Saturday, December 12, 2009


Well it has been some time hasn't it?

So SEMA 09, an interesting show this year!
Smaller, yes noticeably so, fewer displays, wider isles, some notable companies missing, however not all is gloomy, and the state of the industry appears to be good.
I spent a lot of time talking to vendors this year, mainly on the last two days.
Every vendor that could be considered Tier One, that being the big names, not the me too vendors, reported an amazing show. Every one of them were quite astounded that they were writing orders, getting new leads, and were in fact almost run of their feet during the first couple of days.
One noticeable example was Mastercraft Seats, recognized as the leader in off-road seating for any vehicle, and the leader in quality. Mastercraft moved from the off-road area to the Hot Rod / street area, with a bigger and more open display area, and it worked, every time I passed it was full.
Several of the other seat manufactures seemed to be lacking traffic of any kind, well one did well but that was all for the former nude model.
Ford dominated the OEM display, huge, bright and always full of people looking at very cool stuff. GM's display, well you could probably hold a rugby match without any fear of running over someone. Chrysler was in it's normal place in back of the tire hall, no idea if anyone found them.
there was lots of very interesting 'new products' on display. Some 'why is this considered new' products as well; yet more exhaust systems. Why is an exhaust system considered a new product totally escapes me.
One quick walk through the off-road area, and it would be quick, because it was hard to make out from the other products added to fill out the area. New products, well a couple, more on that later.
The Green Zone had a surprise in store for anyone who might make the trip and be interested in New and Off-Road. A vehicle called a Rally Fighter, made by Local Motors, very cool indeed. Limited production calls for only 2000 units, but somewhat different. The new owner gets the opportunity to participate in the vehicle build. The Rally Fighter is a space frame design powered by a BMW diesel and it has a truly nasty looking composite body. This car will scare people.

On the dark side, the trade show police were out and patrolling the floor and causing bad feelings all round. Of what do I speak? One manufacture's rep told me of a seas and desist order he received for handing out FREE power drinks, and it came with a threatened, beyond reason fine. Why you ask? Seems the vendors charging outrageous amounts for soda are protected and the people this show is all about cannot give out drinks. The catch, none of the vendors sold any sort of power drink, none, nodda.
At another booth I asked a guy why on earth was he drinking his beer covered by a bag, trade show police again. Seems one cannot bring their own beer, even if it is for lunch, and it seems he didn't care for the type of beer for sale and being a different brand didn't want to risk the wrath of the trade show police.
Funny thing, people wonder why manufactures don't come back the following year?
Another interesting point, when moving in, if it is done on a Saturday, moving booth containers is at time and a half, seven forbid something has to be moved on a Sunday, that is double time. Booth rental is the least cost people displaying have to worry about. No wonder the show is shrinking each year.
Another bad thing I was party to hearing, OK eves dropping again. On the Wednesday morning on the train ride to the show I heard two guys discussing the decision of the Tire Association to not attend the show in '10 and to only attend the regional shows. Seems they made better use of their time and garnered better results if the buyers didn't have to travel so far. This was the second morning of the show and a major group had already planned on not coming back. Scary thought for SEMA. Several of the big players in the tire business didn't attend this years show in any case.
The AAPEX show, that is the repair part show, didn't make out much better this year. Same story really, fewer displaying, but the major brand people all reported doing very brisk business.
Seems that those at both shows who make a quality product and had very few returns did a very good bit of business, those who had quality issues, not so much.
this is good news for the consumer, the choice may be smaller at your favorite shop, but the quality will be higher if the show was any indication.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

some times life just sucks

Life has been a total PITA of late, and the best way to deal is to write.

Then I got an e-mail from a friend, slide show sort of thing.

It described how 10% of your life can control the other 90%.
The 90% being how you react to situations and how that reaction will carry over and mess up the rest of your day, week, month...
That 10% being how you react, and I have decided that I have been reacting all wrong and letting the actions of other cause me no end of grief.

The key is going to be remembering this, bit of a steep learning curve, but worth the try.
So today, and just for today, I am going to not react badly, yes I know awkward sounding and poor writing. Today is going to be a good day, and everything is going to roll off like water on a ducks back.

have a great day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Interesting weekend.
My wife and her sister went off to Chicago Land raceway for the Indy race and I worked on my truck.
Front replacement drive shaft from Tom Woods looks to be an improvement on the Spicer double cardon version. The difference being on the new drive shaft the follower can be greased. The Spicer version is factory lubricated, read designed to fail. Someone was not thinking the day that was designed. The drive shaft that failed was the second, and only after 9,000 miles, rather short. The first started squeaking a bit after about 3,000 miles, at which time I smeared it with grease, and lasted to 15,000 miles.
Being the front drive shaft it does not spin all the time, in fact hardly at all.
Next up on the vehicle fix-it list I guess will be the brake discs. I think that they will probably get done when I do the stretch.
I am planning a stretch from 90 inch to 106, going to use the spare frame I have to build up the rolling chassis then move and modify the body. That is the plan.
A re-power is in order as well, as soon as I can find a Cummins diesel.
Funny thing about that, two years ago I was toying with the idea of building a new truck, Cummins motors where everywhere, no problem finding one. Now however, they all seem to have disappeared. This is a total pita.
Who knew it would be so hard to find a wrecked Dodge pickup? had I known i would have bought and stored on when I started the design side of things.
Oh well.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

