Wandering Wednesday

First, an apology to WordPress, the platform that hosts this blog. In yesterday’s post, Strange Minds, I asked why the word “dreamt” was underlined in red while composing a post since it is a real word. Well, I asked one of the WordPress engineers that question and they replied that WordPress does not have an active dictionary monitoring posts. The engineer suggested it could be my browser or even operating system.

Second, while I am always grateful for views/comments by markcars2014 and other Canadian readers, I want to note that Disaffected Musings has, seemingly, developed regular readers in Italy, Norway and my ancestral home of Poland. I hope they will continue reading and, hopefully, spread the word.



How many of you have heard of the site postsecret? It was created by Frank Warren in 2004. People anonymously send in their secrets on postcards, which are often homemade, and some are shown on the site.

It is a relic, for lack of a better word, of the days on the Internet before Fack Fucebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. The site has always been ad-free. For a time, so many secrets were sent in that Warren was able to publish several books containing them.

Some of the secrets are shocking and/or sad. I have always suspected that some proportion, say 20%, are not real. I don’t mean that Warren sends them in himself or via proxies, but that the “secrets” on some postcards are simply made up, perhaps as some sort of wish fulfillment.

Anyway…the picture above is captured from postsecret. I love Fack Fucebook being on the list of apps that don’t bring joy to the user. Here are two results from a study by Stanford University:


Facebook deactivation reduced political polarization

One of the biggest issues supposedly affecting the US voting base at the moment is political polarization — this is the idea that Democrats and Republicans are unwilling to compromise on issues that affect the entire country.

The study found that deactivating Facebook pulls former users more into line with the average position in their respective political parties. Essentially, this means that Facebook deactivation brings users closer to the political center. But, has social media actively led to the increase in polarization, or have the parties and voters drifted further apart of their own volition? According to the study:

“The figure shows that deactivation moves both Democrats and Republicans visibly towards the center. In the control group, the issue opinions of the average Democrat and the average Republican differ by 1.47 standard deviations. In the treatment group, this difference is 1.35 standard deviations — about eight percent less.

“Are these polarization effects large or small? As one benchmark, we can compare these effects to the increase in political polarization in the US since 1996, well before the advent of social media. Using data from the American National Election Studies… [another academic] calculates that the change in a different index of polarization… increased by 0.38 standard deviations between 1996 and 2016. The 0.16 standard deviation effect of Facebook deactivation on political polarization in our sample is about 42 percent as large as this increase.”


Facebook deactivation marginally improves subjective wellbeing

Perhaps the most interesting revelation from the study is that Facebook “does indeed have adverse effects on subjective well being.”


I know that my anti-Facebook rantings will not get anyone to stop using it. I suspect a larger proportion of readers of this blog don’t use Fack Fucebook than the proportion of the general public. I will make a strong statement: I think Mark Zuckerberg is the chief criminal of his criminal company and I think that Facebook should be forced to divest itself of Instagram and What’s App. The possibility that such a divestiture may raise the unit cost of digital advertising is a very small price to pay for stripping Fack Fucebook of its de facto monopoly of social media and for reducing the dangerous amount of power it has. Oh, here’s a remark made by Zuckerberg:


“You can be unethical and still be legal; that’s the way I live my life.”


For me, someone who admits to unethical behavior has no real constraints against using illegal behavior. That’s a trade-off almost no one can negotiate successfully. Fack Fucebook! Delete Facebook!


Given the dramatic slowdown in the number of showings we’ve had for our house between weeks one and two on the market, I must admit to having some doubt that the move to the desert will take place as quickly as I would like. Of course, that means that the quest for a Corvette Companion/Grocery Car has been pushed to the back burner.

Still, I look on car sales websites almost every day although the “journeys” are much shorter than before. I have to admit that despite the change to looking for more modern cars, every now and then I look at something like this:



From this Hemmings ad a picture of a 1963 Buick Wildcat with an admittedly less than desirable 87,000+ miles on the clock and an asking price of $19,900. Throw in the black interior, a no-go in the desert, and this becomes an impractical purchase. Nevertheless, I am really drawn to this car. The heart wants what it wants.









