Thursday, June 30, 2011

1984 Dodge Colt Turbo - Don't Step On The Gas Unless You Really Mean It!

When I was much younger, I had the Sports Car bug really bad. I was on a very tight budget and wanted to drive something fast but kind of stealthy. I wanted to trade up from my pokey 6 cylinder Plymouth Duster and the 1984 Dodge Colt Turbo came up on my radar screen. Yeah, I was a speed junkie and the hormones and muscle car commercials and advertisements didn't help.

I think seeing Kevin Junkin's turbocharged Ford Pinto in action lit a fire inside me to acquire a stealthy ride that could kick ass. Kevin had taken a junkyard Ford Pinto three door and installed a turbocharger with about 10 pounds of boost. He blew out 3 transmissions but he beat virtually every sports car that lined up to challenge him. I think that I was an early adopter of this iron fist in a velvet glove method of driving cars that were every day Clark Kents but when challenged became super cars. Paul Newman had an new Volvo 760 station wagon that was completely stock but he had a Ford 302 V-8 dyno tested engine with a Kenne Bell Supercharger installed by a specialty engine builder in Maine. From the outside, it looked like a perfectly stock silver  Volvo station wagon but there was a 400 hp souped up Ford V-8 engine driving the rear wheels with the Camaro 4 speed manual transmission and racing clutch. Paul would go cruising up and down the Merritt Parkway blowing Porshes and BMWs into the weeds. He gave his pal David Letterman a test drive and he also bought one. More details about the cars and their builder, Ross Converse can be read here:

My Dodge Colt Turbo was made in Japan by Mitsubishi, and was configured as a 3 door hatchback but it had a turbocharged and intercooled 1.6 litre engine with the 8 speed twin stick Manual Transmission. Zero to 60 acceleration time was 6.9 seconds as the car only weighed about 1600 pounds and 40 miles per gallon could be had if you kept it under 65 and in 8th gear. The car was so outrageous, the Dodge Marketing department come up with a decal that was affixed to the rear hatch that said (and I 'm not kidding!) "Don't Step On The Gas Unless You Really Mean It!"

I blacked out the windows with dark window tint. The car was charcoal grey with grey cloth bucket seats. I had an Escort Radar detector hard wired to the battery and it was as stealthy and fast as a tomahawk cruise missile. It was like driving a motorcycle or go cart. It has so much power it would accelerate up steep long grades and I would easily pass Porsches and BMWs. The big problem for me was that the car was so tinny, that it was a matter of time before I killed myself (in a high speed James Dean like auto wreck) so I sold it after owning it for about a year. I was young but not stupid and the desire for self preservation prevailed. The torque steer was bad too but I was able to smoke those 13 inch Uniroyal Rallye tires in the first 4 gears.

This car was freaking fast. You could spin the tires in the first 4 gears!

I have to admit though, this was one of the best cars I ever owned and the look on the face of a Porsche or BMW owner driver as you pass them on the highway is priceless. This was a really stealthy sleeper of an automobile and it just whetted my appetite for faster sports cars. Boy was I ever crazy to have owned that car at a young age but man, it was a blast to drive. Can't really say that about most cars today that are priced under $20,000.00.

FIAT - They're Back...And I Hope They Make It Big This Time!

I forgot to mention that FIAT also imported and sold the line of Lancia Sports cars. Here is a test drive of
a factory homologated Lancia Stratos filmed in an older episode of Top Gear

As a former employee of Fiat Motors of North America I worked for them from 1977 to 1981 at their headquarters location at 155 Chestnut Ridge Road in Montvale, New Jersey. I worked in their sales and marketing departments and in their Technical Warranty Claims department. I was fresh out of college and it was a dream job for me as I loved sports cars and I got to drive a lot of their company cars including Fiat Bravas Stradas, The X-19 and even the Fiat 124 Spyder Turbo. If not for the rust, emission horsepower robbing emission control systems, quality control issues, they would have survived the US market as their cars were fun to drive, good on gas and had style, panache and flair sorely lacking from most small US built cars like the Ford Pinto and the Chevy Vega. Most could be ordered with standard 5 speed transmissions. Another side benefit from working there was that I got to travel and set up dealer and trade shows across the country on a company expense account. Also got a chance to learn some conversational Italian.

