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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Road-Trip Aborted

Road-Trip Aborted

 Have you ever started on a road-trip with wonderful expectations, and then something goes terribly wrong?  We did once, and fortunately we escaped the day unscathed.  During the early years of raising our children some 26 years ago, my wife and I decided to take a road trip with our four little ones.  Our children are two years apart, and back then the youngest was two and the oldest almost eight.  We are fortunate to operate our lives as one mind with one plan, and unwavering commitment for the full benefit of our children.

My wife and I think so much alike that somewhere along the way we came to the consensus that when we brought these little children into the world, our focus became raising them happy, healthy, and safe.  Our personal everything became secondary.  I swear we never sat down and talked about it, it was the unspoken commitment (living as one).  Early on we determined that if our children couldn’t go somewhere with us we weren’t going.  We stopped going on vacations alone. Our little ones never spent an overnight even at a grandparent’s house.

This was a special adventure for us, we were going to go on a spur of the moment road trip.  The non-plan was to drive south from the Northwest towards California perhaps as far as Los Angeles (maybe even visit Disneyland) or not, and head home whenever we wanted to.  The plan was so flexible that approximately 30 miles into the trip we made a decision to treat our children to their first ferry ride across the Puget Sound.  I remember like it was yesterday, getting out of the minivan and going up on deck, and feeling the sea air hitting our faces as the ferry cut across the water at a fast pace.  We traveled from Edmonds to Kingston, and drove towards Port Townsend.  We thought of visiting some of the antique shops that the area is famous for.  However, along the way we saw a road sign pointing to a Historical Landmark (Fort Worden), and decided to go check it out.

Fort Worden, along with the heavy batteries of Fort Flagler and Fort Casey, once guarded nautical entrance to Puget Sound. These posts, established in the late 1890s, became the first line of a fortification system designed to prevent a hostile fleet from reaching such targets as the Bremerton Naval Yard and the cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.  Once there the sandy beach was very inviting to a young family that had never (as a family unit) seen the Pacific Ocean.

We parked the minivan and planned to walk the children while holding their little hands along the water line.  We instructed the children not to go near the water on their own, while we prepared them by removing their shoes and socks.  While tending to two of them the six year old made a run for the water.  I didn’t realize that the area, being a shipping channel had an almost immediate drop after about two feet of sandy beach.  Before we realized what happened my baby was drifting submerged away from land.  Without a second thought, I gave an order for everyone to stay put and I dived after my little one.  I prayed for my son safety as I swam after him.  I was at a point where I could reach his feet but I wanted to lift his face out of the water, so against my survival instinct to grab him, I swam closer to him until I could grab him from his waist to lift him out of the water.

 He immediately started coughing, and crying as I swam back to shore holding his upper body out of the water.  I know that I had special help in that instance because I am not that strong of a swimmer.  My son and I had to take a very cold shower at an outdoor location on the beach.  We tried not to make a big thing out of it, but we drove into Port Townsend, had a burger and fries, visited some stores and headed home,  If for no other reason in my existence, I know that I am blessed, and that I am loved, beyond what I probably deserve.  The best is yet to come…

