Friday Playlist

“The Sound of Suffering” – Salim Nourallah
I’ve long used these playlists to celebrate Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature, and share new discoveries I’ve made through it. I have to admit that something about their algorithm has changed and it has been sucking lately. It has been offering music that doesn’t match either what I listen to historically or recently. Like not even close. But this song was in my new playlist on Monday, so maybe they have made corrections to the model and the suggestions are improving. This song sounds like a young Tom Petty playing Ryan Adams’ poppiest music.

“Hawkmoon” – Hurray For The Riff Raff
Alynda Segarra’s new album is the best album of the young year. One critic praised it as the next, great American road trip album. It does get a little one-notey in the second half, but the good songs are so freaking good. This is the first contender for song of the year. “I’m becoming the kind of girl that they warned me about.”

“Hall & Oates” – IDLES
“IT FEELS LIKE HALL & OATES IS PLAYING IN MY EAR!” I don’t listen to enough songs that make me want to run through walls anymore.

“Hard Times – Max Von Sydow Remix” – Whyte Horse, John Grant, Max Von Sydow
This is some good shit.

“My Father’s Eyes” – Willow Parlo
And this is some beautiful shit. Can’t find much on the web about this or the previous song, thus the glib comments.

“Dig” – Louise Burns
Let’s go all the way back to 2017 for this tremendous track.

“Dancing with Myself” – Maren Morris covering Billy Idol
I (in)famously “slam-danced” to this song at many high school dances, once being pulled aside by our principal and told that “We do not have slam dancing at Raytown.” Most rebellious act of my life. Morris takes Billy’s classic in a lovely new direction. Where Billy was energized and defiant, Morris sounds beaten down by life, the act of being alone is a relief from her everyday stresses.

“Radio Ga Ga” – Queen
Entering the chart at #38 this week in 1984 was the final American Top 40 song of Queen’s career while Freddy Mercury was still alive. A good song to begin with made legendary by their Live Aid performance of it a year later.

Thursday Links

Weird week here. It was in the 70s Monday, high 60s Tuesday, then the wind chill was in the teens all day Wednesday. The sun is bright and dazzling today, but it is still very chilly. That combined with some other things has thrown my body clock off.[1] I’m having trouble sleeping at night then struggle all day to avoid taking a nap, usually unsuccessfully, so I can go to bed tired. The cherry on top was our tornado sirens going off at 2:00 AM Wednesday morning as severe thunderstorms blew through. Pretty sure I got less than four hours of sleep that night.

So rather that write about the Jayhawks and get mad again, finish up a Reader’s Notebook post, or share some more thoughts on the car-buying process, here are a few pretty solid links.

Sally Jenkins with a fantastic piece about how the NCAA’s stance on Lynette Woodard’s scoring mark – which Caitlin Clark passed last night – is just another hypocritical stance in its long history of them.

There is nothing trivial about this. It’s an act of erasure. Example: the NCAA regards Michigan as the holder of the record for most college football victories of all time, with 989. Yet the NCAA didn’t come into existence until 1910, and Michigan began playing football in 1879. The NCAA doesn’t strike or asterisk anything Michigan won “pre-NCAA.”…The NCAA wouldn’t dream of ignoring those years.

Yet they do so with women’s basketball.

The NCAA erased an entire generation of women’s sports

If someone writes about the Voyager spacecraft, I’m obligated to share it. I loved the opening line of this piece about Voyager 1’s impending death.

Billions of miles away at the edge of the Solar System, Voyager 1 has gone mad and has begun to die.

Death, Lonely Death

You know those sketchy texts you get occasionally about some package that can’t be delivered unless you do X or Y? In this piece, the author did a deep dive and learned that a text he thought was a phishing attempt was actually legit. Things are just going to get more confusing as AI takes over more and more of the logistics/customer service stack.

Thanks FedEx, This is Why we Keep Getting Phished

I dig stories about submarines, so this was pretty awesome. Well, other than the fact the Navy signed off on it because the world is as unstable and close to major war as it has been since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Life Aboard a Nuclear Submarine as the US Responds to Threats Around the Globe

  1. Trust me, the very stupid basketball game Tuesday contributed a lot to my messed-up sleep cycle.  ↩

Car Shopping Chronicles, Season 2 Part 3

When I realized that the Kia EV6 likely wasn’t the car for me, I started thinking about the areas where it failed to be sure about what I was looking for. Kia is fairly new to EVs, so their products are not mature. They don’t seem to have a strong organizational commitment, on either the corporate or dealer side, to EVs at the moment. With the electric market softening over the past year, I wonder about how serious they will continue to be about their models going forward. If they are already having difficulty identifying and fixing wide-spread electrical issues now, what happens if their EV sales tank? Kias currently rely on the less common and reliable charging network, although with the Tesla network opening to other brands in the next 18 months, that will change. If I want an EV, I need one that addresses all these shortcomings.

There was an easy answer to most of these questions.

Oh, God.


Tuesday I test drove a Tesla Model Y.

As usual, we back up before we go forward.

One year to the day before my Tesla test drive, M and I rode down to Cincinnati for a campus visit with her buddy A and her dad T in his Model Y.[1] He is a true convert, ditching a BMW for his Tesla, and extolled the car’s virtues during our roughly four hours in it. This was my first long-term ride in a Tesla, and I liked it, quizzing T about his perspective along the way. As soon as we got home M said, “You’re going to get a Tesla now, aren’t you?”

I said no but, dammit, the girl might have been right.

OK, back to last Tuesday.

I arrived at the dealership, signed a waiver, and an associate led me to a Model Y. She showed me how to get the steering wheel and mirrors to comfortable positions. Being a Tesla, this is not as straightforward as in most cars. Then she guided me on how to find pretty much everything I would need during the drive on the car’s touchscreen.

The dealership sits right in the middle of a huge construction area, so I asked her for a suggestion on the best route to get to the highway. Knowing I had never driven a Tesla before, she recommended taking a couple laps around the next door mall’s parking lot to get used to the acceleration and braking before I drove on the actual street.

Good advice! Kia dude just had me jump on the street and go.

