Down south on holidays—Forester achieving excellent ‘mileage’

The wife and I are currently on holidays down Busselton way. It is mid-spring in Western Australia so the cooler and wetter south-west is looking and feeling nice. If there was some kind of work down here I could easily move down here to live.

Also it is something like about 15 years or so since the wife and I last went anywhere on holidays.

For the first couple of days it sort of took a little getting into, but now, on day five of our time away, I think I am starting to get the hang of this holiday thing. So much so that I agreed to extending our time away by a couple of days despite the relatively high daily rate where we are staying.

As I like driving and as I am also currently into photographing gates we have done quite a bit of travelling around since we got here. Probably a bit more than the average holiday-er (sic) does down here. But Busselton is a good base of operations, so to speak, for spurring out in various directions looking for old gates or anything really old to photograph.

So far we have spurred out to Capel, Boyanup, Dardanup, Donnybrook, Vasse, Dunsborough, Margret River, Cowaramup, and a few places in between.

DashComputer-SmallI am very happy about the ‘mileage’—kilometreage just doesn’t sound right, besides it is not a real word—I am getting in my 2014 Forester XT. I am achieving about 7.2 litres/100 klms, which works out to something like 37.9 miles per imperial gallon.

The Forster holds 60 litres, so based on this I should be able to go about 850 kilometres on a full tank. And this is basically with three people in the car (my wife and me—and I count for two people) and lots of stop-start driving and engine idling as I stop and do u-turns to go back to gates I just drove past.

In future posts I will share some of the photographs I have taken.

BarryMark

Titbit: 24:20:24:20

There are now just 24 days and about 20 hours until the release of the Blu-ray Director’s Cut edition of Twin Peaks—assuming this is what they actually call it.

I seriously hope it comes out in Australia the same time it is scheduled for the UK and USA.

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David Lynch, the creator and director of Twin Peaks, has stated that the new Blu-ray version will contain “never seen before content”. You can check out a short video of David on this topic over at Welcome to Twin Peaks (here).

If I had the money I think I would try and arrange a special screening of Twin Peaks over a number of weeks. We could do two or three episodes a night once a week with a break between each episode for ‘damn good’ coffee and ‘great’ doughnuts and cherry pie—which will mean something to fans of Twin Peaks.

Sigh. Why does it take money to do anything fun?

BarryMark

Guess what the girlfriend got my son for Xmas . . .

StarTrooper_1Yep! A star-trooper helmet as seen in the first Star Wars movie—which I think is technically Episode 4.

Have I mentioned that he is 23?

Apparently it’s a ‘collectable’—which I think sort of decodes into ‘it could be worth money one day’. Somehow I doubt it.

Anyway, with collectables aren’t you supposed to leave them in the original packaging so they hold their value?

Too late for that obviously.

BarryMark

We only had five sets of trick or treaters (sad face)

I am a little disappointed that we only had five sets of trick or treaters knock on our door on Thursday night. I sort of made the final decision to come home from my work a day early—on the Thursday—to be at the house on Halloween night. Okay. There were some other pretty meaty reasons as well including a visit to the doctor and my quarterly type 2 diabetes review session. But blended into all of that was also being home on Halloween night.

CaramelloBearWe had some pretty decent treats for trick or treaters such as caramello chocolate bears and Willy Wonka bars.

I think a big part of the problem for Australians is that Halloween has some kind of “not invented here” attribute attached to it. It’s an American thing—apparently; and us Australians don’t to do something here just because they are doing it in America. But it is not an American thing. Halloween is heavily linked to ‘all hallows day’ or ‘all saints day’ (same thing). It is a general Christian celebration and it more-or-less celebrates the day that the souls of the righteous dead are introduced into heaven—or something very close to that.

I guess it also sort of celebrates the day that the non-righteous get rejected from heaven, but let’s not go into that or I will have to get into a 20 paragraph discussion on ‘is there a heaven or not?’ and that would just be too hard.

But apart from all that, much more importantly the way I see it that it is a day for ‘kids’ to have a night of fun. For a ‘kid’ it is a huge gap between Easter and Christmas. They get to dress up in some awesome costumes and go knocking on doors to get treats. How much more fun could a ‘kid’ have? Seriously!

From another angle it allows other folk to get some good feelings from giving trick or treaters some treats.

Really, as I see it, the whole think is a win-win event. The kids get some treats and the givers get a giving buzz from making some kids from around their area happy. Seriously? How can this be a bad thing?

