Tag Archive for cars

I Still Wouldn't Drive One

It would appear the Geo Metro is making a comeback due to the spike in gas prices, and people are paying as much as five times the Blue Book value for them.

As a cheap-ass second car, I might consider one, but no way would I pay that kind of money. I test-drove a Metro back in ’93 when they were new, and was less than impressed. My dad and I cruised the four blocks from the car dealership to our insurance agent while test-driving it, and while we did get good news on insurance, we almost got killed leaving his lot.

This is a rural town, mind, and what we’d call “heavy traffic” is still a fraction of what you’d see in the suburbs, much less the city. There was a steady flow, though, and I watched for a gap. Finally one came, one that wouldn’t have been a big deal with a 4 banger or better, assuming you gave it some gas. I knew the Metro only had three cylinders, so I put the hammer down.

There was just no go. The little hamster wheel spun up as fast as it could go, and we nearly got rear-ended. There was much honking and single-finger saluting behind us, and my dad and I were both doing that involuntary lean/scoot thing where you’re trying to get the car to go just a little bit faster. I would have been better off Flintstoning it.

With what people are paying for the old ones, I’m surprised Chevy hasn’t tried to bring back an updated version of the Metro. I bet a cheaper hybrid with a three-cylinder engine would fly off the lots as long as the gas prices are as high as they are.

I still wouldn’t drive one, though. I can live without a ‘Vette or a Viper, but if I’m going to drive something, it at least needs to move when I hit the pedal.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Done Already?

Spring Break is officially over. I work in education so I got the week off, but it went by so fast it felt like just another weekend. It was one of those weeks I was constantly on the move, out running around for one reason or another or working on things at home. Today we even did spring cleaning and rearranged the living room.

I made fitness a priority, though. I still made it to my karate classes, and if you check out the Nike+ badge on the right you’ll see I managed to keep up on the running program as well. On Monday I visited the doc for a brief check-up, and on Tuesday I got my cholesterol checked (borderline total/HDL/LDL numbers, but triglycerides were nice and low). Not too shabby.

We upgraded the family ride this week. We had a bland, boring minivan and now we have one that’s a little closer to a man’s van. No flame job or anything like that, but it’s black and it has a lot of the electronic gadgets like navigation, Sirius satellite radio, and drop-down video screens for the rugrats. It also has a bigger set of balls under the hood, so I feel a lot less like a closet soccer mom when I’m sitting behind the wheel.

As of this week, I’m jamming the Blu-ray on an upgraded theater setup. I didn’t catch Full Metal Jacket in the theaters, but watching it in 1080p high definition gave me a craving for a bucket of popcorn. The setup took a while, but it was totally worth it.

Speaking of movies, I snuck out to see Doomsday with a friend. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. It’s best described as a cross between 28 Weeks Later, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and, of all things, Robin Hood. I wasn’t particularly taken with that third bit, but I had a blast through the rest of it and I really dug the subtle jokes. Clark, meanwhile, loved it all the way through. It was exactly what we expected and awesome in its badness. (By the way, Doomsday‘s site makes a big deal of it carrying the trailer for the new The Incredible Hulk flick. Meh. Doesn’t seem to be much better than Ang Lee’s lackluster version.)

The rest of the time I visited family, did some shopping, played the buy/pick-up/go-back-and-exchange game with Best Buy, and last night played a couple hours of Halo 3 co-op with some friends online (gotta put the new TV through its paces, don’tcha know).

Did I get any writing done? No. Did I catch up on my comics reading? No. Did I read anything besides magazines on the crapper? No. Those were also my goals for the week, but I did a piss-poor job of making them happen and I’ve been flogging myself for it. I need to finish reading The Road so I can get started on Brian’s Dark Hollow. I feel like magazines, websites, and even the odd style of The Road haven’t been providing the fuel for the writing urge that many books give, so hopefully jumping back into the horror genre with both feet will give me a much-needed jump start.

I wonder if I can get the school board to extend the Break another week…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Coolest Toy Cars EVER

I’d never heard of Darda cars before the boys opened their gift from their aunt and uncle, but we killed most of the day reconfiguring the track to see what new feats the cars could accomplish.

I was skeptical when I saw all the loops on the box. The standard die-cast brands have the same thing, and they rarely work as advertised; the tracks don’t hold together, you need a launcher or a long, high track to get started, and the heavy cars and their plastic wheels don’t have any grip. When I found out you just draw the cars back to wind up the motors, I grew even more skeptical. My brother-in-law assured me they worked well, though. He used to own a set as a kid in Germany, so I helped assemble the track according to the instructions. We wound up the cars, placed them in their starting lanes, and hit the green start button.

The cars took off and zipped through the loops with ease. We ran them through several more times after I picked my jaw up off the floor.

Darda cars are lighter than die-cast cars, and I suspect the claim “world’s fastest motorized cars” on the box would be hard to disprove. They have rubber tires for grip and the plastic bodies have already taken plenty of abuse from the boys with no ill effect. The instructions claim the motors can’t be overwound, unlike just about every other car that you pull back to wind up.

Similarly, the tracks are sturdy yet flexible. The plastic joints hold tight, and the plastic bases are heavy enough to keep the loops in place and in shape. The tracks even have ribbed tire tracks to give the cars extra traction.

The included track patterns only include 3 loops per car, so we thought a better test was in order. I first put all the loops together for a total of six turns, then connected the entrance and exit with a circuit about five feet around. Both cars went through all six loops with no trouble, and still had enough energy to overlap their starting position by about a foot. Try that with your standard die-cast sets!

The boys and I are already looking forward to picking up more cars and more track accessories. The company also makes motors that don’t automatically take off when released, which will make them easier for the boys to handle.

If any dads out there are looking for tracks for their kids, track down Darda tracks. These things rock.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.