[UPDATED] Thing Thoughts: The OneWheel Is For Social Media Influencers

onewheel

[7/30 UPDATE] I’ve added below info on the original self-balancing  One Wheel scooter (that I know of) that was designed back in 2007 by Ben Smither (upon which Free Motion’s design is clearly based).

…and if there’s one thing I never was or will be, it’s a social media influencers, ergo, the OneWheel was a mistake for me. I also value my knees, and my overall physical health and wellbeing, and the OneWheel does not really take any of those things into account as a means of personal short range transportation. Very short range transportation that’s a pain to carry when it’s time to do that.

OneWheel+ (and its predecessor and successor the XR) have been pitched as the closest thing you can get to snowboarding in the summer. Maybe for some people this is true, but for me, notsomuch. Quite the opposite in fact. For me it was unwieldy, unstable, and unusable. I say borderline because sure, there are people who likely could find better balance on this thing that I could. But here’s the thing, what it does have in common with snowboarding, makes it significantly more dangerous – that is, you are going to fall off, and in some cases, you’ll fall off by design, and that’s simply unacceptable because unlike snow, hard asphalt and the hard packed dirt trails that Future Motion markets the OneWheel as being ideal for are just that: hard. Failling on snow isn’t going to do much to you, but hitting asphalt hurts. It hurts a lot. I know. I’ve done it without the help of a OneWheel or bicycle or anything else (although I’ve fallen from both of those too). You can do exceptional damage.

Additionally, OneWheel’s regenerative coasting has no way to stop charging the battery when it reaches a full charge, and so, should you find yourself coasting down a hill and you reach full charge, in order to prevent a power surge and damage to the battery, the OneWheel simply shuts off, leading to a nose dive and you, the rider, potentially tumbling down the hill and even worse, into oncoming traffic. This is absolutely dangerous beyond an acceptable level. It is also doubtful that regenerative coasting adds any kind of significant overall range to the OneWheel’s cap of seven miles.

onewheel

The method for activating the balance is hit and miss and depends largely on the type of shoe you’re wearing and your ability to break contact with both sensors in the pad. I never mastered it, and I don’t think most people do. So you spend most of your time dismounting it by awkwardly tilting it heel or toe side until it tips over on you. Not particularly smooth looking. The diameter of the wheel may also lead to a very uncomfortable stance and, in my case, knee pain. For reference, I’m 5 feet, eleven inches tall.

Speaking of stance, let’s talk about stability, it doesn’t have it. Because it has a singular footprint and its axis and center of gravity are in fact, dead center, every single variation of the surface you are riding on translates in to some kind of roll or yaw movement that you don’t see coming. Turns are wide, and if you are approaching a blind corner on a sidewalk, pray nobody’s coming up from the other corner because you will take them out.

When you’re not riding the OneWheel (due to its frequent need for charging or in areas it’s simply not allowed…like the place you rode it to, to begin with), it’s a royal pain to carry around. The ends feature a graspable lip, or you can buy an aftermarket handle (I did), but you also have no choice but to buy a fender as well, lest you want all the junk on the OneWheel’s tire rubbing up on your hipster chinos or shorts (spoiler alert: you don’t and it will), but setting aside figuring out how to carry it, there’s also the matter of its sheer size and weight. It’s big. Bigger than photos would suggest and because it has its giant kart wheel in the center, you have to sustain its weight at a distance from your body.

[Update] Another thing about OneWheel that had always irked me somewhat was their claim of being super innovative and unique in the transport space. They weren’t. The OneWheel’s design was largely cribbed from Ben Smither who developed the platform back in 2007. The two main differences between what Ben created and what Free Motion is selling are that Ben’s design utilized a belt-drive system and had low quality video of pasty white British lads riding it in a parking lot somewhere in the UK and OneWheels utilize a hub motor in the wheel and feature videos of tanned lean surfer hipster dudes and ladies  riding it in on California coast highways, forests, and beaches. Okay, and the foot sensor, but the foot sensor in the OneWheel really isn’t that good yet.

I had wanted to include the above when I originally posted this but the original site and info had moved to a different URL so I had to do a little digging to find it.

But let’s give it credit where credit is due. The build quality was utterly superb (as it should be being made in a small facility in Santa Cruz, California), it’s tough as nails for a complex electronic device, and let’s face it, it’s cool. Really cool. I got tons of praise during my time riding it (little did they know what was going through my mind on the thing…I still said ‘thank you.’). But the issue there, is that it doesn’t bestow it’s coolness onto uncool people who do cool things. I snowboard, I ride motorcycles, I travel to the ends of the earth, but people don’t think I’m cool, they think I’m foolish and dangerous (not the cool kind of dangerous, the kind they don’t want around). So in the end, a symbiotic relationship the OneWheel and I did not make, so I sold it.

