Saturday, February 1, 2014

My 1984 Trans Am

Back in April 2012 I got the bug (again) to restore a car. Not sure why I fail to learn that car restoration is a money-loosing endeavor, but I keep falling back into the same trap every once in a while. I try to convince myself that I do it mainly for the fun and, ultimately, the pride of having saved another car.

And so, I started my search sometime in early 2012 looking for a good candidate for such a project.

I read hundreds of ads on CraigsList and the Auto Trader, mainly for C3 Corvettes, but the cars that fit my small budget were total pieces of garbage that would take tons of time and money to bring back to show condition.

By a fluke I came across a 3rd generation Firebird which reminded me of two of the cars I had owned back in the '80s; a pre-owned low-mile 1982 Firebird and then, a brand spanking new 1986 Trans Am I purchased from the Pontiac dealer in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida that same year.

With those fresh memories in mind, I decided to start looking for a 3rd Gen F-body.

I looked at plenty of Camaros and Firebirds, and prices were more than reasonable for cars in very decent condition, but I kept trying to find the "perfect" car for me. And then one day it finally showed up! A Royal Blue 1984 Firebird Trans Am.

The car had over 130,000 miles but, in spite of that, it was all there and—although very dirty—in good overall condition. For 3 grand it was a bargain, at least in my opinion, so I paid the man and took it home with me. I had a plan for this car.

At the time I had no clue that the "plan" would be to spend over $10,000 restoring it, and probably wouldn't have mattered. I wanted to restore this particular car and that was that!

I will skip the long and arduous process of restoring a car in my garage, but if you are interested in seeing all I did to it, I have a pretty decent chronicle of the process on My 1984 Trans Am blog. The blog itself still is a work in progress as I continue to upload photos and text, but it should give you a good general idea of all the work I did on this car. If you are a gearhead who happens to like 3rd Gen Firebirds, of course.

Anyway, after the car was done, I enjoyed the heck of it going to car shows and local cruises, and drove and enjoyed it quite a bit. But then I came across what to me is the Holy Grail of 3rd gen F-bodies: a 1989 Turbo Trans Am. And so I decided to sell my '84 T/A, which I did during last year's Thanksgiving Turkey Rod Run in Daytona Beach. A guy from Norway showed up and fell in love with the car. He made an offer, I counter-offered, and so on, until we agreed on a price.

A few days later he showed up with the cash and took the car in order to get it ready to be shipped to Oslo, Norway.

I captured the moment on video as he drove "my" car out of my driveway, then down my street for the last time. Knowing that the car I spent building for so many hours was going to a new home was bittersweet. The new owner is a nice guy and truly loves the car, which makes me feel good, but every time I watch the video I feel a little sad at seeing that beautiful car leaving my driveway.

We are only custodians of "things" while we are on this planet, and I am OK with that, but the early 3rd generation Firebirds (1982-1984) were the best looking of them all. And sure, when compared to any modern vehicle they were under-powered thanks mainly to the oil crisis and corporate policies. But they are beautiful cars, even by today's standards.

So goodbye, Trans Am. I hope you will have a good life in Norway. And who knows; maybe sometime in the future I will go visit you, and we'll go for a drive one more time.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Video: What If Google Was a Guy?

Must-watch. This is hilarious!

Twitter "Fans!"

I recently opened a new Twitter account. I used to have one that I had established years ago but, since I was using it for my business (which I sold last year), I let it go as part of the deal.

Anyway, decided to open a new one mostly as an experiment of sorts to see how many people would follow me, what interesting people and companies I decided to follow are posting, etc.

So far, after a couple of weeks, I have 92 followers. Nothing special or surprising about that since I really don't care about reaching a particular number. On the other hand, I am following 318 people and companies, out of which only a few have corresponded. Then again, I don't follow anyone hoping that they will follow me back.

What I found interesting is the fact that several of the people following me are either hi-jacked profiles of real people, or created fake ones for the sole purpose of offering Twitter followers for a fee.

I know there are people out there who offer the same "service" to Facebook and Google+  users. I guess it does not look great if your new biz page only has a handful of likes or followers, so you can beef up those numbers by purchasing fans.

I personally think that totally defeats the purpose, especially for businesses that are building a social profile with hopes that it will help them (in the long run) for search engine ranking purposes.


If you have a Facebook page, for example, and you have say 9,500 fans you purchased, then your social interaction with those phony followers will be zero which, I believe, will be a very bad signal to search engines, not to mention potential future organic followers.

But hey, I am not judging or care if people think it's cool to be able to boast about having thousands of followers or fans or whatever you want to call them. If you are willing to spend the money, then you can buy as many as you want.

In the meantime, there's nothing I can do if some of these services follow me. I figure that's part of being a member of these services. 

Well, actually, that's not 100% correct. There is something I can do, and that is not to follow them. Yeah, small victory, but you have to take a stand of sorts.

Again, the purpose of my starting a Twitter page is sort of experimental, and yet another channel that allows me to share my ramblings with whomever wants to read them. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Year, New Blog

I started 2014 by launching a blog for the first book I wrote. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and quite common. But I feel I need a place to discuss subject not only related to my books—yes, I am in the process of finishing a second book—but also about my passion about 3rd generation Firebird Trans Am automobiles and life in general.

So, instead of trying to maintain several web properties, including my Google+ page, a new Twitter page I recently started and two blogs, I decided to make my life easier and condense the two blogs into this one.

This way I can talk about my books, my 1989 Turbo Trans Am, and whatever else comes to mind.

And since this is a work-in-progress, I need to have a cool header for the blog. The problem is right now I am very limited as far as tools that would enable me to create one.

So I will explore and see what some of the freelance artists out there can do for me. I figured this must be an issue that many bloggers and even small businesses face, and I am a firm believer that you must put your best foot forward when it comes to your digital presence, so a cool logo or banner is a must, and to that end I will explain the process of having a freelancer create one for my site.

Who knows, maybe a reader will benefit from this. The reason I thought of this is because a good friend of mine who designs fire sprinkler systems for commercial buildings had no idea that it was possible for someone like him to hire a freelancer. Yes, it may sound like something super basic to some of you, but, the truth of the matter is that we are bombarded with so much information about, well, everything, that it is impossible to be aware of all things that are available out there.

Anyway, I will try to make this blog as entertaining as possible, so stay tuned and hang on!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is any page of a website where visitors arrive (or "land").

This means that every page is as important as the next, and should be treated as such. In other words, if a link from a search engine takes someone to your site and the page where they land is poorly formatted and does not provide the right information the person is looking for, they will—most likely—hit the "back" button on their browser thus returning to the search engine to either click the next link or to search again.

That's referred to as a "bounce," and it is a bad signal to search engines since, in essence, the data they collect tells them that the page they are sending people to does not provide the right information.

If, after studying your analytics program, you are able to ascertain that certain pages have high bounce rates (50% or higher), then you need to study those pages, one by one, and determine what may be causing the problem.

I would start by making sure the title and description META tags have the correct information. The same applies to the keywords META tag, if you use one. Beyond that make sure the contents of the page itself actually have the correct information and that the pictures correspond to the subject matter.

You control the contents of your site 100%. Therefore, you are responsible for insuring visitors get the right information.