Friday, February 26, 2010

Attention Camry and Lexus Owners: This Floormat Advice Could Save Lives

We have been bombarded by the media about sudden unintended acceleration problems.

And, if you are like me, it is hard to separate fact from fiction

Here's a tip that could save a life(s): When you exit your full service car wash that includes interior vaccuming , look at the driver's seat floor mat and be sure it's fully secured by two pivoting clips that must be securely fastened to it.

The other day, after leaving the car wash, I sensed something was not right with my doormat and sure enough it was merely thrown back on the floor and was moving around as I shifted my foot from accelerator to brake pedal.

I immediately pulled the car over and performed the function in a minute and immediately gained more control of my car.

Don't rely on your car wash attendants to do this simple task. They are too busy getting 3-4 cars out per minute to focus on it. Let each owner look out for him/herself.

Here's to Happy and Safe motoring.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stamford's Downtown Architecture: The Atrium at UConn

The View of the Central Atrium at UConn Stamford

When in downtown Stamford, a visit to the University of Connecticut campus is a must because of the airy and spacious atrium that is at the core of the building. Once home to Bloomingdales that closed in 1990, the current building was erected in 1998 after extensive renovations and affords the visitor a wonderful opportunity to experience the midday sun streaming in the windows and enjoy a lunch from the student cafe on the ground floor.

In the following video, you will experience the feeling of openness, friendliness and connection to the downtown that makes this space so unique. It's a great place for the students to pursue their studies and for the visitor to enjoy a lunch and take in one of the many art shows that are free to the public. Inexpensive parking at $1 for 2 hours is available at Target across the street.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stamford Gets a Sugar Coating of Snow

The hedgehog has seen his shadow! This of course means we have another six weeks of real New England winters.

And so it came as no surprise that we received our second coating of snow within a week.

Parts of our city are now a winter wonderland. So, I know you will enjoy this short video taken in North Stamford.

Happy and Safe Winter Motoring!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Tribute to the American Quarter Horse in the Tehachapis

The American Quarter Horse, shown above, is an Incomparable Effortless Competitor

It was truly a memorable riding experience and it took place nearly 25 years ago at the Bit- n- Spur Stables located in the Tehachapi Mountains not far from California's scenic Route 5, less than 120 miles Northeast of Los Angeles

Here , I rented a retired racer-- a quarter horse by the name of Johnnie. I rode him for about two and a half hours which presented to me one of the most pleasantly indescribable scenes of life in the saddle.

For 2.5 hours, I forgot I had reins or boot heels. Because I did not have to use them.

I became a horse whisperer.

There was an immediate bonding of rider and equus. If I told him 'walk' he would walk; if I told him to trot, off he would go trotting. Then I would softly whisper to him 'whoa, boy' and instantly he would brake to a walk and then miraculously stop.

The trails wound up and down the barren, late fall tawny hillsides that brand Southern California and there weren't any other riders with whom to share the trails. Just steed and rider.

"Run boy," I called out and immediately, he would slip into second then third gear and we broke out into a gallop. This was no ordinary gallop where I would feel the up and down motions, the clash of hoof upon rough terrain directly tranmitted to my frame.

I felt at first, like I was floating, then gliding from one wave top to the next, as if I was transported from crest to crest, on my own magic carpet--he must have had some heavy duty shock absorbers to cushion even the slightest vibrations.

Oh, what a feeling it was.... and the sensations linger on a lifetime.

Enjoy this Charlie video as much as I did.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stamford's Summer Street: The '1887' Gabled Building

Another 'landmark' Stamford building lies just two blocks southeast of the Ridgeway Shopping Center between Fourth and Fifth Streets on Summer Street.

I call it the the '1887' building because of its street address or the House of two gables. At one time it was used as a residence; however, it is now the home of Nizzardo Real Estate and other commercial enterprises.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stamford Outdoor Sculpture

Many of us pass this 1600 Summer Street(at Third Street) outdoor art work on our way downtown several times a week. It somehow looks incongruous in its sheer boldness and audacity. To some it appears ugly, monstrous, out of place. To others, it becomes invisible, our senses inured to its presence.

But have we ever stopped long enough to catch a close-up glimpse and give it a chance? That's exactly what I did recently. And do you know what? I actually like it..

Perhaps, I admire the piece because no other Stamford building that I have seen thusfar has such a provocative piece. Yes, it is phallic, it is aggressive-- missile- like in its tilted position ready to let loose a burst of energy. And, yes, I respond positively to the strong orange-red hue the artist has chosen

And what do we make of those rings--one below and three or four above? I believe they symbolize peace and stability to offset the otherwise raw, naked virile/viral energy that is otherwise conveyed.