I also remember watching a test mule Fiat Spyder 124 Convertible (Candy Apple Red with Beige Leather Interior with an experimental Windblown Systems Turbocharger installed blowing up in front of my eyes as it left the parking lot for the Car And Driver editorial offices in New York. The smell of molten magnesium and plastic is burned indelibly into my memory. From that point on, I have always made it a point to buy a turbocharged car with a water cooled turbo and intercooler with synthetic Mobil One oil to boot.

Dick Recchia, the Chrysler whiz kid was recruited to run the company when I was there. Karl Ludvigsen ran the Corporate Legal and Public relations division. Ernie Quin ran logistics. Frank Donovan was the Italian speaking CFO, John Spiech was the National Sales Manager, Dave Hunter was the original Advertising and Marketing Manager and later Dudley Coan ran Advertising, and former Range Rover PR Manager Charley Hughes was the director of Advertising and Marketing. Bill Baker, former PR Manager at Volvo was hired as the PR Director and worked for Karl Ludvigsen. Tony Ciminera was the Dealer Relations Manager. Harry Bargholz was the HR manager, and Ruben "Ben" Bustos was the corporate accountant who kept the entire FIAT management team on their toes by tracking budgets and spending.

FIAT had a few advertising and marketing agencies on retainer to help them establish the brand and assist the dealers in the US. national TV and Print advertising was handled by Benton and Bowles and Alan Goltz was the Account Manager assigned to the account. Hank Forssberg Advertising, based in Hackensack NJ handles the regional and local dealer advertisements. They also came up with numerous collateral pieces and point of sale items for dealers. Stanley Heath was the account rep and Jack Bloom was the Art Director. Visual Services Inc. also handles a lot of the dealer collateral and point of sale training kits and they wee based out of Detroit. Most mid-to upper level managers got a Fiat or Lancia company car to drive as a corporate Perk. The Agency managers also got to drive a company car.

There were quite a few other very nice people working at the Fiat Corporate Headquarters, Joann Zampino, Rhona Robertson, Steve Connolly, Kathy Jones, Tony Civitano, Mario Bommarito, Ernie Quin, Bernie Silveria, Bill Rude, Gary Rodrigues, Cathy Rivard, Cecilia Gaglia, Tom Ventrice, Eric Vogel, Rich Fox and John Spiech, who was the National Sales Manager, and later went on to head up Ferrari North America as President, and was the CEO of Lotus Performance Cars in the 1980s.

Kelly Blue Book Review of the New Fiat 500

I have been reading with great interest how FIAT has now purchased a large chunk of Chrysler and they are starting to import their Fiat 500 series of mini automobiles. They are also bringing high-efficiency engine technology to Chrysler so that they can raise fuel economy across the board of their corporate fleet of car and truck products. I wish FIAT and Chrysler the best of luck. Its interesting to see how much has changed over the years and how FIAT has emerged as a leader in small car technology. It will be very interesting to see how this all pans out and if we get more affordable and exciting sports cars brought over from Italy as a result of these new changes, then we can all benefit form these new developments. My hope is that the dealer organization is chosen carefully and that they provide a robust enough infrastructure to ensure customer satisfaction at the highest levels as the bar for customer sat has been raised so many times by the Japanese and German car manufacturers. Just my 02 cents and armchair observations.

Here's a link to a recent New York Times Article (Published on Sept. 2, 2011) that reports on Fiat's progress with the 500 launch and the early dealer sales success and challenges they are facing in the US.
It also reports that the Abarth sport version and the electric version of the Fiat 500 are being readied for shipment to the US in the near future.

Fabrica Italiana Automobili di Torina  or  FIAT

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Subject To Interpretation - My Favorite Steely Dan Lyrics

These are some of my favorite Steely Dan lyrics, culled from their catalog of work as the Group Steely Dan and from their solo album projects. As attendees of Bard college and with Donald obtaining a degree in English Literature, one would expect at the least clever satirical lyrics that challenged the listener to interpret them after multiple listen-ings. I don't think any of their songs contained throwaway lyrics or meanings and they spent a lot of time carefully selecting these words as they knew that it would be their closely examined legacy if they became halfway successful which they did.

