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Going to the auto show…

January 27, 2023, 9:08 AM

On Thursday, January 26, Elyse, my friend Matthew, and I went to the Washington Auto Show at the Washington Convention Center.  This was Matthew’s first time ever going to the auto show, and the first time that Elyse and I had been since 2020.  Overall, I was less than impressed this time around, but I am not entirely willing to ding the entities involved with putting on the show for it, as I suspect that the ongoing semiconductor shortage is likely to blame for the weak showing at the auto show.  This is the same reason that my new HR-V is taking so long.  And I get it: if they can’t get cars out to paying customers in a reasonable time, it’s hard to justify pulling units out of circulation for demo purposes.  Because of this, the event space was a lot smaller than it usually is, with large sections of the upper and lower event halls’ being sectioned off with curtains.  I got the distinct feeling when I came in that the space was smaller, and it turned out that my feeling was right.  On the plus side, though, one of my big peeves about the auto show in past years was gone, as we didn’t have to wend our way through the convention center’s lobby through a gauntlet of sponsors hawking their products and services that have absolutely nothing to do with cars before getting to the show floor.  All that gauntlet of sponsors ever managed to do was piss me off before I ever got started.  So good riddance to them, and hopefully they don’t come back in future years.  This year, we just came in and went right into the event.

This year, I wanted to go to the auto show in order to check out electric cars.  Recalling my day test driving electric cars in Frederick last spring, I wanted to see what the various manufacturers’ offerings were like.  I still am in the market for an electric car in addition to the HR-V, but following my October 2022 accident in the original HR-V, this has been put on hold for a while.  Following my visit to the auto show, I still got the sense, as was the case last spring, that the electric vehicle market has not yet “arrived”.  Automakers are still going for overly futuristic designs for their electric models to showcase that they’re something different, and a lot of brands still don’t have an entry in the electric market as of yet.  I have said before that I will know that the electric vehicle market has “arrived” when automakers start rolling out electric vehicles with conventional design.  For instance, I’ll know that it’s “arrived” when Honda starts making an electric version of the CR-V that is otherwise exactly the same design as the regular CR-V.  In other words, it’s first and foremost a CR-V, and it just happens to be electric.  Not this whole, “Woooooooo, look at me, I’m electric!” kind of style that we’re seeing now.

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A solo adventure up north…

January 21, 2023, 10:17 AM

On January 5 and 6, while Elyse was at National Harbor attending MAGFest, I did a little overnight trip up north while I was unsupervised.  This was to be a quick adventure, since this wasn’t one of my long weekends, and the goal was to pack as much fun as I could have into two days’ time.  The plan was to leave home in the late morning on the 5th, go up to Philadelphia that day and stay at the Courtyard by Marriott in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, which would stage me for the second day, where I would head over to Trenton and then take the train up to New York.  I would spend about eight hours in New York, ride the train back to Trenton, and then head home from there.  Interestingly enough, this was an adventure where I put more focus on the logistics of the travel than I did on what I would actually do at the destination.  Thus, the execution didn’t go as well as I had intended, as I ended up getting there and then was like, well, now what? as I more or less played it by ear with less direction than I usually like to give myself.  I also knew that this would need to be a more indoor-focused trip, because it was going to be rainy or overcast all day both days.  This adventure was also unusual because on this adventure, the drone stayed home.  The Philadelphia day was not going to be conducive for flying, and New York, forget about it – too many people to worry about.

For the “Philadelphia” day, I actually put more of my efforts into the Wilmington area than I did in Philadelphia.  I have a list of photo shoot ideas on the computer, which I jokingly refer to as “the place where photo ideas go to die”, and initially pulled out the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, which a photographer friend had previously photographed.  However, I wanted to do the interior, and they also closed at 5 PM, so that would have to be a first stop since it closed relatively early.  So while I wanted to do it, I put it into the “we’ll see” pile, because I wanted to do some stuff in Delaware, which would have to come first because of its location.  I ended up spending a lot of time at Christiana Mall, since I’d been going past it on 95 in 15+ years of adventures up north, but I’d never stopped there in all of that time.

When it came to Christiana Mall, I sort of knew what to expect.  Christiana Mall was a one-story mall, and, unlike a lot of malls these days, was doing well.  As such, I didn’t go in expecting something massive like King of Prussia and then experience disappointment when I got a one-story mall.  Even for a one-story mall, the facility was smaller than I expected, being arranged roughly in a loop.  It had five anchor spots, and they were all filled.  I think that the biggest surprise there was the way that Target was attached to the mall.  In most cases where I’ve seen Target at an enclosed shopping mall, the store is either adjoining the mall but otherwise freestanding (i.e. no mall entrance), or the mall entrance is located at the front of the store near the regular exterior entrance.  Not so at this store.  At Christiana, the mall entrance for Target was in the back of the store.  From the perspective of the store, there was a row of self checkout machines in the random location in the back of the store, and there was a mall entrance nearby.  If it tells you anything about how random the mall entrance’s location is, after I finished up at Target, I had to hunt for that mall entrance in order to get back to the mall.  It is very non-obvious in its placement.

