Posts filed under ‘product review’

on pork rinds and undershirts

everyone on the internet is an expert on something, aren’t they?

you can find grammar gurus who will point out that “everyone” is a singular pronoun and that my previous sentence should have ended with “isn’t he?” then you will have word usage nazis who will defend my usage of “they” by saying that my sentence has the best flow the way i wrote it.

if you find the need, you can reach out to connoisseurs of fine fabrics on the internet to assist you in finding the right drapes for you house. or you could get advice from running shoe buffs who know exactly the best sneaker to buy based on your weight, height, stride, and running surface.

you can experts in more obscure topics as well. a few that i found included pork rinds, wedgies, angry birds, and undershirts.

doubting the legitimacy of that last alleged “expert” on undershirts (could such a person really exist? i pondered) i recently decided to conduct my own little undershirt experiment. i have been wearing the same god-awful undershirts for the last few years. by now, they have all stretched out of shape with one end indistinguishable from the other and the armpits all stained grey. was my undershirt a function of my bankrupt personal hygiene? or was it a function of my frugality in buying the cheapest undershirts i could find?

for my experiment, i have purchased 3 Hanes undershirts ($7.50/3 shirts) and 3 Tommy Hilfiger undershirts ($15/3 shirts), which as you can see, are neatly double the cost of the Hanes. both shirts are 100% cotton. below are the parameters of the 6 month study:

– remove all other undershirts from “circulation” until completion of study
– Hanes and Tommy Hilfiger undershirts will be worn an alternating weekdays underneath my work uniform
– the same deodorant/antiperspirant will be used with each day’s wear
– launder all 6 shirts simulatenously in the same wash cycle (cold), and air dry
– tide cold-water detergent will be used for this study, no bleach

the results i am most interested in are:

– how white the shirt stays
– overall shape retention
– neck hole integrity
– fabric durability

check back in 6 months to see the results! i can tell that you are all just bursting with the same excitement i share.

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August 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

all wheel drive but not all you want

i was unpleasantly surprised the other day while eating my ice cream dessert. it turned out that what i thought was mint chocolate chip ice cream (my favorite flavor) was really just mint ice cream. this crucial omission of chocolate chips made the ice cream vastly inferior to its candy-infused big brother. in many ways, this reminded me of the subaru impreza that i recently drove for a month.

every aspect of the car seemed to be missing a vital component that would propel the car to greatness. lurking under the hood is a 2.5L 4 cylinder boxer engine which produces around 170hp, which is what you would expect from a car in its segment.  so driving this impreza feels remarkably…pedestrian. flooring the throttle jolts you back in your seat momentarily but as the tachometer climbs above 3000rpm, you expect to be rocket-sledded into somewhere way in the distance by the turbo you wish were under the hood. instead, all you feel is the massive disappointment of the the four-speed automatic gently pulling you to nanny state-approved speeds.

at least the tachometer is nice to look at. overall, the dashboard is very well laid out. note that there are no gauges to measure engine temperature or oil pressure, which maybe implies that subarus are so well made that these two parameters will never be issues. i especially appreciated the oversize fuel gauge which visually reassures you of that one last tick of fuel left in the tank which you must massage the fuel-hungry AWD system to sip, not slurp. even with the most miserly driving, i could only manage around 27 mpg on the highway and 22mpg in mixed city driving. in this area then, the impreza trades carbon dioxides and $2000-$3000 for the added security and improved handling of awd – no complaints here.

at first, the cabin of the car looks very impressive. “is that a swath of aluminum across the dash?” “oh look – the doors are adorned with stitched leather!” “are these seats upholstered in real suede?” appearances in this case are deceiving. touching the various surfaces of the interior gives you a feeling of cheapness. everywhere you look, mismatched plastics meet at rough, unaligned edges. most of the dashboard feels like it is made of recycled tic-tac boxes and the experience was similar to being inside an american car made in the 1990’s. the fit and finish of the honda civic and toyota corolla trounce the impreza in this regard while the vw jetta absolutely puts the impreza to shame; the interior in the impreza is made from materials so cheap that vibrations made from operating the windscreen wipers can be felt in the gas and brake pedals. in numerous places, you find dummy buttons that would correspond to a clever electronic gizmos in the higher impreza models (wrx and sti), reminding you that this car is missing things that would make it so much better.