Here are my favorite Steely Dan Lyrics:
(Listed in no particular priority)

"I'm reading last years papers although I don't know why
Assassins, Cons and Rapers, might as well die" from the song King of The World - Album - Countdown to Ecstasy

"Agents of the law
Luckless pedestrian
I know you're out there
With rage in your eyes and your megaphones
Saying all is forgiven
Mad Dog surrender
How can I answer
A man of my mind can do anything
I'm a bookkeeper's son
I don't want to shoot no one
Well I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive
Got a case of dynamite
I could hold out here all night
Yes I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive"
From the song  Don't Take Me Alive - Album: The Royal Scam

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clarence Clemons 'The Big Man" E-Street Saxophonist & Bruce Springsteen Pal RIP

Clarence Clemons, the Big Man passed away on Saturday, June 18th after suffering a Stroke the previous week. I think that we all can thank Clarence for all of the great saxophone work and his larger than life presence in the E-Street Band. He will indeed be sorely missed by music fans around the world and his musical legacy speaks for itself. One can only hope that the budding musicians out there will appreciate and learn from his huge catalog of phenomenal performances in the studio, live and with the E-Street Band. His contributions were just enormous. Born To Run, Badlands, Prove it All Night, Rosalita, I just can't imagine those songs without the Clarence Clemons sax solos. He is truly the soul and backbone of the E Street Band. The energy levels of these songs were cranked up several notches whenever his sax solos would appear. Clarence Clemons, The Big Man, The Myth and the Legend of the E Street Band. 

My Current Reading List and Book Recommendations

Wesley has read this book
Comment: "If you work in the field of networking this is a must read. Gibson had the internet scoped out and laid down the gauntlet and challenged every techie to build out the internet as he envisioned it way back when in the early eighties in this densely written debut sci-fi novel, Dark, moody and eerily accurate descriptions of the internet (cyberspace) Gibson introduces Case, the Hacker cowboy for hire who infiltrates corporate networks and steals and trades information for drugs and cash.

    Wesley has read this book
    Comment: "Most interesting read on how Don Felder was forced out of the Eagles and the misery he endured while a band member. Many business lessons to be learned regarding partnerships and compensation. It was interesting to learn that the group Chicago had an equal partnership and they took care of each member royalty-wise equally and fairly and they were the complete opposite of the Eagles which was run like an autocracy. Don persevered, sued and got a decent settlement after a prolonged court battle. THis chronicles that story. Very interesting read."
      Wesley wants to read this book
      Comment: "The bible and definitive tome for any and all things Porsche. The marque is deserving of the lavish attention and detail contained on the pages of this book. Don't own a Porsche, but love to read about the history and the cars."
        Wesley wants to read this book
        Comment: "Nest up on my reading list. Rudy's labor of love. Rudy is a famed NYC luthier extraordinaire and when not building custom electric guitars for Mark Knopfler, he operates 2 music stores in NYC and has kept up on the high-end guitar making industry by documenting the works of local NYC high end luthiers, John D'Angelico, Jimmy D'Aquisto and John Monteleone, arguably builders of the best archtop electric jazz guitars on the planet."
          Wesley is reading this book
          Comment: "If you own a house, this is required reading to understand how it must be repaired properly. One of the best in showing clear detailed illustrations of proper building code work. This book will allow you to keep repair contractors on their toes and you will be armed with the right information to ask informed questions when interviewing contractors."
            Wesley is reading this book
            Comment: "Any professional photographer will tell you its all about the light in the same way a pro guitarist will tell you its all about the tone. Controlling flash in indoor and outdoor settings will take your photography skills to the next level. This book is invaluable for acquiring flash lighting skills for digital photography."
              Wesley is reading this book
              Comment: "So far this is one of the best practical guides to reducing home energy consumption. Goes way beyond solar as to how you can get that energy bill whittled down to a more manageable amount"
                Wesley has read this book
                Comment: "Frank Pacetta takes the last place Xerox Copier Sales Office and takes it to number 1 the following year. Learn how he motivates this sales office and challenges them to succeed with his unorthodox but effective sales methods. One of the best pure sales books out there and a must read for any commissioned salesperson."
                Thursday, Jul 8 2010
                  Wesley has read this book
                  Comment: "Tim wrote this book about the history of the contemporary acoustic guitar and tells a parallel story of replacing his beloved Fylde acoustic guitar with a hand-built custom jumbo cut-away acoustic guitar built from scratch by a master guitar luthier in Vermont. I read this book twice as there was so much information about guitars and how they are intertwined with our culture and musical history. This is another highly recommended book for anyone that plays the guitar or is a serious student of music."
                    Wesley has read this book
                    Comment: "A true American institution, family owned Martin guitars is profiled and treated with the respect it deserves. From the forward written by Stephen Stills to the listings and production runs of rare Martin Vintage guitars, any guitar player will find this book fascinating and a great addition tot heir guitar book collection. Interesting anecdotes and factoids about Martin Guitars and famous players are in abundance. Highly recommended."

