Saturday, October 8, 2011

What car is this?

This weeks "Guess the Car" Challenge.

Good luck - remember earliest and most information wins.

What car is this? Car revealed - 2008 Audi A3 2.0T 4D Hatchback

Last weeks car was a 2008 Audi A3 2.0T 4D Hatchback.

Congratulations to Karissa for recognizing it as an Audi and mentioning one of the hottest Audis available today!

This weeks car should be up soon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What Car is This?

This weeks "Guess the Car" Challenge.

Please make your guesses in the comments (Josh) and try to get as close as you can to the exact year, make, model and (if you are feeling really spot on) trim package.

Good Luck

What car is this? Car revealed - 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL550

Last weeks car was a 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL550.

Congratulations to Jason and Holly!  You guys both did great!

Thanks for participating.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Friday! What are your plans for the weekend?

Fall is upon us.  I live on the East Coast now (again) and absolutely LIVE for this time of year.  The leaves start changing color and the hills absolutely come alive with vibrant (word of the day from Wednesday apparently) color!

So today's drive of the week is anywhere that you can get out and see the colors of autumn coming in.

For those near where I am, I recommend the Blue Ridge Parkway.

What are your favorite drives?  What makes them your favorite?  Do you still drive for no reason other than pleasure?  Or is the price of gas keeping you home bound?

Sorry for the short post, but its the weekend and I have to get ready for a bonfire!  Hope to see some of you here!

Have a great day and I'll see you in October!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Successful Bonfire of the Season

As I've mentioned, part of being a driver, in my opinion, is enjoying life in between driving.  Life, after all, is not 'just driving'.

So in the interest of keeping things balanced, I want to incorporate other things that we enjoy doing - when we are not driving.  Enjoying the scenery.

One thing for me that is nearly unrivaled in terms of pure enjoyment and relaxation is having a backyard bonfire.  I do a lot of thinking when I am driving... I do at least as much thinking when I am staring into the mesmerizing flames and glowing coals of a good bonfire.

Two Fridays ago, I decided to invite some friends over for a bonfire.  We have had several over the summer, but these summer bonfires (especially in South Carolina) are not exactly the ideal example of a bonfire.  You break into a running sweat getting the thing going and no one wants to actually go anywhere near the fire because it is HOT until at least 11 or 12.

This Friday was different though.  Although we are now back up in the 80's on a regular basis, this Friday was cool (almost chilly) and there was a little bit of an overcast feel to the sky.  It was just cool enough to want to be by the fire as it got dark.

I got the fire going with some of the kids that I work with and, for at least the first hour after we had told people to come, thought we were going to be alone in our enjoyment of this fire.  This was fine with me, but a little disappointing, because, as I mentioned, it was a perfect season opening in terms of weather.  Also, I love sharing a fire with as many people as possible.  The bigger the crowd, the better the fire.  (I think the same will prove true with this blog... so invite your friends!)

Anyway, just when it looked like no one was going to be able to make it, EVERYONE showed up!  We work at a home for children.  Across our rather large campus, there are 9 homes with 5 - 8 kids in each home.  Ours has Elementary and Middle School age girls.  There are boys homes and girls homes, all with varying ages.  When I say EVERYONE showed up, I mean we went from a 'crowd' of about 6 to a MOB of about 40.  The kids played football and on the swing set and the adults circled up around the fire and got some much needed adult time.

What do you do to enjoy the scenery?  What is your escape from the ordinary?  The weekend is almost here again... what big plans are on your horizon?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Driving 101

Okay, this is the main reason that I have always wanted to start this blog.  I want to talk about the unwritten rules of the road.  The basic concepts that we all follow (or don't follow), consciously or unconsciously, every time we get on the road.  I'm talking about the myriad different circumstances that we face and, in a split second, make a decision about how to handle the situation and act.

