Tag Archives: automobiles

Well, it was a weekend

I had company this weekend, so productivity was at a standstill. Mom needed a new car, and Boise is a better area to shop. That’s how it all started. My task was to take her and Dad shopping and help where I could.

Mom doesn’t shop like most people. Her goal was a purple SUV. According to the Internet, GM makes a few in that color. There just aren’t any in Idaho. We cruised the Chevrolet/GM/ whatever dealership, and there was an interesting vehicle. We elected to leave in favor of cruising the Toyota lot. My parents both know how I like Toyotas, and long term followers will remember helping Dad get a Toyota Tundra a couple of years ago. (Note for later: It has nice running boards.)

There were a better selection of Sequoias this time, but they don’t have anything in purple. I really liked a Champaign/gold one they had. The best deal was a loaner car they were selling. It was a red Lexus with 10,000 miles and a pretty good deal going with it.


Back to the GM lot to check out the earlier vehicle. It isn’t purple, the color is called Black Current. About six hours later, we drove it back to my place. It’s a Chevrolet Traverse, and is a pretty nice SUV.

I deal with sales people every day. I was in sales for ten years. I also write articles, and make public presentations. In that world, you have to know your audience. Probably good advice for a fiction author too, but I am my first audience.

It was absurd watching two young salesmen trying to sell my mother a car. One at the Toyota dealership, and one at the GM dealership. I made the mistake of telling the Toyota kid I liked the new orange color on the trucks. He pulled a new orange Tundra around to take us driving around the lot.

Here’s the deal. I’m not the customer here. This truck didn’t have running boards, and I had a hard time getting in it. My 86 year old father was with us, and he uses a cane. He managed to crawl inside, but I still don’t know how. He drove around, including the back lot, and told us about all the different SUV models. Then in desperation, he offered to drive the lot a second time so Mom could find a different color she liked.

The Chevrolet salesman was just as bad. He talked about all the USB ports, the OnStar system, the wifi hotspot, and the magnetic phone charger built in. Mom doesn’t own a smartphone, and doesn’t want one. She certainly doesn’t have one that would use magnetic charging. She doesn’t even like Sirius radio. She doesn’t want a computer console at all, but is willing to accept there aren’t any vehicles without one.

She bought the Traverse despite the salesman’s best efforts. They treated her well because her old SUV had TV monitors in the back of the headrests. Mom sewed covers to hide them, because she heard people break in and steal them. I didn’t even know they were there. They’ve never been used… ever.

Know your audience. Don’t make an 86 year old, with a cane, crawl four feet off the ground into a gigantic pickup. Don’t try to sell an elderly woman on all the high tech features in the car. She didn’t want magnetic phone charging and wifi. She wanted purple. I even pulled the salesman aside and told him this about half-way through his pitch. It was that embarrassing. He was a nice kid, he just needs to learn some things.

The upgrades guy was a pain in the ass. He pushed the ten year extended warranty so hard that Mom wound up buying a six year warranty just to shut him up. I know he makes money on these, and doesn’t care that they probably won’t be driving at all in ten years. Finally when he mentioned how many hundred computerized components the car had, and that they were guaranteed to break down, I told him, “That doesn’t speak well for Chevrolet products if you’re guaranteeing they will break down.” I even suggested we might be better suited with a different manufacturer. That toned him down, but not much.

They got on the road early this morning, and called when they got home. I wasn’t very productive, but it was nice to help them out where I could.

Today, I managed to read one short story. Two smelly bulldogs got baths too. That’s about it around here. Hope you guys were more productive.

Next weekend isn’t looking good either. I have Thanksgiving company coming, and have to bake until the wee hours on Wednesday.


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I lived most of my life in Northern Nevada, but there is one event I never attended. Right on the Utah line, the month of August means Speed Week.

I always intended to go at least once, but never made it. I used to own a 1956 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, and it isn’t that kind of car event. I took my car to Hot August Nights in Reno more times than I could count. You kind of have to pick one, and thousands of classic cars and hotrods always won out for me.

Speed week is where highly customized cars race across the Bonneville Salt Flats trying to set land speed records, including breaking the sound barrier. I would imagine it’s about 150 degrees right down on the surface of the salt. Reno offered air conditioned casinos with discount cold beer. They also had some awesome concerts.

At Hot August Nights, I got to see the kind of bands you never hear about anymore. I saw Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Shirelles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and many more. They were all pretty old, and most of them are dead now, but I saw them live. Revere even owned a nightclub down there called Kicks. He played live in the evenings during the event, and it was a happening place. Some of them were one hit wonders, and the concerts were always an amalgamation. A dozen performers did about three songs each, then the headliner would do the last half of the show.

Speed week is more of a wild party atmosphere, similar to but not as excessive as Burning Man. I think it’s better for a younger crowd. I was young once too, but always found something better to do. I kind of wish I’d gone just once.

August is a tough month to depict, because it doesn’t have a special holiday or anything. There are events all over the country in August; Speed Week, Hot August Nights, Burning Man, Sturgis. I’m sure you can think of others, and if you’re in a different country I’m sure you can. Which one do you want to attend? Is one of these on your bucket list.

I’m leaving my baseball scoreboard in the banner though. It’s still baseball season, and The Enhanced League still needs some readers.


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Modern automobiles

I'm the master of reblogging this week, but that doesn't mean you can't have a bit of original content too. This one is going to make me look like a curmudgeon, but I don't care.

I picked up my Toyota truck from the body shop today. I think they did a fantastic job, and am very happy with the results.

Part of the project involved using a rental vehicle while my wheels were indisposed. Insurance provided me with a Dodge pickup via Enterprize. I also wind up using a rental a few times per year at my paycheck job. There are times when I have to use a State owned vehicle, and occasionally drive my wife's car.

So what is the deal with automobile designers? Every single car is so completely different you nearly have to take a class to operate the damned thing. I'm not talking about driving, but the features here.

This Dodge had the dashboard lights turned nearly off. I really didn't have hours to read a manual to learn how to turn them back up. As a result, I have no idea how fast I was going on my early morning commutes. I tried to match traffic and not be a hindrance or overly agressive.

It also had a radio that refused to be turned off. It automatically came back on every time I started the car. I didn't want to get familiar enough to find a satellite radio channel. This truck also came with a dial in place of the gearshift. Even the simple act of turning on the headlights takes fifteen minutes of exploration.

I'm not saying the Toyota is any simpler. It's just my truck, and I invested the time to figure out where everything is, and how it works.

I always said moving the dimmer switch from the floor was the first sign of Armageddon. The world was simpler back then, and everything worked just fine.

When I drive my wife's car, I still don't know how to work the heater or air conditioner. I figured out how to open the window.

This isn't a complaint about modern gadgetry. I love having my iPhone speak to the truck and play music, or take calls without using my hands. I have satellite radio and enjoy it.

My gripe is: Why does every manufacturer insist on trying to one-up the competition by making their product completely different? One stem on the steering column, two stems on the steering column. Twist for wiper speed, no twist for headlights. No horn in the center, let's put it on the stem thingie. A dial that looks like it might brighten the dashboard actually points the headlights toward the ground.

It's damned near impossible to jump in a different car and just drive it. I'm all for the gadgets, in fact they ought to put an electronic finger drum set on my steering wheel. I just believe they ought to standardize the basics. Make the wipers, horn, headlights, and heater the same across the board. Dress the dials up any way you like. Just make them all in the same spot and operate the same way.

I feel the same way about the gauges. Why can't they all be in the same spot from car to car? This one isn't as big a deal, but it would be nice. I can usually figure out what speed I'm driving after a mile or two. It's probably no less safe than texting and driving.

Oh, and move the damned dimmer switch back to the floor.

Okay temper tantrum over. We'll return you back to reblogging the stops on my blog tour. It's going really well, and I'm getting lots of comments. It seems like quite a few folks are going to read Will O' the Wisp. They aren't sales yet, but some of them will follow through. I'm also seeing increased blog traffic, so that's a bonus.


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