Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Customer Service? I don't think so.

About 5 years ago, I bought an all-in-one printer, a Canon.  It has done what I needed and, because I don't print that much stuff, it's still in excellent condition.  This is actually only the second computer printer I have owned.  The first one worked fine for 10 years and I only replaced it because I wanted to have a printer that did a better job with photographs.

I recently upgraded my computer and got the newest level of operating system as part of the deal.  Naturally, I go through and set-up all of my peripherals, including the printer.  Only the printer needs a driver.  Going to the Canon website I find that they don't have one for my new operating system and printer.  I contact Canon support and am told that my printer is too old and not enough people would be using my old printer with the new operating system.  It would be too much work to build a driver.  Not worth their effort.


The result is my printer is useless with my new computer.  It is basically a brick.  Canon's suggestion is that I should take advantage of a customer loyalty discount and buy a new printer.  FAT CHANCE!

So this is what passes for customer service these days, at least at Canon.  Perhaps in the whole consumer electronics industry.  They assume that they can force us into buying new hardware every few years just because they stop supporting software.  Unfortunately, short of a deeper understanding of Linux and writing my own software, it appears that they have me by the balls.

It's amazing that they can get away with this.  If the auto industry built a car that only lasted 5 years, we would get driven out of business so fast.  In fact, the average age of a car in the US market is now up to 11 years, so at least cars aren't being made completely obsolete.  My watch, my TV, my refrigerator, my alarm clock, everything in my house and including my house will last for years and years.  They won't become suddenly obsolete because somebody didn't write new software.  In fact, most things are only replaced when a worthwhile performance upgrade is worth the new price.

So what can I do about Canon and other companies of their like?  For now, I'm taking advantage of your indulgence in my little bitch session here.  I've also been on a few of the biggest retailers of Canon products and written reviews of their poor customer service.  Maybe, if we all took bad actors like Canon to task by stopping purchasing their products, and took advantage of social media, blogs, and website reviews to tell the tale, maybe they would hear us.

So, please do me the favor, stay away from Canon.  Also, let everyone know when you have similar grips with other companies.  Maybe, if we all work at this, we can make a difference.  Maybe, maybe customer service would begin to mean something again.

Hmmn...  I wonder if I need a printer at all.  Maybe I could just send my printer files to my local UPS store and have them be my printer.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Red Chair

It has been a pretty and long fall.  Last week, the wind came and blew all the leaves off the trees, but not before I snapped this shot.  Seems like a good spot for a daydream.

Another enjoyable element of this fall has been the creaky presence of the Sand Hill Cranes.  Many a time I've had 4 or 5 wandering around my yard and even past the red chair.  We have had more of them than I've seen in a long time (flocks of up to 50 gathering) and they stayed until a few days ago.  I guess that means that winter is truly here.

This has been an unusual year for me. Somehow, I've been busy all the time, but don't have anything to show for it.  Except maybe this picture and some motorcycle video that I need to edit.  It is hard to believe that in earlier years I had the time to post in this blog on a weekly basis.

Many folks think of spring as a hopeful season.  For me, that's fall.  I like to combine the cool weather and quiet with a combination of reflection and daydreaming a new future.  It's past time, so I better get at it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Just a few little psi

Those of you who have read this blog will know, I can't stop tinkering with stuff.

About 3 years ago, I bought the Kawasaki ZRX1200R as the basis for a future project.  I figured, I wasn't ready for the project, but I could ride the bike in the meantime.  What I discovered was that the ZRX series had a reputation for being a poor handling bike and, upon riding it for a while, I had to agree.  Going in a straight line, everything was fine, but go over a dip in the road while cornering, you better hang on.  And don't even think about squeezing on the throttle in a turn.

The guy I bought the bike from told me I should make sure to run the factory tire pressures at 36 front/36 rear.  So that's what I did.

Trying to improve the handling, I messed with every suspension setting I could think of.  I managed to move the handling in the right direction, but she was still scary and I still wasn't confident.

One morning, on a pure lark, I decided to blow the tires up to 40 psi.  WOW!  What a difference.  Suddenly, you could feel the front end and the rear would follow the front.  When I got home, I googled ZRX tire pressures and found that lots of other people had discovered that the factory specs were just wrong.  They said that the right specs were 36/42.  I gave those a try, along with 40/42 which I settled on as best for me.  Now I can go through a dip with confidence.  Now I can squeeze that throttle on at the apex and track the bike smoothly out of the corner.  I had a little surprise when an oncoming car crossed into my lane on a corner.  Grabbing the front brake to slow and tighten my line caused a minor steering reaction, but well within control.