                    Friday, June 10, 2011

                    Thinking Out of the Sales Box

                    Let’s set the Way Back time machine to 1982 in New York City at the IBM Branch office G-13 IBM Corporation. I was a newly minted IBM Office Products salesman assigned an enormous rookie sales quota after finishing IBM Sales school in Dallas Texas. At the time I was assigned to an IBM New Business sales office in Manhattan as low man on the totem pole so I inherited the smallest most non-productive sales territory in the office. At the time, the largest and most lucrative accounts for IBM Office Products, which included Copiers, Typewriters, DisplayWriter Word Processing Equipment (The IBM PC was still in development at the time), were the Brokerage Firms, Ad Agencies and Large Law Firms. The most senior and successful veteran IBM salespeople were assigned those accounts as they were rewarded for their year over year sales success. A rookie salesperson had to make their living on the scraps left on the table. I remember walking out of my Branch Manager’s office with my head hung down low in January clutching a copy of the quota and territory agreement I had just signed and agreed to.

                     IBM Copier II Commercial -
                    Speed Kills it was slower than
                    Xerox copiers but less prone to paper jams
                    What have I just done? My career is finished, done, down the drain…kaput! There’s no way I will be able to sell this much equipment let alone displace competing copiers and typewriters from Xerox and Exxon Office Equipment.

                    Glengarry Glenn Ross Sales Motivation Speech - Alec Baldwin

                    After getting over the initial shock, it turned out that, I had a walking geography new business sales territory with no large named accounts to speak of. There really wasn’t any repeat IBM business to be had as the territory was never a productive one in the history of the New York IBM Branch sales office. This was truly a supreme test of my sales skills because there really was not an install base of IBM equipment or repeat business to go after.The sales territory started west of Broadway and north of 57th street to the south side of 72nd street. It looked pretty dismal at first glance as most of the buildings are apartment buildings but I found out later that a lot of them were mixed use commercial zoned.hidden amongst those apartment buildings were smaller commercial office buildings.. A lot of the senior account and sales reps in my office covered a few accounts or even just one city block they were responsible for. They could derive a year’s worth of sales from a fraction of a zip code or even a number of floors in a prime real estate midtown office location. In my assigned upper west side sales territory, there were not many commercial accounts packed into that area but after a few days of hyperventilating and chilling out I decided to spend a few days scoping out the territory and figuring out a plans to how I was going to achieve this impossible quota assignment. I knew that conventional tactics and strategies would not be effective here as my time and resources were extremely limited. I really had to work against the clock and forced myself to think outside of the box and to be as creative as I had to be without breaking any IBM conduct rules or laws of New York City. I bought a AAA map of the Upper West side and got busy by matching the streets with the commercial office buildings and cross referenced the business address with the New York Manhattan set of the Yellow Pages. Armed with the current addresses, I was able to scope out Law Firms, Small Advertising agencies, Publishers and Consulting Firms and tried to ascertain where the most densely populated commercial buildings were located. These buildings happened to be clustered between 57th and 60th street which is the Columbus Circle Area.

                    Speech to new Brokerage Sales Trainees
                    from the movie Boiler Room given by Ben Affleck

                    I came up with a plan to knock on doors (Cold Call) each small business in each of these 15-20 story commercial buildings. I was able to close some good sales pretty quickly but the time it took to go from door to door and floor to floor was pretty exhausting and time consuming. One day, I took a coffee break at one of the commercial buildings and brought the guard/concierge a cup of coffee to chat him up. As it turns out, and after talking to him, I found out that he knew everything about the office moves going on in the office building. Who was moving in and who was moving out. BINGO, here is the gate-keeper for all of the Commercial Real Estate Agents, Telephone Installers, Plumbers, electricians, Building and Construction Contractors. Having access to this information could prove very valuable for a Rookie sales guy who wanted to sell his office equipment in the most efficient manner. Next thing you know, I am bringing this guy coffee and donuts every week, getting to know him and more importantly, which businesses are moving in and which businesses are moving out. I got access to the business cards and the sign in log book so I was able to get the jump on my competitors. I was able to call the office managers of the law and advertising firms that were in the process of moving in and out of that particular building. Office moves are a gold mine as they usually order new typewriters, copiers and word processing equipment.
                    By focusing and concentrating my efforts on seven specific identified office buildings within my territory, I was able to quickly build up an intelligence network of which companies and professional firms were moving in and out of my sales territory. I had my “contacts” phoning in leads to me almost every other day and quickly built up a healthy sales backlog and sustainable forecast. As a result, I was able to make my first IBM 100 percent club with room to spare by the end of October.