Then she plotted me a route, saying it would take me through neighborhoods and on four-lane streets so I could get a feel of how the car reacted to those scenarios. From there I knew how to get to the nearest interstate on my own.

Then she said, “OK, take it wherever you want, just be back in half an hour or so,” and walked away. No yappy sales person sitting next to me. I was on my own!

The full regenerative braking on the Tesla is trippy. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, although it was weird to have the car slow in proportion to how little pressure I put on the accelerator. I never had an “Oh shit!” moment of panic or confusion. Rather, sometimes I would forget to hit the accelerator when a light turned green since my foot wasn’t putting pressure on anything. Kind of a weird mental block.

I took her advised route, which led me through a rough section of pavement that confirmed that the Model Y has a relatively stiff suspension. Not sure I love that, but it’s not a deal breaker either. I would prefer a more cushioned ride, but also want sporty responsiveness. Those often don’t go together in the budget range I’m currently in. The Tesla definitely leans to the sporty side of that equation.

Once I got to the interstate I zipped around between traffic but, without any big openings, didn’t get a chance to properly punch it. I exited and prepared to turn back towards the dealership. I was the first car at a red light with a long entrance ramp ahead. This was my moment. And then a big ass tractor trailer truck pulled onto the ramp just before I got a green light. Ass.

No worries. Once he got onto the interstate, he quickly moved to the left and I blew by him in the right lane. The dealer had set a speed limit of 85 MPH. I hit that pretty quickly and started laughing. Going from 50-to–85 might be more impressive than 0-to–60. It felt instantaneous. There wasn’t much traffic around me this direction so I let my speed drop and floored it several times just to feel that sensation again.

The big knock about the Tesla driving experience is that so many things are accomplished via the touchscreen.

Like 98% of car functions are controlled through the giant, iPad-like screen. It is a little odd, especially the lack of a center display in the dashboard, but I found it to be very intuitive. You can set shortcuts for most-used settings at the bottom of the screen. I think once you get those dialed in to your preferences, it’s pretty easy to interact with for someone who is fairly tech savvy. The screen is incredibly responsive, very Apple-like, in fact. I didn’t detect any lags in my brief time playing with it.

I much prefer physical knobs and switches. I think it is super annoying that everyday controls are a layer deep on a display. But Tesla’s screen seems to work good enough that this can be overcome. I think their system would be annoying for a casual driver. S and I rarely swap cars. That will likely happen even less often if I get a Tesla because these controls would drive her crazy.

Which brings up one big negative: Tesla does not support Apple CarPlay in any way. You can connect your phone via Bluetooth, but unlike a CarPlay-equipped vehicle, you don’t get access to the entire screen for your media, just small controls at the bottom of the screen. If you want to change playlists in Spotify, or switch between audio apps, that must be done on your phone’s screen. Which isn’t super safe at 75 MPH. But even my buddy who works at Apple and owned a Tesla admitted that their systems are good enough that he didn’t mind having to use them over CarPlay. That said, he now drives a Lucid which does support CarPlay.

There are some third party adapters that allow you to add a CarPlay screen, but they seem pretty janky. For their cost you might as well pay for Tesla’s Premium Connectivity to run Spotify or Apple Music natively.

Another bummer is that Model Ys do not support SiriusXM. I’ve been an SXM subscriber for ten years and it is a huge part of my music life. I could still stream it via the app and Bluetooth, but I’m not sure that’s worth the annual cost given the lack of on-screen controls.

The car’s interior is very spare. There is a ton of storage room, like amazing amounts. I think that can lead to having too much crap in your car. But I also find my Audi has like 20% too little space, making it difficult to store necessities within reach of the driver. Other than all that storage, the Tesla is pretty spartan inside. I would describe it as nice but not luxurious by any measure.

I’ve also learned that Tesla has moved from a combination of ultrasonic sensors and cameras similar to my Audi, to exclusively using cameras for proximity alerts. While their cameras are of amazing quality, they are far less accurate and users complain that the car will often scream at them that they are about to hit a wall, parked car, etc when they are actually several feet away. Not sure how cool that is when the charging port is in the rear of the vehicle, normally requiring the driver to back into a charging station. The lack of sensors can also make some of the assistive driving functions a little wonky, especially in poor lighting conditions. I guess these are all things that you get used to, and may be adjusted with future software refreshes. It seems like a misguided cost-cutting move, though, to ditch the sensors.

In summary, the Tesla felt far more competent than the Kia. Teslas aren’t without their issues; a lot of owners complain about fit and finish issues inside and out. The driving software can be temperamental. Apparently the automatic windshield wipers are infuriating in their lack of consistency. But Tesla is also famous for a constant flow of software updates that both fix reported issues and roll out new functionality. When mechanically possible, a Tesla that is several years old can have the exact same, updated functionality as a car straight off the production line. Teslas have been around for a decade and are backed by a company that is solely focused on EVs. Throw in their massive, easy-to-use Supercharger network, and the Model Y was a clear winner over the Kia EV6.

After I returned to the dealer the lady who had helped me get set up was out on a break so I talked to another associate. He was very chill. I asked him how come their website shows a bunch of cars on the lot that are exactly the same with incrementally different prices. Other than the type of motor (Rear wheel, all wheel Long Range, or all wheel Performance), about all you can select as options are exterior and interior colors, tire size, five versus seven seats, and if you want to add a towing hitch or not.

“Honestly I couldn’t tell you,” he said. His best guess was their pricing algorithm is based on how long a car has been on the lot and inserts discounts to move the oldest first for tax purposes. “They are all the same. My best advice is to find what you want and pick the cheapest one.”

I liked this process much more than Kia’s. Hell, if S was into EVs, she would 100% buy a Tesla just because of their laid-back, low-contact sales interactions. You can actually buy a car on your phone without ever talking to another human if you want!

Tesla’s current incentives aren’t quite as aggressive as Kia’s. Kia’s are generous enough at the moment that we were considering buying one even with two months left on my Audi lease. Tesla’s current price cuts are not as steep, meaning there’s no rush. They’ve been aggressive with price cuts over the past year, so I bet they’ll drop prices again between now and the day my lease expires.

