Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Relax America, Putin is Gonna Make Everything Okay!

I haven't had a Saturday Night Live skit bring me to tears with laughter and horror since Tina Fey's rendition of Sarah you know who.  But that was before Alec Baldwin and company began showcasing their skills with mimicking Trump and Putin.  Theirs is what comedy skit acting is supposed to be; comic with a truthfulness that makes it better to laugh along with than to cry from the pain of it's reality.

Great job SNL. It's only been a few days since the Presidential inauguration and already you're breaking internet and cable viewer records with your political satire.  Or did the network give "alternative facts" about it's Nielsen ratings?

I suppose SNL will have enough White House material available to them in the coming 4 years to keep the show's viewer ratings skyrocketing long after this Presidential Apprentice has served his allotted time or is "Fired."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's Brady & Belichik One More Time

Yep, with Patriots QB Tom Brady just completing a touchdown pass with 1:35 left in the 3rd quarter to make the score 33-9, the fate of the Super Bowl is sealed.  It will be the Atlanta Falcons vs the New England Patriots in this year's Big Show.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their starting running back Le'veon Bell early to a groin injury, but it was their zone defense that Tom Brady just picked apart like a medical cadaver. Patriots WR Chris Hogan has 180 receiving yards in three quarters. Even without the Gronk, the Patriots at home in the playoffs are still one tough nut to crack.

At least the Falcons won't have to factor in location of the big game; the Super Bowl is in Houston, Texas. But they should be mindful of past Patriots "Alternative Facts"(lies) testimony, explaining their methods of studying film footage of opponents prior to big games.

Falcons Await AFC Champ

The Green Bay Packers never seemed to have a chance. With a 24-0 halftime score, it began to feel like Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons were scrimmaging for a league championship. And to think that without Packers QB Aaron Rodger's heroics last week, the Falcons could've been on the road facing the Dallas Cowboys who had the best record in the league. And that's why they play the games.

The Atlanta Falcons are heading to the Super Bowl.

If you can remember RB Jamal Anderson and the 1998 "Dirty Birds," then you'll appreciate the Falcons return to the Big Show. I know the city of Atlanta is glowing bright as a Georgia Peach with their NFL team putting them back into the national spotlight.

Good job ATL, good job!

3:00 left in 4th QTR 
Packers 21
Falcons 44

Birth of a Nation

It's never too late to educate one's self on history. I watched the movie "Birth of a Nation" the other night and the seeds of it's terror and violence stayed with me longer than most movies depicting violence.

As a man who loves learning about historical times, I've seen and heard much of it all before. But this movie, which I can't say had the best writing or acting of movies like it, got it's message across expertly. Here's my Amazon review for "Birth of a Nation" and why I think it important for today's movie audiences from all nations to watch.

Not Just Another Slavery Movie

Some might say, "here we go again, another slavery movie." After watching "Birth of a Nation" they might reclassify slavery movies as "another American terrorism movie."  The movie is as much about the antebellum south's many ways of terrorizing slaves as it is about slaves rebelling against such tyranny. It's made clear in the movie that instilling slaves with the terror of white violence toward them is the means by which the plantation owners chose to maintain control and elicit the most profit and pleasure out of their slaves' labors. Not to mention also as a way to bolster and justify white supremacist ideology.

The methods of terror inflicted on slaves in this movie are not new.  We've seen whippings, rapes, intimidated children and such in other movies. What's new here is the making of a rebel against the system of slavery at the hands of the oppressor. This story of Nat Turner gives a sad twist that many might not have heard of before. The fact that Nat's gift of preaching from the good book is used to not so much ease the slave's physical pain and bring peace to one's weary soul, but is used instead to reinforce the terror and fear of the slave master's vengeance should one displease him, is the crime that comes home to roost in this story. It's a scary parable that we see repeated today in the terror headlining the middle east. Whether it be cotton or oil, there's a price to pay for choosing prejudice and profit over humanity.

For those of us who continue to recognize the seeds of terror by the fruits they produce, this movie adds to one's understanding of where the roots of evil lie.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Toyota Prius Braking System Still Failing

A Consumer Reports:

As driver of a 2010 Toyota Prius I find it my duty as a concerned consumer to report a dangerous feature. Applying the brakes while the vehicle is traveling over a pothole, bump or bumpy and slippery road can cause an accelerating sensation and temporary loss of control of the vehicle. I say "accelerating sensation" because that's what it feels like, when in actuality the brakes are failing.

