Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ford to GM

Many of you know me as a car guy. I am told ever since I was very young that I have had a fascination with cars. I do recall always being into cars and I always like tv shows featuring cars ever since I was a kid. These include, Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, etc.

Over the years I have had my favorite cars and have favored certain models and makes. Since the 80s in regards to full size vans (vehicles that I have always been guaranteed to have in my driveway since childhood), I have favored the Ford models, but in the last few years Ford has put a very sour taste in my mouth and I will not purchase one at least for the foreseable future. I will share a few reasons why.

When I was commissioned in 1998 and sent with my wife to Sanford, Maine, we were pleased to hear that we had a brand new 1998 Ford van. It was a nice color and was as loaded as possible for the model year it was. It was a great van and I only had to put a heater core and rear heat lines in the 3 and a half years, and 114,000 miles that I owned it. It was the best van I have ever owned. I traded it in in Feburary of 2002 for a van that I essentially had custom ordered to my specifications, right down to the color. My 2002 van was a nice looking van, again, it was as loaded as was allowed for the model year, but right away I noticed very subtle things about it. It seemed louder on the road in regards to wind noise, and my arm would get cold as I rested in on the drivers door. Despite being a mid level XLT with the nicer door trim, seat trim etc, it seemed Ford scimped on the sound insulation. Later on I realized that whenever the van was drivien in a rainstorm on the highway, the turn signals would not work for 2 days. Apparantly there was a short and this was a problem until I left in June 2005. The dealer tried to reproduce the issue but had no luck doing so.

The van also would have a knock in the engine. I asked the dealer about it and told them about it. They told me there was no knock. I sort of argued that there was and that I was not new to this engine. My 1998 had the same engine and did not make the racket that the 2002 made even with the high mileage on it. They insisted it must be something I was doing, despite using Exxon Mobil gas at the recommended octane rating! Sometimes, I think they despised me at that dealership! I said to the service tech once, "well maybe Ford dropped a Lincoln Navigator engine in this and I should have been putting 93 octane in this." They looked at me like I was from Mars. Its sometimes sad when you know more about the car then the so called experts!

The van didn't have serious issues, but stupid unresolved issues and that bothered me almost as much as the major issues. I believe this van is still being used by the Sanford corps with nearly 150,000 miles. I finally swore off Ford when I observed my dads 1 week old Ford van last summer before they moved from Erie. While parked in my grandparents driveway, I noticed that the bumper was installed crooked. I pointed it out to dad to verify that I wasn't seeing things and he noticed it too. The gap between the bumper and the body was signficantly wider on one end than the other! I said to dad, "if they can't put a bumper on straight, what else is wrong with it!" Ironically two days after seeing that bumper gap, I had to go shopping for a new van as my transmission failed on the way to the congress that previous weekend. Let's just say I steered clear of the Ford dealer!

I do believe that now Chevrolet vans are superior to the Ford vans. They are far more comfortable to drive. The driving position is more relaxed and less confined. The engine has signficantly more power and torque, and is quieter as well. I believe the styling is more refined as well. The seats are mounted into the floor instead of on brackets. This allows for easy loading when needed with no floor obstructions. The GM vans ride better as well!

My Chevrolet van has 28,000 miles on it and I don't think I have put $500 into it in maintenance since purchasing it in June 2007. The GM service people are informed and know their product well.

Over the next 6 weeks, I will be spending a lot of time in my Chevrolet Express 3500 as I drive all over eastern Connecticut. Its a good van and I am now a huge fan of GM products. Lets hope they can survive the next year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Challenge...What You Have Done

Reading Uncle Dave's Blog, I decided to do my own challenge using the template he has and altering it as needed. My "yes" answers are in bold.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower / Watched the Northern Lights
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland never to CA, but DisneyWorld 6 times
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped / White Water rafting with at least one level IV rapid
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea..everynight night for 7 nights on our last cruise
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty / Been to the top of all four classic tall structures in North America (CN Tower in Toronto, the Sears Tower in Chicago, World Trade Towers in NY City, Empire State Building in NY City)
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train / Slept overnight in an airport
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when youʼre not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (solar and lunar)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (both)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on an overnight cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangeloʼs David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt / Seen the wheat fields of the Prairies
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted--a long time mom has it somewhere
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (used to own an ATV)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie / Been on television / Been on the radio
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies/ Sold Boy Scout Apples
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check..stupid bank had a 5 day hold on a check I deposited!
68. Flown in a helicopter / Flown in a plane that took off and/or landed on water
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial / Toured Parliament Hill / Toured Capitol Hill
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt / Changed our car’s oil
73. Stood in Times Square / Visited Old Quebec City
74. Toured the Everglades / Gone Shopping at West Edmonton Mall / Gone Shopping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London / Watched the Rose Parade in person.
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book / Recorded are record or CD I am on a Pendel Brass CD
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a New Car...not for me, but business yes
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House / Visited inside the White House (attended a reception) / Visited Ann of Green Gables
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating / Eaten Moose or Deer / Eaten Squid / Eaten Allegator
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someoneʼs life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (I met former President George Bush at our Annual Dinner)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake / Swam in all five Great Lakes
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Red to Blue...

Over the past few years, I have felt some subtle changing in my overall political thought process. I don't know what has spurned this on, but I have been more open to thinking more moderately and less along my traditional party line that has been established since the late 80s and eary 90s.

Two years ago, I supported Senator Joe Liebermann (I) for US Senate here in Connecticut. At the time, I thought I was beginning to shift my thinking. Senator Liebermann lost the Democratic primary and decided to run as an independent. He defeated both the democratic nominee and the republican nominee and despite his war record and his support of Senator John McCain's Presidential campaign, still caucuses with democrats. This was the beginning of my change in ideology.

While on vacation this year, I decided that I needed a good book to read and read Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope. In reading this book, it became clear that this man has what it takes to be our leader, and our advocate. I was encouraged and uplifted as I read the pages on the sands of Rehoboth. I was not completely convinced, but I thought, "gee, I might vote for this guy."

For the past 2 months, I have been going back and forth as to who would earn my vote for President. Last evening I decided on Senator Barack Obama. I believe as Secretary Powell has said that Senator Obama is "transformational figure." I believe that he is the man that we need as leader in these uncertain times both on the domestic and foreign sides. My fear would be a McCain Presidency would be a continuation of the Bush mess, and this is from a man who voted for Bush twice! It was very evident that the "maverick" McCain was lost to the Republican establishment.

While I don't agree with Senator Obama on every issue, I do believe that he can provide the healing and despite the challenges will put his best foot forward in making America a better place.

So today, I was proud to fill that circle in for Senator Barack Obama for President and Senator Joe Biden for Vice President. Incidentally, I also voted democrat for my congressman as he has done a fine job securing appropriations for additional submarine production which is a crucial aspect to our local economy.

I guess the title fits...this registered Republican has shifted to blue.