Well worth a look. Stephen Fry lectures on why the Elgin marbles must be returned to Greece.
Holy smokes, I just realized it’s been 10 days since my last post! Selling the house has been a gruelling task, not the least of which has been the constant work needed to keep it in “showroom” condition. Old habits must be realigned to the new reality; clean up immediately after every meal, no towels in the laundry hamper….Hell, no laundry hamper! Why is the basket with my fresh socks in the back of your walk-in closet and not on the bedroom floor as usual?
Our garbage bags have transitioned from the regular large size to the “contractor” size, thick enough to hold sharp objects, old bicycle wheels, lumber, and styrofoam liners from TV boxes. We continue to de-junk from an apparent never-ending cornucopia of crap in the basement, and every day has some other “specialist” putting the finishing touches on details….changing the sink caulking, painting the hearth bricks, replacing defective light fixtures.
And all this on top of fielding visitors, both agents nosing around for a contract, as well as prospective buyers.
Hopefully, I’ll have something reasonably intelligent and intelligible to say in a few days. In the meantime….looking for a house?
Some 35 years ago, I completed the Jim Russell International Racing Driver’s School at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, about 2 hours North of Montreal. It is a legendary track with a long history of hosting major international events, including the Canadian Grand-Prix in the late 1960′s and early ’70′s.
It is a spectacularly beautiful course, nestled in the lush rolling hills of the Laurentians.
My course was my last hurrah as I entered marriage and parenthood; a fitting last fling at the carefree life. No regrets.
My son is a car nut. When his birthday came up earlier this Summer I had the rather brilliant idea of giving him the opportunity to take two laps around the course in a Lamborghini or Ferrari. This is a business run by G1 Tour on a number of tracks in the province, the longest and most famous being the one at Mont-Tremblant.
We left at 6:30 AM and drove in the pouring rain to the track. Fortunately, the rain slowed to a drizzle, making for a very fun ride (I am told). My son’s words were: “The only problem now is that I want to own one of these cars”. Work hard my boy!
He never smiles for any photos, so I’m guessing this is what passes for ecstasy in his facial expressions.
I can’t believe it has already been four years since I got the car, and two since the last review. But the lease is over and the time has come for it to go back to the dealer tomorrow. The good news is….my loaded 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT will be ready by 2 PM tomorrow. Yup, this will be #4 and will represent the most cars from one marque in 42 years with cars. It ties with Toyota and Alfa Romeo for the top spot.
From the number of Subarus that I see on the road vs. just a few years ago, I suspect many more people are starting to drink the Subaru Kool Aid. It is certainly well deserved and even overdue I think; these are terrific cars.
My new Forester is one of the few models still built in Japan for the export market. It was only one of two sitting on the dealer lot in a desired colour, and he made me an excellent deal if I chose from local inventory. Unfortunately, it is loaded with every conceivable bell and whistle including the new EyeSight collision avoidance system: Two cameras mounted in stereo just in front of the rear-view mirror, that constantly scan the front field of the car and warn of impending potential dangers such as pedestrians, unplanned lane changes due to dozing off, or closing in too rapidly on a decelerating vehicle. I’m pretty old-school in this regard: If you need stuff like this (e.g., computerized auto-parking, etc.) to drive, you probably shouldn’t be driving! And I do find the plethora of electronics more distracting than helpful (I’ve rented about a dozen state-of-the art cars in my travels during the last two years).
Now to my final review of the 2010. I won’t go into the excruciating detail of the common car review. I will however, provide a quick summary of the pros and cons:
- Extremely reliable, to the point that I always missed my service points because there was nothing niggling at me to bring it in. I am ashamed to say that I once unwittingly went 8 months between oil changes and only realized it was time when the low oil warning light came on and the engine needed 4 litres of oil to top-up!
- The benchmark for all-wheel-drive. Only one other marque comes close: Audi. But their system is more complex and less reliable. And Subaru has been making nothing but AWD nearly forever. Forget the rest, at least in heavy snow. The Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system is so flawless and seamless, you never know when it’s actually saving your life. I was speaking with a Mercedes-Benz salesman about the GLK 350. He knows I have a Forester. He was singing the praises of his SUV for luxury and comfort. I asked him about the 4-Motion system on the GLK. He looked at me and said, “It’s very good…..but it’s not as good as Subaru!”.