When I first reported this to the Toyota dealership they had me ride with one of their mechanics to demonstrate/duplicate the problem. The mechanic driving was unable and/or unwilling to verify the problem. Granted, we both had a hard time duplicating the braking issue since the roads near the dealership were newly blacktopped and in mint condition.  

With me driving we drove to an older blacktopped area and while braking on a hill I noticed the accelerating sensation, not as abrupt as usual, before the brakes kicked in. I immediately informed the mechanic and he said he didn't notice a thing. My girlfriend has also experienced the acceleration sensation when driving over bumps, but never has a passenger noticed it.

The mechanic did explain about a Toyota recall where the brakes were releasing over bumps and causing the sensation of acceleration, but he said the recall didn't apply to my vehicle because it already had the software upgrade. It was the first time I'd heard of this Toyota problem and the first time anyone at Toyota mentioned a brake recall and/or software upgrade for braking.

When the mechanic and I got back to the dealership I asked the service advisor about the recall and he confirmed there'd been a brake recall, but repeated the mechanic's words verbatim that the recall didn't apply to my vehicle because it already had a software upgrade. 

I left the dealership feeling like Toyota was covering up for a brake defect in my vehicle. I couldn't fully blame the mechanic for not noticing the mild acceleration I noticed while driving with him in the passenger seat. I did find it very odd that both Toyota employees knew about the brake recall and the software upgrade to address it, yet neither mentioned it to me until after we'd test driven the vehicle. When I voiced my concern of their reluctance to divulge such critical performance information about Toyota's brake recall the service advisor apologized, then gave his reason as not wanting to mislead or misinform customers prior to testing the vehicle. 

Forward 2-3 years as I bring my same Toyota Prius in to the same Toyota dealership location for a scheduled performance service. I bring up my concerns about the continued braking issue and fill in the service advisor about the prior visit where the Toyota mechanic's test drive result was inconclusive. The service advisor agreed to have the mechanic take a look at the braking system.

After servicing the vehicle the mechanic and service advisor met with me and explained the brakes were fine. I told him how I understood it wasn't the vehicle accelerating but the brakes releasing when I apply the brake peddle while going over a bump(s). The mechanic stated that's exactly how the brakes are designed to perform. He said that anti-lock brakes, such as the ones installed in my Toyota Prius, are designed to temporarily release when the vehicle goes over bumps. 

When I told them of the danger and helplessness a driver experiences during that "temporary" loss of vehicle stoppage the mechanic said I shouldn't drive so close to other vehicles and began admonishing all drivers who tailgate. I turned to the service advisor with a look of "is he serious?" on my face. The advisor was as still, pale and silent as a porcelain statue. I turned back to the mechanic saying adamantly that I do not tailgate and that safety while driving is part of my job training and responsibility. 

Then I asked him point blank if I could get him in front of a judge, any judge, to say exactly what he'd just so boldly stated. You could hear a pin drop. Finally, I could do nothing but laugh and pat the mechanic on the back. This poor heavily accented guy was obviously foreign born and was just doing his job and probably towing the company line. The slick service advisor, with the touch of a used car salesman, eased the conversation toward other service checklist completions made by the mechanic and nothing more was mentioned about Toyota's braking system. 

Since that last, most recent Toyota maintenance service experience I've found alarming online information about the Toyota Braking Issue on my 2010 Prius models. Wouldn't hurt for consumers to get an understanding about Toyota's regenerative braking systems as well.

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So my advice to Toyota customers is do not depend on Toyota to educate or inform you about the safety, or lack thereof, of your vehicle. Get outside advice about Toyota recalls and if need be get a good Lawyer. And remember, tailgating is a driving safety hazard. 

Once I got home and completely looked over the Toyota customer service receipt showing all the maintenance performed during the visit, I noticed a page describing the replacement of Curtain Shield Airbag Brackets. Under the heading for CAUSE, was the description: Open Safety Recall.

I called back the service advisor and after what felt like pulling teeth, with him dodging and dancing around the reason for bracket replacement, he admitted that replacing the brackets were due to a recall. I figure maybe he's a summertime auto salesman coming in from the cold of winter to work the service desk. Why else would a Toyota service advisor not advise a customer about product safety recall maintenance just performed on his/her vehicle? 

And if all that wasn't interesting enough, what triggered taking my 2010 Prius in for servicing in the first place was finding the oil dipstick almost completely dry. The Toyota mechanic confirmed finding no oil on the dipstick. The mechanic advised keeping an eye on the oil level moving forward for the next few months, nothing more. After the service visit I went online and found a class action lawsuit against Toyota for guess what? an excessive oil consumption defect!  Don't believe me, check this lawsuit verbiage:

This action arises from Defendants’ failure, despite their longstanding knowledge of a material design defect, to disclose to Plaintiffs and other consumers that the Class Vehicles are predisposed to an excessively high rate of engine oil consumption (the “Oil Consumption Defect”). This defect – which typically manifests itself during and shortly after the limited warranty period has expired will inevitably cause the Class Vehicles to prematurely burn off and/or consume abnormal and excessive amounts of engine oil.

