Cadillac CTS Review

img_8702.jpgI recently had the pleasure of test-driving a 2017 Cadillac CTS.  The CTS-V sitting in the showroom was tempting (pictured above with those massive brakes and 600-something horsepower), but I knew I would feel much guiltier taking a car I had no intention of buying out for a spin with a salesperson in tow if it was a $100k, 2000 made per year car as opposed to a $50k car.

 

 

IMG_8596.2Our salesperson was an older gentleman, over 70.  I want to say 81, but now that I think about it, that seems kind of extreme.  This was just something he did while “retired” though, so 81 might be correct.  Super pleasant and very knowledgeable about the car.

The car had some very cool bells and whistles that I hadn’t seen before.  The entire center console was touch sensitive — volume was controlled by a touch slider, seat heating and cooling was a force touch button with haptic feedback — and it all lifted up on a hinge to reveal a small storage area.

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Another neat feature was the left part of my seat vibrating as a car entered into my blind spot (while I had it in reverse; I’m told it would do the same if I had my turn signal on in that direction).

All very cool features that I wouldn’t mind having on my next car, but that I could also do without.  Things have a tendency to go wrong in cars, and if a car has more things it has more things that can go wrong.  The first thing that flashed into my head was an image of the center console stuck in the up position for whatever reason (probably because the salesperson struggled to get it to close because he was hitting the wrong touch sensitive spot).  Also annoying would be if it was stuck in the down position — all of a sudden whatever you have stowed away behind there might as well be in Fort Knox.

But, you have to strike a balance and take some bad with the good.  Both of our cars have push button start with “keyless” entry, and I’d opt for that feature every time, even though the key fob battery life is shorter and I occasionally have issues when I have multiple sets of keys in my pocket.

Back to the car — this car was comfortable.  The 2.0 turbo puts out about 270hp or so.  There was considerable turbo lag when mashing at low RPMs it while the trans was in a high gear (I expected the trans to shift but it didn’t), so I suspect it’s a traditional turbo and not a twin-scroll or variable geometry or anything fancy like that.  I briefly switched the drive mode into Sport and the trans into manual, and the shifts themselves were quick and crisp, with downshifts being accompanied by a nice blip of the revs.  The response time (time between me pushing the paddle and the car shifting gears) was not so quick nor crisp — I’d guesstimate half a second.  I don’t know if that’s considered quick or not these days, but it felt like I was waiting around.

All of the switch gear and interior materials felt top-notch.  The interior smelled nice.  All makes seem to have a different new car smell, and this car smelled decidedly upscale.  Nothing offensive, but wafts of high quality leather.  The gauges were clear with a large LCD screen between two mechanical gauges.  The center caps on the needles looked machined which I liked quite a bit.

My wife and kid were loving it in the back.

As a family sedan, I give this car a two thumbs up.  Comfortable, quiet, smooth.  I guess it’s exactly what you’d expect a Cadillac to be, but modern with a fairly tight suspension and a solid powertrain.

2017 Escalade interior
CTS interior

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Best Baby Wrap and Carrier

Like sunscreen and strollers, I became obsessed with finding the best and most comfortable baby wrap and carrier when baby girl was younger.  I tried the original ergo carrier and found it to be uncomfortable and too much material for it to be breathable or cool for the baby.

This was when eBay was our best friend.  We sold that carrier and after much research purchased a Lillebaby carrier.  It had a mesh material that would hopefully keep baby and mom cool in the stifling heat, and an ergonomic shoulder/back strap.  This carrier, however, was as uncomfortable as the original ergo.  The torso length was far too long and the ergonomic strap was pretty pointless and silly-looking with my outfits.  It was also difficult to carry baby for long periods of time as she got heavier and the mesh material felt rough and scratchy against baby girl’s skin.  In paparazzi photos though, Liam Helmsworth and Ryan Reynolds were both seen wearing a Lillebaby.  I think if you have a similar body frame as those guys, it might be more comfortable, than on someone as short (5’4″) as myself.  It is designed by a Scandinavian company, isn’t it?