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Extended Holiday Weekend 2

Extended Holiday Weekend 2
  • Excerpt from Blog Post, dated 5/24/2013: Extended Holiday Weekend. There is so much to be said for youth, we were all there once.  Some of us are still there but it’s not the same; young at heart and in mind is not the same as young actually.  The things we value, the things that drive us, for the most part it’s the material things, and the instant gratification.  I was impulsive once upon a time, I like many others, and somehow felt that youth would stick around forever.  What a wonderful thing to have progressed out of it while I was still young, and could make amends.
  • The extended holiday weekend reminds me of the olden days when I too would have the car packed and ready to go for the 1500 mile trip from California to Washington State to visit family and friends for the three day weekend.  The only difference between then and now was the amount of the payments of the muscle car I was driving, and the cost per gallon of gasoline.  My car payments were right around $50.00 and the cost of a gallon of gasoline was .29 cents.  Compare the cost of gasoline at $3.79 today.  Not to mention the cost of a New Camaro or Charger, right around $49K to $64K plus financing. 
  • This is  a typical scenario leading up to the extended weekend; Thursday night like most every other week night I would stay up until around midnight, I would wake up by 5 am to show up to work by 7 am (5 hours sleep maximum).  On Friday I would arrive from work at around 5:45 pm, and hit the road immediately headed north.  The drive as soon as the holiday traffic cleared up and we were past the Bay Area traffic would be a constant 85 to 90 miles per hour until we arrived home the next day near noon.  The visit while fun and exciting, was short lived.  In order to return in time for my job we had to leave no later than 1:30 pm on Monday so I could report to my mid-management position by 7 am on Tuesday. 
 WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This Labor Day, millions of cars will hit the road as Americans celebrate summer with family and friends. As with all of the summer holidays, many people celebrate the end of summer by driving to a location that is more than 50 miles away from their home. The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) is reminding all motorists to drive carefully when they travel this weekend.  
In 2012, more than 6,270 red-light violations occurred over the Labor Day holiday.* this year is likely to be just as dangerous.
Travel club AAA is projecting that 34.1 million Americans will travel over the holiday, with 85 percent expected to drive to their destinations. This prediction represents an increase of 4.3 percent when comparing the numbers to last year's drivers.  Due to this expected rise in the number of road travelers, the National Safety Council predicts that 394 traffic deaths will occur over the Labor Day travel period, an increase of nearly 6 percent over 2012 numbers. In addition, the safety organization estimates that another 42,200 people will require medical treatment for traffic-related injuries.
"With a significant influx of cars on our roadways, all drivers must be careful over the holiday weekend, especially in and around intersections," says Melissa Wandall, President of NCSR. "We encourage everyone to slow down and take extra care to stop at red lights."
Friday, August 30 is expected to be the busiest travel day of 2013. AAA predicts that 46 percent of Americans will depart for the holiday weekend on Friday and 43 percent will return on Monday, September 2.
My family and I plan to stay home, and entertain our family members that drop by for some delicious BBQ, and home style family cooking.  We can always travel when everyone else returns to school and work.  I wish travelers a safe and happy extended weekend!  The best is yet to come.....

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Answered Prayers 2

Pray with all your heart
Answered Prayers continued:
Since my mother had limited understanding of the English Language, it was left up to me to explain to her why our plans had changed, and breakfast was not to be.  I felt so bad for so many reasons, the main reason is that I loved my mother with all my heart and if I could trade places with her, I wouldn’t have hesitated.  Another big reason is that even as I was explaining to her about what the feeling of ghosts following her around meant, I could hear her stomach growling from hunger.  I even wished that we had gone to breakfast before the doctor visit.
My mother had the strength of a pioneer woman, and especially when it came to protecting her children, and family in general, but facing the unknown, she was no different than anyone else.  I was so taken by surprise by the findings that I didn’t even have time to blame anything or anyone (many people understandably take it out on God at times of illness).  I did my best to tell her that as soon as the tests were done the hospital would take care of feeding her but I knew better.  Depending on what they found she may not eat until after surgery.
Soon after she was admitted to the hospital, I was asked to leave so the doctor and staff could begin the testing process.  I felt so bad not being able to stand by to hold her hand and comfort her.  Before I left I arranged for a translator to be present to keep her informed.  I called my wife to let her know what was going on, and I decided to head to my office so I could be handy to answer any call from the hospital or doctor.  I attended a couple of meeting but couldn’t concentrate.
It was almost 4 pm before the doctor called my office.  He explained that they found problems that would require multiple by-pass surgery, and that it was scheduled for the following morning at 9:30 am.  He also mentioned that he was able to get two heart specialist that were in the area for other reasons, to look in on my mother and give their opinions early the next day.  I thanked the doctor, and told him I would be at the hospital the next morning to standby while she was in surgery.
That evening I was very strong in the presence of my wife and young children, reassuring them that grandma would be fine.  However, I couldn’t sleep that night thinking of all the possible bad case scenarios.  I prayed that night with all my heart, telling God that I was a good person (man, son, husband, and father).  I told him that I didn’t drink, smoke or gambled, I didn’t stray from my family, and I didn’t know what else I could offer him, but that he could ask anything of me in exchange for taking care of my mother.  In retrospect I am embarrassed that I told God I was near perfect, but I am telling it like it was.
The next morning I arrived at the hospital at 9 am, and the receptionist told me I was way too early, and I answered that I knew that the surgery wasn’t scheduled for another 30 minutes.  She looked at me with bewilderment and said, “No release isn’t until 11 am.”  She followed that with; “didn’t the doctor call you?”  As it happened the Heart Specialists examined my mother studied the charts and found nothing wrong with her heart.  I went to the hospital chapel, and offered a quick prayer of thanks with a few tears of joy thrown in for good measure.  I testify to you that prayers are answered!  My mother lived the rest of her life without a sign of blockage or repeat of the heart scare.  The best is yet to come…..

Answered Prayers

Answered Prayers
When it comes to religion, I come from a strong upbringing.  I am not a fanatic (whatever that means) but I do have strong faith.  I’m not sure that my mother knew exactly how to raise me strong, into a God fearing man.  Subsequently she went the route of instilling, as they say, the fear of God in me.  She would tell me, that whenever I did anything wrong, God would be watching me, and he would know I was doing wrong and he would not be happy.  I eventually grew old enough to think for myself and I reasoned that if he could see everything, he would see me doing good things and would be happy with me.
If I were to say that I have a strength in religion, it would have to be in the belief on the power of prayer.  One of the biggest situations in my life when I prayed desperately for something I wanted and it came to be, was the following and it involved my mother:  When my mother came to live with us in the last 18 years of her life, I was the person designated as the one that would take her to her regularly scheduled doctor appointments (minimally once a month but on average more like every two weeks).  We would always go have a breakfast after the appointment, and this time was planned to be no different.  On the way to the doctor’s office I would ask her questions about her aches and pains so I could share them with the doctor during the exam.  On this day she told me not to laugh at her but that she felt like she was being followed by ghosts everywhere she went.  I actually laughed and I asked her if she really expected me to tell the doctor that.  She agreed with me that it would sound silly.
The exam was going pretty normal and my mother’s standard answer when the doctor asked her how she was doing was “Fine!”  As the doctor was finishing the exam, I mentioned that my mother felt that she was being followed by ghosts wherever she went.  The doctor didn’t react, but continued his exam.  He soon asked her to change back to her street clothes and excused himself from the room. 
On his return I mentioned that we were starving and were going straight for breakfast.  He said “no you are going straight to the Emergency Room to have your mother admitted to the hospital!”  He further stated that when he left the exam room he had gone to his front office to cancel his remaining appointments for the day.  Your mother has suffered a stroke, and needs to have tests best performed at the hospital.  As it turned out further examination after the mention of the ghosts, showed that she had lost her peripheral vision (a side effect of a stroke).  This post will be continued, please look for Answered Prayers 2.  The best is yet to come…..

Monday, August 26, 2013

What If?

