Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
North Carolina and the Chevy Malibu
I was literally the first one to rent this vehicle, as it had a grand total of 2 miles on the odometer. And as far as rental cars go, it was fine. It had four wheels, a seat and when you stepped on the gas pedal it went. However, if you are looking at one of these to purchase, let me tell you why you shouldn't
1. For the first 200 miles, I thought the car was on fire. I literally had to pull over and pop the hood and make sure I wasn't about to die. There must have been some sort of protective coating sprayed around the engine somewhere that was burning off.
2. The interior sucks. Everything is made of plastic, and the fitment isn't the best. (Note to GM: Texturing plastic to look like leather grain isn't fooling anyone. We still know it's plastic). Plus all the Delco electronics that the domestics use just look dated. I mean, the displays are the same light blue color they were in the 80s. Even though they work great and have a bunch of pretty cool features, they just seem really dated.
3. The cruise control sucks. On level ground it works just fine, but going down hill it bucks like crazy trying to maintain the speed. I actually thought the engine was having issues until I played with it a bit.
4. The rear window is almost useless. It's very short and the rear seats have gigantic headrests that block half of it. Not to mention that when it rains, water sheets over the back window and you literally can't see a thing out of it. And the Malibu isn't fast enough to not need to see behind you.
5. The turn signal is the most annoying thing in a car I have ever experienced. Instead of subtle "click click", there is a tone that sounds like someone slowed down a German Techno backbeat. It literally sounds like it's from a Casio keyboard! Not too mention it's loud enough for Aunt Mable to hear even if the battery in her hearing aid goes. I used it once and that was it. If I got pulled over for not signalling, I would simply demonstrate the noise pollution created by the unholiest device ever- knowing that there would be no way he could give me a ticket and still sleep at night.
So in short, don't buy one.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The Atlanta Gas Crisis of 2008
As you may have heard, there is a bit of a gas crisis in the Southeast this year. While there is a bit of a shortage, it isn't quite in the same league as the one in the 70s. At any rate, it is a little weird to drive around and pass station after station with baggies on the pump handles and no prices listed. But the weirdness didn't stop there...there were a couple other things that aren't quite sitting right with this whole situation.
First off, gas mysterious appears and is plentiful about 100 miles away from town. We took a road trip to Maryland this last weekend (We drove the diesel) and past South Carolina it was business as usual. Can't someone load up a tanker and bring some down the freeway a bit?
Second, gas prices are high....but not really high. When Ike was about to hit the Gulf but supply was still plentiful, prices spiked to over $5 a gallon. Yet when you can't find any gas for 20 miles, the price is still in the low $4 range. When there is no supply, and demand is as high as ever, price is supposed to increase. At least that's what my mediocre state college education told me.
But the most ironic event of the week happened on Tuesday. While in Maryland we had heard from a number of people that the "crisis" had gotten much worse while we were gone and that you really couldn't find it anywhere. We didn't panic since we had the diesel and that was still readily available everywhere, but I was a bit concerned knowing my car was sitting in the garage with fumes in the tank. We got back from our trip late Monday night, and just decided to share the diesel the next day, scouting stations on the way into work so I could find out where to fill up my car that night. So the typical Atlanta trek into work the next day had us cruising at around 10 miles per hour when a fairly large object flies out from under the vehicle in front of us. With no where to go, I took it right down the middle hoping to straddle it. But with the lowered suspension on the car...no such luck. Whatever it was, we were dragging it along underneath us. Fortunately we came to a stop light fairly shortly afterward and I got out to assess and rid us of our new passenger. You can imagine my surprise though when I looked under the car and saw a bright red gas can! Of course dragging it on the ground didn't help it's ability to hold it's contents much, so as I pulled it from under the car gas is pouring everywhere creating a biohazard. But as I stood there in the middle of the road, with a leaking gas can in my hand the irony of the situation hit me- We were looking for gas this morning and we literally ran into it!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Cleveland OH and the Mercury Grand Marquis
So lots of changes at work and I'm back on the road a bit. My first trip in some time took me to Cleveland to visit my new clients. Not only did I get to go to Cleveland, I got to go with my boss- Yay!