How amazing it is that a few little psi could change the character of a bike.

That got me to thinking.  What had probably been happening is that the contact patch of the tire in a corner was moving laterally when the vertical load changed going through a dip.  There just wasn't enough tire pressure to keep the tire's shape under different loading.

Of course, the current style is big, fat, wide tires on bikes.  I guess people think they look good.  But doesn't the fat tire cause the contact patch to move laterally when the bike leans?  Wouldn't the bikes handling be more consistent if the contact patch didn't move laterally as far in roll?  It always has seemed that skinny tires are the best handling on a bike.  I can't say it is the whole reason, but I can say that the KLR has skinny tires and keeps up with just about any sport bike ridden at the same skill level.  So keep your fat tire style.  I prefer skinny any day.

P.S.  Note to self.  Always Google any question that comes to mind.  There is often useful knowledge there and the factory spec isn't always right.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Guido with an 'e'

When I bought my Fiat 500 a couple of years ago, I named it "Guido" as slang for an Italian American.  Besides, the name "Luigi" was already taken by one of the development cars.

A few days ago, one of my coworkers asked me to drive a Fiat 500e and give him my opinion on the steering tuning (nice - by the way).  The 500e is the battery electric Fiat 500 that was just introduced.  Although pure electric drive cars have limited range and, therefore, limited ability to replace a normal car, I knew it would have more than enough range for an overnight drive, so I took it home and out for a spin.

I didn't take any of my own pictures because, as a prototype, these cars are sometimes not up to production cars for appearance, but I downloaded a few shots from the Fiat website for you to see.

First, a couple of cool things unique to the electric 500 as compared to the gas 500.

It was a very hot day.  Since the AC system is a separate system from the motor, the AC was busy cooling the car down, even when I got out of the car to get things from Guido.  The drive motor is doing nothing, but the AC is cranking away.

The "shifter" is replaced by a row of buttons.  This is not only clean and uncluttered, but gives me some extra knee room that is appreciated.

The Drive Home

Since I wanted to evaluate the steering on the highway and on some twisty roads, I decided not to baby the car on the way home.  There is plenty of torque and power, subjectively more than Guido, so some of the time, there is a little wheel spin on hard launches until the traction control can handle the wheel spin into a nice launch slip.  Pretty soon, I'm running along with traffic in the left lane of the freeway at speeds approaching 80 mph without drama. 

That reminds me of short story.  You see, electric cars have 100% of their available torque at zero speed.  It seems that some of the Fiat guys were demoing the 500e at a press event and decided to enter the car in an autocross.  With its low center of gravity and low end torque, it finished quite well, in spite of its low rolling resistance tires.  Imagine how much fun that could be with good autocross tires.

Anyway, I finished my drive home on some twisty for Michigan roads and enjoyed the handling and torque out of the corners.  When I got home, the display told me that I had used energy at a rate of 2.9 mi/Wh.  My calculations suggest that I would have about 55 miles range to 20% state of charge, all the while beating on the car and not thinking about saving the environment.  20% state of charge is a typical "empty" for battery vehicles, so my calculaitons use 80% of the 24 kWh battery pack capacity.  That said, I don't have any information whether that capacity is usable capacity or total capacity.  It could be that there is another 20% range available.

Other than its silence, in no way did the 500e let me know it was an electric car nor limit me in driving or comfort or other features.

Back to Work in the Morning

That 2.9 mi/Wh is pretty efficient, so I decided to see how little energy I could use on the way into work.  I kept off of the freeway to keep my average speed down.  I coasted to stops and accelerated gently when traffic would allow.  Since the computer was remembering my aggressive drive home the night before, the displayed range leaving home was 60 miles.  By the time I got to work, the displayed range was up to 64 miles and the energy usage was 4.7 mi/Wh.

Think about that.  Just by changing my driving style, I was able to lower my energy usage by almost 40%.  Of course, that is true of normal gas cars, not just electric cars.  You want to save money on fuel, start with your driving style.

Doing the same calculation to 80% state of change suggests that I should have been able to travel 90 miles by trying to save energy.  Now my driving wasn't extreme.  I still accelerated with traffic and drove at 60 mph (5 over) for more than half of the miles.

