Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nothing Much New About New Cars

Shopping for a new car is no less mind-boggling then shopping for a bottle of shampoo – there is so much to choose from without having any real choice. There is a perplexing sameness to the myriad items in a particular category, but that hasn’t stopped the advertising claims that each is superior to the other, when the only real difference might be the color. Or in the case of cars, the shape of the taillight.
I found myself in a bit of a traffic jam the other day – a traffic jam in Steuben County is when  there are six other cars in view of your car all headed the same way on the highway – and I noticed how little difference there was among them. They weren’t all the same make, either – there were a couple of Chevys, and couple of Fords, and they all had the names of sports teams on them – Cougars, Broncos, Lynxes - no Donkeys or Mules, however.
I was snooping around on a new car lot one day, just kicking some tires as the saying goes, when I became mindful that some of the major parts seemed to be lacking. Some of the fixtures that used to come with a new set of wheels had, indeed, become options. And in many cases the only designation used to identify a car was a set of letters and numbers.
I was kicking the tires on an SUV when a guy walks up and wonders if he can help me.
“Nice looking car,” I noted.
“Yessir, That’s one of our QZRK22PKUs. She’s a beauty, ain’t she?”
“What’s the name of this thing,” I asked.
“It’s a Water Buffalo, sir.”
“A QZ … What did you say this was?”
“A QZRK22PKU, sir ,,,”
“How do you know that? All it says here is Water Buffalo.”
“We are required to memorize the model numbers, sir.  This is just one of the models of this make of car. For instance, over there is a QRV …”
“I’d like to look at that one over there,” pointing in the opposite direction. “What’s that called?”
“That’s one of our newest models – the Mama Hippo, model GSPM7-ought-ought D. The slightly smaller one next to it is a Baby Hippo and the big sucker  is the Bull …”
“How’dya tell a Hippo from a Water Buffalo.”
“The biggest difference is the price. Hippos cost a little more.”
“You don’t say? Why is that? Where’s the difference,” I asked.
“Hippos come road-ready. You just hop in and drive away!”
“You can’t do that in a Water Buffalo …
“Or a River Rhino …”
“A what?”
“A River Rhino, sir. That’s one you’re leaning on.”
“What would I have to do to one of them in order to be able to drive it off the lot?”
“Put a carburetor on it.”
“There’s no carburetor on this 45,000 dollar car?”
“Nope, carburetors are extra. But it does come stock with a glove compartment, three cup holders, and windshield wipers. You have to pay a little more for seats, though; seats are extras.”
“Oh, yeah? How about a radio?”
“Radios are optional. We do have a wide range to choose from, though. You can get a standard AM/FM or one with multiband overseas capability, which is installed in the trunk.”
“If you can get one in there,” looking over a Water Buffalo Calf in the adjacent row. “I suppose all of your cars come equipped with a steering wheel and tires? I think you guys have been screwing up when putting spares in the newer models; they’re much too small; they look as though they belong on a wheelbarrow.”
“Yessir. We’re just trying to keep the price down. We’re very people minded – bullish on America, as it were.”
“Yeah, right. What else you got?”
“Well, let’s see. Over there’s an Armadillo; right next to it is a Platypus. If you like a four-wheel drive pickup, there’s a Pack-E-Derm – it’s the same one you see on TV sitting on a mountaintop with no roads going up it.”
“Yeah. Good ad for helicopters, and I don’t see one around here. Besides, if I’m going up a mountain that steep, I’d rather have a mountain goat. Say, you got a Mountain Goat around here? Ah, never mind, I don’t have much use for a truck that can climb over boulders and crush rows of cars. I don’t come up on many of them on the way to the “Y”.
“Say-y-y, what’s that sitting over there by the showroom? Looks like a Ford or a Chevy or maybe a Buick.”

“Naw. That’s just the boss’s Cadillac. Nothing special about that.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Putting DC's Best to Good Use

 I was happily at home tinkering in my garage. I had just finished nailing a couple of boards together when my pal Red-State Louie arrived with a six-pack of Red Dog.
“Hey, ‘Hawk, whatcha making?” Louie wanted to know, handing me a beer.
“Working on a prototype for a new green car,” says I.
“Prototype, huh? I see you’re making it out of wood. That’s pretty green. What’s it gonna run on, wood chips? That would be really green, eh, eh.”
“B.S. I figure to set up shop within an easy drive of the Crapitol. Fuel would be in endless supply. The only catch would be that the Socialists would soon find a way to tax it.”
“Yeah, it’s the only commodity they ever produced down there. You’d think they’d pay you to haul it out of there. Better watch it, they’ll be charging you to haul it away, then taxing you for using it. Whadya gonna call your green car?”
“The Fart. It’ll be manufactured with green materials, it might as well have a green name. Farts are a natural phenomenon. They’re part and parcel to b.s. Help me lift the hood into place, would ya?”
We put the hood on and, of course, it fit perfectly. Louie asked, “Where’s the fenders, I don’t see any?”
“Ah, it won’t need fenders. They’ll just get all dinged up when you’re in the Walmart parking lot. The insurance companies will love the Fart.”
“This thing have a roof?” Louie asked.
“Yeah, over there, that piece of blue tarp I got down at the hardware store. Help me stretch it across these upright pieces. There we go, now it looks like a real green prototype.”
“Looks like a piece of crap, to me, somethin’ right out of the Beverly Hillbillies.” opined Louie, taking a big slug of Red Dog.
“I could put a coat of paint on it, I s’pose.” I went into the garage and gathered several partial cans of paint. After prying the lids off, I poured them all together and mixed the colors. I came out with a lovely chartreuse and, grinning from ear to ear, began slapping the paint on with a stiff, old brush. “There,” I said at the end, “is a thing of beauty.”
“Yeah, right. Hey, who’s going to pay for the production of this, er, work of art.?”
“The Energy Department. Bureaucrats are always looking for green projects to throw money at. They’ve already blown about six and a half billion of our dollars on green projects that don’t work. The Fart is just the type of thing they’re looking for. You’re not only looking at a prototype, you’re looking at a proto-millionaire.”
“Is there an alternate fuel source? I mean, what if, heaven forbid, and I know it’s unlikely, you run out of b.s?”
I unlocked the trunk and threw up the lid to show him the solar panels. “The Energy Department will get all giddy and start writing a check as soon as they see these. Solar panels are hugely green. I thought about installing a mast and a big sail to use wind, which is another big green thing. But the Fart would really be ugly with a sail sticking up through the roof.”
“Yeah, well it’s obvious you have good taste, eh, eh.. You’re a real Michelangelo.”
“True. True. Maybe I’ll rename the Fart. Call it the Mikey!”
“Why not just call it the Fred. Hell, you invented this thing and built it from scratch. There were lots of early pioneers in the auto industry that named their first cars after themselves – Oldsmobile, Ford, Packard. Ford named one after his son Edsel. Naming your car the Fred would put you in some pretty tall company.”
“Ah, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just call it the BS Bus. Or maybe the Green Wienie. Ha, the Energy Department getting diddled by the Green Wienie! Ah, hell, there’s no use diddling somebody that don’t know they’re being diddled.”
“By the way, does this contraption really work?” he asked just as a tow truck backed into the driveway. The driver came back and began hooking up the Fart so as to pull it onto the bed of the truck.

“What? Surely you jest, my friend! If it actually worked, I’d never get any money from the government.”

The Flip Side