Monthly Archives: December 2010

At the movies

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What deathless cinematic visions were showing on a summer’s eve in the Capital District in 1977? And in what eternal palaces of motion picture arts were they showing? Well, it’s kinda interesting, and involves a lot more drive-ins than we used to have. And if all goes well, you can click below to see what I’m talking about.
At the movies, Albany, 1977

Just click on each slide to advance the show.

Car criteria

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Canadian tire coupon

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

When I next get to the point where I’m considering a new car, my experience with the Mazda Protege 5 over the past 9 years  has led me to the point where I believe there are only three important criteria:

  1. Does it have low-profile tires? We have had more flat tires of every type – punctures, bent rims, and just plain whomping all the air out of the tire in a pothole – with this car than I have had in all my other cars combined. Times 5. And I’m not exaggerating. We have to check the tires on a daily basis. This morning it took an acetylene torch to straighten out the rim from yet another encounter with some bit of misaligned pavement.
  2. How hard is it to change the headlights? Because for some reason this car goes through headlights like I go through ginger Altoids. Instead of a simple, easy-to-reach, screw-in system, the Mazda’s bulbs are tucked into a tiny space and held in by a complicated, unfathomable clip system that requires four hands, two pairs of needle-nosed pliers, and a long magnet to install. Headlight change on my Xterra? 45 seconds. Headlight change on the Mazda? 45 minutes of relentless swearing. Per light.
  3. Cupholder position. I will never again test-drive a vehicle without bringing my coffee cup. Can you get into 5th if there is a coffee cup in the cupholder? Can the passenger get her coffee without causing you to drop back into 4th? These are kinda critical design questions that, in my opinion, properly caffeinated engineers would have resolved before it got to market.

My Xterra, which despite its heaviness, poor gas mileage, and lack of heated leather seats (oh, that Beetle), is my favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned, has spoiled me in a number of ways that make it a bad model for future purchases. I may find other vehicles with power outlets way in the back (critical for boot warmers). I may find other vehicles with many independent interior lights. I may even find other vehicles with the clearance to get over a dead deer in the road without having to swerve. But I fear I’m unlikely to find another vehicle with its wonderful system of ceiling lugs, the little cargo attachments that allow me to hang things – bike helmets, wet swimsuits, paddles – from the ceiling so they’re not rolling around the back. Which is why I’m going to have to drive the Xterra ’til it drops.

Also? It has the polar opposite of low-profile tires. Himalayan-profile tires, come to think of it.

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Ran across this ad for Flavorland in a Schenectady Gazette from 1977.
Flavorland was pretty much the same as Friendly’s, slightly upgraded
diner food and an extensive ice cream menu. It must have been a chain or
franchise; I remember the one at Mayfair (or was it the neighboring
Willowbrook) on Route 50 in Glenville, one of the earliest of the
suburban strip plazas. But there were locations on Altamont Avenue, I
think on Nott Street, and probably a couple of other places. Whether it
was just regional or national, I haven’t learned, and I don’t know when
it died out, though it seems as if several of the locations became
Friendly’s. Don’t know much more about it, but seeing that old logo (which was exactly how their sign looked) brought me back.