Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chevy Malibu (2014)

Redux: Stop the madness.

You know the feeling.  You look at the selection of cars and realize "oh great, it's down to just the American cars."  Does anyone actually *want* to drive one of these?

This thing handles like you expect.  You have no idea what the tires and the road are negotiating beneath you.  The handling feels like a video chat -- you move your hands but the steering doesn't see it for half a second.  A bouncy house and a fish had a baby and put a tinny engine in it.

It has cute bells and whistles .. but all the interactions with them are nonsensical.  Here's a sample of the goofiness.

You can pair up your phone and play music through the car's audio system.  Great right?

But the next time you start up the car, it seems to have forgotten all about that.  It just switches on the XM radio, tuned to whatever your first station preset is.  It doesn't even remember which XM station you may have last listened to -- it just switches on the first and starts blaring.  Before your stopover, you were grooving to Caro Emerald -- as soon as you start the car back up, you're listening to John Tesh.

Can you imagine if your first preset was a Country station?  Think of the children!

Nissan Maxima (2014)

Redux:  Look for one of these, next time you have a choice.

Maybe it was the luck of the draw, but mine had really nice stuff.  It had an automatic climate control that could *subtly* bring the temperature down after a day in the sunshine.  It had keyless ignition and entry.  And the remote lock/unlock doesn't do that stupid thing where it makes the car honk at anyone standing in front of it.

I think my favorite thing was that switching from automatic transmission to manual push-button causes it to shift down one gear from what the automatic had it in.  That's *exactly* what you use that for!  You're either trying to get more kick, or you're trying to engine brake so the fuzz doesn't see your brake lights come on.  Obviously, a manual driver had a say in how this feature works.

Nice handling, shifts when it should, and the engine has zoom without gobbling gas.

The only issue I had with it is that there's no "accessory port" (lighter) near the dashboard.  So if you're hanging your phone in the general dashboard region, there's no place handy to plug in and charge.  Not a deal breaker in the slightest.

Hilton Garden Inn -- Greenbelt, MD

Note to self:  Yep.  Nice chill place, with laundry and everything.

Honestly, I like any place with instant Ramen.  It was summer in Maryland, so the Lobby was so air-conditioned-cold I thought it was going to snow.  Ramen is a nice way to take the edge off that.

This review is identical to the last one, because this hotel is virtually identical to the one in Fredericksburg, VA. Honestly, it was totally spooky to check-in, because it's exactly the same layout, with only a couple of differences, like the color of the chairs' upholstery. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I checked my calendar to make sure I hadn't somehow unwittingly booked the same hotel twice.

Hilton Garden Inn -- Fredericksburg, VA

Note to self:  Yep.  Nice chill place, with laundry and everything.

Honestly, I like any place with instant Ramen.  It was summer in Virginia, so the Lobby was so air-conditioned-cold I thought it was going to snow.  Ramen is a nice way to take the edge off that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Travelodge LAX South -- El Segundo, CA

Note to self: never, ever let Concur suggest a hotel for you again.  Ever.  This isn't a motel, it's a business school study in ROI.

Class, suppose for a moment that I own a motel.  I can spend forty dollars to replace the stained carpet, or I can spend thirty dollars making the tile in the bathroom actually have grout holding it together.  Given that my average room rate is the going rate in the area minus fifteen percent, which option do I choose, to optimize my future profit?

Answer: websites only care about your published price relative to the nearby options.  Game it.  Make up the difference by charging for parking.  And stop paying for the Internet uplink.  Free wifi just means you can connect to it .. we never said it was connected to anything.  Midterm complete.