For instance:

You are driving on a two lane stretch of freeway (an interstate for arguments sake).  The speed limit is 65 and you feel comfortable at 69.  (This will also be a good topic to cover later --- how fast over the posted speed limit is reasonable?  But we'll take this assumption for granted this time.)  There is very light traffic, so the next vehicle you see is a semi truck that you are approaching.  Again purely for speculations sake, let's say that he is travelling at exactly the speed limit of 65.  (no, I am not setting up a math word problem for you... I promise)

Shortly after you notice him, you also notice a car in your rear view that is slowly overtaking you.  Lets say they are going 74.  You and the truck in front of you are in the right lane, the approaching car is in the left lane.  (Expect more about the use of the words "fast lane" or "passing lane" in a future post as well)  As you watch the scene (very) slowly unfold, you realize that you will both be wanting to pass the truck at the same time.

You have your cruise control on.  (Obviously... how else would you be going a very steady 69?)  You obviously have a few choices.

1.  Speed up now, safely pass the truck and slow back down to your comfortable and (relatively) legal speed.
2. Maintain your current speed, but change lanes so that you can pass the truck without needing to slow down.
3. Slow down (turn off cruise control) let the other car pass the truck first and then resume your original speed in order to pass the truck.

What would you do?  Why?  If you were watching another driver (perhaps you are a passenger or the driver of the approaching car or the driver of the truck) in this situation, what would you expect him/her to do?  The answers to the last question will surely vary by region... please tell us what part of the country you are from if you answer that one!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music Tuesday - Mumford and Sons

First, a few disclaimers.

One, as I warned earlier on this blog, I have been really digging on Bluegrass and Folk Rock lately.  I am not apologizing and for those of you that also enjoy the genre, this disclaimer is for those that have not discovered it yet.

Two, because this whole genre is still new to me, I am still making "discoveries" out of music that some people have been enjoying for years!  It is for that reason that this little section is not "new Music Tuesday".  It is new to me... and hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise to you as well.

On that note, if you are not yet a fan of the Bluegrass or Folk Rock genres, I recommend you give it a chance.  And by 'a chance', I don't mean listen to one or two songs and dismiss the genre out of hand.  Pick up an album ('Sigh No More' by Mumford and Sons or anything by the Avett Brothers would be a good place to start) and stick it in your car and listen to it a few times through.  Then come back and let me know what you think.

Okay, disclaimers and 'don't write this off' requests aside, lets talk about Mumford and Sons.  I heard these guys on WNCW, the local public radio station that plays " eclectic mix of Folk, Americana, Rock, Bluegrass, Reggae, and more..." while (you guessed it) driving!  I recognized the name when they were introduced, but really enjoyed the song.  Pretty sure it was "The Cave".  When I got home, in typical ADD fashion, I completely forgot that I had even heard a song that I liked.  A few hours when I did remember, I couldn't for the life of me remember the song, the band, or anything about either.

I looked up the station and could not find the song in their playlists.  I tried calling the radio station and got no answer.  So I did the only other thing any reasonable person would do.  I called Danny Smith.  All I had for Danny to go on was that I liked a song and that the radio station referred to the band as "everyone's favorite".  Unfortunately, this was not enough for Danny to help me this time, but a little later, Pandora helped me when they populated Mumford and Sons after I had typed only the letter "M".

So, now I am happily listening to a great "new" band and passing the name on to you.  A little bit about the band:

Lead singer is Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin).  The rest are - Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), "Country" Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro), and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar).

They formed in '07 and released "Sigh No More" (the album that I am currently hooked on) in February of 2010.  There is apparently a new album expected in February of 2012.  They received Grammy nominations for 'Best New Artist' and 'Best Rock Song' for "Little Lion Man".