What If?
Have you ever pondered; What If?
For the record; I am very happy with my place in life and how I got here.  My life hasn’t always been a Rose Garden, and if it was, you can bet there were some Rose Bushes along the way.  Simply stated of the highs and lows in my life I’ve always focused on the highs, but definitely acknowledge the lows.  After all how else can you avoid the lows if you ignore them?
At some point in our lives we get to the end of the age spectrum, whatever that may be, I know some very sharp and productive 80 and 90 year olds, and I also know some very unhappy, ill and depressed 40 and 50 years olds.  Consequently end of age spectrum means different things to different people.  I am fortunate that health and longevity run in my family, but a semi-truck on the freeway doesn’t stop to ask how old the driver of a vehicle is before it runs it over.  There again actuaries tell us to avoid over exposure, in other words if you have no urgent business on the freeway or road, opt to stay home and spend quality family time with your loved ones.
My post this time around borders on being silly, but what if, it isn’t?  I remember many long and feared dreams (bordering on nightmares), where I was being chased by a killer or a man-eating animal, and it was so real, that I would wake up drenched in perspiration, just as I was cornered and about to be killed!  Only to find myself safely back in my bedroom, and bordering on being late to catch the school bus (junior high school age).  I also had some wonderful dreams where once again the dream was so real, I had won the State championship at my weight in wrestling, and was being offered a scholarship to my favorite university, only to be awakened by my mother to get up and perform my farm chores before I got ready for school. 
Each time during the dream or nightmare it was so real that if I didn’t wake up from a sleep, the outcome would have been a game changer.  Have you ever wondered, what if, the life we are living is a very long dream?  That in fact it could be an overnight experience that we will soon wake up from.  What if, my mother wakes me up, and I have to get ready because today is barely my going away to college day?  What if, no one wakes you up, but instead you wake up by yourself, and the first thing you notice is that you don’t have any aches and or pains.  When you go to shave, you look in the mirror, and you are barely 30 years old.  You go back in to the bedroom in disbelieve, and your beautiful young bride is still asleep.
No doubt this post could be a script for a very successful movie Franchise (with 7 sequels) that all the Baby Boomers would go see.  With that in mind I believe that I will wait to wake up until I am walking on the red carpet at the 5th sequel premier with my honey by my arm.  What if?  The best is yet to come….

Monday, August 19, 2013

Real Concerns

Housing Problems
I was outdoors the other day, and one of my neighbors stopped to talk as he was driving by on his way home.  He first complimented me on my nice and healthy looking yard, then we talked about the football season.  Eventually the conversation shifted to our children and concerns for them and their well-being.
While I am retired he is still a working man with a growing family.  Fortunately for me, my family is all grown up, and well established,  However, I never am totally worry free (there is always the grandchildren).  Seems he and his wife recently became grandparents for the first time, and now he is worried that his son is getting his hours cut back to avoid giving him insurance coverage.  He shared that, between his son and his daughter in-law they barely make ends meet when they are both working, and for now she is still on maternity leave.
I feel that I am above the fray for now, but if you understand economics it’s only a matter of time before the adverse effect on some reaches and involves all.  Sooner or later we will feel the pain of a struggling economy.  Just when I think that I’ve seen the worst we seem to find a new level of decline.  Many young adults and older adults working on minimum wage can’t even afford housing let alone insurance.  All you have to do is check out listing for rent, and see that the majority of average looking houses are renting for $1,000 to 1,300 per month, and they ask for first and last month’s rent plus damage deposit (usually equal to a month’s rent). As if that alone wasn’t prohibitive, they also ask for a credit check (for which they make the applicant pay for).
I am totally aware of the country’s ills, and don’t want anyone to think that I am oblivious to what’s going on all around me.  I prefer to post about a more fun, and entertaining past in our youth.  Those of us that share the history of our years are aware that our growing up wasn’t all peaches and cream.  We experienced a long period of low wages, many years of war, and other miseries.  Many of us, however, were not aware of being poor, during our early years sports stars were making $5,000 per year if they were real good, a purse for a boxing match might be $25,000, and television contest programs were offering the ridiculous prize of $20,000 (the $20,000 Dollar Question).
Today A-Rod is offered close to $300 Million for a 10 year contract, and television contest type programs offer $1 Million to $5 Million for a First Place finish.  In 1990 my cable television service used to cost $7.99 per month, today cable and internet bundle costs me well over $200 per month.  You don’t even want to know how much I pay for my cell phone service.  If ever there was a time to get off the grid, it’s just around the corner.  All these greedy corporations are about to kill the golden goose.
I hope you understand why I prefer not to write about the negatives; my biggest fear is that I could break my neck getting off of the proverbial Soap Box.  I still believe that the best is yet to come…..

