Author Archive

Bumper Bullies

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

People have been doing it since automobiles first appeared on roads.  We’ve all probably been guilty of tailgating the car in front of us from time to time.  I’ve certainly followed slow drivers too closely, though never unsafely close like many drivers I’ve seen (my wife may disagree…)  On at least one road near my house, it seems far more than isolated cases of being very late to an appointment.  It’s more like an epidemic of road-ragers and just plain inconsiderate and unsafe drivers.

The main route through our subdivision is a 4-lane city road.  Our stretch of this road is at least a few miles long of only residential areas, and so no large trucks are allowed.  The speed limit is 35 mph for miles in either direction and signs are posted frequently.  The problem is that this road goes from one end of town to the other, from the interstate highway to all the residences in the south end of town.  That apparently is the only excuse needed for drivers to be in a big hurry, all day, every day.

Where my street ends at this road is our school district’s new pre-K school that also serves children with disabilities.  That serves as no deterrent to speeders, lane weavers and bumper bullies.  I drive this road frequently, and if it is anywhere close to rush hour, there is someone so close to my rear bumper that I can’t see their headlights in my mirrors.   And it doesn’t seem to matter how fast I’m driving, someone is always on my bumper trying to bully me to drive faster.

DSC_0458

My response is to then drive EXACTLY 35 mph until my turn, but the bullies never take a hint about their unsafe driving.  For most, they simply look for an opportunity to be even less safe.  They swerve into the other lane to cut off another car, then speed past me until they get on the bumper of yet another vehicle and have to slow down again a few seconds later.  Or, they have to jam on the brakes at the next traffic signal behind another group of cars they will unsafely tailgate to repeat the cycle.

From expressway until the road ends, it’s about 7 miles long.  Considering all the stoplights and traffic, it’s unlikely the bullies can average 10 miles per hour faster than safe drivers, even if they do manage to go 50mph or faster for short stretches.  A savings of perhaps a few minutes in a best case scenario, but realistically only a minute or two.  Is it really worth it?  Not only being an idiot and contributing to their own stress and blood pressure levels, but endangering other drivers, their own passengers and pedestrians, too?

 

Lenovo Yoga 900S Review: Blogger’s Dream?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

LenovoYoga900sReviewIt’s been a while since I reviewed my last notebook, and now my Sony VAIO is slowly dying.  It takes forever to startup sometimes.  Basic internet surfing pauses frequently.  Black spots have started to appear on my display.  It’s time for a replacement, but like last time, it’s so hard to find the perfect one.

I really wanted to love the 2016 Apple Macbook.  It was a top contender.  But it’s relatively expensive.  And there’s no touchscreen.  And minimal connectivity.

I also liked the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.  The base model was in my price range and the display is beautiful, the best one I’ve seen in this class.  I just wasn’t completely sold on the kickstand and typecover arrangement.

The new HP Chromebook 13 is a relative bargain.  The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tablet also looks very interesting.  Neither of these was available when I was buying.  So what’s the ideal portable for this blogger, to be used mostly for home office applications, internet publishing and surfing the web?

I had a few requirements:

  • Fanless.  For quiet rooms or when wife is asleep.
  • Laptop.  Actually comfortable on a lap when needed.
  • Backlit keyboard and/or touchscreen to work in low light.
  • Lightweight and portable.

Just these requirements weed out a huge number of systems.   Finding one with enough power to avoid slowdowns was tougher, as this eliminated most older and lower priced models like the Surface 3.  My VAIO lacks this power, lacks a backlit keyboard, lacks a touchscreen and has a quiet but audible fan.  It’s a 13.1″ notebook that weighs about 3 pounds, and that is about the limit I would accept for its replacement. Finding something that checks all the boxes isn’t easy.

yoga900s2Thanks to the miracle of other bloggers, I happened upon the Lenovo Yoga 900S-12ISK.  It not only met my requirements, but had a few bonuses, too:

Kiddy World Plus Recall

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
Kiddy World Plus Recall

This recall of the Kiddy World Plus is for a compliance failure issue such that, “A partially engaged buckle will not adequately restrain the child in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.”  As there is currently no remedy or official company website notice, CarseatBlog advises parents to immediately discontinue using their Kiddy World Plus with the protection shield for children above 1 year old and between 22-40 lbs.  This applies ONLY to model 51 100 WP manufactured between July 2, 2012 and October 5, 2013.  Stop using the carseat as a toddler seat with protection shield and contact Kiddy USA at 1-855-92KIDDY for further instructions regarding acceptable methods of installation and use.

For children between 40-110 pounds, and 40 to 57 in. tall,  the World Plus may continue to be safely used as a high back booster car seat per the instruction manual.  CarseatBlog further recommends that children be restrained in a carseat with a 5-point harness until they are 4 years old AND above 40 pounds.

Over 1,429 Kiddy World Plus carseats are affected.

kiddyworldplus

From the NHTSA:

SUMMARY:

Kiddy USA (Kiddy) is recalling certain World Plus combination forward facing child restraints that convert to a high back booster seat, model 51 100 WP, manufactured from July 2, 2012, through October 5, 2013. The buckle/tongue on the affected booster seats may only partially engage. As a result, the consumer may have a false impression that the buckle is fully latched when it is not. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

CONSEQUENCE:

A partially engaged buckle will not adequately restrain the child in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

REMEDY:

The remedy for this recall is still under development. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Kiddy customer service at 1-855-92KIDDY (1-855-925-4339).

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

2016 Update: Safest Affordable Used Cars for Families and Teens

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Safest Used Cars for Teen Drivers under $10K

Many families put a high priority on safety for their kids.  Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, most are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features.  Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but don’t want them wrecking a new car!  Last year, the IIHS evaluated hundreds of cars to produce a list of models recommended for teens.

I have somewhat different criteria for my teen drivers.  For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan if it is above 2,750 lbs., as long is it has great crash test results.  While compact cars do give up a little in terms of weight in a frontal crash, they are generally more maneuverable and easier to handle and park.  That’s a big deal for new drivers.  And of course, compact cars are less expensive to buy and maintain.  I am also more concerned about having top results in all the actual crash tests, including the new IIHS small overlap test, and less concerned about certain other results.

Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans from their list, even top performing models with many safety features and decent all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test.  In fact, some models they recommend do very poorly in this newer crash test.  Also, many of their recommendations are well over $10,000.

My Requirements?

  1. 4-star or better NHTSA overall rating
  2. No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating.
  3. No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY test, including the newer small overlap test
  4. Around $10,000 or less to buy.
  5. Good visibility and handling.
  6. Stability control and side-curtain airbags.
  7. No minicars, sub-compacts or any model below 2,750lbs.  Weight is a bad thing on roads, I know.  More mass means more kinetic energy and more wasted fuel.  But when the other guy is driving a 5,000 lb. truck, the smallest cars become splatter.

Preferences: