So I know I haven’t written a post in a while, but we recently bought a new car and I was asked to help guide a friend in his search. I thought maybe some of this could help others looking for 2013 car models as well! Plus I did a lot of typing just now, so I want to use it to help more people!!
So….. we had more than 22 candidate vehicles :D
I’m kind of a strong (read: obsessively) organizational person, so here is how we ended up deciding to buy our brand new 2013 Nissan Altima. My bf’s Mazda Protege 5 lasted him since 2002 with good maintenance, so understand we probably did a lot more homework with the hopes of keeping this car as long (or nearly as long) as the last one. We may not have been correct with all our data mining but I’d like to think we were pretty close, and the opinions stated below are from our experiences with the cars and preferences, and won’t necessarily be true for you.
To explain the pictures below, the one that says Safety at the top is the top of Page 1, the one that continues the same format from “Honda” down is the bottom of Page 1, then the third picture is the shortened list from the ones we actually were most interested in, and our test drive notes.
What we did was look at each manufacturer and list the vehicles they had in the categories we were interested in (sedan, hatch, SUV). Some we knew already were crossed off the list – Subaru for example had an unfavourable test drive (engine revving sounded whiny), and the Honda Accord – just from sitting in it. So we didn’t waste time with them in these lists.
Next we listed all the safety ratings. All the 4/5/4 numbers you see are out of a potential 5/5/5 (front impact, side impact, rollover impact) rating. If it got a 3/5 for any of them, we considered it a safety risk and crossed it off the list.
Then we compiled all the Rollover percentages and Gas mileage. The gas mileage is in three numbers: City MPG, Highway MPG, and Combined MPG (you might find if you only ever do City driving, you might not care about the Highway or Combined numbers. We do a combination of both so we looked at all of the numbers). There were a couple of vehicles that had such bad gas mileage we crossed them off the list (GM Terrain) and the Acuras only take Premium gas so we crossed them off the list as well. Oh, and the Ford Taurus was bad on gas too, so it was nixed.
Next we took the price – for the trim level that my bf and I would be interested in – and keep in mind you’ll be adding a few thousand for delivery of the car and taxes, so don’t buy a car thinking the advertised price is what you’ll be paying.
Some vehicles we looked at the combination of all these factors and decided, you know what? If it’s got an okay safety rating (say, 4/5/4), but high rollover percentage compared to the others, not that great gas mileage, and fairly expensive, we crossed it off the list. Nissan Rogue, GM Terrain were a couple examples of overall not being that great (on paper at least).
Next I went through each remaining car and rated them on how much I wanted to take it on a test drive to see if it was any good to drive. 1 means I really want to try it out, 2 means I can take it or leave it, and 3 means I really don’t care if we cross this one off the list. My bf did the same, and those are the numbers on the far left of the page. We added them up and the cars with the lowest scores made it into the first column of the Short List page (under “2″ which represents the total score of 1 from bf + 1 from me). Second column are the ones that are next in line to test drive, and so on. The ones in the last columns we didn’t really care about.
From that short list (Optima, Focus, Elantra, and Altima), my bf did some research into the major complaints from recent years on http://www.safercar.gov/
The Optima didn’t have any complaints (makes sense, safest car at 5/5/5). The Focus didn’t have 2013 model data but had some steering and engine complaints from past years. The Elantra had a weird complaint(s) of the sun roof randomly breaking into tiny pieces, not sure how recent that was. The Altima didn’t have any 2013 complaints, and the only complaint from 2012 was that the gas and brake pedals were close together – something they changed in the 2013 model.
Below those notes in blue are some notes in black – those are my test-drive notes. Sorry for the chicken-scratch handwriting, I thought I’d be the only one reading it :)
Each one is separated into PROs and CONs. I ran out of space so I put the Altima at the top but then didn’t need the CONs column because we didn’t have any!
A couple things I noticed in a few vehicles: passenger side seat adjustments are often manual, even when driver’s side has power adjustable seats. This annoyed me a lot because I want to be comfortable as well as my bf does! Hello, equality! (especially if you consider how many people shop for cars with their partners, who will often have just as much say in the final purchase as the main driver……. come on marketers wake up!) As a result, I started taking note of how much visibility I got as the passenger since I was often sitting low in the seat and couldn’t adjust it – so you’ll see notes like “40% or less car-view” which means: when I’m looking straight ahead of me how high does the dashboard come up into my view out the window? How much “car-view” do I have when seated normally?
Seat comfort was very very important to us, because we plan on doing road trips and a lot of 1.5+ hour drives. The seats in the Nissan Altima were designed by NASA engineers to be zero-gravity and when we sat in them our jaws dropped open – it was like sitting in a couch it was so comfortable!!!! After the test-drive, my bf asked me, “So….. can we buy it?” and I immediately said, “Yes.” He’d asked what I thought about buying the KIA Sportage (the first one we test-drove – before these charts were even created – and we really liked it, but didn’t like the gas mileage) and the Hyundai Elantra previously but we weren’t ready yet to make those decisions. After test-driving the Altima though, it was obvious to us that it was an easy choice to make.
Now, when you consider the price difference between the Hyundai Elantra (~25,000$), the KIA Optima (~33,000$), and the Nissan Altima (~29,000$), personally obviously we’d suggest the Altima because of a few things – we definitely liked the drive the best, it’s cheaper, has better visibility, and feels lighter to drive than the Optima. The Optima wasn’t bad, and had a great turning radius, but felt like you were driving a really safe heavy brick!
Our second choice probably would have been the Elantra. We really didn’t see why the Elantra was so much less expensive than the Optima, because it was really nice to drive too. The sunroof is double and the best of them all (not that that’s necessary, but still!)……the drive was a little stiffer than the Altima (sportier feel) meaning the gas/brake pedals and steering wheel were a little harder to move. Some people like that style, we didn’t mind either way, but it was a definite difference in feel.
Oh, and the Ford Focus was an absolute disappointment. It looked great on paper, got all these great reviews, and then we took it for a test-drive and it sounded like it was labouring to get up to speed on the highway. Its turning radius was horribly wide, and my bf hit his knee against the median 2 or 3 times just in driving the car – the leg room was awfully small. Overall, sounded and felt like a cheap car, yet it was as much money as the Optima!
Like I said, some makes and models didn’t make it on to the page but were considered beforehand and dismissed. VW was actually one of those, because we took a brief test-drive with the Passat and didn’t really like it, it sounded like the engine was labouring. Also we didn’t think the trim of the interior was very nice, and I think they are expensive, but don’t really remember how much. And the Tiguan as you’ll see on Page 1 (bottom) had a bad safety rating and a pretty high rollover percentage for our comfort level.
Overall, my advice would be to collect a handful of vehicles you’re interested in, and test drive (with your significant other if you can/have one!) as many as you can in one or two days. You want to be in the same mind-frame so you can compare them better. If you can, drive it in day and night to see any differences. I DEFINITELY recommend taking notes because trust me, it’s so easy to get confused which one had what sun roof and which had the weird steering…… if it’s not written down. I took my sheets of paper with me everywhere so I could compare on the spot to the other cars we drove. It also shows the dealers you’re serious about buying, and I’d like to think they knew they couldn’t pull anything on us because they saw we would know if they were lying! ;) Some people recommended we rent the model we’re interested in buying, but at the time we were still interested in the Kia Sportage, but nowhere near us was renting those out, so that’s not always possible but would be a great idea if you can find the model you’re interested in.
Anyway, I hope this helps you get organized for your own car search! Good luck, and happy hunting! :)
Ms. Compy Fix-It here! Come to your (potential) rescue once again.
Today’s topic is one I’m happy to say has been resolved: Manhattan skylines in PowerPoint Print Previews.
Never heard of them? Well, some people have called them that because they are vertical bars that are not in your document, but suddenly appear when you print or hit Print Preview. Depending how many you have, you can end up with quite a dramatic print job.
I encountered them when trying to print a coworker’s slide, and honestly was surprised they showed up in the Print Preview – I thought this might be one of those weird printer configuration/”it’s not us, it’s your printer” Microsoft kind of issues, but I was wrong.
