Drive Down Memory Lane

It might make more sense to scroll all the way to the bottom, and read backwards until you come back to the beginning. After all, it’s not the destination, but the journey, that is the most important. 🧐

2021 Chevrolet Malibu

And lastly, is the first real new car purchase that will likely be my last. Purchased pre-pandemic, it didn’t track as many miles. My hopes are that my pleasure driving will replace my business driving; my desire to rest will usurp my need to capitalize; and love of cars will only fade amidst my desire to keep ONE.

2011 Chevy Suburban 2500HD

By far the most fun of all of my adult run-abouts! It was a recreation vehicle, a money-maker, a friend transporter, a mobile office, and a school bus. It facilitated advocacy, demonstrated efficiency, and inspired creativity.

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

By far the prettiest. It was enjoyed as an accessory, a fixture, and commodity. Like plenty of luxuries, it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. Depreciation, high-priced maintenance, low reliability resulted in a premature curbing.

1992 Lexus SC400

And then came the current project car. The first challenge was to give it an identity if it own. When, in fact, it’s become symbolic of passion that is lost and excess that is not consumed.

2008 Honda Accord Coupe

It was a classroom of sorts…
It was spotted in many places…
It served as a back drop to be more…
It served as inspiration to do more…
Memories were made…
After a round trip to Florida and becoming a hashtag king, it turned many heads. It was the one that mini-me learned to drive in, took her test in, and hoped would be hers.
This one was the hope and the promise that was never made. It’s the one that was almost paid off, but fate had other plans.

2003 Oldsmobile Bravada

When I asked either of my kids if they were interested in this one as a first car. They both replied, “ewwww!” So they both ended up with nothing.
First foray into municipal auto auctions yielded a $900 profit! It created a false sense of confidence. I registered this one to conceal the purchase price. I blew the profit on the next stratagem that never got registered. Irony?

2005 Dodge Charger POV

Elwood: “It’s an old Mount Prospect police car.” Jake: “The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.”
Purchased sight-unseen, it took nearly 7 months to find a new owner who was even less profound.
And so the quest to find a project car began. This was Daddy’s failed attempt to either flip a municipal police car for profit or pickle a project car.

2005 Toyota Avalon Touring

This could not be the car that the kids learned to drive. Dad’s classiness would soon be traded for a practical trainer. Something cute and nimble perhaps?
As Dad took photos, he realized that he chronicled more than a love for automobiles. Soon the children would be driving too.
And Daddy’s princess was developing character of her own. As her character developed, daddy matured. There was reason to be more responsible. And few cars are more responsible than a Toyota.

2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10

Daddy needed a more family-friendly transport. Perhaps a peppy luxury sedan?
It had character, but remained in the driveway most of the time.
It was the fastest production truck ever made. It’s fuel economy was nearly the worst for any passenger vehicle at the time (second only to the Hummer H2) It could pass anything on the road except for a gas station!
Alas it was time to remove the old rescue squad truck from the back yard. What better way to commemorate Dad’s love of Dodges than to buy my own dream truck and name it after his old wooden sailboat Exta Sea?

2001 Lincoln Navigator

Three years later, two restless parents could not agree on one compromise. The compact car was sold to cover the retainer, but this SUV was a consolation prize for a dad who couldn’t get enough time with his kids.

1998 Honda Accord (white sedan)

But a week before my son was born, our previous Honda was pushed through an intersection and into a utility pole. Deployed airbags saved us all. The uninjured driver who disregarded the stop sign watched us take an precautionary ambulance ride. Our newborn son came home from the hospital in daddy’s newest ride.

1998 Honda Accord (blue sedan)

But it wasn’t long before my family grew and a need for another family-responsible auto. 4 cylinders for four family members only made sense when rising gas prices might prevent date nights and family outings.

2003 Suzuki Katana

Purchased with only a rider’s permit, I rode it for 7 days before my first accident. But as any dedicated rider would, I was back up and riding soon after…

1979 Honda CB650

Purchased from a fellow teacher, I was quickly schooled on motorcycle ownership. It wouldn’t be long before I stepped up to something faster.

1998 Dodge Ram SS/T

After 36k miles of spirited driving had prematurely ended the lease on the Audi, we needed a replacement. We returned the 180hp sport coupe 2+2 for a 3 seater with a lot more pep.

2001 Audi TT (180hp)

Shortly after my daughter arrived, her Daddy wanted something to develop her own enthusiasm for automobiles, or so it would seem. Rally racing and car shows were not uncommon.