So as of today, I think I will be replacing my Audi Q5 with a Tesla Model Y Long Range. I already got my buddy T’s referral code so we can both earn some goodies out of it.

I had one electrician out last week to get an estimate to run a line for a home charger, and have messages out to several others to take a look. Being able to charge your EV at home is a game changer, the step that truly makes owning an EV radically different from a traditional car. Superchargers are great for road trips, but charging at home for everyday travel is cheaper and far more convenient.

I’ll continue to do research over the next couple months to make sure this is the right choice. I’ve been reading about a few other cars, but nothing has jumped out at me as requiring a test drive.

To close this post, I want to make a very important point: Elon still fucking sucks. If I get a Tesla I might get a bumper sticker that says “Fuck Elon.” That’ll start some conversations!

  1. I apologize for all the initials, I know it makes for awkward reading.  ↩

Weekend Notes

It was a three-day weekend at CHS. Which was good since L and I started the weekend off early.


I took L and one of her hoops buddies down to Bloomington Thursday night for the Iowa-Indiana game. This was my first time in Assembly Hall 2003. Our seats were better for that game.

We were UP THERE!

We arrived right when doors opened two hours before tip and found the back of the line, which was roughly half a mile from the arena. Fortunately it was in the low 50s and dry. Things could have been much less pleasant in Indiana in late February! It took us exactly 30 minutes to get inside. By then the only sections of lower level seats that were GA had been taken, so we went into the balcony and grabbed a few.

Assembly Hall is behind those trees somewhere.

Caitlin was already on the court and warming up, 85 minutes before game time according to the official clock.

She must have used up all her shots in pregame because she turned in one of her worst games of the year, going 8–26 from the field and just 3–16 from three. She even missed three-straight free throws at one point. Still she put up 24 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, exiting the game with a couple minutes left as IU closed out their win. It is crazy this was considered a bad game for her.

IU was ready for their moment. They blew a game to a bad Illinois team last Monday but were 100% focused for the Hawkeyes. They took the lead late in the first quarter and steadily pulled away. The Hoosiers nearly got the lead to 20 a couple times before winning by 17. Local girl – from Fishers, just north of us – Sydney Parrish hit consecutive 3s to push the lead to 17. A third-straight 3 just missed. I’m not sure Assembly Hall would have survived that moment had Parrish connected. IU was fantastic defense and rode a few hot streaks on offense to build their margin.

The game was super chippy, which was awesome. As much as I enjoy Caitlin, I don’t always love some of her antics, which seem unnecessary and over the top. The Hoosier players and coaches weren’t having it. Mackenzie Holmes stared Clark down twice after blocking her shots. A couple other IU players yelled at her when she complained. And Clark got into it with the IU coaches at one point.

Assistant coaches in women’s ball seem way more aggressive than on the men’s side. Both teams had to have assistants held back from going after refs after bad calls.

The crowd was almost as hot as the Hoosiers. It was officially a sellout, although there were scattered empty seats in our area. There were plenty of Iowa folks mixed in but it was still a 98% loud, proud Hoosier crowd. One national writer said the crowd was better for this game than when KU came to B-town in December.[1]

They showed lots of good fan signs on the video board. One student had a white board on which he was tracking Clark’s “Flops” and “Whines,” which was funny. Another kid had a sign showing Clark and a crying baby next to each other. The best was a student who had a sign that showed Iowa coach Lisa Bluder and labeled her as a “D1 Yapper,” which was awesome. I’m going to start using that phrase.

For some reason former Hoosier (and Pacer) Victor Oladipo was there, wearing sunglasses the entire time. He’s getting paid $9 million to do nothing at the moment, so I guess he can roll back to his alma mater for a big game when it suits him.

Fun to get to see the biggest star in the game, hell the biggest star in sports, in person. Who was the last athlete that had people lining up for hours almost every night they played? Also fun to see the Hoosiers, who aren’t quite as good as they were last year, put it all together on the night of their biggest home game of the year.

At halftime L ran down to find one of her travel teammates. They, in turn, met one of our new girls on their team for the coming season. She is 5’10”! She looks athletic. I think she got some varsity time at her 4A school this season. I am intrigued!

Jayhawk Talk

Well that was an almost perfect Saturday for the Jayhawks. The much-hated Texas Longhorns made their final visit to Allen Fieldhouse before leaving for the SEC. KU jumped on them early, had a 20-point lead at halftime, and auto-piloted it a bit to a 19-point win. The starting lineup was balanced and efficient. It might have been the best bench game of the year. KU’s defense looked terrific and the offense was humming. As several national writers said, if you give Bill Self a week to prepare, he’s going to find your weak points.


Oh, and the uniforms KU wore were fantastic. I love these updated versions of old uniforms Adidas has been rolling out every year. I prefer the version with red letters a little bit more, but these were nice.

Not all was great for KU, though. That they won without Kevin McCullar, whose knee acted up again, was encouraging. What was not encouraging was Self using the phrase “If Kevin comes back…” four times in his postgame, radio interview.

IF?!?!?! WTF?!?!

I mean, KU might have just played their most complete game of the year, against a talented but flawed team. So that was cool, and a great development for March. But the Jayhawks need McCullar to win NCAA games. And a month before the biggest games start the head coach is talking like he’s not sure McCullers knee will be healed by then.


I don’t call out the KU fans often, but chanting “SEC” at Texas and Oklahoma is dumb. I know it is meant to mock, but if you’re going to chant about conferences, give your own conference some love. Don’t chant what SEC teams chant in big, non-conference games. Or just start the Rock Chalk Chant early and throw the Horns Down when you’re waxing Texas.

Also, KU is 3–0 against SEC teams this year. And 3–0 against teams going to the SEC next year. I still fear some .500 SEC team more than anyone else in the second round of the NCAAs.

Court Stormings

Oh so much hand wringing about Duke’s Kyle Filipowski getting knocked over and apparently injuring his knee when the Wake Forest students rushed the court after beating the Blue Devils Saturday. Seriously, the rest of the day on ESPN every other game seemed secondary as each broadcast team had to weigh in, and each halftime show was devoted to breaking it down, in Zapruder Film like detail.

Hey, it super sucks Filipowski got hurt, and hopefully it is nothing severe or lingering.