Friday, August 16, 2013

Agonizing About Retirement

Agonizing About Retirement
Whether you are retired or thinking about retiring there is plenty to agonize about.  While researching for this post, I figured out that 95% percent of information on the internet if not more is written by Retirement Planners (financial planners).  From my limited experience all financial planners derive their income and/or profits by taking money from your retirement savings.  In other words, I am not aware of any financial planners that are non-profit organizations, if there is some (and there may well be) they can’t afford to hire the brightest minds.
There is no easy or satisfying answer that will fit or please everyone.  For some people that were hurt by the economic downturn of 2008, who still haven’t returned to their previous economic stability, there may well not be a retirement in sight.  I know of a very brave individual who retired from a great job at 65, while his younger wife kept working and providing the insurance coverage.
The pressure of realizing that she was the bread winner, and that insurance coverage was dependent on her, eventually got the best of her.  She ended ill from depression and lost her job.  My friend returned to work as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store chain, and two years later worked his way up to cashier.  I see him regularly, and it pains me to see him working when he should be enjoying his golden years.  For some unknown reason his wife never thought of his retirement as income.  His career job was in computers and I know that he had an above average income, with many years on the job.
Retirement is as much psychological as physical. I used not think or worry about retirement.  I was fortunate to have a premium retirement plan through my career, plus lucky enough to have contributed for more years than most to Social Security.  My best friend kept telling me to consider retiring at the right time, because unnecessary stress could shorten my life or worst yet make me ill.  He had great arguments, in his work experience he had seen many people who would work beyond 65 only to die within two or three years after retirement.  On the other hand he could attest to longevity for those he saw retiring early.
I have a feeling that he thought I wasn’t paying attention to him.  While I was, paying attention, I was struggling with my own decision whether to stop being who I was (my career) for so many years, and turn into someone that I didn’t know how to be.  Well I surprised my friend by taking an early retirement (while being financially very stable), and emotionally very happy.  I had heard so many scary stories about retirement that I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I don’t have time to be bored, I hang out with some of the most quality people I know; my granddaughters (three of them).  I wish I could have been in my late 30’s when I was having this kind of life, but then again I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was busy getting ready for this stage of my life.  My life hasn’t always been without obstructions: I like to brag that I am the successful CEO of a chain of lemonade stands from all the lemons that life has given me.  Most important: Credit where credit is due, I have a wonderful life partner in my wife, who is younger than me and still climbing the corporate ladder.  The best is yet to come….

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mind Over Matter

The Body's Control Center

Since our brain is the control center of our body, it shouldn’t be a stretch to assume that with proper practice we could have some level of control. As an example if you believe that you are sad or in pain, you can actually get yourself to attain that state of being.  Your subconscious mind can control the quality of your life.  You always want to tell your subconscious that you are capable of accomplishing things, and your conscious mind will go forth and make it happen.

Please keep in mind that you too can reach certain levels of understanding by reading material that are written on the subject.  I am definitely a beneficiary of positive thinking (but not and expert).  I can even locate lost items by simply directing my subconscious mind to replay my activities while I sleep, and actually get up in the morning and without even consciously thinking go straight to where I placed the lost (misplaced) item.  I can improve my day by telling my subconscious mind before I go to sleep that the next day will have me feeling healthy, happy, and sharp of mind.

