Monday, August 29, 2011

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part IV – Acceptance and Admiration

8/29/2011 Portland, Oregon - Pop in your mints…
It was another beautiful weekend here in the Northwest, safely away from Irene and all of the mayhem that it has left in its wake.  Summer arrived a bit late this year and, like recent stock market rallies, has had trouble gaining traction.
One must be content with the days of sunshine that come our way, for our instinct tells us that they will not last.  For us here in the Northwest, that means days of sunshine must be enjoyed to the fullest.  In the stock market, it means that any near term rally should be seen as an opportunity to sell.
In the long run, as the wheels come off the US Dollar mobile, stocks should outperform most other paper assets.  In the short run, with Bank of America imploding, the resulting black hole threatens to suck a few trillion dollars out of the stock market.
Bank of America is too big to succeed and is in a hurry to raise capital that they do not need.   Given the incredible incentive that most Bank Executives have to misrepresent their circumstances, it is a wonder that investor would take them seriously.  Anyone who is not obligated to hold B of A stock and is still holding it is performing an act of charity, for that money will go quickly down the drain.
But enough about B of A, we have a story to tell.
That story is the sordid tale of the Auto Feo.  You can catch up with the “Ode to the Auto Feo”, Parts I,II, and III by clicking on the following links. 
Our story continues:
We arrived at home much later than we imagined.  What should have been a brief run across town to kick the tires on a vehicle that we should have passed on had now become a frustrating and humiliating odyssey.  We were stuck with a car that seemed doomed to be scrapped within the week.  Our only consolation was that we had “only” dropped $1,300 on this bitter lesson.

We drove the overheating, smoking beast into our driveway.  We were dripping with sweat as we were forced to turn the heat on in a desperate attempt to moderate the vehicle’s temperature as the thermostat was not performing its designated function.

Still, our ever supportive wife was optimistic:

“It only needs to make it the 1.5 miles each day,” she reassured us.
“And it has air-conditioning!”

She appeared as sold on the vehicle as we were until the smoke, which we were later to identify as oil leaking from the engine block onto the exhaust system, began to fill the thick summer evening air.
The smoking of the Auto Feo produced a dry ice effect coming out of the hood on the passenger side which we were never able to repair (the only attempt the mechanic made served to make it worse.)
Then, she saw the keyhole, or lack thereof.  She shook her head.

“You say you didn’t notice this?”

All we could do was shrug.  It was an oversight of classic proportions, like forgetting to make gravy for Thanksgiving dinner.  There was no reasonable excuse that could be offered.

Her look confirmed what we had now known for about 90 minutes, we had been taken.

What could we do?  Given the discovery of the oil leaking and the lack of the keyhole, we deemed the vehicle unacceptable.  We had to attempt the unthinkable.

“We will humble ourselves and ask the Iranian to undo the deal,” we proclaimed, as if the matter were firmly under control.  Swallowing one’s pride seemed preferable to seeing a testament to our own ignorance and impatience in our driveway.

We will spare you the details of our three telephone calls to the Iranian that ranged in tone from bold appeals to the man’s honor to tearful groveling.  True to form, He out-groveled us and admitted that the cash had gone to his brother that fateful night.

We were stuck.

A Unique Vehicle - The Discovery of a James Bond Smokescreen

The next two weeks served to confirm that we had just made the worst purchase in recent memory.  In addition to the inconvenience of entering the vehicle from the passenger side and the permanent smoke screen that the vehicle threw off as it drove:

-We experienced random starter issues (i.e. the vehicle started or failed to start completely at random)

-The cherished air conditioner broke in a plume of smoke on 3rd day,

-After 7 days, the odometer stopped turning, which explained how a 1993 could have a mere 143,000 miles.

Still, the vehicle ran and served its purpose of carting us to and from the train station, a mere 1.5 miles down the road, and even though the starter worked only when it chose to, it rarely failed to start the motor after teasing us for a time.

With the initial bad taste out of our mouth, a strange sort of respect began to grow between ourselves and the mistreated vehicle.

“Just give us 12 months,” we told the trusty steed, which was obviously on its last legs.
Somehow, it seemed to understand, and six months passed without incident.

At that point, we decided to embark upon a dangerous experiment, an experiment that in hindsight was so ridiculous that it made even B of A’s robo-signing of foreclosure documents seem reasonable by comparison. 

We decided to put an end to the annoying smokescreen the vehicle threw off the cheapest way we could think of.  From that point forward, the only fluid we would put into the Auto Feo was gasoline.
Like B of A’s robo-signing adventure, it was bound to backfire.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!



P.S.  For more ideas and commentary please check out The Mint at http://www.davidmint.com/

Key Indicators for August 29, 2011

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,789 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY