Saturday, December 31, 2011

Leaving Florida is hard to do

Leaving my Mom's house is always a hard experience for me. I usually only see Mom & George once a year but at least I can talk to them. They also understand what is going on. They won't be suddenly surprised when they come out the next morning and we are gone (we leave very early when we depart here). The dogs on the other hand, will wonder where the people who have been petting them all week have gone. Brew, Mack, Spencer, Ebbie and Baily will wonder why their old friends have come and gone again. Star, and Kai will wonder where these friendly new people have gone. I will wonder which dogs I have just seen for the last time.

In the past few years, Bernie, Newt, Misty and Shannon have passed on. Mack is a HUGE Swissy who is now 9, and Baily is old with two bad rear legs. I also feel very bad for Star. She is a more recent addition and is a rescue. She obviously was mistreated by a previous owner. She is very timid and expresses symptoms of abandonment issues. Yes, I know she is a dog, but they have personality. The way she looks at you, the way she looks back when you let her outside, you can see she is thinking if she will be allowed back in to the home. She warmed up to me so well, that I am not sure how she will react. And Ebbie and Brew who liked to "break in" to the bedroom if we didn't lock the door and join us in the mornings will wonder why the spare bedroom is now empty. No suitcases, no clothes, no people.

So, while leaving family is hard, there is some comfort in knowing that they understand where you are disappearing to. They have a way to reach out and communicate with you. And they understand that despite your absence, you still love them. With dogs, you can't know what they understand you can only judge their reactions, and based on the past, I know that they won't be happy tomorrow, which makes it harder on me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Believe what you want, but leave me out of it

Forward: This is post 1 of 2 that I said I had in mind for writing during my Christmas break. I waited to write this to avoid putting myself into the type of situation I am telling people to leave me out of. This isn't directed at any one person, it is directed at everyone that tries to cram beliefs down my throat.

I don't care if you give praise to God, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, Ra, or Mickey Mouse. As long as your beliefs don't affect me, I don't care (I'll get into this later). You could believe that your toaster commands you to hop around on one foot everyday for all I care, just don't lose your balance and fall into me. I do care when you come knocking on my door telling me I am a horrible person for not believing in X and that I will burn in hell if I don't immediately repent and follow YOUR way of thinking.

You are welcome to write blog posts, status updates, tweets, newsletters, or billboards about your beliefs. I might not read them, much like many people will choose not to read this. The fact that people won't choose to read this means I will have to tell them next time they try to preach to me that I don't want to hear it, so I would prefer they read this now, but it is their right not to read this. What crosses the line, at least for me, is sending me articles about how important it is for me to have X in my life. Saying that I must go to church. Telling me that I must believe in X or I am a horrible human being.

Personally, I am somewhere between agnostic and atheist, but before people jump down my throat about being the devil spawn: 1 - see above and 2 - how am I affecting you? I am not one of those people who feels like I need to waste the time of the Supreme Court debating whether "under God" should be in the Pledge of Allegiance. Do I think it belongs there? No. Nor does "In God We Trust" belong on our money. Those words being there doesn't affect me enough for me to care. So how do my beliefs about that affect you?

I keep saying "it doesn't affect me I don't care," but what do I consider affecting me? Well, here is a rough idea. If your beliefs say that you should kill me because I don't believe in your beliefs, that is something that affects me and then I will want to hit you over the head with a stick to either knock some sense into you, or give you amnesia so you forget that part. If your beliefs say alcohol is forbidden and you try to pass a law outlawing it, that affects me. If you decide to forever avoid me because I have a drink, that is fine with me, because obviously your beliefs are very important to you and odds are you would start preaching at some point. (That last point isn't directed at anyone running for election, or anyone I know...unless one of them starts acting that way). If you think alcohol is forbidden, but think that is your personally belief and choose to exercise that restriction on yourself and not get preachy if I have a drink, then we will probably get along.

I am tolerant of some religious influence on the policy of our country because I know it is impossible to separate people's religion from their personal views, but most of those influences are things make us civilized, that were put into religions early on to drive civilization in it's current direction. But when things start going all "the bible says" in the process of writing a law, then I get annoyed.

I wrote this while I was awake in the VERY early morning hours after not much sleep, but I think it captures most of my thoughts. With that, I will just hit "Publish post" and be on my way. I have TWO more posts planned now (the original other post I had, and a post about PR due to an on-going PR nightmare for a game accessory manufacturer) but I will get to those when the mood strikes me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A rough time of year at work

It used to be there was one rough time of year at work where I had to do my performance write-up*. Then I would just have to update my resume to submit it with that for promotion consideration, and that wasn't too bad. Now the pain is twice a year.

First, I have to do my performance write-up in August. That is painful for me. I can boast and brag with friends to a degree, but I don't like to do it too much. When it comes to professionally, I have a REALLY hard time selling my own accomplishments. I think it is mostly because I don't see my accomplishments as major things. It is just a bunch of PHP code to improve some web applications and add features. Other people see programming as some black art, I see it as just another task.

So, if going through that once a year isn't bad enough, I have to do another performance write up soon that is the one that goes to management to try to convince them to promote me. It is a crappy exercise and made even crappier and more stressful by a freeze on annual pay increases and my next scheduled pay increase not happening till 2013.

Oh well, enough of a rant for today.

* When I say I have to do it - basically, the way it works with most managers is they give you your objectives, but you have to write what you did for those objectives and hand that to them so they can give you a score and pass it up the chain. Some bosses help you more than others, some won't lift a finger and expect you to do all of your self-selling.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Latest goings on

Figured I would shoot in a little update here since it has been a few weeks. I did in fact build my new computer and have been playing Battlefield 3. The graphics are amazing, online play is awesome, but the campaign kind of sucks. Lots of "Click the left mouse button here, tap space bar now, press e" in spots that could have been REALLY awesome otherwise. The story was great though.

Other goings on...I bought a truck. A VERY used truck. 2002 F150 XLT 4x4 with 239,000 miles. Why? We live a long way from work, a possibly bad winter is coming, and there are projects around the house I have been putting off because we didn't have a truck to haul things like mulch and gravel in large quantities. We might actually pick up some gravel this weekend to fill in under the truck. It is passed MD inspection and we just need to wait for the dealership in DE to finish processing the title to register it here (and pay the 6% tax to do so). I will try to take some pictures and add the them to the garage page this weekend. I will be working on posting the description of it shortly.

And then there is work, which has me over-extended on duties and understaffed (only me) on my primary project. The other project I manage has tons of people working it (3 interns now and 1 future full timer), and I can't redirect them to my primary project because they only came to the office to work on that other project. I still have been roped into doing some of the coding on that lately though in order to save the system from itself. (it was growing quickly and thus some very inefficient queries were dragging the server down) I am also left as the lead for a working group and doing the prep work for a related briefing in January (that I thankfully got a volunteer to help with).

So that is what is going on, and on top of that, I am considering going back into web work on the side. So, what's up with you (my 1 or 2 occasional readers)?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thinking about a PC upgrade

I am thinking it is time for an upgrade. WHY? Because I want to play Battlefield 3 in all it's glory. I can re-use my case (and cram these innards in another case for possibly other purposes). So, when all is said and done, I am looking at about $760.92 for parts. I would start with two new boot Hard Drives (SATA 6GB, 250GB 7200RPM), I have a nice 2TB data drive to plug in, an AMD Phenom II X4 p65 Black Edition 3.5GHz Quad-core processor, 8GB of DDR 3 Ram, a 80Plus Gold certified power supply, a Radeon HD 6950 Graphics card w/ 1GB ram, an ASRock motherboard with two PCI-Express x16 slots, SATA 6GB/s, USB 3.0, Firewire, Gigabit Lan, and eSATA, and a SATA Blu-Ray burner. pull the trigger or not...Thoughts?

Well, off to water aerobics for the evening.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anniversary Trip Recap

This year, for our annual anniversary trip, we headed in the same general direction as last year....North. Our destination was a bit different though. Our goal? Finish visiting the states of New England and see some sites along the way. How did we do? Pretty darn good.

Day 1: We departed work @ 2:30 and hit the road. Our destination was Milford, CT. It was a convenient stopping place for the first night, we didn't really have a plan in mind for there. On the way, we only hit a small amount of traffic at the George Washington Bridge and on I-95 in CT. We were a bit shocked by this, but it was very welcome!

Day 2: In the morning, we headed down to Silver Sands State Park and took a walk on the boardwalk there. I snapped some photos of Charles Island and some rock formations people had made in the sand. I am pretty sure this one was actually pointing due north:

Milford Beach and Charles Island

From there, we hopped on the road and started driving north towards White River Junction, VT. Along the way, we stumbled upon the Basketball Hall of Fame, and it was also a good time to take a break, so we went there (more on this later). From there, we continued driving along until we saw a sign for the "Bridge of Flowers" and decided another detour was in order. I would have loved to see this bridge during the spring when everything was in bloom, but it was still pretty nice, and there were some falls near by. After that, we proceeded on to White River Junction, VT.
Bridge of FlowersDSC_5555.NEF

Day 3: We began Day 3 planning out our route. Our first stop was Quechee Gorge (or as they like to call it, Vermont's little Grand Canyon). The view down into the gorge from the bridge was awesome, and I managed to snap some decent pics standing there. I haven't had time to do much work with the photos, so here is the best one I currently have posted:

Quechee Gorge
Quechee Gorge

Our next stop was the Mt. Washington Auto Road which is apparently America's oldest man-made tourist attraction. It climbs to the peak of Mt. Washington, the highest point in the Eastern United States at 6,288 ft. It is also home to "The World's Worst Weather" being the location where the highest wind speed directly recorded at the Earth's Surface: 231mph. The drive up was amazing with beautiful views of the Presidential Mountain Range. We stopped several spots on the way to the top for photos, and then reached the peak and climbed the stairs to the observation post on top. This part of the trip was very reminiscent of Stelvio Pass in Italy.

Mt Washington Auto Road
View from Mt. Washington

From Mt. Washington, we proceeded on to our destination for the night, Bath, ME. Once there, being our actual anniversary, we went out for dinner and both had Lobster (we were in Maine, what else would we eat). It was a good evening

Day 4: Our first stop on day 4 was an old US Fort, Fort Popham. This fort was never completed and never attacked, but US forces were stationed at it multiple times.

Fort Popham
Fort Popham

From Fort Popham, we traveled up to the Maine Wildlife Refuge. I managed to snap some great wildlife photos while we were there, and saw something that I had never seen (and will probably never see again): an albino raccoon. There were quite a few deer in the pen across the way, but the fences are short enough that healthy deer, if they so choose, can jump the fences and leave the refuge. We saw most of the refuge, but were both wearing down, so we skipped the birds and marsh areas of the refuge. The only other event for the day was driving through "The Big Dig". Having seen numerous TV specials about it, it was cool to actually drive through it.

Day 5: After crashing for the night just outside Rhode Island, we made our final push of the trip. On to the Statue of Liberty! When we arrived, the line was long and moving slowly. I had considered buying tickets online the night before, but I didn't have a printer, am always iffy about using the hotels public computer, and didn't see any benefit since according to the website, Pedestal tickets were sold out for the day, so we would only be able to visit the island anyway. Once we finally got our tickets, we proceeded to the security zone (1 of 2 we passed through). We catch the boat to Ellis Island, walk around a bit, and then hop on over to Liberty Island.

Somewhere between boarding the ferry the first time, and boarding it to visit Liberty Island, we realized that our tickets actually granted us Pedestal access. Great surprise there! So we headed straight to the statue and headed inside to get a view from the pedestal. This is where we were met with security checkpoint #2. After walking up 2 flights of stairs, we were in the museum in the pedestal. It had some interesting items, but we were more interested in going up, so we proceeded up another 2 flights, then caught the elevator to the top of the pedestal.

NYC from Statue of Liberty
NYC From the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty

What an amazing view it was! We then started working our way down the various levels of the pedestal via the stairs until we finally reached ground level. Hot, tired, and ready to roll, we caught the next ferry back to NJ, hopped in the car, and sat in traffic. Somewhere on the turnpike, I hoped out of the driver's seat for the first time on the trip, and let Chrissy handle the last (mostly traffic free) leg home.

Now, about the Basketball Hall of Fame: we seem to have started a trend now. Last year we went to Cooperstown, this year the Basketball Hall of Fame, maybe Rock & Roll and Football Hall of Fames next year? Who knows. But I do know that the states we have left to visit are all to the west now, so it won't be as easy a trip to knock more of those off our list.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Drop it like it's" a Volkswagen

At H2Oi, I purchased a JOM coilover kit from New German Performance. On Friday, Chrissy took it up to their shop in Aberdeen, MD to have the coilovers installed. So, now the Rabbit is riding low. I am not too happy about the noise of the suspension right now, but I emailed NGP about that to check if it is normal. I do remember even the stock suspension on that car making noise, just a different one. I LOVE the new stance of the car, and on the way home on Friday, a kid shouted out "Hey man, nice car" as I drove by. First time that has happened in the Rabbit ;)

You can see more pics on my Flickr account but I wanted to post one here on the blog.
KL0PFER Lowered

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekend Plans

Well, this weekend we will be rolling out to H2Ointernational down near Ocean City, MD. I have a lot of cleaning of the JSW to do this weekend before we drive down. It needs a good hand-washing and wax, and then I will finally get around to take some photos of the car once it is all clean to post on my garage page. Keep an eye on my Flickr account for a bunch of Volkswagen and Audi photos to be posted either Sunday night or Monday.

Work has been hell this week since we had to tell users they have been doing things they shouldn't have, and I received a bunch of backlash for that. Some of it felt very personal, and even though everyone says not to let it get to me, but for me, when I stop letting it get to me, it means I don't care any more and I should move on to a new job, so, my boss should be glad it still gets to me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

2 Months Out

I just realized that it has been exactly 2 months since my surgery and I neglected to blog about that.  I didn't weigh myself today, but I did yesterday, and I am down 66 lbs since surgery and 121 lbs since the end of last August.  Still a long way to go, but it is progress.  Anyway, that is all I had to say.

Car Stuff

The Rabbit (aka Klopfer) is quickly approaching its 100,000 mile service. Need to call Dick's Autohaus to schedule an appointment to have it done there (why pay for the stealership to do the work?) Since I have the parts, will probably go ahead and replace all four rotors and sets of pads at once, if I can get the damn bolts off this time. I also have OEM front fogs lights on order from ECS Tuning to finally install even though I have had the appropriate switch on the car for over a year (and a year fog with the current tail lights).  The plasti-dip on the front badge came off when I washed the car last week, so I am going to use some actual paint this time when I black it out.  I will also (when I have time) priming and painting the rims black with wheel paint since the finish on the rims is looking pretty bad and there is some curb rash on them.

The Jetta SportWagen is almost out of it's bumper-to-bumper warranty range, nearing 36,000 miles since November 1st.  This weekend I installed my birthday present from Chrissy, OEM front fog lights ordered from OEMPlus.  They look awesome, unfortunately, I thought I had the appropriate CECM to plug them directly into to the controller and have them work.  The rule of thumb used to be, if you had the multi-function display in your dashboard, you had the high-line CECM which is compatible with front fogs.  Apparently, that is no longer the case, and my car has the low-line CECM, so doesn't have the proper pins for front fog lights.  Because of this, I then had to re-work the wiring some and use a relay to power the fog lights.  I am not 100% satisfied with the wiring right now, but it is safe, and will suffice until I get around to reworking it a bit.  This is why we ordered the rabbit fog lights from ECS rather than OEMPlus.  The OEMPlus kit is designed to plug directly in like they do in the factory.  We know the Rabbit has the low-line CECM, and the ECS kit uses a relay in its wiring harness already, so I won't run into the same problems.

I have also now ordered the dash cubby for the JSW like the European cars have, and the driver's side taillight with the rear fog in it, to further convert the car to euro-spec.  I almost never have to use the rear fog over here, but occasionally it is nice to have on 213 in the mornings or the Bay Bridge.  Also, it works better for getting tailgaters off your ass then tapping the breaks.  Just flip that on for a second, and it makes them think you are tapping your brakes, but doesn't have the risk of collision of tapping the brakes.

This coming weekend we are going to Dubs on the Boards in Wildwood, New Jersey, but won't be showing off the car, just going to check out all the other cars.  We will also be going to H20i in a couple of weeks down near Ocean City, MD.

Lastly, I still need to take some good photos of the JSW for the garage portion of my website, but it won't be happening today.  Overcast, rainy, and the car still needs a bath too.  Maybe Saturday if it is nice, since I will want to give the car a bath before driving to Wildwood.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Haven't updated in a bit

Well, I know I have been slacking again and not blogging.  I have been updating Twitter and Facebook though.  I haven't even been on Google+ lately.  Not enough hours in the day I tell ya!  So here is a run down of recent news.

Since gastric bypass surgery, which was July 5th, I have now lost over 60 lbs. The exact amount is around 63 or 64 lbs.  I can't remember exactly what the scale said yesterday.  That brings total weight loss in the last year to about 110 lbs.  Still a long way to go though, and I need to start doing more "land" exercise vs water aerobics, which leads into my next item...

I bought a bicycle.  Of course, most people would say "Oh, big deal."  Well, it isn't exactly easy to find a bicycle for someone of my size.  LivingXL sells them, but I was able to find out who actually builds them and order directly from the factory with the exact customizations that I wanted.  The company, Worksman Cycles, is based in NY and does all construction there.  After all was said an done, including shipping, my bicycle was around $700, but it is very sturdy.  Of course, that brings us to riding a bike again for the first time since high school.

Everyone always says "It's like riding a bike, you never forget".  My version, "It's like riding a bike.  You remember how to do it in theory, but in practice it is very awkward and takes time to get used to again, and don't be surprised if you fail."™  Fortunately, on my first few trips, I have not crashed and burned (despite Chrissy's best efforts by not tightening the handle bars enough).  I am becoming more comfortable on the bike with each shift of gears and each revolution of the pedals, but it is still not like it was when I was younger.  Of course, I also had less mass to balance atop the bike back then.

Now, as for what I am eating these days, with my 1/2 cup (at max) holding stomach...not much.  Breakfast every morning is a protein shake made with vanilla ice cream flavored protein powder, milk, and either blueberries, strawberries, sugar-free chocolate syrup, or a combination of the later two.  Lunch is as much as 1/2 a cup of food, usually left over from dinners.  I usually have a yogurt sometime during the day as well, and dinner will consist of various protein and vegetable combinations.  I have had crab cakes on multiple occasions, although 1 G&M sized crab cake will last 3-4 meals for me, so it is much cheaper when Chrissy and I do end up eating out.  Last night (and for breakfast this morning) I had Egg Drop soup, since it has a decent amount of protein, and sometimes solid foods still don't sit right in my stomach.

I also consume 12 oz of liquid every day just for my vitamins and calcium supplements.  They are isotonic, so they are absorbed into the bloodstream better.  I have to take 1 cap of vitamin and 2 of calcium twice a day.  Add 2oz of water per cap-full and I have a mixed fruit flavored vitamin cocktail to take twice a day.  I am also on a sub-lingual B-12 supplement and a chewable iron supplement.