Really, you’re going to go down. And knee pain, you’re going to feel a lot of knee pain.

Rover Thoughts: So Far, Bertram’s Doing Okay…

rover

Well, if I’m being completely honest, Bertram the Range Rover Sport L320 doing only okay in terms of reliability and cost. If you want to look at the RoverLog Spreadsheet, you can see that since purchasing Bertram in March of 2018, I’ve spent a $5,500 on it (in round numbers). But that total doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. This is due in part to the amount of elective work I’ve done in the form of upgrades and non-critical repairs that I was aware of at the time I bought Bertram, that did not affect its drivability (ie like when Clarkson, Hammond, and May buy used challenge vehicles that clearly don’t work like they did when showroom new).

If we want to look at repairs that were totally utterly necessary for me to drive it around, then as of this posting, we should only look at Line 4 and Line 8: The door latches and the air conditioning compressor (which failed on what must have been the hottest day of the year thus far here in Los Angeles). If we accept that I elected to fix other items that could have gone unaddressed, then that means the total repair bill on a 13 year old Range Rover Sport with 130,000 miles is roughly $2300. Spread over five months, that comes out to roughly $461 in repairs per month.

$461 per month is about $30 per month more than my financed Ford Focus EV was costing me, however I was also dining out 3-4 nights a week at between $20-$30 per meal while I waited for the damn thing to charge up since I was unable to charge at home. So right now it’s in line with the Focus…however, let’s take a look at a spreadsheet showing what I’m getting or not getting for this current $30 monthly disparity:

As you can see, a 2006 Range Rover Sport offers a lot more than a 2016 Ford Focus Electric…except maybe for gas mileage (or the equivalent cost in an EV, aka eMPG). By the way, I’ll probably add to the smackdown from time to time, just for fun.

I realize I’m manipulating numbers here to make myself feel a little bit better about the overall amount of money I’ve spent on Bertram since I got it. If we’re being objective about the money I’ve spent, it’s more than Kelley Blue Book subjectively rates its average value. But I didn’t get this truck expecting it to go up in value. Anyone who does that with any car that costs less than  $1 million (no I am not kidding), is going on a fool’s errand. No I got this as a comfy workhorse that could service just about any occasion thrown at it and given that I didn’t spend $60,000 on it new, I still think I’m well ahead of the game. In fact, I’m basically one <$400 cruise control repair away from having a vehicle that performs like it did when it was new. In other words, a $60k vehicle for $13,500.

Of course, when I parked him and got out to go type up this post, I noticed that my coolant level sensor had failed. Fortunately, that’s only like a $35 repair.

Okay, make that a $13,535 vehicle…

Geek Thoughts: San Diego Comic-Con 2018

You know how there are things nearby you that you never do because they’re nearby you and so you figure you can do them any time but then one day you’re on your deathbed and realized you never did those things, well, for me that was San Diego Comic-Con, almost.

I say almost for two reasons:

  1. Because I’m nowhere near my deathbed (I hope)
  2. Because I finally did Comic-Con for the first time this year.

The circumstances surrounding this first visit are pretty straightforward. I had befriended a rather talented individual and voice actor by the name of Wally Wingert (check out his IMDB) and one of his compadres Mark Fullerton (a connoisseur of all things pop and geek culture) and they had both won the lottery for onsite Comic-Con hotels and to host a panel at Comic-Con, a double-whammy of awesomeness. Given our shared passioned, I proceeded to assist with the Keynote deck that Wally used for his panel, and the whole panel aspect of things was an incredible success AND I got what many consider to be the most coveted of Comic-Con recognitions: A panel placard with my name on it.

I mentioned how successful the panel was, but the yang to that yin was that, it being my first time, I beautifully, brilliantly, brazenly failed to do anything else right with regards to Comic-Con. What I learned was that:

  • The Exhibition hall is a marketplace, one that can largely be avoided unless you want to spend money on collectibles and comics. As I am not currently collecting anything, I did not need to spend much time there.
  • Film and TV studios no longer promoted their upcoming projects on the exhibition hall floor and that had mostly moved across the street and into the adjoining hotels and public spaces of Down town San Diego.
  • The Exhibition hall was about 50% legitimate comic book “conventioneering” with numerous dealers and a large chunk of the space devoted to individual artists. I had heard Comic-Con had lost its way (for better or worse) and no longer devoted this much space to comics and artists but it looks like they’re back and that’s a good thing and makes me happy.
  • Comic-Con has stopped paying for sexy cosplay “con-girls” to walk the floor. I did not see anything approaching the photos that would get posted to blogs in the mid-to-late 2000’s and 2010’s. Rather, I kept seeing ridiculously ripped shirtless cosplay “con-men” and so I have to say ladies, this was your year. If you didn’t show up, you missed out.
  • I didn’t bring sunblock and a good hat. I should have, because the interactive experiences across the street from the convention center out in the blistering sun would have been fun but I got sunburnt on my first day and sun sick that night. It was hot as f***.
  • The exhibition hall will not give you room to breathe. It is packed beyond belief. Give it an hour or two, then move on.
  • Go to the panels!! There are so many interesting ones to learn from and I regret not giving more of my time to that.
  • If you’re driving down for Comic-Con…just pay the $50 daily rate for parking. Don’t try to cheap out and walk. It’s not worth it.
  • I think I mentioned this before but it bears repeating: bring as much sun protection as you can for the amazing stuff across the street from the convention center.
  • No matter how close you may think you live, you’re probably better off getting a hotel and paying for it. Of course if this isn’t an option with regards to your travel budget, don’t not go, just know it’s going to be a little more challenging. I canceled my hotel due to needing to repair my car’s air conditioning, and I should have just paid for the hotel too.

Getting back to the panel I helped with, it was titled ‘I Was Cosplay Before Cosplay Was Cool’ It was a look back through Wally’s early years building costumes from his favorite comic-book, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror shows and movies back in the 60’s to the present, long before reference material and patterns had become ubiquitous and easy to make. Some of the improvisations Wally made were amazingly effective, many the result of no better a reference than a black and white 35mm photo he took on the spur of the moment from an episode playing on his television set (long before DVR’s let you pause of course). The Panel and subsequent Q&A inspired me to try and apply for a couple of my own Comic-Con panel ideas in the years to come, and I can’t wait to go back again, and again, and again.

Oh and one more thing I kind of failed at, was decent photographs, so hopefully the ones you see on this page will suffice. I didn’t really get anything good enough for the gallery. Maybe next year.

[UPDATED] Movie Thoughts: Touring the Creature Effects Shop StudioADI

StudioADI Amalgamated Dynamics Inc

[UPDATE: Added a slideshow of photos on 7/18/18] When I was a young lad (still am by the way…) I attended a Showbiz Expo at the LA Convention center in 1992. One of the booths was for a publisher called Cinefex, who was promoting their latest issue of their incredible behind-the-scenes special effects magazine, and the upcoming film Alien3. This was my first introduction to the work of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr and their company, Amagalmated Dynamics Inc., aka StudioADI.

Okay that’s a little refresher of the flick if you haven’t see it [in a long time]. The pair were(are) alumni of the Stan Winston studio and have gone on to create the creatures for a litany of sci-fi, horror, comedy, and well any other genre of movie you could think of.

My tour was led by Alec Gillis, a gentleman and scholar who has a rather hilarious IG account and should add comedy to the list of services provided by StudioADI (an abbreviation Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. later adopted). The tour was of particular interest to me as Alec not only covered the making-of and cultural aspects of the effects industry, but also the business-of-the-business and memories of the Winston days as well.

At times along the tour, we were allowed to take photos, (which can be found in the gallery), and then there were times when we couldn’t due to the nature of upcoming projects or works that Gillis knew studios wouldn’t be happy with him sharing the aftermath of a given project with the world.

The trophy room (that’s what I’m calling it), was spectacular and contained souvenirs of their work dating back almost thirty years, including items that had been screen used in Alien3 and featured in that first Cinefex I got (FYI Cinefex did exist before Alien3). You can see a plethora of them in the panorama at the top of this screen (utilizing my recently refined technique of course…) and it’s a challenge to try and name every single movie that has an artifact displayed here.

Of course there was more than this to see and I do encourage a visit to the gallery, and after you’re done there, you should hop on over to StudioADI’s YouTube channel as it’s full of great behind the scenes videos showing how some of our favorite movie creatures were made and then operated behind the scenes.

Rover Thoughts: The RoverLog is Live!

Well, as promised, I finally built the RoverLog!

Rover RoverLog Range Rover Sport l320 repairs and reliability

The RoverLog will be the central repository of all relevant data I can think of with regards to maintaining, servicing, and repairing the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport L320 I bought in 2018 with 126,000 miles on the odometer. I hope this log serves to entertain, inform and educate on just what a high mileage vehicle like this needs to stay running. I fully recognize that this Rover is going to need work. It’s no spring chicken, but I love it, and this is an objective log of the TLC it will get from here on out or something in my life changes significantly and I have to let it go (I certainly hope not. Head on over to the dedicated page (which you can also find a link to in the menu at the top of my page) for further info, an explanation of the spreadsheet is included in the spreadsheet as well.