Here is a study that was documented with positive results on weight loss:
·       It seems counterintuitive that increasing numbers of people are claiming to put a greater effort into exercising and eating a nutritious diet, yet there are more obese people in the world than ever before. Some researchers think positivity is a missing variable in the weight loss equation, and a lack of it is what’s keeping people chubby.
·       To prove the point that the mind has a major impact on the body, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted anexperiment on a group of predominantly overweight hotel maids who, judging by their daily activity levels, should have been thin. Despite essentially exercising all day long through their work, Langer discovered through a survey that 67% of the maids felt they didn’t do any type of exercise. Langer predicted the maids’ perceptions were hampering their weight loss, so she took half the maids aside and, in addition to taking their physical measurements, explained that through their cleaning work they were exceeding the surgeon general’s definition of an active lifestyle. The other half of the maids were given no information.
·       A month later, Langer’s team returned to the hotel and reevaluated the maids. They found an overall decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio in the educated group. The other group had no significant physical changes. While some suspect the mere discussion of exercise somehow altered the women’s behavior, Langer said there was no indication any of the maids modified their routines, and she feels the results were due simply to a change in mindset.- S.Grant

How many times have you heard people say that you are your own worst enemy?  You may actually be, without being aware. Think and be positive!  The best is yet to come….

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Understanding Success

The goose that laid the golden egg
 The Goose that laid the Golden Egg is a lesson to be learned and/or taught about greed, often repeated as the killing of the goose that lays the golden egg.
  • Avianus and Caxton tell different stories of a goose that lays a golden egg, where other versions have a hen, as in Townsend: "A cottager and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed it. Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens. The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day."
  • In early telling, there is sometimes a commentary warning against greed rather than a pithy moral. This is so in Jean de La Fontaine's fable which begins with the sentiment that 'Greed loses all by striving all to gain' and comments at the end that the story can be applied to those who become poor by trying to outreach themselves.
The English idiom, sometimes shortened to "Killing the golden goose", derives from this fable. It is generally used to point to a short-sighted action that destroys the profitability of an asset. From a very young age I was taught that in fact you must protect the Goose that lays the golden eggs.  In real life and real business, you must first analyze and come to realize to what you owe your success and profitability; that then becomes that special object of profits production (golden eggs).
I like to brag that when I first learned to make my first twenty dollars, the second twenty came even easier, and so it follows up the line; the first ten thousand, the first one hundred thousand etc., I am now working on the second million (I gave up on the first). Now, for the reason for writing this post.
The first thing that got me going in the work world, was when I learned that no one was doing me any favors.  I needed something they (employers) had (money), and I had something they wanted (labor, and a strong back).  This lesson came early while I was still living on the farm and attending Junior High School.  Later on, I also learned that you could do more things with a trained (educated) mind than you could with a strong back (for a lot longer anyway).
It also follows that you only have so much daylight in a day, and you can only trade so much of your personal hours of labor for money.  So the lesson here is to organize a team that is willing to work for you, on a project or assignment that you have access (contract) to.  You then must charge an adequate amount of money, so you can pay your help and overhead costs including all necessary expenses (taxes and permits included), and make a reasonable profit in order to maintain the drive to keep your interest in the business.
Now for the lesson of the day; you need to stay aware of source of success and keep it happy.  Your work force must be maintained happy, and properly compensated.  So you achieve that in one of two ways: 
  • You increase the cost of providing the service for your contract or,
  • You lower your profit margin and increase the labor rate.
If your profit goes too low you will lose the incentive to stay in business, and if your labor costs cause unrest in the labor force and they walk, you won’t have any business profits anyway.  Therein lies the secret to business success.  In this case the goose that lays the golden egg is the labor force.  Every situation is different and that is why you must analyze and determine what is at the center of your success.  The best is yet to come…

