Archive for the ‘smart car’ Category

smart car fun

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

For the first time, I was followed by a smart car as I drove from Barton to Broadway on Pontiac Trail. A bright yellow smart followed me, then turned left onto Broadway. I thought it was cool, and it would have been fun to watch us.

Rumor is that a smart plant may be opening in Michigan. Which would be great as the national headquarters is here, and it is in a LEED certified building. The environmental awareness incorporated into not just the design but the manufacture of these cars is just wonderful. I would love to see that mentality in Michigan.

Meanwhile, I have gotten more comments and questions about my smart the last week or two, as people are in town again. Even had a 6’3″ guy try it on for size and it fit. He was asking questions behind Stadium Hardware, and with the hardware guys right there as well as Nala I thought why not? He was excited and said he wants one.

Later in the week someone thanked me for just driving it where she could see it.

It’s a fun car. Latest gas mileage, 38 mostly city, mostly with AC.

what do you call a group of smart cars?

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Someone suggested a gathering of smart cars be called a brilliance. My little Blue/black passion joined over 65 other smarts cars (and owners) for an afternoon in Bloomfield Hills. It was a celebration of the first anniversary of the dealership.

Bottom line, the more I learn about this car and the longer I have it the happier I am.

I got lost getting there, I found my self the first time and had to call for help the second. Oh well. I walked in just before the raffle started, but had some not half bad cheese pizza and joined a crowd of about 140 people in the service bay. After the raffle (one number called was just 1 off from mine! So close!) we gathered the cars for a group photo. It was very fun to walk around and see the different colors and combinations and the owners. I didn’t see another Blue/black with a red interior. Got some compliments on my license plate, which I will not mention here, although I’m not hard to spot around town already I suppose.

Back in and most of the crowd left, so we had a small group for a seminar on the car. More info on how it works, what sort of maintenance problems they’ve seen, and an opportunity to talk to the mechanics and ask questions. They had cars up on teh lifts so we could see the underside which is also normally protected by heavy duty panels. They also took off the side panels, and gave a whole demo on how to find and deal with the battery. Towing was covered, and there was a demo transmission which was really cool to see how the computer activated clutch works.

The car is a manual, but can be driven in automatic mode. They did it for fuel economy but also I learned a manual transmission is smaller and easier to build. And cheaper. From the under side it is also more obvious the features designed to protect you in case of an accident. So impressive.

Mark was there, who had talked me down from my check engine light. it was amazing to have him offer to essentially be on call for us for any question, concern, breakdown, or problem. But he couldn’t offer any help for the missing tire on my tiny smart model – the less than one inch car. Oh well.

Throughout the day it felt like the people at smart wanted to be transparent, honest, helpful, and hear from the owners. Fascinating. The service seminar was followed by a green presentation. I learned a bit more about the factory and the lengths they went to to build it as energy efficient as possible, and the manufacturing processes that have been redesigned to use less energy, create less waste, and be recyclable. It is the number one care plant in the world as far as those features.

And the Bloomfield dealership (which is the US headquarters as well) just got their LEED Silver certification. Lots of waste water treatment, low flush toilets, lighting, insulation, and more. So cool. And the discussion about CAFE standards and how smart fits into the larger global picture was honest, real, and also very exciting.

It was far more informative than I expected, I enjoyed the people presenting, connected with a couple of other owners, and look forward to seeing the photo!

Annoyed Consumer update

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Well it has been nearly 4 weeks since I filed complaints with The Ann Arbor news and Macy’s. I did hear from Macy’s that they recieved the complaint and referred it to someone else. And then, nothing.

The Ann Arbor News was silent for over a week, a follow up query was answered, they had referred the complaint to the department in charge of advertising. The problem? Perfumed ads, The News is supposedly removing those ads for me, they didn’t on Valentine’s eve. Which made me sick.

Since I am sensitive it woul dhelpful to know if they have cut off this service with the other cutbacks, do I need to inspect every paper before I bring it in side, or was this a fluke that got by them?

And I also asked Macy’s to reconsider this sort of offensive advertising – which is literally offensive, not like scantily clad people selling lingerie and jewelry.

So I am totally unsatisfied. And a little nervous about my paper every night. Negative points and feedback to both the Ann Arbor News and Macy’s for failing in customer service.

Meanwhile – had my first glitch with my smart car last week. I talked to a service guy named Mark who was totally attentive, reassuring, told me what it meant and what to do, and he was correct in every respect. He made sure I know it was OK to call, he was happy to spend time with me, and invited me to come in any time, how long it would take to check out if he was wrong and it didn’t resolve itself. I felt GREAT after talking to him – after being a bit concerned about my new car. I thought, what a nice guy who had such a calm reassuring voice and manner. Not every service guy has that.