Just a quick overnighter this time, and since we were running very similar schedules we shared a car. So when the fine people at Hertz provided me a Grand Marquis, I knew I had entered a slightly lower ring of hell.
The Grand Marquis is the cheapest "luxury" car I know. It's a shit pile. This turd had 16k on the clock and stuff was literally falling off on the inside. The gold on beige color combo was moderately attractive for 1984, and this is the only car I can think of off the top of my head with a front bench seat any more. Needless to say I loved every minute of it. The only upside that I can think of is the engine. It actually has some decent horsepower...although with the weight of the car makes it feel only average. This did not stop me from flogging it about however, much to my bosses dismay. The power steering pump was designed by Lou Ferrigno, so one fingered steering is no problem at all. I think I completed approximately 87 Uturns during my trip, of which a maximum 20 were legal. The only bit of fun this car offers is to slow to a creep, stick your index finger under a steering wheel spoke, make four or five swirls in the direction of your choice, and when you are pointing in the opposite direction stab the throttle and let the wheel go slack. You can repeat this until you are bored...which is approximately 3 times.
Now on to Cleveland. I didn't see much of the city, and since I had never been there before I let the client pick the restaurant. Predictably, they chose a steak house. As we were heading out, they asked if we knew how to get there and of course provided directions. I was highly disturbed when they said "It's in the Radisson. You can see it from the freeway.". A steak house in the Radisson? Let me check and see if there is any room in the next lowest ring of hell.
No Vacancy. In fact, since hell was fully booked they offered me an upgrade somewhere in Heaven's economy plus section. Hyde Park doesn't look like much from the outside, but as soon as you open the door you know they mean business. The staff was very attentive and knowledgeable, and the offerings were more than satisfying. Most of the steaks were as big as your head, and even the baby portions were plenty for the normal appetite. With all the steak preparations named for Cleveland atheletes, you get to order by using cool phrases like "Steak Lebron". Sides are family style, and they will let you order just starches and will only give you minimal crap for not including anything green in your meal. They didn't have the best beer selection, but they did have two Magic Hat offering on draught. But we are talking about the Midwest here...so I'll let it slide.
While it wasn't the most spectacular hunk of meat I've ever had, it was damn good. If you are after a decent steak in Cleveland and don't want to seem pretentious by going to a Ruth's Chris or something...check out http://www.hydeparkrestaurants.com/
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The Great Maple Bar Hunt of 2008
It's hard to believe it's been 8 months since I've moved to the Dirty South, but it certainly has. It's funny, but every once in awhile we get homesick for certain things. I think it's all about the simple things you take for granted, and don't realize how much you would miss them if they were gone. Recently, this very scenario played out with Maple Bars. I forget how the conversation came about, but somehow we were discussing our favorite donuts with people out here. Both G and I have very fond memories of weekend donut runs as kids, taken one step further for me as an adult by VooDoo Doughnuts Bacon Maple Bar (www.voodoodoughnuts.com). With such great memories surrounding the maple bar, we had to include these at the top of our list....and the confused look on the southerner's faces brought a shiver to my spine.
They don't have maple bars in the south! That's crazy, surely they do.
This revelation led to some reseach. Lo and behold, Wikipedia said it all:
"A maple bar is a rectangular pastry with maple glaze on top. It is a regional term from the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon and Washington. Elsewhere it is known as a maple-glazed Long John.
Within the Pacific Northwest maple bars are among the most popular and common pastries."
So they really don't have maple bars in the south...uh oh.
I was not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Hence the Great Maple Bar Hunt of 2008 was born. We rallied the troops...calling all of the friends we have met out here and put them on a mission- find me a maple bar! Using the VWVortex (forums.vwvortex.com) as a means for discussion and tracking the hunt was quickly on. Since we were discussing this on a public forum, more and more people became intrigued and the hunt rapidly expanded. Numerous calls were met with very curious responses, but no one had maple bars. Finally after about 20 different bakeries/donut shops were hit...we had a lead. While in a grocery store, one of my friends Chris found maple-glazed donuts and chocolate-covered creme filled bars. He did the math, and since they had the maple icing and could make bars...they had to be able to create a maple bar.
It took some arm twisting, but eventually Chris was able to order 3 dozen "Maple glazed unfilled bars" and the feast was planned. I cooked up about 2 pounds of bacon for those daring enough to try the fabled "Bacon Maple Bar". We had around 15 people in attendance, and the southerners agreed- they were missing out on the deliciousness that is a maple bar.
The crazy thing is, I'm not that big of a donut person. I think it's more the fact that someone said I couldn't get one that made me want it all the more. Like I said, funny the things you would never miss until they are gone.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
On the road again- Texas
Did I mention I'm not a huge fan of Texas? At any rate, I made it through unscathed but definitely exhausted. So I thought I would harken back to my past and do some mini rental car reviews, considering how I had three that week.
Day 1- Plano and the Jeep Liberty
Pros- Big and roomy, big engine with lots of power
Cons- Twitchy steering, WAY too soft of a suspension. Heed the rollover warnings on this one. Window switches are in the center console instead of the door...so you instinctively reach for the switch in the door and end up locking/unlocking the door instead of rolling the window down.
Plano- I was only there for 8 hours, and 2 of those were spent in DFW. I do know they have Jack in the Box though...which depending on your outlook is either really good or really bad.
Day Two- McAllen and the Hyundai Santa Fe
Pros- Overall a decent vehicle. Nothing really stands outs about it, but it'll get you from Point A to Point B just fine
Cons- Nothing stands out about it...hard to get excited about it
McAllen is a little town in the south of Texas...and I was only there overnight. I have been there before, and I can tell you they have some damn good Mexican food places there...which they should since it's just across the border. But unless you have specific business there...you don't really need to go. You won't miss much.
Day three- El Paso and the Pontiac G6
Pros- It was a car instead of an SUV! Actually it feels pretty well put together. Good lines, decent looking. Engine was surprisingly powerful for the car. Car was bigger than I thought
Cons- The damn American Automakers transmissions. Can we please make a car that allows you to actually put some of that power to the ground in a useful fashion? I mean...what's the point of having so many horses if you are going to gear it so high you can't use them?
El Paso- Have you seen the movie "No Country for Old Men"? It was pretty good. I believe it was set in the late 70s if I remember correctly. Part of it was set in El Paso...and the town looked just like the movie. I swear the town is stuck in a Time Vortex, kind of like the entire state of Idaho.
Monday, May 5, 2008
OK…so you all knew it was coming. The time when I had to blow off some steam around the upcoming wedding. So without further ado, here are my current bitches:
Yeah I know oil prices are climbing and the airlines have to make money, but the way they price their flights makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe I’m just not used to paying for them, but this is getting out of control. Just trying to get two tickets to PDX from ATL for our wedding has turned into an exhaustive search. On average, it was running between $550-$650 for each ticket, which at times was almost as much as the fare between PDX and
I really like the hotel we’ve chosen to host our wedding- it’s very unique and seems to mesh with our personality quite well. But why, oh why does it seem like I have the best of luck when it comes to remodeling projects? Yes, the room we’ve reserved for our wedding is slated for demolition and will actually not exist when it’s time for our wedding. Now the hotel is being very considerate and has already reserved us another room just in case things aren’t completed by then, however the two week project has already been delayed over 5 due to permit issues. And the room they are building will actually be better than the one reserved…if it gets finished on time. Really this isn’t a big deal, but I’m just stressing because it’s something out of my control at this point. It’s a simple two week project, and they have over 10 until I need it….we have pad. Just makes me nervous, you know?
I really don’t think any of Gayle’s or my family reads this, but just in case I’m not going to name names. Recently there has been a lot of drama forced upon us surrounding the wedding. Stupid stuff…stuff that doesn’t need to happen. I don’t know if it’s people being childish or if they have a legitmate beef…but c’mon, it needs to stop. Take a moment to think how your actions will be perceived by others…and how that may affect your future with them. It’s not hard. And if you do have an issue with someone or something, be an adult about it and come out and talk about it. If it wasn't for you guys, we really wouldn't be stressing at all over this shindig.
That’s it…I’m done.