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Ten Years, But Not Eleven

On this day in 2010 my wonderful wife and I moved into the house in which we currently live. The probability that we make it to 11 years here is very close to zero. Since she has told her supervisor this news I can share it with you: our house is officially on the market. While it may seem beyond imprudent to move to a place where people refuse to wear masks and a place that has had a substantial increase in virus cases–yes, the two conditions are related–fortune favors the brave or maybe we hope that fortune favors the foolish.


Housing inventory is quite thin in our future area of residence. We have hired a realtor there and her company sends us listings that meet our criteria. Good homes move so quickly, due to word of mouth among realtors before the house is officially listed, that we have received listings for homes that are already under contract.

We have had to expand the geographical area in which we are searching. The extent of that expansion is a source of some tension between my wonderful wife and me. One particular town appeals to me because of its gorgeous mountain views, but my wife thinks it’s too far from “civilization” to be an enjoyable place to live. Her view is not without merit as we once lived in a nice house on a big lot, but somewhat cut off from shopping, restaurants and other things to do. The longer we lived there, the less we liked it. While all of those activities have been curtailed due to the virus, we hope that the situation will not be permanent.

On the other hand, focusing on one place to look for homes is not presenting us with much of a choice as the number of homes that meet our criteria there is always in single digits. Of course, the actual homes change as, like I wrote, the good homes are sold quickly.

We will almost certainly not rent first and have to put our things in storage. We really do not want to move twice. I suppose that means we will simply have to buy the best available house after our current house sells. We will need some good luck in order to successfully negotiate this difficult path on which we are traveling. Good luck has been a stranger to me for a long time.


Just like the thin housing inventory, the available number of cars that meet our criteria for being a Corvette Companion/Grocery Car is quite small. For example, on AutoTrader the current number of 2000-2002 Eldorados listed with fewer than 75,000 miles is exactly one. As recently as last week that number was six. The number of 2006-07 Monte Carlos SS with the same mileage restriction is also currently just one.

As an alternative I have been looking at cars like the one below, but “lower-mileage” examples are impossible to find. What do you think of this car?


See the source image


From Car Gurus a picture of a 1999 Buick Riviera (hopefully, a picture that doesn’t disappear from this blog in a few days). While I don’t think the styling of the last generation Riviera is as striking as the 2000-02 Eldorado or 2006-07 Monte Carlo and this Riv is not available with a V-8 like those cars, I think these cars look good and are certainly big enough to be a grocery car. A purchase of this car would also be an homage to a defunct model with great history similar to the Eldorado and Monte Carlo.

The last generation Riviera was powered by a supercharged version of the legendary V-6 made famous in the Regal Grand National and GNX of the 1980s. The 3.8 liter/231 cubic-inch engine produced 240 HP/280 LB-FT of torque in this Riviera. At 207 inches (17 feet, 3 inches) in length this car should fit in most garages. The trunk has more than ample volume at over 17 cubic feet.

This would not be the first front-wheel drive car I have owned as my 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix was also based on the GM front-wheel drive architecture of the day. As I have written here many times, I have dreams, but I live in the real world. We really will need a grocery car as neither Corvette is ideal for large grocery loads. While I would have liked to purchase a “first-generation” Riviera or a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, such a purchase would be impractical, at least in the short term. I am engaging in an exercise in constrained maximization.









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Saturday Breakfast

During this coronavirus situation, my wonderful wife and I have basically subsisted on cereal (almost exclusively Cheerios for me), protein shakes and bars, and an occasional visit to Chick-fil-A. (I’m exaggerating a little for effect; our diet is actually somewhat more varied.) One brand of protein bars, think!, has been a revelation. While they are not low-calorie foods, for someone with my dietary needs and exercise regimen, they are a very tasty and important part of my diet. By the way, quality of calories counts at least as much as quantity.

