Thursday, August 28, 2014

Invader!

I don't know what I'm doing lately. Our house is in chaos. My job is chaos every day and I'm told I'm supposed to be an expert in a particular area that requires constant practice, yet after 6 months I haven't done any of it. My skills are getting rusty fast. What I am doing at work is ... I don't even know how to explain it - wading through a maze of bureaucratic red tape. Welcome to the Government, son.

My sister told me she had a little black kitten she needed to get rid of. I told her the Mrs was talking like she wanted one. Then my sister said she wanted to hang onto it for awhile and maybe later I could take it. And then a girl at work said some guys at her husband's work had rescued a tiny little black kitten and were looking for someone to take it. I have 2 cats already. That's 2 laps in my house and 2 cats for those 2 laps. It's a perfect fit and a peaceful scenario. And yet, despite this zen-like status of my chaotic house I told the Mrs about the kitten. And then I showed her a photo. And now we have this wild thing running rampant in our bedroom ...


This monster is insane. And it has claws! It climbs everything, especially our bedspread. Every time we turn around this monkey is climbing on top of the bed and running across to the other side. It climbed some blankets on the other side of the room and ended up on top of a dresser. I don't know how it did it. It's half cat, half monkey. And it has this itty bitty little 'meow' which it randomly breaks out when it has climbed into something and starts to worry that it can't get out again. I don't know what to make of all this. The other 2 cats are pissed. They don't like this at all.

The Mrs wanted a little black girl cat to sit on her lap and show some affection. Our other 2 cats are both Main coons and they don't much care for the whole lap thing all that much. I have a feeling this cat will do nicely for laps. But the problem is, we can't tell if it is male or female. Its just too tiny. Judging from the angry reaction of the other 2 cats I'm worried that its a little boy. But who knows? Maybe they were just in a bad mood when I brought it home yesterday and not feeling like being friendly?

I picked it up in Bartlett and had to drive all the way out into the Boondocks with this monkey cat escaping from its box and climbing all over my car. It finally sat down next to me and let me pet it while I drove with the other hand. Then it fell asleep. As I type this it is asleep on my foot. It has been there the entire time I've been writing with its little black head resting on my toes. I don't know, but I'm thinking this kitty may like me more than it does my Mrs. If I'm right, she's gonna be mad.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Corporate America FAIL - Automobiles

The Modern Plastic Fantastic Automobile

I have been looking around trying to decide what the Mrs' next car is going to be when the current car she drives finally dies. I know what she wants and I know what she doesn't want. The problem is, every single automobile manufacturer in America seems to have decided that everything she wants is unnecessary and therefore should not be offered. Meanwhile, things she doesn't care about are supremely important. Allow me to explain.


Modern Plastic Fantastic Interior

1. Comfortable Seats - both my wife and my mother tell me that they once had a favorite car which they no longer have, but both wish could get back. For my mom it was a Buick. For Mrs Memphis it was an Oldsmobile. Despite the fact that both of these cars were made by GM they don't have much else in common. Except for one thing ... they both had bench seats up front. And those bench seats were comfy. Those old bench seats were like sitting on your favorite comfy couch while driving. And because they were like sitting on your favorite comfy couch, they helped to relax you in stressful traffic and all other situations. People often don't notice how uncomfortable they are when they're busy driving, but it affects them even so. Being comfy makes you less likely to fuck with people in traffic for no reason other than that you feel shitty and decide to throw that shit at other drivers. People who are comfy like to remain comfy. Fighting with people is uncomfortable. Since beginning the search for the Mrs' new car I have discovered that there are no auto manufacturers currently offering bench seats in cars anymore. From Kia to Mercedes, the front bench seat is GONE. And the plastic, 12-way-adjustable, bucket seats they've replaced them with are significantly harder and less comfortable. I'd like to know why they did this. Did the US Government interfere, once again, with the manufacture of automobile seats and outlaw the super comfy seat?


America's glory days?
 
