Archive for September, 2009

Reach out and smack someone

I’m tired. I’m tired of mindlessness. I’m tired of apathy and selfishness. I’m tired of people overextending their lives into others’. Apparently, so is Hugh Jackman.

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Continue Reading September 29, 2009 at 5:39 PM Leave a comment

2010 Hyundai Elantra – A week in the life

For those of you with short attention spans, I’ll tell you now that the 2010 Hyundai Elantra sedan has impressed me. For those of you who know me, there is some serious street cred here. For those of you that don’t, mark a +1 next to this Hyundai in your vehicle search. Read on for a thorough examination.

An example of a 2010 Hyundai Elantra

An example of a 2010 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai has come a long way from the Excel. Hell, they’ve come a long way from the year 2000!  You may have heard this before, but those that have dared purchase their cars over the last half decade or better have cars that generally serve them well. Hyundais are gaining points in my book for more advanced styling, build quality, and general reliability.  It takes a lot of quality control for a carmaker to turn around like this.  I came to write this, parked in a spot a good distance from the entrance, our 2005 Honda Accord was hit, knocking it out of the spot, and up on a curb by a tree that was once a fair distance behind it. The woman who hit our car was more than honest, and amazingly had a claim called into her insurance before we left the parking lot. Which leads me to my car rental.

When I heard the Enterprise man say “Hyundai Elantra” my mind lept to being crammed in a small car, trying desperately to keep up with traffic, having to turn off the A/C if I needed more power because it had none. I pursued other vehicles and after the discouragement, I succumbed to the Korean beast. Moments later, the man was pulling up in a gleaming white Hyundai Elantra. My first reaction was “It’s got fog lights” but as I would soon find out, these were simple beacons of good things to come. After fitting the car with the rear-facing infant carseat base, I hopped in, adjusted mirrors and was off on my short jaunt to work.

I fully admit that I was prejudiced about this car. Despite the fact that I keep up with the car magazines, and while I knew Hyundai was make leaps and bounds in the market, I had yet to fully endorse a Hyundai to friends or family. My week with the car yielded some surprises that will change, until further notice, my opinion of this South Korean car company. The first surprise was how sprite this thing can be. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder, at 138 hp, is a far cry from a barn stormer. I know that the Touring models come with a few more ponies under the hood, but this is what you get with the sedan. Tromping on the go pedal actually snapped my head back at bit and got me onto the freeway faster than I ever expected it to. Throughout my week, I came to find there were some things I could not do with the car in traffic that I could with my 4-cylinder Accord and TSX, but overall I found that this engine, and the 4-speed automatic, provided me with enough opportunity to slice-and-dice traffic as needed in my hour-long daily commute.

One strange phenomenon I’ve noticed in my time is a car’s ‘respect factor’ on the road.  The respect factor is about people cutting you off, pulling out in front of you, purposely preventing you from going faster or changing lanes, and general driving courtesy.  I’ve driven Ford Aspires to Ferrari convertibles and I’ll say this Hyundai has one of the worst respect factors I’ve experienced.  Not as bad as the 20 year old two-tone brown Maxima or the faded orange and rusted Datsun B210 I’ve driven, but certainly close.  I can’t tell you how many people just gave this little winner no street cred at all.  My Accord and TSX have a high respect factor, conversely.  Even my 1995 T100 with a camper shell has a higher respect factor, but most can’t stand to be behind it.  I’ve seen more respect in an old Chevy Cavalier than this little thing got.  So as you ponder your car buying decision, remember, people won’t give a flip about you in this car.

Impressive for an economy car

Impressive for an "economy car"

The interior comfortably impresses, in that the dash, feel of the seat fabric, and plastic bits don’t look as though they were salvaged from a toy car. I do have reservations of the “electronic breadboard” pattern of the seat fabric.  While glaringly simple, the interior trim looks quite pleasing, and works quite well in a car at this price point. This “economy” car had a tire pressure monitoring system.  My Acura doesn’t have TPMS.  This Elantra also had power mirrors, power windows, and A/C which I understand to be standard. But it also had a AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 stereo with AUX *AND* USB inputs. Wow! You know what else? The stereo sounded decent, too. This turned out to be a bonus because it helped as a potent condiment to compensate for the noise of the engine. Throughout my week, I found myself almost enjoying my commute, what with being in a car that turned out to not be a penalty box.

The driver’s seat was nearly dining room chair-like, but squishy soft. Not as supportive in the corners as I prefer, but the cloth made up in grip what the seat lacked in bolstering. This very upright seating position, with loads of headroom for my cranium above my abnormally long torso, I had a commanding view of the world from this perch. It reminded me of sitting in my old Nissan Hardbody. A very Goldilocks viewing angle I had, being able to see over most other cars, and high enough to peer through the windows of most of the numerous trucks that populate our roads here in Texas.

Since I transport my now 7 month old to and from daycare, my wife was rightfully concerned about the safety of this car. In haste, I initially set up the carseat base on the rear passenger-side seat, where the LATCH system appeared to be. It was only after a discussion with my wife that I decided to try securing it in the center. The LATCH straps on the base reached their needed destinations and grasped with no ill effect, only that few normal-sized people would be able to sit comfortably next to the carseat base. A quick review of some safety websites showed that the Elantra maintains 5-star ratings for crash safety in all cases, except for the rear side-impact which got it 4-star ratings. Nonetheless, a car that could probably hold its own should we pull the unfortunate card for accidents twice in one month.

The Hyundai Elantra I drove had a few ticks over 600 miles on the odometer when I started. That being said, I was a little concerned that I was hearing buzzing interior pieces from the bass of the stereo, even at modest volume. My ears also detected another minor rattle. My one pet peeve is a rattling interior. Strange since the ride quality of the vehicle was generally soft and more yielding than most. It had an almost Buick-like float with more Japanese control.  It was an odd sensation, but one I came to appreciate over my time with the car.  Hopefully, this buzzing was a quirk of the car I drove and not of the line. However, certainly something to listen for when you test drive your car.

I’m picky about cars. The blinker had an annoying loud, high-pitched ‘tink’ that would wake up my child, my sunglasses seemed to repeatedly get stuck in the holder, I couldn’t seem to get the 1000 watt instrument lighting to dim to a reasonable level at night, the trunk release on the key fob was too easy to depress, and my elbows were rarely comfortable. Don’t let that fool you. This 2010 Hyundai Elantra impressed me. Milling around town in my daily commute, I found the engine power more than adequate for my style of aggressive commuting. The electric power steering was easy-breezy at low speed and firmed up for a solid track on the freeways. The world “easy” keeps coming up. The car simply went about my business in a way that I can only describe as easy. It did the right things, albeit with a purpose-built, mainstream interpretation of a fuel-sipping economy car at high value. A suitable outfit for 9/10ths of your life. You can certainly spice it up with a sunroof and some nice rims, but at the end of the day, this car is a piece of cake; moist, soft, and sweet waiting for the icing of your choice. I now return to my regularly scheduled Honda Accord.

September 28, 2009 at 9:00 AM 5 comments

Declaration of Improper Parking

When in the Course of my normal day, it becomes necessary for one person to consume more resources than anyone else may choose to consume, and to assume my greater importance on this earth, that I have more rights than you to which the Laws of Nature and my God entitle to me, with no respect for other opinions of mankind requires me to declare my superiority of choice over everyone else.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that my need for parking is greater than thou, that I am endowed by my Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are proximity, convenience, and the persistence of apathy.  That to secure these rights, I institute my vehicle among others, driving just powers from the tons of steel and plastic, that whenever any parking space could hold my girth, it is my right to take it despite the vehicles around me, and institute my will, for my convenience of consumerism and disorganizing others, so that I may be most happy.  Prudence, indeed, is lost on my will long established should not be changed for guilt or logic; and accordingly all entitlement hath shewn, that mankind is disposed to suffer, for my evils are insufferable, than to park in another spot by eliminating my convenience to which I am obviously entitled.  But when a long train of cars and trucks, pursuing invariably the same intent evinces a wrath to extremes, where it is my right, it is my sole entitlement, to throw out common courtesy and decency, to create my own opportunities, and provide new parking for my needs.  Such has been the impatience and greed of my life; and now is the necessity of my ego which constrains me to do nothing else other than my own choosing.  The history of my fenders and doors is displayed in dents and dings, all having direct consequence of my actions of absolute superiority over a parking lot.  To prove this, I dare you to park next to me.

