Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

Hyundai Sonata? Probably not!

Monday Apr 14, 2008

This is the first of what will probably be many posts that come as a result of our trip to San Antonio this past weekend.

My Mini Cooper S is approaching 100,000 miles and, although it’s not ready to be replaced, I’ve been thinking far in advance about what make and model of car I want to replace it with. Don’t get me wrong. The Mini is one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. I WOULD replace it with another; but change is good. I’ve been thinking much more conservatively about cars lately.

I’ve always liked Hondas and owned a CRX in the 80s. It was great car. Only one minor problem I can think of. I sometimes kick myself for not replacing it with another Honda; like an Accord.

I’ve always liked the Accord, so it is a logical choice to consider for “the replacement”. But then the part of me that doubts my gut feelings kicked in and told me I should look at the Hyundai Sonata. Same price range as the Accord; but with a much better warranty. Hyundais have been considered good cars for years.

Well, on our recent trip to Texas, our rental happened to be a Hyundai Sonata. I really liked the car. Nice fit and finish. Comfortable. Easy to drive. Enough power for my needs. I could drive one of these on a long-term basis. On the third day, I found a few annoying things. First of all, the car has a tire pressure monitoring system like my Mini has. When we picked up the car at the rental agency, I noticed the light was on; indicating that one of the tires was low. I checked all four tires and they were fine. I asked the attendant if he knew how to reset the light and he said he didn’t; but as long as the tires seem OK, I shouldn’t worry about it. I didn’t worry about it until the third day when Regine had to check the manual for some other annoyance and found that the light cannot be reset in the field. You have to take it to the dealer and have them do it. On my Mini, there’s a button you can press when the car is idle that “calibrates” the system and tells it that the current tire pressures are optimal and should be used as a baseline. Yes, I’m over-simplifying; the system actually works based on the rotation speed of the wheels and not the actual tire pressure. That’s a subject for another blog post which I assure you I’ll never write.

I’m sure Hyundai has good intentions and since the car has a very long warranty (I think it’s 10 years/10,000 miles) it probably wouldn’t cost anything to take the car to the dealer to have them reset the light. But the auto manufacturers don’t seem to realize that people’s time is also very valuable; just like money.

The other annoyance was why Regine cracked the manual in the first place. There is a light in the dash between the climate control and the radio that tells you that the passenger airbag has been disabled. The manual states that the car basically makes a decision to disable the airbag based on the weight of whatever/whoever is in the seat when the car is started. It further states that if this light comes on by mistake, to stop the car, shut it off, have the passenger sit properly in the seat, and then restart the car. Rinse and repeat if necessary. There is no switch to manually turn on/off the passenger airbag. The car has made the decision. You, the driver, are too dumb to make the right decision. No airbag for you!

These are really more than just annoyances. They are instances of where Hyundai thought I was too stupid to make my own decisions and the dealer or the car are smarter than I could ever be. Basically, insulting my intelligence. I know a lot of people would think these are really cool features. To these people, ignorance is truly bliss.

The whole thing made me wonder. If I found this many annoyances in less than three days, how many others will there be with this car?

Now, the Honda Accord might have the same exact annoyances; you’ll be sure I’m going to check for them when the time comes.

Roger Clemens STFU!

Friday Dec 14, 2007

Yesterday, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell released the findings of his investigation into steroid use in Major League Baseball. That report named names and one mentioned quite a bit was that of Roger Clemens. Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, says that “He is really, really concerned and upset that he has been named in this report. It’s based on the allegations, apparently, of a trainer that he’s had in the past. … That’s not a standard someone should be held out in public to have done something as serious as using steroids in baseball.” Mitchell’s office contacted every player that was to be mentioned in the report letting them know that they would be named and offered them the chance to meet with him personally, be presented with the evidence, and explain or refute the facts. Only a few, and definitely not Clemens, decided to take Mitchell up on his offer.

Roger Clemens knew he was going to be named. Don’t act like you’re surprised. Don’t act all upset. You chose not to meet with Senator Mitchell and instead have your guilt or innocence tried in the court of public opinion, where I guess you think you’d have a better chance of clearing your name. Well, guess what. You don’t.