time flys

Feels like just yesterday I was writing here and it turns out to be almost a week.
I do have a good excuse, summer has finally arrived, nice and hot all week.
Early July weather in late August, which translates into 100 degrees plus weather.
My kind of weather, spent almost the whole week out of doors every opportunity I got.
I drank about 2 gallons of water each day, and my sweat was sweating, I love this kind of weather.
I was able to leave the shop door open late into the evening it was so warm. Mosquito count was very low since the summer has been so cold to this point, very few hatched, a good thing.
Daily monsoon even help off for a week or so, this has to be good for the local trails, give them time to dry out a bit. Ottawa Valley clay can be very nasty when wet, and this year it is saturated. Walking the walk, not possible to tread lightly, so off road isn't happening for me.
I am not getting much done writing here, so I am back to the truck, I did find the problems with the electrical; isolator voltage drop was too high making full charge a thing that didn't happen, and the anti-corrosion compound I used on one of the ground points failed. No point naming who made the stuff since it is only available to electrical utilities for use in switch gear. This type of equipment is normally indoors out of the weather, under hood is hardly out of the weather, lesson learned.

have a great time until we meet again, be safe.

Friday, August 14, 2009

car shows

Been a while...
Went to the 35th annual Southeastern Ontario Street Meet last weekend, held in Emilasburg Ontario, south of Bellville on the island.
This is one fantastic show, and amazingly well organized and executed by a small group of people. Three days of nothing but cool cars and trucks for the pittance of $60.00 ($50.00 pre-registration) which includes camping, entertainment of some sort every evening, and a meal on Saturday night. Cheap food, no way, local grown vegetables and roast beef and desert, normally seconds are available if you can fit it in, good luck with that, portions are huge. The site is immaculate, no trash since there are trash containers everywhere, and they get emptied daily. Port-a-pottys aplenty, cleaned daily. Like I said amazingly well organized.
Cars from every decade from the 20's to the 80's with special interest vehicle as well, something for everyone who is into cars, or just want to look. Total car count was 286 weekenders, with day runners as well, no idea how many.
There had to be near a thousand people camping, with another thousand attending the event each day.
Don't get me wrong, the cars were great eye-candy, but my favorite part is the evenings around the campfire. I camp with a group who I knew from by street rod days and their kids and grand kids. Nothing like a camp fire on a warm evening with friend laughing and joking about.
Funny thing, for years my daughter and her girl friends never wanted to be around the camp site at night, wanted to be out prowling for the young boys. This year, now 18, seems the prowling has lost some of it's attraction, they wanted to be with the silly folk around the camp fire.

10:56 & 451F
Glowing orange with pitch striping, Dancing wisps swaying in the southerly baby's breath. Slowly, ever so slowly changing to a brushed Pewter dust. Ferry like sparks jump towards the sky, as another joins the warm embrace, only to disappear mere feet above their former warm bed.
Stay-puffs in sticks transforming from white to brown the ever so slightly black, sequels of delight from the young, and then another held out towards the furnace heat.

Nothing like a camp fire.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Small World

When I look back I am astounded by how small the world has become. I was watching the replay of the footage of the moon landing on CNN, memories flooded back of the event as it unfolded. Yes, on a black and white T.V., and the memory was as clear as if it had happened yesterday.
Fast forward to the 500 channel universe, flat screen high definition, and the internet, nothing happens anywhere without the world knowing almost as it happens.
Back in the B&W days someone visiting from Toronto ( 4 hour drive away) was a big thing. Today, talking to someone on the other side of the planet is a daily occurrence.
Times have changed, and the opportunities are immense. Not just for commerce, more importantly to learn about other people and their societies. Funny thing is they are not as different as one would expect.
Already this morning I have read e-mail from 4 US states, as well as e-mail from three countries overseas.
Good old days? Are you crazy, can't wait to see what technology is just around the corner to make our ball of dirt even smaller.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Automotive sales raise

Car guys in charge of an auto manufacturer seems to be the key.
Ford once again has proved it, July sales raised on a Year over Year basis.
The Case for clunkers program was obviously part of the formula, but not the whole story. As mush as everyone loves to hate Ford, they do build a good product. They also seem to have figured out what to build; that would be what people want. Add to that an aggressive marketing program and, as the old saying goes, Bob's your uncle.

Too bad GM hasn't got an uncle Bob. Out of Chapter 11 and what do they put the push on? A Cadillac SUV, yah right that will sell well. GM has Lutz, and this guy has been around at GM for what seems for ever, you would think he would know better!
Why on earth would they take this approach? Seems the accountants are still in charge, you see it takes about the same amount of time, more or less, to build a luxury SUV as it does to build a lower end vehicle. Guess what, profit margin is much higher on the SUV.
Some more insight into their thinking; I spoke to a GM rep at a trade show years ago. Back when the Cadillac badged pickup was released. I asked him why on earth a pickup with this badge. The answer reveals a lot about how this company thinks, his answer; 'Cadillac buyers are a really dumb bunch, they will buy anything with a Cadillac badge on it. We could package shit and call it a Cadillac and call it automotive air freshener and those fools would buy it.' Not a direct quote, it has been a few years. OK, OK the same rule applies, higher profit margin, but that is one hell of a way to think of your customers.
This guy was a booth minder, sitting on a very low rung of the ladder, however he got that attitude from those above him, that is the way of company culture.
GM changing culture? Sure they are, listening to the people, of course, that it guys, keep flogging that dead horse.

next up? Cash for clunkers, but not today...

Monday, July 27, 2009


The Politics of electricity.
So now the big push is for electric cars, seems like a good idea on the surface. Reduction of pollution, less dependence on off shore oil, a good thing by any thinking.
How long ago was it that we were being told to reduce electricity usage? The grid was going to melt down, and it did at one point. Had we known at the time all that was required was a global warming bad science scare and the electrical grid would be just fine, who knew.
Have I lost you here?
Think of it this way, peak usage time is when everyone gets home and turns on all their stuff. In the last several years more and more 'stuff' uses power even when it isn't actually turned on. No doubt usage has gone up. The biggest use is motor load, as in air conditioning and heating. When you get home you adjust the temperature to your comfort level.
What is going to happen when all these electric cars get home from the daily commute and get plugged in? Simple the grid load factor goes up, adding to everything else demanding power. Don't worry though, global warming fixed the grid.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

living or existing?

In this world there are essentially two types those who do and those who live vicariously thorough those who do Ok may be three, the third being those who don't know any better.
Some of us live our obsession every waking moment, and sometimes in out dreams. Ever dream about your obsession?
personally I think of myself as one who lives my obsession, however I am unfortunately stuck in a rut of sorts. Roots prohibit me from selling off all the extra and moving to a large garage and small house and living. Such is life.
For those who know me well I am vehicular obsessed; if it has wheels and a motor I figure out a way to modify it to be different. So many project so little time.

One of my good friends; Bill Burke, in my opinion lives the ideal life. Outdoors, Off Road, Teaching how to play safely, what more could you want?

Something here for the Automotive manufacturer world to take note of, to really excel you have to have people who have a passion for your product. Not just someone who talks the talk, someone who walks the walk.

There are hundreds of these kind of people out there, just ask the communities and they can be found.

No idea where I am going with this, so I think I will go back to modifying my Defender.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Selling the lifestyle

Marketing is all about lifestyle. So why is it that those auto makers who offer four wheel drive vehicles don’t seem to get it. Take a look at the advertising on television for guys. Hair restoration is a huge market, and they claim that if you have a full head of hair you get confidence. Never mind if you never had a whole lot of confidence, once you follow their program you will be over flowing with the stuff. They also point out that you will be able to hook-up with drop dead gorgeous ladies. Sure you will.
So now you have the hair, but it is gray, oops another problem, never fear a solution is available. These guys must get together on this, because if your hair is gray, confidence is out the window. You can get the youthful, full of confidence look back just by adding color. The biggest thing now seems to be just enough color so your head says experience, never mind you look like a horse, full head of slightly color hair gets the ladies. Compete and win in the bar with the young bucks. Who wants Tony-the-pony when a Mustang is available?
So you have your chosen lady, but you can’t get it up, for whatever reason. No Worries there is a pill for that. Side effects can be nasty, loss of vision, loss of hearing, hard on for maybe four hours, notify your doctor if any of this happens… So it’s all about lifestyle, being youthful, virile, tough experienced and confidant.

At one time Chrysler had the Jeep Jamborees, a contractor put on all the events, and they had someone else do all the work. Those who attended always had a good time and told all their friends and associates. Maybe these people wanted to drive off-road or not, but large numbers bought Jeeps; so they could live vicariously and be a member of the clan.

At one time Land Rover had the Camel Trophy, people still talk about that series of events. Swag from the event still sells for crazy money. People will sell their souls for a Camel Trophy vehicle. Regulations killed the Camel Trophy; cigarette advertising became politically incorrect. This heralded the end of the series, and Land Rover for some reason decided an off road image was no longer something to have. Blame that on California, at one time the sixth largest market in the world, and the home of the Tree Huggers. Better to try the luxury approach, however for some reason this has not worked out as planned.

So in a miss guided attempt they tried to get back to lifestyle with the G4, interesting idea. It missed in connecting a Land Rover with lifestyle, nothing to live vicariously through. Nothing in the G4 was something only a Land Rover could do; probably do everything with a Lada Neva, oops.

Life style sells no matter what you are selling. Sell the concept of going to far reaching places that no one else can get to. Sell the rugged and ready for anything image.

For those of us who love and live the life, don’t hold your breath, unless you like the blue tinge skin look.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

recycling a frig.

Well it happens to everyone eventual, the frig gives up the ghost. At one time getting rid of the sucker was easy, drag it out to the curb, take off the doors, safety first, and the trash company would take it away for a nice burial in the land fill. Now-a-days things have changed, seems the coolant and the atmospheric ozone don't get along well. Some areas will recycle the old thing for free, other make you pay.
Why give up a perfectly good tool?
I bet that got your attention. Several useful things can be made out of old fridges, store paint, welding rods, parts even. All that stuff is just too easy to do with other storage methods.

How about a Sand (media) blasting cabinet? Wouldn't it be cool, sorry, bad pun, to be able to clean small or large parts without the mess of blasting media all over the place?
Simple stuff, use the freezer part if you want a small cabinet, use the refrig part if you want a large cabinet. Scratching your head?
Remove the door, whichever one, and carefully fold back the magnet strip, you will notice a strip with screws, remove all of them, and set aside the magnet strip.
Measure the opening and go get some Plexiglas, reattach the magnetic strip to the Plexi, add hinges and you have a cabinet door. Remove as much of the interior as you want, however the shelves might come in handy.
Strip out the other compartment, and drill a hole with a big hold saw, this is where the vacuum hose will go to keep thing neat.
Drill a hole in the side of the cabinet for the air line, or better yet make up a hard connection.
Cut a couple of holes in the Plexi door and attach some heavy to the elbow gloves and you are done.
Did I mention you have to turn things upside down if you want to use the big section? OOPS.
Making tools is so much fun when you get to recycle at the same time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

state of the off road union

Off road is in trouble, no question. For decades the 'tree huger' groups have been doing their best to restrict access to just about any place. Vast sections of land are now off limits, unless you are on foot. Think about this for a second, if an area takes a day to drive across, a hiker will take a week, more or less. Now how many hikers will actually do this? The greenies claim they have to save the habitat of the cute furry animals, good idea on the surface, however an off road vehicle trail through the wilderness hardly threatens these same animals. Maybe they should focus their attention on the companies who clear cut the forests. But they can't do that, put too many people out of work. Ever see a logging operation, almost fully automated, one machine cuts, removes branches, cuts to length, and delivers the logs. That is one person. Once the logs reach the road, one more person loads the transports. At the mill, again almost fully automated, maybe five people. So how many, in this simplified example, do we have? Seven people, plus maybe three more for the transport delivery, that would be 10. OK I admit over simplified, I am just trying to make a point here, let's double that number for sake of argument, 20 people.
Keep this number in mind for a second
Land Closure combined with the current recession (read depression) as caused a great number of off road manufactures great fincial problems or to file a chapter 11. The list includes; Fabtech, Superlift, Poison Spyder, Solid Axle, Stak T-cases, Procomp, 4 Wheel Parts, just to name a few I have heard about. Some of these companies have been sold, most are still operating, but at reduced volume, and therefor staff. It is rather hard to convince someone to buy parts for their off road vehicle if they have to drive for hours to get to a place they can 'legally' drive it.
The 'legally' drive your truck is another issue, ever see a trail closed signed gate with an obvious drive around trail? No Motorized vehicle sign with tire tracks leading off to the horizon? Guess what, it's the yahoo factor, the plan doesn't work.
Sorry, back on topic, so a large number of off road manufactures reduce staff, or file for Chapter 11. What does that mean? massive loss of wealth, read money flushed. People without jobs don't spend, companies who can't pay debt cause ripples down the supply chain.
Last year the largest off road show, the spring off road show in San Diego was canceled. Basically no one could afford to display their goods. Last years SEMA Show, the off road section was at the point of being irrelevant, less than half of the smallest hall. Spring Off Road SEMA Show is no longer happening, again, due to lack of affordability.
Seems rather silly to bow to the Tree Huger groups and allow their influence to wipe out hundreds of millions in annual sales, and all the local benefits that go with those sales.
Remember to 20 above who clear cut? That is a tree to a 2x4, ok a bunch of 2x4s. Most of the land that is being cleared is off limits to orr road vehicles as well. Now that makes sense.

So what to do? Send a letter to your local official, yes one of those paper things, yes you have to use a stamp. One letter carries a lot of weight. Why? Because it is old school and it takes time and effort. A letter carries far more weight than an e-mail, however do that too.

We the Off Road community have to get organized, one voice, not a couple dozen. There are far too many voices, it's akin to kicking a hornets nest, an annoying buzz that makes you run away as fast as you can.
SEMA also has work to do, off road suppliers are lumped into the light truck market group. Granted there are overlap areas, however go to a show and all you see is Tonneau Covers, just screams off road doesn't it! A dedicated committee needs to be created for the Off Road and Four Wheel Drive manufactures. For no other reason than to actually offer them a voice and the feeling of being included and a worthwhile part of the community that is the aftermarket.
Tuners have a group, why not the Off Road?
Another letter may be in order, at least an e-mail. Question the lack of representation.

Global warming, saving wilderness and any other silly reason are killing our life style, time to step up and demand attention, we need one voice.

We are independent types by nature. What other personality type would get so much joy of driving off into the woods essential by themselves. You should be with others, just in case, but you are more or less alone in your vehicle, you are alone behind the wheel.
Put aside a tiny bit of that independence and raise your voice, because soon it will be far too late.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Go On, convince me...