With a mileage range of 55 to 90 miles, I could use a 500e and have enough range on many days in my life.  Of course, it couldn't replace a regular car on longer trips.  I remember Alan Cocconi having a motorcycle engine and generator mounted in a small trailer.  He towed the trailer and recharged his battery along the way whenever he wanted to take his electric car on long trips.

Anyway, its good to keep an open mind because the 500e is a much better car than expected.  If I had a need for another car or could get a range extender trailer, I might be tempted.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Learning and Fixing

Recently, my friend John got it into his head to find a 20+ year old Peugeot to buy as a daily driver.  He remembers the car as having wonderful steering and being a great car to drive.  The idea is to replace a Honda Accord that he considers too boring to drive.

Of course, finding parts for a 20 year old French car that wasn't sold in large number in the US could be a challenge.  Not exactly what most people think of for practicality.  None the less, he found one and dragged it home.

Parapharsing John, 'I could have paid a lot of money and found a nicely restored one, but that's not what I do.  I have to find something really rough and bring it back from the dead.'  And that's what he did, or should I say, is doing.

I got thinking about this and I can really relate.  It seems like I am only happy when I am learning something or fixing something.  I like the stimulation of learning something new and the challenge of figuring out how something works and make it better.  In that way, John and I are kindred spirits.

I have another friend who told me once that he had trouble saving money because he would find something new and exciting and he would just buy it on impulse.  It took a wife and kids to reign in his spending and only because he had no money left.

That makes me realize why I have kept and modified my old KLR for 10 years.  The process of understanding and fixing the old girl has been as much or more fun than the trips I've taken.  The thing is, after all this time, I've run out of things to change or improve on the KLR.  I am just about to pull the plug on my second motorcycle trip this year.  I realized that I have less interest in riding motorcycles at this particular moment, in part because I don't have any motorcycle projects in front of me.

Early in the year, I started researching the possibility of a new bike.  I guess that's trying to invent a new project.

I can understand Doug and his constant train of motorcycles through his garage.  If you aren't going to modify a bike, then I imagine one gets to this point of declining interest at a sooner point, so you might as well sell it and look for a new challenge in a new bike.

How strange we are.  I wonder if this is the same feeling that guys who have had 5 wives feel about their women?  ' Oh, I'm done figuring out that women.  It's time to turn her in for a new one, a new challenge.'  I wish I could understand what motivates myself and others better.  At least I'm a one bike, one car, or one women man.  At least for a while.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Color of Paint

Tobermory Harbor, Isle of Mull, Scotland

Recently, over on Doug's 40on2 blog, Doug shared some beautiful photos of St. John's Newfoundland.   The bright colors of the St. John's houses and buildings are part of the fun.

That got me to thinking about places that I have been where bright, bold colors are the norm in a community.  One of those places was not too far away from St. John's, St. Pierre and Miquelon, which is a province of France off the south shore of Newfoundland.  Another is the town of Tobermory in Scotland on the island of Mull.

What these places seem to have in common are that they are far north, on the ocean, and are filled with smart, friendly, and creative people.  Perhaps these things come together in winter.  If you were a smart and creative, sitting in a bar in the middle of an 8 month winter and looking out at a gray sky, a white land, and a slate
ocean, would you want to paint your house orange or bright blue when spring came?  Or is it just for the tourists?

Village of St. Pierre, St. Pierre et Miquelon, France

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saddleback School

When I lived in SoCal, there was a neighborhood named Saddleback after the low pass in the mountains behind it.  That meant there was Saddleback everything;  Saddleback College, Saddleback Church, etc.  This saddleback school is a little different.  I found it on a back road in Ohio.  It was taken by my little point and shoot Panasonic, so it isn't as clear as the new camera, but I hope you enjoy the subject.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Do you ever get the feeling that you have forgotten something?

The plan was to join the MSTA group in North Carolina for a week of riding twisty roads around the Smokies.  It looked like spring had finally sprung and the last two weeks, the weather has been fine.  I had done my prep work.  The bike was fully maintained and setup.  I had set aside the things I needed to take and even washed my riding gear.

Sometimes the adventure you plan, isn't the adventure you get.  This small adventure started the night before the trip when the weather turned cold.  Looking at the weather, I figured I could ride between two lines of thunderstorms and that the day would warm up as I rode south.  OK, game on.

After packing and checking my gear, I start to get dressed for the 41 deg F at my departure time.  The first bit of fun was when my insulated pants decided to blow a zipper.  After about 30 minutes of trying to fix it, I give up and change into snowmobile thermal underwear.