But Filipowski isn’t the first person to get injured in a court storm/field rush. It’s just when it happens to a Duke player, who is a potential All American, it becomes the biggest story in the world.

Court storming is great. But, come on, these aren’t new. If you’re playing a Duke, a Kansas, a Kentucky, and your school is either a Little Brother or just not as good, you have to know this is a possibility and be prepared for a court storming. You’re not going to keep all those kids off the court. But you can either delay them, or funnel them to a section of the court giving all the players a chance to get clear and safe before the celebration really kicks off.

Some KU fans made a big deal about how Wake Forest athletic director John Currie was the AD at Kansas State when there were a couple particularly scary court stormings in Manhattan. I’m not sure he’s directly responsible – Wildcats gonna Wildcat when they beat KU – but it is weird that after he was forced to take measures to protect visiting players in Bramlage Coliseum, there didn’t appear to be much in place to avoid bad situations in Winston Salem.

Kid Update

Our big accomplishment for the weekend was C finding a prom dress. She is our procrastinator and it had been a struggle to get her out shopping. But she found a beautiful dress and we’re on schedule to have everything ready for prom in two months.

CHS had elearning on Friday so the school could set up for their big, annual fundraiser. L got her work done early so we went out to get her some new basketball shoes for the travel season. She was hoping to get the Sabrina Ionesco shoes, but they are mega-narrow and she had to settle for some Nike GT Cut 2’s. New hoops shoe time is one of my favorite parts of her basketball calendar. I’ve been known to grab some AAU Dad shoes on the same trip, but I held off this time.

We had a travel parent zoom meeting last night and she starts workouts next weekend. Her team will play for the first time while we are on spring break, but hopefully we make it back in time for her to play the second half of their second tournament. Right now we are scheduled to play in Cincinnati twice and Louisville three times then everything else is 20 minutes from our house.

M got a job leading tours around the UC campus. I talked to her before her interview and she was a little nervous. Then she texted and said the interview lasted five minutes and she got the offer right away. Surprised it took them five minutes to realize she’s like the perfect person to show prospective students and their families around UC. Not sure if she’s led any tours yet but she’s on the call list for helping out when folks need a guide.

  1. You probably don’t follow the IU men, but they are having a rough season.  ↩

Friday Playlist

This week features several new songs from artists who have played a large role in my musical life.

“Dark Matter” – Pearl Jam
One of my all-time favorite bands returns. This isn’t too bad at all. Now sending out good vibes to keep anyone in the band from getting sick in late August when they are scheduled to return to Indy.

“Oh Hi” – Crowded House
One of my all-time favorite artists returns with the band that made him famous. This is nice enough, but it seems to be lacking that Neil Finn magic that has made so many of his songs classics. Still, a B+ song ain’t bad.

“Bored” – Waxahatchee
The artist who had my #1 favorite song of 2020 returns with another stellar addition to her catalog.

“Purple Land” – Amen Dunes
The artist with my #2 song of 2018/#15 song of the 2010s returns. This takes a while to hit, but when it does, it hits properly.

“Petition” – Middle Kids
One of my favorite current bands released their new album last Friday. As tends to happen, the advance singles accounted for the best songs. But there were still several good ones that were new to me, this one of the best of that bunch.

“Hole In My Head” – Laura Jane Grace
LJG released her third solo album last week as well. It is far more focused – no songs over 2:38 – and enjoyable as her previous album and one of the most listenable albums of the year so far.

“Indiana Wants Me” – R. Dean Taylor
I took L down to Bloomington last night for the Iowa-Indiana women’s game. It was quite a scene, one I’ll dive into Monday. The Hoosiers were ready for the Hawkeyes. Caitlin and her crew were not ready for the Hoosiers.

“The Politics of Dancing” – Re-Flex
No classics debuting this week in 1984, so let’s watch this forgotten jam. I’ve always loved it yet never understood it. I don’t think it was supposed to be super-deep, but that’s never stopped me from hoping there were some hidden meanings in the lyrics. This is a perfect 1980s vid, too. A very low-budget movie angle, with a healthy dose of Cold War imagery. Shots of the band earnestly performing mixed in. Random dancers. And inexplicably, roller skaters. A+!!!

Car Shopping Chronicles, Season 2 Part 2

Things are moving quickly compared to my last car buying adventure. As I shared yesterday, in the span of about 36 hours I went from casually looking at one set of cars with a planned acquisition date in early May to suddenly test driving a totally different car with the chance of bringing it home soon.

Part of that adjustment was adding electric vehicles to my list. I’ve been interested in EVs for some time. In fact, almost since I got my Audi, I’ve been keeping tabs on the latest developments in the EV world. Despite that attention, I kept saying that EVs would be right for me two cars down the road, not in my next car.

A lot went into this assertion. Mostly it was about cost. If my budget was going down with Car 2024, I would be getting further away from EVs rather than closer to them.

Two things changed that. The EV market has softened in the last year, and prices in general have decreased. Second, as I mentioned in my first post, several manufacturers are offering pretty big incentives to close out the current quarter.

Monday I test drove a Kia EV6.

(Not the car I drove, nor my house.)

I’ve been a passenger in a Tesla several times, and spent a fun weekend being ferried around in a friend’s Lucid. But I’ve never sat in the driver’s seat of an EV. Monday was fun for that alone.

I can’t say my test driving experience was the best, though. We have a rough history with Kia salespeople, specifically when we test drove a Telluride four years ago. We also have several friends who have had terrible encounters with Kia dealers. The only reason S has a Telluride is because she desperately wanted one and found a dealer who would do everything via email so she didn’t have to put up with their nonsense.

The sales guy who helped me Monday, Jason, wasn’t terrible, but he did check a lot of the Kia boxes. Very young. A little too enthusiastic. A little too agreeable. Just a little much in general, although he was a nice enough guy.

The real issue was him not being familiar with the car. Despite scheduling ahead to test drive a specific car, they still didn’t have an EV expert to help me. I got a kid who couldn’t even find the charging port when we were doing a walk-around. He knew lots of specs, but struggled to show off anything that was different from the standard Kia setup. Even when I asked whether the current promotions on EVs would expire next week, he nodded slowly and said “That sounds right,” without much confidence.