The existence of the Oil Consumption Defect poses a safety risk to the operator and passengers of the vehicle because it prevents the engine from maintaining the proper level of engine oil, and causes an excessive amount of engine oil consumption that can neither be reasonably anticipated nor predicted. Further, the Oil Consumption Defect can cause engine failure while the Class Vehicles are in operation at any time and under any driving condition or speed. This exposes the driver and occupants of the Class Vehicles, as well as others who share the road with them, to an increased risk of accident, injury, or death. As discussed further herein, numerous owners and lessees of the Class Vehicles have experienced engine damage and catastrophic failure while operating the Class Vehicle, thus placing themselves and those around them in immediate danger.

As alleged, Toyota has long been aware of the Oil Consumption Defect yet has routinely refused to repair the Class Vehicles without charge when the defect manifests.


Toyota Recalls Prius models to update software

Toyota Engine Excessive Oil Consumption 

OIL CONSUMPTION DEFECT  - Class Action Lawsuit Against Toyota 

Excessive Oil Consumption Customer Complaints

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rodgers Can R-E-L-A-X After Win In Big D'!

Yeah, you knew this one wasn't going to be easy for either team. The Green Bay Packers opened up on the Cowboys with a 21-3 lead midway through the 2nd quarter of an NFC Divisional Playoff game in Dallas. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was mister terrific as he ran that offense like a magician, knowing all the hidden compartments and trap doors to escape through. 

Then the Cowboys with QB Dak Prescott caught fire and the momentum swung back and forth until the teams found themselves tied 28-28 with 4:08 left in the game. 

The game was now in the hands of clutch play-makers and field goal kickers. Check out video highlights to see what words just don't do justice describing. It was the best game of the seasons' NFL playoffs to date.

Mason Crosby Made 56 Yrd Field Goal
8 plays, 37 yards, 2:35
Dan Bailey Made 52 Yrd Field Goal
6 plays, 42 yards, 0:58
Mason Crosby Made 51 Yrd Field Goal
6 plays, 43 yards, 0:35

(Credit: AP / LM Otero)
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) watches his 51-yard field goal to win the game as time expires during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 34-31.

Congratulations Green Bay Packers and good luck in Atlanta against the Falcons next week.

Packers 34
Cowboys 31

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kyung Wha-Chung - Legendary!

Epic Clashes; we see it in sports, theatre and music. The more challenging the feat or adversary, the greater the will to conquer.

World renowned violinist Kyung Wha-Chung attacks a Mendelssohn Concerto like a professional football player would attack an opponent; tenaciously and with abandon. 

Watch as Kyung not only plays with unequaled passion, but also shows a graceful touch and effortless control over a technically challenging classical piece. 

This clip is from Kyung's earlier playing days in the 1970's. I don't know if any violinist who followed has matched her riveting skill and performance level. Kyung is a legendary violinist whose past performances are even more appreciated through hindsight.  She's still performing at age 68, and is a current member of the Julliard School Faculty.

Sports fans should be able to recognize the competitive power and impassioned style of this world class violinist. She's Serena Williams with a violin instead of a tennis racquet. But for her gender, size and chosen craft of music, she might've been a #1 draft pick in the NFL had she chosen athletics; that's how much skill, passion, energy and confidence she has in her game.

Kyung Wha-Chung; A Raider legend

Kyung Wha-Chung articles of interest:

Monday, January 09, 2017

All-Star Zaza Eases The Pain

I've gotten better getting over a Raiders loss. It helps to have the Golden State Warriors as your local NBA basketball team to help transition from football to basketball. Though there's many Raiders highlights to enjoy from the 2016 football season, the heartbreak of seeing #4 go down with a broken leg makes it very hard to look back. And so we press onward to cheer and root for another potential Bay Area sports champion.

In last night's game in Sacramento, surprise All-star vote candidate Zaza Pachulia, showed the NBA exactly why his fellow countrymen feel he's deserving of an All-star weekend appearance. 

The NBA modified its All-Star voting rules this year because of Pachulia, who received an inordinate number of votes last year from fans in his home country of Georgia.

