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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Google Maps Send To Car for Mercedes-Benz is Gone

Google Maps 'Send To Car' for Mercedes-Benz is gone.

It used to work, but has been removed. 'Here' maps now supports Mercedes-Benz 'Send To Car.'

GOOGLE MAPS SEND to MERCEDES-BENZ doesn't work any more.

Here Maps 'Send to Car' supports Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. When it works. ;-)

Friday, April 28, 2017

My First Investment

My first investing advice came from message boards on the dial-up internet.

After I got my first job, it was a while before I felt like I had some extra money to invest.

Until then, I kept my money in a savings account in a bank, and let it sit there.

When I was in high school I had a teacher that taught us about the stock market. I really enjoyed his class. He had me bring my copy of the Boston Globe into school each day. This was back when they printed stock tables in the newspaper. And yes, I walked to school every day, up a hill, both ways! ;-)

Each student picked a stock and we tracked it’s performance over time. I looked forward to tracking my stock’s performance each day.

When it came time to invest real money, I turned to online forums to help demystify the investing process. If I remember correctly, I dialed on to online services like Prodigy, and AOL, and joined finance discussions.

Image: Prodigy Online Service Login Page

One popular suggestion for investing was to invest in things that you knew about, that were to growing.

I opened up an online brokerage account, and invested some money. It was a good way to learn about the stock market, and how to buy and sell stocks.

I ended up buying and selling a few stocks based on my online research and direct experience with the companies.

One stock that I ended up buying, after learning how, was Apple. That was a good stock to buy. ;-)

I bought Apple because I worked at a computer store, and was trained by Apple on the first Macintosh computer in 1984. I then became the local Macintosh expert, handling sales and doing demonstrations of the computer. I got to know it very well and decided that it would be a good investment.

Image: Apple Macintosh

There’s a cool website called InvestedInstead that shows you what your investment would be worth today, if you invested your money in a companies’ stock instead of their product.

As of 4/22/2017, if you had invested $2,495 in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock on 1/24/1984, that investment would have grown 347 times to $866,800. [See Macintosh Results as of today]

This experience gave me the step-by-step knowledge of HOW TO BUY A STOCK.

Investing in individual stocks like this is more risky than spreading out the risk in a mutual fund made up of many stocks.


Image: FutureSmart App

An app that you can use to learn about investing and personal finance is the MassMutual #FutureSmart App.

One lesson from the #FutureSmart App confirms what I learned: “Investing your money in a mix of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds can help reduce your risk."

Get the FutureSmart App for free.

Online brokerage accounts make it easy to buy and sell stocks.

You can never know when a stock will got up or down. You can’t worry about it either. I take the long term approach of buy and hold.

I’m a long way off from that day that I bought my first stock. I am still holding on to some of those early stocks, and buying some other individual stocks, where I have direct experience with the companies, like Disney and Facebook.

I now also work with a financial planner to help me spread out my risk with investments in some professional managed funds, where the only decision I have to make is how much money to put into the fund.

Good luck with your own personal investing journey.

Disclosure: This has been a sponsored post for MassMutual.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mercedes-Benz connects to Amazon Echo: Alexa, ask Mercedes me to start the car.

Image: Alexa Mercedes Me Skill Page

Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa

This is cool, Mercedes-Benz just added an Amazon Echo skill to connect to your car, via mbrace.

Steps to connect your Mercedes (2016 and newer) to Amazon Alexa

1. Enable the Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa skill.
2. Connect the Amazon Alexa skill to Mercedes mbrace.

Image: Mercedes me iPhone App screen

Alexa Mercedes Me Skill Description
With Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa, you can access your Mercedes-Benz from the comfort of your couch. In order to effectively use the Mercedes me skill, you will need an active Mercedes me account and an active mbrace subscription.*

The Mercedes me skill allows you to:

Remotely lock the doors
Remotely start your engine**
Send an address or point of interest to your in-vehicle navigation
Manage multiple vehicles

After linking your Mercedes me account to the Mercedes me skill, you can ask questions or give commands, such as:

"Alexa, tell Mercedes me to lock the car."
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to start the car." **
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to send an address to the car."
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to find Starcoffee near me."
"Alexa, tell Mercedes me to update my primary car."

* Select mbrace services are free for five years with any new Mercedes-Benz.
** Available on select 2016 and newer model lines. Check with dealer for details. Features subject to network coverage.

