Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Plucked Rants

I heard recently that blogging is just a way for people to rant in public. I don't recall where I heard it or read it or who said it; probably from one of those Law & Order episodes I faithfully and frequently record on my Brighthouse DVR-equipped cable box. I like the old shows best, the ones that strart with the crime, then the police investigation, and finally followed by the district attorney's prosecution efforts. The other Law & Order versions, Criminal Intent and SVU are OK but I'd sooner the original format. It just seems to give a more complete picture of the story. Anyway and whatever the source, the theory of blogging being a public platform for ranting sort of struck a nerve. Well, not struck so much, that's a tad strong...more like plucked a nerve is what I mean. Like a harp player plucks a harp string. Firm, correct, and with flair, but sort of gentle at the same time. Much less violent than striking anything could ever be.  So, truth be told, I was plucked by the thought that my blogging, or anybody's blogging since we bloggers are sort of all in this together, is our means of stepping up on the technological soapbox of the Internet and spewing forth just about anything we want to rant about. And my kids think I'm a technological dope still living in the blinking 12:00 VCR age!  HA!  (I got rid of the VCR years ago but I will admit I sometimes have the instinctual urge to rewind the the DVD disk before I remember what century I'm in). 

So when the hypothesis associating blogging with ranting came to my attention, the sensation of nerve  plucking was followed closely by the shocking realization that this means, I am a ranter. Or I could be a ranter if my blog is brought in as evidence against me. God! How would I react to being interrogated by Detective Lennie Briscoe in one of those dingy "interview" rooms with the two way mirror on the wall with a gallery of detectives and assistant district attorneys on the other side of the glass watching my every move?  And I don't want to diminish the staging of my favorite TV reruns but can't the interviewees see through that shiny mirror the size of a 60 inch flat screen placed in the middle of a concrete block wall? I'm just sayin' ! I've never seen any suspect undergoing interrogation ask for a comb so they could spruce up a little bit. So, they have to know, don't they? Even the dumb ones? 

Quite frankly, I've never considered myself to be a ranter. Not a public ranter, anyway. OK, all right, I confess there are times, in the privacy of my own living room,  that I have made disdainful emotion filled comments directed at my 60 inch flat screen television. But I want to make two things perfectly clear. First, only when the television was turned on. I've never ranted against any television or any other appliance for that matter, that wasn't in the "on" mode. That would be grossly unfair and perhaps even cause for a little suspicious concern about my mental status were that to be the case. And second, I have inspected my flat screen (again, when it is off) to see if it could possibly be a two way mirror instead of the television it appears to be and can testify without reservation that it is, indeed, just that...a television. There's no one else on the other side and, I should add, and this is a BIG and...there's no CyberLink YouCam device on it either. That's right folks. You think all that fuss recently about hackers attaching themselves to your computers and watching your every move was scary? Think about what you have done in front of your television screens...the ones in your living room. The ones in your family room. And the one in your bedroom!!  Better check them out. You heard it here. Even if you just picked your nose or simply scratched an itch, the next thing you know you might see yourself on U-Tube with your index finger buried up to the knuckle in your nostril...or worse. 

I imagine there are few of us who haven't ranted a time or two at their televisions. I used to be a New England Patriots fan. Right up until they embarrassed me in the 1986 Super Bowl. I expressed a few feelings in front of my television on that day that could possibly be defined as rants. When I moved to Florida 25 years ago I fell in love with the Buccaneers. Actually my butt fell in love with them because I could sit and watch NFL football in the stadium in my shorts in November and my butt, obviously remembering how many times it was frozen numb at Foxboro, would say "thank you, thank you, thank you!"  But with the exception of the 2003 Super Bowl and a couple of seasons around it, can anyone imagine I would never have a rant or two to express about the Bucs? I'm still a fan but I have become more vocal now about my displeasure. Not at the stadium but only at home in front of the television. I don't believe in "booing" athletes, professional or otherwise...they work too hard to do their best and sometimes their best isn't good enough. Unlike politicians. Needless, to say, my non-YouCam flat screen probably did hear a few boos uttered last year leading up to the presidential election. I'm not going to say what politician or which grand old party was the target of my ranting but they sure gave me plenty of ammunition to rant about. And boo. I have other rant-worthy subjects but I'm going to step down from my technological soap box (I wonder how many people under the age of 50 know what "standing on a soap box" means?) and see what other issues pluck my nerves. And don't forget!  Be Kind - Rewind!  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Itch Scratching

As I neared the end of my three year lease on my KIA Sorento I started to get that new car itch that seems to take hold of me every three years.  And I suppose it's a little pretentious to say "my" KIA Sorento but lease, buy, or steal a vehicle, when you drive it for three years it just feels like you own it.   I could have owned it if I wanted to buy it at the end of the lease and it wouldn't have been a bad move because I knew the vehicle had been taken care of for maintenance and had not been abused. And I liked the Sorento except for one thing...the miles per gallon performance was not nearly as good as advertised. It was supposed to get up to 29 mpg highway. If you drove fifty miles per hour on a straight and level road, I could get 29 and higher. Sometimes as good as 32 mpg. But that's not realistic highway conditions as far as I'm concerned. At 60 to 70 mph the best I ever got was around 25 mpg. I'm not a lead foot driver but if traffic and weather allow I usually try to maintain 4 to 5 mph over the limit.  In Florida that means setting cruise control to 74 or 75 mph. The result was that the Sorento achieved an average of 24 miles per gallon at those speeds. Not terrible performance for a mid size SUV but disappointing nevertheless because it's so much less than advertised.

So, long story short, I did not buy the 2011 Sorento at the end of my three year lease. I shopped around and test drove the Ford Escape, the Mazda CX-5, the Jeep Compass, and the Hundai Santa Fe, and the GMC Terrain. I read all the reviews from Edmonds and Car and Driver. I test drove each of them and they all had their good points. But the one that seemed most likely to satisfy my itch was the Terrain. I've got about 1500 miles on it since I started leasing in December and highway mpg is averaging 30 mpg (as opposed to 32 mpg advertised). Not quite up to the hype but significantly closer than the promises by KIA. Anyway, here's the new wheels pictured below. Ain't she purty?

GMC Terrain SLE-2
She's not top of the line. As a matter of fact she's 2nd from the bottom of five available Terrain models. But she's got enough bells and whistles for me, a comfortable ride, similar size as the KIA, and much much much better miles per gallon performance.  She scratches my itch.