4x4 vs 2wd

quote about 4x4 vehicles

This quote, “Is there a 4WD in the range? Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t” is from Top Gear magazine.

Top Gear is more than a popular British TV show — it started as a magazine and expanded into television, garnering a far wider audience than the magazine could ever hope for.

Back to the quote — you would never read that in an American magazine, but it makes sense in a British context because:

  1. It rarely snows in the parts of England where people actually live.
  2. Fuel economy is a smaller deal in the States, since fuel is (currently) so cheap.
  3. To an American, owning a front-wheel drive crossover or SUV is like drinking decaffeinated coffee.
  4. Because of these two reasons, 2WD crossovers and SUVs are very hard to sell — think of selling bags of ice to Eskimos. So if you buy one new, you are dooming yourself to a larger loss of money when it comes time to sell it on the used market.

Having said all that, if you are in the market for a new car and don’t live in a place that gets a ton of snow, I would urge you to consider a car that is front-wheel drive.

I live in a suburb of Denver and have never owned a 4WD vehicle. We get an average of 57 inches of snow a year. In my 20 years of commuting here, I have only gotten stuck in snow about two times.

We bought a set of snow tires and wheels for one of our cars and even take it up to ski. We’ve never gotten stuck.

I’m not condemning anyone who has a 4WD or AWD vehicle. They’re great. I’m just asking you to consider a car if you are in the market for a different vehicle. And if you like off-roading, you can rent a Jeep.

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You have to get it there

Krest Bitter Lemon bottle

Krest Bitter Lemon is a drink that’s widely available in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

While living in Kenya for five years, I developed a taste for the drink. It’s bright, refreshing and not too sweet.

But you can’t buy it in my town in Colorado, no matter how hard you try.


You need to travel. You’ll see, feel and taste things that you won’t experience in your hometown. Guaranteed, you will encounter life in ways you can’t where you live.

Travel can be expensive, but it’s a better way to hit the reset button than almost anything else I know.


Footnotes:

  1. My son Benjamin brought this plastic Krest bottle back after his time in Uganda during the summer of 2015. When he brought it, there was liquid inside. That wasn’t for long.
  2. Krest (and Schweppes) Bitter Lemon originally contained quinine, a malaria preventative substance.
  3. My post at My Part of Nairobi about Krest Bitter Lemon received more visits than any other post in history. Here’s why.
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Sometimes things do get better

a really nice road in Centennial, Colorado

Almost a month ago, I posted a rather pessimistic view of the way life sometimes plays out (link).

The irony of life is that not two weeks after I wrote that post and took the photo that illustrated my point, pavement engineers provided a wonderful velvety-smooth surface for that very same stretch of road.

Little did I know, they had planned the poor surface as a temporary fix until they had the weather, materials or time in their schedules to spread the new surface.

I thought that road would never improve. But things changed for the better — and much faster than I could have imagined.

Take heart.

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Different interpretations

three book cover designs for Nineteen Eighty-Four

I love going to bookstores. Since much of my professional life has been spent doing graphic design, I love seeing how other graphic designers interpret the themes of books.

Lately, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been a popular book in the United States. The current political situation has caused some to think of the world depicted in that novel. (You’ll get no commentary on me about that, at least at this point. I’m really burned out on politics.)

I enjoyed finding three different paperback versions of the novel on the bookshelves of The Tattered Cover. Each one is very dissimilar. And they have three varying price tags: $9.99, $16 and $17.I did not take the time to discover the creators’ names, but I’d guess that there are three different artists.

I did not take the time to discover the creators’ names, but I’d guess that there are three different artists.

My favorite is the mostly white cover, which seems the most modern. (And again, I didn’t research the publication dates.)

It’s fascinating to me how different people interpret the same thing in such varied ways. I’d guess that there must be at least 100 different covers for that famous novel, that was published in 1949.

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Support your local artist

drawing of hipster balloon man

This great drawing was on the wall of an indie coffee house in San Antonio, Texas. (For those of you down in that neck of the woods, it was Local Coffee.)

I could have served you up a photo of the balloon man — but that wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting. (Photos can be fascinating — I’m not knocking photography!)

Sadly, I didn’t get the name of the artist. None of the artwork on that bulletin board was for sale (and the drawings were fairly small).


