Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie

...and this.

The 2007 Chevrolet Suburban, reviewed.

Our recent roadtrip gave us an opportunity to put the first 2100 miles on our new Suburban.

Before you Global Warming enthusiasts (again, being charitable) start ranting that we are ruining the planet for our children's children, I will tell you that even before it was completely broken in I witnessed this 310HP V8 employing its Active Fuel Management system, shifting to 4-cylinder mode and getting 28 MPG at 65 MPH.

Not bad for a 5700 lb. vehicle carrying two adults, three kids and eight days worth of luggage, DVD's and video games.

It's also a Flex-Fuel vehicle, a dubious distinction. Basically it means it will burn your food if it can't find gas. No thanks. Take out the subsidies and the diminished power and fuel economy and E-85 is a bargain, not. But it's not an option to not have the option any more.

I'd rather have a diesel. Also not an option in the half-ton Suburban.

A Prius may do better on gas but I don't want to drive two cars around every where we go.

One for us, one for our stuff.

We drove crossovers and sat in Minivans but came to the same conclusion as the last time we were in the market for the family vehicle: you can't beat three rows of seats and three feet of storage behind them for our lifestyle.

The new Suburban is unbelievably quiet inside at speed and belies the fact that it is a body-on-frame truck. We were able to ride for hours in comfort and without fatigue.

A 100,000 mile power train warranty will hopefully negate my having to argue with warranty managers any more.

Autoride lifts the rear suspension when the truck is loaded with bikes and stuff to maximize handling and keep the headlights pointed at the road and not the sky.

Steering is pretty heavy, much more so than the low-effort previous model which steered like a Cadillac. This is definitely a drawback.

Factory remote start allows you to start the vehicle and let it warm up or cool down. I don't think we will use this much.

The power rear lift gate can be opened and closed without touching it from the driver's seat or with the remote. There are also buttons on the outside and inside of the lift gate. Very cool.

While I still believe a large vehicle's inherent crush space (not necessarily mass) is still one of the best safety features, it is also comforting that each passenger has side and/or curtain airbags in addition to all of the other requisite safety features, stability control, rollover avoidance, and anti-lock brakes.

Made in Jainesville, Wisconsin, our last Suburban was one of the few truly American Made vehicles on the road today. My Chrysler was made in Canada for a (formerly) German-owned company. The new Suburban: Hecho in Mexico. I am surprised and disappointed.

We decided to give Pseudo-American-Made another chance. Let's hope this one holds together a little better than the last one. GM is counting on it.

I Would Give Everything

Great song...cool video.

Dear Kevin,

Thank you for rising to such an incredible level of wealth and celebrity while at the same time maintaining an equally incredible level of humility and respect.

In an age where multi-millionaire athletes increasingly shun responsibility to their public, claiming not to have signed up to be role models to the fans that make their lifestyle possible, you have used your fame and fortune to honor our soldiers, reach out to our community here and across the country and give generously to many causes as you saw fit.

Your talent on the court is only matched by your conduct and humility off of it.

Best of luck to you in Boston. Hope you win big there.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Dusk Ride

After eight days and 2000 miles of road trippin', Milwaukee to Niagara to Mackinac and back it felt awesome to climb on a vehicle that:

1) is powered by two feet instead of one

2) weighs less than I do

3) has only me "in" it

4) has no windows, doors, floor or ceiling

5) makes virtually no noise

6) costs $2 to fuel up (Powerade) instead of $80

By the time I got caught up on my to-do's tonight it was after 7 PM and I almost lost my motivation to go...but I'm glad I did. What an awesome night. Here are some pics I took along the way.

Will It Blend? - Glow Sticks

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Worm Sisters

Number One figured out a new feature on one of the digital cameras and made a movie with his sisters.

Not bad for a first attempt!

Home at last...

Green Bay

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Beach, baby!

Lake Huron

Mackinac Island

Yesterday we drove about 8 hours from Niagara Falls to Mackinaw City for the last stop on our road trip. Driving here was very similar to driving into far Northern Minnesota.

Mackinaw city has grown quite a bit since I was here about twenty years ago on a motorcycle road trip. It is a typical tourist town with a main street filled with fudge shops, souvenir shops and restaurants. We had dinner at the Dixie Saloon, est. 1880.

Our hotel has a small water park which the kids are enjoying disproportionately to its size. It's more like a small water playground. Our room faces the lake and has a view of the Mackinac Bridge.

This morning we took the fifteen-minute ferry ride on an Arnold Line catamaran over to the island.

Mackinaw Island is an historic site where automobiles are not allowed. There are people that actually live on the island and it has its own public school. The Grand Hotel, est. 1887 is the site of numerous weddings.

As a tourist, de rigeur is to rent bikes, bike the eight miles around the island, stopping for various natural features like the stone arch, wade into the lake a couple times and then shop for souvenirs when you return to town.

We didn't know this when we planned our trip but this is also the 50th Anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge, which when built was the longest suspension bridge in the world. I got a t-shirt to prove we were here for it.

Tomorrow morning we depart at O' Dark thirty to make the last leg of our trip. Ten hours and we'll be home.

Modern civilization has reached Mackinac Island

...you can't drive a car on Mackinac Island so there are only bikes and horses. But there is great Sprint PCS wireless and data coverage, and most importantly you can get your coffee from Starbucks. I didn't go in to check for Pumpkin Loaf.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Riddle me this...

Riddle me this..., originally uploaded by jroosh.

..convoy of very smelly garbage-hauling trucks with Ontario plates coming through customs into the USA.

Do we buy Canadian garbage?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Niagara Falls

We spent last night and all of today in and around Niagara falls.

We had breakfast as Starbucks and then walked over the bridge back into the USA.

We had been told to stay on the Canadian side but we can't figure out why. Clifton Hills is basically a tourist trap, a cross between a State Fair Midway and Las Vegas. Plus everything is in Canadian dollars.

On the American side, the falls are treated more like a national treasure than a tourist trap. There is a large and winding national park that follows the falls all the way around the American side. If you crave the carnival atmosphere of the Canadian side, you can always take a walk over the bridge. All of our best pictures are from the American side. Incidentally, security to get into Canada was more stringent than to get into the USA as pedestrians.

Our last stop was the Maid of the Mist, the little ferry boats that take you to the foot of the falls. The kids loved that.

This has been a nice stop but I wouldn't recommend coming here for more than a day and a couple nights. That's all you need you take it all in. Tomorrow morning we leave for Mackinaw City.

All is well in Clifton Hills

All is well in Clifton Hills, originally uploaded by jroosh.

..Ontario that is (Niagara Falls - Canadian side). No pumkin loaf though.

Milwaukee to Muskegon Ferry

This was very cool. Thanks to my friend Mitch C. for the suggestion. We saved three or four hours of driving through Chicago on our way to Niagara Falls with a 90-minute Ferry ride. It wasn't cheap but it was fun for the kids, and a new experience for all of us.
Lakeland Express employs a jet-powered catamaran ferry that races across lake Michigan at 45 MPH carrying you and your pavement-pounder.


Sheryl Crow was very entertaining. A little rough around the edges for a family audience but that was to be expected. No more so than Seinfeld. She does look a little tired, but we had a great time. No squares of toilet paper were seen anywhere.

Nothing...is funny

"...if you guys can afford me, you must be doing well!"

Jerry Seinfeld has made millions deriving comedy from nothing. He didn't disappoint.

If anyone else did the exact same act with the exact same delivery, it wouldn't be that funny. He has that sort of aura now. He is funny now because people think he is funny. It was, I just can't explain why!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rather well done.

It is no secret among our home office and field staff that our firm's advisors and families are predominantly conservative politically. As such, there has been more than a little buzz over the selection of some of the keynote speakers and entertainment for the annual meeting of our association of financial representatives. In the past the roster has been dominated by conservatives like Newt Ginrich, George H.W. Bush and Steve Forbes. Yesterday morning featured Retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Tonight's company show features Jerry Seinfeld and Sheryl Crow. This morning's keynote speaker was Dan Rather. His talk was good. While his personal stories were told looking at the audience, the bulk of his talk was reading a prepared speech, much like broadcasters did before the implementation of teleprompters.

He opened to say that while there has been much talk of earlier generations that have been so very important to our heritage as a country, there is no generation of soldiers serving our country more brave in their service than those currently serving, and asked for a moment of silence in salute of their current service.

I was pleasantly surprised to find his talk completely devoid of political statements and in fact he talked about the common values and dreams that we share as Americans. I am sure that I didn't get every word right but to quote Mr. Rather:

"...lately we as a society have become focused on the fault lines of our differences (he went on to acknowledge that our differences are important, real, and have real consequences) but we must remember that it is the nature of the media to focus on conflict. Politics as well."

In essence he acknowledged the media's continued focus on what is wrong with America and implored us to remember that we are a young country, that a multi-racial, multi-religion democracy is still a young experiment as history goes, and that we have so much in more in common as a people than differences.

Beach, Baby!

Lake Michigan in Milwaukee

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blue Men!

...Blue Man Group that is!

Playing at Veteran's Park by the Lake

...Lake Michigan that is.