Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Sunday Morning in February

Good morning. Sipping on my coffee, getting ready to start my day whilst I do so. Here are some things I've been holding onto that I probably will not get their own post...

1. The snow this winter. There has been a lot.

2. Final days for a car who has had its run. I talked to the owner of this car that has been parked in my work lot for about a week. It won't drop into gear. He's leaving her. I saw the property owner taking down the tag a few days later... she is getting towed. There was something sad about this whole thing.
3. My two. Just a photo I thought about posting when I was comparing these two cars. Yes that is a tombstone manufacturer across the street from me. Notice the size of these two. It continues to amaze me that some of these older cars we use to think were huge monsters are, well, not compared to cars today. Even the ones we consider small now. A 2003 Accord larger then a 1986 Camaro? Who woulda thunk.
4. Tax returns and thousand dollar cars. I've seen more then a few new 30 day tags on some hardly running cars recently. Tax return season has been my reasoning and I have been wanting to write about it. Especially since here in Columbus there is no car inspection. Turns out... This morning Steven Lang over at The Truth About Cars wrote about it. If you happen to have your coffee with you as you read, take some time to read his posts. One in particular called "Quality Work" is outstanding and spot on. It gives you a look at a side of selling used cars that you will take to your grave. GRAVE I say. Also, it may just save you a few bucks in the future.

5. The z28 radio installed. Picked up the cheapest car radio Best Buy had and swapped out the old AC Delco with it. Here is a pick of the guts. Audrea and I were able to do it ourselves. In a 24 year old car. In the middle of winter. Even put in a new bracket faceplate.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When You're a Hammer

...everything looks like a nail.

"They" say that anyway. Congress is ripping into the Toyota quality issues and turning it into side show. A lot of this is reminding me of what happened to Firestone and Ford Explorers not to far back. I don't know exactly what Firestone did the pissed off the government so much that they went after them. In the case with Toyota, however, I do know why. And it has been a long time coming.

Our government has a vested, financial, interest in GM and Chrysler. Opportunity is knocking and they are going after it.

There is a little bit of everything going on here. No doubt that Toyota cut corners in recent years to become the largest automaker in the world. They said they were going for it, they went for it, they achieved it. Unfortunately for them, you can't be number one in the USofA unless you ARE the USA.

For a long time, say, since the late 1960s, our own government has beat down our US automakers with safety, fuel, (see CAFE) quality, positive Union laws et. all. I'm still not really sure what was positively accomplished by what our own government did in the 70s other then taking down number 1 (and 2 and 3). I do know that our cars are safer now, but I don't think it is due to what our government did. It was more to due with the fact that Honda, VW, Toyota where making better cars. Oh, and that gas shortage thing.

But really, after the shortage "progressive" folks (as they are called on MSNBC) stuck with foreign cars. Hard to blame them. The big three failed to evolve (engineer) fast enough and fell behind for good in the 60s. Be it Union contracts or government law, lack of innovation... it's hard to pinpoint. It's probably all those things and more.

It's somewhat baffling to me what happened with Firestone. I sort of understand the Ford Explorer getting wrapped up in it. SUVs were racking in the money but the progressives thought they were killing the planet and running over their small cars.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Toyota. You're just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sorry buddy.

GM. Keep your head down. Way down. But not in your ass.

That's my advice.

The picture I posted above is of Rhonda Smith. An 'everyman' who told a tale of her "possessed Toyota" at hearings recently. She later sold said car to another family, whom has driven it over 27,000 miles with no issues. (she failed to mention that part)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Well, it's officially announced. Holiday 2010. Takes place in 2030. The seem to be pushing the cloak thing. Like in Harry Potter. Makes sense with the whole ghost thing I guess. Gets the long time fans all fired up in a bad way. I think it is sort of silly. But have a game take place 20 years from now kinda strips away realism anyway. We'll see how this shapes up over the coming year.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Oh Canada: Part Next

Seems I was on to something with the comments I made towards the winter games this year. Vancouver organizing committee (or Vanoc) is getting a lot of questions. Just the mere fact that Vanoc is getting mentioned, an organizing committee, is surprising. When has that ever happened? Really. It only happens when bad things go down. Bad things like terrorist attacks. Putting it in perspective like that makes you step back. No attacks on the Vancouver games so my cynicism should only take my comments so far.

It's unfortunate that, among other things, the snow is melting and it stinks that there is a chain link fence preventing people from getting within 100 yards of the Olympic Flame. But the biggest stinker of them all is that I have to qualify things against a terrorist act.

Can't the games just be poorly managed? Honestly, who designed the plans for a chain link fence around the flame? And, did they pay him/her?

There I go being cynical again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Curbside Columbus: Subaru SVX

In a blatant rip-off of The Truth About Cars "Curbside Classics" feature, I'm going to call my own little doomed feature; "Curbside Columbus". Or maybe I should just go with Columbus Curbside Classic? Whatever. The cars I find and post here will rarely be classics anyway.