Please note:
• The Mercedes me skill on Alexa currently only supports users in the United States;
• The Mercedes me skill on Alexa will send remote service commands to your vehicle, but will not currently confirm the completion of those commands. However, in the case of remote start, you will receive a remote start status text message to the phone number that is linked to your mbrace account. If you update your phone number linked to mbrace, you will also be required to update your primary car in Mercedes me in order to continue receiving text messages;
• You can manage multiple cars within Mercedes me. However, you can only operate one car at a time via Alexa i.e. the primary car that you set via the Mercedes me skill. In order to change/update your primary car, simply say "Alexa, ask Mercedes me to update my primary car.";
• For Mercedes me customer support, call +1 800-367-6372

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Weekend in Cleveland

Here's a fun itinerary for visiting Cleveland and seeing all the highlights.

Here goes!


RTA Airport Service:
For a quick, convenient ride to and from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, ride RTA's Red Line. It's simple to catch the train, and it takes less than 30 minutes to ride to or from Downtown Cleveland’s Tower City Station.
This is a require taxi ride or moderate walk, to get Cleveland's best pastrami sandwich.

Closed off to traffic, East 4th Street has some great bars and restaurants.

We went to The Butcher and the Brewer twice!


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Throughout the city, Cleveland has these photo spots that are the perfect size, and placed correctly for photo taking.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was the most fun! It was so engaging that we spent 5 1/2 hours there. There are FIVE LEVELS that take you through the history of Rock & Roll.


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Got it.

A post shared by Steve Garfield (@stevegarfield) on

Elvis Costello. 1977!

A post shared by Steve Garfield (@stevegarfield) on

Video killed the radio star. #Devo #RockHall

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After having gone through the museum, I realized what a pivotal part of my life, music has been.

One of the best museums in the world. A short train ride away.

The museum is as impressive as it's art.

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A post shared by Steve Garfield (@stevegarfield) on

Cleveland Botanical Garden (Next to Museum)

20 restaurants to check out in Cleveland's Little Italy

Red Line to the Airport

The Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan

Press Release:

Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan: Herald of a new generation

Stuttgart/Shanghai. With the Concept A Sedan at Auto Shanghai Mercedes-Benz is providing an outlook of the next generation of compact vehicles and a potential, new body type.

The Concept A Sedan show car specifies the evolved Mercedes-Benz design language. Thanks to its purist, surface-focused design featuring reduced lines and gaps, the show car is hot and cool at the same time. The "Aesthetics A" sculpture already demonstrated that the upcoming compact class generation marks the dawn of an even more rigorous implementation of the design idiom of "sensual purity".

"Our Concept A Sedan shows, that the time of creases is over”, say Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. “With its perfect proportions and a sensual treatment of surfaces with reduced lines, it is the next milestone of Sensual Purity and has the potential to introduce a new design era."

The current compact vehicle generation is crucially contributing to Mercedes‑Benz's most successful and rejuvenated appearance ever to make 2016 the sixth year of records in succession. More than two million compact vehicles have been sold around the globe since 2012. In addition to the contemporary design language, innovative assistance systems, connectivity, and driving pleasure, model variety is a crucial factor for success: with the A and B‑Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, as well as the SUV crossover GLA five differently positioned variants are available on the market.

"Their success shows that our customers are absolutely delighted with the current generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars", says Britta Seeger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Mercedes‑Benz Cars Marketing & Sales. "We are therefore extremely confident that the planned expansion will lead to a continuation of this success story."

The Concept A Sedan: study of a compact premium sedan

The Concept A Sedan (length/width/height: 4570/1870/1462 mm) has been designed with the proportions of a dynamic, coupé-like and simultaneously compact, premium sedan. This aim is emphasized by the traditional three-box design featuring short overhangs, especially at the rear, as well as the slim greenhouse that has been offset towards the rear. Additional sedan characteristics are the relatively vertical C‑pillar, larger side windows and the higher beltline.

The muscular-seeming wheel arch design featuring a reduced arch dimension emphasize the exclusive 20‑inch wheels. The light alloy wheels radiate technical precision with their sporty aerowheel look featuring a structured surface between the spokes. The door handles of the show car are flush with the body, while the outside mirrors, in a contemporary reinterpretation, stand proud of the beltlines.

The striking front expresses self-confidence: this is crucially highlighted by the deep Panamericana grille tilted towards the front, featuring vertical chrome inserts and a star in the centre, as well as the stretched bonnet with Powerdomes. The large, lower air inlet featuring a diamond grid structure and a striking trim strip in dark chrome is also amongst the most eye-catching features.

