive the Impreza without a migraine and with my iPod Classic. This was extremely useful: the Fit knocked itself out of the running. Why? The seats were extremely uncomfortable, the cup holders would not fit our typical drink cups due to a bad bad design, and the TransPod blocked one of the drink holders. The engine also seemed to be noisier.

On the other hand, the Impreza Imprezzed. Through some re-adjustment, I was able to get the TransPod to work, although I may still go with a vent mount cell phone holder. I was able to drive the car, and was impressed by both its handling and the fact the cabin is quieter. In fact, the only major drawback with the Impreza is that my wife likes it as well, and so she’ll keep wanting to borrow it… at least until we pay it off and can get her an Outback. Further, the Impreza is the only one that can come with a non-black interior — important in the San Fernando Valley.

This pushes the Scion iM into second place, which is fine. Both are excellent cars, and we really couldn’t go wrong with either. The prices are similiar: the MSRP on the Scion is 19,995; we’ve dealers verbally offer below that if we sign on the dotted line. MSRP on the Impreza is $20,768, with an estimated dealer invoice of $19,758 — meaning we can talk them down to the Scion’s range. Right now, we think we’ll try for the Impreza first, with the Costco pricing or better. If not, we know we can safely walk across the street to the Toyota dealer.

The one remaining question to investigate is: Which has the lower cost of insurance? We’re guessing the Subaru, as a less popular theft car.

What’s next? Tomorrow I’ll go over to the body shop and clean out the Matrix (I’ll probably grab the cargo netting; it should work in the Subaru). I’ll pull off the personalized license plates for use on the new car. Then it is just waiting to hear from the adjuster with their valuation of the Matrix, which we’ll probably argue with a bit. Charlie Kline provided a pointer to an article with some good tips on how to get max value. I certainly want them to pay for the full tank of gas I had just put in. I’m also going to contact the credit union and get the pre-approved loan updated to a new car loan and for the correct estimated amount.

Once we get the check from AAA, we’ll talk to the dealer. If they can best the credit union rate, we’ll go with them. We’ll sign over the down, and then do the paperwork game.



Transposing the Matrix: Update 1

userpic=matrixYesterday, I wrote about how a recent auto accident resulting in my 2006 Toyota Matrix being totaled,  and about beginning the search for a new car. That post detailed some of the requirements for any replacement vehicle: cargo capacity, not too big, being able to work with my iPod Transpod, convenient Aux jack, backup camera, decent gas milage. We have already visited Northridge Toyota:  that visit eliminated the 2013 Toyota Prius V and 2013 Toyota Prius from competition, confirmed limited availability of any used 2013 Toyota Matrix, and added the 2012 Toyota Venza and added the 2016 Scion iM [brochure] to the list.  Our goal is to keep the price below $24K before we subtract what we get from AAA for the Matrix.

Today, in and around our scheduled theatre, we hit three more dealerships to look at cars and/or test drive: Galpin Mazda, Robertson Honda, and Sherman Oaks Subaru. We had been planning looking at the 2013 Honda Fit, 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback,  and the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring and the 2014 Mazda3 5 Door Grand Touring. Things took a slightly different turn due to the availability of the used product, and we focused instead on new products: the 2016 Mazda3 5-Door, the 2016 Mazda5 5-Door, the 2016 Subaru Impreza 5-Door, and the 2016 Honda Fit. These visits did one clear thing: they eliminated the Mazda from contention. For the Mazda3, we simply didn’t like the storage in the vehicle or the layout of the power outlets and such. It wasn’t comfortable. We took a drive in the Mazda5: we liked the engine, but it had the same layout problems, and the Mazda5 was  at the upper end of our price range.