The art of marketing, selling someone something they really don't need, by creating a need within a cultural group.
What am I on about today? Just listening to a radio advert for a hair restoration company. Seems if I have hair loss I also get confidence loss. Those I interact with will never take me seriously. I will never be able to meet beautiful and willing ladies in bars (not that that is an issue, been married over 30 years).
Seems as soon as the procedure is finished life will be well, god status re-established.
Do people really believe this crap? Of course they do. No wonder we are in the middle of a depression.
The TV is on in my shop as well, see I can multi-task with hair loss, just in case something in the automorive how to shows catches my attention.
I love these shows, every tool under the sun, all the cool parts, and lots of people to do the work off camera.
Today, there was a segment about plasma cutters and welders by one of the suppliers of what I consider to be very good products. A while back I did a pole on an off road forum, one of the really big ones, so as to get a good cross section of the international market.
The question was; would you buy something just because of some celebrity saying they used it?
The resounding answer was a big NO WAY. This can be extended to the how to show if you think about it for a second.
Off track again...
So how is the average home builder going to afford all those tools? simple answer is they are not going to be able to. Even if they could, from my experience people but what they see the others in their network or community using. When I needed a welder, I went out and asked others who were into the same hobby as I am what they had. I then asked some people who made their living as fabricates what they used and what to watch out for.
So why do these companies not understand this concept?
Story time. A while back I was looking for a plasma cutter that I could use on a CNC cutting table. My budget was rather small, but a company on one of the how to shows claimed to have an affordable system. 15k is not affordable, no matter how you cut it, gotta love puns.
Good news I now have a winter project, with a bit of research I discovered I could build a CNC Plasma Cutter table for less than 3k including a torch.
Now to figure out how to build a tube builder on the cheap??

Saturday, July 11, 2009

There back!!!

GM and Chrysler have emerged, out of the legal closet as it were.
Chrysler has started off on the more or less correct path, they have decided to keep the Viper, as far as i am concerned that is a good move someone has to compete with the Corvette. I tried to buy a Viper once, a few days after i bought my Discovery I stopped by the dealer. I should have known I would have problems when the salesman who looked down his nose at me had more oil on his head than in the crank case. He reluctantly showed me the Viper, and, OH, OH he let me sit in it. Then the bone head asked me if I could afford one, what's with that?
I replied, and I quote; Look outside bone head, I just bought that Land Rover, and I think maybe I will go and find a more enlightened dealer.
The point of all this?
Lets hope that the Chrysler dealer network, or what is left of it, doesn't judge people, and actually provides service.
On the GM front, also known as government motors, I wonder if everyone in the US gets a business card?
GM claims they have a new culture? That they are going to have to prove.
GM had a culture that dictated that all the Directors were more or less untouchable, free reign, they could not do anything wrong. I was told this by a GM retiree at the SEMA show.
I hope when they proove to be total bozos that at very least GM upper management takes ownership and admits the mistakes.
Of course I have a story to illustrate this.
A few years back one of these 'untouchable' directors was a speaker at a SEMA breakfast.
During the meet and great after the breakfast, I spoke to said director, and we got to talking about a project I was working on. I explained I had a 55 Chevy pick-up that I was building into a hot rod, but with a difference, I was, was is the key word here, going to power it with a diesel.
He offered to get me a diesel motor, no problem he claimed, just drop me an e-mail after the show and he will set it up. Cool.
So I get home, send him an e-mail, and he tells me that he will get the wheels rolling.
About a month passes and I hear nothing from him, than another month. Considering I have a fair amount of design work to make this project work I send him another e-mail. A simple inquiry as to what is up. In return I get a very curse, almost nasty, piss off e-mail.
Wow, that was a massive turn around. Being the curious type, I responded and asked what happened? Why the change from loving the idea of the build to legalese, go away totally unfriendly.
Next I get a call from some security clown from GM, telling me never to contact said Director again, or there would be circumstances. Well, well, wasn't that nice, this Director goes from very friendly, offering to help with a project to send out the dogs attitude.
This is an interesting cultural indicator.
GM so called Directors, just don't seem to understand the power of word of mouth. Before the internet, a person would tell another person, who would tell five, who would each tell five, etc.
Now we have this thing called the internet. Apparently some people don't understand the concept. One posting can be seen by thousands, and they never really go away, things posted years ago still exist out there.
Again, the point?
This culture of untouchables is one of the major reasons for the demise of GM, lets hope they fix that flaw.
Needless to say I am no fan of GM, never really have been, I like the lines of the 50's era vehicles, however I am never going to buy a NEW GM vehicle.
They may be back, but they are still closing plants, 20,000 workers are now unemployed due to plant closings since GM came out of the bankruptcy closet. Yah right new culture. Sounds more like same old, same old. Go Chrysler! Go Ford!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

wet enough?

More rain, just what we needed. My frigged lawn looks like a pasture, the grass is so long. The only time the sun seems to come out is mid-week during the time I am stuck in my cubicle. I refuse to take time off to cut the lawn, that is just not right.
So we start with Global warming, and that get traction until someone noticed all the weather stations they were basing the hoop-la on were all in or very near major cities. No kidding cities are hotter than the country side. So as not to look completely silly the name changes to 'weather change'.
What has this to do with my over grown lawn? Nothing at all, I just got a bit off on a tangent.
Just going to be one of those years when it is a bit wet during the summer.
I remember the last time this happened, I had just purchased my first mountain bike. Heavy steel frame, tough as a tank and almost as heavy. i had a ton of fun with it, rain or shine, the guy two door down and I went out and did a 15 mile loop almost every day. Two crazy "A" type personalities racing through the trails, and the wet times were even more fun.
Too bad some one built a four lane highway right down the middle of the trail network.
Some riding might help he quit smoking.