I'm posting a playlist of the Album "Sigh No More" (below) with all the tracks except "I Gave You All", "Awake My Soul", and "Timshel".  I could not find the first two and the last one won't stick to my list for some reason.  Anyway, give it a listen, and, if you like it I linked to the Amazon page where you can buy the CD or Vinyl version of the album (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate and that is my link)


EDIT ----------------------

Did not realize that there was some questionable language in one of the songs... removed "Little Lion Man" from the playlist below for that reason.  Also, "Roll Away Your Stone" was not working, so I replaced with a cover by Laura Marling that is pretty good.  Thanks


CD Vinyl

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Wallpaper Monday - Rolls-Royce 102EX

If you are like me, you rarely see your desktop background.  But for those few seconds that you do see it, it needs to be good!  I try, but rarely achieve, keeping fresh background images on my desktop... and will strive to do the same on this site.  Hopefully the wallpapers offered here will inspire you as well.

As there are ample sites that do a great job at providing wallpaper for your computer for free, I will not undertake to offer actual samples, but rather give you an idea and some links to help you along your way.

Today, I am recommending the Rolls-Royce 102EX.  Why?  Well, for one, it is a Rolls-Royce.  Do I need any reason other than that?  I didn't think so.  But here is another one anyway.  This is a battery powered Rolls-Royce.  This is Rolls-Royce if Rolls-Royce were to go green.  Apparently, they are not saying that this IS going to happen, just that this is what it will look like if they do.

So all you readers that are currently fretting over whether or not you will still be able to drive your exceptional Rolls when the world goes completely green, worry not.  Rolls is already thinking about you and has a solution in the works.

For the rest of us that just like to look at cool, new, shiny things that we could never hope to afford, this is a wonderful cool, new, shiny thing to put on your desktop.  Enjoy it!

Motor Trend write up about the Rolls-Royce 102EX
Wallpaper of Rolls-Royce 102EX at Diesel Station

The background of this site should feature this wallpaper soon but here is a picture while you wait:

Rolls-Royce 102EX

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Waiting for a movie at Blockbuster Express

Being a driver, I like to be as efficient and effective as possible when completing a task.  I will look for shortcuts, time savers, efficiency boosts or anything else to get the job done better and faster.

Renting a movie is no exception.  We use the Blockbuster Express near our house to rent movies when we are in the mood to relax and watch a DVD.  In order to streamline the process, I reserve the movie online and pay for it before I leave the house.  This guarantees the movie I want will be there and that I don't have to call my wife and go over the list of options on the phone with a grumbling line behind me.

With the kiosk being very close to our house and reserving the movie in advance, going to get the movie can be done in under 4 minutes.  That's right, from the front door - to the car - to the kiosk - back to the car - back to the front door in under 4 minutes.  And yes, we have timed it.  So when I was gone for more than 20 minutes the other day picking up the movie, you can imagine that there was a story.

Here is that story.

When I pull up to the kiosk, if there is no one waiting, I will just pull up and leave the car running because it only takes me a minute or two to actually get the movie out.  When I pulled up this day, I realized I better park.  There were two people in front of me and I figured it might take a little while.  I would never have been able to guess at half of what I was about to experience.

The first person in line was a sweet woman probably in her 50s with a cart full of groceries.  The second was a college aged girl talking on the phone.  (We have a college in town, so I feel it is safe for me to guess this girl was in college.)

After standing in line (with a light rain starting to fall) for about 5 minutes, it became clear that the first woman was struggling with the kiosk.  She seemed to be looking for something that either didn't exist or was intentionally hiding itself from her.  She gave a few embarrassed glances backwards at us (the other girl in line and me) which we took as our cue to help her.  She was indeed looking for a specific movie but could not remember anything about it.  Not the title, not who was in it, not what it was about... nothing.  She did remember that it was a drama.  I helped her scroll through all the movies while the other girl asked questions to try to draw something helpful out of her.

After this went on for a few minutes, she mumbled "...something about a lawyer..." so I started to type in "lawyer" in the search and the college girl (after thinking a moment) asked, "The Lincoln Lawyer?"  She got very excited and said that, yes, in fact that was the movie she was looking for.  We very quickly found that title and selected it for her.

You might think that is the end of the story.  You would be wrong.  I would not be sharing this on my blog if that was the end of the story.  No, no. This is just the beginning.

She now had to confirm that she was 17.  This screen led to a considerable pause.  We explained that if she was older than 17 (and we recommended that she say she was even if she wasn't... as they wouldn't let her rent the movie if she said no... please keep in mind it was clear that she was well over 17) she needed to say yes.

Next she had to agree to the terms and conditions.  I almost left when I saw that screen.  Fortunately, she did not seem to feel the need to read the whole thing and took our summary of what it probably said as good enough to accept it.

Next she had to swipe her credit card... which, miraculously, worked the first time.  But when it prompted her to give her zip code, she was stumped.  At this point, she accidentally hit the enter button before even trying to guess her zip code.  The kiosk informed her that her zip code did not match and the rental was unable to complete.

So we started all over.  We selected "Lincoln Lawyer".  We said that, yes, she was over 17.  We said, yes, she accepts the terms and conditions.  She swiped her card.  She typed in her zip code.  It was accepted.  And her movie was dispensed.

Don't cheer yet though.

As she reached for her movie, instead of taking it, she bumped it and pushed it back in.  I am not even joking!

So we started all over.  We selected "Lincoln Lawyer".  We said that, yes, she was over 17.  We said, yes, she accepts the terms and conditions.  She swiped her card.  She typed in her zip code.  It was accepted.  And her movie was dispensed.

This time I offered to take it out for her.  I almost bumped it back in myself, but managed to hang on and successfully delivered the movie to her.

College girl took a few extra minutes because she needed to enter a promo code in from her phone, but soon I was up and not longer after on my way home with our movie for the night!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What car is this?

I thought this would be a fun, weekly challenge.  The challenge is simple.  I post a picture of a car from the back with the badges removed and you try to guess what car it is.

The winner will be the first person to give the most information about the car.  More information beats less information (even if it comes later).  Earlier details only beat later details if the details are the same.

Because I can't afford any sweet prizes (yet), the winner will get recognition on this blog and, if you so desire, on your facebook page.

So, here is this weeks challenge:

I know this may be insultingly easy to some of you, but humor me now and I will try to find some more challenging material for you later.  If need be, I will do two every week.  One for the experts and one for the beginners.

Ok, ready, set, GO!



Okay, by request... and since you all got the Mercedes bit so easily, here are side and front views of the same car.

Does this help?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Stop and smell the roses.  At least that's what some people recommend.  While I remain neutral on the merits of inhaling rose scents, I will say one of the most exhilarating parts of driving is taking in the scenery.  Sometimes this is the physical scenery on the other side of your windshield (windscreen if you are Jeremy Clarkson), but other times, it is the stuff that happens to you between driving experiences.

Vin Diesel as "Dom" in The Fast and the Furious (the original 2001 version --- yes, they have announced a 6th one in this indestructible series) said, "...I live my life a quarter mile at a time...."  While this may have impressed all the wannabe street racers in the audience (I may have been one of them at that moment), it would be a really sad way to miss everything that life has to offer.

So this section will be here for all the stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.  Poetry, prose and enigmatic quandaries and sundries.

Some scenery we might feature:


Driving Tunes

There are times when you are driving when listening to music is simply not an option.  You are driving a race car or noisy bus, you are driving as your job (Police, Public Transportation, etc.) or your car - for the moment - does not have a radio.  Otherwise, one of the best parts of driving is having some good driving music.

What do you like to listen to when you drive?  What are some of your 'old favorites'?  What's new that you can't stop listening to?  What's your favorite driving music style?

Right now, thanks to my current environs, I can't get enough of Bluegrass, Folk Rock and the like.  I am a product of the "grunge" era of alternative music, so I always love me some Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, etc.  Also, I really enjoy classical music.  I can't tell you much about it, but I appreciate the complexity and depth that abound in most classical pieces.  I am a fan of just about any song that pushes the limits, pulls out all the stops and makes you feel something.  From the most obnoxious pop song to the most obscure, 'no genre' song, if the artist makes me go "wow", it's a favorite.  Of course, some music is good because it just blends into the background and allows me to run away with my thoughts.