Pleasant, positive, responsive, intelligent, engaged service. It matters.

Finally, a photo of the car

Saturday, February 28th, 2009



Celebrating a Birthday and Free Stuff

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

3:30 AM is an awkward time to begin a birthday, but I often have no choice about waking hours. I did get back to sleep around 5, and of course Nala is a regular day break up and about dog. I was on line and forgot to eat breakfast again, a recent problem. I never want to eat breakfast, it is just a god idea for weight loss and to keep blood sugar levels level.

I stopped by Zongerman’s for a free 1/2 dozen bagels. They are so happy to be giving away food! I munched on a half while driving to my bodywork appt. The highlights were hand and foot massages, but also progress on the tumors becoming much smaller. Fibroid tumors, no cancer. There is notable and palpable change in size – a really remarkable thing. The largest change is this exploration of men and male energy, apparently there is a strong link. I need to explore that further but meanwhile — it’s working. I may be able to skip additional surgery. And that is good news on a 50th birthday!

I swung by the Co-op and bought fun stuff to eat, and cream cheese for the bagels. Someone suggested I sit in on a meeting — no no no, it’s my birthday. I don’t do that.

I went to Seva for lunch on my own, it has been a long time eating at a restaurant with table service by myself. I didn’t do a lot of eating out the last year. I indulged in yam fires but only got part way through, and same with a smothered burrito. It will be lunch today. But entrees are free on your birthday.

I had a moment at home and with Nala before heading back to the co-op to meet with Laura M – picke up her daughter and headed to the Botanical Gardens. IF you’re a friend, my facebook page has lovely photos of the flowers and plants and Sylvia enjoying the fish. Oh, that one year old curiosity. And she kept signing “fish” rather insistently as we wandered around. Back to the fish!!

I worked one summer at the Gardens, when I was 16. It is both weird to see the plants that are still there 34 years later, as well as sad that so much changes, as well as of course it changes!

That was a great summer for me. I learned so much. And taking home plants, being a new driver with my dad’s massive ford pick up, being in love, working hard and I even learned to drive a dump truck.

I bought a few new plants for my living room. And back home to pick up my patient dog.

We drove over to our favorite place – Barton Dam – and walked in the lovely light snow. But it got COLD! with the wind. I took some photos of the ice, again, on facebook.

Home again for a bit to catch up on all the facebook greetings, enjoy a few cards that arrived, and some phone calls. Back out again to pick up one of my many other friends named Laura, Laura G. She enjoyed the trip in the smart car, we parked and went to Gratzi’s. It has been a very long time since I went to a nice restaurant with great fod, attentive wait staff, and wonderful ambiance. I remember this! And I hadn’t been to Gratzi’s for at least a decade.

The buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes was amazingly good for this time of year. A light dressing was perfect. I had the butternut squash ravioli, and although it could have been just a little hotter, it was excellent with the sherry flavor coming through perfectly. A side of polenta with asiago cheese was amazing. Laura went nuts over it. Perfectly creamy, just a light bite from the cheese, the sweetness of the corn was present, it was something to savor.

A free cannoli with candle was the end piece. Laura and I discussed what to wish for – so many possible things — and we found the perfect expression of hope and future thinking. No, I can’t tell you here. It was great to catch up with her, getting ready to move away from Ann Arbor. The inclination is to pull away form people who are — technically speaking — abandoning me. But instead, enjoy and appreciate them and hope this is for the best. And now one more reason to travel to California. She is another friend I will always be able to just drop in on by phone or e-mail or in person. Glad I have so many of those.

I watched a few episodes of The Daily Show I had taped, and got a phone call from one of the men I’ve met online to wish me happy birthday. That was nice.

Through out the day, the facebook and e-mail happy birthdays were frequent. Strange and fun. I was friended by a woman who was a student teacher at Community High when I was there. She thought it was significant that she found me on my 50th. Yeah, 35 years ago when we first met no one would have imagined we’d be back in touch! We are old old old! How wonderful.

But I truly love the birthday wishes from old friends coast to coast.

So I have indulged, I am indulged, there will be a bit more of this on Friday when I have an actual party. And then a fundraiser/birthday party in May.

50. I feel as though I am on the other side of something. Slightly different perspective. I went on line and raised the age of who I am looking for to 58. But you know, at this age, 58 is both very young and alive as well as those looking old and moving slowly. There is a lot of sorting out, and also paying the price for earlier lifestyles.

For a great list of free things on your birthday, go to

What a great resource!


Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I had my first experience snow shoeing today. It was very fun, totally easy, nothing to it really except the need to do some investing in the shoes. We were out for about a 1 1/2 hours, which included lots of stopping for a bit of a nature talk. I learned a few things. Part of tracking is looking for the wild animals that tend to conserve energy by walking straight, and also more in a line. The loose all over the place wider stance is a dog or domestic cat. No need for conservation.

There was a tree attacked by many types of woodpeckers – the small holes of the yello bellied sapsucker to the large rectangular piliated woodpecker. Interesting.

Aspens can be IDed in the winter because the smooth bark gets so much lighter as you look up the tree. Yep, never noticed that. She also said there are only 9 tamarack forests in Michigan. There is a large one in Lyndon Township, this one at Hudson Mills, so seems odd if there really are so few.

REI put on the free demo and lecture. I liked it. I think I was the only person there alone, but it was a lrge group of about 25 people who drive through a snowstorm to walk around in 20 degree weather. That’s good!

Back home, more shoveling, and Joanne and Jonah came and we totally kicked ass in my library — with their help we went through at least a dozen crates of books and got all the bricks in from the garage and built a big bookcase for the sci fi (7 shelves total, two 11 feet long, 5 that are 6 feet long). That might be enough room – but I have a very large sci fi fantasy collection. The room is looking like it will work. Floor to ceiling book shelves, filled with books. And a lovely center “u” of lower book cases. I can hardly wait to be in amongst my books again. Joanne borrowed a couple to start – including Fur MAgic by Andre Norton. One of my favorites when I was young. She’ll read it to her kids.

Back out for another walk because Nala was bouncing off the walls — so 1 1/2 hours with her downtown and back. Unfortunately the weather meant my date was for tonight canceled, but we had a nice chat by phone.

So I am happily tired and a few muscles used in a different way from the snowshoeing. Nala is curled up next to me, calm at last. My dinner is ready and all is well.

Oh – and the drive this AM in the smart car went very well. No trouble at all. It is a good snow car! And just always so fun to drive.

It will be a busy week, almost fully booked already with clients. Glad for that. Ill keep up the work – organizing and cleaning and discarding/recycling.

decadent nostalgic indulgence

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I had a rather nice dinner with family – no presents this year, just food. And with Alex into cooking up vegetarian stuff there was good stuff to eat. I had a try at making some Thai curry, and I was very happy with the results. Recipe?

Saute 2 small chopped onions in olive oil, add 8 oz. mushrooms sliced, cook pretty well through, then a pound of cubed tofu. And about 3 cups brussel sprouts. Mix a can of coconut milk with about 2 TBSP red Thai curry paste, add to veggies. Add a bit more Thai hot sauce (not the chili paste but straight up hot sauce) to taste. Add about 1 TBSP turmeric. Let simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Serve over rice.

Oh, yum.

But that isn’t the decadent part. And neither was the chocolate cheesecake I made, which even Ian was complementing me on.

After we all left around 9 I went and picked up my lonely dog and we drove around the neighborhoods for 1/2 hour looking at holiday lights. I can say well I’m still trying to figure out how my car handles in the snow. But it was really about just having time to think and wander and enjoy the lights.

Now most any other time I would never just drive around, and I certainly am most appalled at the waste of energy yada yada yada and on and on with self righteous etc. OK so I indulged, and it was fun, and it felt peaceful and safe and very mellow and I even found a station on the radio playing Christmas music and kept it on.

So now you might think it is all just too out of character and strange. Which would be true. But you know, somehow the “holidays” are about being a little sad, realizing you’ve aged, missing people who have died, being scared that maybe some people won’t be here next time around, and wondering what the next year will be like.

This Thanksgiving I was amazed that I was with a bunch of people who were relative strangers who had grown to mean so much to me in just a year. And including Nala, I spent a good chunk of the year with Gary who had been unknown, and there I was with his best friends who I had know a little bit before.

Of course it all unraveled within a few days. Impermanence. Yeah.

But this is when I met Gary last year, half way between xmas and New Years. Look how much changed so quickly and then that moment – the almost year together – was gone. David made it through the hardest year of his life, it wasn’t certain that he would be able to show up on xmas eve. Even my father reacalled that my mom barely made it her last xmas eve, she as released from the hospital in time for desert. Now that was a weird feeling holiday. She was dead in less than four months.

So that’s why I took the indulgence and just drove around. I didn’t see any amazing spectacular over the top displays. Which is just as well. It owuld have brought out the attitude. What I liked the most were the soaring lights that would show off an already beautiful tree – the ghostly blue or simple white. I liked the trees the most.

And with that I’m ready to sleep. Tomorrow will be a pretty normal day. If it isn’t too icy a nice walk in the woods with my sweet Nala, and dinner with friends. I get to make bread for it, which is rising already in the oven. The rest I’ll report on rather than forecast.