I think that is typical of a lot of traditional dealerships that are easing into the EV world. Their sales staff, service crew, and entire organizations are focused on the ICE vehicles that make up the bulk of their sales and services appointments. I had read about people having similar encounters, but it was still disappointing.

“What about the test drive, you dick?” I can hear you asking.

I enjoyed it. Everything everyone who owns an EV tells you is true. The instant power is incredible. It’s shocking even when you expect it. We were able to get on a stretch of state highway where I could punch it a couple times. When you punch it, it goes. I didn’t go zero-to–80 or anything, but closer to a realistic boost needed when passing or trying to merge onto a highway. No engine noise, no lag, no pauses as the transmission worked through the gears. It is an amazing experience.

The car rides lighter than I expected. I figured with the extra weight of the batteries it would feel heavy, akin to driving a Suburban or Tahoe. I wouldn’t say it drove like a nimble little sportster, but I was surprised a bit by the feel.

I also experienced regenerative braking for the first time. Kia uses paddles on the steering wheel to control the amount of regen, allowing the driver to dial in the feel they enjoy most. Luckily I knew that coming into the drive, because Jason never mentioned it to me. Being new to regen braking, I scaled it back so I was still using the brake pedal at full stops. It is weird to back off the throttle and feel the car immediately slow down, though.

I made this same observation three years ago, but it is annoying when you’re taking a test drive, trying to get a sense of how a car drives and reacts and feels, and your sales person talks the entire time. This is multiplied in an EV, which is a whole new kind of driving. I didn’t need total silence but if homie could have eased up on the Sales Guy schtick some it would have been helpful.

Because of that, I didn’t walk away from the drive with a ton of insight. I enjoyed it. It was comfortable. The tech mostly made sense. But as I think back on the drive, I hear more of Jason talking than distinct memories of the car.

One thing that did really stand out was that the model I drove, the Light Long Range AWD, was lacking a lot of features. No sun roof, although to be honest this doesn’t bother me as much as it looks weird. There were some switches and infotainment options that S has on her Telluride that were missing from the Light. And unless the Jason really failed me by not pointing them out, the car has a single, rear-facing camera. Almost all Kias have side cameras that kick in when you are changing lanes, displaying your blind spots. I find these a little distracting in the Telluride, but they are highly useful when parking. Especially when backing into a charging stall as visibility is poor out the small, back window of the EV6. I made sure to back the car up when we got back to the dealership and had to rely just on the single camera in the tail gate. Also no front camera to assist with pulling into garages, etc.

Speaking of charging, Jason didn’t demonstrate how to charge the vehicle, either. Or really talk about charging at all. That would seem like an important point.

There were a few other options that kick in when you jump to the Wind trim tier, but the cameras were the most significant absences.

We went inside so he could give me his card and call over the sales manager for the obligatory “Hey, how ya doin’?” before I left. I had told Jason that I had two months left on my lease, so I was in no hurry to buy. I had also mentioned at some point that I would have to talk to my wife before I made any decision. He told me three times he respected that. It is good to be respected. This led to the strangest part of my visit.

He went over to grab his sales manager and came back with a weird look on his face. “He’ll be over in a minute. But I have a question for you. Would you want to take the car home for the night, so you could show it to her?”

Wait, WHAT?!?!? He was seriously offering to let me take the car home??? I was, honestly, a little taken aback and didn’t know how to respond at first. Eventually I told him I wasn’t comfortable leaving my car there and thanked him for the offer, but declined. Very strange.

Later a Black friend of mine said this was like the Eddie Murphy “White Like Me” sketch. That made me laugh.

My takeaways from the test drive were also tempered a bit because of something my research had uncovered earlier in the day.

Kia/Hyundai have a rather serious issue with the 12 volt battery in some of their EVs. It causes the car to shut down completely, even if the main batteries are fully charged. Kia doesn’t seem to know how to handle it, despite being present for several years. They will often just replace the battery – if they have one – and send you home until it fails again. Some dealerships will hold your car for weeks, waiting for their “EV expert” to come in and diagnose the dead battery. Some dealers claim replacing it with a more expensive battery solves the problem. Others say you have to replace it with a battery that is an exact match. People who get bit by the bug once often get bit again. This does not affect most EV6 drivers, but I couldn’t find clear numbers on how many do have their cars crippled by it. It may be a very small percentage, but those people are extremely vocal on the various forums I popped into.

The more I read, the more I found about other flakey issues like this in the electrical system or in the software that manages vital systems. Corporate Kia can’t seem to get a handle on them. Local dealerships don’t seem educated in what to do when owners show up with their EV6 on a tow truck.

Even though the EV6 is one of the best rated cars in its class, if there is a persistent problem that could leave me stranded, and the company can’t find a fix, that is a major red flag.

Sunday night I could not have been more excited about the Kia EV6. The price was down to a very comfortable point. It seemed refined in a way Teslas are not and far more capable than a Volkswagen ID.4. Every major review praised its quality, putting it best in class in nearly every category. But Kia’s lack of quality control made me wonder how committed they are to EVs, and whether my time as an owner would be marred by bad experiences like the ones I read about.[1]

I test drove the EV6 on Monday. Tuesday I test drove another EV. We’ll talk about that next week.

  1. To be fair anyone can get a lemon from any manufacturer. My Audi has had three major issues with the rear lift gate. But those didn’t keep me from driving the car.  ↩

Car Shopping Chronicles, Season 2 Part 1

I mentioned Monday that I fell into a rabbit hole over the weekend. If you pay close attention to all my nonsense, you probably could have made a pretty solid guess as to what that rabbit hole was.

I am officially car shopping again!

Just like when I did this three years ago, there’s going to be some background bullshit before we get to the good stuff. I’ll try to be brief, but y’all know how I am. Feel free to skim or skip.

First we have to jump back for a moment. Three years ago I knew I had a little window in our family’s schedule in which I could get something Really Nice, as Cousin Eddie would say.

