A new skirt for Flo.

Though I am supremely hoping that el niño keeps the frigid winter temperatures at bay, the fact of the matter is that any temperatures below freezing can be unhealthy for Flo. Though she works to keep me warm, the extreme temperatures can’t be good for her underbelly or skin.

Last year, I used hay bales to create a buffer and to keep Flo’s underside warm. They worked great. Flo was snuggly warm all winter.

And then spring came, and I found myself hauling 20 water-logged, 200lb hay bales to the dump one at a time. It was like moving 20 dead bodies… or what I would imagine it to be like. Plus, it was messy and disgusting. The hay also seemed to attract mice.

So this year, I decided firmly: no hay. I had every good intention to build a styrofoam skirt and then… well, it never happened. I asked around at work and one of my colleagues (god bless him), Tim, offered to build Flo a skirt. Which is a million, billion, times better than anything I could ever design or make. It is really sturdy and fits like a glove (or a really perfectly tailored skirt!)

Here’s the skirt in its finished state. It’s perfect, and cuts down a lot on drafts and cold!

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A million thanks to Tim for his patience, help, and ingenuity! And here’s to an unseasonably warm winter!

 

A Snapshot of Years Past

   
   
A very belated thank you to my friend and colleague, Terry who brought me this outstanding collection of vintage Airstream postcards housed in a great silver box. I keep looking through the deck of all the outstanding places that Airstreams have traveled!

My favorites are the black and white image of Airstream at the pyramids in Egypt (!) and the beautiful fall scene shown in the image above. It looks almost just like Flo!!

Thanks, Terry!

Slimming Down with Plastc

Part of living small is keeping unnecessary things—junk—to a minimum. For years, I have kept a small wallet, but it’s about to get a lot smaller. Plastc is a new all-in-one credit card that makes carrying multiple cards completely unnecessary. Plastc combines all of your cards onto one card and works with all of your current credit cards.

Plastc has a variable screen that locks the card, and updates as you use it, showing important information and details. The card also has a magnetic stripe and EMV chip which makes it compatible with every POS system around the world.

Best of all, Plastc keeps your wallet slim and makes life easier.

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The ultra sleek Plastc card is currently in Pre-Order (cards begin shipping in April), and readers of SilverSlicker are eligible for $20 off a Plastc card!

Visit the Plastc website today to place your order!

 

 

The Search for the Best Car EVER! Part IV: My Review.

I wound up buying the 2015  Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT 2.4 AWC.

Here’s my breakdown of features and reviews of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport GT.

Drive/Handling
The Outlander Sport handles REALLY well. It is among the best cars I’ve driven and is on par with my first Subaru Legacy. The steering is responsive and the car turns on a dime and the turning radius is tight. It’s possible to make a U-turn on a very narrow street, which is handy and impressive.

The car rides smoother than any car I’ve ever had (including my first Subaru Legacy), it takes bumps and potholes like a champ and steers perfectly.

Acceleration can be a bit sluggish if you just push on the accelerator. Instead, using the paddle shifters to engage the CVT is the way to go. Using the paddle shifters gives the car a significant boost and ranks it amongst the peppiest and most powerful cars of any that I’ve owned.

I particularly like how the Outlander Sport grips the road. The base feels secure, stable, and dense.

The nightlines are clear and the side mirrors feel generous. I like that I can see 360º around the car. Plus, the backup camera has a very generous 180º range of view. It’s handy and makes backing up a breeze.

I give Drive/Handling an A+

Comfort
Hands down the best ergonomic design of any car I’ve owned. The seat doesn’t have lumbar support (which is called out in several of the “pro” reviews. However, the way the seat fits the body makes lumbar support a thing of the past. The seat cradles the lower back and is both comfortable and suitable for small and large drivers alike.

The heated seats are perfect and heat up quickly.

Climate control is simply the best I’ve encountered (all those air conditioners Mitsubishi makes must have paid off in this area.) Just set the temperature and forget it. The car keeps you cool or warm and keeps the windows from getting foggy… even in really humid and foggy conditions.

Switches and buttons are large, well labeled, well located, and easy to see. Illumination can be customized and is not overdone.

I give Comfort an A+

Gas Mileage
Is on par with my Subarus. About 27-30mpg. Definitely not bad, and much better than most cars I’ve owned.

