I write about revitalization. Maybe that makes me a shampoo, since the shampoo in my hotel room promises the same thing. I tried the shampoo. It doesn’t work. I do not feel revitalized.
I like to research and try out psychological tools, eating and supplements, exercise, anything that energizes and inspires me. I plan on being around, being vital and energetic for a very long time.
But with Andy Rooney retiring from Sixty Minutes, there is a slot open for a curmudgeon, and I humbly take up that mantle.
When I got to Cedar Rapids, the only car the rental agency had was a Ford pickup. Already I was in a bad mood. Big heavy tires will hurt my mileage. I like to drive small or medium cars, but that is all they have. I’ll make the best of it. The truck is a whole lot bigger than the old 1962 Ford F150 I used to drive as a teenager. More comfortable, the cab is bigger than my bedroom. I wonder if I could rent out the back to a poor family. They need to want to end up in Omaha or Sioux City.
On the second day of my trip, I had a long stretch on I-80. Now I’ll make up some time! I figure I am safe for 8 miles over the speed limit. Here that should be around 78 mph. But as I got up to 75, I heard a warning chime. Dum dee dum! C – G – E. What now? There is a little legend on instrument cluster. “You are approaching the maximum speed.” What? My foot isn’t pushed down far, the engine is turning at around 2200 rpm. I pulled out to pass a truck, got it up to 80, and suddenly the truck wouldn’t go any faster. I had reached something called the MyKey limit. Truck thinks it knows more than I do? Stupid truck!
At 75 I get the C – G – E warning, and at 80 there is a limiter. I push on the gas and my throttle input is over-ridden by the computer. All right, I shouldn’t go faster than 80. But I like to, especially when I am going around a big truck and want to get back into the right lane.
(By the way, there appears to be a law in Iowa that if you are a complete moron, you have to drive in the left lane on the freeway. Can you see why I like to get back into the right lane? I drove behind a big rental truck that was doing 65 next to an 18 wheeler for about ten miles. They blocked the freeway. What a moron! I gradually worked my way to the head of the line so I was right behind him, turned on my lights and my left blinker, and flashed my lights every ten seconds until he moved over. But that is another story.)
I find a great station on the radio, and am listening. An old song comes on by Stealers Wheels, and I reach over to crank the volume way up. It is the only proper way to listen to late 60s and early 70s music.
“Well, I don’t know why I came here tonight
I got a feelin’ that somethin’ ain’t right . . .”
Wait a minute, where is the volume? I want this song to blast through the speakers! I glance over at the radio, and there is another warning. “Volume limited by MyKey.”
“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am [Stuck in the middle with you]”
Suddenly I realize this song was written about the 2012 Presidential Race. Prophetic! Wow! I wish I could hear it blast out! Is there anything worse than a do-gooder engineer? I hate this MyKey business.
My wife’s Acura SUV is a great car, very luxurious and with turbochagers it is fund to drive. I put in the best oil, synthetic. Three thousand miles later, the car starts to nag me to get the oil changed. You cannot be serious. Synthetic oil is good for 10,000 miles, at least. But there is a warning message on the instrument cluster. It chastises me that I have exceeded the oil change interval by 481 miles. I yell at the car. “It’s synthetic oil, moron! It is good for ten thousand miles!” No understanding at all. I feel so alone.
When I got off the airplane in Cedar Rapids, there was a 1967 Pontiac GTO on display in the terminal. Bizarre. What does a classic like that have to do with flying into Cedar Rapids?
The hood is up. The engine compartment is spotless. I can eat off the rocker covers. I look lovingly onto that beautiful 389 V8 with three two-barrel carbs. Lots of room to change spark plugs. Lots of room to work on an engine. Four speed. Best of all, the Pontiac GTO never had an opinion about how it should be operated. Life was good then. You paid your tickets and you had your fun. No nagging. No advice. No safety rules. A car without opinions. Never told you that you were going too fast. Never told you that a loud radio was bad for you. That was a great car.
I hate cars with opinions.