Not that I didn’t have nice cars before. But instead of a massive, expensive, domestic SUV that was purchased with hauling kids around, spring break road trips, and lake weekends in mind, my 2021 purchase was a chance to get something smaller, expensive, and foreign before we had to start paying college tuition. When we leased my Audi Q5, I did it knowing when the lease ran out, my next car budget would be significantly smaller. I would still get something nice. But it would be at least one step down from the Audi. Maybe two steps, depending where M went to school.[1]

(We’ll talk more about the Audi down the road in this series.)

For a few months I’ve been casually doing the early work, including coming up with a mental price range, thinking about what I had to have versus what I could give up, and casually reading reviews and rankings of the vehicles I was interested in.

Generally, I was looking for another small-ish SUV/crossover. I knew the big thing I would give up was power: when your budget drops by 30–40%, the engine is going to take the biggest hit. No more highly-tuned, German turbo fours. Or at least ones that pump out 260 horsepower.

I wanted a well-appointed, comfortable interior that was also nice on the outside. Heated seats are a must, ventilated would be nice. Wireless Apple CarPlay would be great, although that has been a disaster in my Audi and I mostly use a wired connection now. In addition to dropping down in budget, getting better mileage was high on the list. I’ve averaged 24.9 MPG in my Audi, which isn’t bad. But hybrids that get into the high 30s, low 40s were in play.

As tends to happen with any shopping experience, I would start reading, watching videos, etc. and next thing you know I’m suddenly looking at cars that are ballpark price of my Audi. Then I would realize I wasn’t being productive and would set the project aside for a few days.

A couple weeks ago I got a lot more serious about things. S gave me more definitive budget limits, which helped a lot. I figured I would spend the next month heavily on the research side of the project and start test driving after spring break.

I had things roughly narrowed down to three cars: the Honda CR-V Hybrid, Kia Sportage Hybrid, and the Volkswagen Tiguan. The Tiguan is basically a cheaper, slower version of my Q5 and looks the best of the three, but it also has a traditional gas engine and thus the worst mileage. It also has some quirks that could be deal-breakers. I know the Honda will run forever, is readily available in a ton of colors, and gets great reviews. It is also the most boring looking of the three, not interesting to drive, and is, by far, the most expensive of the three. The Sportage is the boldest looking of the bunch, has the most options, is the cheapest, the most powerful, and honestly the only major negative is that it is hard to find one that isn’t black or one of Kia’s three shades of gray. As a bonus, the sales guy who S bought her Telluride from would cut her a check if we bought another car from him.

Every few days another car or two would bounce in and out of the list, but those were the three that seemed to stick.

So that’s where I was at the end of last week.

Over the weekend I was running through my standard Hour(s) Of Wasting Time On Car Shit routine. I noticed on the Kia dealer sites promotions for their EVs. Like $5000–7500 off before the Federal tax credit, which put them from out-of-reach to firmly within reach. Discounts that big seemed kind of nutty. Especially since we know from our first attempt to buy a Telluride in 2020 that Kia is infamous for promising a discount then throwing markups that cancel them out at you when you hit the showroom.

Still, I was intrigued.

I read up on their EVs, specifically the EV6. It gets phenomenal ratings, generally ranked #1 or #2 in its class, swapping the top spots with its Hyundai cousin, the Ioniq 5. Most reviews said it was wonderfully built, very sporty, and loaded in that crazy way Kia can load up cars while remaining affordable.

I was super intrigued.

That’s when the rabbit hole presented itself.

I spent almost all day Sunday watching videos about the EV6. Some were proper reviews by auto experts. Others were user vids about their experience with the vehicle. I watched one 90 minute video (at 1.5x playback speed) by a guy who picked up his EV6 in Wisconsin and then drove it to his home in Dallas. That one was a little long, but I love those kind of videos since you get to see someone using the car in real life situations rather than in controlled ones typical to reviews.

By Sunday afternoon I had that buzzy feeling in my head and quickened pulse that comes when I get excited/obsessed about something.

I looked around and other manufacturers also had deals on their EVs. The only caveat was most of them are set to expire next week. Which doesn’t fit my timeline of getting a new car right before my lease expires in mid-May.

S and I chatted about my day’s work. We examined the various discounts and deals that are available, re-evaluated our budget, and she gave me the green light to at least go test drive.

Guess what I’ve been doing this week?

We’ll save that for part two.

  1. Thankfully she went to an out-of-state, public university that offered her in-state tuition. Plus C heads to college in 18 months.  ↩

Reaching For The Stars, Vol. 97

Chart Week: February 25, 1984
Song: “Nobody Told Me” – John Lennon
Chart Position: #7, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #5 the week of March 3.

I’ve been thinking about songs by dead people lately. There’s no mathematical way to quantify it, yet I keep trying to isolate the effect an artist’s death has on new music released after they pass. Do songs get more popular because of our morbid fascination with death, and thus become bigger hits? Or do they perform pretty much the same as if the artist lived?

This has been on my mind because of a couple songs I’ve run across recently.

For the first time in ages I heard “Mighty KC,” a 1995 track by the band For Squirrels. It was about Kurt Cobain – Mighty KC, get it? – so it already had a Dead Artist connection, which may have been enough for it to crack the modern rock chart.[1] Just before For Squirrels released their debut album, the band was involved in an auto accident that took the lives of lead singer Jack Vigliatura and bass player Bill White. The song got a lot of airplay on alt-rock radio, and it seemed like DJs always referenced that double-tracked death angle.

Whether it was the Cobain reference, the band’s own tragedy, or a combination, something propelled this song by an unknown group up to #15 on the alternative rock chart.

After not hearing “Mighty KC” since sometime in the Nineties, I’ve heard it twice in the past month. The Music Gods were pushing me down a path.

I’ve also heard a couple countdowns from early 1984 recently, both of which included the final hit of John Lennon’s solo career.

The former Beatle retreated from the public eye in the mid-Seventies, and spent several years in semi-seclusion. He was cleaning himself up from heroin, rededicating himself to his wife Yoko Ono, and delighting in being a father to his son Sean.

By 1980 he was ready to start making music and show his face to the world again. Late in the year he released the Double Fantasy album. The week of December 6 his comeback single, “(Just Like) Starting Over,” was #6 in just its sixth week on the Billboard Hot 100.[2]

On the evening of December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman, a mentally ill fan, shot and killed Lennon outside his New York apartment.