In short, the creator of this art piece is telling us that amidst the turbulence and aggression we are diurnally subjected to-- we must find the proper balance, the appropriate serentiy-- the proper Confucian middle-way in our lives.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Salute to Great Actors and A Great Park: Bidwell Park hosts Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in Robinhood

A Scene from Bidwell Park in Chic0

As a resident of Butte County, I spent many hours hiking and horseback riding in Chico California's Bidwell Park.

Those were the halcyon days of the late 70's and 80's when one could rent a horse from the local stables and ride solo for 2 hours--before lawsuits and liability coverage escalated and robbed the safe rider of one of his last pleasures.

The stable owners had told me on more than one occasion that the Academy Award winning movie Robin Hood used Bidwell Park as the backdrop for Sherwood Forest. Here is where the outlaw Sir Robin of Lacksley organizes his guerilla band of Merry Men of downtrodden Saxon peasants to fight back against the Norman usurper Prince John who has claimed the throne from its rightful owner, the absent Richard The Lionhearted.

As I cantered along the many wooded trails and along streams of this magnificent park, I could only imagine the scenes of chivalry, daring and excitement as the noble Errol Flynn would rally his followers in stealing from the rich and giving to the poor while evading the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin shouts to his recruits: give me "...good swordsmen, good archers, good fighters. Are you with me?" (Shouts of approval)

So, it was a delight recently to stumble upon the original movie --72 years after its release--with the swashbuckling Errol Flynn playing Robin, wooing the beautiful Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland); she, of course, is a conduit for sneaking out information from the court to Robin. There is a wonderful chemistry between the two of them. Also grabbing and holding my attention is the evil scheming Sir Guy of Gisbourne played by Basil Rathbone and Prince John depicted by Claude Rains

One scene etched into my memory is the sword duel between Robin and Gisbourne where the reflections/shadows of the warriors are caught on a spiral stone staircase as Robin vanquishes his opponent.

This is a five star movie. See it, and visit Bidwell Park, if you can!
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Another Happy Motoring Experience: Fairfield, CT Update

I must admit to being a little spoiled.

For many years, I lived in Northern New Jersey. There, by law a gas station attendant must dispense gas at the pumps. And the gas is so much cheaper than in New York or Connecticut.

So what a pleasure to share a happy fill-up story! There is a Citgo station in Fairfield Connecticut along Route 1 that deserves a commendation. As you fill up, you can't help but notice a large sign that says:

It's the end of the work week and here's an invitation to enjoy some java brew. So after my fill-up, I head into the store and pour myself a 16 ouncer with some milk and sweetener. And it's a warm strong brew!

As I return to my car, a sweet sounding mellow female voice thanks all the motorists for visiting this Citgo station, invites all into the convenience shop for some hot coffee and snacks. Then she wishes us all a safe journey and great weekend!

Thanks for the pleasant experience and TGIF!
Image source (1)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Toyota Announces Recall of 6 Million Vehicles

Problems with auto acceleration are not new.

Back in the early 80's of the prior century, the Audi 5000 was the 'poster child' of the sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) after four reported deaths and 175 motorists injured-- with over 1,000 alleged complaints of SUA. I was living in the northern California Sierras at the time and felt safe leasing and driving BMWs: first the 320i and then the 633csi. At the same time, Audi's business in the USA came to a standstill. She did all she could to lure buyers back: with free maintenance deals for the 'life' of the vehicle: free oil changes, checkups, front hood to tail warranty including all engine and transmission components. She fought her way back. So that today, she is the poster child for the car 'to have and to drive' here in Connecticut.

Then came the infamous 'J' cars built by GM in the 80's and and early 90's: the Cadillac Cimarron, the Chevy Cavalier, the Pontiac Sunfire, etc. By way of illustration, I had recently returned to the East Coast in the late 80's when I fielded a phone call from my uncle that my dad's Cimarron had accelerated over the railing of an outdoor staircase in the parking lot of his Synagogue and the car was now being photographed by the local police department in a vertical position on the staircase leading to the basement. Miraculously dad was extracted from the driver's seat without a scratch to his body. And he had not been wearing a seat belt.

While this recall may be a temporary boon to the sagging sales of GM and Chrysler (yes, they doing their best to lure Toyota buyers into their showrooms with $1000 rebates, etc), no doubt Toyota will recover in due time. Though a driver of Fords, Triumphs, Mercedes, Renaults and BMWs, I have not only sold Toyotas during the recession (virtually the only business making money in Eugene, Oregon and we sold dozens of Corollas, Tercels, Cressidas and Coronas) of the early 80's in severely depressed Oregon, but have owned and leased 5 of them over the last 30 years. They are here to stay.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What To Do If Your Car Suddenly Accelerates

What you should is keep your cool! Then apply your foot to your brake pedal and as you do so, ease the transmission into neutral. Brake to a stop. Then turn your engine off.

To be prepared in case of an emergency, practice this maneuver several times, preferably in a large lot with few cars. This way you will feel comfortable and confident that you will be able to control the situation.

Happy motoring and safe driving.