Jan 242014

I’ve written (or perhaps spoken, or perhaps both) recently about the sort of mental fog that occurs in teenagers (or those about to be). It seems more prevalent in boys, though it could be that I’m just more attuned to them because that’s what I was and have. It commonly manifests as impaired ability to remember multiple responsibilities, and consequently “dropping” a task/obligation or two.

This happens to everyone from time to time, so why am I picking on kids? Well, because in adolescence, this tendency responds poorly or not at all to increased effort. I remember experiencing it myself. I could sit and plan and really emphasize to myself how important it was that I not drop any of these balls, and my chance of success might increase 5%. I’d understand completely how important it was, and I’d try as hard as I knew how, but I was still going to drop a ball more likely than not.

Nathan showed me another manifestation of what I think is the same impairment last night. It is the ability to evaluate a thoroughly elementary choice and somehow make the wrong one.

We had 6:30 reservations at Below the Radar last night. That means leaving the house about 6. Because it was about 18 degrees, about 5:50 I went out and started Lea’s van. Ten minutes of running should make it bearable, and positively toasty wouldn’t be far behind.

Now our habit is to exit the house and open both power sliding doors on the van, which then stay open until the boys get in and close them. For obvious reasons, I didn’t want to do that tonight. So, inside the house, before I went out, I said:

Boys, I am going to open the right side door on Mommy’s van. You will get in together. Nathan, you will go first, as you sit in the left seat. Aaron, you will follow behind and close the door behind you. I am not opening both doors because I want to keep as much heat in the van as possible. Everybody understand?

Affirmative acknowledgment all around.

I exited the house to get in the van. Nathan came out behind me, though I didn’t notice until I was almost all the way in the driver’s seat with the door closed. He stood on the right side of the van for a few seconds, then opened the door, got in, and closed the door.

My explanation of how things would go was, at this point, perhaps ninety seconds in the past. Unbelievable.

I said “Nathan, Aaron is still in the house. Now we’ll have to open the door twice for no reason. Did you not understand what I said about the van doors?”

“Well, I didn’t want to stand in the cold!”

I am trying hard to be sympathetic, because I really do remember having this fog and so little ability to genuinely clear it.

Remember Louie Anderson? He’s a pretty good comic. One of my favorite things he ever said was an impression of his buddy talking to him when they were both teenagers:

Hey Louie, your dad told me not to drive all over the lawn…so I did anyway.

Parenting teens? How about equal parts sympathy, frustration, and abject terror? Is that about the right breakdown?

 Posted by at 7:41 am
Jan 232014
  • I’m sure tickled to have sub-freezing highs and single-digit lows back, aren’t you?
  • According to a Princeton study, Facebook is primed to pull a MySpace and lose 80% of its users. I’m not so sure, but the commentary in this article definitely has one thing right. If it happens, there won’t be much middle ground. It’ll be a trickle and then a torrent, with nearly no in-between.
  • Today Mariska Hargitay becomes one of the sexiest 50-year-olds in the world. Happy Birthday!
  • Headed out tonight with the whole crew to review a restaurant. Watch Rocket City Mom early next week for my scintillating insights.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is well done, but this one is unambiguously too long. It’s 2:40 or so. It would have been more effective at 2:10. I’ll go ahead and call a bit of CGI abuse in some of the middle fight scenes, too.
  • Coach Saban has visited Jacob Coker at his home. I think you can start writing the fall narrative in pen, not pencil.
  • A blogging friend of mine just asked about favorite fonts. Got any? Mine are Tahoma and Magneto.
 Posted by at 7:25 am
Jan 212014

Is anything as American as the Chevrolet Corvette?

It’s brash. It’s fast. It’s loud. It’s fun. It’s as subtle as a drag queen beauty pageant at the Vatican.

Know what, though? It really does do most things better. It’s in your face, but wow, is it capable. It struts, but it backs it up.

The Corvette began life as a direct response to American World War II veterans who came home gushing about the fun little European roadsters with which they’d become acquainted. And General Motors said yeah, we can do that.

The Corvette bowed in mid-1953 with a straight 6 and an automatic transmission. (There are two solid bets to win with a non-car person if you have the opportunity.)

1953vetteIt got a V8 in 1955, and it’s never not had one since. The next year it began an earnest engagement with the sports car world at large, demonstrating impressive acumen against most benchmarks. Except for a gray period from the mid-’70s through the early ’80s, the Corvette has always been in the mix as a premier performance car.

1967vette1972vetteThing is, it’s always been an attainable fantasy. The Corvette has never been inexpensive, but neither has it been impossible. It’s been the perfect automotive embodiment of the American dream. You work just a little bit harder—and forgo that long weekend in the fall for a few years—and you can slide behind that wheel. Rev it up.

1990zr1That is, until 2014.

The 2014 Corvette is the first edition of the seventh generation. It is, by nearly any measure, world-class. Its numbers, its curb appeal, its intangibles are there.

2014vetteBy the way, it starts at $51,995.

Mind, few 2014 Corvettes will change hands for that. Most will arrive at dealers closer to $60,000, or perhaps even more. There is substantial profit in options.

General Motors is in grave danger of missing the point.