                    There was a lot of pressure to produce sales and to exceed sales quotas.

                    Lessons Learned:
                    When you’re under the gun and you have a huge sales quota assignment, it’s best to take a deep breath, step back and approach it logically and methodically. Its best to take a few days off and devote them entirely to research and planning. Write up a sales plan, with well defined goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.
                    Consult with other more experienced sales people from inside and outside your field. Creative time saving tips can be gleaned from any and all types of sales people, young and old,  from all walks of life.
                    Don’t assume that your assigned or targeted sales territory cannot sustain your sales targets until you actually research it thoroughly and I mean thoroughly. There are a lot of diamonds in the rough and you need to be on top of everything that goes on in your sales territory.
                    You need to read up on current economic trends, where your customers are and what the demographic make-up is. Work backward from the targeted annual sales number. Figure out what you need to sell to make your aggregate sales target for the year.
                    Know your competitors, not only their product but how they sell. You need to go where they are not customer-wise and you have get creative to gain and maintain a competitive edge.
                    Compete fairly. Do not trash your competition. Emphasize the benefits and advantages of your product and service and sell yourself as the point person that takes the ultimate responsibility for the performance and customer satisfaction of your product and services.
                    Learning how to be a good sales person is critical to becoming a great sales person. It takes a lot of patience, experience, mistakes and risk taking to succeed where others have failed. You need to convey confidence every step of the way in the sales process. Are you selling yourself? You bet. Most companies buy because of the relationship the sales person has established with the buyers or decision makers, not so much the superiority or benefits of the product or service. I learned this very early on in my sales career and this advice has served me extremely well over the years. Having the best product or service helps, but in the end, it’s the salesperson that demonstrates how effective they are in solving their customer’s problems that wins the sale and future add-on business.

                    One of the first IBM PC TV Commercials

                    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

                    Classic Albums - The Who: Who's Next DVD MINI REVIEW

                    The Who Performing on The Smothers Brothers TV Show
                    Keith Moon Blowing Up His Drum Kit with Dynamite

                    After viewing the AJA Steely Dan Classic Rock DVD, I couldn't believe that they could improve on the series. They proved me wrong with the release of this splendid DVD. The production quality AND content is excellent. The video image and sound quality is superb! The selected footage of live Who performances from the sixties and early seventies is a real treat. Pete Townshend's windmill guitar strokes and Keith Moon's maniacal drum fills are perfectly captured on DVD. Interesting dissections/discussions of Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again, and Going Mobile will keep your eyes riveted to the screen. In addition to great interviews with Pete, Roger and John Entwhistle, The producer Glyn Johns sits at the mixing board and re-creates the assemblages of the instrumental and vocal tracks of these classic songs. The DVD also delves into the LIFEHOUSE project and how the synthesizer tracks for Baba O'Riley and Won't Get Fooled Again were created in Pete's home studio. Kudos to the producers for the thorough and accurate research. Production quality is excellent (on a par with the Making of Aja Steely Dan DVD) and the sound and video is also high quality. The content on this DVD is also highly complementary to the "Kids are Alright" documentary DVD. These two DVDs will provide the avid Who fan the best insights into their music and some of their best recorded performances. Another high point of this DVD is a fantastic acoustic version of Won't Get Fooled Again (Just Pete and his trusty Gibson Jumbo Acoustic six-string guitar). I'm amazed at how much Pete has accomplished and at the age of 55, he is still as sharp and focused as ever. I know he is deaf in one ear and is a recovered alcoholic, but it seems there's at least 20 more years of great music left in him. I'm an avid Who fan. This DVD is truly a gift to any Who fan or any rock and roll fan who appreciates classic rock music. Long Live Rock! Long Live the Who!