I hope this sheet serves as a good representation of Rover reliability from 126,000 miles onward. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the service history for this vehicle from the dealer it was serviced at, as they cited privacy concerns related to the former owner…and I don’t think they want to get sued for something, even if that’s not my intent (spoiler alert: it’s not). Maybe some day I’ll figure out how to get my hands on that data and integrated it into the living spreadsheet I’ve created. Of course if you have any ideas on how to go about that, I’m all ears. Feel free to contact me. This would qualify as nice correspondence and I always look forward to that.

Onward and upward and above and beyond!

Thing Thoughts: Taylor Stitch has Gone Global

Taylor Stitch Jack Shirt Made in California

There’s nothing I love more than small local homegrown businesses that put out exceptional quality stuff via local manufacturing. One of the businesses I love that does that is Taylor Stitch, although they aren’t so much anymore and that makes me sad.

I discovered Taylor Stitch back in 2016 when I lost a lot of weight and no longer fit into any of my clothes. Of course since I wasn’t spending as much money on food, naturally, I decided to put it into clothes that fit. Having already been enamored of US-made stuff (which consistently cost more but lasted much much longer) I started looking up local clothing designers and manufacturers and came across Taylor Stitch, a small company based out of San Francisco that was making their clothing in California. I jumped on the opportunity to redo do things. For all intents and purposes, I have since become a Taylor Stitch collector. I have bought their Jack shirt in numerous colors and also own their Chore Pant in all available colors, including some not available on the site (only available in their San Francisco stores.). The Chore pant is awesome, but it does suffer from some fading issues. I might cover that later in a separate post.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, Taylor Stitch decided to move much of their production overseas to, most notably, China. One of the things I like about Taylor Stitch is that they often let customers vote on future clothing releases by sending you to a survey site to gauge your interest in upcoming releases. The most recent survey was entirely items made in China. In the past, they had outsourced items like some of their leather accessories and their Democratic Chinos to factories in Spain. It would appear that both Spanish-made items were/are consistent in quality to the goods they were making here in the US and this may be that they were made under the auspices of Taylor Stitch’s initial charter and what it expected in outsourced goods. In fact the only real issue I have with the Democratic China (which is an awesome pair of pants) is its use of a print of a map of San Francisco inside the pants…despite being made in another country. It’s just weird.

Unfortunately, I have no faith in the quality, materials, or fit and finish of items made in China. I’ve consistently been let down by clothes and shoes coming from China, and while I understand that it allows fashion designers to tag items with a 100,000% markup on items, it also allows them to rely solely on their branding and visual design to earn repeat business, which they get by importing Chinese-made clothing that [possibly deliberately] wears out and falls apart quickly. Given that there is little to no accountability and quality control, this is to be expected from countries with garment factories that place high volume/low price above high quality/low output. One consistently sees a difference here.

To digress for a moment, last year I made the switch from Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star lows (made in China) to SOM Footwear Zephyrs made in Colorado. The difference in fit, finish, and manufacturing is astonishing. I have highly arched small toes which would wear holes through the sides of Chucks in under three months and the sides of the midsole would crack and split. I am now eight months in wearing my Zephyrs and there is ZERO sign of fatigue in the shoe fabric and the soles aren’t cracking at all. On top of that, these shoes can be resoled for $35. I’m so happy with them, I haven’t ordered a resole yet…I ordered a new pair of SOMs (the Briquette) to start a collection, and will get my Zephyr’s resoled once the Briquettes get here. You can make the argument that the Chucks are cheaper, but with the option of resoling, the SOMs will outlast any single pair of Chucks by years. I’d show you a comparison pic, but I tossed the Chucks out eight months ago. I’m still getting used to the whole notion of documenting things here. I covered SOMs briefly in an earlier post when they sent me stuff for winning a contest, I’ll talk about the shoes more themselves in a later post.

Getting back to Taylor Stitch, For me, the red flag went up when I pre-ordered/crowd-funded my favorite cut of shirt ever, the Taylor Stitch Jack insofar as the reverse jacquard variant was the only one I’ve received that wasn’t made in California, rather, it was made in Portugal. The difference in sizing and cut was noticeable and I wonder how it will hold up. In fact, as I write this, I wonder if perhaps Taylor Stitch’s owners sold the company recently, whether as an ouster or part of a planned exit with venture capital investors. If that is the case, that is unfortunate and I would highly recommend you go buy up whatever US-made goods remain in their inventory, I know I’ll be taking a careful look myself.

So in conclusion, I have every intention of continuing to support Taylor Stitch’s domestic efforts, but the more production they move overseas, the less interested I become.