Today is one of those days when the sun is expected to come out, maybe I should buy a goat and call it BBQ?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Oh they are so screwed

Chrysler has just released news of who will be on the Board of Directors.
No a single car guy amongst them, lawyers and investment bankers, the only exception being a CEO of one of the Fiat divisions. Why does no one learn from recent history?
Investment bankers killed Chrysler the last time, and a new bunch get to try again. It's not about the company performance one quarter to the next, it's about building a car that's different and all about the car culture. lawyers? Say no more, ever met one that knew anything about the car culture?
Maybe this bunch and the fools that WILL get appointed at GM will finally acomplish what sky high insurance and a gas embargo could not do back in the early 70's, kill the car culture.
NOT LIKELY, not going to happen, no matter how hard they try to make vanilla, people will always change it into chocolate moose.
Just think how great the North American Auto Industry could be if they actually made something different? Like all the round aero looking look-alike cars actually save any gas due to their shape on the daily commute. Hard to save fuel when you are moving 20 mph when you are moving at all.
Ford got it right with a Mustang that actually looks like a Mustang. Dodge blew it big time the new thing, and I will not abuse the iconic name by calling it that, looks like a pickup from the front and the sides are way too tall. GM, guess what, they missed too, sales have been fair, but again, it just looks wrong.
If you are going to build a retro muscle car, make it look like one, or it's not retro. It is just more vanilla.
maybe I will keep my 55 Chevy Pickup, it at least looks different than all the other bla comutomobiles out there.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why lay off marketing/research?

So why is it whenever a group feels the economic pinch the first to go is the marketing or Research group? Akin to blinding yourself and for good measure drinking Draino to kill the vocal cords.
The other approach is to turn these functions to an outside company. WRONG! Outside companies have no idea about your culture, no stake in doing their very best, and those left managing the company have no clue if the feed-back is even close to correct. All control is lost with and outside contractor, worse yet if no one is hired.
Research is cut when times get tough, how on earth do you find out what people are really thinking, what the trends actually are? Heaven forbid if if you are an association and your members depend on that research. Why not just shoot yourself now and avoid a long slow decent into irrelevance.
Can you imagine, when a company gets a call by a research firm claiming to represent your association and they want to know about how you are doing? Yah, right, sure they are going to give up information, more likely to hang up or worse, thinking to protect their company give up misleading information.
The company has no stake in retrieving accurate information beyond their contract pay, the company contracting has no idea if the information is accurate.
Soon an association who receives bad information, or inaccurate information starts to loose members to other associations. Good by old established group, hello numerous new groups, and everyone looses until they all get back together.
Nothing good can come of these moves, marketing and research are the most important part of any company/association. A cost center, well yah, but the eyes and voice, I sure hope you can trust your hired eyes and voice.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

mid-week holidays

So it's like this, I can't physically do more than three days in a cubicle, I work Tuesday to Thursday, sleep all day Friday. Cubicles are killers, designed to surpress creativity I swear.
So I go to work on Tuesday , Wednesday is Canada Day, a national holiday, and I have to go back today. Why does this feel like it is just not right? Staffing is going to be almost non-existent so nothing at all is going to get done. Mid-week days off just don't work.
On the up side it will only feel like a Monday until noon, then it's going to feel like a Friday.
Depression does very interesting things to the brain chemistry...

Really hard for some reason to think of something to write about, maybe I need more coffee.
that's the ticket, more coffee.

On the getting my Defender back on the road side of things, I am almost finished making the new battery boxes, Folded up the aluminum yesterday, and with any luck I will get them installed tomorrow.

OK here is a strange one I just heard on the radio.
A guy from New York is on an plane, he quietly takes off all his clothes and sits back down.
he refuses to get dressed, and refuses to cover himself with a blanket.
So the plane is diverted to the closest airport, Gander I think they said, and they arrest him.
Charged with interfering with the flight crew.

have a great day everyone, I am going to get more coffee.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Not quite as bad as we thought, GOOD NEWS

Great news about this years SEMA show.
Many of those who are displaying their goods this year have opted for a larger booth.
Show Management reported that of the nearly 1,400 companies that participated in the priority booth selection process this month, 12 percent secured more space.
See some people realize the fantastic opportunity that is the SEMA show, and also the state of the aftermarket is good.
To quote Peter MacGillivray, SEMA vice president of events and communications;
“Given the state of the economy, we are extremely pleased with the value our industry has placed on the Show”
Also of note; SEMA management has introduced several programs and incentives to make exhibiting at the SEMA Show more cost-effective and result in higher returns.
Exhibitors can take advantage of the extended payment plan, and guaranteed leads program just to name a couple.
Members have to keep in mind WE ARE SEMA, to make this show work, and to be successful take advantage of every opportunity our association management has made available.

Check out the show site at;


Ok so I couldn't think of a good title...
Happy Canuckada day everyone.
Typical summer day here in Ottawa, warm and very humid, probably rain just in time for the fireworks tonight. Hope not.

have a safe and happy day everyone

Monday, June 29, 2009

best GPS, you bet.

