Kia Forte for the Win

A seat belt and airbag saved my life today.

This is what’s left of the Kia Forte after the accident I was in this past Monday in Santa Monica, California. The car is clearly totaled, but I’m not. Damaged, yes, but in ways that should fully heal.

This was the first time I’d driven a Kia Forte. Overall, I was pretty happy with the car. It was comfortable, the cruise control was easily accessible and intuitive. And the car had a USB charger, so I could top off my phone without whipping out my power inverter. That may not be what you look for in a car, but those features are high on my list. I wish I could remember what I drove the week before in Virginia Beach, VA. That car’s only cup holders were in the door panels, and slanted. Seriously unusable. A deal breaker for me.

It turns out that the Kia Forte has a solid safety record:

Kia Forte Awards

I think the model I was driving was the EX Automatic base model, which appears to retail for $16,190 after rebates these days.

I don’t think the Kia Forte is the only car that could have kept me alive and walking after a crash like that, but I’m very pleased with the job this car did in this circumstance.

One Car for Life Decision

In Warren Buffett’s biography, The Snowball, a lesson in longevity that Buffett shares with college audiences is retold. He asks students to ask themselves how they’d approach buying an maintaining a car if, when they turned 16, they had the option to buy any new car on the market that year.

He gets into how you’d put more thought into picking the right car. Then after buying it, how much of a better job you’d like do maintaining it since it has to last your entire lifetime.

In the end, he applies the life lesson to how you should take care of your own body since it’s the only one you’ve got.

But, back to cars. I decided to look up what the top cars were the year I turned 16 (1990) to see what may have been a good choice at the time. Here are the top-10 from 1990 according to a 19 year old article from Car & Driver magazine:

– 1990 Acura Legend Coupe
– 1990 Diamond-Star Turbos
– 1990 Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable
– 1990 Honda Accord
– 1990 Honda Civic
– 1990 Lexus LS400
– 1990 Mazda MPV
– 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata
– 1990 Nissan 300ZX/300ZX Turbo
– 1990 Nissan Maxima SE

I haven’t been able to figure out how to get back into my 16-year-old mind, but based on my observations over the past 19 years, I think the Honda Accord or Civic would have had the best chance surviving this long.

Which car from the year you started driving would have the best shot at still being on the road today?

What Do You Really Own?

You’ll often hear people talk about the benefits of ownership as it applies to owning vs. renting. You get some tax breaks, don’t have to worry about annoying landlords, and you probably won’t share a thin wall with undesirable neighbors.

However, for most people, home ownership isn’t really ownership in the true sense of the world. You’re really just buying a right to live in a home that you’ll eventually sell. Because of this, most people don’t treat their homes like they really own them. Instead, they make home “improvements” based on a combination of what they’d like improved and what would improve the value of the home when they eventually decide to sell it.

If this is the case, you don’t own your home. Your home owns you. Accept it.

There are times when you can tell when someone truly owns something. For example, here is a picture of the hood of my first car:

Chevrolet Malibu

My brother, a friend Nate, and I bought that car (1964 Malibu?) from a neighbor for $100, and we OWNED it. Those trophies / hood ornaments were mounted onto the hood by drilling through it and screwing them on. Screw resale value. That’s ownership.

This isn’t to say that you have to destroy stuff to truly own it. But it’s nice to be able to know you have the option.

Things that I truly own in 2009 include my computer, bikes, skis, and car, but not house (in fact, I think the bank may own my entire home).

What items do you really own these days?

Car Buying: CarZen’s Recommendations

CarZen helps narrow down car make and models based on a series of profile questions. According to that site, here are the top-10 cars I should consider buying:

CarZen Recommendations for Ed

This set of results came from my interest in a reliable, high mileage car with some cargo space for under $25,000. Reliability plus high mileage seems to have knocked American cars off the list and that price point is tough for German cars to hit.

License Tab Renewals are More Expensive Online?

This baffles me:

Online Costs MORE Than Offline?

Why does it cost $1.75 more for an online renewal than mailing in a check?

Here’s my current theory: They’re Ignoring Labor Costs

At some point in history, someone with the state probably noticed that accepting credit card charges involves absorbing merchant fees. I don’t know what the state’s merchant fees are, but let’s assume they’re around $0.25 per transaction plus 2.5%, which seems reasonable. If that’s the case, the cost of processing an online transaction would be $1.28. Not quite $1.75, but in the ballpark.

But rather than absorb those costs, the decision was made to pass them along to consumers. Strangely, they decided to call it a “handling” fee even though less handling is done with online transactions.

Processing a check doesn’t include those hard dollar costs.

However, processing checks involves collecting mail, opening it, typing the transaction into a computer (something the purchaser does online), reconciling the day’s transactions, and sending the deposits to the bank, and dealing with bounced checks. None of these steps involve a cash outlay, but they all take time. And as the old saying goes, “time is money.”

Someone needs to add up the salaries of everyone involved in processing paper transactions at the state from the mail room through accounts receivable. Divide the number of paper transactions processed per year by their salaries. Is that number higher or lower than $1.75 per transaction? My money’s on higher, which would mean that we’re taxing efficiency.

Metropolitan Lofts Contract Parking Issues

After parking in the ramp behind Metropolitan Lofts recently, I noticed that a vehicle in the lot had a note on it. Figuring it may be some sort of classic passive aggressive note, I checked it out.

Angry Sign on Car

That doesn’t really fit the profile of a truly passive aggressive note. For example, there are no underlined words, and the request seems reasonable. However, is the sign the note writer refers to really that clear? Let’s take a look at the sign:

Metropolitan Lofts Private Parking Sign

Okay, that seems pretty clear. Private parking is a pretty cut & dry explanation even without the towing warning.

Additionally, there is a Compact Stall sign on the wall. Let’s pull back a bit:

Dodge Dakota in Compact Stall

Seriously? Since when is a Dodge Dakota a compact car?

I feel the pain of the Metropolitan Lofts owner who has to put up with this crap.

T-Shirt Car Seat Decor Questions

T-Shirt Car Seat Decor

I have so many questions about this Green Bay car’s decor:

1. When was the last time the shotgun seat’s shirt was changed? Hasn’t Saddam been captured (and dead) for a while now?

2. Isn’t the Got Milk question kind of strange on a Hooters shirt?

3. Are those clouds on the back seat?

4. Did anyone, ever, really say, “So Damn Insane!” about Saddam Hussein?

5. What is the relationship status of this car’s owner?

6. Where are the Packer colors?

Cold Weather Hurts Prius Mileage

Prius in WinterDoes cold weather hurt a Prius’ mileage? Yes, according to Minnesotan, Michael Wurzer.

He ONLY got 29 MPG on a recent trip at -13F.

All cars get worse mileage when it’s cold. Duh.

How does that compare to your car’s mileage at -13F? Does your car even start at that temperature?

So, yes, the Prius gets worse mileage in the cold, bringing it down to the mileage of a typical high-mileage car on a summer day.

Photo credit.