Car Hunting

Unfair

I have been approached by various family members regarding future purchases of family vehicles. Kris gave me some song and dance about us scrapping the idea of a Subaru CrossTrek and looking for seven-seat SUV. Yes, I said SUV. The reasons are sane and logical and completely practical but bye-bye BRZ. Bye-bye STi. Upon finding out that we are looking, family members they want an opinion from a car guy. So I am left with a dilemma: Do I tell them exactly what to get on my decision trees or do I go the safe route and ease them into the opinion hellscape that is me? I can’t just say to them to get a 1995 Roadmaster with an LT1 (first, that’s not seven seats. Second, well, there isn’t a second reason NOT to consider it). I also can’t tell them to get a Volvo 850 wagon with jumpseats in the rear (because I want one and I’ll be damned if I going to jealous whenever they pull up at the holidays).

No, I have to be practical. *le sigh*

The following are my email responses:

“Kristen mentioned that your Acura’s transmission grendaded. I am  sorry to hear that because that was such a reliable car.

She also mentioned that you are looking into 7 seaters, in particular the Subaru Tribeca. A little bit of a low down on the Tribeca. With Subaru selling a little under 3000 Tribecas every year, the SUV’s death warrant has all but been signed. Subaru kept selling the car through the 2013 model year, but after that, it disappeared from the lineup.

Between the Outback, Forester and the upcoming XV, the thirsty, 6-cylinder Tribeca is basically redundant. At least it’s no longer ugly, just boring.

In one word if you are seriously considering a used Tribeca, I would say yes. Not because of the badging bias because the exterior the 2005-2011 B9 Tribecas are horrendous. 2012-2014 just boring. It laps up road bumps with ease and the V6 is arguably one of the best engines (if thirstiest) that Subaru made during the model’s tenure. The steering is a little entertaining once up to speed (mind you, it isn’t fast nor quick) but it definitely doesn’t feel like driving a big car. It is also 5-star crash tested throughout all those years, a feat only the Forester, Impreza, and Legacy can trump in longevity alone. 

It really is a shame that Subaru styled the Tribeca in the vain of a certain French painter only to succumb to a bout of marshmallow addiction. It’s quite the car and it has my endorsement as a reliable buy.

Before you buy one, please check out All Wheel Drive Auto Sales in Monroe (http://awdautosales.com/). Also, please have All Wheel Drive Auto in Kirkland (425-828-6300) look at any Subaru (if any) that you purchase. Ask for Justin and tell him I sent you. I have been going to AWDA for the past 8 years with my car, have had the good fortune to work for them, and they have the best of the best in the business when it comes to customer service. They will never up-sell, only make necessary recommendations and sound advice.

Here is a Tribeca I found at AWDA Sales: http://awdautosales.com/2015/04/21/2011-subaru-tribeca-limited/

See what I did there? Nice little plug for my former boss. Yay for me.

On to the Hyundai (warning: I might offend you. Get over it):

“I have a thing against Kia and Hyundai. More on a fundamental level than anything else. It’s quite unnerving for our generation to see the Lexus effect unfold within the last 10 years. But that’s just whims and kneejerk reactions that I make among my car peers.

What your asking is a real review of the sucker. The original Sorento was full of truck bits including a real live-rear-axle (to give you any indication of what this means, think 1940 buggies. And the Mustang up until this year, was still rocking that suspension configuration. No, I am not kidding). It was a terrible handling thing with atrocious gas mileage. From 2010-2015, Kia updated the Sorento to be more car-like (much like the younger brethren, the Santa Fe). The 2015 doesn’t the fit and finish issues of the earlier models and you’ll have the feel good All-American vibe buying one as they are made in Georgia. Since it’s pretty compact with three rows of seats, the legroom suffers. I am 6 foot and it’s cramped but with the little ones running around, it should be a big deal. Just don’t count on putting more than a single load groceries behind the third row. Choose the V6 over the 4-banger. Actually that’s a really good rule of thumb when it comes to these 7-seat crossover CUV compact SUV thingamuhjigs (except with the Ford Explorer. Their inline-4 Ecoboost is fantastic). The handling is superb now that they went with a multi-link suspension (And threw the live rear axle away).
It’s good value for money. It’s why people buy Kias and Hyundais. In 2011, you could get a RAV4 for the same money but not the features. You could also get a fully-loaded Chevrolet Equinox for the same money for a topped-out Kia Sorento (around $35,000 according to TrueDelta). The difference? I would never recommend a Chevrolet or a Dodge based on pure principle.”
Ugh…yeah. I did go there. Next is the Nissan (shudder) Rogue (cries):

“The Nissan Rogue, and I assume we are talking about the 2014 model that looks like the handsome younger brother of the Pathfinder and NOT the old beefed-up Altima that flew apart at the sight of a turn, is a very nice compact crossover. It is one of the fastest selling crossovers and is right behind the Cherokee in sales (you know, if that sort of thing interests you. Not me).