I did some digging, and was surprised to not find very much that was helpful. I looked closely at the bars and could see they all seemed to stem downward from a title. Have a look below. I deleted all but the titles, as the rest is irrelevant.
I thought maybe it had to do with text box fill, but that came up empty. The clue that pushed me to the Ms. Compy Fix-It idea came from this link: http://www.mombu.com/computer_design/acrobat/t-unwanted-vertical-lines-on-screen-and-on-print-3586463.html from sharon_bloor. She suggested it was a text issue, and although the font didn’t appear strange or particularly new, I thought it was worth a try to just Ctrl+A (highlight all) and change the font to Calibri. Sure enough, when I hit Print Preview, the bars were gone.
Hope this helps someone else!!
Yours in PowerPoint
Ms. Compy Fix-It :)
What you’ll need:
- 1 medium sized slow cooker
- 1 pork shoulder (or other large cut with a decent amount of fat on it) – around 3 pounds/1.35 kg
- 1 large bowl for shredding – I emphasize large, because it’ll make it way less likely that you’ll throw shredded meat all over the room
- 2 forks
- fresh buns
- 1/4 cup of marmalade (tangerine marmalade or hot pepper jelly also work well)
- about 3/4 cup of ketchup
- about 1/4 cup of demerara (dark brown) sugar – to taste
- (optional – if you want a little extra sauce) 1/2 to 1 full can of cola – or even better – root beer. Great use for flat pop, but using fizzy is good too.
- (optional) 1 dollop (tbsp) Kraft BBQ sauce for sour BBQ kick
- (optional) hot sauce to taste
What to do:
This is so easy to make, you’ll be wondering why you’ve never tried it before!
Sure there are 14 steps, but really I just like typing.
- Put all the Sauce ingredients in a microwaveable/stove-top safe measuring bowl (that way you don’t need to pre-measure your ingredients!)
- To melt the brown sugar, put in microwave for 10-15 seconds, or just stir patiently over a little heat on the stove until it mostly melts
- Taste-test the sauce: it should be sweet, mildly citrus-y, and not too tangy. Too tangy for your liking, add more brown sugar. This is not a dish to be thinking about your calorie intake! :)
- Throw (not literally, unless you have good aim) your pork shoulder/ribs/roast into your slow cooker
- Pour your Awesome-Laura-Sauce over it. Try to cover all parts of the meat to ensure equal tastiness absorption
- Turn your slow cooker to Low. Sometimes I like to feel like I’m cooking, so after an hour or so I turn it to Medium for an hour, then back to Low. You probably don’t need to do this.
- Turn your meat over (I find I need a fork to help grab it) once every 3 hours or so. Just helps in maintaining moisture all over the surfaces. Try not to open the slow cooker lid to check on it – just trust it’ll do its thang.
Wait– I mean – cook for about 8 hours.
- You’ll know it’s done when you stick a fork in it and the meat falls apart easily. When this happens, transfer the meat CAREFULLY to the large bowl. The meat is tender and might fall apart on you!!
- Grab your two forks and get shredding, removing extra fat (you don’t need it for flavour anymore). Remember you’ll still be adding the sauce so you don’t need to go all Cujo on it.
- Your hands are probably sore now from gripping your forks, but rest easy – you’re almost done! Just replace your shredded meat to the slow cooker and mix it around with the sauce
- (optional) I like leaving the meat in the slow cooker on Low or Warm just for a little while (30 minutes tops) to absorb the flavours even more
- Dish out your awesome pulled pork onto fresh buns (tip: the more sauce you add, the more soggy your buns will get!) and enjoy your tasty sammiches!!!!
- Come back to this site and bookmark this page because they are the best pulled pork sammiches you’ve ever tasted. Maybe even comment saying so. Tee hee. :)
You’re welcome, world.
Anyone else notice that The Big Bang Theory’s Zach (Penny’s ex-boyfriend) looks like J.P. Arencibia of the Toronto Blue Jays?
Particularly funny when you watch the karaoke scene…..
So today I re-started my blog which I had inadvertently abandoned in favour of starting a Twitter business, moving, and getting a new job. Okay, so the “move” was a 30-minute walk away from my other place, which I stayed at for about one night a month, but still. I moved.