Okay . . .  so next year, if I am still alive (God willing), then I am aiming for at least ten sets of trick or treaters. And even better, my wife says next year’s kids-in-costumes-having-fun night is on a Friday night. Maybe we should rename it ‘Kids and Young Adults Costume Night’ in Australia. If we did that then it might get more acceptance with Australians.

Seriously. If I am not dead we are going to have the best treats at my house next year.

BarryMark

Observation: Intelligent people don’t comment

According to the statistics provided in the SquareSpace management console for my site I have had 447 comments in total posted to my site since I started it back in August 2009. That works out to around 10 comments per month. Roughly two and a third comments per week.

Not counting this post I have posted 859 entries. So, on average, I am getting just slightly better than half a comment per post. To be more precise I am getting 0.52 comments per post.

Comments this year are down on the average. So far this year there have been 18 comments compared to 45 new posts. This works out to a ratio of 1:0.4 for posts to comments. So the comments frequency is trending down.

I make it really easy to comment compared to a lot of other sites . You can use any alias or nickname you want. There is no validation. You do not need to register to comment. You do not need to enter an e-mail address to comment, although entering one is optional—but it will not be displayed as part of the public comment.

If you actually want your e-mail address to be ‘public’ (some people do) you have to enter it into the actual comment.

All you have to do is prove you are not a bot by deciphering the glyph correctly.

Assuming the bulk of people who read this site are at the higher end of the intelligence curve, which I think is a fairly safe assumption to make, then the obvious conclusion to draw from this is that, by and large, intelligent people don’t comment.

The more I thought about this conclusion the more I liked it.

In the 30,000 or so hours I have probably spent on the Internet in the last 20 odd years—going back to 1200 baud dial-up modems, using Archie and Gopher to search for stuff, and spending hours reading through NNTP Newsgroups—I doubt if I have commented more than about ten times.

I think I have left about five comments over at DPReview (Digital Photography Review), and the other five are just fill for other comments I am sure I must made somewhere at sometime.

IPDG-1I decided to research this. Interestingly as I started to type in my search Google provided its four most frequent searches starting with “intelligent people don’t”—which you can see at right.

Well I did not find much evidence to support my theory that intelligent people don’t comment. But I found some other mildly interesting bits and pieces—depending on your point of view.

It seems Ernest Hemingway is famous for saying “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know”. As scholars will know, Hemingway himself eventually committed suicide.

Research in the UK indicates that intelligent types are likely to be very light consumers of alcohol in their teens (often being teetotal) with consumption increasing in their early twenties, and they become heavy drinkers in their late twenties.

Apparently intelligent people don’t smoke. Over at ‘The Stir’ not smoking is one of the Top 10 traits of intelligent people.

IPDG-2According to an item at ‘Business Insider’ if your an intelligent guy then you don’t sleep around.

But (see clipping at right) it seems the same is not true for females. This is because only having the one mate has always been the female way—so the item says anyway.

This next one certainly applies to me. It is from the socyberty site (Yeah, I had never heard of it either) from a list of traits that highly intelligent people tend to exhibit. Number 6 is Intelligent people are not neat freaks. If this means intelligent people have messy desks, then that is me.

So as you can see I didn’t find any proof for my theory that intelligent people don’t comment, but I still think I might be on to something. It is sort of in the same zone as real IT people don’t use facebook.

BarryMark

It’s all bollocks: The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense

Version 1 of this is being e-mailed around and I usually don’t bother with such stuff but in the end I decided to post it.

Here is v1.0 of “The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense”. Otherwise referred to as “It’s all Just a Load of Bollocks”. Clicking on the picture will take you to the full-sized version at Blogspot along with some thoughts from the author.

ItsAllBollocksUntitled-1

Basically this Venn diagram offers a solution showing that where Religious Bollocks intersects with Quackery Bollocks intersects with Pseudoscientific Bollocks intersects with Paranormal Bollocks … well that would be Scientology. See it? There in the lower middle area.

If you go to the author’s site you will find v2.5 of the diagram, which is even more impressive. Click on the picture to get a larger version directly from the author’s site.

ItsAllBollocks-2

Sadly the bollocks map shows the Knights Templar on the intersection of Conspiracy and Religion. I was kind of hoping they were real. Good to see Snake Oil up there at the top of the Quackery collection but.

BarryMark

Now I have had a test drive of the 2014 Forester 2.0XT

After experiencing the Gen4 2014 2.5S naturally aspirated (NA) Forester on Friday—and not being that impressed with it—I decided I had to try out the 2.0 XT turbo Forester on Saturday.