The Rogue is a great all-around vehicle. It doesn’t try to redefine the segment, unlike what its namesake might imply, but it does bring some useful features to the table. Three row seats, for example, are work but its two rows for adults and one for very tiny people or a large German wiener dog. There is the foldable front seat which no other car has in this segment. And then there is the CVT.

Continuously Variable Transmission. The bane of performance cars everywhere and those that go fast. Lauded by Floridian penchants. The CVT was first conceived by Leonardo DaVinci and that’s all there really needs to be said about it. Seriously, the guy invented the Ornithopter. I am not going to go around bad mouthing one of his ideas. Subaru has used them since the 80s with varying degrees of success and Nissan has been using them since the 1990s in Europe. They have only come back into the mainstream for fuel economy. Basically (and it’s really basic because I don’t study them), it’s a big old chain hooked up to a bicycle gear lever (not really but it might as well be) that adjusts according to the revolutions of an engine/motor produces.

It is pretty trick in the sense only an engineer would find endearing. The Rogue has one of the best CVTs on the market. With its sensors and computational power, the XTronic CVT allows for an estimated 32 mpg. Darn impressive! It’s also not very bad at handling situations. You want to go fast? It can do that. You want baby comfort? It can do that as well. Unlike other CVTs *ahem*SUBARU*ahem* it doesn’t stutter or jutter in the gear shifting. It’s really nice.

The AWD isn’t all the time. It’s FWD until the moment a sensor notices slippage and then it turns on the AWD. I attend the Church of AWD All-The-Time and I really don’t like this setup but that’s because I’ve been spoiled by Subaru. But it’s perfect for those that want it automatic and super predictable. It won’t go off-road but if you need to get up a hill, it’ll do it.

The SL-trim price of $32k is a bit on the pricey side but it is good value. The 2.5 liter and CVT are de rigeur, and there were 18” alloy wheels, LED running lights, foglamps, automatic headlamps, heated exterior mirrors with LED turn signal repeaters, privacy glass, rear wiper, and a very slow power liftgate among the highlights of the Cayenne Red test car. There is also the SL Premium Package, a $1,900 basket of excellent LED headlights, overly-sensitive Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Moving Object Detection.

That laundry list of stuff is well-suited for a vehicle that’s nipping at the heels of the Cherokee. Overall, good value for money.”

So there you go. I took some inspirational liberties from TTAC but usually I do whenever I am trying to get at the meat and potatoes of a review.

What are we looking at? It was the MDX but Kris hated the seats. Then it was the Ford Explorer Sport. Then we drove the Limited and I hated myself for it. I like the Sport but the price is just too steep. And then I stumbled onto the Toyota Highlander. Much to my chagrin, I had to walk past a fully-loaded FR-S and wept like a little boy that just had its hand slapped for committing a dirty act on Sunday. But the Highlander is capable and tinker-proof and isn’t the 4Runner because the 4Runner doesn’t have 2-row captain’s seats (a must in Kristen’s eyes). And it drives so comfortably. The throttle position is just so and the brakes are adequate (until I can get some SS lines in there. Maybe). And the price. I can’t argue with their aggressive pricing structure on the Limited especially when they get so many things right. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as adds a little refinement to its truck roots.

To Placate Damnation

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It’s begun. The phase in life where my soul tries to jump from it’s marrowed shackles. I perspire and wait for the life-giving celestial fire to dip below the horizon in order to burn some Australian sagebrush. I long for the gray, the rain, the cold. Opinions be damned, I am miserable. Welcome to summer in Washington, an Equatorial Crossroads to Hell. Hello. I hope you are all well.

The last few weeks have brought about a sea change. I’ve learned that I can be on the cusp of greatness and still have to be patient enough to receive my gifts. Avengers was good. Maybe not 4-weeks-after-opening-day good but it was fun. Between it and Mad Max, I’d say Mad Max won my heart. With the car references, explosions so manly they would guarantee pregnancy, and incredible respect for the original source material, Fury Road has breathed new life into my cynical belief that Hollywood doesn’t know what it’s doing. Or more to the point, it does and now it’s capitalizing on drudging up my nerd cred.