It wasn’t so long ago that Cadillac missed the same point. It seemed its average buyer was 71 years old and increasing. When your average customer is knocking on dead, you have a serious problem.

And here we are with the Corvette—an American icon.

General Motors, please listen to me. You have mostly reached a point at which people who want a new Corvette can’t afford one. The people who have the money are old more often than they’re not. And the escalating price and age of your buyer don’t end in a fabulous explosion of profit. They end in zero.

Cadillac, against what I would argue were considerable odds, found its way back. It has a highly competitive lineup top to bottom.

And now Corvette needs to follow its lead.

GM, you need a Corvette with, say, a fixed roof, a cloth interior (Alcantara accents?), a selection of three colors, a conventional suspension, and a good-but-not-great stereo. Used to be “loaded” meant power windows & locks, tilt, and cruise. That’ll be enough for this car. Sheesh, give it lowball wheels if you have to. It needs to have an eye-catching MSRP “starting at $36,995,” with a typical dealer stock car listing at $42,000 or so.

I get that you’re selling every one you can build right now, so why change? How about because your current customers are headed for aging themselves into nonexistence?

Corpses don’t spend money.

 Posted by at 11:31 pm
Jan 212014
  • Nobody folds fitted sheets. Make it about the same size as the top sheet you just folded and tuck all of the elastic in.
  • Every time I’m at a stop sign turning left and you’re approaching on the cross street from the left and you turn right on my street without alerting me of your intention to do so with a turn indicator so that I don’t have to wait for you to obviously commit your vehicle to the turn before I proceed, Satan chips off and eats a little bit of your soul.
  • If he had “one man to beat,” then how was he gang-tackled?
  • I don’t want to SEE ATTENDANT FOR RECEIPT. Part of what I enjoy about paying at the pump is not interacting directly with anyone. If you tell me SEE ATTENDANT FOR RECEIPT twice, I’m done with your gas station forever.
  • Extreme couponers should have to wear the “slow moving vehicle” triangle on their backs when they’re in the grocery store.
  • Contemplate the absurdity of using a computer to ask me what a word means.
  • You are blocking considerable field of view taking photographs at the event with your 10″ tablet. Will you please stop doing that? Hey, guess what? Even a $100 camera will take better pictures.
 Posted by at 12:37 pm
Jan 192014

I thought I might work on a couple of longer posts today in and around cooking and watching football. I wasn’t expecting to publish anything.

But sometimes posts write themselves.

Below is an email exchange I’ve had this weekend with a couple of family members (anonymized as Respected Elder #1 and Respected Elder #2). There are about 20 people total on the distribution (mostly other family members and friends of Respected Elders #1 and #2).

I thought “I need to write a post about this.” But nothing I came up with seemed as effective to me as just posting the email. So here it is. (Language warning.)

The first email contained this narrative about Obamacare.  Respected Elder #1 added:

Read it and be amazed.

Respected Elder #2 replied all with the following:

What I don’t understand is why liberals and Democrats really want to destroy our country.  How can they possibly ignore what socialism has done to people over the last hundred years.  The Nazis and Communists killed anywhere from 50,000,000 to 100,000,000 poor souls who were told that “equality” was the noble goal. WTF?

To which I replied:


The thought goes no further than “if I make people dependent on the government, then I can secure their votes with the slightest whisper of ‘the other side will take this away from you.'”

You’re asking questions that they aren’t even asking themselves. Secure the power, and they get to decide what those next questions are. Get the power; then we’ll figure out what to do with it.

(That’s why Obamacare has proceeded merrily along, despite the demonstrable near-total failure it is. It’s never been (primarily) about helping people. It’s always been about limiting individual liberty. Yeah, it doesn’t work. Yeah, it’s flaky. SIGN UP ANYWAY, CITIZEN. Whatever else you do, GET ‘EM IN THE SYSTEM. We’ll figure out what to do with ’em later.)

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” – O’Brien to Winston, George Orwell’s _Nineteen Eighty-Four_

Respected Elder #1 then said:

What we need to figure out is how to direct our grandchildren to minimize the damage to their lives with the ultimate collapse of the whole fucking mess.
Like you don’t want to be under a bridge when it falls down with the next train….the free shit train to nowhere.

(“The free shit train to nowhere” is art.) Respected Elder #2:

It’s up to our children to turn things around.  The greatest generation gave birth to the selfish generation (baby boomers).  We have fucked everything up.  I’m very sorry about that!

My reply after that, and the last message in the exchange as I type:

I appreciate the sentiment, but there are also plenty of boomers who have understood what’s going on all along and have shouted the warnings from the rooftops.

The list of things I can control is short. I can trust God, because best I can tell, when I ask Him about this He says “yup, trust Me even on this.” I can live prudently and responsibly. I can seek and engage the persuadable (which I suspect is probably the best use of my gifts to try to turn it around).

Beyond that, it’s between hoping for a) a gradual reversal of course resulting from won hearts and minds who then act in our country’s long-term interests; or b) a severe but marginally recoverable systemic failure.

As the latter seems much more likely to me, I just try not to think about it day to day.

We are proceeding to a terrible day of reckoning.

And millions of us are yelling for more throttle.

 Posted by at 1:58 pm