Rover Thoughts: Smog Check Update –> FAILED!

Well I certainly didn’t expect this lovely 2006 Range Rover Sport with 126,000 miles to fail its first smog check since I got it. It turns out it failed on a technicality: finicky cruise control that triggered a check-engine light. While the vehicle passed its emissions and leakage tests, unfortunately, I had experienced a check-engine light when, for some odd reason, the vehicle’s cruise control feature decided to go belly-up.

Range Rover sport smog check fail

The plot does thicken though…

I had noticed the cruise control acting up with an occasional message saying “Cruise Control Not Permitted” that popped up in the status display in the gauge cluster, but I never gave it much thought.

Range Rover sport l320 cruise control fault

My parents’ LR4 from time to time threw that message and also a “Normal Suspension Height Only” warning, and both were typically resolved by shutting it down and starting it back up. A later search of the weirdly-passionate Land Rover owner forums on the internets turned up several folks who had had my problem and attributed it to a dirty connection between the steering wheel controls and the steering column electronics.

Range Rover sport smog check fail cruise control

But what was unique to my situation was that it had actually triggered a check engine light, and that caused the smog fail. No, Bertram wasn’t making the air any worse (than any other equivalent vehicle) nor was Bertram poisoning the water table. Nope, Bertram was just being a cruise control diva. And the best part was…this happened on the way to the smog check station!

What I later discovered, is that what triggered the check-engine light, were my persistent attempts to use the cruise control despite it being “not permitted.” It would seem the car really wanted to put its foot down and get me to stop pushing its buttons…literally

And so, to that end, it was off to Euro West Rovers to diagnose the problem, and also get the one necessary repair done to the vehicle to make it usable day to day: The rear passenger door latches.


[Editor’s Note: You may have noticed that this is a new category – “Rover Thoughts.” As I will be chronicling my time as a weathered-Land Rover owner, I figured it deserved its own category, I’ll be adjusting previous posts accordingly]

Movie Thoughts: Solo – A Star Wars Story was GREAT!!

Ok I’m baffled at the bad press surrounding Solo: A Star Wars story. It was great. I absolutely loved it and I have to say that I’m really liking this whole Star Wars Anthology approach to things.

Now, as promised after seeing Deadpool 2, this was next on my list. Read on. Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Solo – A Star Wars Story was GREAT!!”

20K Thoughts: I’ve given it some thought and…

Time for some morning thoughts! Okay, I’ve thoughtsed, I’m going to try to resurrect the content from my original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fan site that I built as a teenager at this domain twenty years ago.

20k thoughts

I know, it’s hard to believe that logo was high resolution back in 1998.

It seems I still get a lot of web traffic to outdated links from that site, I still love the flick, and many of you do to, so in the coming weeks (maybe months…bear with me here), you should see a menu option at the top of the window allowing you to go back and look at that content, assuming I can still get those files from my days with the Macintosh PowerBook 5300cs to work.

Carry on 🙂

Movie Thoughts: Deadpool 2 was Meta-Fantastic

Mind you, I may be a little biased  toward Deadpool as I think all the X-movies have risen to the occasion and been better than I had expected they would be going in.

It’s rare to go see a movie that just tosses all the rules (except for Rule #2: Label everything in the refrigerator) to the four winds. What else really is there to say? A fair amount actually… Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Deadpool 2 was Meta-Fantastic”

Coffee Thoughts: BLVD CAFECITO – My Other New Coffee Stop

BLVD Cafecito is my other coffee-go-to in Magnolia park, in addition to my recently discovered stop, The Palm. Also, we’re adding a new category: Coffee Thoughts…which means another category is inevitable: Beer Thoughts.

blvd cafecito

In upping my coffee game and morning routine to accommodate my personal policies on human interaction, Irecently-and-happily discovered the newly-opened Palm Coffee Bar, and also turned to BLVD Cafecito, a small coffee bar running by a gentleman of cuban descent, that serves up Intelligentsia coffee. Like The Palm, there was a discount if you bring a thermos and don’t use a paper cup.

Inside there’s intimate (cramped) seating for about four people, but if you can snag a seat, it’s a nice spot to sip coffee and read your kindle if you can read without being distracted by music and customer banter.

To be fair, the music isn’t loud, and the customers aren’t typically a bother either…unlike some other places.

One thing I’m looking forward to is the extension they’re building on the right, “BLVD Taco.”