I guess I should mention the hurri-quake (or quake-icane) somewhere in this blog post.  The Earthquake hit while I was on the third floor of my building at work and scared the crap out of me.  Never felt an earthquake that big.  Now, the Californians all laughed at us because it was a "little" earthquake.  Well, my only response to that is, it was more than big enough for my liking.  Then Irene came up the coast, and parts of the Eastern Shore were under mandatory evacuation orders.  We weren't and stayed here through the storm.  Besides a slight bit of water leakage into the basement, we weathered the storm fine.  I picked up some basement crack sealing stuff online and will be working on that sometime soon.  They were small leaks, and hopefully we won't get any more hurricanes any time soon, plus this weekend is kind of busy, but it will get done.

I guess that is all for now.  I haven't been doing any exciting trips like my sister, and sadly, I haven't even had my Nikon out for a while.  I have been meaning to take some nice photos around Chestertown, but just haven't gotten enough motivation to do so.  I do have some car work to take care of and will probably blog about that when it's done.  In the meantime, follow me on twitter, and if you know me, friend me on Facebook (I ignore requests from people I don't know).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2 Weeks down, the rest of my life to go

It has now been two weeks since my gastric bypass and I have lost 28 lbs since then (bringing my total since August to 83 lbs). I actually lost 3 lbs between yesterday and today. I am up to the point of eating pureed food....yum. It actually isn't too bad. The first "real" food I had was canned tuna w/ low fat mayo. Man did that taste good (but could have used some relish). Tonight, I had some canned chicken and fat free refried beans mixed together. It was good, but I ate a bit too much so was in terrible pain for a while. BTW - the too much was 1/2 cup..I can't even fit a 1/2 cup in my stomach now.

I am gradually adjusting more and more, but I am still having trouble with my sleep schedule and energy level. After not being able to sleep last night, I finally slept from about 2am-8am. I still went to work, but was getting really run down so I was only there for 5 hours. Monday I pulled the full 8 1/2, but Tuesday I just couldn't do it. Of course, work is a bit extra stressful since the lead for the other project left and so I now have two major projects to watch over, and two interns to help out, plus my own coding, oh, and I should start my promotion input as yeah....too much going on at work for my first week back after surgery :-/

I hope to be able to get back to water aerobics next week, but I need to wait for my surgery scars to finish healing up, and the two larger ones are taking longer than I would like. I think it is partially because of their location because of how much that area of my stomach flexes and stretches when I move around, plus they were the largest to begin with. The others are mostly healed already.

While the 28lbs is great progress, I have a long way to go, and I really need to get more exercise in. With it being so freaking hot outside, that is difficult especially since I can't to go to water aerobics. I need to order a bike (that will support my weight) but I keep putting it off because that is about $500 plus, I probably wouldn't use it that much until it starts to get a bit cooler. I am still carrying around too much insulation to be comfortable outside in this heat.

So I guess that is all that is going on right now. I will try to keep writing on a regular basis to chronicle my journey. Oh, and for the past couple of days, I have been wearing polo shirts that haven't fit me in probably close to 2 years! WIN!

Friday, July 15, 2011

10 Days out

I am now 10 days out from surgery. I am getting really tired of the liquid diet of course. Starting Monday/Tuesday I can start eating pureed food (fun fun). Our Blender is going to get a real workout then. Due to a combination of how little I can consume, plus the malnutrition component of the surgery, and what I have to eat, I am losing about 1-2 lbs / day right now. I know this pace won't keep up, but it would be nice. I have now lost 22 lbs since the day before surgery, and ~ 75 in total since August 2010. I have a long road ahead of me, but I hope I can continue to progress as I have been so far. August 3rd will be my first real appointment back at the doctor's office since the surgery (I had to stop in last Friday to have my drain removed) I am still having some discomfort when I am trying to sleep, so that hasn't been working out well, but the last time I used any of the pain killers was Wednesday night before going to sleep, so I am making progress there. Monday morning I will be back to the daily grind, so I guess I should enjoy this weekend as much as I can.

