This memoir by an African-raised white British ex-pat, now living in America, details an extraordinary upbringing in various African countries. The stories are often wild, hard to believe, or simply depressing. The author’s style can be described as in your face. It is certainly unconventional. Her family seems to have done nothing but drink beer, smoke, farm tobacco, and survive the most horrid conditions imaginable. Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi – they lived in all of them. They seemed to be always on the brink of insolvency, yet they always had money and position superior to the Africans, many of whom were their servants. I get the impressions that they both loved Africa and Africans yet were staunch racist white supremacists, if that is possible. I certainly didn’t admire their lifestyle or life choices as depicted in the book, but it’s difficult to know how much was hyperbole. In the end I can only say I found it a relatively original and entertaining read.
I bought a new car yesterday, a Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge. Actually I bought it over a year ago, or at least reserved one with a deposit, but it was delivered yesterday. It’s Volvo’s first foray into all-electric vehicles (EV’s). The XC40 refers to body size and shape and is consistent with the regular gas XC40, their smallest SUV. The P8 refers to it being all-electric and distinguishes it from the T5 which is a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV). Both share the Recharge name.
I drove it to the gym and back today, the first time I drove it, although I’d taken a demo model on a test drive a few weeks ago. I’m not ready to give it a real review, but I’ll give some first impressions. Since I’ve been driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf (another EV) for the last 10 years, I’ll do a few comparisons.
The Volvo is small for an SUV but still has a heftier, bigger feel than the Leaf, a hatchback. The suspension feels firmer. I sit higher in the Volvo, and I like that better visibility. The interior is much more luxurious than the Leaf as you would expect at its hefty price tag. The Volvo’s seats are 1: electrically 3-way adjustable, 2. leather, and 3: heated. The Leaf’s are none of the above. The Leaf has a lousy heater, so when I’d go to the gym in my shorts and T-shirt on a cold winter morning I’d shiver all the way there, which is why I always wore sweats and stripped those off once at the gym. Today in the Volvo I needed no sweats. It wasn’t too cold, but chilly enough that I turned on the seat heater. Within a minute, probably less, I was very comfortable. In fact, I had to turn it off after a few minutes.
Driving on local streets, I decided to turn off the one-pedal driving mode, which is Volvo’s version of regenerative braking. I didn’t like it on the test drive with the demo. I’ll discuss that more in another post later after I’ve driven more. One thing I didn’t like is how I had trouble seeing all the controls and indicators. The interior is mostly black. The controls on the door, black buttons on black background, are invisible to me when I’m wearing my sunglasses, which is 98% of the time. I had to park in the sun, take off my sunglasses and put on my regular bifocals in order to adjust the side mirrors. The button for the seat heating is easy to see, but there is a small red light next to it that indicates whether it is on or off. It’s very dim, though, and I couldn’t see that either until I took my sunglasses off. When I pushed it to turn it off, it felt like heat was still on, and, in fact, I had only turned it down. Fortunately, since Volvo’s infotainment system is integrated with Google, I just told Google assistant to turn off the heat seating and it did. Yes, that’s right, the car is an Android device and many function will respond to voice commands. Neat.
When I pulled into the parking spot at the gym the car’s parking assist feature warned me as I got almost up to the tire stop. I really like the 360º camera view feature which makes parking in a tight spot a breeze, even backing up. The Volvo is a much superior car to the Leaf and I’m learning more about it every day. There will be a learning curve. These are my first impressions, and I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll post more about it from time to time after I’ve driven it more.
I went for my bi-weekly six-mile run at Rancho San Antonio (RSA) today. It’s the hottest day this year for running and I was thirsty by mile 5. Finally I could drink and douse myself with cool water. RSA has drinking fountains at strategic locations, but those have been turned off for months. First for COVID safety they bagged and taped them, but people just ripped through the bags and drank anyway, so then they turned off the water completely. The bags and tape are long gone. It’s been like that for months. I’ve checked them a few times and none of them worked until today.
I parked in the Horse Trailer Lot. I didn’t check the fountain by the rest room since I was at the other end by the trailhead. There is one drinking fountain right at the trailhead where the stretch bars are, but that one had no water pressure. It just dribbled. The one at the beginning to the Permanente Creek Trail coming out of the main parking lot, however, had plenty of good, cool water. There is also one at the west end of the farm, but I didn’t check that one, either. I’m not sure when the change happened, but at least there is water available on the trail.