I do my final walk around the house and don't see anything I'm missing, but I have that feeling that I'm forgetting something.

The weather has warmed up to 42 deg F but the air is damp and the clouds hang low.  Nothing like cold, wet air for riding a motorcycle. 
I stop several times to switch or adjust my clothes.  I'm cold, but I'm surviving.

It takes until 2:30 for the temp to creep up to 50 deg, but I am making good progress, about 200 miles of back roads under my belt and the roads are getting twisty.

Sometimes, things just come to mind without being bidden.  By 4:30, the day was getting fine and I was about an hour out from my hotel.  All of a sudden, a picture of my meds sitting on my bathroom counter comes to mind and I can't remember packing them on the motorcycle.  I realize that this is the end of my trip.  Nobody to blame but myself.  A stop to confirm and I know that I'm headed home the same night.

I do have to give it up to Mr. Garmin.  I pushed the button that says, "Take me Home" and the GPS did a great job of finding a quick way home.  I'm making good time when I see a line of thunderstorms coming my way.  I get geared up for the rain, but I can't prepare for the gusting and swirling winds that come with the squall line.  Pretty soon, I'm off the highway and sitting on a side road with the bike parked and pointed into the wind, on the kickstand, and me hanging on while the wind tries to rip my clothes off and tip the bike over.  That put a pretty little dent in my arrival time.

Of course, along with the squall line, the temperature dropped to 40 deg F.  Eventually, I started riding home again, sometimes crawling along at 30 mph, sometimes highway speed.  There is nothing like a crosswind gust trying to tear the bike out from under you to get your attention.

I did make it home after a 500 mile day of mostly cold and wind.  This morning, I am recovering and enjoying the warm house.  It is even colder today, 36 deg F when I awoke, so I'm not going anywhere.  But at least I've got my meds.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Drones in the Bathroom

There is always an interesting line of thought popping up in my life.

In this case, I was describing the vibration challenge of mounting a video camera on a motorcycle.  My friend K came up with an elegant, if technically challenging suggestion.

'What you need is drone with camera mounted on it that would follow your motorcycle and bank through the turns to match the motorcycle's lean.'

With that thought fresh in my mind, I excused myself to the bathroom, where I thought about the technical details of this interesting idea.

When I returned from the bathroom, I was telling K that I thought the drone would want to have user selectable modes, for example;

  • Above and behind the motorcycle with a panoramic view for a road with sweepers
  • Low and close behind the bike with aggressive banking for tight and twisty roads.  Maybe something like this little guy following the SR-71.

About that time, along came Tyler, who listening to some of the conversation, asked the question, "There are drones in the bathroom?"

The conversation continued with my suggestion that maybe the drone could be towed by a tether from the motorcycle so that you wouldn't have to provide propulsion to the small drone.

Also discussion about how you might use image processing to keep the drone from hitting a bridge overpass, etc.

I think this is a very entertaining idea that is probably technically possible at some level.  Of course, I don't know how to accomplish it.  I also haven't figured out how to slow the drone down when you put the brakes on the motorcycle.  Also, launching and recovering the drone may be tricky.

Meanwhile, Tyler found this video showing how amazing remote vehicle control algorithms have become.  Definitely worth a watch.  Actually, it's more than that.  You gotta see this.

Hmmn....  Maybe a quadracopter would be better.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I have been thinking about getting a gmail account because my little ISP seems to be unreliable.  The problem is that everyone else, already has a gmail account, so most of the names I think of are unavailable.  I admire those that took good names early and kept them.  Roadscholar, Rallyfreak, Honesteffort,  and Gasflow are among the names I admire.  I also like the email address of a friend who's email is  Actually, my old email was pretty good too.

As I continue to think about names, a couple of inappropriate names have popped up this week.

First is a coworker who got the message on his computer, "Your dinkey dongle has been installed."  I'm pretty sure I'm not going to sign up for "dinkey dongle."

At lunch today, someone explained how you get your "porn" name.  Apparently, you take the name of your childhood pet and combine it with the street you live on or the street you lived on as a kid.  I won't be using my "porn name" either.  It is better suited to a woman.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Still Ice on the Lake Outside my Window

Since spring isn't really here and I've got winter pictures.........

