GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
Look! It's GirlDriver, USA.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Heads-Up Display--Lordy, lordy

Dashboard Jesus
As my friend Larry Edsall said about this on Facebook, "Now that's a heads-up display."
A head-up display or heads-up display—also known as a HUD—in an automobile projects speed, traffic signs and other information as  transparent display on the windshield in front of the driver.  It allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road continuously without having to look down at the instrument panel  It's showing up on premium and luxury vehicles but should trickle down in the next few years.  I believe Cadillace was the first to put heads-up display in vehicles back in the 90s. There were problems with it that have been ironed out so it is back and I think a good technology.  The above has not been generated by a car company, but it's pretty clever.  The bobbing yellow daisy in the purple container finishes the look nicely, don't you think?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Many Boxes of Tile Can you Fit into a Fiat Abarth?

Fiat took this photo next to the barbed wire.  So urban!
I was prepared to get a huge kick out of the Fiat Abarth but not to recommend it.  I have been of the opinion that it is too small for U.S. transportation needs.  Families, no.  Outdoorsy couples, no.  Single young women, maybe.  Guys of any age and most occupations--probably not.  People in the design field who make enough money to own a car in an urban setting--yes.

They took this one too.  Graffiti baby.
I drove it for four days recently.

Because I'm a girl, I get to talk about the color or should I say the Rosso (red) paint job.  This color, I assure you, was not chosen in clinics the way color is chosen in some Midwest cities that will remain nameless.  This color has not been clipped from magazines and pasted up on a bulletin board in the design center and talked about endlessly among several designers and their bosses.  This color, and I am making this up but I believe it, was chosen by the lead designer who walked into the studio, looked through some color chips and said––gesturing flippantly with his arms––"that red, Rosso!"   That's how decisive the color is.  It's inspired.  And you get to stare at it a lot, because the dash is the same color as the exterior.

Driving the Abarth with its five speed automatic transmission mounted in the center stack, not on the floor was just a blast.   That placement of the shifter makes it very easy to handle.  At first the transmission seemed a little  jerky but once you get it's sporty groove you adjust to it --it's not seamless, it's sporty. The engine is turbocharged, a 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder that makes about 160 hp. Torque is 107 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm. It's turbocharged so you never feel "OMG it's so small I'm never going to merge."

And this one.  That has to be a Frank Ghery building.  Or at least influenced by Ghery.
The performance leather-trimmed, high-back bucket seats were nicely bolstered and quite comfortable but when I went to fold them it took a bit of yanking.  There's no push button on the front seats.  You have to pull up on a strap and you have to have that strap at the exact right angle or the seat back won't budge.

I was able to fit all my bags into the back by folding down the back seats.  When I ran out of other options it became clear that I would have to drive some wall tile down to New York City from upstate I was skeptical.  But wonder of wonders: I got six boxes of tile into the passenger side of the car.  It set off the seat belt alarm but with some jiggling (and giggling)  I was able to stop it from beeping.  And when your passenger is boxes of tile you can control the radio!

The car's an attention getter.  High fives are as numerous as insects on a windshield.  I was stopped a number of times when getting in and out of the car to talk about it.  One gentleman owned a vintage one and couldn't stop talking about it--seriously.

My Abarth cost $27,400.  It was assembled in Mexico and most of the content of the car is North American.  It has an Italian transmission so we can't attribute the cost to the exchange rate.  You pay for adorable.

The Abarth has airbags front, side and even a knee airbag.  It has an overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.   The Abarth is well-equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry and Fiat even touts it's one step power windows--does any car stateside have roll down windows anymore? 

Base price is $22,000 so there's about $5,600 worth of add-ons and destination charges. It is child seat ready.   There is no navigation system in the car so you can option a Tom-Tom GPS for $600. 

Overall I found the car just a fun, fun ride.  I like small cars.  I like manuals.  I love to drive them.  And this one will stand out as memorable.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Boomer Bliss--We Finally Get to Woodstock

Get a load of this sleek profile in sparkle-city Burgundy.  You gotta love it.

Left to right: Mary, Michelle, Me.

John with puppets, Mary, Me with guitar.
So here's a little bit of my history.  The summer of Woodstock, my friend Mary and I were on tour in South America singing and dancing our way into the hearts of the Latin Americans under the aegis of the United States Information Agency.  USIA/USIS is a cultural exchange program.  The government sent entertainers like us around the world––often to trouble spots––to make friends for America.  I played the guitar, acted and sang--and apparently I played the tambourine since there are photos of me doing that. (I have a vague recollection of hitting my hip with the tambo, although I think Mary was on tambourine most of the time.) We did shows for universities, the general public and kids.  We had a whole menu of stuff we'd worked up for the tour––a magic trunk, colorful cards with pictures of animals and their names in two languages, whistles, hats, magic tricks––and we'd pull from our repertoire according to the makeup of our audience.  We'd learn a song from the country we were in and sing it along with show tunes and folk tunes--not exactly Woodstock but from a very young age I had modeled my folk-singing self after Baez.

Baez at 70-something.  So beautiful.

Bethel Woods
Indigo Girls

 Traveling to almost every country in South America over a period of six months, we had a grand, grand tour, incredible adventures, big audiences, but . . .  we missed Woodstock.  So Joan Baez was going to be at The Bethel Woods Art Center--a site in upstate New York that incorporates the field where the original Woodstock happened
I emailed  Mary and said let's––all these years later––go see Joan Baez and have our own private Woodstock.  She was in.  And we drove over two hours each way on Saturday night, June 22nd.  We stopped for pizza in Ellenville at Arianna's Pizzeria and Italian Cuisine.  Every bit as good as its slogan: excellence in fine Italian dining.  The pizza is really good and all the diners seemed to be enjoying their food.  Finally we got to Bethel Woods, a huge center with tons of food, immaculate bathrooms, a gorgeous shed that houses a wonderful stage.  (To put it mildly, this place in amazing.)  Baez, there with the Indigo Girls, was a brilliant combination of the old and the new for us.  The Indigo Girls were new to me although they have been around and are very popular. I have become a fan of their music and listen to it all the time.    The astonishing Baez voice, while it has gotten huskier and deeper, is still like fine crystal.  She's still political but not strident.  She has internalized her feelings about the world and one can just listen to her sing and want to join her in fixing what's wrong in the world.  She is more powerful now with her voice and her messages.

We drove the nearly five hours round trip.  And since it's 2013, our transport was no VW bus.  It was a Toyota Avalon.  The Avalon was Boomer-ready, outfitted with a terrific navigation system that got us to the concert on time, really comfortable seats, plenty of trunk and back seat space.  And what really made the car stand out was the sparkly burgundy paint job.  Everyone commented on the paint.  The car is stylish enough to turn heads but it doesn't overreach trying to be hip.  We were perfectly positioned in the Avalon for the audience that showed up for this concert.  Some had missed the original Woodstock.  Some had been there and were back for the nostalgia.  We might have been mistaken for a Lesbian couple.  Who cares.  

My  Sizzling Crimson Mica Avalon Ltd. was powered by a 3.5 liter 268 horsepower V-6 engine combined with a 6-speed, electronic transmission with paddle shifters.  Our Avalon got pretty good mileage--21 city, 31 highway, 24 combined.  The cost with about $2,000 worth of options was $42,570 including delivery.  I couldn't have been happier cruising along in the Avalon.  I didn't miss traveling in a VW bus one bit.