Monday, April 23, 2007

Security Issues

It's been a rough week. I haven't felt much like blogging. One week ago today we were attached to our favorite form of media watching things unfold in Virginia. What an awful day. Working at home, the risk of facing this situation myself is pretty slim. However I have one sister in a public school and another in a law firm.

As the week went by things just became worse. While we found out more and more about what happened, we realized how little we could have done to prevent it. There was no obvious scapegoat. No person who ignored the warning signs, no gun swap meet where he bought his weapon, no relationship that went sour and no cries for help ignored. No one trigger or person has emerged to set off this chain of events.

So we all are left to look around for the next one. As 9/11 did, 4/16 left us all a little less secure.

Except for Baxter. On the lighter side of this week, Baxter is finally rolling on his back and sleeping. After two months together, he now feels comfortable enough to roll over on his back and sleep or play. For a dog owner this is a big occasion as you have earned the trust of your pet.

Baxter feels secure, let's all try and do the same.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bean In The Oven

It's my 50th post and I can't think of a better way to celebrate then announcing another niece/nephew is on the way. My sister Jennifer is expecting and I'll be an uncle again November 25ish.

This is about what we all look like at five weeks. Some say "bun" but at this point I think we resemble a bean. I hope Jen doesn't mind that I posted an ultrasound of her insides on my blog page. She's doing fine, though not wanting to eat much which is very un-Jordan of her.

Feel free to send suggestions for names which I will kindly pass along.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Back on 02/02/07 in "Insert Dog Here" I shared with you a glimpse of my dismal looking backyard. Well I did put the dog there and some trees and shrubs. So here's an update on how things look.

Ok a little better, but we have a ways to go. As you can see the grass situation is well, "challenged". Texas is a pretty dry place despite the rain we had last month. The trees and shrubs have been planted and a few more may go in. We'll see.

Today the first of a few sprinkler companies strolled trough my backyard to give me an estimate on putting in a sprinkler system. In order to have a decent looking yard, it's absolutely necessary to have one here in Austin.

It's not easy being green and it's certainly not going to be cheap either.

Monday, April 09, 2007


We're in for a long long long presidential campaign leading up to the 2008 election. It's not going to be fun, but you'll be very happy to know I've made my choice already. I won't be loosing any sleep debating my decision going forward. So don't worry about me.

How fortunate are we that the choices facing us this time are so many. We are a nation of consumers and if it's one thing we all enjoy is shopping. Like wandering through the breakfast cereal aisle, there is something for everyone. Based on the picture above, I believe you know my cereal of choice.

It has been a rough seven years for our country. We went from relative personal and national security to great uncertainty. From an unprecedented attack to a war we're not sure why we're in or how we're going to get out of. Our founding fathers were wise enough to give us an instrument of change every four years.

And change it will be. The voters will decide the extent. But why Hillary Clinton? A valid question and one we have to ask ourselves before we head to the voting booth. I'm offering some transparency into my decision here.

I'm looking for a breakthrough. It's been 42 years since we've passed the Civil Rights act of 1964 and we've yet to have a President that is protected under what I consider the two most significant protections, sex and race, color or creed. Back in 1964 white males held an extraordinary amount of power and this historic act was meant to level the playing field. It's only since last year the Speaker of the House fell under these protections and now it's time for a President. What a remarkable moment in history for our country.

I tend to believe that breakthroughs bring a since of optimism. A can-do-spirit per-se. The Apollo 11 mission to the moon, the end of the cold war, the dawn of the internet age all spurred feeling of optimism and reminded us of all that is possible in this country. While we're all protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we've yet to elect a woman or a racial minority to our nations highest office.

I know you're saying "what about Obama"? If this were 2000 it would be different race and the choice between the two would be a lot harder. But it's 2007 and our world has changed. Experience counts and Hillary has it in spades. She was not running the country from 1992-2000, but she was very interested and learned some very valuable lessons.

And besides, how can you run a negative campaign ad about someone we know all about anyway?

Friday, April 06, 2007


Car and Driver arrived in my mailbox last week. It's done that monthly for the past 26 years. I've never missed an issue and I read it cover to cover. It's still my favorite buff book car magazine.

It's not to say there aren't things I don't like about Car and Driver. See the picture above, the 2007 Cadillac SRX SUV going through a slalom course. One of my big pet peeves with Car and Driver, is that every car has to be judged on performance when it was not necessarily meant to be a performance vehicle. Putting a picture of this SUV going through a slalom, is about the most ridiculous thing I've seen. Imagine the laughter if they put a Mustang GT towing a boat on their next cover.

I've always been drawn to and for the more sensable approach to testing vehicles. (They also pay my mortgage.) Car and Driver does an fantastic job at covering sports cars and low-buck racing, but they always loose it when they have to test a vehicle with 65 series or higher tires. Not every car was built to excel on the race track because not every driver is looking for that in a vehicle.