1995 Ford Contour SE

The day that our baby shower was planned, I was given ONE JOB. I only had to distract my new bride while our friends and family planned the surprise. A trip to the car dealer fit the bill nicely. But when asked what my gift to the baby and mom-to-be would be, I gulped and offered this car that we were test-driving.

1940 Dodge Power Wagon Rescue Squad

Not long after I negotiated my first auto loan, I began to plan my family. I transplanted this old rescue squad truck from Salem, where my father had parked it nearly 25 years earlier.
It’s cruising days had long-since ended. But my new home became its new home, and it watched my family grow.

1995 Pontiac Bonneville SSE

My mileage checks added up to provide a down payment. Trading my stripped-down convertible covered the expense of the taxes and registration. This was the first and last time that I exploited a “push, pull, or drag your trade…”

1989 Toyota Tercel DX (5spd)

My first full time job after college graduation required me to commute 100 miles daily to Cape May. The mileage allowance alone paid for this tin can. With no radio nor carpet, the only luxury was a full-size spare. My shifting skills got some practice and I sold it six months later before the clutch revealed its ware.

1979 Dodge Ramcharger 4×4 Convertible

After an uninsured driver rear-ended my 83, my quest for a convertible Ramcharger yielded this beast! With a 2 inch body lift and a 2 inch suspension lift, the 35 inch tires fit beneath those wheel wells nicely. It too got terrible gas mileage and became more affordable to ride the bus to class.

1973 Dodge Challenger SE

I thought that every Motor-head should own a classic. In anticipation, I purchased this hot rod a few years before it became a classic. A cash advance on a college credit card was not the biggest mistake, but I think I may STILL be paying for this one.

1983 Dodge Shelby Charger (rare automatic)

My love of Dodges did not transfer into my other relationships well. This beauty was the first I bought for cash from a used car dealership. Although I bought it for my college sweetheart, her appreciation never manifested. Neither relationship lasted long enough.

1979 Ford Bronco

My best buddy nurtured a love of Fords. Despite my fondness of Dodges, I decided that if I ever had the opportunity, I’d acquisition a Bronco. I traded the pick-up for this beauty, but it needed more than I could offer. They joke that F O R D stands for something. But “on the road” it could not stay.

1984 Saab 900 Sedan

My freshman year in college, I met the Vice President Provost of the college. He became my mentor. He recognized my love of automobiles and made me a proposition: mow his lawn for the summer and this beauty would be mine. I fulfilled my end of the deal, but was never able to get it running. It sat in my yard until I graduated.

1979 Dodge Pick-Up 4×4 shortbed (5spd)

My uncle once warned me to never buy a used vehicle from a mechanic. But there were no rules about buying a vehicle for sale across the street from a mechanic. And so this beauty was my #2. A sunroof was cut into the roof and then resealed with caulking. The seats were always wet! It got 9 mpg because it was engineered with full time locking hubs for the four wheel drive.

1983 Dodge Ramcharger 2wd

My first car. I got it when I was 15 years old. My father challenged me to work hard in order to keep it. I did a landscaping job for the church for two years to earn enough money to put it on the road by my 17th birthday.
Twenty years later, my efforts to preserve it failed. The necessary disassembly never gave way to the goal of restoration.
In the end, the replaced engine got waterlogged, the rodents made their nests, and the wheels were stolen. Inevitable the junk man took what was left.

The plan is to sift through old registrations and bind all of my records (because I’ve saved them all) for each of these vehicles. Each insurance card, traffic ticket, and accident report is a story. Automobiles have lives. They are also apart of our lives.

I’ve always kept at least one key from each automobile that I’ve ever owned. I’ve created a makeshift shrine. Not long from now, a new project will begin. These autos will be exhumed. They will rise again from the ashes. They will be located and brought together, not just in spirit.

The ultimate hobby will soon begin. Their Vehicle Identification Numbers will live again. Not as zombies, but as wheeled angels. And those keys will be used not only to verify their identity, but to start their engines again.

Sliding In the DMs

Who has been sliding into your DMs? Most likely someone (who hasn’t been invited) thought they could be clever. Rather than offering a witty pickup line face to face, they may have decided to sneak a note into your “inbox.”

For decades now, clever communication has existed. At the dawn of the internet, AOL and MSN were offering the messenger and hotmail to rival traditional methods of reaching out and touching someone. Before then, anyone interested in speaking with you would have to ask you for your number. How archaic?