The headlamps with their eyebrows as a typical feature of the brand as well as the striking grid structure on the inside guarantee a confident look – and a simultaneously high recognition value. The structural sculpture that has been broken down in detail represents a technically based counterpole to the sensual exterior - "stimulating contrast" is one of the six guiding principles of Mercedes-Benz design. The grid structure in the lamps has been coated with a UV paint and it is exposed to ultraviolet light. As a result, the headlamps "glow" in different colours, depending on the light medium – the daytime running lamps, for instance, are white.

This unusual lighting technology is also used at the rear: The striking tail light image has also been designed as a structural sculpture. In line with the evolved design philosophy the lines and gaps at the rear have been reduced. As a contrast to the paintwork the rear bumper features a diffuser-look lower part trimmed in black and a chrome trim strip that emphasises the width and underlines the car's premium appeal. The integrated exhaust deflectors are finished in dark chrome. Additional features of the roadworthy show car are dark privacy windows all-round as well as a large, panoramic glass roof.

Monday, April 17, 2017

My First Car

When I was in High School, I didn’t need a car. I took a city bus from across the street from my house, to school.

Some days, I was able to drive my father into work, and keep his car, a PONTIAC TEMPEST, for the day, then pick him up after work.

Pontiac Tempest
Image: Dad's Car. Pontiac Tempest.

After graduating High School, I went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The school is about an hour and a half from Boston. Undergraduates who lived on campus were not allowed to have cars at school.

When I moved off campus in my Junior year, I was able to buy a car.

I had saved my own money and made the decision on what car I wanted on my own.

This was a poor decision.

I should have gotten some help in making my choice, but I didn’t.

I thought that a used car lot that advertised, “No Haggling,” was a great place to get a car.

So I like the looks of a FORD TORINO with low miles, 33,000.

Ford Torino
Image: My First Car. A Ford Torino.

I bought it and took it out to UMass.

Shortly after I bought it, it started to have engine trouble. It turned out that the car didn’t have 33,000 miles on it, it had 133,000 miles!

The dealer offered to take out the engine and install a new one for under $700.

For some reason that I don’t remember now, I agreed.

That actually did solve my engine problems, but that was just the beginning.

The car then needed new tires.

I shopped around, and the best deal was from a table in the Student Union, where they were selling some type of reconstituted tires that combined the shells from nuts.

I bought those tires.

I was probably nuts to do it!

The next thing that happened was that the car started having starter problems.


I was working at K-Mart at the time, and had the K-Mart garage take a look. They did some work on the car in time for a Spring Break trip to Florida.

I’ll never forget planning the trip. I called my mom to tell her that we were going to Miami, Florida for Spring Break.

She asked, “What airline?”
I replied: “We’re driving.”

To this day we get a big laugh out of it.

The car still had starting problems, so on our trip from Amherst, MA to Miami, FL, we didn’t turn the car off that much!

We also had planned to leave first thing in the morning and drive straight through. We got excited, and decided to leave the night before.

Another bad decision, that meant that we lost TWO NIGHTS of sleep.

The car made it down and back.

After graduating UMass and getting my first full-time job, I was able to afford a better car.

This time I asked friends what cars they liked, and many of them owned a TOYOTA CELICA. They all said it was a good car. So I went to a local Toyota dealer and test drove a Toyota Celica with low miles. This time the odometer was accurate and I ended up with a more reliable car.

Toyota Celica
Image: My second Car. Toyota Celica.

What made me think about sharing this story, was MassMutual's #FutureSmart app. It’s a new tool for teaching #kids about making life choices and being smart about #money.

One of the situations asks kids to decide if they want to buy a car.

This is one of those great life learning moments. In addition to deciding if you want, and can afford, to buy a new or used car, you also have to consider the added costs of owning a car:


In my case, I could have done a better job of listening to friends and family, and valuing their advice.

Disclosure: This has been a sponsored post for MassMutual.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 Test Drive

Sad to see this one go.

I never thought I'd like a big SUV, but after driving the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 for a few days, using it to run errands and haul kids around, I can totally see the utility of an SUV.

No wonder why they are the top selling style of vehicle these days.

I was surprised by the handling on the GLE 350. I've heard stories about SUVs being hard to turn, but this one, based on a Mercedes E-Class, drove like a car. Plus, with SPORT mode, it has great pick-up.

Driving around in the GLE 350 felt like sitting my living room in a big comfy chair, plus being higher than most other cars on the road, gave me a fun vantage point.

I could get used to it!






Update from EzDrivema:
License plate (exterior) transponders are only for vehicles whose windshields cannot support an interior transponder.

They are easily damaged as they are on the outside of the vehicle.


Could have fit 20 of these bags.

