Standard – and good

Sign: Beer: $3, Good Beer: $4Last fall we went to Aspen for a weekend getaway. (We did not take a private jet – just our minivan.)

One evening meal was at a fairly humble pizza place. I loved their drinks menu: “Beer: $3, Good beer: $4.”

All too rarely do we communicate that bluntly. It’s a good thing to do so, as long as we don’t hurt others in our blunt communication.

One friend observed, “You get mad at things, I get mad at people.” She said it in a complimentary way. (And I thanked her.)


Family skiing

On the chairlift at SolVistaHeather and I skipped work last Friday. We went skiing at SolVista. It’s a family ski area that’s not the closest to Denver, but still within easy driving distance of our home in the suburbs.

We had a great time. The slopes are gentle and smooth. Ben and I loved cruising down one slope as fast as we could – repeatedly. And it’s uncrowded, so we had no fears of any life-threatening accidents.

Rachel, our youngest, did fine, even though she hasn’t been skiing very much. She was able to drift through the trees and navigating a fun course for kids that included skiing through a small “barn.” Jay, our oldest and most adventurous son, had fun doing several stunts in the terrain park.

I know a lot of hard-core skiers and snowboarders would turn their nose up at SolVista, but we loved it. If you’re ever in Colorado and want to have some family skiing fun, SolVista’s the place.

And a final footnote – so you can tell this is not a sponsored post – if you have the cash for a ski condo, the company that runs the resort way overbuilt, so you can get one for a relative steal.


Review: Fisker Karma vs BMW 335d

Update: This was written in 2012. Since then, BMW has released a 3-series hybrid. Fisker no longer sells the Karma but are planning to sell the Motion model, at some point. Having gone out of business and now back in business, I would guess they are figuring out things like funding.

Fisker Karma carSuper high-performance and green? As you think about your next luxury sedan, you may be thinking about buying a Fisker Karma.

I say that fully kidding – I know that none of my readers are thinking about buying a Fisker Karma.

Anyhow, I read with interest a Car & Driver magazine review of the new Fisker Karma. Think of it as a much faster Chevrolet Volt with a super beautiful body.

The gas engine powers a generator that charges an electric motor that moves the wheels. So it can run only on electric power for about 25 miles.

Why am I comparing the $116,000 Karma to a $44,000 BMW 335d? Here are several reasons:

1. Performance? The BMW is faster than the Karma… BMW = 0-60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds. TheĀ Fisker does 6.1 seconds.

2. Interior room? Similar.

3. Quality of materials, fit and finish? Similar.

4. Fuel economy? BMW wins… 27 miles per gallon vs. the Fisker’s 24.

5. Green? Disposing of all those lithium-ion batteries when they fail to hold a charge anymore will be a nightmare. And diesel is more dirty than gas in some measures but cleaner in others.

BMW 335dThe Fisker is a clear winner in the distinctiveness realm. You won’t see another on your block, guaranteed – no matter where you live. But for everything else, the BMW wins.

A final note: the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid is definitely a closer vehicle to compare. It costs a closer $100,000, does 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and gets similar fuel economy to the BMW.

Photos are courtesy of the Fisker and BMW websites.


A new option

Email subscription optionIf you would like to get an email each time I put a new blog post up, you can now subscribe, via the little widget to the right.

Hopefully this will make it easier for some of you to get Shiny Bits goodness.


My longest-owned thing

Victorinox knifeI bought this knife when I was about 12 years old. I still have it. As you might guess, it’s a little too bulky to carry around in my pocket. But I do throw it in the luggage when we’re heading for an overnight.

When I bought it, I was under the illusion that bigger was better. And at the time, the Victorinox Champion was the biggest and most feature-laden model available. I paid $19 for it, which was a lot of money to me back then. (The latest equivalent has a few more features and costs $99.)

I am amazed that the basic design has remained the same over all those years. The seventh-generation Porsche 911 looks similar to the original 1963 model. When a design is good, it’s worthwhile to explore deeply the reasons for changing it, before a re-design.

What is the thing you’ve had longer than anything else?


Tastes good, like a cigarette should

This is a guest post by my brother Bill. I also lived under that anti-commercials paradigm – so it’s ironic that my work involves marketing and advertising. But I do use the remote to mute commercials, the vast majority of the time.

Old TV setGrowing up in the late ’60s and early ’70s, we kids knew there was a condition in our home for watching TV. Our dad had a firm rule that the commercials had to be turned down! As this was before the invention of remote control devices and “Mute” buttons, it involved jumping up from your seat as soon as a commercial break started, running to the TV set and turning the volume knob counterclockwise all the way. Then the whole process would be repeated in reverse once the show was back on. He did this because he wanted to spare us (and the adults) from the experience of having commercial jingles running in our heads (or humming them around the house). In those days, most commercials contained a jingle (song) written specifically for the product, and they were indeed quite catchy. A few must have snuck through from those infrequent times when commercials weren’t turned down – to this day, I can sing you the opening bars of “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” or “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.” (Yes, cigarette commercials were allowed on TV for part of that time.)

Thinking about all of this made me wonder when exactly jingles went away, as they are very rare now. A television viewer from that era would be put off by what we see today … commercials now to involve a lot of action/motion and quick cuts. (I could do with fewer quick cuts, myself.)

Photo is a modified version of a Flikr photo by theterrifictc.