First feature ever? The Subaru SVX. I found this little gem out in Pickerington. I didn't know anything about the car before I looked it up afterwards. Turns out it is a moderately rare car. The windows were the first thing that caught my attention. Pretty neat car. NEAT.

I don't have any special tid-bits to ad because I've never seen one before or really even heard about it. I found out that it didn't sell that many cars but does have a pretty enthusiastic following. Look it up if you get a chance. Good looking car.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oh Canada

It's been an interesting start to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. With age I know that I view them differently each time. This is the 3rd time in my lifetime that the Olympics have been in Canada. I'm not sure why I bring that up.

Anyway. The opening ceremonies opened in a funny way when there was a mechanical malfunction in lighting the Olympic flame. It was a very awkward moment when the 4 athletes were just standing there waiting, waiting. Finally three of the 4 pillars came up. Maybe it was three because that's how my winter games have been there? ha. ha. If you were to ask me "which country would be most likely to have a mechanical failure during one of these elaborate opening ceremonies?" I would answer; Canada.

Before the start of the games a Luger(?) died while Luge-ing(?). The way the games committee handled it was poor. They publicly and officially stated that it was the luge operator error. They did this very quickly, possibly in attempt to put it behind them at the start of the games. Even with that statement, however, the proceeded to move the mens luge start to the womens, and the womens to the junior start. Now, I enjoy the Olympics, but listening to the announcers complaining about this change relentlessly for a couple hours is taxing. Either way... the official statement then the move down the hill is baffling behavior. If it wasn't the track, why move it down the hill?

Finally, oh poor Canada, what's with holding a winter games in a city that historically has a average temp above freezing during February and more rain then snow? I say poor Canada but I guess I should blame the Olympic committee for choosing the city. But! not so fast Canadia... you put the city up for bid. As I write I see the Nightly News hosted by Brian Williams and he is sitting outside in what he said was 50 degrees. AHHH GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE!!! No. The average temp in the city for February is 46. It is the warmest city to ever host the games. Anyway, behind him you see mountains with no snow. On some of the events you see only the snow they trucked in on the track. Off the track no snow. The would have been better off putting the games here in Columbus. We've been getting consistent snow for 3 weeks now and are expecting another six inches tomorrow. We have had one day above freezing in the past two weeks or so.

I just looked it up, Columbus is colder on average in February then Vancouver.

But enough beating them up. I should just say that they are mis-managed. It's still they Olympics and still fun to watch.

One note about the truck with the snow... Hey Canada... maybe drive it in at night so it doesn't melt? Also, pitch in to get a different color tarp for the top. Just sayin'

Saturday, February 13, 2010

$13,000 Video Game

Stadium Events. Sold on ebay. I had heard of this game but I am not a NES collector. It is interesting that it doesn't seem to pop up on lists of most valuable games, which tells me that this market is emerging. But $13k? That exceeds any valuation I have seen for any video game cart.

From what I have read it was put up unknowingly of its value with a few other games and the NES itself. Here's the link to the bid HERE. Scroll down a bit and you can see that it didn't take long for the word to get out about what she was sitting on.

For video games this will go down as the biggest 'garage find'. Methinks it has something to do with the foot pad technology that the game producers created for the game that Nintendo bought up shortly after it's release.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Z28 Camaro vs. 2003 Accord

It's an interesting thing, this. Over the past 8 months my Honda has been giving my some trouble with the back brakes. First, I had the back brakes repaired. New rotors and pads. Later I had to get a new back rim. Yes, a rim. It had a hairline fracture that got there somehow. Now, I'm looking at having to get a new caliper, rotor and pads on the back driver side (the caliper piston is stuck out). What the heck, man!

Anywho, with all of this I've had to jump in to the 1986 z28 out of necessity. It really is a whole new ball game when you have to do that, when it isn't just for fun. When you do this (I'm not sure many have had to) you realize stark differences.

First off: Well, it is a 24 year old car. You think that every part is going to fall, fly and rip off. Not that it will, but just the fact that you can't really fall back on anything heightens your sensitivity to all the creaks and moans, which this generation of Camaro has many.

Next up: Winter in Ohio. All Camaros have rear wheeled drive. The third generation sported the largest back windshield you will ever see yet have a trunk that is the size of a kitchen cabinet. The car is heavily weighted to the front, meaning; no weight to grab the road. Ohio roads in the winter are always covered in some form of white death, so thats not a good thing. Getting it moving after a snow is not fun.

Another big difference is just getting the car warmed up. You feel like you are sitting on the snow covered pavement because it is so low. The seats are not nearly as comfortable as the Honda and the vents down blow much. The worst thing about warming it up as well (and this is in large part due to age) is that with leaks around that huge back windshield and the t-tops you have frost forming on the inside of the car. Awesome. My commute is only 9 miles to work. The whole ride there I felt like I was driving a solid block of ice. Yeah, that is getting fixed in the Spring.

