Jump to content

Twenty-Fourteen


Blake Noble

Recommended Posts

Almost a decade has passed since I officially joined Cheers and Gears in 2005. In that time, I've graduated from high school, quit work, started work, started college, and what seems like several dozen cars have been in my ownership. Despite the multitude of variables in my life right up until today, this website has strangely been one reliable constant. I've even contributed to this site beyond my mere musings with a small host of articles and opinion pieces that have managed to find their way onto the front page of the site.

While Cheers and Gears has been a constant in my life, my activity 'round these here parts has been fairly -- hmmmmm -- quiet here lately, more variable if you will. It's not by choice. That's why I felt I would share what I've been getting into the past few months and what I hope this year will bring.

  • What Was the Deal with the Jeep Thang?

I'm sure that's the question some of you might be wondering about. Back in November, I made this thread mentioning that I was likely going to trade my 2011 Dodge Charger in for a Jeep Wrangler. Well, that didn't come to pass. Long story short, I found a very low-mileage 2008 Jeep Wrangler Sport for a good price, but the dealer wanted to stack the existing loan for the Charger on top of the loan for the Wrangler. That's the only way I managed to make the 2,000 dollars down and roughly $500 a month payment for 72 months work out other than calculating it at 20 percent interest. So, the Charger is still here. No big deal. The Jeep bug is pretty much out of my system anyway.

  • A New Project

No. It's not another car. I'm aiming for this project of mine to get off of the ground by Summer. Most of the frame work is in place (without regards to the social media aspect of the whole thang), now I'm going to spend a little more time fleshing everything out, acquiring currency, and buying cheap ass equipment.

Everyone needs an outlet to let loose. :AH-HA:

As I begin to adapt to my new schedule (more on that later) for the year, you'll be "hearing" from me (shouting out at you) and hearing more about it soon. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. #crypticoverload #cocksdaily?

  • A New Direction

Okay, okay. Get the boy band jokes out of your system. Feel better? I couldn't think of a better title for that bullet point so I went with the cliche. Let's continue.

For a year and a half, I've worked in a Pharmacy. I'm now a Certified Technician (took muh test in the summer), so cork open the campaign and roll out the stripper cake. In all seriousness, though ... well, I don't know how else to put this but ... at the end of the day this sorry old sumbitch actually likes his job. So, I guess I'm going to make something out of it in the end.

That doesn't mean that I'm going to stop writing or going to throw in the towel on pursuing my previous aspirations of journalism. What that does mean is that I feel that whatever scrap of writing "talent" I haven't really wouldn't benefit much from a degree associated with it.

Turning this into a serious profession to pay my bills would really suck all of the fun out of it. Besides, I'd actually like my raw talent to get me somewhere rather than a piece of paper I shelled out $30,000 fat ones for. I'd feel more accomplished that way. Either way, I'm relaxing the reigns a bit and digging my heels into a new career path.

  • Yeah, About the Charger ...

I'm actually thinking about, you know, putting the dang old rang on 'er finger, man. By that I mean, "Dump a couple of Benjamins on the old girl." We'll see. I want the end result to be more this ...

IQ_640.jpg

... And less, "Yes, sir, we're actually out of our offerings in the compact class, so we've upgraded you to a full-sized car. Here's the keys to the Charger outside."

Yet a part of me still tells me I can buy something else that runs, drives, and would be a very entertaining piece of crap for the price of those 20 inch rims and tires.

Anyway, I'm going to try and repress that urge and I'll post up the mods I'm considering later on when I don't have to post by candlelight.

So that's pretty much everything in a nutshell except for a few smaller bits of info I'll share later when it isn't almost three in the morning. What's shaking around your part of town?

Edited by black-knight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yup, those Chargers are nice. Congratulations on the steady, good job. In my part of town? It took me 4 tries to get my computer to come on this morning, an HP Pavilion. The power light bar flashes orange and it beeps, and just sits there in the twilight zone. I had to shut off the whole shebang at the power strip several times. Not sure what's wrong with it. And I've been having harrowing cold-start experiences with my car lately, too, relating to an intercooler icing problem that VW has known about since 2011. Although it can cause the engine to explode itself by hydrolocking, VW has decided it is best for them not to fix the problem in regular production. Friday, the dealer installed a modification kit to the intercooler system. I hope it works, because the Colorados aren't out yet (if I can even afford one.) And I went to the Chinese buffet the other night after the gym, and I was the only customer at 8:30, they were cleaning the booths all around me. I got grilled tilapia, fried shrimps, green bean and white rice. It was sad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

black-knight, it's great that you're off to a good start with your planning for 2014. When I taught high schoolers in my Career Development (9th graders) and Business Cooperative Education (12th graders) classes, I told them the key to a happy life is planning to do what makes you both happy and what you can make a living from at the same time. It's going on 4 years since I was laid-off from teaching and I really need to take my own advice about that.

My wife wasn't thrilled with me being a teacher (we met while I was half-way through college and she never really thought about it too much then). But when I got my first teaching job (2000) and was a 10-month employee, she didn't like the fact there was no paycheck in July & August. It made finances tough for a young couple, especially a newly-married one at the time. A few years later I'd become an 11-month employee and was paid year-round, but the looming threat of yearly contracts was never to her liking. Being laid-off in 2002, 2009, and 2010 (which was the nail in the coffin for my teaching career as 3900 NJ teachers were without a job that year), she asked me to come over to her pharmaceutical company that was still experiencing growth (she was hired in '99 and they've only gotten bigger over the years). I made the change - happy wife, happy life. But here I am almost 4 years later and I can't say I'm a happy worker. I'm addicited to the salary I earn in addition to the perks I receive for working for a successful company, but overall I'm not a medical-industry enthusiastic worker. If I am to grow in my role or consider higher paths, it will require that I get medical training and that is no where near my interests or plans. Some days I regret not pursuing a more blue-collar job path (no puns intended) - a job where I'm expected to do X every day and get paid for doing that X job well. This white collar job has way too many expectations on me and I need to figure something out soon because I don't think my mental health can last too much longer (the worst thing to happen will be exploding over something trivial because of my pent-up emotions). Long story, but I commend you for finding a path that makes you happy. This has got to be my goal for 2014 career-wise.

As for your automotive desires, I totally get it. From April '99 to November '07, I was leasing a new GM vehcicle every 30 months (factor I got the wife involved in this too August '00 and I've had quite a bit of cars in my possession). I was like ocnblu, getting something new in less than 3 years :lol: GMAC offered great lease deals where I put minimal amounts of money down and had awesome monthly payments on new vehicles that caught our attention. I was living the high life, experiencing what I considered automotive nirvana. But then the gas price increase and financial crisis of 2008/2009 came along and the auto companies got out of leasing. Bad financial planning came to bite us in the end, along with no savings to rely on. My automotive world was turned upside down, as when the time came and I had to turn in my leased vehicles I could no longer 'lease' something new and credit was not extended to less-than-stellar credit scores. My wife had to go with a decently equipped '08 Pontiac G6 (MSRP $24k) because that was what out budget allowed. In '09 I thought that by going really used ('96 Cadillac Fleetwood) and paying off a small loan in 12-months would aid me in getting some savings together to make a new purchase in '11; the Caddy's needs drained even more money, then I was told we were expecting again for '10. I figured before my credit tanked even further down the drain I'd better get something decent from the CPO world (that's how I ended up with my '06 Envoy) - though I paid a lot wiith high interest. The lesson I've learned is that I needed to live within my means. I do intend on getting a new GMC this year (or early 2015), but it will be something within my budget taking into consideration that there are other financial needs (i.e. family); no more whimsical leases like in the past. What does this have to do with you? Well, you're young and adventurous and have many desires. But lack of financial planning for the future as you spend what you earn on cars will bite you later down the road. Find what makes you happy and can last you a long time and invest in that rather than continously making bad automotive financial decisions. I post a lot on here about older GMC truck projects I want to consider, but ultimately a poster will say the magic words (dealing with time, money, tools & work space) that I know I'm not factoring in my fancy dream plans and I come to my senses. Think logically about your automotive wants/needs; spend the $$$ on the Charger if that is what will really make you enjoy the car more, or decide what it is you really want (say a brand new Jeep Wrangler) and then figure out how to make it happen (skimp on the project chasing, don't invest in fancy projects on the Charger, put X amount of dollars away into a savings plan from each paycheck, etc). It may take you some time to get it, but if you put your money to work in better ways (save rather than spend), you might be able to get what you really want in the long run.