One new flavor of think! bars that we have tried, Chocolate & Creme Cupcake, tastes better than many of the candy bars I’ve eaten in my life. Each bar has 18 grams of protein and just 2 grams of “regular” sugar. In all honesty, my GI tract has never behaved better during allergy season than it has this year on this “limited” diet. Maybe restaurant food will have to be restricted from here on out. Oh, this morning’s breakfast consisted of a bowl of Cheerios, a Chocolate Fudge think! bar and some iced coffee, black.


I think it is still true that McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas is the only US institution of “higher learning” that offers a four-year degree in automobile restoration. Not surprisingly, the school is now offering a webinar that examines the wide-ranging effects of the automobile on modern life.

The title of my History paper my senior year in high school was “The Development Of The Automobile And Its Effect On 20th-Century American Society.” I have had the automobile bug for a LONG time.

In this post I offered the opinion (that’s what “opined” means) that too many American parents have been brainwashed into thinking that it is beneath their children for them to “work with their hands.” This country is experiencing a huge shortage of automotive technicians. Given the complexity of modern automotive systems, it is far beyond the capability of most car owners to perform major, and sometimes even minor, repairs on their vehicles. I think it’s great that McPherson offers a program in automobile restoration; I wish more colleges, two-year and four-year, and universities offered programs featuring working on cars.


Three very interesting remarks courtesy of The Muscleheaded Blog:


Yogi Berra: “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.”

Groucho Marx: “I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it.”

Dwight Eisenhower: “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”


As we have been busy with many chores around here, the search for a Corvette Companion/Grocery Car post-move has slowed. As I wrote here, the Maserati GranTurismo (2007-2010) is out of the running. Right now, I think the realistic choice is between these two cars: a 2000-2002 Cadillac Eldorado (ETC preferred, but not mandatory) and a 2006-07 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS; we have to have an SS.


See the source image

See the source image


Both pictures are from Mecum Auctions; the top photo is a 2000 Eldorado ESC and the bottom is a 2007 Monte Carlo SS. No, we don’t have to have a car with a red exterior, but we will not buy a car with a dark interior, not in the desert.

As most of you reading are “car people” I would like to read your thoughts on this choice. Of course, in the end the decision will be ours to make, but qualified input is always welcome.








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Yabba Dabba Doo!

Don’t ask me why I am writing about The Flintstones today; I don’t know. I do know that I absolutely loved the cartoon when I was very young. My marvelous mom used to tell me that I was transfixed by the show (although she didn’t use the word “transfixed”), that I wouldn’t eat or do anything else except watch it when it was on.

I hope I don’t have to explain The Flintstones and its clever use of anachronisms, which was the heart of the show. The Flintstones, which first ran on ABC from September, 1960 to April, 1966, was the first animated show in prime-time on US television. As it relates to cars, a vehicle with holes in the floor is now often referred to as a Flintstones mobile as their vehicles were usually powered by the people who drove them using their feet to propel the car through an open floor.

From a WordPress blog a picture of the “cast” of the Flintstones:


See the source image


Any other Flintstones fans out there?


The OnStar subscription in my Corvette expires in about six weeks. If I ever had any doubt about renewing, this story quashed that doubt. A C7 Z06 that was stolen from a parking garage in California was recovered due to OnStar’s theft alert feature. In addition, since the woman who owned the car had the Performance Data Recorder in Valet Mode, which secretly records video on an SD card in the glovebox, when the car’s electronics are fixed it is possible the theft and the thief will be on video.

As “happy” of an ending as this may be, it is a reminder to me of the fact that many people are evil and will do whatever they think they can get away with. That is a reason I don’t like to park my Z06 out of my sight. Here’s a picture of my car that I don’t think I’ve shown before:



Are most of you tired of reading about the search for a Corvette companion/grocery car after we move to the desert? Sorry, but my obsession with that search cannot be helped. It is OCD, after all.

This may come as a surprise to those of you who have any interest, but it looks as if a 2007-2010 Maserati GranTurismo coupe is out of the running. My wonderful wife and I decided that both the acquisition cost and maintenance cost of the car will be too high for a third car.

Initially, I never wanted to spend more than about $20,000 to buy this vehicle. Even the least expensive of these Maseratis are listed at $27,000-$28,000. Obviously, service would not be inexpensive, either.

In a nationwide search for 8-cylinder convertibles and coupes built between 2000 and 2009, with fewer than 45,000 miles and listing for between $6,000 (a floor to exclude wrecked cars and cars sold on a salvage title) and $18,000, A LOT of these cars showed up. They are not a contender for purchase as they only have two seats, but I was amazed at how many were listed:


Used 2002 Ford Thunderbird Deluxe Bridgewater, NJ 08807 - 535526335 - 7


From AutoTrader a picture of a 2002 Ford Thunderbird. Of the 203 cars that were returned as fitting the criteria of the nationwide search, 71 of them were last-generation Ford Thunderbirds. By the way, one or two older Maserati coupes circa 2004 were listed.

I know John Kraman‘s wife is quite the fan of these cars; how about anyone else?









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Go West, Young Man

The line attributed to Horace Greeley seems appropriate today as it was on this day 25 years ago that I left the mid-Atlantic (where I was born and raised) and moved to California. I moved to work for the San Diego Padres. Although the team won two NL Western Division titles and a National League Championship in the three full seasons I was Director of Baseball Operations, the experience was a disappointment professionally. To be honest, one of the reasons I accepted the Padres’ offer is I thought the team would be relocated to Washington, DC and, therefore, I would return to the mid-Atlantic, anyway.

I was the de facto #3 person in the Baseball Operations hierarchy, with hopes to advance in the world of baseball and was older than the two people ahead of me. I was in a hurry to advance, probably in too much of a hurry even given my age. My real boss was the team President/CEO as he was the one who hired me. Although at times he would say that at some point in the future he would consider me for the top spot, General Manager, he was really just saying what he thought he needed to say in order for me to stay, which I guess I should consider as a compliment. I began to feel trapped and continued to have aspirations for advancement, if not with the Padres then with another team.

As I have written before (wish I could find the post) I resigned from the Padres during the 1999 season in the hopes of moving up “the food chain” in major league baseball. Although I was in the running for an Assistant GM position with another team, I didn’t get it and never again worked as a full-time employee of a team. I did resurrect my baseball career as a consultant and had a lucrative practice for a long time until baseball decided I was obsolete. (Perception is reality even if it isn’t.)

While my move to California did not eventuate as I had hoped in terms of my career, the move had one incredible benefit: I met the wonderful woman who has been my wife for almost 21 years. I don’t really believe in destiny. While it’s true we don’t have total control over our lives, to think one’s life journey is all preordained just seems like 360 degrees of wrong to me.

I had another job offer at the same time the Padres offered me the job. The “other” position would have enabled me to stay in the mid-Atlantic and would have let me add a non-baseball position to my resume. If I had accepted that job, and I was very close to doing so, I never would have met my wonderful wife. To those of you who think my decision was already made, I say b*llsh*t! Of course, I am very glad how everything turned out in my personal life. V Squared, I LOVE YOU!!!

Somewhat ironically, history is about to repeat itself as my wonderful wife and I have set the wheels in motion to move to the desert. While current events demonstrate that we are subject to exogenous forces, in the end it is highly likely we will move in the near future and that I will, once again, leave the mid-Atlantic and go west. Of course, this time I am not a young man.


OK, you knew I would eventually get to this point. I am going to show pictures of the three cars that are currently under consideration to be our Corvette companion/grocery car after we move. I am very interested to read your opinions and if you want to rank them or tell me your favorite, I would be very happy to read your thoughts.


See the source image

Picture of 2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS FWD, exterior, gallery_worthy


The Jaguar XJS photo is from Barrett-Jackson, the Monte Carlo SS photo is from Car Gurus and the picture of the Maserati GranTurismo was taken by yours truly at the Mecum auction in Glendale, Arizona in March. Using any criteria you wish feel free to offer your choice and your thoughts.

Although we still have a lot of moving parts, we are already preparing to move (see what I did there). Not too long after the move, we will almost certainly buy another car.

Stay safe and be well.






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