I am such that person. I do own an SUV and sports car. I love the way my Mustang GT takes a curve on it's Dunlop SP2000's. It's light, responsive, and a blast to drive when the off ramps get twisty. It does not loose it's composure. In the other hand is my Jeep Grand Cherokee with Quadra Drive (4x4). No, it's not light and responsive but I'm not looking for it to be. I'd be a horse's ass if I was out there on it's all-weather tires trying to push it through the corners as fast as I could. I don't ask my Mustang GT to get me through a rain storm or take a load home from the nursury. And I don't ask my Jeep to give me any thrills.

The buff books are in big trouble, Car and Driver included. Advertising dollars are plummeting while readers move to online magazines such as ours, Car and Driver celebrated it's 50 year anniversary last year and it's second. has triple the readership of

Online magazines are supposed to provide content to the consumer faster then traditional publishing and succeeds at that. I had to take a picture of my own copy of Car and Driver as that issue has not made it to their website yet and it's over a week old.

Car and Driver, if you could shape up your editorial skills and publish online simultaneously, you'd give a run for the money.

Stay the course and your future is Life.

-Life is Over

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Flex For Me

2009 Ford Flex

Ok, now something I really like at Ford besides the Mustang.

Most non-gearheads probably don't know that New York City is now hosting their big international auto show this week. Yesterday Ford pulled the wraps off their latest new product, the 2009 Ford Flex. Wow.

This design first appeared in 2005 as the Ford Fairlane concept vehicle. Ford sat on it for a year and then decided to go ahead and build it. Too bad for us it's a year later then it should be, but at least it's coming. The minivan, the vehicle we all hate but really love, is officially dead. The replacement is the "People Mover".

I'm in love with the look of this vehicle and I can see myself in it. That's truly a stretch as I'm just a single guy with a dog, granted I do live in a subdivision where it would be right at home. The low roof (painted in a contrasting color), clean sides and short front end recall BMW's Mini Cooper and Scion's Xb. Neither vehicle you'd be embarrassed to be seen in. Can't say that about a Dodge Caravan.

2007 GMC Arcadia

When I see the Flex I think of three terms. Clean, simple and purposeful. In contrast when you look at GM's entries into this "people mover" segment, the Outlook/Arcadia/Enclave, I think aggressive, heavy, lethargic. I doubt there will be many cross shoppers between Ford/GM products as you're going to go for one look over the other. Has this happened in the past? You betcha. In the 1960's Ford's Lincoln Continental was a clean and simple (award winning) design versus Cadillac's large/ostentatious themed vehicles.

1961 Lincoln Continental
1961 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

In the fight for the "people mover" market share, the biggest looser may acutally be Chrysler who's banking on the loved/hated minivan. They have nothing competitive in this segment now, then Ford brings out the Flex.

I think Ford just brought down the value of Chrysler by a billion dollars.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Getting Bigger

From February 14th posting.


One of the best things about getting a mixed breed puppy is that you don't know what it's going to grow up to be. Or how big it's going to grow up.

Baxter has put on about 12 pounds since I picked him up about seven weeks ago. He's now about seven months old and 60 pounds. He's going to be a big dog and that's quite alright with me. I'm not that gentile anyway and I can play as rough as he can. It's a pretty good match.

I was working today when I looked down to see how he was doing and snapped a shot of him. Looking back at the pictures of when I first picked him up I noticed now he REALLY does not fit in that bed.

For the record, his nighttime bed is about three feet by three feet. He fits in it very nicely.

For now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bad News, Good News, Bad News

March sales figures for new cars are going to be posted today. The bad news, Detroit's sales will slump again. This makes for great headlines but those who know Detroit aren't overwhelmingly concerned. Rental car and fleet vehicles are a market Detroit dominates and now they have cut these sales dramatically as they close plants. GM and Ford have produced fleet only vehicles at some point just for those customers, ie. Malibu Classic and Taurus. These vehicles were sold to keep the factory running and barely broke even if that at all. One of the best selling cars last year was the Ford Taurus, but you could not find one at your local dealer. It was fleet only.

The good news is that GM, Ford and Chrysler have put the brakes on dumping these discounted vehicles into fleets. For example, you can pick up a Ford Crown Victoria on fleet for about $19,000. Lowest price at the dealer, about $22,000. Guess what happens when that fleet vehicle goes to auction. Yup, it sells for about $13-14,000 and your dealer bought Crown Victoria isn't worth much more despite your higher purchase price. With fewer vehicles going into fleet markets, your vehicle retains more value on resale as there is a much smaller pool to pick from. Supply and demand.

But if you're in the market for a new car, the bad news. Used car prices are up dramatically. According to Automotive News in the March 26 edition, used car prices are on the rise. If you're in the market for a used car in the next nine months or so, buy it now. One example they quoted showed a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer going for $2000.00 more then a comparable 2006 model 12 months ago. This is the effect of fewer vehicles on the market.

For the past few years, the losses GM/Ford/Chrysler posted subsidized the used car market. Now the days of the subsidized used car is over. Get yours before it's too late.