And that’s what it is, isn’t it? Nerd cred. Sure there are underlying themes of feminism (which I am all for) and matriarchy on top of the doom and gloom tropes. It ultimately has to appeal to my sense of reluctant self image. Do I want to be Captain America or Furiousa? Furiousa in a heartbeat. Cap needs to get drunk. He’s nowhere near relatable and he certainly isn’t what any man or woman wants nowadays. Good or bad, Furiousa doesn’t betray who she is and risks it all to rediscover her stance for righteousness. Not what’s fair, but what’s right.

Because fuck being fair. The world is unfair. The legend goes that my mother told me that she would never say that world is fair. This piece of unsolicited advice was told as I gulped my first oxygen molecules. The nurses looked at her sideways but the story stays. As with most stories, there is a kernel of truth. The world is unfair but that doesn’t mean that the wrongs need to stay. Things need to be just. We all saw what FIFA does with fairness. A toilet without proper plumbing. It just recycled the shit back onto the users. Us, the lovers of the beautiful game, were shat on for God knows how long and yet it took the United States of “we only participate in football so we can call it soccer and piss off the Eurotrash” to bring justice to these cheats.

The whole institution needs to be razed. The remaining World Cups suspended or cancelled. FIFA is an institution based on tradition, legend, and hoonery. The world doesn’t need it to survive. Hell, the International Cricket Council could fill the vacuum and we’d all be making fun of their version of baseball all the while forgetting the American National Pastime historical references. No, the world doesn’t NEED FIFA. It’s NEED for the World Cup is only fabricated. It can bring great hope, unshakeable camaraderie, a symbol to rally around, but as we’ve seen, the very institution created to manage the world’s game has eaten itself from the inside out and it needs time to rebuild properly and genuinely. This is no time for fast food politics.

Foreign politics were my raison d’etre for collegiate scholastics. I was quite good at it. How does one get good at foreign politics? Data analysis and the setting of trends. It’s recognizing manipulation through means of casual conversation. When it came to Chechnya, I wrote my dissertation on the region, the people, their cultural shift from freedom to religious zealots. I surmised that they were the most potent of infiltrators of the American way of life. And we saw that with the Tsarnaev brothers. I believe I know what I am talking about when it comes to playing fast and loose with politics. That is to say, I am not completely full of shit.

This and many other things have wandered my mind as I stay home with Cara for the next five weeks. She’s 3 months but is already in 6 month clothes. I say that there is something sinister in the Bothell water system but Kris won’t let me pretend to be Nancy Drew. Drat.

Family is doing better. Moving closer to the epicenter of Happy and just plain moving closer. The fence lines have been drawn, produced on the basis that past recognitions will not be forgotten, merely in the purview. I am cautious but only out of love. Family is like Christmas Eve all year round. Let’s keep it going.

For all the wonders and jubilation that my readers must feel as this entered their inboxes and twitters and streams and what other form of digital doorways, I apologize for the rant. I promise to come back with 2500 words of bacon-wrapped goodness with a side of Nutella milkshake and healthy helping of hugs.

P.S. I have found that I like Jeremy Clarkson, thank you very much. Not for him hitting people or treating people like Thursday’s garbage pick-up. It’s more for his ability to tell people to go to hell and they’ll enjoy it. Same goes for Anthony Bourdain. I know they are jerks but there is just something inspiring about their approach to the stupid, the lazy, the bourgeoisie. If this shows more about me than them, so be it. I am not a jerk.

Raison D’etre

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Weekend sleepy towns away from the coast are having a wonderful spike in weekday bumper-to-bumper numbers. I take the bus. I don’t have a care in the world as I learn How To Do Everything and listen to tall tales of late-night internet spaceships. The pitter-patter of the morning rain greets me as I slumber. Western Washington weather is going through its schizophrenic patterns. Donning wetsuits but enveloped in mid-afternoon warmth, I jaunt home, flipping the bird through WADOT’s twitter posts of fender-benders and ill-timed expressions of the mechanically ignorant. Hello. Please keep reading.

I am still trying out the new style. It’s growing on me. This is the 132nd blunt stabbing but only the 2nd public attempt. No, you do not want to see the dead corpses that gave rise to this digi-phoenix. The neo-spawn has been helping me with my attention problems in that I haven’t touched my new keyboard with any sense of purpose. That is if you consider the encouraging rant and ravings of a stunted 32-year-old regarding Jared Leto’s most recent personality acquisition purposeful, than by all means I’ve been living the good life.