it is hard to say what the designers were striving for when considering the styling or the car, or lack thereof.  “narcolepsy” comes to mind. to be frank, the impreza’s styling is the food equivalent of oatmeal – functional but flavorless, boring, and un-original. in this day and age, when numerous affordable cars are beautifully and artistically designed (mazda 6, fiat 500, ford fusion), it is mind-b0ggling why a car maker with subaru’s resources could produce anything as uninspired as the impreza. i am certain that pictures of this car could be used in calming down students with ADHD in grade schools.

despite the utterly drab exterior, i am quite worked up about the subaru impreza. my frustrations don’t stem from the impreza being a bad car, because to be honest it is a good car in the same way mint ice cream is a good flavor. instead i am upset that in this day and age where car makers are under incredible pressures to perform and deliver quality products to consumers, that so many details could be omitted from this car. yet, the car makers have the hubris to sell the car to naive consumers anyway. to make my point, i challenge you to find mint ice cream at your local grocer. i’ll wager that you will only be able to find mint chocolate chip because it is infinitely better than plain mint at only a fraction of the cost more to make. it would seem that we understand the economies of ice cream better than the economy of cars.

February 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

attack of the clone

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the bbe green screamer is a clone of the classic ibanez tube screamer. after trying out both at the store, i could not tell the difference in the sound between the two so i went with the much more affordable bbe stompbox. it can produce quite a range of sounds, from a crunchy compact wak wak to a creamy nerrghh nerrghh. it also has true by-pass, a nifty tone knob, and is built to last longer than forever – transaction complete!

November 7, 2009 at 7:15 am 1 comment

average is boring

far past public speaking, clowns, and pointy shoes, being a boring person is without a doubt my greatest fear. every so often, i meet a person who possesses the conversation skills of a sack of turnips and immediately, i panic and fear that one day, i may become like them. these sort of people could tell a story of how they had to jump out of a plane because their hair was on fire, only to land in a jungle to face hordes of cannibals who eventually made them their worshiped deity that fell from the sky and you would be fast asleep before they even got their parachute opened.

this brings me to the volkswagen jetta. you see, when i am on the road during my commute to and from work, i enjoy watching the cars around me and the people driving them. whenever i see a mid-sized sedan driven by a middle aged person in the middle lane of the motorway at a very reasonable speed, pangs of fear stab into my heart as i envision myself slowly becoming beige and boring. but every once in a while, a mid-sized sedan comes into my field of vision and instead of a nervous face, a smile tugs at the corners of my mouth.

by no means is the volkswagen jetta a pretty car. something about the square back doesn’t quite match the roundish front, the shoulder line is all wrong, and the tail lamps looked like they were nicked from a toyota parts bin. in addition, the grill contains acres of chrome and the garish red colored car i received from the dealership probably came straight out the crayola color palette (yes, my GTI is in the shop again for air bag repairs).

underneath the hood is a 5 cylinder engine that has the power of a 4 cylinder and the gas efficiency of a 6. if there is one thing that really lets this car down, it is the standard engine. the noise it makes isnt that good either; it sounds like a mix of combustive arthritis and asthma. if at all possible, get the jetta with the 2.0L turbo or the diesel, which will be on sale in all 50 states very soon.

when you step inside, things don’t get much better. the sea of grays and blacks remind me of the insides of a coal miner’s boot. however, the materials used for the interior are well made and are easily a notch above similar offerings from japanese rivals. as you explore the various dials and switches, you come across little touches that volkswagen added to make this car just a little more interesting.

the door latches for instance are made from a brushed metal that is smooth to the touch and hides fingerprints well. the lock and unlock button isn’t the usual beige/neon orange (why was neon orange chosen?!) you find in other economy cars but is a LED backlit toggle switch that glow red when the door is locked and orange when it is unlocked.