The stone faced fellow from Tbilisi, Georgia, where legend has it the area was named for it's sulfuric hot springs, was a volcanic force on the basketball court last night with his harassing defense, scoring, assists and lock-down play on Sacramento Kings All-star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Zaza has stepped up his game to become another integral part of this elite Warriors team of high powered offense with suffocating defense. Earlier in the season, with Zaza replacing former Warriors center Andrew Bogut, the Georgian seemed out of place and awkward looking among his fast-paced teammates. Where new forward Kevin Durant fit as comfortably as Cinderella's slipper, Zaza needed a shoe-horn to wedge his 6'11 frame into the Warriors gameplan. 

I suppose we can throw away the shoe-horn now, because it seems Zaza has forced the Warriors to expand the width of their gameplan to the point where no forcing is needed to fit him in. His basketball smarts make-up for any athleticism he may lack. In just a few short weeks he's made us Warriors fans sit up and take notice.

Many experts will say that #27 Zaza Pachulia, a 14 year NBA veteran approaching the age of JC at crucifixion (33), is not an All-star caliber player and is lucky to be playing with All-stars on an elite NBA team. But Warriors fans and basketball fans from the country of Georgia see it as the Warriors who are the lucky ones to have a seasoned center who can pass, defend, score and run with the rest of the team at a high skill level. 

Maybe his no-look, over the head pass to Steph Curry last night will have the basketball experts taking another look at the big man from hot springs country. Or maybe his stats from last night, which could stand toe-to-toe with those of Sacramento Kings All-star DeMarcus Cousins, will make believers of those doubting the Zaza factor. 

Sooner or later, time reveals the hidden values in peoples, places and things. It appears that Zaza Pachulia's place and time in the NBA has come and some truths about his basketball game are about to be revealed. 

We Believe In Zaza!

Final Score
Warriors 117
Kings 106

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Raiders Go Down In Houston

Nothing could save the Raiders from themselves in a 27-14 wild-card playoff game loss to the Houston Texans. It wasn't too much Texans as much as it was too little Raiders. The silver and black were simply missing too many key components in their arsenal, most of all QB Derek Carr, to launch any sustaining attack offensively and/or defensively.

You saw flashes of the 2016 Raiders competitiveness that got them to the playoffs, but the day belonged to a Texans team that came out and played a better game start to finish. Nothing to be embarrassed about Raider Nation, we suited up a team that just couldn't get it done. period. 

On the plus side, this will be one of the most anticipated off seasons for the Raiders. GM Reggie McKenzie should have pro bowl caliber free agents lining up wanting to play for coach Del Rio and the resurgent Oakland Raiders. We have this Oakland Raiders winning season to thank for it.

Great players wanna be part of something great and there's no denying that great things are happening with the Raiders. The proof is in the 12-4 record, its in the never quit comeback culture, its in the willingness to win against all odds, it's in the respect given by their opponents. 

The Oakland Raiders are Back! 
Don't miss next season. Can't Wait! it's gonna be Super!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Rookie QB Connor Cook Gets Playoff Start

#8 Connor Cook to quarterback Raiders in playoffs

And there you have it Raider Nation. Our first playoff game in 14 frick'in seasons and we're going into it on the road with a Rookie at the helm starting in his first NFL game. Not to knock or jinx the rook, but the odds are simply not in his favor to lead the Silver and Black to victory on the road in Houston this wild card weekend. 

Maybe with a better defense they could eek out a win without having to score lots of points. But the opposing Texans defense, ranked #1 overall, will see the young QB as a freshly unwrapped tasty treat and will be trying to eat him alive. Welcome to the Hunger Games Connor.

Unless the team as a whole steps up their game and maintains the intensity for 60 minutes, I don't see the Raiders moving on to the divisional round of the playoffs. 

But this is the playoffs and unpredictable Shite Happens on this grand stage of sports. I mean look, the frick'in Cubs just won the World Series. Da' Cubs for chrisssake! Down 3 games to 1. Down 6-7 on the road going into the top of the ninth inning of game 7. The frick'in Cubs, with a bad-news-bears history unparalleled in professional sports, never quit and pulled off a miraculous championship victory.

I will be watching and supporting Connor and the Raiders come kickoff Saturday afternoon. I'll wear my silver and black colors proudly, knowing and showing 49er and other fans just how far we've come. What I won't be doing is talking myself into believing that Connor is the coming of the next Pro quarterback messiah and will lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl this season. Dreaming it maybe, but not talking it.

It's been a great season of rediscovery and return to greatness for the Raiders. Win, lose or tie, the next game will not define all that's been accomplished to get them to a 12-4 regular season record. The Oakland Raiders are back!