Faithful Steed

We’ve had our Acura SUV for a long time now.  I think it’s a 2011 model, and we bought it new.  We’ve carefully maintained it in conformity with the manufacturer’s instructions, have complied with all dealer notices of needed servicing, have gone through several sets of new tires, and have avoided any major mishaps or accidents aside from a few tiny side door dings.

It’s been a good, reliable car, one that we’ve driven across the country — to Maine and back, and down the east coast, and on a dog delivery trip to Texas, and on other long road trips.  It’s always gotten us to where we want to go, and we use it with confidence.  We’ve gotten attached to it, as people often do with cars.  We haven’t named it, but I’ve enjoyed driving it and how it handles, and I also like the fact that, when I approach the car from the front and see the grillwork, it always looks happy to see me.

But . . . it’s time.  The car has more than 150,000 miles on it, the air conditioning system is on the fritz — which would be a concern if spring and summer ever actually arrive in central Ohio, which admittedly seems unlikely at this point — and when we’ve driven new rental cars we’ve noticed that advances in car technology have left the poor old Acura in the dust.  Whether it’s rear-facing cameras, dashboard computers, or other high-tech gizmos they’re putting into vehicles these days, car companies have made some significant improvements in the last eight years, and we don’t have any of them.

So, it’s time.  Today, we’ll go car shopping for the first time in almost a decade, and take a look at what the auto manufacturers have to offer.  If we find something that strikes our fancy we may trade in Acura for a new model.  But before we do, I want to acknowledge and salute the faithful service of our faithful steed.

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Our Car Looks Like E.T.

People tend to smile at our Acura SUV as it trundles past.  I think it is because our car looks like E.T.

I’m not just saying this because humans have a well-recognized tendency to see patterns as human faces.  Our brains seem hard-wired, from birth to dotage, to interpret random blotches and spaces and to organize them into face-like shapes.  This is why we see “faces” of religious figures and celebrities in wallpaper patterns, on buildings, on plates of food, and in rusted spots on the sides of giant oil storage drums.

In this case, however, our car’s eerie resemblance to E.T. is no fluke product of randomly firing synapses in the human brain.  No, our vehicle actually looks like the friendly visitor from another planet, with its large, wide-set eyes, its button nose, and its shy, happy smile — just like E.T.’s expression when the ship from his home planet returned to Earth to take him home.  Of course, our car lacks a glowing finger and a glowing chest cavity, but that’s beside the point.

Judge for yourself!

Kish’s New Rig

We’ve replaced the Blue Beemer with a brand spanking new Acura mini-SUV, and the new car has been something of a revelation.

It’s been about a decade since we last bought a new car, and it’s obvious that a lot has changed since our most recent new car purchase.  For one thing, cars are a lot more expensive.  For another, designs seem to have moved away from a soft, rounded look toward a much more angular appearance.  And the biggest difference, to us at least, has been the technology.

We got the “technology package” when we bought the car, and it makes us feel like slack-jawed rubes.  If you sit behind the wheel, you feel like Mr. Sulu at the helm of the Enterprise.  We’ve got a built-in garage door opener.  We’ve got GPS.  We’ve got Sirius XM satellite radio.  There are multiple toggles and buttons and a large central knob that functions like a mouse.  We’ve got a hands-free cell phone that linked with Kish’s cell and, through the miracle of Bluetooth technology, downloaded all of the phone numbers from her address book.  And everything is voice activated.  We can ask the car to find the nearest Chinese restaurant and, a few seconds later, it will give us a report on every Szechuan, Hunan, or Mandarin option within five miles, including phone numbers in case we want to call for a reservation.  It’s pretty amazing stuff when you are used to a simple dashboard that has a few gauges, a clock, a radio, and a CD player.

We don’t know how to use even a tiny fraction of the features that are available on this space-age vehicle.  It will be fun learning.

Farewell To The Beemer

Cars, like people, deserve a proper retirement send-off.  Today we bid adieu to Kish’s little blue BMW station wagon.

We’ve had the blue Beemer for nine years and put on more than 100,000 miles.  The car has patiently endured paint splashes, clipped side-view mirrors, fender benders, coffee spills, and lots of dog hair.  It has borne us to and from faraway places, lugging loads of happy people, dozing dogs, suitcases, paintings, and stray furnishings.  It has delivered reasonably good mileage.  And it has continued to serve for years after it was paid off, requiring only periodic maintenance in order to provide the essential of reliable daily transportation. It has become a kind of member of the family.

But to every thing there is a season, and for the little blue Beemer the season of change came when the alternator gave up the ghost on I-77 and had to be replaced.  The worm of doubt about its continuing reliability was introduced, and with that its hour of career change inevitably drew nearer.  So today we trade it in for a new Acura mini-SUV, but we thank the BMW for its years of faithful service and wish it the best in its future endeavors.

And now, we’d like to present it with this plaque and a gift certificate to Jiffy Lube.