Relations are good. Strained but good. Delved into a three-day forced binge of Daredevil. It seems so did most of the USA. The show is spectacularly gloomy and captures the post-college experience excellently. Not the crime-fighting but the idealistic self-confidence that comes with frayed ambition. That Old Boy-inspired hallways scene was incredible but that’s not what sucked me in. The neural pathways met at a nexus when *SPOILERS* Foggy had a nice coming to Jesus talk with Daredevil. Not his best friend, Matt, but actually the Daredevil. The rage, and it is undiluted and focussed wild boar rage, is combination of Frank Miller’s stint and Elektra’s vengeance (cameo’d through words, not sight. Apropo). Let’s just say that the mind has gone to places that Matt lives in. It’s not always clear that you’ve reached this personal hell but sometimes when one has just enough of a push over the cliff, the resistance gradually sluffs off the back. Been there…

And I won’t even get into the jumpstart that my religious outlooks have taken this week.

Transition: Therapy is going well. Again, I said relations are good and we’re find a way to move forward. I fear for the future.

If you have made it this far, I have written you a prescription and called your place of residence to warn of howlings at the midnight stars. Keep coming back for more. Or don’t. I’ll leave the light on.

Too Much Stimulus

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I haven’t been abducted by aliens. Not yet anyways. It’s been a hell of a week, under the brushed steel sky but I’ve stolen a few moments away from the blurred scenes. Tipped with neon, dull fragments of rumblings that fill the nostrils on the open invitation lost in the mail. Never change, just enhance. Hi.

The day is rainy. Proper rain. Sideways and upwards into the pant leg and swirling about the skirt. Heaven is having a temper tantrum. A great force is pulling me away from the window. Reasons beyond my control, like an emotional black hole. Undulating and pulsing.

Her name is Cara. Born February 24 in our great Technological Era. 18 inches and all limb and piano fingers. 6 pounds 2 ounces of eruptive mass. Obviously she has grown in a month. Nearing 8 pounds, it wasn’t easy on K. The Beast reared too many times for me to mind but that jaundice glow and contagious smile caged whatever I adolescent impurities lay dormant. She has my heart and time. We’ve killed six dragons in one month. Never would have done without her.

The Advice and the do-thises and the let-me-sees and the it’s-all-normals are all fine. I can ignore them or pocket them for a timely need. What aggravates me most is the contradiction that a newly formed human being, someone that needs love and attention and a constant spit-up rag, somehow changes its caretakers lives. I rage against that. I deem it not so. Cara enhances our lives, brings perspective, shows me how much I love my wife. Look up at the stars with a newborn and she can’t see anything but black for a while. Gaze into her eyes though and she knows you. And only then can one say that the world revolves around the sun because facts go out the window: We, our group of family and friends, revolve around each other.

And so I remember what a dear friend wrote once:

“And I think that’s all I have time for. I have no idea how long this has run, but I need to move on to other things while still adjusting to having an hour stolen from me yesterday. So! Keep your chin up, because the sun will come back eventually. Say something nice to your friends, because you won’t have them forever, and one day you’ll be sitting there reading Nordic cookbooks to an brown paper produce bag that you drew a face on after you juiced all the carrots it contained because you have no friends left and you’re going to be indoors for a month. NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW WHAT THAT’S LIKE SOMEBODY JUST TOLD ME THAT HAPPENS TO OTHER PEOPLE DON’T LOOK AT ME.

Look around. There have been worse days. And there will be better days. You’re doing fine. See you next week.”

–M

Discovery One

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The natural restive state that I live in was on full glorious display last night to my mother-in-law. We were attending a family engagement party and came into subtle conversation about how to lay down the red carpet for most prized entry of both family’s first grandbaby. This branched into a conversation with a future, hopefully soon, aunt-in-law concerning vaccinations and their part in government roles and self-regulation. Do not worry. I am not going to bore you with anecdotals and statistics. I am just laying the groundwork for where the planted words laid to where they grew.

Come to find out some people just don’t know the facts about vaccinations. I am not the one to educate but I am one to spur a cause to look for the answers. I do hope she will look into it later. Another topical conundrum was the fight over tradition versus upstart facts. I was sad to see this particular discussion left on the oak floors to be stamped by those who have minds on Emerald City Comic Con and Prague and sexual harassment classes.

And then I had a pregnant (pardon the pun) pause myself. The mind dropped itself into first gear and the world slowed down. I am no longer the communicative dictator that I once was. More closer to the truth is that as world rotates and swerves and bounces to its intergalactic groove, those around me do the same at a similar exponential rate with the same results as myself. Scrambling to keep the single most auspicious characteristic is frightening. Oration was my sword, words made people kneel. Most of the time it was very loud words. No more. I have been trying to convey messages and scripture that I just roll off my tongue like a machine gun. The articulation is gone and only a confused jumble of pronouncements and misunderstandings lay in its wake.

