Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Car, Two Years, Three People

For the past two years, we've been a one-car family. It's not been easy driving to the train and baseball and work and repeat. I wish I could say our decision to own one car was eco-driven, our own personal statement about sustainability and green. It's not. It based on cowardice. My husband and I cannot stand dealing with car salesmen. Or car sales ladies. Either one.

For my husband, I think it has to do with his upbringing. His father owned an auto parts shop growing up and he spent his summers stripping engines and foraging for car parts. He got hit in the face with a dolly and split his nose open. He drove a forklift off a cliff (or large hill). He sweated through many North Carolina summers, cursing under his breath. He did say it was a slight improvement over working in a tobacco warehouse.

For me, it's that I've never really been a "car" person. Or maybe I never got over my first car. When I was 16 years-old, my dad bought a red Triumph convertible - TR6. I think he actually bought it for himself, but at some point realized that when you're 6' 4", the TR6 is not the optimal driving car. Unfortunately for my dad, that car was a stick shift and I wrecked the transmission. And that was all she wrote. 

I know. Youth is wasted on the young.

When I went to college, I lived in New Orleans. I took the streetcar, hitched (yes I'm an idiot) and my roommate had a car. Then I spent a year studying in Paris and taking the Métro. Mais oui. When I worked in Manhattan, I took Metro-North. All along I had this car my parents bought me. It was a blue Volkswagen Golf that I got when we were living in Massachusetts. It had no A/C. Now when you're living in Massachusetts, that will probably work. When you move to New Orleans or Raleigh, that will not work. The Blue Bunny as I called her eventually died in North Carolina after 12 years of loyal service. Boy did I go through some hot summers.

My next car was a Volvo station wagon I bought from my friend Amy. It had 178,000 miles on it. Again no A/C, no air bags or other modern safety features. On a positive note, it only cost me $1,500. I drove that car back and forth from Cisco in RTP for a couple of years. Then I got married. I got pregnant. And we needed a car. A real car with air bags and seatbelts that worked. We traded in our old Volvo for a shiny new Volvo sedan. It was awesome. We even leased it through the business, so it was sort of like a free car. When the lease was up, we turned her in. 

At Least My Car Doesn't Have an 8-Track

By that time, my dad had sold us one of his old Jeeps. Then he gave me my grandma's Jeep when she wasn't allowed to drive anymore. I'm thankful he gave me that car because the car she had before was a pale yellow, gigantor Caddy with Al Hirt stuck in the 8-track player. Slowly but surely those two Jeeps died and my husband and I were faced with the ugly truth. We needed a car. From like a dealership. We were going to have to negotiate.

We test drove a few cars including a sensible Subaru Forester. Ultimately, we bought a Volkswagen Tiguan. Get it? It's like a Tiger and an Iguana, in the same car. My husband swore he wouldn't buy a VW, but they are nice cars to drive. Have we had problems? Yes. You betcha. That's the nature of cars. That's why I hate cars. They're so needy. It's always, "I need oil. There's no air in my tires." Such high maintenance. 

As often as possible, I drive the scooter my husband bought me for Christmas about 10 years ago. Not a terribly practical vehicle for New England. But I love my scooter. It's a Yamaha Vino. It's silver. I have a shiny red helmet and a horn.

My dream car is a dark blue Porsche 911 Carrera convertible. As a kid, we lived in LA briefly and my dad had a friend in La Cañada. One day my dad and I followed him to his house, trailing behind him in his Porsche 911 Carrera. Maybe I'm dreaming this but I think it really happened. I remember that beautiful car, the mountains in the distance and the feeling of being in LA.

I guess when you are finally able to buy a Porsche, there's not a lot of haggling that goes on. Or maybe the haggling gets worse? We shall see.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Second Screen Effect: Raising A Generation of Media Multitaskers

In the April 1st issue of Adweek, there is a cool infographic about the issue of the second-screen effect. At my house, I call that behavior "doing two media at once." I frequently have to tell my son, "Stop doing two media at once." Apparently he's not the only one who has caught on to this idea. 

According to the stats (via Adtheorent):

Among those with a TV and computer, 52% are somewhat or very likely to use another device while watching television. (Source: IAB)

So called "media multitasking" is on the rise particularly with younger people. The article goes on to state that media multitaskers have fewer emotional highs and fewer lows. I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news -- or neutral like their emotions. 

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a fellow copywriter / blogger / social friend and also father to a teenager. We were discussing all the implications of our kids being tethered to a phone, tablet or other device. He said he does check his daughter's phone from time-to-time to see what she's texting. What he found alarming was that she is often texting about nothing. Literally. Nothing.

"What r u doing?"


"what r u doing..."


Really, this is text-worthy? How much radio frequency is used up by texting "nothing" back and forth between teenagers? It's ridiculous. Or so it would seem to me. And to my friend. Not so to the youngsters. 

I didn't actually get a cell phone until I was 35 years-old. I only caved after realizing that with a new baby, there might be need for me to call someone for say roadside assistance or I'm running late to daycare or something else that I would consider urgent. Now of course, I'm on my phone alot talking to friends, surfing the web, updating my social channels on twitter and facebook and pinterest.

One time I walked in on my son and he was on his phone Skypeing with a friend while watching TV on his iPad. He had turned his phone to face the tablet so his friend could watch the show too. They were watching TV together on the phone. I don't understand this behavior. Or possibly it's that I can't relate. 

Adweek calls the younger generation digital natives, while I fall into the nonnative category. I can remember a time when there was one home phone, one TV with only a handful of channels, and these things called books. Was it a better time? I don't know. It was my time. Now it's the digital natives' time. I hope they use their power for good. Just don't use it for nothing.

You can find me on the twitter @fightingfinn or sometimes I go outside without any device at all.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Does My Hair Make Me Look Like Billie Jean King?

Over the winter, I cut my hair short. Well I didn't -- but my girl did. My husband and I have this deal about my hair length. Actually he has a deal that he thinks I care about but I don't. I understand it. The fear that is. There is a certain mom haircut that looks a little mannish. It says I've given up and now I'm buying my jeans at Costco

But that's not the look I have. At least I didn't think so. 

I'm always rushing around. Rushing and rushing. Typical mom. So I started blow drying my hair in a way that went a lot faster. It involved not using the brush and instead just pushing my hair back with my fingers. I thought I was looking pretty good. That is until I took a look in my rear view mirror and thought, "I look (a little) like Billie Jean King."

So I asked my husband, "Hey, do I like like Billie Jean King?"


Me: "I'll take that as a yes?"

Him: "It's not that you look like Billie Jean King. But if you cut your hair any shorter, you're going to be getting dangerously close to the mom haircut."

Me: "I do not have the mom haircut."


The next day, I started using the brush again. Besides, I don't look like Billie Jean King. I look like Yolanda from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You know the one. She's always saying "dahling" with some vaguely Prussian empire accent. Here's Yolanda.

NB: I met Billie Jean King and actually wrote some interview questions for Mary Carillo when she interviewed Billie Jean King at one of the USTA's annual meetings in Palm Springs. Yeah that's right. I did. BJK was as nice as can be, so it would be totally fine if I had her haircut. 

Also my husband designed the plaque they gave Billie Jean King when the USTA dedicated the stadium to her. But he's probably forgotten about that. I didn't. It was a good day.