I had a friend visiting from the country who wanted to go to a coin collectors and sellers function at the Burswood Casino—oops, I mean the Crown Casino (as it is now called)—so the plan was to drop him off there and then go on to City Subaru. I arrived at Subaru around 11:30 a.m.

Because I am so well known at Subaru these days they simply chucked me the keys, made some joke about not going all the way to Collie for the test drive (which is two hours away at highway speeds), and off I went—all by myself.

I was driving the XT Premium, which is about $58,000 drive away. If I bought an XT I would just be getting the regular XT which is about $11,000 cheaper at around $47,000. But, as far as I know, both XT models should drive and feel the same; there should be no difference.

I had a solid 45 minutes driving around Victoria Park and South Perth before deciding to return the car to City Subaru.

Two things were immediately very obvious:

  1. The suspension in the XT is firmer. It was much preferable, to me anyway, to the not-so-firm suspension in the 2.5 NA models.
  2. The 2.0 litre XT with its twin-scroll turbo, as you would expect, is MUCH quicker than the 2.5 litre NA engine.

So far so good.

Next I wanted to test the braking effect of changing down gears with the CVT. This had not quite worked out how I expected when I test drove the 2.5S. There are no significant hills to go down anywhere around Victoria Park so I could only do this test on moderate declines and also trying engine braking on flat roads.

As reported in other reviews around the Web, the high-torque version of the CVT gear box in the XT works more like I expected for engine braking. Using the steering column paddles to drop two gears caused a noticeable braking effect—much more than was evident with the 2.5S and more than I experience with the ‘normal’ automatic in my Gen2 Forester. In fact dropping back three gears, which drops you through both the over-drive ratios and the first drive ratio, the engine braking was considerable. Not as strong as a manual gearbox but much stronger than a ‘standard’ torque-converter automatic.

Another thing I noticed was that there seemed to be less engine noise in the XT. This could be, maybe, because the 2.5 NA is a noisier engine than the 2.0 turbo, or it could just be my imagination. No other reviews I have read have mentioned this.

But . . . as for the 2.5S, the 2.0 XT feels big. There is no getting away from the fact that the new Forester feels BIG even though it is only slightly larger than the Gen3, which is only slightly larger than the Gen2. Driving the Gen2 Forester you feel like you are driving a mid-sized highly manoeuvrable car. Driving the Gen4 you feel like you are driving a less manoeuvrable large car—in comparison. Most likely after a couple of months of ownership and regular driving you get over this; maybe!

So in the end, should I go any further with my Forester plans, it is going to come down to the amazing fuel economy of the 2.5 NA versus the better suspension, the quickness (and it is surprisingly quick), and what I think is a better CVT in the 2.0 XT.

Interestingly when I mentioned the tighter suspension to the salesman when I returned the car he said that the XT has the same suspension as the NA models. Seriously, I find this hard to believe based on my two test drives.

Update >>>

I have found an article in ‘Car and Driver’ that confirms my view that the suspension in the 2.0 XT is ‘tighter’ than in the 2.5 NA models. The following comes from the review:

Hard driving is met by safe, relentless understeer, even in the turbo, with its stiffer sport-tuned suspension and additional chassis bracing.

So, the way I read this, they are saying the turbo has sport-tuned suspension and additional chassis bracing.

You can read their full review here.

BarryMark

Test drove the 2014 Forester 2.5S

Today I had a good long test drive of the new Gen4 2014 Forester. I got to test drive the 2.5S naturally aspirated (NA) version.

The 2.5S is the top end ‘luxury’ version of the 2.5 Forester. As proof of this it has leather seats (which I don’t like), a moon/sun roof (which I don’t like), and motor-adjustable seats.

I ‘made’ them bring the car to me up in the hills because there were five things I particularly wanted to test:

  1. The braking effect of the CVT going down Kalamunda hill.
  2. To see if the CVT produced ‘CVT belt whine’ at speed.
  3. To see if the road noise was noticeably lower than the Gen3 Forester (which is renowned for excessive road noise).
  4. To check the amount of road feel—compared to the horribly soft, boat like, ride in the Gen3 Forester.
  5. See how the car performed going back up Kalamunda hill.

My test drive lasted a solid 45 minutes. Down Kalamunda Road, onto Roe Highway, onto Tonkin Highway, then up Welshpool Road and along Lesmurdie Road and back to base.

So. Firstly. The braking effect of the CVT going down Kalamunda Hill was not as effective as I expected. It was only marginally better than a normal automatic with a torque converter. This was a little disappointing.