Anything great thing about Blvd Cafecito is that they donate to local school programs. I live down the street from an elementary school (and also filming location for Doug Demuro when he’s in LA…more on Doug in posts to come) that proudly waves the Cafecito flag and I’m all for that. You may have noticed, but to the right of my posts is a banner for Donors Choose, a wonderful site for donating to and crowdfunding public school programs and classrooms specifically. Please check them out. $10 can do a lot.

But now, I must get back to sipping coffee…

Design Thoughts: The BMW Alpha Concept

The BMW Alpha is a rather interesting amalgamation of brilliant high tech conceptual design, old school manufacturing with vintage guts, and a blatant disregard for actual usability. It’s fantastic.

Currently on display at the Petersen, the BMW Alpha is the brainchild of Mehmet Doruk Erdem and sorta-but-also Mark Atkinson…and BMW if we’re crediting where the guts came from. Originally a purely computer-aided  design study with no real plans for production, Erdem’s design was all the rage on the internets back in 2016. It caught the eye of Mark Atkinson who in turn made it a reality.

The thing is, when it comes to riding it, well, it’s terrible. Atkinson refers to it as a lakebed racer (think: El Mirage in California, or Bonneville in Utah near Atkinson) but videos on the internet (if you can sift through all the cats) show that this thing is probably even too low to the ground to perform its intended purpose.BMW alpha

Intent is a loose term here though. I suppose its true intent was design for the sake of design, which effectively puts it into the realm of art. Some feel that art’s only purpose is to exist and to have no other function…than itself and I think that describes this perfectly. It’s ridiculously overpowered, totally unstable, and probably quite delicate. It’s meant to be parked and admired. It’s art.


BMW alpha


One thing that’s interesting to notice is that, under scrutiny, the signature ‘twin-kidney’ radiator grille that defines all BMWs (apart from the roundel) is rather asymmetrical, likely hand formed and quickly at that. The odd thing about that is that a 3D printer was used for much of the fabrication, so I’m puzzled as to how that one important element wound up with a human touch.



BMW alpha


Keep in mind that if you aren’t looking closely, you won’t notice this on what is otherwise an exquisite object to behold. I really wish it was truly ride-able though. Perhaps beneath that massive faring (when lie BMW K75 guts), there might be room for a compact compressor to add an air suspension of sorts, because this thing is way too cool to sit parked in museums and at shows forever. It needs to be ridden.


Photos are also available in the hi-res Gallery. Thanks for taking a look.

Car Thoughts: Important Historical Vehicles in Odd Places – A Series – The Bungatti

This Bungatti story isn’t about barn find vehicles. There’s an excellent site for those types of stories. Instead this is about singularly important vehicles that one either learns the importance of after the fact, or simply doesn’t expect to come across in a given location.

For our first example, we’re going to talk about Kenny Howard “Von Dutch’s” Bungatti.

The Bungatti is one of the last survivors of the great historical Car Florida Migration of the 1980’s

von dutch bungatti

And that’s what we’re going to talk about… Continue reading “Car Thoughts: Important Historical Vehicles in Odd Places – A Series – The Bungatti”

Live Thoughts: My First KROQ Weenie Roast

That’s really all there is to say about it, I went to the KROQ Weenie Roast. The lineup certainly had its fan base there, but I think there had been stronger lineups in the past. Of course, I also didn’t have the wherewithal to go in the past, for which I have only myself to blame. I tried to live stream, and the result wasn’t great as I was limited to using my phone. The cell reception inside the StubHub Center in Carson isn’t the greatest unfortunately. I think my favorite act of the night was probably Cold War Kids. They were utterly flawless.

Anyway, here’s a selection of archived live stream footage that seemed to come out, well, just okay. Enjoy!

Local Thoughts: Heritage Square Needs Work

I should have titled my trip to Heritage Square as another live stream fail (similarly to Hearst Castle), but there was something about Heritage Square that offset my live stream errors and evened everything out: It wasn’t a very good museum.

Heritage Square Museum

I was really looking forward to using my cobbled-together vlogging system for the first time here, but wasn’t able to, not because I forgot a critical component (although that could have been the reason), but rather because photography wasn’t allowed inside the houses, and that’s just lame. Maybe there was a time when one could argue that camera flashes could damage vintage preserved surfaces on an artifact or fabric or room interior, but nobody uses camera flashes anymore (unless they’re the NoH8 Campaign or Terry Richardson and the latter is a creep getting his just desserts…never understood the appeal of his work or how he got work and why I can’t get work) because camera sensors are so good and lenses are so fast that flashes are unnecessary. Continue reading “Local Thoughts: Heritage Square Needs Work”