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September 25, 2009 at 9:34 AM 7 comments

Opinephilia

I’m making a new word: opinephilia
People who are afflicted with opinephilia could be considered extremely selfish, often subscribe to polarization, and are frequently considered zealots. Opinephilia symptoms are most visible when a person refuses to accept or acknowledge that another thought or idea can exist that is not their own, and may go to great lengths to promote their own ideals.

Continue Reading September 18, 2009 at 10:40 AM 3 comments

Push presents

For the “WTF!?  Are you serious?” file, there is a new and growing trend called “push presents” or “birth baubles“.  “What is this,” you might ask?  Well, it is a gift given to women during labor, during the birth of a child, the baby daddy is now supposed to give baby mama a gift.  Far be it from me to deny my significant other with the finer things in life, but do we really need another expectation to spend money?  During birth!?

Hi!  Could I interest you in some earrings?

Hi! Is now a good time to give you some earrings?

I’ve been through the birth of one child and hopefully I will have a chance sometime soon.  Granted, not like my wife has been through the birth of one child, but nonetheless, I have a first-hand observation and experience of the event.  I can’t fathom how anyone would suggest this be the right time to give a gift.

In “A Bundle of Joy Isn’t Enough?” from the New York Times, the article briefly explores this latest Fashion & Style.  Where one woman was given diamond earrings and another a pricey metal sculpture.  Jena Slosburg received the pair of diamond earrings and says “I was on cloud nine.  It was the perfect present to make a frazzled, sleep-deprived, first-time mommy feel absolutely glamorous.”  What, we can’t go through an event that our species has been performing for tens of thousands of years without having to fill it with a bunch of crap?

Every kid begins with Kay?

Every kid begins with Kay?

The birth of a child is an amazing moment.  My male buddies claimed it to be the end of my life as I knew it.  My work colleagues told stories of sleepless nights, vomit, colic, and many other horrors that come with a new human being.  The birth of our son didn’t go smoothly.  There were some complications.  It was hard.  And we knew that going into it.   Never mind that we spent thousands of dollars of our health insurance money to have this child.  We kept the sex of our child a surprise.  So, at the end of the day, we got the best gift we’ve ever known — a beautiful baby boy.  He was healthy, mama was healthy, and we went back to our room to revel in the creation and elation of parenthood.

Despite this article having been written in 2007, I did not hear about it with the birth of our son in 2009.  Even if I had, I don’t know that I would have done it.  We spent enough money.  We walked away with the gift that keeps on giving.  We commemorate the birth with a child.  Not some trinket.  Not some rock, or hunk of metal.  We celebrate the occasion WITH A CHILD!  Didn’t we learn anything from the materialism of the 1980’s?  Didn’t you watch Wall Street?  I spoke with my partner about it and she said “It’s just another excuse to make you feel guilty and sell more stuff.”  Thank you, honey!  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A Bundle of Joy Isn’t Enough?

September 16, 2009 at 11:49 AM 2 comments

Aliens and Belief Poll

How would having aliens visit earth affect how you believe in religion? I’m curious!

Continue Reading September 15, 2009 at 12:56 PM Leave a comment

World Nachos

I was having a conversation with Joel the other day and we were talking about nachos.  There’s been no real advance in the nacho kingdom,  and I thought, you know what would be cool?  World Nachos.  Create nachos from all over the world.  Thai nachos, Chinese nachos, Italian nachos, dessert nachos, and much more.  You could do for nachos what California Pizza Kitchen did for pizza.  Your take on that may not be positive, but I think it’s time to think beyond the queso and expand this culinary delight to the world!

September 13, 2009 at 2:29 PM Leave a comment

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