For a clearer picture as to what this means, let’s take a closer look at what “howtogeek.com” has to say about this.

“Sliding into DMs” means sending someone (who you might not know personally) a direct message on social media, often on Instagram or Twitter. It is commonly known as a flirtatious, romantic gesture to initiate a conversation or to ask someone out on a date. Therefore, if you message a person you’re attracted to on social media, you’re very likely “sliding into their DMs.”

Has this happened to you? Or more curiously, have you done this? Plausible deniability prevents you from incriminating yourself. But knowing that it occurs frequently is another story.

A number of my female friends have admitted that this happens often enough that they employ what we like to call the trifecta: ignore, screenshot, and block. And with editing capabilities on most phones, the names can be omitted to protect the culprits when posting the humorous flirtations on social media. It is trifling enough to keep a shy guy at bey.

My guy friends are not so quick to admit. Rejection is painful, but embarrassment is brutal. For those few guys who successfully employed this technique, they’re not going to reveal precisely how…

A “like” on social media is a seemingly innocent way to show interest. But for every ONE person who likes a post, there are dozens who saw it, but were not inclined to react. Everyone else can see when we make a move. No one wants to get caught “out there.” Sending a DM is supposed to be private. It doesn’t always end that way.

It’s the digital form of sending a note in class. But in this case, school is out…permanently.

Gals claim to receive DMs, but don’t admit to sending them. Guys send them, but don’t admit to receiving them. It takes a lot of confidence to send a message to someone you don’t know. But I bet it’s got to be strange to receive a message from someone you don’t know. In the end, I suppose if a connection is made, it’s worth the effort.

But an often overlooked concern in sending a DM is not having enough information. Sending a message to someone who is not interested or is involved with someone else could be disastrous.

Blind confidence can be a winning characteristic. But then again, it could be overwhelming burden. How do you know who you are dealing with if you only know their name (or worse their online handle)? How can you be certain to not cross an imaginary line or offend an otherwise unsuspecting suitor? In short, you can’t. All you know for certain is that a sent message will be received. It might not get a response. It might not have a happy ending.

A DM is a seed. Guys are planting seeds all of the time. So often, we may as well consider them farmers. But a seed alone is not fruitful without nurturing and care. Seeds planted in infertile soil will perish.

This is not a how-to. It’s merely something to ponder. DMs are but one way to get the ball rolling. Just because it’s private doesn’t mean that it has to be weird. Life is short. Act accordingly.

Guilty confessions vol. x

We must read between the lines. Indignant fools will not confess. Wise men will let us figure it out. Most of us wont ask the right questions. Some will not admit their doubt.

But if we could have more conversations, and talk it through, the life quality enhanced could belong to you. Rhymes and puns are clever. Analogies are fun and games. Unasked questions are answered never…kicking ass and taking names.

We can learn from other’s mistakes, but often we choose our own. The lessons don’t count unless we improve. The safest place is our home.

Alright! Enough of the wit. It’s down to brass tacks. Let’s discuss something real. Let’s avoid the character attacks.

The nineteen was dropped from COVID because the year is now 2021. The variant is called Delta to avoid another messy one. No more talk of the region of origin because it would confirm the problem we have with racism…

capitalism…

age-ism…

The fact that the world already exploits Southeast Asia; the reality that those in the west who created the vaccine don’t have access to it, can’t afford it, can’t get away from it–so we call it Delta, symbolic of the shape.

What happened to contact tracing? It was all the rage in 2020. But now? We just show color coded maps that coincide hotspots with political affiliations. But masks aren’t political! Diseases need cures, not vaccinations. But there’s no money in the cure.

There’s money in low wage-earners who need to get back to work; to serve the people who work for higher wages (who are able to work from home). If there was any chance that the cast system could be broken, a pandemic is as good a time as any.

Minimum wages increase as the poor hear the cries of the wealthy, “Get back to work!” An individual recognition of how organized labor maximizes income, the masses show the rich that they can either EAT them or join them. The wealthy, too, reorganize.

To be still affords us the opportunity to see things for how they are. After nearly 18 months of near-stillness, why are we surprised that things would change? Lessons were learned–just not the lessons that we planned.

The manipulation takes a more aggressive tone. The oppressed push back. For the first time the entitled feel victimize and scream bloody murder as they eat their own cake.

Education IS political for the simple fact that some get it for free, some pay for it, some don’t get it at all–and those are the ones that we elect to lead us. For anything that has value will be fought for. For anything that others need, there will be war. For anything that we can’t have more, there will be battles in store.

