Brian Keaney

Tag: jeep

Negotiation 101

Luca, the morning after.

“Let’s cut to the chase,” the woman on the other end of the phone said to me.  “How much do you want?”

I’ve often said that I prefer Aristotle to Plato because the former gets right to the point while the later meanders through hundreds of pages and you still don’t have any answers at the end.  This woman was clearly an Aristotelian – or at least wanted to get me off the phone – and I liked that about her.  I did want answers to some of my questions first, but that was simply for my own edification and I wanted my money more.  I decided to skip the lesson.

When my Jeep blew up and then spent the night at the bottom of the ocean it was, needless to say, totaled.  The woman who asked me how much I wanted was asking how much I wanted the insurance company to pay.  I threw out a high number.  It wasn’t unreasonable, but it was higher than I was expecting to get.  It was a good deal more than what their original offer to me was.

She told me she couldn’t go that high and gave a number a few hundred dollars less.  If I wanted to make a case for my original figure, she said, I would have to go to a supervisor.  Deciding that a reasonable offer in the hand was worth two in the bush, I decided not to fight it any further.  There was no guarantee that I would get it, and considering that this woman clearly just wanted to get me off the phone by offering the maximum there was even the chance it could go down.

While I’m no dope, I am certainly not an expert negotiator.  I’m no lawyer, only an amateur politician, and haven’t really had all that many high stakes negotiation opportunities.  President Obama, on the other hand, is a lawyer, is a professional politician, and daily has to negotiate on matters that are literally life and death for billions of people around the world.  How, then, he completely capitulated on the debt ceiling deal astounds me.

Other more astute observers have pointed this out already, but I figure that if I was able to get the insurance company to give me $1,100 more for my Jeep than I paid for it, the President of the United States should be able to get a better deal than he did.

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My karma ran over my dogma

or: Why my second Jeep shall forever be known as Luca Brasi

This photo was taken near the spot and several hours before Luca Brasi was sent to Davy Jones' locker.

A couple of weeks ago I was out at a bar with a couple people I knew and even more I didn’t.  One girl, whom I had only just met, announced at one point in the conversation that she was ill suited for her job because she really wasn’t a good person.  I thought it was a very honest, if unflattering, statement to make.

I don’t often pray, but when I do it is usually that I might not be such a terrible person anymore.  Not unsurprisingly, it often follows one of my many transgressions.  Seeing as I have a difficult enough time being a good Christian, I don’t even attempt to  be a good Buddist, despite my admiration for the Dalai Lama and respect for many Buddhist teachings.

One teaching that I don’t buy into, however, is that of karma.  Sometimes good things happen to bad people, and all too frequently terrible things happen to wonderful people.  I can’t say with certainty what the state of my little cousin’s soul is, but I doubt he has ever done anything in his short life to warrant being put into the situation he was last night.  I without a doubt have, but again I doubt any of my past sins had anything to do with it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apples and anvils

My new baby

I don’t often update my Facebook profile.  I’ll occasionally check it to see what other people are up to, but I can’t imagine anyone besides my mother actually cares about what I’m up to, and she stays off of Facebook (unless baby and/ or wedding photos have been posted) in order to sleep at night.  She says she is too afraid of what she might see.

This weekend, though, an event of such immense joy took place that I could not keep it to myself.  I made a special stop to take photos, and then put one of them up online as soon as I could with the following commentary:

And the heavens opened, and a choir of angels rang out: Glory to God in the highest, and Jeeps to his people on earth.

The universe makes sense again. I’m back in a Wrangler.

Yes, finally got a new Jeep, and she’s beautiful.  (And yes, this qualifies in my life as an acceptable occasion to pervert a Biblical quotation – even one that announces the birth of the Christ child.)  She has 10,000 miles more than my old baby, of late and beloved memory, but is two years younger.

When I set out looking for a new Wrangler, I knew I didn’t want a new Wrangler.   That is, I didn’t want a brand new, fresh off the assembly line model.  I didn’t want anything from 2007 or on, actually.  Like many Jeep enthusiasts, I have nothing but scorn for the JK model.  I set out in search of a four cylinder TJ, and hoped that I could find one closer to 2006 than 1997. Read the rest of this entry »

The loss of a love

Happier times with me (center) and my Jeep (right).