Oh, I might start using Google+ more than Facebook because I like the ability to share different posts with the different "circles" of people. If you need an invite, let me know. I still plan on tweeting and blogging too. I guess that is all for now.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Post Gastric Bypass Life

Many of you who know me know that I had a gastric bypass surgery last week. More specifically, i had the Roux En-Y gastric bypass. The portion of my stomach still in use is approximately the size of a large egg. I am still in the diet adjusting phase post-op (and will be for approximately 6 weeks) and am still sore from surgery, but I am starting to adjust already.
What was the surgery like? Well, I couldn't tell you for sure, but my surgeon apparently did a good job, because I have been able to move a lot easier than all of my family expected the day of surgery in the hospital and since then as well. I have still have pain and last night was the first night I slept in bed rather than in a recliner, but I am getting better every day.

So, what can I currently eat? Not much. The first 48 hours after release I was on a clear liquid diet (fun times). Now I am on a "full liquid" diet for 10 days total. No Sugar Added Carnation Instant Breakfast was what I had yesterday morning. Small curd low fat cottage cheese, sugar free jello and pudding, vitamin water zero, power aid zero, and protein supplements. This morning, I had 1 scoop of strawberry flavored GNC Whey protein with 4 oz of water. Tasted very similar to strawberry Quick I guess.

I plan on blogging more through this experience to document my weight loss, my challenges, and any good ideas I come across. For now, I am going to relax some more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Autocide Part II - Out with the old

So, in my last post, I addressed all of the new makes that sprung up during the last 30 years.  Now I will talk about the brands that have been sent out to pasture.  Not only will I talk about the brands, I will talk about some specific models that I am sad to see go (and maybe a few that I am happy to see gone).

Oldsmobile - I am starting here because the first car that was truly mine was an '86 Cutlass Supreme Coupe that was Banana Creme yellow with the partial tan vinyl top and tan interior.  I loved that car and still miss it today despite its problems.  Oldsmobile fell prey to becoming a brand without a true identity.  Pontiac was the sporty brand, Buick was the golfer's car (eg - older people).  Chevy was value and performance, while Caddy had the high-end market.  Oldsmobile was flipping somewhere between Pontiac and Buick for a while before it was finally killed.  The 442 in its true form will be missed.

Saturn - Saturn had a good run and was becoming a great platform to bring euro styling to the states with the Opel models.  Unfortunately, they weren't selling.  Maybe it was Saturn's former image, but they were very nice models in the Aura and Astra.  The model that will be missed the most is the Saturn Sky.  This sporty 4-cyl two seat convertible had more of a edge to it than the Miata in styling.  It would have been a good model to move to Chevy when Saturn was shut down.

Geo - Not really missed, not much more to say here than I already did.  It served its purpose for the time, but GM needed to step away from Geo.

Hummer - The H1 was a hulking beast of beauty.  Even the H2 had its charms.  The H3/H3 SUT were REALLY pushing the brand to far though, so in that sense, it is good the brand died.  The downfall was caused by gas prices, and its image.  Maybe its own popularity was its demise.

Pontiac - In my opinion, this is the greatest loss to the GM family.  Pontiac had some great models.  Sure the GTO was a bit of a flop, but the G8 was taking off.  In its time, the Grand Prix was a great car.  The Grand Am was a bit weak, but the G6 was a great replacement for it.  The Pontiac Solstice was like the weaker cousin to the Sky in styling, though.  Pontiac even had a great opportunity to bring back the Firebird based upon the new Camaro, but the brand didn't survive.

Plymouth - Other than the loss of the rightful brand for the Barracuda, Plymouth's loss wasn't that big a deal.  Plymouth was slotted between Dodge and Chrysler and was just "badge engineering" at its worst. Sure the Prowler came out as a unique model, but I was not a fan.  The PT Cruiser was being designed to be a Plymouth, but since the brand was dying anyway, the moved it to Chrysler.  Shame it didn't die with the Plymouth brand.  It's success lead to horrible things like the SSR and HHR from Chevy.