the most pedestrian of all car switches, the window switch, is treated with similar regard. a clear and easy to understand window icon is back-lit with a red LED in the dark so you can find it easily. you can sort of make out the texture of the plastic used – it is textured and slightly grippy, nothing like the playskool switches you find in other economy cars.

the instrument panel is where german efficiency and sleekness comes through. the dashboard bathes you in an electroluminescent glow of indigo and red and because this is a volkwagen, you will definitely become acquainted with the various error lights flashing here (mein gott…). all dials are very legible and arranged with the logic of the german motorway network.

the volkswagen jetta is in no way a good car. it is ugly, overpriced, thirsty, and because it is a volkswagen, it will never be as reliable as a toyota or honda. unlike a toyota or honda, it will depreciate like a stone and cost a small fortune to maintain. but unlike a toyota and a honda, the jetta has some semblance of style and is more interesting than wet cardboard. i wonder how well glossy black spray paint adheres to that atrocious chrome grill…

March 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm 1 comment

my week with the toyota prius

my car was unfortunate enough to need repairs this week so i was unfortunate enough to be loaned a prius for the duration my car was in the shop.

the prius has become a bit of a fashion item these days. by driving this car, you let people know that you care about baby polar bears, conserving the rain forest, women’s rights, and apple computers. a long list of hollywood celebrities drive a prius, including harrison ford, leonardo dicaprio, cameron diaz, kevin bacon, will ferrell, and tom hanks.

but aren’t fashion accessories supposed to be good looking?

the toyota prius is probably one of the most ugly car on the roads today. this is puzzling because clearly, toyota knows how to design a decent looking car. just look at the cutesy yaris, the understated corolla, and the handsome camry (see below).

so the prius is not too good looking. i could possibly live with that if there were enough good things about the car to offset its deformed appearance. the first thing i liked about the prius was the interior space. it was downright cavernous. the headroom is incredible for a car its size and the rear legroom rivals that found in the camry. there’s tons of room to carry 5 adults around comfortably. the automatic climate control was quick to warm up the cabin of the car on the cold winter mornings and the prius’s suspension was adept at soaking up the moon-like craters found on philadelphia back roads.

the car is also whisper quiet at low speeds when only the electric motor is propelling you forwards. at first i enjoyed the serenity and being thoughtful to people living in the houses i drove by. but after some consideration, i have decided that the quietness of the car is actually quite dangerous. if you are cruising about at a low speeds, as you would in residential areas, the car makes no sound. if you are in a residential area, there will likely be kids playing on the sidewalks. when a kid runs into the street to chase after his ball, he will not hear your prius coming and you will strike and kill the child. your license will be suspended and you won’t be able to drive your prius, which saves a ton of gas.

children in back of the car are not safe either because rear visibility is the worst i have ever experienced in any car. because the rear window is so close to being parallel with the ground, and also because of a spoiler that runs across the rear-hatch, you literally have only 6 inches of vertical space to see the things behind you. so after killing all children in front of and in back of the prius, you will surely be locked away in a turkish prison for reckless driving.

another way to save gas is to be scared off the roads. the prius is so unimaginably slow that merging onto a highway will definitely require you to hire a trauma therapist. you’re on the on-ramp, you signal, look left, the coast is clear, you stomp on the throttle, and….nothing happens. everything seems to get louder but your speedometer is not changing. quite frankly, i am surprised that i am still alive and writing this blog post after driving the car for a week. since dead people don’t drive and thus, cannot burn gasoline, the prius’s lack of any forward motivation further adds to the environmental friendliness of the prius. or maybe the car was designed to be slow so that when you strike the child that did not hear you coming, he will feel nothing but a nudge.

i really don’t see any reason for owning a prius. in regards to fuel consumption, normal diesel cars such as the golf tdi, jetta tdi, and upcoming diesel cars from honda all get better mileage than the prius, which is rated at 48mpg in the city and 45mpg on the highway. so if you want an eco-friendly car, get a diesel. if you want an ugly, slow, and unsafe way to get from home to work, you would be better off with a donkey.

February 15, 2008 at 1:50 am 9 comments


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