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A letter to a bad driver…

January 12, 2023, 9:22 AM

One thing that I did not expect to come from the accident that claimed my HR-V was how much it has really bothered me, more than three months down the road.  When I had the fire in the Soul, by the time three months had passed, I was in the HR-V and going along being awesome.  The HR-V would take its first big road trip, an overnight trip to Centralia, Pennsylvania, a little more than three months after the Soul’s demise.  In other words, I got over it quickly.  I suppose it’s because the Soul perished in a fire, and it happened without any direct human intervention, i.e. no human’s actions directly triggered the failure that led to the fire, even though the root cause was shoddy workmanship during the warranty replacement of the engine.

In the case of the HR-V’s demise, the root cause was traceable to one person: Jose Rosalio Abrego Mena.  He failed to stop for a red signal, and despite my best efforts to avoid a collision, there just wasn’t enough room to stop to avoid a collision, and his Nissan Pathfinder struck my HR-V on the left side, roughly on the A-pillar.  I came out of it pretty well despite everything, walking away from the accident with only minor injuries.  However, I feel like it may have left some lasting mental effects on me.  I still get a little jumpy when I see the headlights of a vehicle approaching from a cross street at night, though this has reduced somewhat with time.  I also can’t seem to get the whole incident out of my head, as my time in the train, which often helps me to organize my thoughts, has been a place to dwell on the accident, even though I played no part in causing it.  I keep thinking about how I got knocked out by the airbags.  I keep thinking about how the other driver ran after the accident, and how no charges that I could find were ever filed against the other driver (though I did turn up some old charges for trespassing and fishing without a license).  I think about if there was anything more that I could have done to avoid a collision, such as a hard turn of the wheel, though I admit that once the other driver ran the light, a collision was probably inevitable (but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it).  The accident also made me consider my own mortality, as I think about how easily this collision could have killed me right then and there, and how lucky I was to be able to walk away from it largely unscathed.  In short, I have not gotten over this one by any means, and I desperately wish that I could, but I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it and put it behind me.  I hope that I didn’t end up with a case of PTSD over this, but I’m worried that I might.

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Coming into 2023 with optimism…

January 6, 2023, 10:12 PM

First of all, I hope everyone had a good new year.  I’m looking at 2023 with much optimism.  2022 was a pretty good year as well, though I did have that car accident in October that totaled my HR-V.  On the whole, though, things are going well in my life, and I hope that it continues throughout the year.

One thing’s for sure: I enter the year quite grateful to be alive.  At the time that the accident with the HR-V happened, I was mad that this idiot had run a light and destroyed my car.  I was quite shaken, but I was walking around, and only suffered a few minor scrapes.  As such, I refused medical care at the time other than the medics’ bandaging up the cut on my head.  In other words, all considered, I came out of it pretty well, and Elyse and I still did the trip to Tennessee that we had previously planned, but in a rental car rather than in my own car.  I was lucky, because things could have been much worse.  Not long after my accident, a friend from college lost their mother to a car accident in Texas.  I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the other accident, but considering my own accident right around the same time, their accident really hit home.  It made me wonder why I managed to survive my accident largely without injury, while my friend’s mother perished.  It was a reminder that life is short, and life is precious, and it could be over in an instant due to circumstances completely outside of your control.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure that the airbag knocked me unconscious for about a minute during the accident, because I remember the collision, and then the next thing I remember, the car was at rest and a bystander was calling for me to get my attention.  I have no recollection of the car’s traveling about 150 feet and coming to rest.  So it was definitely lights out for a minute, but it’s a scary realization that it could have very easily been lights out permanently.  Glad that wasn’t the case.

Otherwise, though, things are looking up.  The new HR-V is coming in March, and Mom’s Scion now feels routine (though I am looking forward to bringing it back to my parents).  I also did some significant upgrades to the house over the course of the year, getting new doors in March, and a new heat pump system just before Christmas.  The new heat pump system is something that I was particularly excited about, because my old system was reaching end of life, and this is new one is a more efficient system.  It also runs a lot more quietly than the old one, which I found a tad disturbing at first, but now I’m used to it.  It also uses the Nest thermostat, which is something that I had wanted to a while, but the old system was not compatible with it.  Now, I can control the temperature of my house from anywhere via my phone, and can also say, “OK Google, set the temperature at [whatever],” and the system will respond.  I dig it.  It’s very smart, and Elyse and I are still learning how to best use it.  We have not yet been on any overnight trips since we got the new system, but we’ll see how that goes when we set vacation mode and such for the Nest.  That or we’ll just turn the system off before leaving and then fire it up by remote a few hours before we’re supposed to return.  I know that we did have an interesting moment on the first day after we got the system, where a setting that detects whether or not we’re home was on and then I went to work.  Elyse wasn’t set up with it yet, so when I left, the heat went off and the house dropped like ten degrees.  We have since disabled that setting, at least for now.

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Categories: Myself, New Year's