I hope you find this helpful!

Edited by GMTruckGuy74
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's some further clarification since I don't feel like I'm going to fall asleep over my own knees.

  • About That Project ...

    Yeah, about that. Any recommendations for second-hand camera gear that would be good for filming? To ask another way, would I want to buy a handheld camcorder or a high-powered deal with some lenses? Both?

  • About That Career Choice ...

    You know, I made it sound like I was going to be a perpetual pharmacy tech. Well that's not the goal. I'm getting close to taking the PCAT and trying to get into pharmacy school. You know. To be a pharmacist. I'm working up the ladder and all that jazz.

    Let's see if I can make my over all plan work out.

  • About Your Car ...

    Here's the skinny:

    • Black grille surround to replace the boring old chrome one

    • Black OEM 20 inch wheels and tires (dunno if I'll go for a set of Blacktop-slash-R/T rims or SRT8 rims here just yet)

    • Fix my broken air dam shroud and gnarled up passenger side window trim (a big thanks to my campus thieves for that last bit!)

    • Cold air intake

    • OEM fog light kit (just doing this to boost muh resale value)

    • Low-pro decklid spoiler and OEM chin spoiler

    • New exhaust

    • Mopar Pistol grip shifter

    • Black taillight covers

    • SRT8 leather seats

    • Mopar leather wheel upgrade or SRT8 leather wheel upgrade

    • 8.4 UConnect upgrade (sans NAV; that's one reason why I have a smartphone)

The first three mods come first, the rest whenever. The cool thing is that, since most of these mods are OEM and/or Mopar, it actually will boost the resale value of the car and give me some positive equity on my loan, so it's not like I'm totally wasting my money. I'm also going to pay this mother off way early and I'm going to really knuckle down on it later in the year.

So that wraps it up.



Yup, those Chargers are nice. Congratulations on the steady, good job. In my part of town? It took me 4 tries to get my computer to come on this morning, an HP Pavilion. The power light bar flashes orange and it beeps, and just sits there in the twilight zone. I had to shut off the whole shebang at the power strip several times. Not sure what's wrong with it. And I've been having harrowing cold-start experiences with my car lately, too, relating to an intercooler icing problem that VW has known about since 2011. Although it can cause the engine to explode itself by hydrolocking, VW has decided it is best for them not to fix the problem in regular production. Friday, the dealer installed a modification kit to the intercooler system. I hope it works, because the Colorados aren't out yet (if I can even afford one.) And I went to the Chinese buffet the other night after the gym, and I was the only customer at 8:30, they were cleaning the booths all around me. I got grilled tilapia, fried shrimps, green bean and white rice. It was sad.

... I-I'm sorry.

About how old is your computer, ocn? You know, it probably wouldn't hurt to first run CCleaner to try and see if there are any registry issues taking a dump on things. If that doesn't work, just back up everything and reinstall Windows. Seriously. I'm not saying that's the correct way to fix that issue, but it's the way I've dealt with it on older computers.



black-knight, it's great that you're off to a good start with your planning for 2014. When I taught high schoolers in my Career Development (9th graders) and Business Cooperative Education (12th graders) classes, I told them the key to a happy life is planning to do what makes you both happy and what you can make a living from at the same time. It's going on 4 years since I was laid-off from teaching and I really need to take my own advice about that.

My wife wasn't thrilled with me being a teacher (we met while I was half-way through college and she never really thought about it too much then). But when I got my first teaching job (2000) and was a 10-month employee, she didn't like the fact there was no paycheck in July & August. It made finances tough for a young couple, especially a newly-married one at the time. A few years later I'd become an 11-month employee and was paid year-round, but the looming threat of yearly contracts was never to her liking. Being laid-off in 2002, 2009, and 2010 (which was the nail in the coffin for my teaching career as 3900 NJ teachers were without a job that year), she asked me to come over to her pharmaceutical company that was still experiencing growth (she was hired in '99 and they've only gotten bigger over the years). I made the change - happy wife, happy life. But here I am almost 4 years later and I can't say I'm a happy worker. I'm addicited to the salary I earn in addition to the perks I receive for working for a successful company, but overall I'm not a medical-industry enthusiastic worker. If I am to grow in my role or consider higher paths, it will require that I get medical training and that is no where near my interests or plans. Some days I regret not pursuing a more blue-collar job path (no puns intended) - a job where I'm expected to do X every day and get paid for doing that X job well. This white collar job has way too many expectations on me and I need to figure something out soon because I don't think my mental health can last too much longer (the worst thing to happen will be exploding over something trivial because of my pent-up emotions). Long story, but I commend you for finding a path that makes you happy. This has got to be my goal for 2014 career-wise.

As for your automotive desires, I totally get it. From April '99 to November '07, I was leasing a new GM vehcicle every 30 months (factor I got the wife involved in this too August '00 and I've had quite a bit of cars in my possession). I was like ocnblu, getting something new in less than 3 years :lol: GMAC offered great lease deals where I put minimal amounts of money down and had awesome monthly payments on new vehicles that caught our attention. I was living the high life, experiencing what I considered automotive nirvana. But then the gas price increase and financial crisis of 2008/2009 came along and the auto companies got out of leasing. Bad financial planning came to bite us in the end, along with no savings to rely on. My automotive world was turned upside down, as when the time came and I had to turn in my leased vehicles I could no longer 'lease' something new and credit was not extended to less-than-stellar credit scores. My wife had to go with a decently equipped '08 Pontiac G6 (MSRP $24k) because that was what out budget allowed. In '09 I thought that by going really used ('96 Cadillac Fleetwood) and paying off a small loan in 12-months would aid me in getting some savings together to make a new purchase in '11; the Caddy's needs drained even more money, then I was told we were expecting again for '10. I figured before my credit tanked even further down the drain I'd better get something decent from the CPO world (that's how I ended up with my '06 Envoy) - though I paid a lot wiith high interest. The lesson I've learned is that I needed to live within my means. I do intend on getting a new GMC this year (or early 2015), but it will be something within my budget taking into consideration that there are other financial needs (i.e. family); no more whimsical leases like in the past. What does this have to do with you? Well, you're young and adventurous and have many desires. But lack of financial planning for the future as you spend what you earn on cars will bite you later down the road. Find what makes you happy and can last you a long time and invest in that rather than continously making bad automotive financial decisions. I post a lot on here about older GMC truck projects I want to consider, but ultimately a poster will say the magic words (dealing with time, money, tools & work space) that I know I'm not factoring in my fancy dream plans and I come to my senses. Think logically about your automotive wants/needs; spend the $$$ on the Charger if that is what will really make you enjoy the car more, or decide what it is you really want (say a brand new Jeep Wrangler) and then figure out how to make it happen (skimp on the project chasing, don't invest in fancy projects on the Charger, put X amount of dollars away into a savings plan from each paycheck, etc). It may take you some time to get it, but if you put your money to work in better ways (save rather than spend), you might be able to get what you really want in the long run.

I hope you find this helpful!

Indeed, you had some great insight there. I really appreciate you sharing it with me. I think it goes without saying that I've probably been one of the most challenged members around here when it comes to staying in one car. I really want to change that. The modifications I want to make to my Charger are not only to improve its worth, but to improve its comfort (the stock cloth seats suck ass and have quickly degraded after 62,000 miles) and, as you mentioned make it more enjoyable to own and drive. The Charger's only actual Achilles's heel lies in it's loan and the amount of miles it'll have when it's paid off. Long story short, at my current levels of driving, I'll have 150,000 miles on it when it's paid off around the time I graduate from pharmacy school. Yeah, yikes. So paying it off early is really going to save me some headache down the road, I'll just leave it at that.

Edited by black-knight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's been a slight change in plans.

Here are two scenarios. Which one sounds more appealing?

  • Trade the Charger in for a Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky as a toy/nice weather car, buy something cheap and four-wheel drive for rainy days and snow days.
  • Trade the Charger in for something four-wheel drive, buy a cheap and decent (unicorn alert) running and driving rear-drive car for a toy.

All of this can be accomplished for thousands less than the Charger's pay off, so finances are absolutely not an issue here. I'm going to go for the former, I think. Just wanted someone else to chime in.

Edited by black-knight
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You speak of the weather big time in the comments, but you didn't touch on ADabOfOppo's real point? What kind of tires do you have, and how worn? I agreed with his main comment... 4WD is nearly worthless once you are moving... and its why I prefer RWD in the snow... If its so bad I can't get started... I should stay home. That said, I haven't ever stayed home, but I have been acutely aware of conditions and tried to run the best tires I can... and I put a bunch of weight over the drive wheels. Usually cat litter, as it has the secondary use as a friction additive when you are stuck. I have a feeling the only thing that would have kept you out of the ditch would have been something large enough to scare the F150 into being an amenable driver.

In the last month, I've driven the Cheapoe Tahoe in two snowstorms (Including driving 2 miles home with a blown out tire) and down several dirt road "shortcuts" and used 2WD the whole time. I felt I had not reason to wear out the 4WD parts... I did tinker briefly with 4HI and 4LO to see how they work... and 4LO was used to get over the icy little curb and hill between the street and the sidewalk.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Winter traction has everything to do with the tires that are on it. Could be FWD, RWD, AWD, 4WD 12WD...if you have summer tires on the vehicles it going nowhere. All Season tires aren't a substitute for dedicated winter tires either. Want the Charger to drive good in the snow? Put a quality set of snow tires on it. Problem solved. Also snow drifting FTW.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats on the Opposite Lock blog! I'm always reading Jalopnik and the various semi-associated Kinja outlets they share. Excellently written articles you have there.

Also, in regards to your dilemma, I have to agree with the notion that it's all in the tires you've outfitted your vehicle with. First and foremost, so-called "all-season" tires are hugely hit-and-miss with snow traction. Even the better ones still leave a sizable chunk of desired traction missing compared to even the worst snow tires. My relatively porky (3600lbs) FWD sedan with all-season tread is useless compared to my partner's paperweight Sonic with studded snow tires. While I was stuck half-a-dozen times throughout the weekend's blizzard, he could outrun my Mother's Wrangler. Now, to be fair, in deep snow the tide is shifted more towards the number of drive wheels and simply having enough ground clearance. Without traction, however, you'll be going nowhere fast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Trade the Charger in for something four-wheel drive, buy a cheap and decent (unicorn alert) running and driving rear-drive car for a toy.

This. Reliably getting from Point A to Point B should always be the priority over getting there fast or fashionably.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eh, give me some good all seasons, and I'll be fine. Would like to put winterforces on the wife's car next year though....And small cars I've had for years do just fine in the snow, and are easier to handle if I lose control....

My focus is on other things besides cars these days...though I'm sure it will come back after I hit some personal goals...

Kinda bored with new cars, starting to really itch for a classic.

Planning to really update the current cars, and run them until they fall apart....still need something with 4 doors.....maybe a Cruze, or maybe I can swing a nice new little truck.... 8)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's see ... coming back to this thread, okay. Where to start?

You speak of the weather big time in the comments, but you didn't touch on ADabOfOppo's real point? What kind of tires do you have, and how worn? I agreed with his main comment... 4WD is nearly worthless once you are moving... and its why I prefer RWD in the snow... If its so bad I can't get started... I should stay home. That said, I haven't ever stayed home, but I have been acutely aware of conditions and tried to run the best tires I can... and I put a bunch of weight over the drive wheels. Usually cat litter, as it has the secondary use as a friction additive when you are stuck. I have a feeling the only thing that would have kept you out of the ditch would have been something large enough to scare the F150 into being an amenable driver.

In the last month, I've driven the Cheapoe Tahoe in two snowstorms (Including driving 2 miles home with a blown out tire) and down several dirt road "shortcuts" and used 2WD the whole time. I felt I had not reason to wear out the 4WD parts... I did tinker briefly with 4HI and 4LO to see how they work... and 4LO was used to get over the icy little curb and hill between the street and the sidewalk.

The Charger's tires are mediocre all-seasons, but they still have decent tread left.

Nope, having four-wheel drive wouldn't have kept me out of that ditch. But it would have allowed me to get back on the road again. I even admitted that myself in the piece I wrote.

And agreed. What I should be driving to scare dickheads like that is the Tropical Cabines FMAXX.

banner_01.jpg

Because screw a Raptor. Drive a Ford F-650 with Edge headlights.

Winter traction has everything to do with the tires that are on it. Could be FWD, RWD, AWD, 4WD 12WD...if you have summer tires on the vehicles it going nowhere. All Season tires aren't a substitute for dedicated winter tires either. Want the Charger to drive good in the snow? Put a quality set of snow tires on it. Problem solved. Also snow drifting FTW.

Point raised and acknowledged. Logically, I can't argue with this post.

Emotionally, I can rattle on for hours.

Congrats on the Opposite Lock blog! I'm always reading Jalopnik and the various semi-associated Kinja outlets they share. Excellently written articles you have there.

Also, in regards to your dilemma, I have to agree with the notion that it's all in the tires you've outfitted your vehicle with. First and foremost, so-called "all-season" tires are hugely hit-and-miss with snow traction. Even the better ones still leave a sizable chunk of desired traction missing compared to even the worst snow tires. My relatively porky (3600lbs) FWD sedan with all-season tread is useless compared to my partner's paperweight Sonic with studded snow tires. While I was stuck half-a-dozen times throughout the weekend's blizzard, he could outrun my Mother's Wrangler. Now, to be fair, in deep snow the tide is shifted more towards the number of drive wheels and simply having enough ground clearance. Without traction, however, you'll be going nowhere fast.

Thanks, BV! I really appreciate the kind words.

I was going to try and wait to actually build up a steady readerbase and better define the content before I admitted that this is that project I hinted at earlier. I'm really trying to get a feel for things. So, yeah. I don't know. We'll see if it's actually successful in the long run.

Like I just said to Andrew, I can't argue against purchasing a set of snow tires with reason and logic.

But emotions are a bitch.

I guess it's time to be honest with myself, and everyone who reads this in the process. Now, after a year, I've grown fond of my Charger in the same way I grew fond of the Challenger. I like the car quite a lot, but I just don't love it. I don't know exactly how to put it at the moment.

When I drove that Pontiac Solstice however, I found a quality in it that I think might have been what I was trying to find in all of the cars I've had over the years. It didn't matter what speed I drove it at, or if I drove it between traffic lights or through a curvy backroad, it felt ... well, I don't know. Engaging is the first word that comes to mind, but it isn't the right word. There's more to it than just that. Again, I can't quite figure how to say what I want to say in the same way I can't figure out how to explain how I feel about my Charger.

I'll drive that car again and see if I still feel that way. I don't know if I'll buy the Solstice I found, but I'm working through the logistics associated with purchasing it right now anyway. Just in case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Trade the Charger in for something four-wheel drive, buy a cheap and decent (unicorn alert) running and driving rear-drive car for a toy.

This. Reliably getting from Point A to Point B should always be the priority over getting there fast or fashionably.

Again, can't argue with this except I can't really find an $8,000 dollar something that's four-wheel drive that's actually worth looking at. Honestly. Everything is old and 130,000 miles plus.

chargers do come in AWD ya know....

Hmmmm ... you know what? If I could just swap out my Charger for a similarly equipped one (read: no options, no nothing) with all-wheel drive without spending much more than what I owe on my car now, that might be an idea when I get over my ... emotions.

Is there a curse jar I should be depositing change into for using that word in two consecutive posts more than once?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×
×
  • Create New...