All I can say is that at least with this car I didn’t even use 1/2 gallon of gas, driving around for 1/2 hour. So a reasonable indulgence for just once in the whole year. I’ll make it up. The mental piece of mind and trip into the past was worth it.

Picking up the car

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Today is the day.
I got the call Wednesday and dashed out to arrange insurance, and someone willing to drive me out to the dealership 45 minutes away. A flurry of coordination with the dealer, and I’m picking it up this afternoon.

I have one regret, that I’m spending on “Buy Nothing Friday”. I’ve strictly held to a do not buy policy to protest the consumerism of “Black Friday” for many years now. Although a purchase arranged 11 months ago is a little different. It is more of a delivery than anything else…

Now I have two friends who want to make the trip and seem pretty excited.

I really do hope that this is the car concept of the future. A car built from recycled materials, designed for safety, efficient and small, conservative in resources used making and using, and able to recycle it afterwords. Oh, and fun.

Photos to come, although I may not have my photo posting ability fixed until Sunday. But there is always facebook…

New Car

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Well, it seemed likely that I’d be driving my new car home this Wednesday, but it hasn’t yet arrived at the dealership. I know it got into Baltimore 12 days ago, so what has it been doing since then? The ’09 smarts had the wrong EPA sticker, so that was a hold up. Then there was a backlog of cars to be shipped around the country. Apparently Mercedes destined for the north all come through that port.

The dealer was minimally helpful, she had no idea where the car might be or when it was coming. Just on or around the 26th, although that is obviously now going to be after the 26th. I feel for them – they are making minimal profit on each car, and have a waiting list of almost two years now. They are fielding a lot of calls and e-mails that result in just a few actual sales.

But as usual providing real updates and info would go a long way in making people feel happy and involved. I’ve mostly had to figure out the process and the progress by reading blogs and forums. So I know the ’09s are being delivered and people are driving them home. But no info from the dealer about any of it.

They aren’t required to hold my hand, they are just selling me a car. But is has been a strange process. I’ll give a more thorough critique once it is done and I have the car. Usually good sales people shine at one or two points in the process – that’s all you can ask for. I may not have hit that moment yet. Of course the outstanding sales people cover most of the bases and surprise you on a few extra. Rare indeed, but if you read my last few posts I did note that sort of service from Stadium Hardware (of course) and Modern Mechanical. Very much worth noting, appreciating, and recommending.

So I’ll do a bit of driving around tomorrow, and then again on Thursday, and then hope the next bit of driving is in the new car. Any day now….

Venting While Sealing

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

I spent all afternoon putting up storm windows, a triple the usual task job due to the damage done and general incompetence of a painter who thought he knew what he was doing but really screwed up. It’s only time and money, but the anger at having to clean up and deal with someone who screwed up my home is also there.

But I haven’t turned the heat on yet – waiting for the storms to go on – it seems like such a waste of energy until then. But I also so didn’t want to deal with really delving into how much damage and mess this guy left behind when he walked off the job with no notice.

Luckily I had the cheerful back up of my new painter, who listened to me swear and growl and agreed with my every assessment. And he was able to do a lot of repair to the windows, and we even fixed a lot of broken sash cords once I showed him how easy it is. Which it really is, if someone hasn’t painted your windows shut and splashed paint on the inside of the frames and….. etc.

So I was venting as I also was sealing up the house for the winter. The final paint job is beautiful, the color is awesome, someone stopping by next door took the time to compliment the house and the color and that is nice. I went bold with a vivid deep blue and black trim.

And it is no coincidence that this is also very close to the color of MY NEW CAR! Which is heading to port even now, due to land on US soil on Wednesday. The blue will be a bit more metallic, but that is good for a car. Not a house.

I’m too tired to turn on the heat at this point at night, maybe tomorrow morning will be good for that.

I will first install my new carbon monoxide detector, however. A reminder to all who read this – please do have one installed and working. I resist the expense of the gas furnace, certainly, I also want to tread lightly and use as little gas as possible to heat. I also just don’t get very cold, so it isn’t a big deal to me to spend a few days in the 50s. But most of all my furnace nearly killed me on December 25, 1988. The heat exchanger clogged, dumping carbon monoxide into the house. This was before there were detectors. Luckily it was on a thermostat with a timer, so after 10 the furnace shut off and I woke up. But the faulty work of the furnace repair people, Koch and White, caused further exposure at a low level, and trouble with chemical sensitivities ever since.

So that is the primary reason I just don’t like having to use a furnace. And will not without a functional carbon monoxide detector.

Winter is here. Time to bundle up and be warm and cozy and reclaim my house from the abuse it has taken. And enjoy.