Thursday, November 19, 2020

Automatic Driving

No, this isn't about autonomous cars. It's about... me.

A while back I was on a very long drive coming home from seeing my grandson. I was on Interstate 90 and traffic was fairly light. And I was keeping track of the cars around me so I would know if there was someone in my blind spot (even though my car warns me). And I realized I was taking a gentle corner and not consciously thinking about it. I was doing it automatically. So I started paying attention and realized on gentle curves, I take them without thinking about it. If the curve gets too sharp, I then have to donate some conscience brain power to taking them.

I found this interesting. I've been driving for 45 years and have, apparently developed the ability to do some of it without thinking about it. At least gentle curve at not too high a speed (I had the cruise control set at 76 in a 70 zone, which is about what the Washington State Patrol will let you get away with).

Now, I actually enjoy taking corners fast and devoting brain power to it. But when I'm just cruising along, I apparently don't always have to.

Do you find yourself automatically driving? Let me know about it in the comments below.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Netflix Disc Service

You may not realize this, but Netflix still does disc service where they send you a disc through the mail, you watch it, and send it back. This was their original business model before they got into streaming.

And I still use it. It's how I see most new movie releases. I haven't been to the theater since Incredibles 2 and that was June of 2018.

But the disc service has gotten more and more frustrating and I'm worried Netflix might shut it down. If that happens, I don't know how I'm going to see new releases. Maybe have to figure out RedBox

When I first got Netflix twenty or so years ago I sent discs to Tacoma and that's where they came from. Then I started sending them to Spokane. Spokane was great because it only took one day to get there and one day to get back. Tacoma was two or three days. I'd mail them on Friday and have discs back on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Then Spokane shut down so I was sending discs to Tacoma again. It took a little longer to get discs. 

But a bit ago, Tacoma must have shut down because I'm sending discs to and receiving them from San Jose, CA. Which is about four days each direction. 

Netflix has done one thing to help: somehow it gets notified that the disc has been sent and then they send out the next disc. But it still takes 5-6 days to get a new disc. And holidays don't help. For example, Columbus Day made it so I got discs on Friday rather than Thursday when I sent them back the Friday before. Annoying.

But as fewer and fewer people use the disc service, Netflix needs to consolidate. I understand that. It's just damn inconvenient for me. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Pac-12 Football Starts this Weekend

The Pac-12 finally decided to allow there to be a shortened fall football season. It's a six-game regular season and then the Pac-12 Championship game. They are calling it a seven-game season but only two teams will be playing that seventh game.

I was very disappointed when the Pac-12 decided not to have a fall season, but perhaps a spring football season. They and the Big Ten conference made the same decision. But then the Big Ten reversed itself and decided to have a fall season. That left the Pac-12 as the only conference in the FBS putting off the season. Which means that the Pac-12 teams can't compete for bowl games or for the College Football Playoff (CFP).

The University of Washington Huskies (Go Dawgs!) start the truncated season playing California in Berkeley. I have no idea what to expect. We have a new coach, new quarterback, a lot of new players. And we've had bad luck against Cal the past couple of seasons. The game will be on ESPN at 7:30 PM PDT Saturday. I'll be in front of my television.

I hate these late games.

UPDATE: There was a positive COVID test at Cal. The game may be delayed.

UPDATE 2: The Cal game was cancelled and won't be made up.

How's your college football season going? Or do you care? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

What Speed Limits?

I drive a lot of interstate highways. If I go to Seattle or Spokane, it's all interstate. If I go see my grandson, it's mostly interstate.

One thing I have noticed is that lately, drivers seem to speed...a lot. I set the cruise control at 5 mph over the speed limit because if I go faster for any extended period of time, I get a ticket. On the interstates in Washington State, the speed limit is 70 mph for cars, so I go 75. But lately, it seems, people are going 80 or 85 on the interstates. I'm passed constantly by people zooming by. And I'm not sure why. I'm not seeing fewer cops.

A while back, Google bought Waze. And if you put a route in Google Maps, it, like Waze, shows you where people have reported cops being. I wonder if people are trusting Google Maps and speeding where they don't think there are cops. Me, I don't trust it enough to do that. It has shown me a few times where there are cops, but not always.

Or maybe there's another reason people are driving faster. I don't know. Do you have a theory why people are driving faster? If so, let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tesla Plaid

I'm not a big fan of electric cars (EVs) basically because of "range anxiety" (worry you won't have the electricity to get where you're going or to a charger) and the time it takes to "refill the tank." But I love their performance. All their torque is available at zero RPM unlike a gasoline engine.

Tesla has a new car coming out that is available for preorder now. Just be aware, Tesla has a bad habit of missing promised delivery dates.

The new car is the Model S Plaid. That's a reference to the Mel Brooks movie, Spaceballs. It reportedly has three electric motors that give it a total of 1,100 horsepower. It also is supposed to have an EPA range of over 520 miles. And that's about as far as I want to drive in a day. (Your range may vary. EPA range tends to be higher than real-life range.)

Tesla also claims that the Plaid can do 0-60mph in less than two seconds. This is a four-door sedan we're talking about, with world-beating performance.

This would be the first EV I would be tempted to buy if it weren't for a couple of things. One, Tesla's build quality is lacking. And two, the base price is $140,000. For that I could buy two Audi S6 sedans. They won't have that kind of performance but I also won't have rang anxiety.

How do you feel about EVs? Love them or hate them? Would you be tempted to buy one if the price came down? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Urloitian Spheres

Now available: Chumba of the Intelligence Corps Book 3: The Urloitian Spheres.

Intrigue surrounds the Core Empire…

Before he was Rick Bailey, before he hunted for the Treasure of the Black Hole, he was Titus Chumba of the Core Empire Intelligence Corps.

Over centuries, mysterious silver spheres have been discovered across the galaxy. No one knows what they are, until the alien race of the Malvalkians bring four of them together. Soon, the Core Empire is on a quest for more spheres and Captain Chumba is on the hunt. What are the spheres, and what does the ancient alien race, the Urloits, have to do with them? Will this finally bring the cold war between the Empire and the Malvalkians to hot, violent open conflict? Or will the spheres spell doom for Earth and all her inhabitants?

Book one: The Smugglers of Mars is available here.

Book two: The Three Species War is available here.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Speed Limit Changes

In order to get out of the house at least once a day, I go to Starbucks. It's a little over a five mile drive each way. And on that route there are six speed limit changes. Speeds limits range from 25 mph in my neighborhood to 55 mph on the country road. But then it slows to 50 mph. Then it ridiculously slows to 35. Then back up to 50 again. From there you get on a new street where it is 35 mph.

But where, exactly, is the speed limit in effect? When you see the sign? I'm pretty sure not. When you pass the sign? I think so. When I lived in Texas, I noticed they painted a white line across the street/road to emphasis that. At least where I lived.

But here's the thing: when you have to slow down, you have to slow down before you reach the speed limit sign. When you can speed up, you can only do so once you've passed the speed limit sign. So that limits how much time/space  you can spend at the higher speed limit. Okay, not by a lot, but still. When the speed limits drops from 55 to 50, then less than a mile later to 35, you're spending a lot of time slowing down where the speed limit is higher.

And I tend to use cruise control to keep from speeding (my right foot is a rebel). And I try to stay off the brakes slowing down. So I have start slowing a bit early.

Does this bother you, or only me. How do you feel about speed limit changes? Let me know in the comments below.