Another Wednesday In The Desert

Philip Maynard will know and perhaps JS, but does anyone else know what an anode rod is? My wonderful wife and I had no idea until we started experiencing an awful odor in the part of the house where the laundry room is. The smell was sulfur-ish in nature, like very rotten eggs.

An anode rod is, basically, a sacrificial shaft used mainly in water heaters. It helps protect the lining of the water heater and generally lengthens its life. In our house the laundry room shares a wall with our garage, which–not surprisingly–is where our water heater is.

When the anode rod inevitably gives up the ghost (that’s its job), which happens quite quickly here with the high mineral content of the water and the necessary water softening apparatus because of that content, the result is often a very foul smell. We are lucky to use a good plumbing company and they replaced the anode rod yesterday. So far, so good as we have no awful smell near the laundry room.

I had never known anyone who had a water softener in their house or who had to replace the anode rod in their water heater prior to moving to Arizona. I’ll take that as a small cost to live here.

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Two photographs of the same view, basically. In the top pic, taken recently, it’s not easy to ascertain that the sky behind the distant mountains is actually dark indicative of rain. The mountains themselves are in sunlight.

The bottom photo was taken earlier this year (in February) and shows snow in the same mountains. As I have often written, this view is from the second-floor deck on the north side of our house.

Here is another recently taken photograph.

 

 

I have seen more of what I call “rain tendrils” here in 20 months than I had seen in all of my life prior to moving to Arizona. Yes, it’s hot here for four months, but the scenery and the weather the rest of the year are more than enough compensation. Actually, the heat doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Maybe my old bones like warmth. Oh, you can also see that not all of the desert is brown.

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As regular readers know, I am a fan of Everyday Driver. Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker have been producing automotive content under that banner since 2007.

Their TV shows are broadcast on Motor Trend and all ten seasons are supposed to be available on Amazon Prime. However, I have been unable to watch any shows from the first two seasons for months. That’s another story…

The car shown below is one of their current favorites. No, I am not interested in buying one, but I do have an academic interest in it.

 

See the source image

 

This is a Hyundai Veloster N. It is certainly an idiosyncratic car with its three doors. Deeken and Schmucker both love the car and call it the best “hot hatch” currently available anywhere in the world. Of course, Europe has the obsession with hot hatches. The US automobile market is obsessed with CUVs, SUVs and pickup trucks, a situation the two hosts–especially Deeken–rail against with some frequency.

The N version of the Veloster was tuned and tested at the famous Nurburgring in Germany, which is what the “N” stands for. This spec is powered by a turbocharged 2-liter, inline 4-cylinder engine generating 275 HP/260 LB-FT of torque. The car weighs 3,100 pounds with the six-speed manual or 3,200 pounds with the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. It is a front-wheel drive car.

Although the car is not large (104-inch wheelbase, 168 inches in length), Deeken and Schmucker swear that the car is quite roomy. Its rear leg room of 34 inches is more than adequate and it has 20 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up and 44 cubic feet with the rear seats down. Some CUVs and SUVs don’t have that much interior space. None of those vehicles, except for the exotic ones from Lamborghini and Maserati, can drive like the Veloster N, which has a “starting” MSRP of $32,500. How much is an Urus?

In a world where my net worth is at least ten times more than it is and we have a house to match with lots of garage space, I would consider buying one of these. If my aunt had had balls, she would have been my uncle. (No disrespect intended to the memory of my aunt and uncle who were Holocaust survivors.)

Do any of you have any opinions about the Veloster N? Are any of you fans of hot hatches?

 

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Babe Ruth Sunday

Today’s post will not be about Babe Ruth, but he was born on this day in 1895 and I couldn’t think of another title. (After 1,300+ posts the title well is running dry.) I don’t know if it’s still true that he’s the only player in major league history to pitch in at least ten different seasons and have a winning record in every season he pitched. It was true for a long time even if it no longer is.

Not that I give the topic any thought, anymore, but I still think he’s the greatest baseball player of all time. Hall of Famer Stan Musial said, “Ruth has to be the greatest player. He could pitch and bat cleanup in the majors like the star of a high school team.” Of course, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, American League MVP in 2021, might have something to say about that. Ohtani hit 46 homeruns with a .592 slugging percentage AND posted a 9-2 won-lost record as a pitcher with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130 innings.

In my 20+ years working in major league baseball I always wondered why players who could pitch and hit were not allowed to do so on a regular basis. It would be like having 26 players on the 25-man roster.

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In this article, Harvard medical professor Dr. Stefanos Kales is quoted as, “It’s time to let the young, healthy and anyone who wants to move on from the pandemic to do so.” Kales also wrote, “Covid-19 is not a serious threat, only a nuisance that impedes schooling, work and travel. Once Omicron peaks, subsequent variants are likely to be even more mild. We badly need to allow the general public, particularly the young, to get back to normal life.”

Many health professionals–and I listen to them, not to idiots like those who appear on Roe Jogan podcasts–have long been worried about the lasting psychological effects of shutdowns, mask mandates, travel restrictions and the like. I have no doubt the damn virus is real, that it has infected millions and killed many thousands in this country. I also have no doubt that many in government don’t want the damn virus to subside as it gives them cover to play puppet master for the population at large.

The famous saying that power corrupts has to be amended, in my opinion. I think that almost everyone who seeks power is already corrupt.

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I have written about Everyday Driver before. Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker produce a lot of automotive content, including a TV show that airs on Motor Trend, among other places. I wish I could listen to their podcast, but my ADD tendencies make sitting in front of a computer and only receiving audio input virtually impossible, certainly for more than just a few minutes.

The last two episodes to air on Motor Trend were about a trip they made from San Francisco to Seattle. One of the important aspects of the trip is that they are driving cars they actually own, as opposed to cars loaned to them by manufacturers or borrowed from their owners. These cars, Todd’s Nissan 300 ZX Turbo and Paul’s Porsche 928, were their inspirations to get into creating automotive content, although these are not the same cars they owned then. (Everyday Driver began in 2007, I believe.)

One running theme is the pushback they have received about driving their 30+ year old “collector cars” so many miles. At one point, Todd Deeken remarks, “If you own a bunch of cars and never drive them, that’s not a triumph that’s a tragedy.” Amen! As regular readers know, I am not a fan of owning de facto museum exhibits.

The Everyday Driver episode that featured a C7 Corvette Carbon 65 edition, a Z06 with fancier trim, was the final push I needed to buy a C7 Z06 of my own. For that I will always be grateful. Maybe one day I’ll “force” myself to listen to an entire podcast.

 

 

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What To Say Sunday

I had a somewhat sad and yet somewhat touching dream. Our departure from our old neighborhood had become a formal event with all of our soon-to-be ex-neighbors gathering in a place like a large conference room or ballroom in a nice hotel.

I sat down with my closest friends from the neighborhood, one at a time, at a large table. The mood was not exactly festive, nor was it excessively melancholy. However, when speaking with one of my friends (I don’t remember which one) I simply became overwhelmed with emotion and broke down in tears.

My wonderful wife and I are very happy to be in the desert, but we loved living in our previous neighborhood. We were extremely fortunate in having so many great friends there. For the nth plus nth time, everything in life is a trade-off.

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I have to admit to being a little “depleted” in terms of blog material today. I was going to write about how much I still miss FantomWorks on Motor Trend, but old episodes are still being aired. I guess I really mean I still miss waiting for new episodes. While I don’t think that’s a compelling topic for exploration, that won’t stop me from writing about it, at least a little.

One reason I liked (like) the show was the diversity of projects. It wasn’t simply about another Mustang or Camaro or Corvette, although those cars were shown. As an example, here is a list of the projects shown on Season 2 of FantomWorks:

 

  • 1982 Kawasaki kz750 (Motorcycle)
  • 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 1917 Willys-Overland
  • 1941 Buick Special Coupe
  • 1951 Chevrolet 3100
  • 1957 Heinkel
  • 1965 Chevrolet C10
  • 1965 Shelby Cobra Replica
  • 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
  • 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1
  • 1977 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1979 Fiat 124 Spider
  • 1983 Avanti

 

In other seasons, cars like a very rare 1939 Hudson 112 convertible coupe and 1963 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk were featured. The show made no attempt to hide the fact that these projects took months and even years to complete, nor was the cost ignored. Many of the builds cost six figures and the price was often explicitly mentioned when the owner arrived to pick up the completed vehicle.

Anyway…while I enjoy shows like Bitchin’ Rides, I also like to see builds other than maxed-out Camaros and Corvettes. That’s a major reason why I liked (like) FantomWorks.

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The “search” for the Grocery Car/Taxi/Corvette Companion has taken another turn. One of these is probably in the lead at present:

 

See the source image

 

From The Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wisconsin (I assume that’s a newspaper), a picture of a 2017 Dodge Challenger.

Of course, the Dodge Challenger, while not a defunct make or model, has a long and storied history. The modern Challenger has a good-sized trunk (about 16 cubic feet) and, supposedly, can seat five so four should be able to sit comfortably. Both my wonderful wife and I very much like the looks of the car. In addition, buying a modern car means it has airbags, ABS, traction control, etc. and should be easily serviced.

FCA’s record in the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) gives me pause, but as Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker remarked on an Everyday Driver podcast, the quality and reliability of all cars have improved dramatically in the last 10-20 years, so even cars that rank “poor” on a relative basis are improving on an absolute basis.

We don’t have to have an 8-cylinder engine in a Challenger; in fact, given the price disparity we are probably not going to buy a car so quipped. The 3.6 liter/220 cubic-inch V-6 produces 305 HP/268 LB-FT of torque and is rated at 30 MPG Highway. Examples of cars like this are offered between $21,000 and $25,000-ish, so they are a little more than we were going to spend, but still not even half of what each Corvette cost.

I think we will pull the trigger on our purchase, whatever car we choose, no later than our birthdays in late March.

 

#WhatToSaySunday

#EverythingIsATrade-Off

#FantomWorks

#GroceryCar/Taxi/CorvetteCompanion

#DodgeChallenger

#EverydayDriver

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Everyday Driver

How many of you are familiar with the TV show/podcast/YouTube channel/website Everyday Driver? I began watching the show, hosted by Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker, on Motor Trend, but it is also one of the very few shows I have watched on Amazon Prime.

The episode about the Z06 version of the seventh generation Corvette (C7) was the final push I needed to buy one. The two hosts raved about the car and being able to see it AND to hear it in action made the car impossible to resist. As I have written here before, I love my 2016 Z06.

The most recent episode that aired on Motor Trend was titled “Finally…” and was about, no points for guessing, the new 2020 C8 Corvette. They drove a C8 as well as a 2014 C7, which was the first year for the last generation of front-engined Corvettes.

Both Deeken and Schmucker could not have been more effusive about the C8. Deeken said, and I’m paraphrasing, the new Corvette blends the best of mid-engine cars with the angriness and history of the Corvette. Schmucker simply said he had to have a new Corvette.

Both hosts prefer driving a manual, but both said a manual transmission would ruin the new Corvette. Deeken remarked that a manual would destroy the harmony of engine and chassis. Both said the fit and finish of the car were way ahead of most Corvette iterations. I believe Deeken said that the car can compete with any mid-engine car in the world, regardless of price.

These two guys know their cars. They will also point out things they don’t like about the cars they’re driving on the show. (Oh, the fact that Everyday Driver is usually shot in Utah doesn’t hurt it, either. What a beautiful place!) Their almost over-the-top praise for the C8 cannot be dismissed.

Yes, the “Frunk” issue is a pain, but apparently a fix is already known. I believe it was Schmucker who remarked, “Well done, Chevy. Well done, General Motors” in discussing the C8 Corvette. I highly recommend you give Everyday Driver a look. As for the C8 Corvette, I hope my wonderful wife will, indeed, buy the convertible model in the not too distant future. From squir.com a picture of such a car:

 

See the source image

 

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Monday Musings

I am genuinely touched by the outpouring of well wishes from Disaffected Musings readers, many of whom I’ve never met or spoken to. I am so sick of being sick that I am fearful of reporting any progress in my condition.

 

This was in my Twitter feed:

“There is a pro-Trump cult that would defend him if he shot a random person on 5th Avenue. There is an anti-Trump cult that would attack him if he found the cure for cancer. Most Americans don’t belong to either of these groups, but the political coverage is dominated by them.”

To say that President Trump is a polarizing figure is an excess of understatement. I don’t know how anyone could disagree with the first part of the quoted remark. However, I think if one excludes the millions of Americans who follow neither policy nor politics, I’m not sure I agree with the second half of the statement. Whether it’s due to the media coverage or not, I believe that the majority of Americans who have any interest in current events are either very pro-Trump or very anti-Trump. What do you think?

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OK, what do you think of this?

From CarGurus this is a 2016 Z06 automatic about which I inquired last week. Yes, it’s neither red nor orange, but I really don’t like black wheels on a car and so I have had to expand my color palette. The price of this car is quite reasonable even though it’s a “take it or leave it” price.

In another example of it’s a small world, this dealership is the successor to the place from which I purchased my first Corvette—a 2002 model—in 2004. The person with whom I spoke last week is the same person who sold me that car! Remember that we don’t live in the same state that we lived in then and that was 15 years ago.

My desire to buy a late-model Z06 was only heightened when my wonderful wife and I watched an episode of Everyday Driver on Amazon Prime in which the two hosts, Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker, drove such a car on the Pacific Coast Highway and on the Laguna Seca racetrack. The sounds the car made AND the sounds the two hosts made only whetted my appetite even more.

The prudent “me” wants to wait until we are finished dealing with our 2018 taxes before buying this car. The impatient “me,” not taking anything for granted, wants to buy something immediately. Those economists reading this recognize this dilemma as a battle between maximizing behavior and satisficing behavior.

More seriously, my experiences of the last 8-9 years have left me questioning my own judgment. Despite my alleged intelligence I have little faith that I will make the right decision in almost any situation. Anyone want to offer an opinion?

 

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