The Suomi is our favorite breakfast restaurant.  We eat breakfast there everyday.  They have the best Pannukakku in town.  This sign is directly above the entrance door, so you need to take care not to slam the door.

 As mentioned, they are having a light snow year in the Keweenaw, but there are still places where it piles up. 

These little roof peaks over doors are there to divert both snow and icicles.  Note the height of the snow relative to the basketball pole.

Some cars don't get driven in winter.  The snow piles up for a while, then melts and compresses, then piles up again.

Enjoy spring.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Purr of a Cat

Sometimes YouTube can be as dangerous as Craig's List.  I often scan available bikes on Ebay, just out of curiousity.  This time, I found an 800 Tiger, which is a bike I have imagined would be a good ride for me.  That got me to thinking about how it might sound, so I naturally Googled Tiger 800 sound and came up with this video.

Aftermarket LeoVince exhaust, plus the triple purrrr sure sounds nice to me.  I even like the crackle of the backfire on overrun.  It sounded so good to me that I ran around the internet trying to find really good sounding motorcycles to keep me away from the Tiger.  Ducati has nice sound tracks for their bikes, but they didn't quite do it for me.  V-twins can sound very nice, a bass thump in the tone.  Inline 4's have a nice, high frequency scream.  Ian Drysdale's V8 has a nasty combination of the V-twin and the inline 4.

Still, I like the purr and crack of this Tiger.  So here is the thought.  To save me from getting snared by the cat, send me internet accessible video or sound clips that might persuade me to stop thinking 3 cylinder.  I will add them to post for all to share.

Doug was good enough to share his favorite, an Aprilia 1000 V-2.  He couldn't find a good sound video of the Aprilia, but the Can-Am Spyder uses the same engine, so he offers this video as a sound concept.

Hey Doug, I like it, I get it.  It is a very different sound, more like a stacatto V-8 sound, where the Triumph is a higher pitch tone and more fluid.  Lots to like in each.

I did a little digging and found this video of a Caponord 1200 using what I think is a bigger version of the V-2.  The first seconds after the ad are a pass by shot.  Skip to 1:10 on the video for the on-board video.  So Doug,  is this what you had in mind?

This is a nice looking bike to me.  Much prettier face than the Multistrada.  It has nice electronic controls and I'll be it costs a pretty penny too.

Any other good suggestions?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3 Across Seating for Transportation

First there was the Matra Bagheera and it's cousin the Talbot Murena.  Then there was the McLaren F1.  Now this inventive MPV.  It brings a whole new meaning to balanced handling.

Corena sent this out by email.  Her audience/sources expalins the description in both english and german.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stich Eye View

I scanned this from the inside cover of the most recent Aerostich catalog.  Naturally, its an advertisement for how good they think their gear works.  But it is based on some concept about what is feasible weather for riding a motorcycle.  It also emphasizes that hot weather on a bike can be a real pain, especially if you want to wear protection on your body.

Personally, I'm not up for as much cold weather riding as they seem to sign up for.  Even accepting a little cold weather fanaticism (Aerostich is in Duluth, after all) on their part, I was very surprised to see them identify Phoenix as the place with the fewest riding days per year.

It does bring up the question, how cold are you willing to ride, especially a full day ride?  And how hot is too hot for you on that same full day? 

For me, the answer is somewhere around 40 deg F on the low side and somewhere in the mid 90s on the high side.  I have ridden above 95, even over 100, but I didn't like it and it just wasn't fun.  I have also ridden on days that started in the 30's, but it was never fun, just getting home because there wasn't much choice.

I'm sure others have a wider range.  I'll put mine down to a naked bike with me out in the wind.  That, and not being as macho as I once was.

Finally, I thought it was interesting that San Francisco has 365 days, one day more riding than San Diego, 4 days more than LA.  I guess rain and fog don't count at all.  That seems to be confirmed by Seattle having 356 days.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Time is Near

Yes, spring time is just around the corner and it always makes me a little sad.  I know, as a biker, I should chomping at the bit to get the bike out of the garage and hit the road.  But somehow, every spring, when the snow starts to melt, I get nostalgic for winter.  That's when I seem to go hunting for pretty pictures of snow.

Well, at least we had a winter this year.  I had the chance to play with my new camera up north, so I've got a few winter shots to keep the mud away.  And yes, I know that I'm crazy.

I you look on your Google map at the finger of land sticking up into Lake Superior, then zoom in on the north coast up towards the tip, you will find Eagle Harbor.  Eagle Harbor is cute little village that is dominated by snowmobile traffic in winter.  This shot is from a nice little inn where they have excellent food.