Auto world bits and bites

Why is it some companies do well and some don't?
For years I have been claiming that some do well because of Car People, those who are part of the culture. Note how well Ford is doing, why Ford family member is still helping to run the place.
I was just reading Automotive News, yes I do that first thing every day, with morning coffee.
Seems Toyota, has a Car Guy at the top too. Ariko Toyoda, grandson of the founder of Toyota, and the president of Toyota loves to race. Last month he took part in the 24-hour endurance race on Germany's Nurburgring track for the third consecutive year, as part of the Gazoo Racing team. He is known on the circuit as Morizo.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Indy Racing Snore

Indy racing has become the definition of BORING...
And I don't mean drilling holes, this race series has become one of the best ways to cure insomnia.
Don't get me wrong there is a few moments of excitement. Unfortunately that is right at the start, when the cars are still double file, then they string out into one long line and the race is won or lost in the pits. This is not racing it's rush hour at speed, with none of the excitement.
The reason, well even to the casual observer that should be obvious; Far Too Many Rules.
These cars are ALL the same with the exception of paint and sponsor stickers.
Everything is so regulated that this follow the leader event has lost relevance. Last night at Richmond, only one third of the seats where even used, only those on the front stretch. Interesting thing about high definition television, you get to see if anyone who attended actually paid attention. When the cameras were focusing on the front stretch, just in case someone had passed, you may have noticed the spectators were in constant motion. Looked like half of the people were out of their seats, probably moving around so as not to fall asleep.
With all the chassis from one manufacturer, and all the motors arriving sealed, a single tire supplier, what does that leave to tweek? Nothing that matters, as is deviant by the poor showing.
I ask again what to do? Maybe take the NASCAR lead and mandate a double file re-start after yellow flags. At least that would create a tiny bit more excitement and some actual racing.
Here is a radical thought, let them build their own engines maybe. Fewer people in the pits, make a wheel changer change more than one wheel? No more on-board jacking? These are just pit changes, and they will not have much effect on actually racing.
Perhaps Indy as an organization should revisit their own history, back before the breakup into two boring series, look at what was the status then and how it can be changed, or rather slightly massaged to fit today. Will that help? Who knows, however history does tend to point out past mistakes and if not learned, they are destine to be repeated.
How long do you think it will be before someone from the brain trust figures a separate series is the solution...
Notice the F1 drivers association haven't learned from history. Ever talk to a driver? People with that much ego should never be let alone to run anything.

Something else the teams might want to do to retain the few fans they have left. I went to an Indy race with my wife a while back, and we had as part of the package a pass to an autograph session. the drivers were the rudest bunch of people I have ever had the misfortune to watch. Not all of them, just most, some of the younger drivers seemed genuinely interested in the fans questions, and provided relevant answers. After all there was no press present. The other however were best described as true pricks, they could care a less about the people who made their profession possible. Offering stupid childless answers, mocking the fans, talking amongst then selves rather than paying attention to the fans in front of them. Sad state indeed.

So the series is at the point of loosing attendance because it is no longer really racing, and the drivers are alienating the few fans they have left. One has to wonder how long the Indy series will last when added to all this is the interesting economic times we are living in.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Smart 4/2

Ever consider that ugly cars sell?
Gremlin, Pacer, Scoin, that Toyota mini van that looked like a hand vac?

Well it seems that the Smart is following that trend, with a bonus, they retain their value.
Copied from the Daimler media site;
The smart fortwo recently received the Canadian Black Book award for “Best Retained Value”. Designed to identify specific models that outperform their competitors, the awards are based on real performance and measure actual value retained after a four year period.
Kathy Ward, President & CEO of Canadian Black Book, presented Marcus Breitschwerdt, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada, with the award at smart Canada’s head office in Toronto. The awards determine a vehicle's ability to retain its value from its original MSRP, and are based on data gathered from four-year old passenger cars and light-trucks under $70,000.
"Receiving the Canadian Black Book residual value award provides further validation of the extraordinary and innovative concept of the smart fortwo," said Marcus Breitschwerdt, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada.
"We are grateful to all of the loyal smart fortwo owners for placing their confidence in our brand, and we are very happy to provide strong residual values as an additional benefit of ownership. The unique smart fortwo continues to be an intelligent choice for mobility because it provides class-leading fuel efficiency and versatility in a safe and fun-to-drive package. These are the trademark characteristics that have allowed us to expand the smart family to more than 15,000 strong in Canada since the vehicle’s introduction five years ago."

So the question is, why is there no aftermarket add-on bits for this car?
OK, so the total numbers are relatively low, however, once these catch in the US market, combined with the cost of fuel raising, these little ugly cars will sell like hot cakes.
Might even be the next street racer type car for the current younger generation. Why Not?
These things are relatively inexpensive to buy, get fantastic mileage on a cup of diesel, and retain their value. Seems like a no brainer?
Maybe I should get one and drive it to Vegas when I attend the SEMA show, would that be a fun trip? You bet. I have wanted to drive to Vegas on nothing but secondary roads for years, maybe even following route 66. Even cooler!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fridays are fun days

Fridays have always been one of the best days of the week. I wonder why? 8-)
So what to do, simple question for me, I really need to work on my Land Rover.

Funny thing about Land Rovers, you love them or hate them. It has become a status vehicle, one of those look at me, I am driving a Land Rover, I must be successful. That applies for the modern vehicles since the off road capability, while still superior, is all electronically controlled, just not right. Seems someone has decided that the gentry must not have a bumpy ride no matter where they happen to be driving. Sad!

More funny; the original Defenders imported into North America are still selling for silly high prices. Unfortunate for Land Rover the original sales were so poor, but then again, they really did not advertise the fact they were available. The original Defenders just showed up on dealer lots, no fan fair, just another vehicle. I guess someone in the corporate brain trust figured the name would sell.
Nothing has really changed, no real advertising, but who would want one of the new vehicles loaded with electricery in any case?

