Such A Thrill When Your Radials Squeal

I’ve always had great interest in the auto business and many years back I thought I may want to make a career of it (not selling them, I mean at the corporate level). I think it’s probably because here in the modern day, cars say a LOT about who we are. They are a decent indicator of someone’s personality and in most cases, one’s financial status. I say “in most cases” because there are the frivolous folks out there who go beyond their means. But whatever, I’m not judging, just stating fact. My point is that I believe you can get a good read on someone if you just look at their car.

If you were to look at my ’02 Camry for instance, you’d think, “safe, right down the middle, takes little risks financially, loves stability and doesn’t need flash to keep him happy.” And you’d be about 90% right – I admit to needing a little flash (hello, 42-inch TV and Apple TV)! My long-winded point: it saddens me greatly to see what’s happening to the American auto companies. I’ve said before in this space that I would like nothing more than to see them succeed and I really, truly believe they will. I also believe that GM’s stock is a STEAL right now, though I haven’t put my money where my mouth is…..yet.

The issue with the U.S. car companies is purely one of trust. American cars were bad for a whole generation (mine) and now that they’re starting to be seen as mostly solid and dependable again, they may be turning the corner. But have you ever tried to turn a corner while driving a cruise ship? Takes some time. That’s why I hope that they get some funding from the government. In addition to the horrible trickle-down effect on our economy if one of these companies shuts down – and I don’t mean Chrysler – I think it would just take more wind out of our sails. Given everything that’s gone on the last 8 years, we simply don’t need that.

But the money should come with conditions. HUGE conditions. If the Obama administration is smart, they will have the foresight to look well into the future and see a world where electric/hybrid/whatever vehicles will be the norm. Where cars that get not 30, not 40, not 50, but 60+ miles per gallon are the way to people’s pocketbooks and pride. Again, this can’t be done overnight – mandating car companies to short-term, unattainable goals will only cripple them more – they need to equip factories to make such vehicles, they need to work out the technologies and they need to adjust the workforce to accomodate it all. It will take time, so some some sort of tiered plan must be the way. 

I’m 76,500 miles into my Camry now. I suspect I have a few years left. As tempting as it is right now to go out and upgrade, I think my options will be tenfold better in five years than they are today. I also truly believe that by the time I’m ready, American cars very well may be positioned far better. Like they said on the X-Files, I WANT to believe.

I Feel Safest Of All

It is a very tempting time to buy a new car. Years ago, I might have done so on a mere whim. The economy is horrendous, the automobile companies are a disaster and based on a few friends I know who’ve purchased lately, the deals are fantastic. I might view it as a good opportunity to finally get myself into a Hybrid vehicle. But as I make my way into my late 30s, my fiscal conservativeness continues to apply me in a tighter headlock. We probably could get a car, but we’re not. For some reason, this recession feels more threatening than the 2000-2001 recession did. Part of it has to be the new spawn that now live with us. Like they say, that changes everything. But it’s more than that – there’s a quiet nervousness about everything given the plummet we’ve seen since late summer. It’s frightening.

So I’ll continue driving my 2002 Camry. Hell, it only has 76,000 miles on it and I get it serviced every 3-5K miles. So if Consumer Reports is right, than I have another 5-7 years left on this thing. At least. We’ll see if my, um, vanity can last that long.

I see that Blitzen Trapper, one of my new bands-of-the-month, made an appearance on Conan O’Brien on Monday. Here’s the video:

Pack Your Bags

There are times when being a professional baseball player must really suck. I mean, despite that they all make obscene amounts of money, the travel and tediousness of playing 162 games every season must be exhausting. Yes, you get to stay at 5-star palaces and yes, you eat the best of food and yes, you play a game for a living, but just imagine being away from your family 8 out of 12 months. There are indeed worse jobs, but I think any major leaguer past 30 would tell you it can get old quick. Alas, spring training must be a blast – you get to see your buddies again, you don’t have to travel, the weather is nice and everyone except Kansas City and Pittsburgh are drenched with optimism. Oh yeah, it’s also a a great time for a good prank.

I also dig logos of all kind, such as corporate logos, sports logos (one of my faves here) and I especially dig automobile logos. So I was psyched to find a blog post where someone logged the evolution automobile logos. Neat-o. Some of those old ones are killer – they should bring them back.

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Now playing: Nada Surf – See These Bones
via FoxyTunes