The reason for the radio silence is that I’m down in Tampa moving my family. I’m very busy what with setting up all of my utilities, enrolling my kids in school, and buying bedroom furniture for my their rooms. But now I have a moment to catch my breath while waiting to take delivery of my new washer and dryer, so I figured I’d take this opportunity to introduce you to the new corporate headquarters of loveafterlaw and give you my initial impressions of the area.
Our New Digs
Here is a picture of the great room in loveafterlaw’s new home:
Right now we just have a couch, but we’ll be installing two recliners and a coffee table. The great thing about the coffee table is that the top surface telescopes out toward the sofa so that you can rest your tablet on it and have it right in front of you. Although I’ll have a home office, I’ll likely do a lot of blogging from here.
My New Car
Moving to Tampa, we needed a second car. Unlike in New York, where you can pretty much get around without using your car at all except for trips out of town, here you need a car just to go to Starbucks. Here’s a photo of my new Mercedes Benz CLA 250.
I’m not trying to brag or show off here, but to be honest I really like the car. Mercedes cut no corners with its entry level model. It’s a Benz all the way through with all the quality and luxury you would expect. But it’s got a split personality because of its different driving modes. When you start the car, it starts out in “Comfort Mode”, in which it drives pretty much like any luxury car. Smooth ride, reasonably responsive, decent power. But with the touch of a button you can switch to “Sport Mode” and it’s like you have a whole different car. The suspension stiffens, it becomes a lot quicker off the dime, and the handling becomes much more precise. It really drives like a sports car in the twisties, and the dual clutch transmission is super smooth and very responsive.
But the power train is only half of the story because this car is loaded with electronic gadgetry and that issue can’t be overlooked. One of the things I detest about modern cars is that they put so many gadgets in the car that it distracts you from driving. A few weeks ago I rented a Cadillac and had to spend a half hour in the airport parking lot trying to figure out how it worked. But this isn’t a problem on the CLA. Mercedes’ engineers did an amazing job of integrating the technology with the driving, so the technology is enhancing without being intrusive or distracting. I can access all the car’s mechanical information with the touch of a keypad on the left side of my steering wheel. My Android phone integrates directly with the car via a USB-C cable, and the main screen readout becomes a car friendly version of the phone from which I can access my calendar, make calls, and get directions from Google Maps or Waze. On the right side, of the steering wheel there is a button that sits right next to where my thumb naturally rests when I’m driving. If I need to make a call or get directions I just push that button and voice command takes over. It hasn’t gotten a single command wrong yet. If I want to change the radio station, it’s two clicks of a mouse mounted on the center console. Everything you might want to do in the car is so simple that you can use all of it while concentrating on driving.
But perhaps my favorite thing is the little details. Mercedes really thought of everything with this vehicle. Yesterday, I accidentally put my messenger bag in the trunk with the key fob inside of it. I attempted to close the trunk and it popped right open. After repeating this five times, I was beginning to think something was wrong with my trunk, and then I noticed the bag. I took it out and the trunk closed. Imagine. They were even smart enough to anticipate that I would make that mistake. If you’re stopped at a light and you press firmly on the brake, the car will hold the breaks for you until you press the gas again. If you want to shift in manual mode, you just do it using the paddles. There’s no switch to flip. It even has lane change assist.
And their customer service is awesome. All in all, I love the car and don’t have a single thing to complain about yet, so while I wouldn’t consider this a review, I can at least recommend you take a test drive.
My New Surroundings
People are really friendly here. It’s like they go out of their way to help you no matter what your problem is. For example, I was at the DMV attempting to change my driver license. First of all, they had a concierge up front to greet you, tell you what line to stand in depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, and make sure you have the right documents so you don’t have to stand in line for an hour and find out it was all for naught because you’re missing a piece of paper. As it turned out, they required a passport and social security card which I didn’t have with me at the moment. But they didn’t just say “sorry, can’t help you” and turn me away. The concierge asked me to describe my situation and when I explained that I was in the process of moving down from New York, she assured me that my New York driver license would serve just fine and I should just stop back by once I settled in. Can you imagine?
The people from the Mercedes dealership must have called me or texted me five times yesterday just to make sure I was doing ok with the car. They also give free car washes.
A security guard in a mall saw me looking around and asked if he could help me find anything.
A saleswoman in a furniture store kept calling me “hun”.
Also, the cost of living here really is about 40% less than it is up in New York. For example, dinner at a sit-down restaurant is about $15 USD for one person. In New York a similar meal would be at least $25.
As you would expect it’s really beautiful, very green with lots of exotic (from my perspective) birds like pelicans and sandbill cranes and the weather’s great. It’s a big city, but the area I live in has a lot of great shopping and dining within close driving distance.
A Good Move
All in all, I think I made a really good choice of location for loveafterlaw’s headquarters, and I look forward to it inspiring more and better content for you in the year ahead.