Three weeks later, “(Just Like) Starting Over” began a five-week stay at #1.

If we could have somehow skipped over December 8, or if Chapman had been arrested, or if his addled brain had just told him to be satisfied with the autograph he got from Lennon earlier that day, would the song still have hit #1? Based on its trajectory and the fact it was the first new Lennon song in five years, the answer is pretty clearly yes. Would it have spent as long at the top of chart? No tidy formula can answer that for us.

While Lennon was recording Double Fantasy, he dug up a demo made in 1976 called “Everybody’s Talkin’, Nobody’s Talkin’.” He brushed it up a bit, changing the piano to guitar. He also renamed it “Nobody Told Me.” However, he didn’t think it was a fit for Double Fantasy. Instead, he decided to pass it along to Ringo Starr for his next solo album. With that in mind, Lennon recorded a proper demo to use as a guide when he and Ringo got together. They had booked studio time on January 14, 1981 to take a run at it.

In the wake of Lennon’s death, Starr was too devastated to attempt to sing his friend’s composition. Thus “Nobody Told Me” sat unused until 1983 when Ono sifted through the music her husband left behind. The track was finished with studio musicians and became the lead single for the Milk and Honey album, which included six tracks written by Lennon.

The single did pretty well, peaking at #5 during a 12-week run on the Hot 100. Again it is impossible to know how much of its success was because listeners figured it might be the final, new John Lennon song.

I hear a looseness in the track that is consistent with other unfinished songs released by the estates of dead artists. There is also a roughness that feels as though it would have been tightened and smoothed with more attention. Had Lennon lived and gone into the studio with Starr, I think the final product would have been much more polished. I doubt it would have been as good, though, as Ringo wasn’t near the singer that John was.

Lennon sounds relaxed and playful on his version. When I listen to “Nobody Told Me,” I always imagine him singing with a smile on his face, happily swaying from side-to-side as he strummed his guitar. I can see him winking at the people around him during the line about UFOs over New York. I love the little “Three, four…” count in to begin the song, and the “Most peculiar mamma, roll…” ad lib near the end. I hear him shrugging off everything he went through during the Seventies and realizing that life shouldn’t be taken so seriously. I hear the joy making music again brought him.

Lennon did not leave behind a massive trove of completed or in-process songs, so there’s never been a slow trickle of “new” posthumous music like there was with Tupac, Prince, or others. After Milk and Honey was released, there were just bits of a few songs left on a collection of cassette tapes, more sketches than proper demos.[3] Rather than giving them the “Nobody Told Me” treatment, Ono passed them along to the surviving Beatles. They were turned into “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” released as part of the 1995 The Beatles Anthology collection, and “Now and Then,” released last fall.

I like “Nobody Told Me” far more than those “Beatles” tracks. It wasn’t shoehorned into some Beatles Nostalgia motif. No matter how respectful Paul McCartney was of Lennon’s lyrics and intent, John did not get an equal say in how those songs turned out. In “Nobody “Told Me,” the true spirit of John Lennon lives on. 7/10

  1. I found one suggestion that the “100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, Oh they are found dead, dead” line came from Vigliatura watching pictures from the Rwandan Genocide on TV. If true this song was just packed with death.  ↩
  2. Oh damn, three sixes in one sentence!  ↩
  3. Based on what Yoko Ono told Paul McCartney when she handed him the tapes in 1994 and how “Now and Then” was marketed. I guess there could be more music but the odds seem low.  ↩

Weekend Notes


Our first significant snow of the year hit Friday afternoon. Which was perfect for A) kids who are driving home from school, B) a wife who has to commute through rush hour traffic, and C) the opening night of All Star Weekend. Perfect in this case meaning the opposite of perfect.

We ended up getting between 4–5” inches of heavy, wet snow at our house. Everyone made it home safely and I was excited to get to use the snowblower for the first time in three years. It broke exactly three years ago right when I finished clearing the 9” we got in that storm. I didn’t get it fixed for the ’21–22 winter, gambling we wouldn’t get a big snow. Which turned out to be a good gamble. I got it fixed in the fall of ’22 but again we never got enough snow to break it out.

But Friday was my night! I pulled the starter, it fired right up, and I got to work. It threw snow like a champ and I was looking forward to clearing the driveway in a fraction of the time it would take with a shovel.

Then the fucking thing broke after about five minutes. Once again the auger stopped turning, the same thing that I had fixed a year ago. Sigh. I’m guessing work done 16 months ago probably isn’t under any kind of warranty.

So I pushed the heavy-ass snow around with a shovel for about an hour until the driveway was clear.

Then the sun came out Saturday morning and even though the windchill was around zero, everything on pavement quickly melted.

Someone hates me.

All Star Weekend

I watched a lot of the ASG activities, way more than I usually do. I don’t know if this has been done in other recent host cities, but it was interesting that Friday night’s activities were split between two locations. The celebrity game was at Lucas Oil Stadium, then the Rising Stars games were in Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Saturday’s events were in Lucas, the actual All Star Game in Gainbridge. A little surprised the game wasn’t in Lucas, too, given how many seats in Gainbridge were blocked off for various non-spectating functions.

I tuned in late for the Celebrity Game. Dumb, but good, clean dumbness. The Rising Stars games were fun, mostly because Pacer Bennedict Mathurin led his team to victory and won the MVP. He was going off in their first game, but badly missed two dunks that would have been spectacular. The highlight, though, was him taking things super seriously when Indiana native Jaden Ivey talked a little trash. Mathurin told him, in very uncertain terms, that Ivey couldn’t guard him in the regular season or this game. The playful smile quickly disappeared from Ivey’s face and he looked ready to throw down. TNT picked the right guy – Mathurin – to mic up for that game. Solid exhibition game drama!

Saturday’s events were fun. The Skills Contest is goofy and largely relatable. It helped that the Pacers squad of Mathurin, Tyrese Haliburton, and Myles Turner won. The 3-point contest still holds up, especially now that everyone can routinely hit 30-footers. The dunk contest remains kind of sleepy, the judging sucks, and even the cool dunks aren’t as cool as the original cool dunks were in the Eighties. There were way too many dunks that involved jumping over people.