Eagle - Ok, so maybe Plymouth wasn't badge engineering at its worst....Eagle takes that cake.  It shared models with Mitsubishi mostly and some vehicles were common across even more than those two.  This is another brand that will not be missed.

Mercury - The most recent of the brands to go away, Mercury found itself in much the same boat as Plymouth.  Were they supposed to be nice Fords or cheap Lincolns?  They were mostly badge engineered with a few unique models coming out (such as the Mercury Cougar in the 90s).  Sales were slumping and Ford eventually killed the brand.  The last Mercury to roll off the line was a Grand Marquis.  Another brand bites the dust.

Well, that about rounds this up.  I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Autocide - The end of another brand

I was reading an article on Autoblog about the last Mercury to roll off the production line, and it made me think about the car makes I have seen come and go just during my lifetime, so this blog post is dedicated to those brands that started and/or ended since 1980.  I am going to do it in the reverse of the normal "out with the old in with the new" for reasons that will become obvious.

In with the new
There are a lot of brands that have started since 1980.  Some good, some bad, some just there.  I am only going to address the mass market manufactures, so don't ping me for leaving out Tesla and Fisker.

Eagle - Badge engineering at its finest.  Not one Eagle was actually just an Eagle, they were all Mitsubishi, Plymouth or Chrysler products re-badged.  This is a big reason it is also on the "Out with the Old" list.  The Eagle Talon was a nice looking car, but that is because it was really an Eclipse.

Geo - GM's answer to cheap, small imports.  The Geo Metro, Prism and Tracker were all over the place in when I was in high school.  The joke with the Metro was, I think I sold TVs larger than that at K-Mart when I was 16 (keep in mind, flat panels didn't exist back then).  As America's obsession with SUVs exploded, the brand was canned.  GM did keep the Prism as a chevrolet though as an entry level model for a few years.

Hummer - A way for GM AM General to try and earn more money off the vehicle built for the Military, and later bought out by GM.  First exclusive to the rich (such as the Govenator) GM eventually rolled out smaller models, the H2, H3 and H3 SUT.  Eventually, it fell pray to high fuel prices.

Saturn - GM tried to re-invent the car company.  No pressure sales and a "family" atmosphere.  They were plastic cars that were really hard to dent.  The brand started to fade away until it was reinvigorated with models such as the Ion, Astra, Aura and Sky.  The Astra was a re-badged Opel that brought some Euro-style to the brand while the Sky had such good styling, it made it overseas as the Opel GT.  GM had planned to close down Saturn in a few years anyway, but shuttered it early during the financial crisis. (more commentary to come on GMs choice of brands to shut down.)

Acura - Honda decided to make an up-end model for the US market and Acura was born.  Built largely on international Honda models (a trend that continues today) it has still been a successful brand.  The current Acura TSX is the same car that Europe sees as the Accord.  Unfortunately, that Accord doesn't meat the demographic (mostly size) needed for the US Accord, so we get over-charged for it since it has an Acura badge on it instead.

Infiniti - Nissan's Luxury brand with some nice models over the years.  Similar in concept to Acura though, the models we see over here (like the G35/G37) are Nissans over in Japan (Skyline).

Lexus - High-end Toyotas with euro stylings.  the IS300 is an amazing looking sedan.  While Lexus was originally just luxury, it has become more sporting in nature now.  Out of Acura, Infiniti and and Lexus, it is a toss up to me between the latter two with Acura in a distant third, and that is only due to Infiniti having the G37.

Scion - Toyota threw another brand under their corporate umbrella when the founded Scion.  Scion is the low-end/Gen-Yish auto manufacturer.  They make low-end models with lots of customization available.  The tC is the only one I have found at all appealing, but the xA, xB and xD have all sold well also.

The "Out with the Old" section will wait for my next post.