Friday, February 14, 2020

Time is not on our side!

How often have you heard someone saying that they have run out of time? It seems that whenever the topic of time comes up, we simply do not have enough of it and yet, it’s a sobering thought when you think about. Particularly those of us working in the gig economy with no plans on retiring any time soon! I was reminded of this just recently with the passing of Clive James, an Australian critic, journalist, broadcaster and writer who was never short on answers. The way James viewed life, it was all rather simple. “Stop worrying – nobody gets out of this world alive.”

At another time, James said it a little differently but it resonated even more with us: “Life is a gig where nobody leaves alive!” Perhaps it was better expressed by long time journalist and television commentator, Andy Rooney, who famously said, that “I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” Of course, that may be just a tad crass and yet it is an illustration that is hard to forget. All the while, the years count down and inevitably, there are the anniversaries we all celebrate and for Margo and me, January was a time to celebrate yet another wedding anniversary.

On this occasion, before heading out for our traditional celebratory dinner, it called for a wee dram of whisky. Having previously been gifted a bottle of Johnnie Walker “Blue” Scotch Whisky it was time to tackle the top shelf and help ourselves to just one glass. Yes, there is a difference and yes, according to our good friends, the Kennys, who just a few days previously likewise had sampled a glass, “Every other Scotch now tastes like turpentine!” According to Brian, it will be a tough act to follow but then again, with Brian, I have to believe that there will be a bottle or two added to his top shelf in the coming months.

Celebrating anniversaries has always been important for us both but even as we do so, we are also cognizant that yes, it’s been another “trip around the sun.” I only recently read that motoring journalists enjoy long road trips as it gives them the opportunity to be “input free” and for Margo and me, there is no question whatsoever that this is indeed one of the major upsides to driving to the many meetings we commit to support. In any given year you would be hard pressed to miss reading an update about a town we have just visited. Did I mention already that the Blue was incredibly good and oh, yes, the bottle was jointly gifted to us by us back last year on Christmas Eve.

I was just asked to provide a picture of my desk. Not sure why but the folks at HPE who support the HPE blogging and influencer communities thought it would be fun if we shared such pictures with fellow bloggers and influencers. As it so happened I was in the middle of multitasking – meeting a shortened deadline for writing an industry blog post as well as finalizing the books for the year. And yes, there was also a lot of material being pulled together on a topic new to me that I was to write about shortly. In other words, no matter how I try to describe it, or justify the results, my work desk was a mess!

Then again, at this time of year, the opportunity to go on one of those long road trips isn’t in the cards. The weather in the Rockies is always a deterrent to any planning for road trips. Our SUV has gotten quite the work out even as the other cars remain on battery tenders. On the other hand, writing is something that I enjoy doing and pursuing new story lines is always a challenge. Then again, if you look back at posts during February and March of previous years, you will pick up on a common theme – the ideal garage. I have often mused about how many cars you really need and then what would they be? But it is now 2020 so where do we start?

It was back in early summer of 2019 that the Corvette pictured above – a Corvette Series 7, Z06, with the optional Z07 track package (or C7 Z06 as it’s more commonly called)triggered a series of events that looking back brings a smile to our faces. While we may have just celebrated yet another wedding anniversary, we were hoping to celebrate the beginning of a reduction in the number of vehicles we possessed. The path to such a rationalization was neither straight forward nor without diversions and yet, it has brought us one step closer to where we hope to be when February 2021 comes around.

The presence of this Blue Corvette brought me back to the Corvette dealer a matter of just a few weeks later. And yes, it was still on the show room floor and yes, it was only a matter of weeks before General Motors would reveal its next generation of Corvettes – the revolutionary mid-engine C8. To put this all into perspective, I had no plans to buy this Corvette but I just happened to run into a Corvette sales manager I knew from dealings with another dealership where he previously worked and this led to us sitting down, having coffee and talking about cars. After all, I had plenty of time to just talk …

It had only been a few weeks earlier that in pursuit of our plan to rationalize our garage(s) and by this, I mean reduce the number of cars present in our garage, we ended up with more cars. For only the second time in our married life we found ourselves in possession of six cars. Well then, it looked like the plan was going along swimmingly I had to admit. On the other hand, the lease on our i8 Coupe was just about up and that would bring us down to five cars and at this time, we still had the RV, the trailer and the Corvette C5 Z06. And an off-premise garage, to boot! What to do? What would be the perfect garage for us? And yes, there is a label now that will walk you through this column through the years!

As the coffee continued to be poured, our good friend at Corvette suggested “why no trade the RV, the trailer and the Corvette on a new Corvette ZR1!” Whoa … a ZR1? What about the newer Corvette that was coming? The C8? “You wouldn’t want to be among the first to own such a radical change to the Corvette, now would you? As an IT guy you must appreciate just how much new software there will be and do you really want to be involved in debugging a car?” And so the conversation took on a life of its own. 

In an unrelated move, having leased a Range Rover Evoque ragtop convertible, Margo did a terrific job selling the aging Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 that we had owned for many years. So now, we had five cars parked alongside the garages. We knew that it was only a matter of days before we would be down to four cars with the BMW i8 being returned to BMW, so surely, unloading the RB, trailer and Corvette would be a smart move. However, in this endeavor, Margo came up short. Selling a used RV is just so hard to do!

Our Corvette sales manager then told us that no, he didn’t have a ZR1 on the showroom floor and no more were being delivered, but he could find us one. What color did you want? “And give me the details about the package – the Vette, the trailer and the RV (with photos)!” Of course, the response from Margo when I greeted her with the news was to the point even as it was very simple; “Are you crazy?” Seems like another Corvette and indeed a top of the line Corvette was the furthest thing from her mind. And yet, as we noodled on it all, somewhere along the way a switch was flipped and we thought that perhaps other car dealers might be as flexible as our friendly Corvette dealer.
Five Cars? Siz Cars? So much for reducing the number of cars we had to a more manageable three. In time, we came up with a plan. Time was passing, as it does, and at least our BMW i8 Coupe was off lease and had been returned! If any car dealer came up with a plan to provide us with a short term lease on a car and were prepared to take our trade-in package then let’s just go with the dealer that gave us the most money (for the trade-in)! Simple enough, right? But what dealers would we approach? That turned out to be easy; we went back to the dealers we had recently worked with and this narrowed it down to Chevrolet, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW.

Turned out that even though we had surrendered our BMW i8 Coupe previously, the BMW dealer had a new i8 Roadster sitting on the showroom floor … and it had been sitting there for nine months. Coule we help them out somehow?. A deal indeed could be done and to make it happen, the dealership offered us more on the RV and the Corvette than any other dealership. Margo would have to find a buyer for the trailer but that seemed to be pretty straightforward to do and it turned out that even on the trailer, she did good! So it turned out, that cup of coffee and talk of cars has seen us come down from six cars, an RV and a trailer to just four cars and all’s well for the coming year. 
Oooh! Ahhh! Pretty Car! And so the saga continues. Margo and I spent some time in the local mall only to run across a new Aston Martin Vantage. Hadn’t had a chance to see one as of this time but it did lead us back to what would constitute the ideal garage for us. What do we really need with the work we do and the trips we like to take. As we continue to make trips around the sun, will there be a point where comfort and ease of operation become priorities? Will better fuel mileage and driver assists play an important role? Very quickly we settled on a couple of items and they were driven by where we lived and how long we expected to continue living in our current abode.

Turns out we do need an all-wheel drive SUV and to date, we are really happy with the Evoque. So, for starters, let’s keep it! With the SUV sorted out then we see that there is a difference between a grand tourer and a sports car even as we now know we no longer need a track car as well. Margo simply loves her Jaguar F Type and I don’t think that there is any way of taking that away from her anytime soon, even if the Aston Martin Vantage would be an ideal replacement for the Jag. So, that leaves the BMWs – the M4 Competition and the i8 Roadster. 

For as long as I have been writing these winter updates featuring cars and what would constitute an ideal garage, I have written about an exotic that could be a candidate for further consideration. Early on it was a Lamborghini Gallardo and then an Audi R8 – both mid-engine cars. And then there was the mid-enjoy Lotus Exige S-260 we tracked on the Nurburgring. In the meantime, Margo and I have leased a couple of BMW i8s both of which have been mid-engine vehicles that also benefitted from being true hybrids. And yes, we have grown to like hybrids even as we truly do enjoy the handling characteristics of a mid-engine car.

Returning to that conversation of last year with the Corvette sales manager and the off-putting remarks about software and software bugs, there is a very strong likelihood that the upcoming Corvette C8 Z06 will in fact be a hybrid. Perfect, don’t you think? And it is a proper sports car whereas Margo’s Jaguar is probably best viewed as a touring car. Again, perfect. And there you have it – a Range Rover SUV, a Jaguar F Type Tourer and a proper sports car, a mid-engine hybrid Corvette. It doesn’t get any better than that considering how we got here in the first place. And yes, I can live with that.  

What are these references to blue all about, then? Does this indeed mean that any new Vette would need to be blue? We don’t mind Blue Scotch, after all, but really, more blue cars? On that note I think we will have to wait another year before there is any further commentary on the topic of what makes a perfect garage. But perhaps time really isn’t on our side in this regard. On the other hand, it wasn’t just about Blue Scotch, a nice dinner out – there were flowers as well, as you would expect. And if this new, not so thoroughly thought through plan, is to flourish then I have to believe there will be many more bouquets of roses involved!