I got an e-mail that people liked my last post, so I’m gonna post another. Just like that, you get more reading material. I can see this becoming cyclic….. and I’m okay with that.
One category I forgot about was my “Things Toronto Taught Me” segment, mostly providing an outlet for my frustrations of society in the biggest city/metropolis/megasuperexpansivethingy in Canada. Yes, Spell Check, I realize that isn’t a word, but thanks for providing it some colour. Gahh, I’m in Canada, Spell Check — colour is supposed to be spelled with a “u”! I digress.
Today’s submission of factoids and junk I learned in the big T.O.:
- Winter doesn’t really start until the snow sticks to the ground….. and that surprisingly won’t happen until the end of December (if then). In Niagara where I grew up, we’d have snow right at the beginning, and a few weeks full of lake effect winter before Christmas arrived.
- The sickest people in the city will always ride the TTC.
- The ones hacking up a lung will always choose the seat next to you.
- Some people are immune to winter. This becomes especially evident on Friday and Saturday nights, particularly in front of clubs with long lineups.
- This will always make me giggle to myself, and snuggle deeper into my sensible coat, double-mittens, and an awesomely fuzzy hat (if I can ever find one).
- Uggs were not invented by Canadians. At least I doubt it. If they were, well I’m stumped.
- Scarves better not go out of style.
- What few animals there are in the city get dumber as it gets colder. Today we almost ran over a squirrel who stopped in front of us and pretty much could have written the tunes for his own funeral by the time he realized he should turn back around.
- It may not be winter, but it’s pretty flippin’ cold to me.
- Swans must be pretty smug in the bird world at this time of year. Okay Toronto didn’t teach me that, I just thought about it now. But they’re probably all like, “I’m a swan, I’m white, nobody can see me, squawk squawk squaaaaaaaawk.“ Of course their honk is annoying as heck, so they’re probably just as much of a target as usual, just, you know, smug-er.
Um, so that’s all I have to say about that.
Stupid smug swans.
….. if pop/soda/carbonated beverages could stand on their own as drinkable beverages when they lose their fizz?
Also, am I the only one who has trouble swallowing those drinks because of the amount of fizz?? I actually have to let them sit open for a while or shake them if I don’t want to feel like I’m just gulping air!
So I’m at my new job and am trying to use Primavera P6 with my Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse 3000….. and for some reason, it won’t let me scroll. Anyone else have this issue? Anyone resolve it?
Ms. Compy Fix-It needs your help! …..
That’s really all I can say about not having written to you guys for so long. Oops, sorry. Well, I’m living in a new place now, unpacking is almost complete, and I’ve started a business (unofficially).
For today, just to get the creative juices flowing, I’ll post a refreshing drink I’ve come up with to replace a high-sugar soda drink that would normally quench my thirst on a hot summer’s day.
Chocomint Spritz Drink
What you’ll need for this drink:
- equal parts Sprite (or 7-UP) and soda water
- 8 small, or 5 large chocolate mint (Mentha piperita) leaves
How to make:
Combine all ingredients. You’re going to probably adjust the proportions of sugary Sprite and soda water to suit your taste. Reach in with your hand and roll the floating mint leaves between your fingers, keeping them in the liquid of the drink so all the flavour gets infused nicely.
Tip: Start with less Sprite than you think you will need, and add more to taste. If your taste buds get a flavour of the super-sweetness of 100% Sprite first, it’ll be hard to adjust the soda water to live up to it, and you’ll end up with just mint in Sprite (which is probably good too, but kinda defeats the purpose)….. so consider it a soda water drink, being sweetened a bit with Sprite instead of the other way around!
That’s it! Really refreshing, and half the sugar normally in soda. If you don’t have a chocolate mint plant….. get one! ;) Haha but really, if you don’t have one, try regular mint leaves!
I have been in awe for a while over Starbucks’ ability to turn buyers into promoters, and today I received an e-mail that is a perfect example. The e-mail was as follows:
As you know, Canada Post is on strike. And that means, for as long as this goes on, we won’t be able to send you postcards for your birthday drink you’ve earned.