I’ve always wanted a dog, but in the past couple days I’ve been giving it serious thought.  I’ve experienced a tremendous personal loss and I could use the comfort that a dog will bring, but I also need something to love now that my Jeep is gone.

My Jeep was totaled last weekend when I came around a corner and into an intersection to find a woman taking a left in my lane.  When I took the plates off of it the other day it was like attending a funeral; I’ve been less heartbroken ending relationships with girls than I was knowing that I was saying goodbye for the last time to my Wrangler.   After all, at 6 years, 6 months, and 2 days, this was the longest relationship I’ve ever had.

Standing in the shop of the mechanic who towed it away for me, I took a moment to walk around and say goodbye and to remember the good times.  It was like my own private memorial service.  I don’t think a priest would say a Mass for it, but maybe I can commission a musician to write a Requiem for a Wrangler.

People are shocked when they hear I am now looking at vehicles other than a Wrangler.  My mother, who was never a fan of its propensity to roll over or the places it could take me that she would rather I not go, said it best when she told me, “That Jeep was you.”   The fact remains that I think the new Jeeps are hideous – the JKs are so big that they look like mini-Hummers.   I’m not opposed to buying a used car, but I’m not sure I want to buy a ten year old automobile, even knowing that a Jeep will run forever.   Besides, any other Jeep just wouldn’t be the same.  They are all great, but none of them are mine.

Then again, this weekend I spent an all too brief period down the Cape.  My sister’s boyfriend remarked that if I bought anything other than a Jeep that I would be “miserable down here in the summer.”  He was absolutely right.  I would be.

I also can’t afford a mid-life crisis car, financially (for the car) or psychologically (for the idea that I might be approaching middle age), but neither can I stomach the thought of driving around in a Camry.  I’m not that exciting, and I need my half hour a day in a distinctive and cool vehicle to feel as young and cool as I still like to believe I am.  The thought of writing a check once a month for a grocery-getter is just too much to handle.

Owning and driving a Jeep was one of the coolest things about me.  People identified me by it and associated it with me.  I identified and associated myself with it.  My mother says it is now time for a “grown up car,” as if I’m graduating from diapers to underroos or taking the training wheels off my bike.  I don’t care what my driver’s license says – I’m not that old and I’m sure as hell not a grown up.  Getting anything other than a Jeep would be a blow to the psyche bigger than anything even the coolest puppy could cure.

Where I lived, there are rainbows

I must admit that I do love rainbows.  It sounds like something a 7-year old girl would say, but when I lived in Hawai’i I really began to appreciate them.  They were stunningly beautiful at times, and scarcely a week went by that I didn’t see at least one or two.  On my visuals page I  have this picture of a rainbow rising out of the lava field at Volcano National Park on the Big Island.

I also have a number of shots on my Facebook page, including this one.  I didn’t normally bring my camera with me to work, but I was glad I did this day.  As seen from my office, this rainbow arced directly above Punchbowl, a dormant volcano right in the heart of Honolulu.

As much I like them, it’s clear that this guy was really affected by the admittedly beautiful rainbow he saw from his front yard (via Human Nature).

It’s easy enough to call the guy a kook, especially after he tells a reporter that he was physically knocked down by the “powerful rainbow rays.”  Still, I think there is something to be said for the sense of wonder this man still possesses.  When was the last time any of us were knocked down, literally or even figuratively, by something of immense beauty?  Have we really all become so cynical and jaded to the world?  I fear that I have.

As I am wont to do, I’ve been taking my Jeep out onto the beach to light a bonfire most Saturday nights this summer.   To get there requires two miles of off-roading and then four-wheeling a couple hundred yards through the dunes.  Just a few miles away is civilization, but in my head I’m worlds away.   I love the beach anyway, but there is something special about it at night.  You can truly clear your head when there is nothing around you except stars and surf and sand.