- Very comfortable especially for bigger people. I sat in the supposedly equivalent Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4 and they felt very cramped by comparison to the Forester.
- Car-like drive comfort and handling.
- Power from the non-turbo version is more than adequate if you’re a reasonably good driver. Don’t listen to the power/torque bullshit from automotive industry writers. And again, if you don’t know how to merge on a highway on-ramp and need 300 hp to do it because you wait till the last second to build speed….you probably shouldn’t be driving!
- Some quirky driver and passenger amenities, e.g., cup holders, heated-seat switches, power plugs, etc. These are all located in strange places that require you to be somewhat of a contortionist to get at. I’m told that these have been corrected in the latest models.
- Gas consumption. There’s a substantial penalty for the full-time AWD, although it’s well worth it, IMHO, from a safety perspective. Don’t listen to the test numbers the manufacturers provide; they are all bullshit. I got combined city/highway of 11.5 litres/100 km (22MPG US) over the course of the 65K km that I put on the car. That’s not too bad for an SUV.
- There are some mysterious and completely dysfunctional cargo hooks in the trunk that I was never able to make work, nor figure out their design logic.
Thanks to Mr. Dario, an excellent bike site, Lovely Bicycle. In particular the article on price and bike selection represents very sage advice; it’s not about the price, it’s about the experience of riding a bike and whether or not that experience will encourage you to ride more.
We used to call cheap, department and big-box store bikes, “garage bikes”, because that was where they were destined to spend their dusty lives. And these days, it’s very easy to make beautiful looking bikes from crappy material; they look amazing, yet produce abysmal experiences that one avoids like the plague.
I used to joke with people that a cheap bike is like a cheap suit: It’s not that it won’t last; it will….and it will make you look and feel bad forever.
This is an excellent quote that sums it up perfectly:
The truth is that what constitutes a quality bicycle and a good value often depends on the person. It depends on their needs. It depends on their standards. It depends on the kind of riding they do, on their body’s sensitivity, on their terrain, even on their climate. It depends on their level of mechanical skill. It is impossible to profess “the answer” that will be applicable to everyone.
Have you caught any of the amazing documentaries by The Water Brothers? Absolutely terrific. An examination of water in all its amazing aspects.
Tonight, we watched the episode on the scam that is bottled water in North America. Turns out that in almost every case, tap water is better or at least as good as any bottled water brand, both from a taste and bacteriological perspective. And the monstrous environmental footprint created by plastic water bottles is nothing short of scandalous. I’m sold. In fairness, I’ve never bought plain bottled water and we don’t drink soft drinks. We do enjoy “fizzy” water such as Perrier and San Benedetto in their naturally flavoured varieties (my favourite is the Perrier grapefruit). But after watching The Water Brothers, I’m done. Tap water in a large fridge jug, with some grapefruit or cucumber slices from now on.
Full episodes available at the link above.
Now this is really cool. Thanks to Mr. Italo for the find. Retronaut is a web site that takes you back to any era of your choosing and shows you amazing images from that time. Try the ’60′s just for fun and have a look at what Martha Stewart looked like when she was a model (She was a model??). Yup, that’s her in the picture above. Thousands of great shots that will really take you back to things you thought you had long forgotten.
One of the great classics:
Overheard in a bar:
Lady to man: “What do you do”
Man: “I’m an artist”
Lady: “Oh my, what type of Art?”
Man: “I draw”
Lady: “What do you draw?”
Here’s a very useful site called, Quote Investigator. As its name states, the site is dedicated to investigating the origins of English-language quotes. I stumbled upon it trying to verify the origins of one of my all-time favorite quotes, usually attributed to either Oscar Wilde or Winston Churchill: “I am a man of simple tastes. The very best always satisfies me”.
It’s interesting to see how quotes are often distorted over time, even within thir own generation. This is an even bigger problem if the quotes weren’t in print, but attributed by others, as is the case with the one above.
Overheard today: ”The only way for someone to lose weight drinking green tea is if he runs up the mountain and picks the leaves himself”