Now the older vehicles, that is a different story. An older Land Rover will get you anywhere, and of more importance, it will get you home every time. Something to think about; 30 year old Land Rovers are still being used as daily drivers all around the world. Crazy people, why would someone want to drive a 30 year old vehicle? Because they can, and because they still run well, even after 30 years. Would a modern vehicle be able to do that?

OOH, a clunker, killing off the population... Bite Me. Cows cause 30% of the co2 load, but none of the tree huggers seem to have noticed that fact. Cows get a tad upset when you try to attach a catalytic converter to their emission system however. So lets not go there shall we, these classic vehicle have long ago paid for their carbon foot print.

I love my Land Rover, in fact I love all the classically styled Land Rovers. Over the years I have driven almost every example of the breed in some of the best places to feel their incredible capabilities.
One of the most memorable; driving a 101 on Dome Plateau at Moab Utah. I had flown into Colorado Springs and an independent Land Rover mechanic was waiting to drive me to the Solihull Society annual rally. The 90 he was driving belonged to another owner, he was just driving it to Moab for him, and was welcome to have the company for the drive. This is typical of Land Rover people, we tend to go out of our way for fellow enthusiasts.
After an all night drive we arrived in Moab, not quite sunrise, I even managed a 3 hour sleep before heading out to the morinig gathering. this is the point I was introduced to the owner of the 90, he had driven to Moab in his 101, and as luck would have it he had an open seat for a passenger, he had joined the Dome Plateau group for the days ride.
The 101 is one of the Land Rover breed I have always wanted, having the oppertunity to be a passenger in one for a day long trip was just like an early Christmass, and I was bubbling with excitment. In fact, with apologies to the owner, I talked the whole road trip to the trail head.
An amaizing thing happend at the trail head, he got out of the 101 and got into the drivers seat of his 90 which was along as well. being a bit confused I asked hoim who was going to be driving the 101, his responce as a simple; You are, and he pulled out on the trail.
After I picked up my jaw, panic set in, how the hell am I going to figure this one out?
I had a Lightweight at home, how different could this be?
Sitting out front of the wheels was an interesting position to be in, which became even more evidant at the first down hill.
Sufice it to say I had a grand time, I can remember the experience all these years later just like it was yesterday.
Land Rover owners, who are part of the culture, are fantastic people. Perhaps eveyone should have an oppertunity to experience the life.
One Life Live It...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

invisible disabled

Funny term that, invisible disabled, however thanks to modern pharmaceuticals those with brain disorders, can more or less function. So what am I on about? Depression, not just being bummed out, this incestuous bit of brain dysfunction can really mess up your life. Going back to work after a lengthy time away, not because I was ready, the insurance company decided I was cured. Depression is chronic, it doesn't just go away. My own physician was not convinced, however without insurance covering my salary, what option was there?
The Canadian Government only covers people for total disability, not the difference in pay from a job you had and a job you can do. I work for the Canadian Government, and there is a requirement to accommodate when people return to work, however they don't seem to understand an invisible disability. The people that are put in charge of these programs, also know as champions, got to have a title, just don't seem to understand, and most of them are too busy just keeping up with other tasks to find time to become educated. HR should be dealing with this, correct, except someone came up with the idea of centralized HR, so there are none at most divisions, in fact I have no idea where the HR people actually live. Not that they were any help in the past.
Nothing happens fast in the government, everyone is scared to make a decision, thanks to the self serving politicians. So nothing happens.
But I digress. The number of people I now see showing signs of depression, yes I am now able to pick them out having been diagnosed and self educated, if I am going to have to deal with something I am going to learn about it to the smallest detail, is quite scary.
The sad thing being, most people don't even realize why they feel the way they do, they sort of become drones, living in a gray, sad world, trudging on day in day out.
Me, well i only attend my government day job three days a week, it is about all I can stand, I sleep the forth day, and for the next three I create.
For those suffering I am here to tell you all is not lost, I have managed to create two patentable products in the last three months, not that I can afford the cost of a patent, but that is another rant.
Feeling bummed out, can't sleep, no concentration, is your world sort of gray, GET HELP! Go see your doctor and talk. There is help in the way of modern drug therapy, and it works, you might also want to find someone you are comfortable talking with, verbalizing the challenges seems to make them smaller and easier to deal with.

Stay tuned, the story about the large insurance company and the disability insurance lip service will follow shortly...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a moment of silence please

Has digital killed the film star?
Kodak today announced the end of Kodachrome, their iconic brand.
The best color film, bar none, however difficult to produce, and in these days of common platform manufacturing, not to mention no-film cameras, it has met it's demise.
Yet another era comes to an end...

want to read more?,8599,1906143,00.html

Monday, June 22, 2009

It all starts someplace

Who knew?
Blogging a therapy.
We are all facing interesting times and the tend to do a 'poor me' is overwhelming.
There are some things that are beyond our control, and the act of getting upset only clouds your ability to search for even the smallest glimmering of light at the end of this interesting tunnel.
Try to keep in mind; there is no such thing as a problem, only challenges. Climb out of your box and look for a solution, you might even find that the finding is fun.