Monthly Archives: August 2020

Grateful Dead fans should love this!

Did you know?

Seems like 2020 has brought us some really weird creatures, such as murder hornets.

Today I discovered Uraba lugens, the “mad hatterpillar.”

mad hatterpillar

Indigenous to Australia’s eucalyptus forests, it stacks its molted heads atop each other, creating a morbid headgear that servers as diversion when predators come a-callin’.

Fans of Grateful Dead should love this little one.

Out & About—Fishies out of water

Out & About

For the first time in 2020, I got in the car and went to explore San Diego this past week.

I had some ideas of where to go based on some articles in recent editions of the San Diego Reader, and I’ll have posts in the future about three of the places I went.

On the way home , I found this mural of beautiful fishies at the corner of Harbor Drive and Cesar A. Chavez Parkway.

Mural in downtown San Diego

Mural in downtown San Diego

She can stand!


Little Queen Olivia has been with us since June 25, 2019, meaning that I have well over a thousand pictures of her.

I have maybe 5 pictures of her standing because whenever she sees me, she immediately flops and rolls over to have her tummy scratched.

Well, today I got a close-up picture of her standing.

Just a second later, she was flopped on the floor, and her chief of staff was rubbing her tummy.

Little Queen Olivia

Part two

A Piece Missing

Looks like yesterday’s post about my new Conspiracy Theorist Facebook group was not my most popular post.

You can’t believe how happy that actually makes me.

The post was a joke, which some people realized when they clicked on the link for an application to join.

It was an effective post, though, because my intent, both here and at Facebook, was to find some of those Conspiracy Theorists who were following/friending me and get rid of them.

I’m too old for that kind of crap in my life.

Get those cooties off me!

Picture of the Moment

One of my roommates in 1974 at Texas A&M University was from Waller, Texas, which is about half way between Houston and College Station.

I lost track of him when I moved to San Diego in April 1993. I moved with the intent of distancing myself from old family and friends. No more need to keep up with the Joneses.

In 2011, I was exploring the border area in South San Diego when I came upon San Diego Beach Rides. I rented a horse ride for the beach. Pretty cool.

When I got back, I told the owner that he looked like my college roommate from 1974. He said, “Oh, I’m from Texas.” That, of course, started a conversation. Turns out that he wasn’t my roommate, but he was my roommate’s younger brother.

I was able to get connected again to my old roommate who was living in Littleton CO. Small world. Unfortunately, as with all but two of my old friends and family in Texas, our politics didn’t mesh, so I disconnected again.

This horse picture is from October 4, 2011, at San Diego Beach Rides. It’s the horse that I rode. I guess it wanted to get those Russel cooties off. After I pet Little Queen Olivia, she proceeds to do the same thing.

San Diego Beach Rides

Little Queen Olivia

A new version of normality


I have had several foreign cars (Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) since I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. I grew up in the muscle car generation in South Texas, so if you would have told me in early 1993 that some day I would be dedicated to foreign cars, I might have gone down to my uncle’s house in Kingsville, Texas, borrowed 40 or 50 of his guns, and went-a searchin’ for ya. That’s how dedicated I had been raised to American automobiles.

I never really regretted buying foreign until I got a 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid on July 21, 2019. To read about my problems with that car, see these two previous posts:

A 5,000-mile review


The problems never got any better. With nothing to do during the pandemic except reading, watching TV/movies, gardening, and, of course, playing with Little Queen Olivia, I decided to trade the 2019 Insight Hybrid in on a 2021 Insight Hybrid . I figured that with my monthly letters to Honda concerning all of my problems, two years should be sufficient for them to get the problems fixed.

I got the 2021 car on July 9 with 63 miles on it. The 2019 was black while the 2021 is cosmic metallic blue.

2021 Honda Insight Hybrid in cosmic metallic blue

2021 Honda Insight Hybrid in cosmic metallic blue

I ended July 2020 with 317 miles on the car, not enough miles to determine if it’s going to have the same problems as the 2019 car.

However, the 2021 has a much bigger problem, in my opinion, concerning cruise control.

I bought my first car, a 1976 Chevrolet Impala, in August 1977. It had a little over 4,000 miles on it and was a test-drive car. In today’s world, there is no such thing as a test-drive car because you only get to test drive the car that you are thinking about buying. In early 1978, cruise controls were making their inroads into cars, mostly as options. I found a cruise control at Sears, bought it, and installed it. My gas mileage in the Impala with its big 400 cubic inch engine climbed from 7.7 miles per gallon to over 10 miles per gallon. I was sold! I have had cruise control in every car since then. I’m pretty addicted to it, especially in long drives.

Sadly, the cruise control in the 2021 Honda Insight Hybrid absolutely sucks.

With the 2019 car, I could use cruise control everywhere, even down to 25 miles per hour in slow rush hour traffic. Cruise control in the 2021 is completely useless unless I’m all by myself. It’s the damned “driver assist” functions, and the “necessary ones” cannot be turned off.

The problem is that driver assist has many options. The ones that cause me problems are related to cruise control, and they cannot be turned off, only modified with Honda-programmed options.

One option is when following traffic. I can set how far behind the traffic I can use cruise control before the car takes over. Even if I set the option for short, I cannot make the distance short enough to allow me to use cruise control at slower speeds in rush hour traffic.

Another option is to set the width of the area that the car monitors for traffic. It has normal, narrow, and wide options. Definitely do not set it for wide. It looks at the whole freeway and won’t let cruise control work if there’s another car within a hundred miles of me. Narrow works best, but if another car pulls in front of me, my car slams on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes in anything other than an emergency can be dangerous, especially on the highway with traffic doing California highway speeds.

An additional problem is that the car does not understand what a curve is. I can be on cruise control on a straight stretch with cars in lanes to both sides of me. As soon as I begin to go around a curve, the car thinks I’ll be going straight and that the cars in the lanes to both sides of me now suddenly are in my lane. Once again, the car slams on the brakes.

The 2021 Honda Insight Hybrid is so dangerous on cruise control that I have decided not to use it unless I’m pretty much the only one on the highway. I’d be willing to bet that all Honda cars with cruise control have the same problem, but I can only speak for my car. Perhaps I have another lemon like my 2019 car.

I was hoping that this car might be my last car purchase but now I’m thinking that I’ll only have it for one to two years, especially if the pandemic ends or we get a viable vaccine and I get to go cruising out in the wide open again. I won’t be able to drive long distances without cruise control, like to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tucson, and Atlanta, where the cactus & succulent clubs want me to do presentations on Nature’s Geometry: Succulents once things return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normality.

I’m actually thinking that there’s going to be a new version of normality.