In the Market for a Sports Car? Here’s some Things to Think About

If you’ve read my earlier post, Why I Prefer Small Cars“, you may have read that, when I was younger, I liked sports cars. They looked great, (And still do, in my opinion!), they were fast, and also powerful, and I assumed they really handled well.

As time went on, however, I saw that these cars were really impractical for me. And possibly others, too. Now, you may have heard stories about some guy, (Usually a middle-aged guy, but any guy, or girl, is prone to doing something like this!), who wins the lottery or receives a really big inheritance and rushes out to get his Ferrari, Maserati, or Lamborghini. What happens?

Well, first of all, he probably thinks he looks really great and impressive. But he soon has to confront some realities.

First, cost. Unless his windfall is really, really huge, he could be blowing it all, or close to it. Many exotic sports cars come with price tags of $250,000 and up. And even used models can set you back $80,000 or more, enough to buy 3 or 4 brand new 2014 Honda Civics or Toyota Corollas fully loaded.

And that’s just the beginning. There’s insurance, which is likely to be astronomical as well. I know its pure speculation, but I would guess that one’s yearly cost for insuring a Ferrari at the lowest level of coverage could be enough to insure 5 average mid-sized cars at full coverage for each!

Also, due to their powerful engines, they are not likely to do well in the gas mileage department.

Then, these cars require lots of maintenance. And, since mechanics who specialize in these cars are in a high-end niche, they will charge much more for their services. And these cars often have more things go wrong here and there, than most less expensive cars.

Then, there’s driving them. I’ve never driven one, but I understand that it’s very easy to ruin a clutch or other part of these vehicles if shifting and acceleration aren’t done right. And, if fueled by an ignorant need to show how fast one can go, control can be easily lost. Check out You Tube videos under “Jerks Driving Super Cars”, or anything similar.

And, their interiors are often cramped, and may be more spartan in terms of amenities than one would expect. You also ride very low, and if you’re big and tall, overweight, or arthritic, or just plain unable to bend easily, getting in and out of these cars can be a real pain. And for long trips, forget it! I saw a You Tube video once about the Lamborghini Countache, One of the top exotic cars of the 1970’s, and which may be the basis of the designs of many of today’s exotic sports cars. The guy who tested the car and told about his experience with it, did say that he could not drive it for more than one hour before he had to stop and get out, or he would be in pain. And these cars also have very limited storage capacity.

So, if you do have a great windfall, and really want that Ferrari, do your homework, and think about these things, before deciding if you really want an exotic car for your next ride.

Happy motoring!

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Is it Just Me? – What I See Bad Drivers Driving

The other night, as I was coming home from work, I stopped for a yellow light. In the next lane, a minivan, that had been well behind me and driving too slow, had plenty of time to stop for that same light, which turned red as I stopped. The minivan was still further back than I was, but instead of stopping, sped up and went right through the now red light!

It may just be me, (And believe me, this post is pure speculation on my part!), but it seems that most of the bad drivers I’ve seen in over two decades of driving, were driving either small pickup trucks or minivans!

Why is this? First, let me be clear. Not all drivers of minivans and small pickups are bad drivers!

I’ve seen bad driving from people in all types of vehicles, but it’s just that most of  the bad drivers I’ve seen were driving minivans and small pickups. Perhaps it may just be that both minivans and small pickups have enjoyed quite a bit of popularity over the last two decades or longer, so there are more of them on the road. Really small pickups, like the first Datsun, now Nissan, and Toyota pickups, have become less common, as their successor trucks have gotten larger, more substantial, and more powerful. But minivans still sell and there are lots of them on the road still.

As to what kinds of bad driving I’ve seen? Well, I’ve seen minivans going the wrong way in parking lots that are very clearly marked for direction of travel. And I’ve seen one minivan driver park right in the middle of a narrow residential street and go into a house, when there was room to park at a curb. She was blocking the street and complained when drivers honked their horns for her to move! And lot’s of times, I’ve seen them being driven too slowly, when there was no reason for driving that slow. And I see them often cutting off other drivers, too.

And believe it or not, the U.S.A. is not the only country where I’ve observed this! I was watching a YouTube video showing a motorcycle rider, using a GoPro camera, riding on a street in Kinshasa, Congo, and would you believe, a minivan cut him off, forcing him to slow down greatly!

So, what is it with minivans and small pickups? Could it be the shape of the vehicles? Maybe some “cosmic” force caused by the shape or size, or even type, of the vehicle that subliminally makes the driver less capable? Who knows. This is just what I’ve seen. Maybe it is just me.

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Driver-less Cars, the Way of the Future?