Monday, August 5, 2013

Creating Opportunities

Creating Opportunities
I’ve had relatives tell me how lucky I am, because my life has been very stable, and in fact when it comes to finances and taking care of my family, I have been very blessed.  To those relatives I always respond with, yes I am, and the funny thing is the more I prepare and the harder I work the luckier I get. Throughout my adult life I have always been fortunate to have pursued a career, while working a family business alongside of that career.  My family has always had all their needs, and many of their wants growing up.  The following is an excerpt from a book that I am writing (working title: East Lincoln):
  • Seems that most of my life I've had a special ability to find opportunity where no one else seems to see one, and then make the most of it. A fine example is when at eleven years old, I walked into a new barber shop to get my hair cut. I noticed that the shoe shine stand was unmanned. I asked the barber that was cutting my hair, "Your shoe shine boy didn't show for work today?" He answered no, he is my son and went away to college. I asked if he had someone to replace him with. He in turn asked me if I was interested in the job. He said I could use the supplies that were in place, but would have to replace them as they ran out. In exchange for the opportunity I was to maintain the floor swept. I accepted the job without checking with my mother, but she was very happy for me.
As usual I did the very best job I could do. My customers liked my work so much that they would regularly drop off their dress shoes so I could shine them while they were at work and they would pick them up on the way back from work. I guess I invented the first ever drive-in shoe shine. The barber shop was mid-range as quality went, and I was told to charge 25 cents for a shoe shine and the men would tip between 15 and 25 cents. I was making more money than some adults who worked by the hour.

My new job kept me in spending money and I was able to contribute to the home budget. My mother couldn't believe how much money I was contributing. Waitress pay at the time was $28 dollars per 40 hour week plus tips. I was able to contribute regularly $10 to $14 dollars per week, and more in the summer time during school vacation. As I mentioned before my mother worked two jobs in order to make ends meet. We didn't enjoy any luxuries but we had all the essentials and a few treats now and then.
Throughout my life, I’ve lived with a sense of loyalty to people that treat me right, or extend opportunities that I might not otherwise have a shot at.  In competition, I believe in being fair and up front, whether it be in sports or business.  I once passed up a chance at second place finish in a motorcycle race because I stopped to help a rider that had taken a spill and broke his leg.  I guess I am driven by my conscience, after all I have to live with myself.  The best is yet to come…

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Muscle Car Life

'70 SS 396
 Just like the cell phone company has today’s consumers hooked on upgrades every two years, so the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s had consumers hooked on buying the next model car coming out.  If you weren’t hooked you were very fortunate, and hopefully saved a bunch of money. I notice that at present time and for a number of years the introduction of the new model cars is not the extravaganza it used to be.  I guess in the first place there are so many car companies and models that nobody seems to care anymore.  To top it off and make it last significant, most car companies seem to be cloning each other’s models.  Even the color of cars seem to run in three or four common colors. For at least the last fifteen years the selection of car types remind me of the matchbox toy cars, they are all shaped like match boxes.
Muscle and Beauty
Back in the best of times for car enthusiasts, before crossing the street you would turn your head and follow the new Charger, or Mustang as it went around the corner. Better yet without looking at the emblem, you could tell what kind of car it was. The unveiling of the new car model year included the equivalence of a Red Carpet Affair at the dealerships, including the search lights in the sky, crisscrossing to guide you to the dealership vying for your presence and attention. For those of you that might not know what I am talking about, the search lights were similar to what is used to get Batman’s attention when the Commissioner needs him. 
Mustang Power
Today you can be next to a Kia, Hyundai or Lexus SUV, and not know what you are looking at until you see the grill or the rear end for the emblem.  I hope you realize that I am slightly exaggerating but not much.  My present loyalty to the Honda brand is due to the resale value that they hold when you are ready for an upgrade, yet in the last five years I’ve also owned a Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge.  I guess I don’t feel the same level of loyalty towards a particular brand that I use to feel, when the brand, power and look of a brand pulled you in and held your loyalty.
'67 Goat
I don’t want to jinx the auto industry, but there seems to be an artificial bubble forming over the new car prices, anytime they offer you up to 10K in discounts their product is way overpriced.  I hope that a corrective action takes place with cars as it did with the housing industry.  People can’t afford to pay the financing of an 84 month purchase contract just so the consumer can afford the payments of their new purchase.
I for one would hope that the consumers will hold on to their cars for an extra year or two, and make the manufacturers adjust down the price of their new cars.  The best is yet to come…