But rest assured: we’re keeping track of all the good things we’re supposed to send your way. And once the strike is over, we’ll send you those postcards you were supposed to receive – with an extended expiration date so you can enjoy them.
Thanks for your understanding and patience. And if you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-STARBUC.
Starbucks Card Team”
Just to get this straight: I’m receiving an apology e-mail for not receiving a bonus gift due to something outside of their control. Ahead of time.
Let me point out the awesomeness about this (as if it needs delineating):
- Starbucks offers a free drink for card-holders’ birthdays: This makes people happy because they’re receiving something free; it also attaches a more personal feeling towards Starbucks due to receiving a ‘gift’. There are some who would argue this increases customer loyalty because it invokes the feeling of obligation to return the favour — which, in this case, would be returning to purchase again.
- This drink has NO size or type limitation: this makes people feel a little giddy for ‘screwing the system’ if they want to get a Venti super-expensive fancy drink….. or, simply, allows people to get the drink they normally would choose.
- This gift can usually be used within a month (or two?) of the person’s actual birthdate: This allows people to not feel a need to use the gift card right away (avoiding any association with stress or rushing). From the business perspective, it also allows the person more time to potentially forget about cashing in the gift.
- They will not be cancelling (or ignoring) these usual gifts, even though an entity outside of themselves is causing their delay. They even take it upon themselves to apologize for the delay. They owned up to something that wasn’t even their fault, and were the better company for it.
- This anticipated message was sent with an affirmation that the expiration date will be extended — in case anyone was worried about getting their gift in time. This way, even these somewhat caffeine-infused worries are alleviated.
Rest assured indeed! If Starbucks opened a bank, I would consider switching.
Hallo there friends
Today’s post is a recipe for a change. Well, not even for a full meal, but for a pierogi (or perogi, or pirogi, if you prefer) topping.
I first tried this at the amazing Cafe Polonez on Roncesvalles in Toronto, but honestly wished I got a little more than the small cup, because it was so good! Now, I’m making perogies and want that flavour (or at least, how I remember it), so I’m experimenting and so far, without having made the actual perogies yet, it tastes really good.
Mix crushed pecans with equal amount of (real) bacon bits, and splash in a modest amount of real maple syrup. I thought about buying real bacon to cook, but honestly, this is quicker and drier (no grease left over), and easy to mix up. I used a package of Oscar Meyer real bacon bits, so they’re a little chewy, which is what I was hoping for. I’m sure it would work just as nicely with real bacon pieces, but make sure they’re small enough to spoon onto your perogies. If you find your mixture is sweet enough but needs more liquidity, you can add a dash of water (I did), or a dash of oil (I did that also). Or you can keep it as a dry topping to add to your sour cream….. if that’s your style ;)
I’ll let you know how the final product fairs. I’ve thrown the mix into the fridge to hopefully meld the flavours even more. Plus, I’d like to see if this is okay to prepare beforehand, so less to think about when making the actual perogies. Oh, and I totally plan on frying onions as well, and may or may not actually add them to this mix. Probably not, cuz then I’d have to cut them small and I like fried onions long and skinny :) Anyway, I’ll update this when it’s been eaten!
*Update: I have since made at least 3 batches of this topping, it was THAT AMAZING. The first couple of times were using the crushed pecans I’d picked up in the bulk section (pecans are flippin’ EXPENSIVE!), but not being able to find anything less than like $10 without going back to the grocery store, I picked up some salted sunflower seeds from Shoppers Drug Mart for under $3. Honestly, it’s the crunch that matters. The taste is slightly different, but I wouldn’t say it’s worse, because it’s still flippin’ AWESOME. And incredibly quick. Real bacon bits and sunflower seeds (approx. same amount), mix with real maple syrup and a little water to loosen up the syrup, and suddenly pierogies are incredibly more delicious. I don’t think I’d eat them without this topping anymore. So as for the update: 5 FLIPPIN’ STARS. Wait, lemme find a picture for that. Screw it, I don’t want to give someone credit for a picture of stars. I can make one. Here: 5 flippin’ stars.