It makes me wonder about that AT&T Wireless commercial…

Roger Clemens is on the golf course contemplating another return to professional baseball. He calls his wife at home to see what she thinks about the idea. She is less than enthused about it but the call is dropped before she can express her feelings about the situation. Roger takes the silence on the other end of the phone to be her becoming speechless because she is so excited by the proposition. Thinking his wife is on board he agrees to play baseball again.

Is his wife upset that he’s going to be spending time away from her and his children when he resumes his baseball career? Or is she upset because he’s going to have to go back on steroids causing his dick to shrink even more?

The part of the lawyers’ statement about where the allegations came from are ridiculous. Mitchell didn’t have subpoena power and the Players’ Association chose not to provide any help in the investigation.

Roger. You had your chance to clear your name. You chose not to. Now STFU!

I’ve Been Busy

Monday Mar 5, 2007

OK. So I haven’t posted yet this year. I have an excuse. If you’re in my email address book, you probably know why. I’ve been busy changing jobs and moving from Miami to Nashville. Many people think that it’s a crazy move. Most of them don’t live in Miami. Yet another city on my list that’s a nice place to visit - but you wouldn’t want to live there.

But what about the weather? It’s so good. Again, the vacation mentality. It’s good if you’re wearing a bathing suit, sitting by the pool, drinking something cold. It’s not so good if you’re going to/from work or running errands. You’re constantly running between your air-conditioned car and an air-conditioned building; trying your best not to turn into a human wet sponge. I prefer to have more than one season per year; even if one of them is a bit cold.

But what about the night clubs? I’m 44 years old. I gave that up a long time ago.

People in South Florida are rude and generally oblivious to the fact that there are other people on this planet besides themselves. I’m glad to now live somewhere where people are nice, pleasant and courteous. It was a bit of a culture shock at first. Now, it’s just nice.

I am in the process of learning Southern as a second language. I can understand it fairly well; I just can’t speak it yet.

I honestly can’t think of anything I’ll miss about Miami.

The Spirit of Santa!?

Friday Dec 9, 2005

I got in line at CVS yesterday morning behind a thirty-something woman who was talking to the cashier about Christmas. She said that her 5 year old son came home from school and had the following conversation with her…

Little Boy: “Mommy, Johnny at school told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus.”

Mother: “Honey, there was a Santa Claus. He’s dead now. We celebrate his spirit at Christmas every year.”

Oh My God! All these years I thought we were celebrating Jesus Christ’s spirit every year at Christmas. I had to bite my lip really hard to keep from telling this woman that SHE was the problem with people nowadays. We can’t be expected to keep Christ in Christmas if we don’t understand what it’s all about ourselves.

Maybe we celebrate Santa’s spirit on Black Friday; but Christmas is about CHRIST !!!

Why is KFC failing?

Friday Oct 21, 2005

I stopped at KFC for lunch today. It wasn’t my first choice; but the fast-food spaghetti place I was headed for was out of business. Probably because I haven’t been there in months.

The company that owns KFC (Yum Foods) has previously stated that KFC is losing money and that their profits from Taco Bell are keeping the company going. KFC is failing. But why?

KFC has been adding items to their menu like mad. Black beans and rice, the Snacker, wings, and most recently Chops (chopped chicken with rice and salad-type veggies). They honestly believe that they are losing customers to new upstarts because they have menu items that KFC doesn’t. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If I pass a KFC in the midst of looking for a fast food fix, I don’t say, “No, not KFC, they don’t have Buffalo wings!”. I say something more like, “No, not KFC, their service sucks!”. Their service is among the worst in the industry AND their stores are aging and decrepit. God forbid I might have to use the restroom!

My predictions… You will see fewer and fewer standalone KFC locations. More of them will be those KFC/Taco Bell in the same building things. They need the Taco Bell customers to subsidize the diminishing KFC customers. The problem with these hybrid locations is… wait for it… THE SERVICE SUCKS!!! They’ve taken the worst of both worlds and combined them to make the dining experience from hell.

My advice to Yum Foods… Kill KFC. Don’t let the dying brand drag down the healthy one.