The best event of the night was the shortest, Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-point competition with Steph Curry. I’m sure like 5% of viewers wrote it off as “Woke Basketball,” but I found it charming and entertaining. Reggie Miller quickly called for (hopefully) future Indiana Fever Caitlin Clark to get an invite next year.

The LED court used at Lucas Oil was nutty. I would think that would be super distracting if you were actually playing on it but I didn’t hear any complaints.

It was great having Uncle Reggie be on the mic for so many events. He was never my favorite player, but having a local cheerleader as one of the main announcers made the Indy homie in me feel good.

Like the dunk contest, the game was the game. The East scored 211 points, which is more about how the game has turned into a 3-point shooting exercise played by shooters with unlimited range and accuracy. It’s not terribly engaging, but you have to admire the skill. The East being up so big meant there was no ratcheting up of the intensity in the fourth quarter as guys suddenly started caring about winning.

There’s been a lot of grousing in the media about how badly the game is broken. I don’t have a good answer for how to fix it – players decided 20 years ago they weren’t going to risk injury and play actual defense – other than scrapping a traditional game. Maybe go to a series of mini-games with smaller teams, more like the Rising Stars game? In the era of load management and constant injuries because of hyper-bulked up players, I don’t think it’s possible to play a normal, 48 minute game. Football has scrapped the traditional all star contest because of the injury risk. The NBA really should do the same.

Draymond Green complaining all week about the game being in Indy got annoying quick. MFer is from Saginaw. A little cold and snow shouldn’t get to him like that. Soft as hell.

I guess LeBron James has been fighting an ankle injury and his minutes Sunday were limited because of that. When he was on the court he still had flashes. But it was very evident that he’s lost a significant amount from his game. Now I’m even more suspicious of how he managed to play so hard and well during the In-season Tournament in December. Not that I would accuse a 39-year-old man still playing at a high level of not being 100% clean.

Steph Curry may be in the process of losing his first step, too. I loved how he was still out there having fun Sunday. He saw other dudes were lighting it up and ran around making crazy passes to get them shots. Compare him to game MVP Dame Lilliard who seems to play with whatever the opposite of joy is. We need more Stephs.

That’s not totally fair. I think most of the players were having a good time, goofing around as much as they can. Karl-Anthony Towns looked like he was having the time of his life. Jason Tatum was running around laughing. Haliburton is always having fun. Nikola Jokic was making fun of himself, attempting half-assed dunks. It’s just a bummer the game MVP was the one guy who did not seem to let his competitive guard down.

Jayhawk Talk

I knew last Monday’s game at Texas Tech would be a loss. KU doesn’t win on the road this year for starters, they had beaten Baylor in a tough game two days earlier, and Kevin McCullar was still out.

I did not expect a 29-point loss where the guys on the court didn’t look super interested in competing.

Saturday I was getting pissed because for the first 18 minutes against Oklahoma, not much seemed to have changed. McCullar was back, but he was beyond rusty and not close to 100%. As with Tech in Lubbock, KU was letting OU shoot 80% from 3 while shooting 10% on their end. The team looked lethargic and lacked fire.

Then they put a little run on before halftime and came out a completely different team in the second half. I’m not sure OU is all that good, especially down a couple players, but a road win is a road win in a year KU has had zero luck when playing true road games.

Now they get a six-day breather to heal and recharge before the final regular season run. Protect the home court and they are a comfortable 2–3 seed. Just be healthy in March.

Rabbit Hole

I will share that I fell into an unexpected and exciting rabbit hole Sunday. I am not going to share what that rabbit hole was just yet. Maybe in a day or two, we’ll see how things go.

Friday Playlist

“Cured” – Restorations
This band enjoys taking its sweet time between new releases. It’s been six years since their last album. I think you can hear the effect of the breadth of their career in Jon Loudon’s vocals.

“Distinct Star” – So Totally
As much as I’ve enjoyed the recent shoegaze revival, I’ll admit it has become a little much since s many of the songs sound so much alike. So I am pleased that there are some bands that nudge into that space while still putting their own twist on the sound. Like Restorations, So Totally are from Philly. Speaking of Philly, can the War on Drugs stop touring and start recording again, please?

“On Tonight” – Rosali
This is very nice.

“Agua” – Porno for Pyros
Released in advanced of PfP’s current farewell tour, it is their first new song in 26 years. It was inspired by the band members’ encounters with dolphins while surfing, and raises money for the Surfrider Foundation, which fights to protect the oceans and coasts.

“Silver” – DMAs
My #8 song of 2019, it always makes me happy when the algorithm pulls it from the virtual pile.

“Take Me Out” – Franz Ferdinand
My #4 song of 2004. FF’s debut album was released 20 years ago last week. Kind of crazy how we’re coming up on anniversaries that line up with when I became a dad. That must mean M is about to turn 20. 😱

“Hazy Shade of Winter” – The Bangles.
For the last couple weeks temps have been above average. We had a few days in the 50s, but most have been in the 40s. Which isn’t like super balmy but is still better than what they could be. Today, though? Our biggest snowstorm of the year is expected to hit in a couple hours. That’s not saying a lot as we’ve had almost no snow, but 2-4″ is not the way to kick off All Star Weekend. The wind chill being around zero tomorrow isn’t going to generate a lot of love amongst the people who are flooding downtown Indy. Next Wednesday, though? Up into the 60s. Mother Nature…

“99 Luftballoons” – Nena
So far for my 1984 vids I’ve taken a look at the bottom of the chart in the corresponding week that year to find a big song that was just debuting on the chart. Nothing jumped out at me this week, so I went to the top of the chart for this classic. The week of February 8 Nena’s one US hit was at #4, two weeks and two spots shy of its eventual peak. Even my music memory can get a bit fuzzy at times, but I swear in Kansas City they primarily played the English version where the original German was an occasional treat. I was surprised a few years ago to hear an AT40 from ’84 and learn that the German version was the proper single. Casey played a few moments of the English version as a bonus for listeners. I guess Midwesterners weren’t over World War II yet.

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