You know when you go to Bfs Club or Costco and everything is big? With an SUV, you walk around and say, I could fit THAT in the SUV and take it home!


Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz of Burlington provided me with a 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 for a test drive. I have a financial interest in Mercedes-Benz of Burlington. I was not asked to write anything about the car and was not provided any other compensation of any kind. All opinions I express regarding the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 are my own.

If you are interested in a Mercedes, mention my name to Victor Argueta at Mercedes-Benz of Burlington, Mass, and he will take care of you.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Grand Lake Lodge Brochure

We used to spend a week each Summer at Grand Lake Lodge. Great memories.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Star Wars Builders Books

Star Wars Builders: Millennium Falcon (affiliate link) is both a hardcover book and a ship building puzzle-like kit. For ages 7 and up, it's a great companion to the Star Wars movie series. This book is current, and includes content from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

At almost three pounds, this is a substantial item that can be enjoyed in two ways.

First, as a book:
Discover what makes the Millennium Falcon the most famous ship in the galaxy with this master builder kit! Featuring a 64-page book detailing out some of the ship's most daring adventures and introducing members of the crew, Star Wars fans will enjoy learning more about one of the most legendary starships in the galaxy.

Secondly, as a ship building kit:
Plus, this kit includes thick puzzle-like pieces so fans can build their very own Millennium Falcon ship for all their adventures.

The instructions are straightforward and the pieces are substantial.

In addition to the Millennium Falcon, two more kits are available, Star Wars Builders: Droids (affiliate link) , and Star Wars Builders: Starfighters (affiliate link).

Disclosure: I was sent these Star Wars Builders books for review. I was not asked to write anything specific about the Star Wars Builders books. All opinions I express regarding the Star Wars Builders are my own.

My First Job

Getting your first job is a momentous event for a kid. I was happy riding my bike and playing street hockey in the Boston area. A job would have infringed on my play time.

The problem was that my best friend, Marc, has a job at a local department store, Zayre.

My parents said, “Marc has a job. Why aren’t you working? You need to go to work too.”

So that’s how I decided to get my first job.

Zayre seemed like a good place to work, so I filled out a job application and waited.

No response.

My mom told me, “Give them a call to show that you are interested in them. They have a stack of resumés, and one person calls in, they’ll stand out over the other applicants.”

So I called in and they told me that there were no jobs available.

A while later I called in again.

Still no jobs available.

I waited a while longer, and called in again. This time, they mentioned that there was this one small job making signs that was a few hours a week.

I told them I was interested and was hired!

This might have been the most entry level retail job ever designed, but I was enthusiastic and was determined to be the best sign maker that Zayre had ever seen.

The sign making room, was a very small room in the back of the Garden Shop. In there was a set up that approximated the early days for Benjamin Franklin and the printing press. There was a vintage letterpress, with printers blocks, ink and a roller.

To make the signs, you spelled the words upside down and backwards as you set the letters in the press, then inked the letters, placed your blank sign on the press, and then ran the letterpress roller across the sign to transfer the ink.

Here are some of the signs I made:

Images: Multi-line, multi-colored signs. Advanced!

Image: Being Creative

Image: You had to be careful to spell backwards

Image: Should have said 'ribbed.' The clerks in the women's department had a good laugh at this one.

It was quite an education in printing history.

I went to all the departments and asked if there were any signs that they needed. Then I quickly made and delivered them.

I also made some creative signs that the department managers got a kick out of.

After a short time, I job opened up in the Hardware/Housewares department, and I got that job because of my performance in this lowest of entry level jobs.
Now I was working with my friend Marc.

I worked at Zayre through High School. My boss put me on the schedule for 2:00. I told him, “I can’t come in to work at 2:00, I get out of school at 2:30.”

He told me to get in as soon as I could.

I think I worked three of four days a week, from 3:00 to 10:00 PM.

What got me promoted and kept me employed was doing the best job that I could, proactively looking for things to do, and being pleasant to work with.

These techniques helped me get and perform well in all my future jobs.

Image: With my parents and store assistant manager receiving Zayre college scholarship

What made me think about sharing this story, was MassMutual's #FutureSmart app. It’s a new tool for teaching #kids about making life choices and being smart about #money.

One of the situations asks kids how many hours they want to work. Depending on how many hours they work, the more money they get. When I went through the app and tried to put in how many hours I worked during high school, the app didn't have enough hours per week! It had 20 and I could have worked 28 or more.

I was very dedicated to working and saving money. Most of the money I made in that job at Zayre went into a savings account, where I put away money for college.

This has been a sponsored post for MassMutual.