You can get art for your walls for way less money than you think. Here are some ideas for creatively obtaining real art to add more life to your living space:

  1. Visit your local high school. There’s bound to be artwork in the display cases and on the walls. If you like the work of a particular artist, ask the art teacher if you can commission a special piece of art by that young artist.
  2. Tour your town’s arts district. If your city is too small to have any galleries, be prepared the next time you visit the big city. Do research to find the area with the highest concentration of galleries.
  3. Avoid expensive big name artist galleries in posh touristy towns. (Yes, Aspen, I’m thinking of you.) Large metropolitan areas often have an arts district where you can visit a wide array of galleries.
  4. Find out when and where community artists have their annual or semi-annual shows.
  5. Make friends with an artist. They may sell you some of their “out-takes” art for less than their top-shelf works.
  6. If you know someone with latent artistic skill, encourage them to get back into their craft — and share some with you!

Go forth and get good art.

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The price of individuality

rear view of a Jeep with giant wheels

$3,700.

Or more.

That figure is what this Jeep owner paid to have gigantic wheels and tires. He (or she) sits head and shoulders above many of the teeming masses below.

Besides the added financial cost, they pay the price for this privilege in several other ways:

  1. Reduced fuel economy
  2. Increased road noise
  3. Reduced number of off-road trails that can be accessed, due to the massive width
  4. Reduced top speed
  5. Increased opportunities to end up head-over-heels, due to a much higher center of gravity
  6. Greatly reduced visibility out the rear-view mirror
  7. Inaccurate speed readings from the speedometer
  8. Scaring drivers that are faint of heart

Is it worth the extra cost? I’m sure the owner thinks so.

My take? Buy a large bumper sticker that expresses your individuality.

My vehicle? No added exterior content. No bumper stickers. (I express my individuality in other ways — like by writing this.)

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Looking for the upside

the road that got worse

Sometimes things in life don’t get better. Or they do, but not on our timetable.

I ride my bicycle to work once or twice a week. My bike’s skinny tires and thin rims transmit variations in the road surface very accurately to my palms and rear end.

During the past four months, the city of Centennial tore up a road that’s part of my commute. It was much better before the destruction than after.

Maybe they will repave the whole road, but I am not expecting that to happen anytime soon.

So it is in our lives… injuries happen. We lose our jobs. People leave. Things happen that are the exact opposite of what we’d choose.

And then situations don’t always change the way we’d like.

But all is not lost. Sometimes we grow stronger because of a difficult situation.

One of the most inspiring people I know has a physical challenge that makes communication difficult. But she has not let that get in her way. She runs circles around many people who don’t face the challenges she does.

I’m not going to say, “Look for the silver lining.” You might be so deep in your challenge that a silver lining is not even on the far horizon.

One reality that I’ve found is God’s way of fixing stuff that appears unfixable. Ask God. Why not… what do you have to lose? (My caveat is that God is not a magic button that you push to get instant results. God’s timetable is usually different than ours.)


As to bad roads, one upside was remembering that the worst roads in Centennial, Colorado, are better than the best roads in some other places I’ve lived.


And one of the silver linings in my life is my son Ben. Today is his 21st birthday. Things got better when he arrived. (Sometimes it does get better.)

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I need to change

I need to change my attitudes.

It’s really easy for me to think my way is the best.

Heather and I recently bought a used car to make our lives less complicated. We carefully chose the model that had the very best balance of fun and fuel savings. And we love it.

I also have taken a lot of satisfaction in the thought that this is a car that few people choose. It’s fun to be off the beaten path.

But I tend to look at other cars and attack their lack of practicality or wasteful use of fuel. And then I judge their owners for their shiny, new vehicle-of-choice that does not fit my narrow set of parameters.

So I’m working on changing my attitudes.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (from here).

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It’s a luxury

sunset from the athletic club

I had a free week.

I won a visitor’s pass to a luxury athletic club not far from where I work. It was like getting to test drive a Ferrari — something mere mortals like me rarely experience.

If I were to rate the establishment on Google, I’d probably give it 5 stars. But would I ever join? No.

One simple barrier keeps me from making that part of my lifestyle… I can’t afford it.

Yes, it was great to put my clothes in a mahogany-faced locker. I loved the gourmet shampoo and body wash (in two flavors). I liked the fact that I could get a few free initial consultations with a professional trainer, so I could learn how to exercise better.

But for approximately five times what 24-Hour Fitness charges, I can’t justify the hit to our monthly expenses.

Heck, I can’t even justify 24-Hour Fitness at the moment.

Gotta stick with free bicycle commutes.


(I took the photo from the balcony, overlooking the tennis courts.)

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