At this point, we have three top contenders: the 2016 Scion iM [brochure], the 2016 Honda Fit, and the the 2016 Subaru Impreza 5-Door. This is essentially the same choice we had when we replaced the 1999 Honda Civic. Yes, the universe is pushing us towards a new car. Here are some comparison statistics to help us decide:

  Scion iM Honda Fit Subaru Impreza
MSRP (Approx) $19,995 MSRP
$19,046 Dealer Cost
$17,525 MSRP
$17,246 Dealer Cost
$20,756 MSRP
$19,758 Dealer Cost
Image  2016 Scion iM  2016 Fit  2016 Impreza
Console Layout
Scion Console Honda Console Subaru Console
Trim Level LX 2.0i 5-Door
MPG 28/37 33/41 28/37
Engine Type DOHC 4-Cyl DOHC 4-Cyl DOHC 4-Cyl
Engine Size 1.8l 1.5l 2.0l
Horsepower 137@6100 130@6600 148@6200
Torque 126@4000 114@4600 145@4200
Weight 3031 2544 3076
Turning Circle 17.7 ft 17.55 ft 17.4 ft
Dimensions 170.5″ L x 69.3″ W x 55.3″ H 160″ L x 67″ W x 60″ H 174″ L x 69″ W x 58″ H
Cargo Space 20.8 ft³, 42.37 est ft³ with seat area 16.6 ft³, 52.7 ft³ with seat area 22.5 ft³, 52.4 ft³ with seat area
Fuel Capacity 14g 10.6g 14.5g
Passenger Space 90.4 ft³ 93.8 ft³ 97.5 ft³
Wheelbase 102.4″ 99.6″ 104.1″
Suspension F: MacPherson Strut
R: Double Wishbone
F: MacPherson Strut
R: Torsion-Beam
F: Strut w/lower L arm, stabilizer bar
R: double wishbone
Coefficient of Drag 0.3 0.28 0.32
Brakes Ventilated Disc / Solid Disc Ventilated Front Disc / Rear Drum Ventilated Disc / Solid Disc
Aux Jack Yes EX: No Aux Jack Yes
Special Offers 0.0% APR for 60 MOS. None 1.49% APR Financing on all new 2016 Impreza Models
Exterior Colors Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, Electric Storm Blue and Spring Green Metallic. Aegean Blue Metallic. Alabaster Silver Metallic. Crystal Black Pearl. Milano Red. Modern Steel Metallic. Mystic Yellow Pearl. Passion Berry Pearl. White Orchid Pearl. Crystal Black Silica. Crystal White Pearl. Dark Blue Metallic. Dark Gray Metallic. Ice Silver Metallic. Jasmine Green Metallic. Quartz Blue Pearl. Venetian Red Pearl.
Interior Colors Black Black Black Tricot, Ivory Tricot, Black Striped Cloth, Ivory Striped Cloth
Interior Cabin Noise
64.0 dB @ 55mph
“noise is still a constant presence, if not always loud” – The Car Connection
66.1 dB @ 55mph
“Road Noise is Significant” – Edmonds
63.6 dB @ 55mph

In terms of decisions, I think that right now I need to analyze the stats.  My wife likes the Impreza. I like the Scion iM, but I want to test drive the Fit and compare it again to the Scion. I don’t like how the Transpod fits into the Impreza.

ETA: Looking at the stats a bit more, I’m growing to like the Impreza. I want to test drive all three again, and see better how the Transpod might fit and how they sound at the trim level we are considering.


Transposing the Matrix

userpic=matrixOn Tuesday, driving home from the North Hollywood Red Line station after spending the day judging projects at the California State Science Fair, I was rear-ended. To be specific, a 1996 Honda hit the drivers side rear of my 2006 Toyota Matrix in the far right lane of I-5 just S of Osborne, near the end of the Route 170/I-5 merge. We drove off the freeway, exchanged information, and I called for a tow because I was unsure about long-term drivability of my car. The end of the day saw me at home (pissed), and my car over at Schiros Collision in Chatsworth. Here are some photos:

Matrix Rear End DamageAs before (i.e., when my previous Honda Civic was tipped on its side), I thought the car was repairable. As before, the impact of putting low miles on a car does not offset its age, and the car was totalled. To be specific, the repair estimate on the car totals out at $6,263.17 for parts and labor (PDF),  and the KBB trade-in value maxed at $5,300 and the KBB purchase value was between $5,800 and $6,400, depending on how the condition was judged.

As before, I’ve been pissed at the inequality of it all: The person who inflicted the damage gets off with some minor repairs (his car was drivable). The innocent victim gets to replace a vehicle that was paid off with something newer, meaning the insurance proceeds won’t cover the replacement 100%. This means having car loans again, plus having higher registration costs and higher insurance due to a newer vehicle, none of which was planned for.

I have the fellow’s email, and I have the urge to vent at him, but I know it will do little good. This is the fault of the profit-driven nature of our insurance system, which seeks to minimize payouts to insureds.

As a result of all of this, we get to go car shopping. What I’m looking for is a car priced less than $24K, 2013 model year or later (ideally), certified pre-owned if used. I want a wagon or hatchback (because I haul boardgames), but I do not want an SUV. The 2006 Matrix, which this was replacing, was essentially a Toyota Carolla Hatchback. I’m used to smaller cars: the Matrix replaced the 1996 Civic Hatchback, which replaced a 1981 Nissan Stanza Hatchback.

I also wanted to ensure it would work with my iPod Classic, could support an AUX (3.5mm) input, had a rear backup camera, got gas milage equal to or better than the Matrix, and had sufficient cargo hauling capability.

The initial short list was based on recommendations from Consumers Reports, and consisted of the 2013 Toyota Prius V, 2013 Toyota Prius, 2013 Toyota Matrix, 2013 Honda Fit, and 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. Second tier possibilities were the 2013 Scion xB or the 2012 Toyota Venza.

Last night, we went to the local Toyota dealer to do some test drives. Despite the Prius/Prius V being at the top of the list, a test drive eliminated them. The Prius didn’t have enough space. The Prius V did. However, the “get up and go” had gotten up and went, and the car had no pickup. We also did not like the display and control layout. We also drove a 2013 Venza, and that was a “yes”: it is essentially a Camry Wagon. Very comfortable, very nice drive, and loads of storage. However, it lacks a backup camera (until 2015, it wasn’t standard) and has worse gas milage than the Matrix. That’s not a surprise, it has a V6 engine.

Visiting the dealer also led to one unexpected find: the 2016 Scion iM [brochure] (which will become the Toyota Corolla iB in 2017). This is the current version of the Toyota Carollla Hatchback (Aurus in Europe), which means it is a sportier Matrix equivalent. It is new, which likely means a 0% financing deal (which beats the credit union), is priced under $20K before taxes, and gets service covered for two years. It also drives like or better than the Matrix, has similar space and storage, has an Aux port, has a backup camera. In short, it is an updated Matrix. Drawbacks? Being new, there will be the new car depreciation, plus higher registration fees and insurance fees.

Over the weekend, we’ll be test driving the 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. We probably won’t drive the Honda Fit — we’re familiar with the car, but it is hard to find used, and doesn’t have the storage of the Matrix Scion iB. We may also test drive the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring and the 2014 Mazda3 5 Door Grand Touring. One last possibility is the Kia Soul, either new or used. For new, we’ll need to see the incentives.

I’ll be glad when this process is over. I’m still pissed; my wife’s car (2002 Honda CR-V) was the next one to be replaced — and now that’s going to be pushed back until the cash flow can support additional payments and a down payment is rebuilt.



News Chum Unwrapped: Will It Be Coal or Crystal?

userpic=chanukah-christmasTo all those who celebrate this day in the non-traditional way: The Merriest of Christmases to you. To all those that celebrate in the traditional way: I hope your movie is entertaining and your Chinese food delicious and MSG-free. Why look? What has 🎅 Santa left under the virtual tree? It looks like a collection of boxes of news chum! Let’s unwrap them and see what we’ve got. I wonder if any of them are for me?

  • 🎁 To: Porter Ranch Residents. I live in Northridge, just down the hill from Porter Ranch. The situation up there is a mess: it is bad for the homeowners, it is bad for the businesses in the area, it is bad for our property values, and it will be bad for all the customers of The Gas Company, who will have to foot the bill for this stupidity for years and years to come. For those that live in Porter Ranch, here are two things of interest: the first is a collection of resources from the Mayor’s office, the second is a commitment from SoCalGas that they will relocate residents faster.
  • 🎁 To: Map Collectors. Here’s a collection of 25 of the best Los Angeles maps. It is hard to pick a favorite on the list. I like the map of former streetcar routes, but I think one of the most useful ones compares the size of Los Angeles to other major cities. Most people don’t understand the sheer size of LA, and the distinct difference in density. The change in property values from 2004 to 2014 is also scary: our zip shows a -24%. Mind you, we bought in the top of the market in 2005 😒 . Of course, my favorite map isn’t on the list; my favorite is the one done by my daughter that maps Yiddish books to where they were published in Southern California.
  • 🎁 To: Those From the Midwest. EaterLA recently announced a present for those from the midwest, or those (like me) who have fond memories of visiting the midwest: it appears there is now a full-sized Steak and Shake now open in Burbank. I wonder if this will entice my dear friend Linda in St. Louis to come out for a visit :-). We’ll have to try it next time we’re in the area.
  • 🎁 To: Honda CR-V Owners. Sigh, like us. Honda has extended the air-bag recall to a wider range of CR-Vs. Luckily, we live in a low humidity area, and most of the problems are the result of humidity. That’s perhaps why repairs are so slow out here: I’m still waiting to hear from Toyota on the availability of my repair; the passenger airbag in my wife’s CR-V was repaired in April ’15, and the driver’s airbag in October ’14.
  • 🎁 To: Those Concerned About Government Waste. We’re all aware the government procures supercomputers. We’re probably also aware that those computers get replaced every few years to stay current, maintainable, and at the cutting edge to give our Nation the lead we should have. So what happens to the old computers that were so expensive to procure. The answer will not make you happy. Most are “put out with the trash”; that is, they are disposed. The most efficient, secure and financially feasible way to do it is by using a computer wood chipper, provided by contractors who specialize in IT asset disposition. This is true especially for the supercomputers with high-level security data. Some are repurposed, but the process isn’t easy. The first possibility is to try and trade in the supercomputer on a replacement with the contractor. Trade-ins are sometimes possible, and repurposing is sometimes possible. The third strategy, if the first two aren’t feasible, is to put the old supercomputer through the General Services Administration’s clearinghouse for distributing unused government property. But even though they are cheap, the new owner must come and get it, get it out of where it is, and possibly contract to remove and reinstall.
  • 🎁 To: Those That Like Android. We all know that Windows is trying to have one operating system to rule them all: Windows 10 on the range from the desktop to the phone. What about a phone operating system on the desktop. How well does Android work with a keyboard and mouse? The answer is “Not good, but better than you would think.” The biggest affordance Android makes for a desktop OS is that it supports a keyboard and mouse. Any Android device can pair with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and if you want to go the wired route, just about any phone can plug in a mouse and keyboard via a USB OTG cable and a USB hub. But from there…
  • 🎁 To: Las Vegas Lovers. Here’s an interesting collection of recommended books about Las Vegas. I’ve only heard of one of these. My list of Vegas books is over on the highway pages.
  • 🎁 To: Those Interested in Food Safety. Tumeric has recently been in the news for a number of reasons. In addition to its use in Indian food, and turning everything yellow, it has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. Tumeric Tea can provide great relief from arthritis problems. Here’s another use: it is being infused into kitchen surfaces to make them safer. Using nanotechnology, the researchers developed a way to bind curcumin (a tumeric compound) to metal and glass; essentially they used tiny bubbles (nanovesicles) to enclose a curcumin compound. The coated surfaces kill microbes—including E. coli—and prevent food from spoiling without imparting turmeric flavor into the food.
  • 🎁 To: Food Waste or Waist Worriers. Being a member of the “clean plate club” (common in my generation) has been a terrible thing for my waistline, especially in these days of gigantic portions. But I also hate the notion of throwing away food. This is why I found this list of 12 things to keep food from going to waist or waste interesting. In addition to liking this being a list without a load of click-through screens, I like the following two tips: “Buying in bulk doesn’t save money if you end up throwing half of it away. When you don’t have a plan for how and when you will use a sale item, it’s more likely to go to waste, erasing any savings.” and “Shop for how you actually cook and eat, not for how you fantasize about eating. Exotic or otherwise aspirational purchases often go to waste.”
  • 🎁 To: Font Lovers. Back when I started using computers, you were lucky to have 5 different fonts (but then again, I only had 2 on the Selectric). Now there are thousands. But that’s less true if you are writing in Chinese. It is extremely difficult to create a Chinese font. This article discusses how hard it is. Just consider this: The default set for English-language fonts contains about 230 glyphs. A font that covers all of the Latin scripts—that’s over 100 languages plus extra symbols—contains 840 glyphs. The simplified version of Chinese, used primarily in mainland China, requires nearly 7,000 glyphs. For traditional Chinese, used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the number of glyphs is 13,053.
  • 🎁 To: Yiddish Lovers. Last week, I kvelled about my daughter being written up in the JWeekly in the Bay Area for her presentation at the Magnes about her Findery Mapping work. She just wrote an article for a Yiddish Journal about her experiences this summer.
  • 🎁 To: Board Gamers (Especially those who visit Las Vegas). One of my favorite places in LA (which, alas, I don’t get to as frequently as I like because they have poor parking) is Game Haus Cafe. This is a coffee shop with a large collection of board games. For those that go to Vegas, here’s some great news: There’s a similar shop in Las Vegas! Meepleville Board Game Cafe (FB) at 4704 W. Sahara Ave. The owner has more than 10,000 games in his collection. Meepleville will charge $5 for all-day play Monday to Thursday and $10 Friday to Sunday. They are open 10am – midnight Monday – Thursday. 10am – 1am Friday and Saturday. 10am to 8pm on Sunday, starting in January 2016. This is a must visit next time I’m in Vegas; it ranks up there with the National Pinball Hall of Fame.
  • 🎁 To: Those With Large Record Collections. Those of us who have large collections of anything have the worry of about how our kids will dispose of it. This is especially true for records. The blog “Easily Mused” captures this well (and luckily, it provides a solution):

    “Even now, as the icy finger of Death gently tap tap taps on your shoulder, you can not help but smile as you gaze lovingly at your vinyl record collection which you have so diligently curated. Each gleaming scratchless platter is as close to perfection as the day it was manufactured, a testament to your love for and dedication to the recorded arts.

    Say, have you stopped to consider what will become of this treasure trove after you have departed this mortal realm? Many people such as yourself have bequeathed their records to a close friend or family member, receiving sincere assurances that said records will be treasured, cared for, and passed down to each succeeding generation. Alas, nothing could be further from the truth.

    The painful reality is, you will scarcely even have begun your eternal slumber before the sweaty and possibly jelly-stained fingers of your son or nephew will begin carelessly rifling through your precious vinyl stockpile. “What’s this crap?” he will exclaim. “Who the fuck is Buddy Rich?”

    Your beneficiary, having failed to discern the inestimable cultural value of your collection, will then proceed to recklessly hoist your record crates into the back of his freakishly oversized pickup truck, drop them off orphan-style at the front door of the nearest thrift store and peel away, bobbing his head zombie-like to the rhythm of the latest gangsta rap hit.

    Soon, your prized possessions will be unceremoniously dumped on the floor underneath three shelves that contain hardcover books no one will buy for even a quarter, like Jimmie Walker’s autobiography, Dyn-O-Mite!  or any Jackie Collins novel after Hollywood Wives. They will swiftly be procured by an eagle-eyed entrepeneur who talks like a sophisticated music aficionado, but is really only interested in the crinkly tones produced by shuffling big stacks of cash.

    Through his Ebay store, he will sell your cherished records for exorbitant prices and then send them, one by one, to every corner of the globe. Your ghost self will watch helplessly as your Basie goes to Boise, and your Miles goes to Milan. You will then spend the rest of eternity wandering about aimless and confused, trying but endlessly failing to remember the tune of one goddamn song.”

    Luckily, they provide a solution.