March 20th, 2008


Car shopping

I'd've written this last night, but my evening was swallowed up by writing my post on the coming content strike...)

Being in possession of a car I'm not scared to drive (i.e. my parents' car), after work I finally started swinging out to car dealerships. It's been a month since I learned that repairs on my current car would cost as much as what I originally paid for it, so I've been mentally preparing myself for getting a new-to-me car. Financially I'm in pretty good shape, too, but mentally preparing for what would be the biggest purchase of my life so far is the big hurdle. (Other than airline tickets and new tires, the biggest thing I've bought in the last several years is my TV/DVD player!) And I wasn't quite ready to commit to anything last night, though I did test-drive a car that could -- could -- be the one. (I test-drove another car that I knew almost immediately wouldn't be for me: it had too much stuff. It had two DVD screens for the back seats.)

A car salesman has to be such a student of human nature. You're helping people spend a very large amount of money, and a lot of us (like me) are uncomfortable about that, so you look for the commonalities, stuff you and the customer can commiserate about so the customer grows more comfortable. I told the first dealership guy I talked to that my last car lasted me for over 10 years, and he said, "You're one of those people. I'm one of those people." Like me, he said, he drives them not for later resale value, but for the use, the functionality. The next guy I talked to made similar comments. I hope that's true, which is a little cynical of me to say, but I think it's a protective kind of cynicism. (Car-shopping in '97, I had a particular sales guy who didn't really "get" me, and tried to sell me an overly sporty car for more extreme driving. Had he actually used the word "extreme," I'd've stopped the car, gotten out right there, and walked back to the dealership.)

All of the guys I talked to at the dealerships last night were nice guys, but near the end while crunching numbers about that one potential car, I started feeling a Glengarry Glen Ross Al Pacino-and-Jonathan Pryce-in-the-diner vibe. And better critics than me have talked about how that scene is kind of a courtship/seduction scene; I even realized I was adopting some of Pryce's body language. I steadied myself a little better, got a little more assertive (but still a little tongue-tied), and told the dealership guy I wasn't ready yet, but that I'd keep it in mind. I assured him if I come back, I'll ask for him. Commission sales and all that. Oy; I could never work on commission.

Still, I didn't reach 100% satisfaction last night, but I feel closer to it. I will find another car, and it will be a good one.

And finally, a legitimate question: Is it a good/allowed idea to tip a car salesman? I almost felt like I should. I pictured discreetly handing him a hundred. My visualization skills must be good: I almost never have a hundred on me...

You can never have enough Unicorn-riding Neil Patrick Harris...

Taking a break from deleting literally thousands of junk e-mails (long story):

Yay! Harold and Kumar Escape from Guatanamo Bay, the sequel to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, got a happily raucous reception at South By Southwest in Austin. CNN chats with the writers and the leads, and amuses me in the process.

Yes, non-drug-using me is amused by stoner comedies. I accept that and go on. ("Dude, where's my car?" "Where's your car, dude?" "Dude, where's my car?" "Where's your car, dude?"...)
Whale fluke

One last post before radio silence

I've been going back-and-forth on whether to still participate in the 24-hour content strike on LiveJournal, because a lot's happened since I wrote my first post on the subject (and some of it's summed up here and earlier, here by cleolinda, who's skeptical about the strike but expresses multiple sides well).

Personally, I'm still doing it. The big problem, though, and it must be mentioned, is that an unpleasant groundswell supporting the strike has emerged, among anti-Semites in Russian LJ. They aren't mad at the business decisions, the sneaky implementation of those decisions, the not listening to the experienced LJ people who advise the company; they're mad that SUP is a company with Jewish people working in it. Or as chopchica has put it,
Hating SUP because of shoddy implementations, shady informational policies, and extremely unappealing business methodologies, is one thing. Hating them because they are *run by Jews* is quite another thing entirely.

There's a huge amount of Russian anti-SUP sentiment out there, and a lot of it is for logical reasons. But a large chunk of it has nothing to with SUP itself - it has to do with the fact that SUP is run by Jews. It's ugly. It's really, really ugly. It's a reminder that supporting free speech, ALL free speech (which I do), means that along with my porny fanfic, I also support and encourage people's rights to post repulsive shit like this. These people hate SUP too. Do you really think it's because of their draconian business practices?

When antisemitism is the reason, it doesn't matter if SUP decides to give back basic accounts, notify everybody of all new changes weeks before making them, and gives each and every one of us a shiny new rainbow pony that will fly you around the lake. It's still going to be *run by Jews*.

It'd be awfully nice if the company we've given so much money, time and attention to respected us a little more and had some more consideration about their customer base. But you know, antisemites are not our brothers-in-arms. While you're busy hoisting the colors, you might want to take a little look at who's standing there, right beside you. Because, if there's one thing I want even *less* than being accidentally helped out by antisemites, it's to find out that instead of just that, I've helped *them*. I really don't think they're in it for the shiny flying pony.
I still feel this action can steer us in a better direction, co-opting of the strike by anti-Semetic asshats notwithstanding. I felt the need to do something to say "We're headed in a bad direction, and I want to steer us in a better one." But this strike is one action of many, not an end-all-be-all. People have suggested sending postcards to the different parts of the company; I will do that (I'll dig out the addresses later, after the strike). LJ can be made more transparent, and still make money. I graduated to a Paid account because I believe in this service, and because having a Paid account simplified my use of it.

To use a platitude, I want this virtual place to be better. I hope this helps.

Meanwhile, it's going to be weird to be away, even for 24 hours. I may not have been this removed from LJ since my cousin Steph's wedding at Lake Tahoe OVER TWO YEARS AGO. Heh.