Posts Tagged: driving

Three and a Half Hours of Driving in Tule Fog Makes Ones Eyes see Psychedelic Patterns

Tule Fog!
Mon 11.28.11 – Tule fog photo taken while descending the Grapevine looking out into the Central Valley of California while driving up to the San Francisco Bay area for Qt Dev Days. By the time I started driving up Hwy 152 to Gilroy and finally saw stars and a clear sky, my eyes were rotating like the Mac beach ball during an app crash.
Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.

On Driving, not Flying

Rather than fly to San Francisco this weekend to attend Cindy & Matt’s Wedding 2.0, I decided to drive.
Generally, I prefer to drive than to fly. I don’t like the expense and hassle of flying. It isn’t just the cost of the plane ticket & fees but also do I park my car at a protected pay lot or do I ask a friend or family member to drive me & pick me up from the airport? What about the time it takes to get to the aiport, through security, etc? I own a 2007 Toyota Prius that gets between 46-52 mpg when driving; yes, I can go 460 – 520 miles to a 10 gallon tank of gas. For short trips, there is a definite time savings to driving, as well as money savings.
Las Vegas from SoCal? Drive. If you plan it right, it is 4 hours door to door via the car. I dare you to beat that with driving to the airport, going through security, being at the gate 45 minutes before the flight, plus the 45min to 1 hour flight time & additional taxing to the gate & getting out of the airport & to your destination time. Get a road trip partner & just go.
Phoenix? Also, just drive.
San Francisco? Ooh, that one is hard. It usually is 4-4.5 hours door to door if you fly, plus a minimum of $110 for ticket & fees if you book two weeks ahead. It is 6.5-8 hours door to door from SoCal to SF and less than $60 total in my car, if I drive. But dang if the the drive through the Central Valley on the I-5 is not a mind-numbing haul, even if it is really shorter in the terms of time than one’s brain perceives it. In the end, it is time and how much I need my car when I am in SF that determines if I drive or fly.
The last two trips to San Francisco, I have flown, as I was only in the city for a day or two and was only at one location both times. The trip before that in April, I drove up by myself as I did need my car to get around, and I drove back with my brother who needed to visit a series of commercial real estate properties for work in the Silicon Valley. I picked him up in SF, we drove around for a couple of hours, hit Chinese food in Sunnyvale, looked at a few more buildings and then drove home to LA. Easy peasy.
I like flying Virgin America, it is fun. I like flying American, even if others don’t. I *actually* like LAX. So, if I was only going to be in San Francisco for a weekend wedding and visiting of friends, having to leave late Friday or early Saturday and then be back by Monday morning, wouldn’t flying be easier?
Ah, no.


Putting a Face to the Flight

Driving west on Ocean Blvd to downtown Long Beach

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

I am going to file this under the category of “oh, california” when really it should be under “oh, serendipity”….
This weekend is the annual Long Beach Grand Prix, of which I had forgotten about until this morning when I went to walk the dogs and could hear the sound of screaming engines 7 or so miles away across the Long Beach bay.
Mid-morning I got a call from my brother Joe, asking if I would pick him and his girlfriend, Christine, up and drop them off in downtown Long Beach so that they could go to the Grand Prix. Sure, I said. Off I went, picked them up and dropped them off in front of the Convention Center on Ocean Ave so they could buy tickets.
About 7:20pm, this evening, I got a call asking if I could pick them back up. This evening’s pick up was a bit more elaborate as all of downtown was one big party zone, with streets blocked off and cops re-routing traffic. When I was finally able to get to Pine & 1st Street it was in the wrong direction from our pick up point and I had to yell out the open window of my car to Joe & Christine who were talking to another couple.
Luckily the light was red and they all ran across Pine Ave to jump in my car. All four of them. I was introduced to the other couple who needed a ride down to 2nd Street, which was on the way. The man of the couple was sitting in the middle and he looked vaguely familiar, when he spoke his voice was also familiar.
As we drove east on Ocean Ave down to 2nd Street, it came out that my passenger was a pilot for one of my favorite airlines and not just any pilot, but he flies two of the most prestigious routes LAX to Tokyo and LAX to LHR.
Yep, LAX to London-town, my favorite non-stop. I then asked, “Do you fly the flight that goes out of LAX at ____ and departs LHR at ______?”
He said, “That’s my plane.” He then went on to tell me various bits and ask when was the last time I flew that route, and yes he was the pilot on many of the flights that I have been on the last few years. We also agreed that the long-long haul flights should all have wifi and where he thought that flying economy was rough, I disagreed because I am short and if the airlines has a power port in economy, then I am happy, though I would be happier with wifi. etc.
I dropped him and his companion off at 2nd Street and said goodbye. As my brother, Christine, and I drove home, I geeked out and giggled a bit.
My brother, “Why are you so happy?”
Me, “Well, I love to fly to London. Love it. I love that flight and it is so nice to now have a person and a face to the faceless people behind the locked door flying the plane.”
My brother, “Oh.”
Me, “And best yet, it is much better to find out that one of your badass Glamis friends is my pilot on my favorite flight than some boring suburban dude, as he will most likely know exactly what to do in the case of an emergency.”
My brother laughed at this.
No really, I love traveling but after 9-11 flying has gotten very un-fun, so it was delightful to meet a pilot who flies my favorite route between LAX and London who is a friend of the family and is a really nice, cool guy. A guy that was at the Grand Prix, a guy who is a part of my brother’s Glamis pack of friends, a guy who pilots planes between LA and London and LA and Tokyo.
This makes me happy.

Bluetooth vs. Wired: The Nokia Headset Wars

Nokia BH-602 Bluetooth Headset Nokia HS-43 Wired Stereo Headset

I know it is much cooler to be wearing a bluetooth one ear-ed headset these days than a two ear-ed wired headset, but I am currently a HUGE fan of the Nokia hs-43 wired headset and don’t even know where my fancy pants expensive bh-602 bluetooth headset is (somewhere in the bowels of my purse).
Since July 1st, those of us who live and drive in California are to have hands-free wireless devices whilst driving. You can talk on your mobile while driving, but you have to have both hands on the wheel and your headset on, not that most SUV drivers obeying the law. We won’t talk about the lady with her phone glued to her ear in the GMC Yukon XL who nearly ran me off the road today, no, not at all, we won’t talk about her nor bailouts for auto companies that build such behemoths.
No, what we will talk about is cute, small, efficient, good design by forward thinking companies…. Nokia, thanks for two good products that make my life easier.
I like the way that the Nokia BH-602 bluetooth headset will shape to the back of my ear, but I don’t like how I can’t hear in stereo and when I am walking or out in the big wide public my friend on the other end of the call asks if I am in a wind tunnel. I also have lots of music loaded on the microSD chip both in my N95 and in the Nokia viNe loaner N82 mobiles and it is very hard to listen to music in a one ear-ed bluetooth headset. Also due to having a small ear, the bluetooth headset even when properly shaped to my ear, flops around making it hard to hear.
My N95’s wired stereo headset died a bad wire failure death over nearly a year ago, so I had been using the wired headsets from my N80 and N800 to listen to music while exercising and walking the dogs. When the black N82 arrived on my doorstep in early September, I pulled out the included in the box wired headset, the HS-43, with glee to see what it would do.
Over the last couple of months, I have fallen in love with the wired headset that came in the N82’s box, to the point that I don’t use my bluetooth headset unless I left the wired one at home.
Why do I love the HS-43 wired headset so much? Let me list you the reasons:
1) Wires. Good old fashioned copper covered in plastic & cloth makes for a better sonic / audio experience.
2) Stereo. Hey, novelty! I can hear sound, be it music or spoken voice, in both ears!
3) No need to remember charge the wired headset.
4) Friends and family can hear me speak during a phone call much clearer with the wired headset, even when I am walking along the beach in a stiff breeze. Hello, Seal Way, the killer of all phone calls, you don’t kill my calls now.
5) Oooh, baby baby… the best feature of the HS-43 wired stereo headset is the one that seems most bizarre when you first pull it out. It does not look or act like your usual wired headset, as the back/top is not a headband but a 1/4 inch wide black fabric that is about 6 inches long that have two lanyard style clamp/unclamp at each end. Thus, when the danged thing gets all tangled up into a wad of wired hell, you just pull the two clamps apart and YAY the tangles are gone. If you by accident attempt to pull it out of your purse too fast or out from under the dog and you think, “Oh Crap! I have just broke the headset!”, oh no you have not, the clamps release and you can pull it out nicely and reclamp it.
Oh, lovely HS-43 Wired Stereo Headset, I <3 you. Bluetooth, who?

Define Hands Free

As of Jan. 1, 2008, the State of California has a law on the books that one can only use an mobile phone while driving if it is hands free.
In all the articles released in the last week that I have read and the summaries of the new laws that went into effect on January 1st, no one defines what exactly hands free means, there is an assumption that one knows the legal definition of the phrase.
Does this law define hands free as you must have a “hands free” system that mounts your mobile phone on the dashboard and only works with voice commands? If so, I am screwed and will be illegal, as every time I check the website, they do not have any hands free car accessories for the N95 by this definition. Should I ask a European friend to order a Nokia n95 hands free car set up for me on their local Nokia website, I pay them back, and then they can ship it to me?
Does the law define hands free as a bluetooth ear/headset that allows one to answer calls with a minimum of touching one’s mobile? If so, then more problems, as I have yet to meet a bluetooth earset / headset that fits me and is comfortable. If I have a problem with small hands, also have a problem with small ears.
Does the law define hands free as using the Nokia wired headset / microphone set that comes in the box with the Nokia N95? I don’t think so. Some of the early literature I read about the new law last year said that wearing wired earbuds did not count and violated a law from years ago that one can’t where headphones while driving. Yet, other sources, such as the California Highway Patrol site’s FAQ page, suggest that the idea of the law is to keep both hands on the wheel and not to be distracted while driving.
Hello, Nokia USA, please start selling useful accessories on your website for mobile devices that you are selling in the US!
Hello, Nokia! Hello, how about having one website for accessories that is not country dependent?
Let’s be honest here… I am not really a talker on my mobile phone. I have a lovely lovely camera with GPS and an internet connection that on occasion rings much to my dismay. Given the amount of time I spend in my car, if the State of California wants me to be completely hands free with voice activation for tasks, then Nokia – make my Nseries phone’s camera voice activated and let me moblog with voice activation while driving safely.
Anyone who reads this website or watches my flickrstream or has been in the car with me knows that I love to take photos whilst driving and moblog them on the spot… ;o)