February 24th, 2010


Toyota Bashing

Early this morning ~ 1 am on KGO "news talk" radio, the host opened up both barrels at Toyota, making the leap from one tearful woman's Congressional testimony to total condemnation of the company since time began. One thing 25 years in technical support/QA has taught me is that a failure in a single unit does not mean all, or even most of those units are defective. Cars have many potential points of failure, many of them potentially fatal. I don't know anyone who has been driving for 10 years or more who has not experienced some sort of problem with his/her vehicle. It's one of the main reasons US auto makers have been in the toilet for decades. I used to own a Saturn, and so did my best friend G. Between G and I by the time we had the cars for 2 years we had replaced almost every part of the car between the two of us.

Serendipity alert: G drove to Reno, won $5k gambling, on the drive back his Saturn's engine block cracked, which cost $5k to repair.

My parents owned a Camry for 15 years, finally decided it was time to trade it in when it needed a water pump replaced. They bought another Camry and drove it for another 10 years, until they were no longer able to drive, and donated it, in working condition, to a local religious school. I had a Corolla for 10 years, sold it when I got a good job and bought another one. Neither my parents nor I have had any problems with our Toyotas which made driving the car unsafe. I'm sure there are those of you out there who have had scary problems with a Toyota, but Consumer Reports tells us Toyota's record is stellar compared with Detroit's output.

Toyota's response has been pretty good, IMHO. Show me a GM or Ford CEO apologizing for anything.
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated

My First DUI

Subject line comes from the fellow sitting behind me, talking to his buddy as if everyone Of A Certain Age has a whole liturgy of DUIs to look back on. Fondly, from the sound of it. Sheesh.

Today's assignment at work was to watch two movies all the way through, hands off the remote, and the first of these I chose because from the title it could not possibly be interesting enough for me to be distracted by the content. The test was to watch and listen for the usual video and audio artifacts which can glitch up streaming video. The movie is The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania, a documentary starring former BCQoP and Hollywood bit part player Sarah Rush. Surprise surprise, the movie is excellent, and I would recommend it to anyone who has ever been on stage or in any kind of talent competition. It also made me kind of jealous, because it's the ultimate small town big event movie, but none of the small towns I have lived in even came close to the level of community participation, talent, and fun of this one.

I almost didn 't choose this one because much of the content we have available for testing are gay themed, and perhaps this one would be about lesbian coal miners or something like that. After all, yesterday's testing included showing all the episodes of Transamerican Love Story, a rip-off of The Bachelorette, where a trans-gendered woman picks a boyfriend from among a handful of straight, gay and bi men. But no, Bituminous is a straight women's pageant documentary.

The movie is a patchwork of Sarah's homecoming, interviews with people involved in the contest and festivities (there's a parade after the pageant), a tour of the local coal mine, interviews with the contestants, clips of the rehearsals - including the most smarmy and obnoxious stage manager evah, snippets from backstage, video bytes from parents, excepts from the pre-pageant dinner. The dinner was special, this is the 50th running of the pageant, and they had invited all the former winners. There were some fun clips from them as well.

The way the movie is spliced together, you don't really care who will win the crown.; It's clear every contestant has talent, most are very beautiful, some are already at a professional level or close to it in their talent. Maybe half a dozen would have represented well in a major competition like Miss Pennsylvania. But at heart it is a small town event, with the whole town behind it, and most of the county. Worth renting. I'll be watching pieces of it again in future tests.

The other movie was a special on Tony Bennett, Tony Bennett - The Music Never Ends which was also well produced, with lots of splices. One thing I enjoyed is while he is singing a song from a movie, they cut in the original movie with Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, etc. singing a few seconds' worth from the original. Excellent HD close-ups of Harry Belafonte, Milton Berle and several songwriters add to the charm, and the whole thing is based on a conversation between Bennett and Clint Eastwood. The flow is disjointed, kind of random, but it's still quite watchable. 
Can't believe that took almost an hour to write. Time to drive home and tend to the cauldron of chicken soup which is on low heat on the stove. I like my chicken thoroughly rendered,  so the bones are easy to pluck out. I wonder if I have enough containers & room in the freezer. Probably not.