Commentary: My Own 10-Year Challenge

2009 Volvo S60 1
Photo by Randy Stern

Did you have fun doing the 10-year challenge on social media?

I did. I stretched the rules a bit. This was really taking off when I was doing the La Crosse Day Trip Challenge. Since I was in a mocking mood, I decide to throw people off by putting up the first vehicle I officially reviewed – the 2011 Lexus IS 250C – with #VOTY18 – the 2018 Lexus LC 500h. It was an eight-year difference, but it illustrated a point. A point that has since been repeated since many times over.

It seems interesting that the 10-year challenge had been introduced at an opportune time of the year. Does it give us a chance to look back at ourselves as we progressed in and, maybe, around 10 years of our lives?

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The Speculator’s 2019 Version of The Crystal Ball Method of Prediction

Mark Reuss
General Motors President Mark Reuss…more about him later. – All Photos by Randy Stern

Can’t kick a good idea, but we cringe on the bad ones!

How many rumors have you heard that make you wonder the overall intelligence of humanity? How many of those rumors do you think that you can come up with something better?

The Speculator column is one that answers those questions. Or, rather, address then, put them through the spin cycle, and see what path they could lead us.

Of course, they will also yield questions. Questions that are related to the industry’s health, a company’s fitness, and products that could engage customers.

Let me fire up The Speculator’s crystal ball and see if we can get some answers to these questions.

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Detroit 2019: A Bit of Warmth Inside Cobo for One Last Winter

2020 Toyota GR Supra – Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor North America

Forget about Emotional Support Musical Instruments, airports understaffed due to the government shutdown, trains, and Wisconsin…can we talk about automobiles, again?

We can. The North American International Auto Show opened for its final January at Cobo Hall in Detroit. We will the final vestiges of a cold auto show on the shores of the Detroit River, before it goes into its scheduling conflict with Motor City Pride over the use of Hart Plaza.

However, there are still several debuts that should be discussed here. Because, in the end, it’s all about product.

Let’s talk about what made the headlines at this year’s NAIAS…aside from the water main break affecting Cobo Center and downtown Detroit.

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Travelogue: The 2019 Day Trip Challenge – The Winter Edition

La Crosse Day Trip Challenge
All Photos by Randy Stern

Early Saturday morning. It’s dark outside. Even as we past the Winter Equinox last month with the promise of longer daytime hours, I still end up fumbling in the dark.

A good night’s sleep at a downtown Minneapolis hotel helped. I felt a spring in my step. There’s no ice to slip on. Just concrete in the dark, and an almost quiet light rail station. The Green Line to Union Depot…that’s a different story.

This was the start of my latest Day Trip Challenge. This Winter Edition yielded a day’s worth of adventure. I was looking forward to it with some trepidation.

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My Favorite Non-Business Trips of All Time

Fox Theatre
All Photos by Randy Stern

You probably guess that this is yet another travel-related piece…

Well, the theme of this month in V&R has been travel. You probably found that a lot of this month’s content is centered on this subject through this month’s historiography and a few other related topics.

After all, the automobile is related to the way we travel. It certainly changed the way our country has been traversed by tourists for the past 80 or so years.

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MSP: The Home Airport Advantage

A New Viewpoint at MSP
All Photos by Randy Stern

How do you feel about your home airport?

It is a place that should be very familiar to you. You know how to get there, you know when to check in to which airport at the terminal you need to be in. You know how the security lines run. You are also reminded of the local flavors you enjoy outside the airport. That is, if they appear inside the terminal.

It is also the place that reminds when you arrive that you are almost home. The familiar lights of the city, combined with familiar landscapes, become clearer when your flight is about to land.

When I travel by air, my home airport serves as a reminder of the work that needs to be accomplished by the time I board my flight to when I land back there again.

Let me tell you about my home airport – Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

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Historiography: Riding The Rails

All Photos by Randy Stern

“There’s something about a train that’s magic.”

This was the first line from a jingle that encouraged travelers to ride the rails on Amtrak – the passenger rail service that traverses the USA. Amtrak had its ups and downs since its formation in 1971 as a national semi-public sector organization consolidating the many companies that provided these same services for well over a century prior. It remains the largest rail passenger service in the country running on 21,400 miles of track to each of their 500 destinations. In 2017, Amtrak carried 31.7 million passengers on its network.

Before 1971, passengers had to ride on privately-run railroads to get from city to city in this country. Rail was extremely popular from its inception in the 19th Century well into World War I. To transfer from one railroad to another, they had to go to different depots in a single city, or head to a single station where these lines all met as a hub.

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Commentary: Traveling With Your Emotional Support [Fill in the Blank]

Photo by Randy Stern

You have a what? And, you’re taking that on the plane?!?

What prompted those questions was my last trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I was picking up my roommate from her flight from San Francisco. In the baggage claim area, I noticed a lot of parents and other loved ones waiting patiently for their passengers to come home for the holidays. It must have been the last day of finals at any given institute of higher education or the last work day before the holiday break.

While I witnessed scenes of families reuniting with each other, I noticed a lot of dogs roaming baggage claim. Neither of them belonged to the Transportation Security Agency.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t a few of the “legacy carriers” – major airlines in the USA – announced that they would ban “emotional support animals” on their flights? At least, Delta Air Lines announced they would not let such animals to fly inside the cabin on long haul flights.

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Welcome to 2019

Photo by Randy Stern

Welcome to 2019!

We hope you made it through the New Year unscathed. Our headquarters had its share of strange weather through the holidays. We had snow, then rain, more snow, icy conditions, a brief warmup, then more snow, and culminating in near-to-sub-zero temperatures.

That’s what you get for living and working in Minnesota.

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Commentary: Good-Bye 2018!

2018 Lexus LC 500
Photo by Randy Stern

The end of the year.

How do you quantify that fact? Simple. You look back, celebrate the highlights, bless the low moments, and look forward to the new year.

Certainly, V&R had some highlights. We had some successful turns with various vehicles and was happy to present them to you. We did some travel, a couple of auto shows, a couple of media opportunities, and some adventures along the way. We also made our presence our in the car community – locally within the Twin Cities and a bit beyond.

We covered and made commentary on various issues and topics along the way. We memorialized some of the greatest figures in the automotive world. And, we’re just scratching the surface here.

And, we are about to award another #VOTY. That was quite the award season in itself!

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