When my Dodge Grand Caravan gave up the ghost a couple of months ago, we bought a brand-new Toyota Corolla. I like nearly everything about it: roomy for a compact car, great gas mileage (34 mpg), Bluetooth, backup camera, spacious trunk. There are only two features that annoy me.
One is the location of the Mode button on the left spoke of the steering wheel. I steer with my left hand, and when I’m making a sharp turn, tend to rest the heel of my hand precisely there to spin the wheel. This can kick me out of a phone call or interrupt my favorite song. I wish they had placed the button at least half an inch to the right.
The other annoying feature is the hard plastic of the inside door handle. I hadn’t realized how much comfort I was sacrificing when I gave up the Caravan. Since I’m 6’4″, in a small car I either have to stretch my left leg out or sit grasshopper-like with my knee up and leaning against the door. The leg-extended position puts pressure on my heel. The grasshopper position puts pressure on the side of my knee at the point where it rests on the hard plastic. I think I’m going to tie a cushion to the door handle.
For our trip to Panama City, we rented a Chevrolet Caprice. It was somewhat roomier than our Corolla, and my knee didn’t get as sore from leaning on the door. But it had a couple of stupid design features.
The steering wheel has metal trim, just like the Corolla, but the Chevy’s is shiny, ready to catch the sun and reflect it into the driver’s eyes at any opportunity. The rear edge of the hood has a bevel that also sends sunset glare right into your eyes.
The dash has this display with blue lights that remind me of a cheap boombox.
Alicia and I watched Frozen last week. We enjoyed it, but there were some flaws in the writing that bugged us:
1) Not just one, but two cutesy mascots! The reindeer was okay. The snowman was annoying, but at least the writers realized it and were mean to him.
2) Some really bad parenting. Horribly bad.
3) No foreshadowing of the prince’s betrayal. The only thing resembling a hint is that Elsa was opposed to Anna’s engagement because it happened after spending just four hours with him. The prince’s behavior was exemplary up until it suddenly wasn’t.
If you speak Spanish, you may enjoy the India María movies from Mexico. Alicia and I discovered them a couple of weeks ago. They are wonderfully funny, with gentle humor that is much cleaner than that of Cantinflas. Unfortunately, some of the movies available on Youtube appear to be heavily edited, leading to gaps in the narrative.
The last one we watched was a bit disappointing both in writing and editing; María goes to Mexico City to talk to her congressman about her village’s lands being expropriated and her brother taken away by the government. She suffers a number of indignities trying to find the congressman’s office, isn’t allowed to see him, gets thrown into jail, and then the story heads off into María’s promise to help a fellow prisoner whose children are in the care of an unscrupulous couple that sell contraband, neglect the children, and are squandering the prisoner’s last remaining assets. María goes to live with the couple and has various adventures in their neighborhood. She participates in a professional wrestling match to raise funds to help her friend. At the end of the movie the bad people are arrested, the children will be okay, and their mother will finally be able to bond out of jail. But there is no more mention of the expropriated lands or her missing brother.
While we were in Panama City, FL last week, we drove out to Panama City Beach. It was much too chilly for the beach, so we visited the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, which is shaped like half the Titanic. The museum was fascinating. There is also a 3-D Moving Theatre, for which we had to stand in line for about 40 minutes. The two short 3-D movies were pathetic in comparison to movies I’ve seen in similar theaters at amusement parks. The smudged and flimsy 3-D glasses didn’t provide a 3-D effect at all. I was very glad I hadn’t paid the full price of admission. (The show is a $5 add-on if you buy a museum ticket.)
* I sent the above comments to the museum’s Contact Us form, and immediately got this response back from the manager: “I apologize for the inconvenience that you and your wife went through. We are currently upgrading our theater into a more interactive shooting 7D experience. We should be re-opening the theater on May 12. Please allow me to make-up for the experience by sending you two complimentary tickets to come back after the new theater is in place. Thank your for visiting and sorry for the inconvenience.”
Panama City and Panama City Beach are beautiful places. The people who attended us at the hotel and in stores were extremely polite. Streets are clean, houses tend to be attractive and well-maintained, the beaches are excellent.
We arrived at the Marriott suites only to find that I had no reservation. Apparently I hadn’t finalized the online process. But they gave us a room at a rate my agency would cover, and took good care of us all week. Our only gripe was that the free breakfast is a little boring. There is: yogurt, milk, waffles, hard-boiled eggs, cereal, instant oatmeal, instant grits, bagels, muffins, Granny Smith apples, bananas, apple and orange “juice”, coffee, hot chocolate, tea. It’s not bad for a day or two, but gets old over the course of a week.
That’s my two cents for today.