Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger Passes

I was sadden to learn that one of America's iconic folk singers passed at age 94 yesterday.  I love music and folk music without the loud, thumping sounds is one of my favorites.  Pete Seeger sang with six generations of well known folk artists.  Was accused of Communism and black listed by the U.S. in the 50's yet he never swayed from his ideology.  He was true to himself and the causes he believed until he passed in his sleep yesterday.  His music will live on.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Aluminum Technology - Ford F150

Ford Motor Company recently revealed the all new aluminum body F Series pickup.  The best selling pickup in America as been made with steel components up until now.  Ford is taking a leadership position and has developed a truck using aluminum to construct the entire body.  Saving some 700 pounds of weight and increasing fuel economy in the process.  The newly designed truck will be available sometime late this year as a 2015 model.
In the U.S. the federal government Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules require manufacturers to improve miles per gallon over their entire fleet of vehicles sold in the U.S. to government mandated numbers or face a penalty for every tenth of a gallon below the number on every vehicle sold.  CAFE numbers for full size trucks are 23.5 in 2015 going up to 30 in 2025.  The EPA number on the sticker needs to be 18 in 2015 and up to 23 by 2025.  So you can see the need to take bold steps to change the process and materials to gain the numbers required.

However, there maybe a trade off coming.  According to information released yesterday aluminum body technology is fairly new unless you consider German manufacturers who have used it for years.  For example the Audi line has aluminum body vehicles as does Land Rover.  Unfortunately only 10% of the body repair shops in America are certified to work on aluminum body vehicles.  To be certified you must have specially trained technicians using special equipment to perform the necessary repairs.  Dents and dings that can be fixed on a steel body vehicle will likely require panel replacement on the aluminum vehicle.  At the moment, aluminum is more expense than steel however Ford representatives have said that this new truck will sell in the same pricing range as the 2014 truck.  They did not confirm  the pricing with any solid numbers.

Another recent development is the cost to insure an aluminum vehicle verses a steel vehicle.  Most insurance companies charge a premium rate for insurance on aluminum skinned vehicles.  It will be interesting to see what happens once the new F Series truck hits the road.

Will customers disregard the higher insurance costs for more miles per gallon?  What will the residual be on a lease?  What will the resale value be?  All questions to be answered down the road.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What A Sunday And Looking To The Future

I have not seen this city so galvanized by one team since the Seattle Mariners won the American League Championship in 1995 or won a major league best 116 games in a single season in 2001.  Of course there have been others such as the Seattle Sonics in 1979 winning the NBA Championship.  Then there was the Washington Huskies who ended up sharing the NCCA National League title with Miami in 1991.  I don't even recall as much excitement when the Huskies went to Miami in 1994 to play the Hurricanes for the first time in school history.  Miami has a 58 game home winning streak that  the Huskies quickly put to an end 38 - 20.

Still nothing has prepared me for this year and the many, and I do mean, many, rabid Seattle Seahawk fans.  They are everywhere and this team has given Seattle and the surrounding area something to crow about, no pun intended.

I was a big professional football fan back in my younger life.  I enjoyed several Seahawk games when Largent and Zorn were impossible to separate.  It was like Zorn had a string attached to the football and Largent, slow and under rated, always managed to find a way to get open and catch the ball.  It was a fun time even though they didn't really have huge success.  Each game was a nail biter.

Earlier in life, BH (Before Hawks), I enjoyed the San Francisco 49er team with Joe Montana at the helm.  They were a dynasty in the early 80's with Montana at the helm and Walsh as the head coach.  I wasn't far from a television in those years.

I won't go into details but my enjoyment of professional football was lost at a game in Seattle at the Kingdome.  While watching the Kansas City Chiefs stripped of what pride they had a group of other spectators pretty much ruined the game for me.  I have never been back to a  professional football game since and I really haven't followed the game very much since.

This year changed.  I along with many others here in the Northwest are enjoying the ride along with the other more rabid folks.  I watched the game yesterday as the Seahawks once again won in spite of themselves.  We had a long running home game winning streak that was taken away by Arizona about four or five games ago and ever since then the offense has been flat.  Just lethargic while the defense has been awesome.  Keeping the games close so we didn't have to score a bunch of points.

As the game ended yesterday and the Hawks became the NFC Champions the money in Las Vegas had the Hawks favored to win the Super Bowl.  It didn't last long.  The Hawks are the underdogs going into the game as I write this blog.  After watching Peyton Manning disassemble the Patriot defense yesterday I have to wonder what is in store.  Suffice it to say that there is one Seahawk that will be the center of attention for sometime to come.


Onward and upward.  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fun And Games In Seattle

The weather has been anything but nice here this past week.  While we haven't suffered the cold snap that is hitting other parts of the country we have seen mass amounts of rain and windy conditions.  Saturday the Seahawks played the Saints in our outdoor stadium and it poured and blew hard during parts of the game.  Seattle won but it was a hard fought game that could have gone either way.

Courtesy of the West Seattle Blog

I have three days off.  One is a vacation day.  I plan to get some stuff done around the house and there is a large cleaning problem sitting in the garage that needs to get  handled.  Other than that I plan to lay low as always, enjoy a good book, take a nap and walk Honey.  Nothing too strenuous for the old guy.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Century Mark Is Here And Other Suff

We have successfully reached the century mark to retirement.  There are exactly 100 days, including days off, until we wonder off into the sunset years of our lives.  I hope the sun takes a really long time to set.

I can't say there isn't some agonizing over the anticipated event.  My first concern is that Mia and I live through it.  My second concern is that we have enough money to live through it.  There are so many unknowns in life and we have been fortunate, thanks to Mia, to put away some funds to hopefully last as long as we live.  Unfortunately Social Security is a big part of that.  Anything that might happen to that income could be a minor disaster.  I can see why there may be and issue.

As we work though the years we, hopefully, manage to grow, get promoted and earn more money over the period.  I was just looking to see what my earnings were and how much I and my employers have paid into my social security account.  I don't make an extreme amount of money but I managed to do okay and a lot better that a lot than many of the peers in my generation.  Having never had a pension plan, loosing one was not an issue.  But here is the interesting part.  My monthly income from social security will exceed my payments as well as those of my employers in just seven short years.  It is really no wonder that this program and many pension plans are in jeopardy.

The big news today is the NFL playoffs.  I have never been a real big NFL football fan.  I don't have a favorite team even though my local team, the Seahawks, hold destiny in their hands and may very well make it to the Super Bowl this year.  I don't have any Seahawk clothing, flags, or other fan related merchandise.  I have and will watch them play as they try to win their way to the big bowl and I will give the current administration lots of credit for bringing the organization up to its current level.  But I just can't bring myself to become a raving, face painting, jersey wearing fan because I haven't been to a game since the way before the Kingdome was demolished.

Hope no one is stuck in the east…thanks for stopping by

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Went Out With A Bang

Not a big one for staying up and celebrating the New Year I was in bed pretty much sound asleep when all hell broke loose in the neighborhood and I woke up thinking I was in a war zone.  Surprisingly Honey was not the least bit disturbed by the noise or the fact that the condo shook.  Someone let off something really big last night.  From the headlines this morning it appears to have been a fairly uneventful welcome to 2014.

For me, early 2014 is preparation for a life style change, a voyage if you will, into the later years of our life together.  I have been off work since the Friday after Christmas and I am already thinking of continuing to work.  Mia and I have been together for over 40 years and during that time we have spent very little time actually together.  She has her interests, I have work and we just didn't see each other in our later working careers as we did when I was working a 40 hour week and wasn't in management.  Then there was the substance abuse and my family, kids and Mia, will tell you I wasn't around much then.  When I quit I dove into my work and haven't looked up since that year.  What I fear is my being around so much after I finally retire will cause issues for our relationship.  After the past week, I seriously wonder if I shouldn't continue to work.  I know a place that has an opening for a back counter parts guy.

We have been planning the financial side of things and see that we will be living below our current living standard.  Hopefully we will have enough money to enjoy all the things we want to do.  If not, I do have some other options to bring in some monies but certainly not the money we have been accustom to.  Plus, everything I read says you need to stay busy after you officially retire.  I have projects but I doubt they will last long.  I would like to read more volumes on history.  I have woodworking tools that I haven't touched in years.

I guess the really big question is once I wean myself off the mood altering drugs will I gain the energy and motivation to actually get up and do something or will I remain as I have these past few days, a couch potato with no drive or ambition to do anything.

The next 3 1/2 months should me interesting.