Next up now: Just starting the car. It takes attention. I'm sure most people out there have had older cars and may remember starting in the winter. It'll get going but you have to baby sit it till it warms up. I'd like to chalk this up to being 'an old car' but one flip down of the visor tells a different story. Out of the factory, the visor actually has cold weather start instructions. Yes, that is right. No legal jargon, no air bag deployment info, not fancy logos or warnings. Cold weather start. In bold text.

Driving: This is an area of preference. My Honda Accord Coupe has all the modern safety features out there. I feel very safe. Which is something not to be taken for granted. My Honda also has more HP. It is rated at 245, which a bit more then the Camaro. The Honda also has traction control and all that. But it's all so controlled. The steering is overly controlled. The acceleration is controlled. The braking, controlled and it's quiet as a whisper. The Camaro? None of that. It's loud. It rattles, you smell fuel, the steering is out of wack, and it drinks gas. But you know what? I adore all those things. When I hit the petal, I feel like I'm driving a machine. Owners of older cars from the 60s and 79s may laugh, but I do.

Lastly: Just plan old safety. Some call the interior of these beasts a "plastic tomb", which, in the winter, I'm going to agree with. With every vehicle on the road now sitting up so high (even my Accord sits higher at the seat level) I just feel like some giant SUV is going to run over me and not even know. In warm weather this is not such a big deal, but when you are on snow covered roads and look to your left and see door panel... well, kinda gets to you.

So... what's with the z28? Why do people want it. Why do people come up to me and ask about it? Nobody asks about the Honda. Well, there are lots of answers to that. Most have to do with a light car with a V8 dumped in it that can pin you back if you punch it. It also has something to do with the fact that honda's don't get names or nicknames like "The Beast" or "Rock". Also, the stying of it, to me, is aging very well. It's a pony car, plain and simple.

But how would I answer the question of why get a 1986 Camaro? Well. I could get into a lot of things, but mainly it just hearkens back to a time where all cars stunk and GM pulled out it's most legendary trick... "We like it, it goes faster then your Trecel, go f**k yourself".

Sorry for the language. But after all I've read recently on American motor companies it's what GM was. Maybe if they went back to that a bit we wouldn't all be driving shoe boxes and jelly beans.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Virginia Getting Lots of Snow

But to let those out there in the DC area know that you are not alone in the winter doldrums. Above is a snapshot of what winter is for three months in OHIO.

It's just dang cold man.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Dodge Brothers

Yes, that Dodge. These two brothers, John and Horace Dodge, are responsible for our modern cars. It's that simple.

I'm entranced by a book right now called "Wheels for the World" by Douglas Brinkley. It is offering a detail look at the start of the American Automotive industry that I've never known. The very first thing that is striking is that Michigan and it's people are all about Michigan. Everything we see, hear, drive, and read about American cars is routed in Michigan. The names of cars especially. This obviously comes as no secret to some, but to me it is amazing.

What's more amazing is the names I'm reading about during the early days of the automotive craze during the turn of the century. Most fascinating among them? The Dodge Brothers. They were the guys that built the parts and engines for Ford, Cadillac (named for the founder of Detroit) and Oldsmobile. These two hard drinking thugs made it go.

Ultimately, what is most astonishing is the sheer amount of money thrown around when our American automotive industry was getting started. It has to be read to be believed.

Internet Crazytown

In betwixt cleaning the snow and ice off Betty and finding that two tires were in four inches of nine degree water, therefore in need of air, I ventured off into conspiracy theory world. Watch out.

The primary issue I have with conspiracy folks is that they feel they have to use the shocking headline to get their point across (Boycott the Super Bowl!). It's really no secret that things happen in this world that are larger then us. The issue should be; to what extent. Answer that question and you'll find yourself thinking to your self that you are crazy.

Of course there are more powerful groups that stand to gain a great deal if things go their way. But to try and untie who these people are is much more complex. Some will say Masonic groups others will point to the Federal Reserve Bank and it's leaders. Many think that is just the plain old United States Government. What to I think? Well, it's a combination of all those.

What!? you may say. Do I actually believe that there is a group out there herding us a certain direction? Insane! Maybe. It would be if I thought it was just one or two groups pulling the strings, but I do not. I really just boils down to whose got the money, honey. Does the Federal Reserve gots the money? Yep. Are they a private company? yep. Do they want us sheepeople to suffer? nope. They want what is best for them. They do have a level of power to steer the country in a direction that is in the best interest to them. If that means steering the market a certain way to suit whatever it is they want then they will. That is evident in that it wasn't manufacturing and goods producing companies that got bail out money. It was large banks. GM got some of that money, but it was only a drop in the bucket compared to what AIG or Citigroup got.

Follow the money is what I've always been told. With all the bailout money that was handed out ask yourself... where did it go? Who is in control now? It really matters not now. Maybe it is Bilderberg, who knows. It doesn't change where I am at now. Nor will it ever.

The only fact that remains, when your mind goes to that strange and crazy place of "Who are they", it doesn't ever answer itself.