                    1988 The Who Performing Join Together

                    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Special DVD Edition MINI REVIEW

                    I have held this movie in high regard over the years and was ecstatic when they first announced this DVD was coming to market. I viewed it for the first time and all I can say is WOW!. The DVD transfer is superb and the sound quality is fantastic. The color fidelity really shines when viewing the Super Posse chase but great care was taken as all of the scenes look almost as good as the original 35MM print. With the questionable "bonus" items hastily thrown together on a lot of DVD releases today is is refreshing that the same care and attention to detail that went into producing and directing the original movie went into the production of this DVD. The director/writer/cameraman commentary is excellent. A lot of behind the scenes anecdotes and explanations of how scenes were shot are intelligently discussed and proves once again that this movie was crafted and created by movie making and acting professionals who were at the top of their game in 1968. I was thoroughly engrossed by the interviews that were filmed in 1994 (the 25th Anniversary of the original release of the movie). The interviews with Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and William Goldman are exceptional because of the different perspectives and viewpoints given on how the movie got made and the effusive praise and credit heaped (deservedly so on George Roy Hill, the Director). Not to take anything away from the Katherine Ross and Burt Bacharach interviews which are also very informative. The hour long documentary "The Making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is also included in the bonus section and is also must see viewing as it goes behind the scenes on how they filmed most of the key story sequences. Students of film to just plain movie buffs will pick up a lot of terrific inside film-making tips and techniques from this documentary that is narrated by George Roy Hill, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Conrad Hall. In summary, if you already have a VHS copy GET THIS DVD! . It is a true American movie classic that was made the old fashioned way. It told a great story cinematically with few artistic/creative compromises. I see lots of parallels between George Roy Hill and James Cameron because they are both fighters/(loathers of studio execs (suits) and all of the money that they spend on the movie can be seen when viewing the final cut. They demand (and get) the utmost respect from their actors and film-making crew because they KNOW what they're doing! Great Story+Great Director+Great Actors=Great Movie. I assure you this will be one of the best DVD additions to your collection.

                    Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko MINI REVIEW

                    Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens (Black) (Electronics)
                    Finally, Olympus has delivered on the promise of a full-featured high-performance dslr-like digital camera that is truly portable and retains the controls and flexibility of a full-sized heavy dslr. Being able to travel without the bulk and weight of a full size dslr bag and accessory lenses is the biggest advantage to getting this camera. You can now take it with you and and your travel weight is well under 5 LBS with the camera, battery, and 2 lenses.

                    The sensor and imaging engine are the key differentiators in this camera as they help this camera with high iso setting images by keeping the noise levels down thereby making this a terrific camera for low light scenarios.

                    What good is taking along a travel digital camera if it cannot produce dslr like quality images? The Olympus Pen system with the detachable lenses still weigh more than a point and shoot, but weigh far less and take up much less space in a camera bag than a full sized dSLR camera kit with lenses and accessories.

                    Having the camera with you at all times will ensure that you get the rare photo or candid that usually happens only a few times a year. Carrying an Olympus Pen with a lens attached is so much easier on the shoulders and back than say a Canon Digital Rebel or a Nikon with the kit lens.

                    Before you make that upgrade to a dSlR, check out the Olympus Pen and you will not be disappointed. You will find that it can do almost 90-95% of what an entry or medium advanced consumer dSLR can do function and image quality wise.

                    You'll look even less dorky by carrying and shooting with such a cool looking and innovative camera.

                    David E. Davis - American Automotive Journalism Icon Extraordinaire RIP

                    David E Davis, the Dean of modern American Car Magazines passed away after battling Pancreatic Cancer in March of this year. I was lucky enough to meet him in person back in 1980 when I attended a Car and Driver press party at the Chicago Auto Show. I was introduced to Mr. Davis by Jean Lindamood Jennings and Don Sherman. Other Car and Driver staffers in attendance (and in the photos) included Rich Ceppos and Mel Berger, the NY Advertising Manager. I introduced myself as I was working for Fiat Motors of North America in the Marketing Department and told him that I read his column every month and enjoyed his writing and the irreverent nature of the articles which were being published at the time at Car and Driver. David was gracious and politely listened to me and offered words of advice and encouragement which to this very day inspired me to write and to introduce a wry sense of humor and not to take oneself so seriously. To say that he lived a full life is an understatement. He was nice to everyone, no matter where you stood in the automotive caste system and he took so many aspiring writers and journalists under his wing and gave so many great automotive journalists their first breaks in the industry. His accomplishments have been listed and documented by editors at Car and Driver, and Automotive Magazine. He took the boring element out of testing cars and introduced Gonzo journalism well before it was coined and hyped by Hunter Thompson. Following the automobile industry and reading about the coolest sports cars in the sixties, seventies eighties and nineties was easy thanks to Mr Davis and the passion and wisdom he brought to the magazines he was managing from an editorial perspective. He and his writers wrote about the good, the bad and the ugly in the automotive industry and called out bad designs and poor performing automobiles before Consumer Reports ever got on the map with their test car results.

                    The photos taken below were taken in 1980 at the top of Sears Tower where Car and Driver held a lavish party for all of their auto industry clients. These photos were taken by my trusty Olympus XA 35mm film camera. Don Sherman is now a Senior Editor at Automobile Magazine and Jean Jennings is the Editor in Chief and runs the show at Automobile Magazine and was hand picked many years ago by David E. as his protege and was eventually groomed and trained to take over Automobile Magazine. Yes, like Forrest Gump, I was a participant in the Car and Driver story albeit it was a time when I was a young kid in awe of my magazine literary heroes, but I must say that I am glad that I was able to preserve the moment with photos and still remember the champagne event like it was yesterday.

                    As a nerdy kid growing up in the New York metro area, I looked forward to receiving every new issue of Car and Driver as it made me forget about the day to day suburban angst of growing up in bedroom community with no inkling of what the future would bring. I was able to escape and at least dream about driving some of the coolest sports cars in the world and to relive the adventures that that Mr Davis and his staff or writers wrote about in Car and Driver and Automobile Magazine.

                    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

                    Toshiba Portege R835-P50 Notebook - Road Warrior Hall of Fame

                    Toshiba Portege R835-RP50X Intel Core i3 'Sandy Bridge" 13.3" Notebook Computer MINI REVIEW

                    I just acquired a Toshiba Portege R835-P50X from Best Buy and this one is a keeper! It came configured with the latest Intel Core i3 "Sandy Bridge" Processor, 4 GB of DDR3 memory and a huge 640 GB 5400 RPM Hard Disk. I will only provide highlights of this notebook in a short form. This notebook is ultra-light. At 3.2 pounds, this notebook has a bright and sharp 13.3" LED Screen and a built in DVD/CD/R Optical drive.

                    The screen has excellent viewing angles and it is pretty bright. Viewing in daylight is no problem. The Screen does not flex and the hinges are very durable. There is little to no flex with the lower case and I was able to touch type on the chiclet style keys that mimics the Apple Macbook and Sony VAIO keyboards. It has 3 USB ports, of which one is a combo USB 3.0 and one is also a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 Port. It also has a built in SD Card reader and a built in HDMI port along with a standard VGA ouput. It meausres a little more tan 1.1 inches thich and the included rechargeable lithium ion battery will provide up to 8 hours of continuous run time.

                    I found this Portege to be very fast and energy efficient and one of the best value notebooks available for purchase today in the US. Best Buy is selling it as configured for $749.99 US Dollars and for a 3.2 LB Optical Drive 13.3" LED notebook, there is no competition at that price. Throw in the Intel Core i3 Sandy Bridge CPU and you have a Road Warrior notebook that is rugged enough for business travel and a most portable 13.3 inch LED screened notebook that you can take anywhere as it is not that much bigger or heavier than a 13" MacBook Air.

                    It comes with the 64 Bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium and you can upgrade this notebook to8 GB of DDR3 RAM as the Windows 7 64 Bit OS supports memory above 4 GB of installed RAM.

                    USER UPGRADES:
                    I upgraded the system memory from 4GB or DDR3 ram to 8 GB of DDR3 Ram.
                    I also upgraded the 640 GB Hard Drive to an OCZ Vertex II 250 GB SSD Flash Drive.

                    NOTE: Windows 7 Now boots from COLD OFF to ON displaying the Windows 7 desktop in exactly 25 seconds. You will see about 45-50 seconds boot time with the 640GB 5400 RPM Hard Disk. This notebook is a SPEED DEMON!

                    Dollar for Dollar, this is the best travel Business Class notebook I have ever used. Perfect Screen size at 13.3 inches and the form factor is perfect. 3.2 Pound for the system notebook and about 7 ounces for the AC Adapter and you have one of the lightest travel weights for a business class notebook that has a built in optical drive. The competing SONY VAIO Z 13.3" LED notebook computers will set you back $1500 to $2500 for a similarly equipped notebook.What an outstanding deal! Thank you Toshiba for lowering the new Portege Notebook prices by over 40%

                    Toshiba really pulled out all of the stops bringing this fully featured notebook to market. I would pick one up before they decide to raise the price.