The pause dissipated, the drug wearing off, the party sounds fade in and out. I am just standing there with my peanut butter ball in my hand, trying so hard not to cry. I have not worried about what kind of father I will be until now.

When the Bum is Numb

WARNING! Stream of thought ahead:

I have a few things to say about the last couple of months. “They have been exhausting” is the appropriate response however I will defer to the naughty bit that goes off in my brain. The portion of fleshy electricity that says that the past few months have been an absolute ball sucker worthy of a royal eunuch of South Asian hijra.

Dogs are the best. We know this. It’s a universal fact. They are always hype. Always. It is also a universal fact that it’s fucking sad that you have to tell two grown adults to stop bickering like 7 year olds.  Another universal fact: My opinion doesn’t need to meet anyone’s expectation. Haters can hate but I am right and you don’t listen. Obviously.

I am incredibly pissed because an important portion of my life has been set into upheaval by Depression and Angst. And yet, nary a word. Silence wafts over the barren landscape that is the Family Desert. I feel like an obligation. The tide has turned for the weird when your own sibling, a person that argued with me day and night about God knows what, is now a singular champion of reason in this game of politiks. I feel like have both hands cuffed behind my back but haven’t been made aware of the charges against me. The net result is me without alcohol because I made an agreement and a baby on the way.

Yes, we are having a baby and yes, fill in your favorite cliche (mine is “It’s time for you to grow up, Michael”). Blah blah blah. I blur the lines between maturity and grown up. I particularly like how the cows of my life can’t tell the difference and see that their own ignorance as a weapon against the blight of understanding of my upcoming responsibilities. Let me put it simply: I waited to have a child solely on the reasoning that I wasn’t responsible at the time my penis’ first hard-on. I wasn’t responsible the 2 millionth time after that as well. It’s a bit trying on the old psyche when family is subtly (and in my family, there is no such thing) wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Patience grew into not giving a damn until the day I got married (!) and then a year later announced K’s pregnancy (!!).

I pretty much think I have made it crystal fucking clear that I am doing fine for my family. I wouldn’t say myself though. Nonononono. This year for Halloween, I dressed up in Disappointment and side-boobs. Because side-boobs equals Disapproval. So do strippers but I wouldn’t be caught dead in fishnets. My thighs have taken on too much pregnancy sympathy ice cream. What I would do is cover myself up in Pride and then when people would try to guess what I am, I’d whip it inside out to the big D (and side-boobs). Come to find out that little trick was a hit until Christmas came and Santa brought me a mirror. It made me very apparent that I was doing this without knowing Halloween was over.

Jokes on me.

What the hell did I do wrong?

At The End

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You have no doubt taken up the great task of noticing that my blog has been stagnant. That’s kind for what it really is. With child on the way and career moves on the horizon, the act of adulting is quite possibly here to stay. And with great results! I have taken my time away from the Great Screen to produce a stash of thoughts and trinkets filled with the inane and otherworlds. Ragnarok itself would be afraid of the fury unleashed if ever these were put from paper to digitalis. Over the course of the next year, I will be reaching blindly into the whitehole of 2014 and spewing the pesterings under delusion and natural sedative.

In the meantime, I am rebooting the Question of the Day. The timestamp isn’t important. I have already said that I am lousy at timelines and it’s such an artificial restriction by right of a title. So you will get those again. Yay for you. Yay for me.

Holes have been left in my heart throughout 2014. Friends became strangers and I became a monster. Influence perished. Muses escaped the vaults, unrepentant dust trailed off to the Heavens. A window facing slats is now The World Travels Of. My heart does not long for the abyss, the mind knows better than to wish for it to sabotage. The scales are balanced through the dull kicks of another, the responsive chemical high. I may write better with the lights off but there is something to be said for the power of fatherhood.

Onward and upward.

Q: What’s a new place place you’ve recently been to?

A: I made an arbitrary gesture towards Longbeach, Washington. Hard-packed granules crunch beneath the soft shoes and the wind howls forcing you to pull your coat closer while the gulls are fighting a seemingly endless battle of physics and impossibilities. This struggle is a beautiful sight. We have our metal wings to absorb the beating. Hollow bones and saltwater drenched feathers are no match for the Chinook. Just a wonderful horror of emotion washes over you as the guide posts point you towards a remarkable view. Appropriate that this overlooks Cape Disappointment. Those brits are clever in their naming of things.