Anyway, here we will offer you new driving music by these categories:

Classic Hits
New Stuff
Reader Recommendations
I'm currently listening to

Driver Reviews and Stuff

Let's share a little insight here.  We've all needed to buy something that we didn't know anything about.  If your a driver, you've done research (a day or two at least) to see which product was best, then another day or two looking for the best possible deal on that item.  There again, there have been those items that you just run out to the nearest Walmart, Lowes, Target or CVS and buy the cheapest one you can find.  Let's forget  the latter category for now and focus on the things we have invested time in researching.  Reviews need not necessarily be specifically driving based.

Driver Reviews:

Gear (from tires to roof racks, grills (for your ride) to grills (for your ribs), these products are worth a look
Car Reviews

Also, not so much a review, but stuff that you ought to check out like:

How to Drive

Having driven as much as I have, it has become clear that someone must lay down the basics of driving.  I am not talking about the driver's license manual that you have to study to get your driver's license... although for some, this would be a good place to start.

No, here we will be discussing the unwritten rules of the road.  (And some of the written rules that seem to have escaped our common sense.)  Some of these unwritten rules will be universally agreed on - "Don't drive in the passing lane with your right turn signal on" - while others will be quite controversial - "If there are two lanes of traffic and you don't need to turn for several miles, there is no need to wait in the non-moving lane until you are ______ miles from your necessary turn".

Some topics here will be:

Rules of the rude
Are you a good driver
What would you do

Want to start a topic?  Got a bone to pick?  Post it in the comments on this page and we'll get it going!

Click here to view all 'How to Drive' topics

Drivers Side Airbag

C'mon out to the back yard where we got a bonfire goin' and we're solving the worlds problems.  From the outside looking in, it might seem like we're a bunch of 'airbags' (thus the title), but don't be scared, jump right in and weigh in.  Please avoid profanity and abusive language -- the kid's aren't in bed yet.  Thanks

Topics include (but are by no means limited to):

Politics (most likely rants and raves)

Want to start a topic?  Got a bone to pick?  Post it in the comments on this page and we'll get it going!

Click here to view all 'Airbag' topics

Readers' Cars

What do you drive?  What do you wish you drove?  What was your first car?  I want pictures, I want descriptions, I want video.... in fact, I want to drive your car.  If you'll let me, I would love to get behind the wheel of your car.  I love driving and I love variety.  I don't care if your car is a Zastava Koral or a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale, I would love to get behind the wheel and go for a spin with you.

Readers' Cars:

Readers' Current Cars
Readers' Future Cars
Readers' "If I had a $Billion" Cars
I Want to Drive Your Car

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Post - Because if I don't do the first one, I will never do any

Hello and welcome to The Driver's Side (or The Driver Side). This blog aims to present an opportunity for drivers to discuss things from their point of view.

Personally, I am a driver. I have driven professionally (Town Cars as a "Limo" driver), I have commuted to and from work, I have driven go-karts, golf cars, dirt bikes, panel vans, buses, trucks, boats, and just about anything else people would let me get my hands (and right foot) on.

I find that when I am driving - especially when I am all alone with the road and my thoughts - I have some really profound insights into life.

I am sure that you do to.

That is what this blog is for. I am calling all drivers. Let's talk about the road. Talk about new cars, old cars, classic cars, road etiquette (and road rage), common sense and nonsense.

What do you drive? What do you wish you drove?

  I drive a 2003 Toyota Matrix Xr. I really like this car and have no complaints about it. My next car will likely be another crossover or SUV. I've been looking at some bigger Toyotas like the Highlander, 4Runner, or Sequoia. But I also like the Venza.

I have a list (of course) of dream cars - a short, abridged version for now is:

Much more to come soon I hope.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to say "hi" on your way out.