Out on the point that forms the harbor, there is a lighthouse and views of Lake Superior.

Overall, it has been a light year for snowfall in Michigan's Keweenaw Penninsula.  Often, there is a lot more snow piled up.  This shot of downtown Calumet feels surprisingly big city for such a small town.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Arizona Sunrise

 This time of year, the days are short and the work days are long.  That means that most of the time, I am driving to and from work in total darkness.

One this particular day, I needed to arrive a little later at work, so the sun started to rise behind the mountains.  Given more time, this would have been a nicer quality photo, but all I had time for was a quick snap from the roof of my rental car with my #2 camera.

Even so, these mountains say Arizona to me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beauty in Green Tech

A week or so ago,  I made a mad dash up north for work.  In the middle of Michigan's lower peninsula, there were miles of new windmills that weren't there one year ago.  It was a windy day, so these quiet giants were turning in together in a huge dance over the flat landscape.  White blades turning in the sun.  Really quite beautiful.

The internet says that there are 133 windmills stretching over 4 townships.  Gentle yet strong.  They just make me smile.

On the way home later that evening, it was long after dark and I had forgotten about the windmills.  At one point, I started seeing red flashing lights above the horizon.  As I got closer, I could see many of these lights on the top of the windmill towers and they scattered over the countryside like a red flashing blanket.  Of course, all of the red lights on the towers flashed in unison.  It reminded me of a giant's dance, perhaps a dance for the Scottish Giant, Fingal.  Or perhaps a signal to intelligent beings somewhere in space. 

 It's strange that these windmills seem so much more majestic than similar windmills out west where they are often mixed into mountain passes and brown country.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tim's Request

I received a comment from Tim C. requesting an update on the Fiat 500.  Rather than just publish the comment, I skipped straight to the post.  Tim, thanks for the suggestion.

Here are a couple of shots of Guido in winter plumage.  The amount of dirt and salt are embarassing, but it does no good to wash it off.  The first few miles would return the salt and dirt.

I get a lot of compliments on the wheels.  The silver painted steel wheels have an old school sports car feel and they stand out as different since every other car has boring aluminum wheels.  The tires are Hakkapeliitta snows which are a touch overkill for lower Michigan's occasional snow.

So what is the overall verdict after 25k miles and 1.7 years. 

My favorite car that I have owned is Gidjet, an Austin Healy Sprite that I owned for over 30 years.  The Fiat is my second favorite.

The reasons are very similar between the two cars.  Both are light, precise, and responsive handling.  Before modifying the engine on the Sprite, both were a little underpowered with good shifting manual transmissions.  I truly like a car that is a little underpowered because you are always reving and shifting.  I find myself constantly involved in the act of driving which is just fine.

My friend, Mike, has been riding motorcycles for 50 years (still riding at 70) and has owned lots of motorcycles.  He says there are no bad motorcycles.  Some motorcycles are OK, some are good, and some just make you grin.   For me, the Fiat 500 makes me grin everyday.

The engine was a little tight when new, so this fun character wasn't as clear for a few thousand miles.  After about 20k miles, the exhaust seemed to loosen up a bit giving a little stronger engine note.  The engine just says, "Here I am.  Let's have a little fun."

So what else is there to like?

Quality has been near perfect.  I had a body clip on the rocker cover that popped out, but the dealer took care of that quickly and painlessly.  Their service has been excellent.

For me, the car has been very comfortable, but others have found the seat and/or seating position to be uncomfortable, so judge for yourself.  I like the stereo (not my home stereo, but good enough to sing along with), the built in USB and stereo jacks for inputting your own music, and the bluetooth/hands free phone.

Although it is a very small car, I've surprised myself with how much stuff I can haul with the seats down.  And, of course, the fuel economy has been good.  Lifetime, with lots of short runs, I've been averaging 37 mpg.  When driving on a 2 lane highway at 60 mph, I'll get about 43 mpg.  75 mph on the freeway, it drops down to 37 mpg.

If I had to complain about one thing it would be that the ride is a little stiff.  Call it European or call it sporty, it would be fine most places, but Michigan's broken roads make it feel like a younger man's ride.  In the end, it is something I have accepted as the price paid for the rest of the fun.

The big decision for me is whether to keep it when the warranty is up.  At the moment, I leaning toward keeping Guido with me for a while.