I think I was in that frame of mind more when I lived in Honolulu.  When I first moved there I noticed that I would often weave in and out of people on the sidewalk.  I wanted to get to where I was going, but the locals were perfectly content to stroll along and get there whenever they got there.  If can can, if no can no can, as they say.  I slowed down a bit after a few months, but I don’t think the New Englander in me ever completely left.

After living there I can now say with some degree of certainty that Hawai’i  is a foreign country that happens to use American currency.  It’s a place unlike any other I’ve been to in the United States, or anywhere else, for that matter.  I miss it still, and I’ll often listen to Hapa, Iz, and other Hawaiian artists at my desk and in my Jeep.  There’s something about the whole culture, and the music in particular, that just soothes the soul.

One of my favorites hapa hula songs is “Where I live, there are rainbows.”  I can’t find the particular version I like so much online, but the lyrics capture much of the magic of the place.

Where I live there are rainbows
With flowers full of color
And birds filled with song
I can smile when it’s raining
Touch the warmth of the sun
I hear children laughing
In this place that I love

(hat tip for the lyrics to Senator Gary Hooser, with whom I once worked)

Hawai’i is still a place that I love.  Someday I’ll return “and never stray, from Honolulu, in Hawai`i nei.”

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Go anywhere – with Jeep or Twitter

I wouldn’t call it a New Year’s Resolution, per se, but I am trying to use Twitter more, and to use it better.  I’ve installed Chromed Bird to my browser, and while it is certainly helping me keep more up to date on whats taking place in the Twittersphere, I can easily see it becoming a distraction.

Regardless, there are some great and some poor uses for Twitter.  Some one of the people I follow tweeted today that dismissing Twitter because of ‘what I had for lunch’ tweets is like dismissing newspapers because of the National Inquirer.  Like anything else, it’s not the medium itself, but how you use it.  The same technology that published the Bible also published Mein Kampf.

An excellent example of a good use of Twitter came to me personally last spring.  Just as the weather was warming I tweeted

Sing hallelujah! The doors are off my Jeep for the summer!

Within minutes, a company using@AllThingsJeep responded to me by saying

We reccomend the CVS (crotch ventilation system) foot pegs for those hot summer days!

Before that, didn’t know me from a hole in the wall, and the same was true in the opposite direction.  I’d never bought anything from them, and as that was my first Jeep tweet I’m fairly certain they had no idea who I was or that I drove a Wrangler.  Still, they searched Twitter for a term relevant to their product line, in this case Jeep, and discovered what I was doing with mine.

That gives them an idea that I’m a potential customer, but it’s how they used that information that really sold me.  There’s a common expression among Wrangler owners – you may have even seen it written across some windshields: “It’s a Jeep thing.  You just wouldn’t understand.”

We Jeep owners are a fun loving bunch.  Most Saturday nights in the summer I take my Jeep out onto the beach down the Cape.  The very fact that they sell a product specifically for people who remove the doors from a vehicle at a high risk of rolling over should tell you something.

They had a pretty good idea of the type of customer I was, and used a fun marketing technique like calling foot pegs a “crotch ventilation system” to pitch the product to me.  It’s not something you would do with a Cadillac customer.   For a Caddy it would be completely off-brand.

I didn’t end up buying the CVS, but now before I do anything with my Jeep I check out their website first.  I’ve got a sense of humor, and as long as I’m going to be spending money I’d like to spend it with a company that has one, too.

For politicians, I’ve seen a couple great uses of Twitter, and plenty of pols who think it is a new tool to use for old strategies.  Those who do better with it include Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  About this time last year His Excellency made a visit to an office building in Cambridge.

A couple of employees at HubSpot, a company in the same building, tweeted him (@massgovernor) and asked him to stop by.  Guess what? He did.

As I tweeted yesterday, I think a mayor in New Jersey has accomplished not only the best use of Twitter for a politician ever, but also at the same time performed the best constituent service I’ve ever heard of.  A woman tweeted Newark Mayor Cory Booker and asked if he could send someone to her 65 year old father’s house to help him shovel the driveway.

His response came five minutes later:

I will do it myself where does he live?

That’s a vote for life right there.  Should any of my elected officials be reading this, tweet me at @BrianKeaney for my address.   My driveway is still a mess.