Considering the source when buying a car

Consider how you came to be at the places you were today. Did you drive in your car? Your family car? Maybe a car that belongs to a sibling? No matter the way that you or your family came to have a vehicle (assuming that you have one) will accept that you more likely than not purchased or leased the vehicle to the level where the automobile is yours?

If you do not drive a car, this message isn’t for you. Think back to the action of buying or leasing the vehicle. If you in fact have one. Perhaps you looked at different classes of automobiles on the internet or in magazines to compare features, cost of purchase, resale value, or safety test ratings. Think about that homework, and your evaluation of the sources of information as well as how confident you were with the information that you had at the time.

My goal here is to help focus you on new standards adopted by the Associated Press when it comes to the Data Journalism, which were adopted in or around June 2016. Through these, my thought is to persuade you to be a more informed consumer of the news…specifically in the advertisements for purchasing vehicles.

Information sourcing: What is the original source of the news that you are reading? What would make you go to Kelly Blue Book or Consumer Reports to determine if you have the best sourcing of information on whether you should buy a Hyundai Sonata or a Nissan Altima or a Toyota Camry or a Chevrolet Cruze? Would you take the word of friends on Facebook over family advice? Does the motor company website or dealer give you everything that you need to know?

Consider the purpose of the information source(s) you would consult. Kelly Blue Book and Consumer Reports have a different agenda from each other, as does the manufacturers of the vehicles? Does the source serve the consumer? Does it serve the manufacturer? Does it serve the insurance industry? More than one?

I personally go to at least three sources of information when vehicle shopping.  Only at that point will I consider recommendations from family or friends on whom where to buy. I need to know the cost of repairs. I need to know today’s cost compares to the cost of the same model five years out. The dealer should offer a price break for paying cash, especially if they are offering 0% interest loans. How does your purchasing research process work?

All this also leads to negotiating the deal. I lose nothing by buying nothing, whereas a salesperson might lose my business today and into the future. Treat me honestly and fairly is all it takes to get a deal done. I will come back for new cars and service needs if I trust you. Give me reason to trust you, and you’ll get me to come back. At the end of the day, that’s what we both want. If things have gone well today, you’ve received some of the same feedback.

Matt – Monday, December 19, 2016

Top 20 Movies in ranked order

Having considered movies that I’ve enjoyed over time that either tell a good story, move the ball forward for American cinema, or highlight noteworthy directors, sharing this listing of some of my favorites seemed appropriate. Enjoy!

1) Vertigo (1958)
2) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
3) One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975)
4) The Wizard of Oz (1939)
5) E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
6) Pulp Fiction (1994)
7) Do the Right Thing (1989)
8) The Princess Bride (1987)
9) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
10) Memento (2000)
11) In Bruges (2008)
12) Interstellar (2014)
13) Rocky (1976)
14) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
15) Jaws (1975)
16) The Terminator (1984)
17) Toy Story (1995)
18) The Shining (1980)
19) Calvary (2014)
20) The French Connection (1971)
Matt – Sunday, December 18, 2016

Looking Through The Bell Jar

This blog post may be a little bit dark. You may feel a little uncomfortable at the end of it, too.

Sylvia Plath lived from 1932 to 1963, writing poetry, fiction, and short stories. Plath was part of the confessional poetry movement, and received prestigious study opportunities aimed at advancing her career, her movement, and, ultimately, her art. Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life, and succeeded in ending her life at the age of 30.

Plath was born to a German immigrant father to the United States; Otto Plath taught at a small Georgia women’s college; he wrote a book about bumblebees. Otto died when Sylvia was eight years old; Sylvia’s mother raised two kids as the widow to a man 21 years her elder.

While a sophomore in college back in 1995, I first read Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical book The Ball Jar. The imagery of the title is telling of the journey to be taken, as it gives us a view into The Ball Jar’s protagonist as a sensitive soul that requires delicate treatment. Like the author, the protagonist is descending into the depths of mental illness.

Somewhat naive in my first reading back then, I was not particularly compassionate to the story that was being illuminated. I saw that the story humanized mental illness from a first hand perspective. I was not feeling the feelings that the author was showing; for those that do not know, depression isn’t only sadness. Depression is feeling nothing; and sad; self-loathing and anxiety; hopelessness; guilt; isolation.

I call what I felt in response to this biography, The Bell Jar naivete. I rated the book of neutral effectiveness, which is to say a 3-star rating on a 5-star scale. “The book didn’t offer any solutions,” I said. “The book illuminated an important subject, yet failed to evoke the desire to take corrective action.”

The Bell Jar tells the story of a young woman that gains a summer internship at a prominent New York City magazine. The 20-something feels nothing of the stimulation or excitement she thinks that girls her age should feel at experiencing the big city or glamorous culture and lifestyle culture has helped her to expect.

I was a 20-year-old male at the time I read this book myself. I wasn’t all that sensitive to the book that I read then as not really targeted for me. I wasn’t looking to leave the Midwest for the prominent New York City magazine. I wasn’t feeling self-loathing, anxiety, guilt, sadness, or the rest of the depression feelings. I had no firsthand experience with the subject matter the characters in The Ball Jar book felt; that the book was semi-autobiographical failed to move me as well.

I gave you some biography of Sylvia Plath. Sylvia died too young, and she wrote a book that makes me not like the person I was when I was 20-years old. I’ve outlived Sylvia Plath by more than one-third of her life, and it was not until recently that I learned that I could be, and can be, a jerk. Why? If nothing else, it is that I asked a writer to give me a solution to a problem that she clearly did not have on her own.

Perhaps it is harsh to give myself too much grief over this book report that doubles as a speech; perhaps I should not feel a little bit dark or awkward at the end of this speech for not liking the characters in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. This book does get into clinical depression, and largely does try to bring out subject matter that seems like it could be good subject matter for high school kids going through high school angst.

I also think about how seeing the movie The Breakfast Club might not be a bad thing for those same high school students. Today, I still am not really moved passed that neutral, 3-stars out of 5-stars rating. Maybe I still am a jerk. The good news is that I am not a high school teacher confronting this idea for your teenagers today.

One last thing, Sylvia Plath died a month after The Bell Jar was first published. Please do not let this final outcome hurt you.

Matt – Sunday, December 18, 2016