2. Comfortable Suspensions - the most comfortable car I ever owned was a 1975 Chevy Caprice Classic. Actually, that's not entirely correct. The most comfortable car I ever owned was a 1974 Dodge Polara which had a rear differential, coil springs and shocks in the back, and torsion bars and shocks up front along with control arms and 15 inch wheels with giant sidewalls. The Caprice had front coils and shocks, but was otherwise like the Dodge. They both rode 100 times better than any of the cars built in the past 15 years. In fact, I would go even further and say that the current line of 'luxury cars' ride no better than the Datsun B210 of the 1970s, and the Datsun B210 rode like shit. Everyone who drove one back when I was in high school was ashamed of the car and ashamed of how shittily it rode. But today's Cadillacs, Lexuses, Mercedeses, BMWs, Lincolns, and Chrysler 300s ... name any modern luxury car and add it here ... all ride like the old 1970s Datsun B210. By that I mean that you can feel every bump in the road, every groove in the asphalt, every imperfection, and speed bumps and railroad tracks just about cause the entire car to explode from the impact. My 2 old cars, the Chevy and the Dodge, could both fly over speed bumps and the worst railroad tracks in town without my slowing down. Other than hearing the sound of my tires bumping up and over them, I felt not a jar or a bump or a vibration. I felt nothing uncomfortable or unpleasant. The cars rode great. But today's cars, all of them, ride like stupid old shitty Datsun B210s. Someone somewhere, and here I suspect the fucking Insurance Lobby, decided that a good ride was unimportant and mandated that all cars must corner well, but ride like shit. So my mom's Ford Crown Vic now has bucket seats and low profile tires on its oversized wheels and she has no idea why, despite being a full-sized luxury car, it rides like ass.


3. Clean Dashboards - do you remember when the dash of a car showed you how fast you were going, how many RPMs the engine was turning, how much gasoline you had, what gear you were in (drive, reverse, neutral), whether your blinker was on, maybe your oil pressure, amps and water temperature, what radio station you were listening to or else what song your CD was playing, and not much else? My mom can barely work an old VCR and her DVD player completely baffles her. When she sits in the driver's seat of any new car she is instantly overwhelmed by all the shit. My wife isn't overwhelmed by it, but she is highly annoyed by it. For me, my Dodge Challenger does a zillion different things, all via the computer, and I don't give a shit about 95% of it. I haven't even bothered to use it. I have a coworker who has a similar Challenger and he has spent the past several weeks since he bought the car studying the fucking dash and all its gadgets, coming in to work and telling me about the latest new thing he learned. His car is like a new personal computer and he's learning how to program it. I don't want to program my fucking car. I don't value all that extraneous shit at all, and so I mostly ignore it. Every so often I'll hit a button to look at something I need to know, like oil pressure or tire pressure or something. When I do, my speedometer disappears and I have to flip through 100 menus to get it back. How convenient. Not. And according to Consumer Reports, the number one complaint new car owners have about their brand new cars is in some way connected to those in-dash electronics and big display, which have malfunctioned or otherwise failed to work properly. As incredibly shitty as our modern PCs are, with their endless problems - viruses, malware, blue screens of death, constant lagging, system failures, corrupt drives, corrupt operating systems, faulty chips, faulty fans, etc - why would anyone think it a good idea to make having this shit in our cars a mandatory thing? It's almost as if the car companies, insurance companies and US Government WANT all of us to be uncomfortable, beat up as we drive, and angry at our malfunctioning electronics so that we try to kill each other in traffic, which they classify as "road rage" and use as an excuse to add black boxes to our cars against our will and then track and control us. So awesome.

Imagine this car jumping 10 feet in the air Dukes of Hazard style

4. Normal Wheels and Tires - I don't know if you can find a car with 15 inch wheels and tires with a sidewall classified as a 70 or a 75 or something formerly standard like that. I once had an old Toyota Corolla that tried to compensate for its lack of a comfy suspension and uncomfortable bucket seats by using 80 series sidewall tires as standard. And you know what? It sort of worked. I once jumped that car while on my way to an engineering class. And by 'jumped' I'm talking full-fledged, General Lee, way the fuck up in the air higher than the roof of a pickup truck, in the fucking air and then down again on the ground. I hit a humped grass median separating the 2 lanes going north from the 2 lanes going south at full speed. It was humped like a motorcycle ramp and it worked the same way. I launched Bo Duke-style and landed in the intersection as the light turned yellow. The coil spring and shock absorbers suspension worked overtime to absorb the landing and my 80-series little tires had to do the rest. I skidded left and onto the University campus on 2 wheels and continued down the road to the engineering building. I don't recommend doing this, but it didn't hurt me any. The car wasn't broken or even bent that I could tell. I didn't feel as if Ray Guy of the old Oakland Raiders had kicked me in the spine the way you would in every modern 'luxury car' and the car wasn't broken like all new cars would be. Why does my mom's Crown Vic have low profile tires? It's a fucking Crown Vic! Who puts low profile tires on an old lady car and what idiot thought this should be standard from the factory? I know it was some fuckwad lawyer from the fucking Insurance Lobby and I'm sure the reason for it is because they calculated that better handling would reduce accidents even as shittier rides increase road rage and intentional rammings and shootings and tailgating and cutting off and braking hard and dragging from cars and beating the shit out of and all of the joys of angry people in angry traffic driving uncomfortable cars that they no longer love do to each other because their cars are slowly beating them to death and making them unhappy.


I think this is why the American love of cars had faded so dramatically. I think the Insurance Lobby, the US Government and the Auto Industry have killed it. I don't know that they intended to kill it. But I know that they have. I paid, if I remember correctly, around $500 for my 1975 Chevy Caprice. It may have been stolen, I don't know. I got it from my brother and he did some shady stuff back then. But no one ever offered me thousands of dollars for it. No one at that time thought it was a treasure that should be kept in a garage with a cover over it and only driven on special occasions. Recently I went online to see if I could buy another 1975 Chevy Caprice like my old one. I wasn't looking for special and rare options like a 454 or convertible top or anything. I just wanted a basic 2-door 1975 Chevy Caprice. I couldn't find one for less than $10,000. So I looked for a 1974 Dodge Polara. Those were never especially popular with anyone except stunt drivers. But it was the same deal - $10,000 and up. I started looking at ALL the old cars from back in the day. I noticed a trend. Any car built with rear wheel drive, a V8 engine, shock absorbers and coil springs, and even a basic bench seat, has sky rocketed in price. People have come to value these cars like they were made of solid gold. By comparison, newer cars with front wheel drive, struts, bucket seats and computers, are worth substantially less. And on one seems to be buying them. When I call for that $10,000 Chevy Caprice with 130,000 miles on it and the original paint, it's already sold. If I call for the 1995 Olds 88 with struts, a computer, buckets, and electric window motors that are infamous for wearing out way the hell too soon and too often, its available. Its available and they're anxious to make a deal so they can unload it. Because no one wants it.

707 Horsepower

Meanwhile, the Car Magazines are saying "if you missed the horsepower wars of the late '60s and early '70s and can't afford to buy one of those cars now because they have skyrocketed in value, don't despair, because the horsepower is BACK and it is better than ever. Buy a new musclecar while you still can. This won't last."  They are partly correct. There has never been a better time for horsepower. Today's musclecars are much faster than the musclecars currently selling at those Mecum auctions for $50,000 - $250,000. And they handle better. And they have much better brakes.

Chrome and Steel - $$$

But those old musclecars are still selling for twice as much money as the new ones. And that isn't going to change. Because yesterday's musclecars had steel bumpers with chrome. Some of them had steel grills with chrome, too. Their fenders were steel. They had frames under them. They were strong and reliable and faster than shit and super fun to drive. But they were otherwise comfortable to ride in when you weren't doing burnouts or drag racing or otherwise making tire smoke from the rear wheels. 

What's underneath your modern bumper - NOTHING

Today's musclecars, on the other hand, don't have bumpers at all. They have a urethane molded illusion of a bumper over plastic which is designed to fail when you bump anything at speeds of more than 1 mph. There's a new Mustang in my parking lot at work that has a giant hole in its pretend bumper where it apparently bumped a pickup truck's trailer hitch. Looking inside the hole I can see that there is nothing in there remotely resembling a bumper. Add to this failing the fact that most of the body and all of the interior of the modern musclecars is made of plastic, and you can imagine how well these cars are going to age. Not well at all. Think for a moment, when was the last time you saw a 1980s IROC Camaro? How did it look? Not well, I'll bet. I can't tell you the last time I saw one that didn't look like it was slowly melting, because that is exactly what it has been doing since the moment it left the assembly line. I leaned against my Dodge Challenger the other day. I put my hand on the rear roof pillar to steady myself. It mushed under my hand like a bean bag chair. It's part of the fucking roof, for Christ's sake, and it is cheap shit. 

Plastic

Let me give you another insight into what people think of the modern muscle cars. When I brought my shiny new Dodge Challenger SRT home and pulled into my driveway, I said to my wife, "I was thinking of taking my 1971 Monte Carlo out of the garage and putting the Challenger in." Her response epitomized the point I'm making here.

"The hell you will. The Monte Carlo is metal. It has survived since 1971. Your new car is plastic and there is no way its going to last even half as long as the Monte Carlo. Park the new car in the driveway. Leave the metal car in the garage."


Metal
I would like to point out that my wife doesn't give a shit about my old Monte Carlo. She has no idea why I like it so much. She loves my 1970 Chevelle, but she has no use for my Monte Carlo. Yet despite this, she still respects it more than any new car I might buy. I was going to buy the Ford Mustang GT500 Shelby, remember? She said her reaction would be the same regardless. The Mustang would be in the driveway. The Monte Carlo would not move out of that garage for it. And I agree with her. That's why the 1971 Monte Carlo and the 1970 Chevelle are in the garage, safe and sound, while the Dodge Challenger SRT 6.4 liter 470 horsepower musclecar, as nice and as fun as it is, sits out in the driveway where the birds shit on it and the cats walk on it and the trees drop sap on it and the sun is slowly going to melt all those cheap plastic parts.


And there will never be a Mecum auction with a 21st century Dodge Challenger SRT selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because they simply aren't going to last that long. No 21st century car is. And no one will care when they're gone.

But they will still long for and miss the old steel cars with bench seats and rear wheel drive and big V8 engines and steel everything. Because those old cars were built for the people who bought them and drove them. Today's cars are built for the insurance company lawyers and the National Transportation and Safety fuckwits and the EPA and various politicians who all ride in the back of custom built limousines and helicopters and Air Force One, none of whom have the slightest interest in the wants or needs of the actual customer.

And so I think I finally understand why when I sold my father's old 1980 Pontiac Catalina hearse station wagon on Craigslist a few years ago, with its bench seat and column shifter and super smooth ride, within 24 hours of my placing the ad I had 2 grown men standing in my driveway literally fighting with each other over who was going to buy the car from me. No one is going to fight over today's cars. But 2 men fought over a banana yellow station wagon built by a defunct American car company in my driveway because it had a comfortable bench seat and comfortable coil springs and Monroe shock absorbers and a carburetor and a V8 engine and chrome steel bumpers and most of all because the entire car was made out of metal. We will never see those days of wealth and prosperity epitomized by our chrome steel cars again. I think deep down everyone knows it.





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blowing It Out My Ass



Yes, I'm aware that I haven't written in awhile. I've been busy with lots of crap that isn't even remotely fun.

And also, I have been busy with crap ... just crap, the literal kind.

So I'm sick. I've been sick for about a week and a half. Last week I felt tired all week long. Every time I did a workout I felt like crap. And I got injured. And I kept falling asleep in the middle of meetings. And then the crap began.

Over the weekend I just slept and slept. While I was awake I was shitting my brains out. When I wasn't awake I was in an uncomfortable bed on a worn out mattress that needs replacing. As a bonus, while I was in bed there were cats at the bedroom door wondering why I wasn't letting them in so they could stretch out on their backs in the floor and snore right along with me.

I've missed 2 days of work already. My toilet is about to turn in its resignation. It's done. It's totally worn out.

So that's my excitement for the past week. What have you been up to?


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