The CVT in the Subaru effectively has two over-drives with 5th being 1:0.825 and 6th being 1:0738. Fourth is 1:1.029 so this makes 4th the effective ‘final drive’ ratio with 5th and 6th being over-drives. So going down the hill I pulled the transmission back through two gears so I got it to ‘final drive’. I was hoping it was going to be more like the braking effect of a manual transmission because this is what the experts tell you to expect from a CVT—engine braking similar to a manual transmission.

But, to my experience, the engine braking was nothing like a manual. It was better than an automatic, but not as good as a manual by far. So for me this was a bit of a fail.

Next to see if there was any noticeable CVT whine at 100 kph on Roe Highway. On this test I feel I can report that Subaru’s CVT, unlike most other CVTs in other model cars, does not product any noticeable belt whine at speed. So this was a pass.

The third check was for road noise. As reported from most of the other test drives you will find on the Web it would seem Subaru have done a lot of work on reducing the road noise coming into the cabin. There is noticeably less road noise in the Gen4 cabin than there is in my Gen2 MY05 Forester. So this means it must be much quieter than the Gen3 because the Gen3 was was reported to be worse than the Gen2.

However, even though it is quieter, I must say that there is still more road noise than I expected. So this is sort of a half pass. Not a fail, but not a solid pass either.

Road feel—this is a big one for me. I like to have road feel. I hate spongy suspension and handling. Lack of road feel was the main reason I never upgraded to a Gen3 Forester. I test drove two of them and then went and bought another Gen2 Forester instead.

I can report that the Gen4 2.5S has improved road feel. The road feel is not as good as my Gen2 unit, but it is a huge improvement over the rolly polly ‘boat in a bath’ road feel of the Gen3 Forester.

My final test was how did the CVT transmission and engine perform coming back up the hill up Welshpool road? They did very well. Much better then my previous Gen2 2.5 NA Forester. There was no trouble holding 80 kph and it was effortless kicking it up to 90 kph.

There were a few other things I noticed in my test drive:

  • The brakes are much better than the Gen2 or the Gen3.
  • Compared to my Gen2 XT the accelerator is much heavier. By this I mean it takes more effort to depress it.
  • There is very little corner roll. Cornering in the 2.5S is as flat as it is in my Gen2 XT. This was quite surprising.
  • Initial acceleration up to about 35 kph is surprisingly quick. After that the acceleration flattens off. Obviously Subaru have done something with the CVT ratios to counter previous complaints with the Gen3 Forester about tardy take-off acceleration with the 2.5 litre engine.

So, bottom line: Better than the Gen3 for sure but not good enough to make me ‘want’ to rush out and change over into one. Maybe I need to test drive the XT. It has different suspension and it had the high-torque 8 speed CVT. Maybe that works better with down-hill braking! But then the XT is another $10,000.

BarryMark

(De)Motivational posters at Despair.com

I was checking the list “The Most Addictive Sites on the Web for 2013” just in case Abalook made it onto the list. It didn’t. But as long as I had the list up I decided to have a look at some of the sites I had never heard of or been to. One of the was www.despair.com which is a site of sadly sort of true (de)motivational posters.

I thought I would share a few. All picture images below link to the ‘despair’ Web site.

For each poster I have also posted the associated ‘sales pitch’ after it because some of those are funny too.

Despair1-0

Despair1-1

Despair2-0

Despair2-1

Despair3-0

Despair3-1

I can totally agree with the next one. One week you read the Financial Review and the economy is apparently all roses and chocolates (i.e., going really well). Then the next week the tell you to stick your head up your bum and go ting-a-ling-a-loo (i.e., it is all bad and going to get worse).

Despair4-0

Despair4-1

To find these (de)motivational posters and many more when you go to the Despair site click on “Demotivators”.

Oh, and for anyone interested the Number 1 most addictive Web site for 2013 (so far, after just one month) is www.fmylife.com (F***MyLife). I had a look at this site and I can report that I won’t be checking back there any time soon. It did not seem ‘addictive’ in the least.

BarryMark

Titbit: Write up on the 2014 Forester in Saturday’s West Australian

2014ForesterWestAustNewsThis Saturday’s (26th of January) West Australian newspaper has a write up on the fourth generation Subaru Forester due for release Australia wide on the 1st of February. The article by David Meredith does not tell us much we don’t already know about this new model except the likely pricing.

David tells us that the XT turbo model starts at $43,490 but this does not sound right to me. Previous articles I have read estimating Australian pricing for the base XT model had it around $46,000 so I suspect the $43,490 number might not be correct.

Click here to go to the West Australian article on line.

BarryMark