During my hiatus from travel I, as most people deal with the more mundane activities of day-to-day life. Of course there are the joys of catching up with family (some new entries) and friends as well as the necessary if somewhat anxiety-ridden checkups with doctors, etc. Time to again purge my clothes closets with internal comments (honestly I will never wear those shoulder enhanced items from the 80’s) or (what WAS I thinking when I bought this)?
This year I also must have crossed some invisible border that many of my possessions were unable to follow. Three air conditioners had to be replaced. My refrigerator called it quits, the electric oven blew a fuse, Even the smaller appliances – the toaster oven and the coffee pot (K-Cups don’t work for a person whose “cup of coffee” is 20 ounces) decided it was time to say Adieu.
My sectional couch/chaise, while still in perfect structural shape had most of its cushions scratched beyond repair during my Yorkie Jackson’s last few months – didn’t have the heart to make him move to his own bed. On a lighter note, my daughter feels that I I should purchase a more traditional sectional – as the current one is of Italian design and very low to the ground. Translation: at some point I won’t be able to rise off of it. Hopefully that won’t become fact for many more years, but I still need scratch-free seating so in my typical fashion, I have started research.
But first, before redecorating, I had a bigger fish to fry. My current car, 4th in the line of Hondas that I enjoyed, had nevertheless reached its 7th birthday and despite its low mileage, was beginning to require more than just maintenance work. In addition, again helped by the *suggestion* of my daughter to invest in a car with a four-wheel drive. For myself, I wanted a new vehicle that had some of the latest technological advances – in other words , some geek worthy thingamabobs. As my readers know from previous posts about the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) I am obsessed with the latest technology.
With the help of my wonderful son-in-law I was able to narrow down my choices and finally decided upon an Audi A4. I expected to engage in a small learning curve in figuring out some of the new offerings. Having not purchased a new car in 7 years I expect that many new cars include the features I now had – but I am still agog. Let me share some of my favorite new items and gadgets:
KEYLESS – This has definitely been around for a while but I hadn’t enjoyed the full convenience of it until I purchased my new car. As an additional plus I also can open the trunk with a wave of my foot below the back fender. And, there is a “Maxwell Smart” (see top photo) spy component in the fact that there is actually an emergency mechanical key hidden within the body of the remote as well as a “secret code” to open the connect vehicle control services.
VOICE COMMANDS – This would probably be my favorite if not for another item you will see later. No longer do I need to rotate a knob to spell out where I want to go or spend many minutes trying to find the exact location in a predetermined list of destinations. Happily my car did not need a learning curve to recognize my voice – it was immediate *sighs happily:*
SIDE VIEW MIRROR RETRACTION – When I had my followup meeting at Audi, I had remarked that I would love this option even more if the mirrors automatically returned to their original place upon starting the car. There is actually an option to set the mirrors to fold when the engine is stopped – but not to return. I suppose it is better to do this manually as you never know when someone is going to park too closely to your car. It does require some attention as more than once I have started to drive before realizing that the mirrors were still retracted – but this is quickly remedied with a flick of a switch. Now, I feel a bit like a pilot that checks all the controls in the cockpit before take-off.
LARGE GPS – The dashboard of the car is ironically called a “virtual cockpit” and it includes a large 12.3-inch screen that replaces conventional gauges as well as a 8,3 inch navigation display screen, shown above. The GPS screen is placed on the top of the dash providing easy viewing. There are many options for the display that can initiate real gauges if you want to go old school or go full techie with Google Earth satellite maps that shows every tree and rut in the road.
“FOOT OFF THE GAS, PLEASE – Driving on the expressway one morning a little green shoe appeared on my dashboard. At the time I had absolutely no clue what it was, but the car was humming along beautifully so I just made a mental note to look it up when I got home.
This indicator is part of the “predictive efficiency assist” symbols that pop up when there is a situation ahead on the road that will require a decrease in speed, such as a crosswalk, jug handle, hill descent, curves or traffic situation. How does it know this? The car has “vehicle-to-infrastructure communication;” That is, the car talks to traffic nerve centers to pick up information like when signals are about to change.
Frankly there are over four manual pages dedicated to these cockpit indicator lights that are color coded green as above or red, yellow or white. I have decided to wait until they pop up to look them up as there are just too many to memorize.
To be fair I don’t love every enhancement. There are a few that I am frankly puzzled by or just think are a bit of overkill:
AUTOMATIC SHUTOFF – Going home after picking up my car I had to stop at a red light. The car appeared to stall. WTF??? A new car? However, when I stepped on the gas when the light turned green the car started again smoothly. This is the automatic shutoff that is supposed to conserve energy, However, if a stop is less than 5 minutes, which most of my stops are, it is actually draining the gas, as it does require more to start-up the engine again. I can turn this off by pressing the button below; however this only works until the car is shut off. It remains the default when the car is used again. Add this to the pre-flight control check talked about above.
”OLYMPIC RINGS” – Not 5 but actually 4 rings – the AUDI logo – magically appeared when I opened the car in the evening. This is an LED projection, quite bright, that comes out of the bottom of the car door. I suppose it provides some illumination when getting in/out of the car but it is shameless promotion as well. I think this can be turned off but right now I will leave it shining brightly.
TOUCHPAD – Considering there is voice command I cannot understand why anyone would opt to enter data digitally with a finger. First of all, you can only write one letter/number at a time, then swipe right to space or left to delete – quite cumbersome. Second of all and critical to all those lefties out there, the control knob/touchpad is situated on the RIGHT side of the driver.
My very favorite enhancement is not electrical or technological – my good friends and family will recognize immediately why this is so pleasing to me so no further words are needed: