Please welcome guest contributor Rebecca Turrell, a bonafide car/bike girl, holder of a Creative Writing degree, and close friend. She’ll be giving us periodic updates on her Honda Civic Type R.—Bark
“Is that a real Type R?!”
“How fast have you gotten that thing up to?”
“How much over sticker did you pay?”
“Why do you have Brembos on a Civic?”
These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asked regularly in the short month that I’ve owned a 2017 Civic Type R. So what is it like to own one of these things?
I wasn’t there when the Internet was invented, and I wasn’t around for the first e-mail, but I do remember Eternal September.
In the fall of 1990, one of my professors at Miami University signed me and the rest of the students in my class up for access to the school’s VAX minicomputer. The idea was that we would use e-mail to send him our papers and to communicate with each other. To do this, I had to walk across the quad to the 24/7 computer lab in MacCracken Hall, where I used a gutted IBM PC/AT as a video terminal.
Our professor gave us explicit written instructions on which options in the VAX menu would let us get our work done. My classmates were befuddled. Most of them had never touched a computer before, unless you count an Atari 2600 or a NES as a computer. About four weeks into the semester, the VAX requirement was walked back. We could go back to using typewriters or writing by hand. Everybody went back. Everybody, that is, but me.
By the time I left for winter break I’d figured out quite a bit about the VAX, including how it connected to other systems of what started as the DARPAnet but with the addition of various educational and commercial enterprises had come to be known as the Internet. I stayed on the VAX for the rest of my time at Miami. I was there for Eternal September, the day that AOL users were given access to USENET discussion forums in September of 1993. (It was actually September 11, 1993, but history has retconned it to just “some time in September” for semi-obvious reasons.) By 1996 I was working in the business, as a network engineer for Litel. In May of 1997, I opened up my “BMX Basics” website. In late 1999 I founded a web-hosting cooperative. In 2000 I joined the Free Hardware Project at MIT, only to see it fall apart in the aftermath of the other September 11th. In the years that followed, I made the majority of my living selling, developing, and implementing a variety of systems and solutions that were based on the principles of Free Software as laid down by Richard Stallman, whom I met around the time the AI Lab became the Media Lab.
Why tell you all of this? Simply as deep background for what I’m going to tell you next: I believe in a free Internet, I believe in software freedom, I believe in data freedom. But I don’t believe in “Net Neutrality”, and I’ll explain why.
Fast Company isn’t the only media publication to decry Apple’s recent capitulation to China, but I think they have the best and most detailed take on the hows and whys. Just in case you have a normal life and don’t follow tech news, here’s the precis: For a few years now, Apple has sold deliberately crippled versions of its core products to Chinese customers. The China-spec stuff is unable to get around the “Great Firewall” that separates Chinese citizens from the Internet at large.
Some savvy customers have gotten around this restriction with vaguely-named apps that create VPN connections to out-of-China proxies, allowing them to see the outside world and encrypting the communication so the government can’t see their thoughtcrime. But those apps are no longer available through Apple’s App Store, because the company has yet again bowed to pressure from the Chinese government. Apple willingly does everything the Chinese government demands, including sending Tim Cook to literally dance on stage like a monkey for the amusement of high-ranking Party members.
That’s the same Tim Cook who has weaponized Apple’s products and bankroll for social justice here in the US. Cook and his PR flacks never tire of criticizing Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and Christians who don’t share his opinion of gay marriage. Yet China is decades behind the United States in everything from gay marriage (hell no!) to showing gay people on TV (not permitted in some cases) to the jailing, torture, and murder of political dissidents. So why is Cook absolutely fierce about Trump but feeble about Chinese abuses?
Ask Bark is, for now, making its home here at Riverside Green. If you’d like me to tackle a question about car buying, or anything else, for that matter, shoot me an email at email@example.com. I’m always happy to help!
Let’s get to this installment, which comes from a gentleman with a bit of a quandary.
I am 54 years old with two kids in college. The 2012 focus titanium has hit 200K. I am looking for a car. I have potentially narrowed down my options to a new Golf GTI (~$27K) or a used 2015 BMW M235i xdrive ($29K). The BMW would have one year certified BMW warranty. I drive my cars until they die or until my kids hijack them. Both are automatics (wife requirement).
Do you have an opinion? Thanks.
Do I have an opinion??? As Liz Warren might say, do you know who you’re messing with?
I’ve often said (and occasionally tweeted) that Gogo internet, the only inflight wifi option on most major American carriers, is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, depending on how I’m feeling about the mercurial service is behaving at that very moment. I signed up for Gogo a long time ago, almost at the very beginning of the company’s existence, so I pay a little less per month than some latecomers, but it’s a fee I very begrudgingly pay every single month. It’s a necessary evil—during the five hours of time time that I’m taking a flight from Atlanta to Seattle, my entire industry might change (and often does). I literally cannot afford to be disconnected from email or text that long.
More often than not, however, over the years that I’ve forked over my loot, the service has left me feeling more frustrated than satisfied. Slow connection speeds, spotty service, entire flights with no service whatsoever, flight attendants who have no idea how to reset a router…it’s enough to drive a man to drink. (Luckily, I’m normally in First so the drinks are free.) But since Gogo is the only option for inflight wifi, they can charge whatever the hell they want, and I’ll still pay it. There are times, however, when the service is so poor, that I’m very glad that I’ve packed my last issue of Road & Track to help me pass the time. Plus, I can’t connect until the plane goes over 10,000 feet, and I lose service when the plane goes under 10K, so there’s at least 20-30 minutes of flying time where I have no service, so it’s nice to catch up on my reading during those times, as well.
And I’m not the only one. In fact, the number one sales revenue channel for magazines in 2017 is not subscriptions, but airports. Magazines give away subscriptions. But at the airport, a glossy mag still runs anywhere from six to ten bucks, and people line up to buy them at the newsstands.
However, that may change soon.
I haven’t discussed it yet on this site, but my son has joined — and I have returned to — USABMX racing. So far, he’s doing very well. As for me… well, out of six total motos I’ve only finished DFL in three of them. I also find it to be exquisitely painful in all sorts of ways that weren’t apparent to me at fourteen or even thirty-two, which is how old I was when I retired from BMX.
In truth, the only reason I’m racing is to avoid the dreaded “BMX DAD” syndrome where grown men obsess over the accomplishments of their children and live pathetically through them. If it was just John racing, then this whole thing would be a lot of pressure and hassle for him. The way he sees it is that his Dad is racing and he just happens to be coming along. The fact that he’s winning races and I’m losing them has yet to change his perspective on it, and I hope that change, in the words of Sam Cooke, is not gonna come.
While I’m busy bringing in my 280-pound bike-and-rider combination in for a short-runway landing, we can round up last week’s contributions.
The year is 2017. I have attended my daughter’s dance studio’s version of “The Nutcracker” every year since 2013, some years more than once. It’s pretty miserable for 80 of the 90 minutes that I’m there. Not only that, it’s an effing ripoff.
I pay hundreds of dollars a month for dance classes, only to then have to pay another hundred bucks or so for a Nutcracker costume (which costs nothing like $100 for the owner of the studio). I then have to pay $12-15 for a ticket for each member of the family to come watch the performance. I then also have to pay for the DVD of the performance, which we will absolutely NEVER watch, and also pay for “professional” photos of the performance because video and still cameras are not permitted at any time.
In fact, the whole concept of the local dance studio is complete crap. If my daughter were attending the New York City Ballet’s school or even the Louisville Ballet School, maybe I could justify the expense. But since we live too far away from any professional ballet training schools, what I’m actually paying for is extremely subpar teaching from a bunch of never-weres.
But, wait, there’s more!
I’ve always had a thing for the 1989-1993 Cadillac Sedan de Ville and Coupe de Ville. They just seemed to be the right car for Cadillac at the time, and although right-sized compared to the yachts of fifteen years prior, still had plenty of luxury and traditional Cadillac cues.
It probably all started when my Grandma Ruby had a mishap with her 1987 Lincoln Continental. Someone hit her car in a parking lot, and though no one was hurt, she had a partially crunched turn signal, cornering lamp and bumper. Fortunately the other party had good insurance, and a Garnet Red 1990 Sedan de Ville was provided to her in the interim, courtesy of Hertz.
I was already into Cadillacs and Lincolns-the Continentals my grandparents had over the years was certainly a contributing factor-but this Sedan de Ville was a revelation! So shiny and new. I was impressed. Garnet, with silver lower cladding, and a dove gray leather interior. Although I was about ten years old at the time, I was all over this car. I was more impressed riding in it and crawling all over it than if it had been a new Corvette or 911. I was a Brougham aficionado from an early age.
It seems like yesterday, but it was long ago. Seven and a half years ago, to be precise. The precise who and why of it we can leave to the privacy of the woman involved, but here’s the what and where: I found myself behind the wheel of a nearly-new, livery-spec Lincoln Town Car, pulling up to the arrivals lane at the Memphis airport. I’d driven it down from Columbus for what was supposed to be a week-long trip across the American Southwest. For a variety of reasons, mostly alcohol-related and drama-related, we never left the city. By the time I took my date back to the airport, we were no longer strangers to each other — and that was, perhaps, the problem, because we liked each other best as strangers.
It was the kind of “lost weekend” that every man should experience a few times in his life, because it teaches you the raw mechanics of human desire and disgust in a way that you’ll never learn from frantic collegiate couplings or dissipated domestic boredom. In that short span of days, she and I shimmered and sank through a fast-forward series of scenes alternating between exhilarating and exhausting, the fragile high of each evening collapsing into the vomiter’s cockroach crawl at four in the morning. True to form, I managed to make a few bucks out of the thing, with a review of the car and a fiction-ish story. That modest financial return was far outweighed by long bar tabs and rack-rate extensions on a hotel room that we couldn’t summon the moral strength to leave.
Oh, and somewhere in there I spent $3,400 on a new guitar.
From the Gibson Memphis showroom, immediately following a spur-of-the-moment factory tour. I’d made fast friends with the shop foreman and asked him to find me something that had turned out just a bit better than the rest of the day’s haul. He returned with a cherry-red ES-339 Figured. It was absolutely flawless and rang out strong even before I’d plugged it in. In the years after, I used it twice a week for my sandwich-shop gigs, always enjoying the complex tone and perfect playability of the thing. Which was good, because financially speaking I lost my shirt on it.
Turns out the nice people at Gibson were losing their shirt on it, too.
As many of you may remember, Brother Jack got his own Weiss American Issue Field Watch with the Cal. 1003 movement from Weiss Watch Company a few months back and raved about the quality of the product. Much of his writing that day, however, dealt with the movement contained within the case—the reverse-engineered Caliber 1003, which Cameron Weiss has painstakingly created in his shop in Los Angeles, California. It’s the standard bearer for American watches in modern times.
However, JB also mentioned that Mr. Weiss, who’s a disgustingly young and handsome man, started his business with the Standard Issue Field Watch. He still makes the crystals and cases in SoCal, but rather than using his hand-crafted automatic movement, he uses the Caliber 1001, a hand-wound fully mechanical movement which is imported from Switzerland and finished by hand. The end result is a watch that is no less beautiful that the American Issue, but costs half as much.
As I tend to rotate my watches more often than many men rotate their underwear, I wanted to support Mr. Weiss’ efforts, but I was reluctant to spend the nearly $2000 required for the automatic movement. As such, when it came time for me to buy my own Weiss timepiece, I opted for the Standard Issue, as you can see in the photos above (if you’re not familiar with the ‘gram, you can click on the image to scroll through the four unboxing pics).
It has, thus far, been fantastic.