Recently, there was an article about driver-less cars on Yahoo. it was quite interesting, dealing with both facts and possibilities as to what it could mean. The article talked about how laws might have to be rewritten, insurance rates and accident rates would go down, and how there would be a “transition” from the cars we now have to the driver-less variety. So, what are some of the issues and what are some of the facts?

How close are we to having driver-less cars become commonplace? They are being developed now, and Google actually has a working model, but they are still in their infancy. Most likely, the first ones that are made available to the public will be very expensive, as is usually the case with any new technology. And like the newest technology, they will have the least features and most bugs. As to how far away the first generation of widely produced and seen models are, some articles on the subject say that it could be in as little as ten years’ time. But a lot of hurdles will need to be overcome, and they are not just about the technology.

Even if the first models available for public purchase make an excellent debut, many, many people will be reluctant to trust a vehicle to drive itself. I once read an article that said that the biggest reason that people fear flying is that they know that they have so little control if anything goes wrong. At least in a car, despite it being far less safe than flying, people feel that they are in control. People will perceive having less control being in a car that drives itself, and will be reluctant to trust driver-less cars. Of course, it depends how the technology is introduced. If gradually, with only a few functions being taken over by each progressive car model, then more people will get used to the idea of the fully driver-less car. However, even then, actually giving up the wheel itself will make many people reluctant.

Then there are other issues and questions.

Will a driver-less car really, really, be able to avoid an accident or be able to tell if a route has construction or some other obstacle ahead of time?

Can it predict, during the transition time from driver required to driver-less cars, what the driver of a driver required car will do?

And of course, “Can we now text, since we won’t be ‘driving'”

Then, there are those who just like the idea of driving themselves. In a world where there are only driver-less cars, you won’t be able to take those winding roads the way you  want to, for instance. And, that rite of passage of getting your first license may become history.

On the plus side, there’d be fewer illegal drag races, and drunk driving would be far less of a problem, hopefully leading to greatly reduced insurance rates.

And possibly, people who, today, cannot, or will not, drive, may have more transportation options on the table, since, you may no longer need a driver’s license.

To get some picture of the myths and facts of driver-less cars at this time, November, 2014, go to

If driver-less cars become a reality, it could mean some really big changes down the road, so to speak.

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Is a Smartphone the Best For You?

My first cell phone, which I got in 1996, was one of those big Motorola flip phones. While it did clip onto my belt, it was big and heavy enough for me to feel its weight as I moved. Also, its battery had a short life and because it was analog, the number could be cloned, and it was, twice.

Thankfully, cell phones quickly improved and the next phone I had was not much larger than what I have now. And, with each progressive phone I’ve had, I’ve gotten more features.

The latest one is an LG Extravert with a slide out miniature keyboard, for easier texting. Now, it can also accommodate a data plan as well, though I don’t have one as I don’t feel the need for one. I don’t know if it is considered to be a true “smart phone”, but if not, it is as close as one could get. It is still as small as my previous phone, however, it was slippery and easy to drop as a result, so I had to get a protective rubber covering for it, as well as a screen protector.

As a result, I couldn’t use a standard flip phone clip-on case. I had to purchase a small Lowepro camera case that clips on to my belt (Lowepro makes the best and most user friendly cases!), and it works with the phone just fine and is still small enough not to feel like an added heavy appendage to my belt.

Recently, I was on a trip, visiting family, and my cousins had smartphones. The were able to see each other as well as talk, and the visual quality was great! The phones looked easy to use, too, and I could see how they could do so much. One of my cousins also used the navigation feature on her phone with no problem. While the car had its own navigation system, the phone’s worked just fine, and we could have been in a Model T, and it wouldn’t have made a difference because my cousin’s phone had its own portable navigation system!

But is a phone that can do everything really for you? Only you can answer that, but, having seen what they can do, and having checked them out in stores, I’ve made my own observations.

Being able to see one another while talking, at least for now, as I understand it, requires a data plan, which costs more money than just a talk and text plan. Readers, If I’m wrong about this as I write, please let me know.

I do know, however, that data plans, at least in the “Paygo” world, of which I am a part and highly recommend, are coming down in price.

And some smart phone class phones are being offered at cheaper prices with some plans.

But, here’s a problem. The phones are getting larger, and some are approaching tablet size. The good thing about this is, you can now find a size that fits your needs.

But, on the plus side of this, while getting larger, the size increase is only one-dimensional. They are getting thinner and are much lighter than those old Motorola phones, so that still means less bulk.

But, they can be more obtrusive and vulnerable to breakage when worn on a belt or put in a pocket. I can see them breaking if they are on a belt or in a front or back pocket when you get into your car. If they are in one of the lower pockets on a pair of cargo pants, or in someone’s purse, handbag, or day pack, they should survive. But they are not as convenient to carry as my phone still is. And recently, there was an issue with a recently released phone that bent too easily.

So, while true smartphones phones now have more and better features, I’m satisfied with what I have. Of course, if you are in the market for a smart phone, do check them out, as there are so many kinds, from Androids to Galaxies, and others.

Of course, bear in mind that new and more advanced phones are coming out all the time now, and plans are constantly evolving, so, if you can’t quite find what you really want in a phone, just give it some time before buying. Sooner or later, the phone, and plan, that you want will be here.

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*** Update! In January, 2015 I did get my first smart phone! An LG Optimus Zone 2. To see what transpired and what I have to say about it, see my post, Again, Before Jumping In, Do Your Research! (Or how I got a $149 phone for just $49!)

How to Stay Safe with Craigslist Transactions

You may have read my earlier posts regarding Craigslist and how to buy and sell using Craigslist. But what happens after you find that item, buyer, or job offer? How do you know if it’s safe to meet or do business here?

Well, Craigslist is a lot like working with the classified ads in a newspaper, except that you can tell how old a Craigslist ad is. Other than this, Craigslist is a pretty much a free for all marketplace. They don’t act as a middleman, like Ebay or Amazon, where buyers and sellers are regulated to an extent and can be penalized for bad behavior, and where there’s a secure system for payment and shipping. And there are lots of scammers and other nefarious types using Craigslist, sometimes to commit horrible crimes.

But you can stay safe with Craigslist if you use it right and know what to look for.

When selling or buying a physical item, and you either want to see the item or you have an item that someone wants to see, there obviously has to be a meeting. And you can’t blame someone for wanting to see your item, as they are following the rule you probably follow yourself that says, “Don’t buy something sight unseen from someone you don’t know”. So, what to do?

My advice is to not meet at your place, or theirs. Not yours, because they can see what you have and case out your place for future burglary or worse.

Not theirs, because they can rob you or worse, and you be on “their territory”, so to speak, and won’t know what to expect. The only exception to this is, if they are having a garage sale. And then, drive by first to see if they really are having a garage sale. See nothing there? Drive on.

Solution? Meet in a public place, where lots of people are. A fast food place, mall, or even a police station can be good. And take someone with you if possible. There’s safety in numbers. But if you can’t take someone with you, always meet in a crowded public place.

Now, before you meet, be sure to get the person’s name and description, and also learn to pick up what ever else they say that can help. One guy I sold something to suggested meeting at a fast food place where he worked. I came early and asked one of the employees there about him, mentioning his name, and the employee knew him and verified that he worked there, so this made it much safer.

If you or the person you want to deal with is selling items at a flea market, you can also have them meet you there, since there will naturally be people there, too.

What about large items that are hard to move, or even homes? If you are the buyer, and the item is being sold by the owner and not a dealer or agency, go early and check out the area. This may not always help, but sometimes it can. And definitely take someone with you, even if they are just an acquaintance. And let someone else know where you are going.

If you are the seller, make sure that someone is with you. Having a garage sale with neighbors, friend, and relatives helping out would be ideal.

In my opinion, if it’s your house that you’re selling and you’re selling it yourself, it would be wise to move everything out, including you and your family, out first. This way, anyone who comes to see your home, will think you no longer are actually living there and they’ll see no items to steal. However, having said this, I would still speak to a realtor first before selling the house myself. They may have better ideas regarding this.

What about posts in the jobs or gigs categories? Same applies. When inquiring or responding to ads in these categories, always ask for the business name if it is not in the ad. If they are vague or won’t tell you outright, move on. If it is a private party, as is often the case in the gigs category, be extra cautious, especially if it involves modeling, entertainment, or the arts. Many scammers will claim that they can get you in but instead will empty your wallet or worse. If someone appears legit, check them out further and anytime someone won’t give you information that they should give you, like their name, or details about what they require, again, move on!

Lastly, regarding any job or gig posts, don’t give out personal information until you can really confirm that you’re dealing with someone legitimate and that it is required! If you answer a gig where they just want you to dig a ditch for cash, they do not need your social security number, and if they demand it, leave!

If you are selling a service on the side, you will have customers and they will be paying you. To stay safe, if the service, or business that you do can be done online and delivered by using shipping or e-mail, try to keep from having to meet clients if possible. I do this with my resume business.

Clients call me or e-mail me and send me what they want on their resume. I put the resume together and send it to them as an e-mail attachment. They then send payment to my P.O. Box, or via PayPal, which is safer than having it sent to my home address. If the client does need to meet with me, I make sure that it is in a public place.

While none of what I said will absolutely guarantee your safety, they will lessen the odds significantly that something bad will happen to you during a Craigslist transaction. Craigslist can be a great site to use if you just use common sense and keep your eyes and ears open. Stay safe!

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