Thursday, July 30, 2009

When a Vacation Lasts Longer than the Cash for Clunkers Program
- CARS ends Friday

I'm in the midst of my first-ever "staycation". You'd think I'd find some time to blog, but it hasn't happened yet. I thought I'd have plenty of time to comment on the CARS, "cash for clunkers" program, but it appears that won't be the case. Multiple sources including the Detroit News, linked here, are saying the program will end as early as Friday. They're running out of money, running out of cars, and they aren't set up the handle the glut of applications. They are claiming they went through a billion dollars of federal funding in less than a week. Heck, it takes GM 2 weeks to go through that much money.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-assed Ending?

As I good dad, I took my daughter and a friend to see an opening night showing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Here's my half-assed movie review of what has to be the most elaborate half-assed movie ever made. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a good, enjoyable film if you read the book, at least until you pause to think about what the movie could have been and should have been. If you didn't read the book, don't bother going to the movie at all, because you won't understand it.

Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves clearly challenged by the task of fitting the essential bits of J.K. Rowling's 652-page (US version) novel into a movie of reasonable length. The visuals are pretty as always, and the young stars have noticably improved their acting. Still, the teen romance seems forced and doesn't fit the flow of the film. Everything is so rushed that many of the returning supporting cast members have little to do and nothing to say. The ending is especially rushed and disjointed. In fact, the fan video below explains the ending about as well as the movie. It takes about a day after you've seen the movie for the lameness of the ending to really hit home. I'm not the only one that has experienced this. Despite initial euphoria over having a new Harry Potter film, two days after the premiere and the loyal faithful are starting to revolt. It's just a shade below the "nuking the fridge" fan meltdown over last year's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Overall, I'd say the movie is still a must-see for Potter fans, but this movie won't win any new converts. In fact, there are some signs that the HP faithful are starting to break ranks and trash the film. I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars, but only because I'm a generous guy.

Holy Hopping Washing Machines, Batman!

Consumer Reports and other publications say that front-loading washing machines are the best buys for washing your clothes. They use less water, less soap, less energy, and they are nicer to your clothes. Unfortunately, more than a few people are having problems with their washers trying to "hop" or "walk" right out of their laundry rooms. A few enterprising souls have posted videos on They aren't the most exciting videos, but I have to believe that when a customer posts a hopping video on Youtube, the complaint gets resolved very quickly. (FYI youtube also has "how to" videos with tips on curing common washing machine problems.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Nude Recreation Week

It's Friday. The week is almost over, and nobody told me this was Nude Recreation Week. I wonder why?

GM Exits* Stage Left
(*from bankruptcy)

The new GM officially gets out of bankruptcy this morning after spending 40 days in the hole. In an interesting coincidence, 40 days is common time period in many religions for suffering before rebirth or enlightenment. That's how long Noah was cast adrift during the flood. That's how long Moses stayed on the mountain. That's how long Jesus spent wandering in the desert. IT's also the amount of time traditionally spent mourning the dead in Islam.

The total cost to the taxpayers to date is about $50 billion. By the end of 2009, GM is expected to have only 68,000 employees, down from about 90,000 at the beginning of this yesr. GM plans to cut about a third of its management jobs this year, starting in October. If you divide the $50 billion by the saved 68,000 jobs, each job saved cost $735,000, but that type of calculation would demonstrate the "damn lies" of statistics. For starters, the number of supplier jobs saved (including mine) is hard to calculate, but it would likely be several times the amount of the GM jobs saved. Secondly, this money has helped provide "soft landings" for laid-off employees. Finally, all of that money isn't lost. GM is holding on its books a substantial amount of government debt and common stock. In theory, that money might be paid back.

Here's how Autoblog describes the ownership structure of the new company.

GM has received $50 billion from the US government to keep the mega-corporation out of liquidation. For its troubles, Uncle Sam will receive a 60% stake in the new company. Canada, which pitched in $9 billion, will be 11.7% owners, while the UAW will receive 17.6%. Old GM will receive 10% of the new company to help creditors recoup some money. The "New GM" will be smaller in almost every way, with four fewer brands, a smaller presence in Europe, fewer employees, and a markedly more attractive balance sheet.

With the shedding of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, GM will no longer be the largest carmaker in America. Ford will take the lead. I keep meaning to write a blog entry on the emergence of Ford, but the real world and other events keep getting in the way. Maybe one day soon . . . .

Saturday, July 04, 2009

From the "We wants it" File

Per Autoblog, A motorcycle and sidecar that just could be the Batcycle from the 1966 Batman movie, driven by the one true Batman, Adam West, is for sale on eBay. The buy-it-now price is under $30,000! If I had $30,000, this puppy would be in my garage right now, and my car would be left in the cold.

My image of Batman withstood finding out that under the bat-fairing, the Batcycle is a little 250-cc Yamaha. (Yes, Batman rides a riceburner.)
Youtube Video of the Day:
Drew Carey & the Batmobile

The G-rated fantasy of every middle-aged man: owning the Batmobile. (Is this clip really 12 years old?)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Getting Clunkers off the Road - Oklahoma Style

The US Congress came up with its nearly useless CARS cash-for-clunkers program, designed to help auto sales by getting old junk heaps off the road. As it turns out, for years, Oklahoma has had a better idea, the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show,or OFASTS. Here's a clip from Attack of the Show via via (For some reason, it wouldn't embed, sorry.)