So today’s guilty confession is simple and secure. The liars will not stop lying. The wealthy won’t stop clinching their pearls. The poor wont stop fighting for more. The perverts wont stop groping girls. The mask-less won’t stop breathing. The cops wont stop beating. The disenfranchised won’t stop marching. The virus wont stop mutating. The END.

Raised Eyebrows

What does the term bamboozled mean to you? How much do you believe when you watch (or read) the news? How long will you ingest information before you become skeptical?

For someone to present something completely ludicrous as a benefit to a broken system raises eyebrows. It’s ludicrous when the solution to a problem is extreme—either far too easy or incredibly difficult. Here’s what happened.

For the first time in 18 months, I attended a training. This annual training was for one of the many volunteer boards I’ve been asked to sit on. In my community, non-profit boards are not as diverse as they could be. My role is not so much to represent the needs of the community, but to fulfill a commitment these non-profits are attempting to make to our community. In many cases, I sit and listen. The other veteran members of these boards don’t pay much attention to me as long as I don’t disrupt the flow of their procedures.

I can’t be certain of how they view me. They don’t ask me questions. As far as I know, they don’t much care about me. They might think that I have no idea of what’s going on. Occasionally, I remove the doubt. I’ll ask a question. They’ll politely engage me. My questions are rarely answered with commitment. Instead the responses are rushed. I feel stifled. I resist the urge to feel slighted, and I never walk away until the meeting is done.

On this day, something was different. A man who has nothing in common with me pulled me aside. He asked me discretely if I wanted to know how all this works. I raised an eyebrow. I looked at my wrist where I used to wear a watch (a bad habit of mine) and sighed.

He pulled me closer. He said, “spending.”

He gestured to his fingers that he rubbed together. “Money, my boy!”

As if he were crisping invisible dollar bills in one hand, he declared that he spends money on paper, but rarely has cash in hand.

“I buy cars. I’ve always loved cars. When I was in college, I took out student loans to buy project cars that I couldn’t afford. Even though I lived at home with my parents, I had a half dozen “oldies” scattered around town. Two on campus, one at my girlfriend’s apartment, one at a buddies house, and one that I drove. My parents resented that I had access to loan money as a student they they could not access as homeowners. I had no credit, no collateral, and a minimum wage job. But my earnings were enough to pay for my college classes. To this day, I still owe on student loans that I used as walk around money thirty years ago. It wasn’t smart, but it will never be repaid.”

“That’s interesting,” I whispered, pulling away from this man.

He asserted, “there’s more! Before I graduated from college, I volunteered as an intern for a non-profit community action agency. I witnessed the CEO live lavishly while his staff earned salaries below the poverty level. He bragged that the services that the agency provided were heavily relied upon by his staff. ‘As long as there is a need, the agency will remain in business.’”

“Spending, my boy! But that’s not all. When I graduated, that man gave me a job and paid me a little bit more. I stayed for a year. I noticed how discontent his staff was. Sadly, their discontent was not enough to motivate them to do much about their own circumstance. Instead, they processed the aid applications that will financially support others in their community. This agency was run by the people FOR the people. I left after a year for a better job.

“My subsequent jobs evolved into careers. Each one serving marginal populations. The managers lived well, but the workers managed a life barely above their means.

“Everyone either had high rent or a higher mortgage. They drove expensive cars that they leased or second-hand luxury cars that they owned. So I mimicked what I witnessed and I fit in just fine.”

“What’s this got to do with me?” I said.

“High overhead!” he mumbled

“Spend money that’s not yours! Run deficits. Live beyond your means.

“Here’s what I do: I apply for high interest loans and pay every month on time. I default on the low balance loans to keep my credit score low enough that no one will benefit. This way no one will steal my identity. Because my default judgements will never be more than 10% over my gross, and my salary rarely competes with the cost-of-living, my income is never fixed. I occasionally work a job on the side (that is off the books), so my head is above water. But I drive a nice car, I eat out on credit, and no one can see my empty pockets.

“I tip well and treat my friends better than they treat me. I keep their secrets but I don’t share my own. I give to charity, as long as it’s a charity that I’m fond of. You never know when things will go sour. Only burn the bridges where adversaries antagonize you. Forget about keeping your enemies close, because your life will be too boring for them to hang around.”

“Are you done?” I asked

He said, “No. I’m just getting started…”