I give Gas Mileage an A (there’s always room for improvement until we’re getting 100mpg).

Sound System
I had never heard of Rockford Fosgate until I purchased my Mitsubishi. The sound system is OK. I am not a big audiophile, music person, or radio person. The FUSE system seems clunky (compared to Apple CarPlay) but the screen is responsive. There’s some peculiarities and oddities, but it gets the job done.

I do hope that Mitsubishi will upgrade the software soon to accept CarPlay!

I give the Sound System a B-

Engine Sound
The “pro” reviewers complained a lot about the engine noise in the Outlander Sport. I’ve been driving the car for some time now, and the engine makes noise. Just like EVERY OTHER ENGINE on the market. Mitsubishi doesn’t employ any weird masking/noise cancellation like other manufacturers. Personally, I don’t think the engine makes any annoying or distracting sounds, and I find it to be reassuring that I can actually hear the engine working.

I give Engine Sound an A

Features
This is where the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport really shines. Smart, easy-to-use features abound.

The AWD feature is smart and operates at the push of a button. It clicks into use when the vehicle senses that it needs it.

Wipers are automatic and triggered by speed and rain volume. They work flawlessly.

Headlights are the best I’ve ever encountered. Clear and a wide 180º spread.

The panoramic sunroof is stunning, and the accessory LED lighting is cute and fun.

I love that the driver side window doesn’t have that stupid “touch” feature (that I never seem to be able to use). Instead, push down for the window to go down, up for the window to go up. Easy.

Features definitely earn an A+

Service
The purchase and service for the vehicle can’t be beat. a 10/100k drive train warranty and a 5/50k overall warranty is the best in its class.

The purchase was straightforward, no haggle, and fair.

Service definitely earns an A+ as well.

So, I am happy to report that the “pro” reviewers are wrong and the owners are spot on. Overall, my grade is an A, nearly an A+. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is the best car I’ve ever owned!

Find out more about Mitsubishi.

 

The Search for the Best Car EVER! Part III, The Review of Reviews.

So, when I decided (at my Father’s suggestion) to consider Mitsubishi, I did some online research and found a few interesting things:

  1. Mitsubishi has a tiny market share in the United States (less than 1/2 of 1%). After several frustrating dealings with the Subaru dealer, I was willing to take a risk buying from a company with lesser sales volume and better customer service. Plus, that market share is growing, probably bolstered by customers like me who are sick of dealing with the “hard sell” from other competing brands.

  1. Mitsubishi is a giant company that makes everything from pens to   huge construction vehicles (and lots of things in-between.) They have manufacturing down pat, and they are very solid in terms of reputation and serviceability—across their product categories. They manufacture, for example, the only pen that I have used for more than a decade.
  2. Because of the small market share, Mitsubishi needs to work hard—really hard—to gain customers. They are doing this by offering outstanding service and quality products at a fair price. Definitely a winning strategy for buyers, and like Subaru has done in the past, probably a way to gain marketshare in a marketplace that is dominated by same-old, same-old Ford, GM, and Toyota.
  3. Mitsubishi cars have a solid and allegiant following. Their range of offerings is slim, but folks seem to love them.
  4. Mitsubishi cars bear a striking resemblance to Subaru in terms of form factor, interior finish, and style. The internet abounds with rumors of a secret Mitsubishi-Subaru connection, and knowing that Daihatsu makes a fair number of GM badged vehicles, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sort of connection. (I mean, Outback… Outlander; Legacy… Lancer, go figure.)

Despite these interesting factoids, one glaring issue remained: the Outlander Sport just didn’t have great reviews. Edmonds gave it a D, US News gave it a 6.9/10, Kelly gave it a 6.5/10, Car and Driver gave it a 2/5. But keep this in mind; those reviews are written by people who write reviews for a living. They compare hundreds of cars, and, at the end of the day, are the opinions of one person who drives the car for a day or two before penning the review. Moreover, the pro reviews focused overwhelmingly on odd metrics: the lack of chrome trim, the density of the foam in the seats, the quality of the sound system.

Where Mitsubishi and the Outlander Sport really shines is in the REVIEWS to those comments, they are from actual folks that OWN the car, and drive the cars every single day. These reviews focus on the nitty-gritty details of owning the Outlander: reliability, comfort, handling in different weather conditions, cost of ownership, durability, etc. The actual owner commentsacross the boardare stellar.

So what matters more… the opinion of the pros or the actual owners?

Next up: The decision.

The Search for the Best Car EVER! Part II.

So, in my last entry, I listed every single car that I’ve ever owned. I did this for a specific reason: I’ve driven a number of cars and have a pretty good sense of what’s good and what’s not.

Here’s a breakdown of my car-owning stats:

Country

37% American (if you consider Saturn an American car)

42% Japanese/Korean

16% German

The Japanese carmakers have—from my experience—the best cars on the road. They drive best, are reliable and are easy and inexpensive to repair. Winner: Japanese. The German cars are decent drives, but are difficult and expensive to repair. American cars have a lot of “play” in the wheel and tend to “float” when they drive. I’m not a fan. Ford cars tend to drive tighter than GM cars, with the exception of Saturn (which is probably because they were mainly made from foreign platforms and components.)

Car Color

37% Black

21% Green

21% White

5% Blue

5% Burnt Orange

5% Tan/Beige

Black cars are my favorite, hands down. Even if everyone says they look dirty. They also hide all kinds of imperfections and are easy to touch up.

42% 4-Door Sedan

32% 2-Door Coupe/2-Door Hatchback

21% Wagon/SUV/Crossover

I have spent most of my time driving in Sedans, and most of my time poking fun at people that drive SUVs. I disliked my Kia, but as I’m growing older, I prefer the Crossover. They are still small, but you sit up higher and can see the road better. My days of driving a little 2-door (with the exception of the Smart car) are probably over.

Next up: The review of reviews.

The Search for the Best Car EVER! Part I.

I have been driving for nearly thirty years. My father owned an automotive company when I was younger, so growing up, we never drove the same car for more than a few days. We had cars that were Dad’s toys, and then cars that we drove to get groceries and things like that. My friends’ families had cars that they owned for years (I remember going to the store with my neighbors across the street and being flabbergasted that they could leave things [like a box of Kleenex] in their car.) In my family, if you left something in the car, it wasn’t only lost forever, but chances were slim you’d ever see the car again.

Coming from a “car” family, my 16th birthday gift (that arrived at Christmas) was a green Buick SkyHawk. I promptly totaled it (about a month later)… but for the most part, I’ve never paid more than $3000 for a car. I just trade up, pay the difference, and enjoy the car.

In order, here’s a list of all the cars I’ve owned:

  1. Green Buick SkyHawk a good solid little car. I totaled it on a day when I was skipping school.
  2. Brozne/Burnt Orange Chevy Camero I liked zipping around in this car, but it was not a practical car for Buffalo winters… or autumn. I remember driving over a pile of leaves and starting them on fire. I also remember chipping ice off of it and leaving tiny little dings all over the car. My father wasn’t happy about that.
  3. Tan Mazda 323 was the first “nice” car I had. I LOOOOOOOVED this car. It was also the first “standard” transmission car that I had. I didn’t know how to drive standard when I got it, but I learned really quickly. I still miss this car.
  4. Dark Grey Ford Mustang devastated from the sale of the Mazda 323 (with more than 150k miles on it), I bought a Ford Mustang. I got one ticket after another with this car.
  5. White Ford Taurus after a spate of speeding tickets, I traded for something more … sensible. And boring. And slow. And boring. And slow.
  6. White Honda Prelude brought me back to speed. This car had 4-wheel steering, which made it a curious car to drive. I remember driving it on the Mass Pike just outside of Boston during a rainstorm and feeling like I was in a giant roller skate that could careen off the road at any time.
  7. White Mazda 626 marked my effort to get back to a serious car. I missed the 323 terribly, so thought I would take a step up. The interior was blue (which I didn’t love), but the car was decent… just not quite as good as the original 323.
  8. Light Green VW Jetta came onto the scene when the Mazda hit 150k miles (just like the last one). Now in architecture school, I was so happy to have this cool car that had only one small problem: it didn’t run for more than 1/4 a mile at a time. It was—hands down—the most problematic and unreliable car I have ever owned.
  9. Black Ford Bronco was me in architecture school at full force. I actually really liked this little truck. It was a workhorse (but was a little fish-tail-ish during the winter. I woke up to find it totaled one morning, hit by a drunk hit-and-run driver. Fortunately for me, she only ran about 100 feet before she abandoned her own vehicle and passed out on the sidewalk. She woke up while I was making a report to the police and—not surprisingly—was still drunk.
  10. White Saturn Wagon was the at-the-ready replacement. I took the insurance money from the Bronco and traded down. The Saturn was reliable and drove quite well. It had tons of cargo space, but had a missing middle arm rest. So I fashioned one out of plywood and polka dot fabric. This Saturn also marked the debut of my orange silk Gerbera daisy that has been with me in every single car since.
  11. Green (then Black) VW Jetta (4-door) I really liked the styling of the VW during this period, and though I really wanted a black one, I bought a green one. It was a solid car. My father was kind enough to paint it black for me and then (with his blessing) I traded it in for a new Scion.
  12. Black Scion XB was really my partner’s car, but was a nice, basic car to drive. It handled surprisingly well in the snow.
  13. Black Saturn Sedan was also my partner’s car that I inherited when he bought the Scion. It was a solid car and reliable (just like the last Saturn.) I came out of work one day and someone driving an exact duplicate of the car had gotten hit by a Semi. The car was literally in a million pieces. Considering the amount of driving I was doing at the time, it was time to step up to something larger and more rugged.
  14. Green Kia Sportage was larger but not more rugged. The car had a horrible fuel line leak, that no matter the number of times it was fixed just leaked and leaked and leaked. It also had 4 wheel drive that for some reason, only worked on one wheel. The other three would just spin. It made winter driving splendid.
  15. Black Subaru Legacy was oddly my first “real” car. I bought it used, and was in the market for a hatchback or wagon crossover (like an Outback), but I knew the minute I bought it that I loved it.  My mom is still driving it to this day.
  16. Light Grey Toyota Camry was purchased by my partner after the Scion.  I’m still not sure why we got rid of the Scion, but the Camry was so unbelievably basic that it left me bored. Literally, a reliable but ultra boring car.
  17. Black Smart Fortwo was me making up for selling to Scion. This little (tiny) car has a TON of room outside. It was (and is) my first electric vehicle. It turns heads everywhere, and when folks find out that it’s electric, they inevitably ask “how many miles to the gallon does it get?” I love being able to answer “none.” It always confuses people.
  18. Blue Subaru Legacy I should have learned my lesson from the Mazda 626: you just can’t repeat your love for a car. Subaru changed the base, styling, and design of the Legacy between 2007 and 2014 so much that this car was so completely different than my first that I could just never quite get used to it. It was also—hands down—the largest car that I’ve ever owned. It was a reliable workhorse (I put 40k miles on it in less than a year and a half) but was not a pleasant ride.

Next up: The Stats.

At home with Sr. Corina Kent

I am a huge fan of Sr. Corina Kent.

If you don’t know Sr. Corina, you should. She was an amazing artist and a fascinating individual. Sr. Corina became a sister in the order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1936 and later took art classes at what is not Otis College of Art and Design and the University of Southern California. For nearly thirty years, Sr. Corina created art while living in community with the Immaculate Heart sisters. She taught in the Immaculate Heart College and was the chair of its art department.  Later, Sr. Corina moved to Boston and interacted with Andy Warhol and further piqued his interest in appropriating commercial icons in the service of art.

Like Warhol, Sr. Corita used popular culture as raw material for her work. Her brightly color-blocked screen prints often incorporated the archetypical product of brands of American consumerism alongside thought-provoking spiritual texts. Her design process involved appropriating an original advertising graphic to suit her idea; for example, she would tear, rip, or crumble the image, then re-photograph it. She often used grocery store signage, texts from scripture, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, and writings from literary greats such as Gertrude Stein, E. E. Cummings, and Albert Camus as the textual focal point of her work.

Sr. Corita died of cancer in 1986 only six months before Andy Warhol passed away.

A few weeks ago, I decided to splurge on an authentic signed print by Sr. Corita Kent, because she is one of my favorite artists of all time! I framed the print in a frame that I picked up at Target for $15.00 and hung it in my “bedroom” in place of one of the magazine holders that I never used (except to collect junk).

I think it’s a nice improvement and makes the stock Airstream interior a bit more personal.