Anyway, after much persuasion and arm-twisting on my part, we then sold the Lillebaby and got the ergo 360.  Although this was an improvement on the original ergo and the Lillebaby, it didn’t take more than 40 minutes before my hips, shoulders, and back would start aching.  If baby girl finally fell asleep when I wore it around the house, and I wanted to put her down to bed, I’d leave the room and then undo the giant Velcro waist strap as to not wake her.  The Velcro strap was pretty annoying too because you couldn’t make minor adjustments easily once you had the baby in the carrier.  This is a a major dealbreaker.  I am able to change the waist and shoulder straps throughout the time that I am wearing my toddler now with my Tula.   How tight or loose we want the straps changes depending on if she’s sleepy, how long I’ve been carrying her, and the activity.

In the end, I found two amazing carriers, one of which I still use to carry my 30 pound 2.5 year old toddler for more than an hour at a time, with hardly any discomfort:

Baby Tula Ergonomic Carrier – Urbanista – Baby:  I have no idea how, but all of the slight differences in various carriers, make a huge difference on your pain and stamina when wearing them.  I found the Tula carrier, after poring over countless blogs and forums about babywearing.  This carrier is the only one you will ever need to buy.  Don’t waste your money on the other ones.  We got the toddler size on Amazon.  She was around 18-19 pounds when we got it, and I was debating whether or not to get one, since she was already much older (almost 13 months), was walking, etc..  I regret a lot of stuff that we purchased when we had the baby, but this is not one of them.  I only wish I had gotten it from the beginning.  I am constantly using it.  Even now, when she is 2.5 years old, I bring it with me, when we take the train, go to the zoo, museum, on the plane, on vacation, etc..  I can easily carry her for an hour, without being uncomfortable or have any back, shoulder, or hip pain.  She weighs 30 pounds too and was a big baby from the start.  The Tula has so many cute designs too.

Solly Baby Wrap:  I follow them on Instagram and they honestly seem like really nice people and I love their story.  They are living the dream.  That’s reason enough to want to support their business.  However, their wrap is also pretty awesome.


I had a hard time picking one, especially when comparing it to the Moby wrap or the Boba, on Amazon, which have thousands of reviews, but I chose the Solly for a couple of reasons.

I read that the other ones are made of thicker material, and, in the dry heat of southern California, it’s important to pick one that is breathable and cool.  The Solly wrap is thinner, but stretchy.  They also focus on making ones with really cute colors and prints.  I also read that the Solly is much shorter in length, in comparison to the Moby, and that for more petite women, the Solly was much better suited.  We babysat one of my friend’s four month old a couple of months ago, and I was able to bust out my Solly wrap again, after not using it once our baby got much bigger, and it helped the baby fall asleep right away and kept him calm, despite being in a new environment.  I credit his unusually long naps that day to the Solly wrap.

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His mom had given me a clipboard to rigorously mark how long his naps were and details about his feedings.  She told me afterwards that his naps are usually much shorter, and was shocked to hear how long he had napped for that day.  When I dropped him off later that day, I lent her my wrap just in case.

It really is so freeing to be able to put your baby in a secure wrap, and to have your hands and arms free.  I couldn’t even get my own drink from the refrigerator pre-Wrap era.  I felt my independence come back that day my Solly wrap came in the mail.

Wearing a regular baby carrier is not as comfortable as a wrap in certain situations.  If you’re at home, doing housework, or walking around on the plane, you want to stay comfortable and as light as possible, and the Solly wrap is perfect for that.  I can thank my Solly wrap for not completely losing my sanity, when it became clear that the baby wanted to be held almost non-stop.

On vacation, I traveled with both the Solly and the Tula.  If the weather was more humid and sticky, I wanted to have the Solly and wear it instead of wearing a heavier carrier.  The Tula is great for when you want to put the baby down easily.  I recommend both brands though to all of my friends.

Açaí Bowls

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As a practitioner of BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) it’s impossible to avoid the topic of açaí, a Central and South American fruit known for its numerous health benefits.  Of course none of these benefits are verified by the FDA, but do a quick Google and you’ll see all sorts of amazing claims, from heart health, to weight loss, to aiding digestion — sounds too good to be true so it probably is, but they taste great and the concoction known as the “açaí bowl” combines a number of delicious and healthy goodies into an easy to eat, refreshing package.IMG_1581.jpg

The açaí is the purple portion you see at the bottom.  Usually sourced in frozen packs which are blended with juice to make what’s essentially açaí smoothie.  In this particular bowl that’s topped with granola, bananas, and strawberries.  Blueberries, coconut flakes, and honey are also common additions.  I think most açaí bowls also include guarana, which gives it a kick of caffeine.  This particular açaí bowl is from a Juice It Up! in Irvine. Açaí Republic in Tustin is also a great place to get these.

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If you want to try making one of these at home, check out Rener Gracie’s video on Youtube for some great ideas.  Short version:  blend the frozen packs with frozen grapes to make the purple base you see above and let your imagination run wild.  Raisins add a different texture, and fruits like papaya are a welcome addition.

Amafruits Acai Berry Puree – Pure & Unsweetened – 24 Smoothie Packs

iMac Memory Upgrade

Recently picked up a 27″ iMac — the midrange model with 1TB Fusion drive (a hybrid hdd/ssd drive) and 8GB of memory.  It became immediately clear that 8GB simply isn’t enough, so I hopped on Amazon and ordered this for about $100:

27″ iMac’s have 4 user-accessible memory slots behind a door on the back of the machine.

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By adding the two 8GB DIMMs I bought to the two existing 4GB DIMMs I tripled the memory for a hundred bucks.  Not bad!

A Chick-fil-a Franchise Costs $10,000

Unlike other franchises, it doesn’t cost millions of dollars in the bank to operate a Chick-fil-a franchise, like McDonald’s or even a Jollibee’s.  The competition is stiff and they only pick maybe 1 in 20,000 applicants, I vaguely remember reading.  They interview your family, friends and associates.  You don’t have ownership over it either, but rather operate it.  If you passed away, it goes back to Chick-fil-a, not down to your heirs.

We tried a Jollibee’s for the first time on the way home from Anaheim.  I get all the hoopla for it though.  My cousin waited for two hours outside when it opened near Chicago.  I’m glad we didn’t have to wait that long and got to try it.

Lee’s sandwiches in Sunnyvale, CA was awesome too.  The bread was always delicious and the banh mi was cheap, fresh, and tasty.  Their coffees were so good too.  I saw one in socal one time, as we drove past it on the freeway, but haven’t gotten to go yet.  I haven’t had a good banh mi sandwich in a long time.

Books on Entrepreneurship: How to Become an Entrepreneur

Discovered these books at the University of California Irvine bookstore a few weeks ago.  We were there buying workbooks for my husband’s physics classes and saw these books in the same aisle.  I’m beginning with the Lean Startup.  I love these sorts of books because I feel inspired and it gives me great ideas.  It makes you realize that for many successful people, things didn’t come easy for them and that life was full of failures for themselves too.  That these are all valuable lessons that shape us, into hopefully, better or stronger versions of ourselves.  Being on a college campus made me feel young again and also old too at the same time.  They looked like kids, just like we must’ve been too in college.  At the time though, I thought I was so grown up, but looking back now, I didn’t know anything and I still don’t know what I’m doing.  We were the only parents walking around there though with gray hair, rolling around their kid in a stroller.   Anyway, I would love to take this class at UC Irvine one of these days.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future


The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup (The Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship)


The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

OC Fight Doc

I started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu about 3 months ago (I’ll save that story for another time), but along with the increased fitness, confidence, mental health, and overall sense of well-being, I’ve gained a few boo boos here and there.  The latest is what they refer to as a “popped” rib.  I started to become a little concerned when one of my ribs would repeatedly dislocate at the joint between the bone and the sternum, so, rather than rely on internet hearsay, I gave OC Fight Doc a call at the recommendation of one of my BJJ brethren.


The picture above doesn’t do the front of the office justice (taking a panoramic while trying to be discrete is not easy), but look closely and you’ll see a Fedor v. Henderson poster, Anderson Silva front kicking Vitor in the chin, and other UFC memorabilia adorning the walls.  I got the feeling that they would at least understand the kind of strain I would be putting my body under and what degree of healing would be necessary before I could get back to rolling around on the ground.  My acupuncturist, while amazing at what he does, doesn’t really grasp how strenuous BJJ can be.


After a quick exam and hearing about how my injury had occurred, the doc recommended a plan of action and informed me of what to expect.  Being a common injury in the “fight” game, the doc was intimately familiar with these types of rib dislocations and laid out a plan of action (rest, ice, ice and heat cycles, ibuprofen, certain supplements, strengthening, etc.).  He also took a look at my shoulder and informed me that I had separated it at some point (:b).  I’ll be going back tomorrow.

And, I highly recommend the ice/heat pack(s) below.  Not sure how I survived without these.