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Off-Road Rant - Editorial - February 2009

Posted in Features on February 1, 2009
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It's been exactly a year since I took over this mag, and I feel about 5 years older. And because my computer recently managed to dump a ton of my files, documents, and images I had put together for the next 2 years (including editorial ideas), I figured I'd Rant about the condition of OFF-ROAD Magazine, its staff, and the way things are.

This is the 13th issue since we've taken a new direction, and I think we've really been hitting our niche. There have been a few random things you've seen and will continue to see, but we've stuck by our guns and resisted showing you hardcore trail riding and Jeep articles that you can find in every other off-road magazine on the planet. We're covering daily-driven, fullsize and go-fast vehicles here, folks. Don't like it? Well, then I can refer you to four other excellent off-road magazines that our big mother company owns and that I'm sure will suit you well.

Work has gotten harder than ever around here, as I'm sure it has with your job, too. Everyone is making cutbacks, and consumers aren't spending near the money they used to. The country is in an "economic downturn" (not my words - I read 'em somewhere) that feels more like a "Holy crap, we're screwed unless we're rich" situation and the government is using tax dollars to bail out a bunch of bankers! Now I know there is much more to it than that and that "the world's economies are relying on our banks being bailed out." In fact, many of the smaller banks would eventually close after widespread banking panic ensued, and many hardworking people would lose their entire savings because the FDIC would run out of money before everyone was taken care of. But to me (the little guy on the financial totem pole), it's hard to see this as anything but a governmental insurance policy to make sure some super-rich guys don't lose their asses. Yeah, yeah, it's ignorant of me to look at it like that, right? Well, it's hard not to. I still have my credit card bill, my mortgage wasn't reduced at all, my salary is still lame, but my taxes are going to go up. So how am I supposed to look at this?! Should I be happy and accept that the American taxpayer now has to pay for someone else's greed?

Personally, I'd feel a lot better about this whole government bailout situation if we had a bunch of criminal charges mixed into the news coverage. What is going to happen to these guys who put us in this situation in the first place? After all, most of it was done through legal loopholes. And what type of punishment is suitable for the level of greed that these guys were working on? You get multiple years in prison for killing someone or robbing a bank, but what is the punishment for affecting millions of people's lives? Will these guilty ones even see a day of jail time?

I'm sure guys with a lot more financial savvy than me will figure it all out and make sure these guys get a limp-wristed slap....

And all awhile I find it curious that this type of thing even bothers me so much. I never used to worry about the economic status of our country. But my publisher and I both turned 31 recently, and I am now feeling this looming sense of responsibility to grow up and worry myself to death.

We've even come up with a theory we'll call the "Dirty 30." It's a state of mental conditioning that you do not understand or comprehend until you've turned 31. If you're already past 30, then you know what we're talking about, but for those of you 30 or younger, you have something to look forward to. You see, 30 is a great age. You dread the impending doom of 30 when you are in your 20s, but once you hit 30 you say, "This ain't so bad! I am just out of my 20s - only 30, baby!" You go through a whole year of thinking you'll be fine with this whole aging thing. But then you hit 31, and 31 hits back: all of sudden, you are no longer "just out of your 20s." You are now into your 30s. People expect you to have knocked off that '"Kid stuff" by then, and to acknowledge that life is hard work, not fun for all. For both my publisher and myself, it seemed like just overnight we felt older when 31 came knocking; like we had to grow up, start watching our health, care about saving money, plan future investments, and think about the world outside of our bubbles. I've already sprung an ulcer this year, and I think my publisher might be rotting from the inside out due to years of hard living.

Man, how are you old-timers even still alive?! I'll be happy to hit 35 at this rate.... I know that a bunch of my elders are laughing at this right now, thinking to themselves how funny it will be in a decade when we hit 41. But I have to hand it to anyone older than us; it is quite an accomplishment to reach your 30s, 40s, and especially your 50s (or beyond!). Every year, there will be less and less of the people we grew up with on this earth, and yet many of us survive, stay alive, and even become successful in the process. What a feat!

Well, I'm going to stay alive and live the way I want for as long as I can, but I can definitely see some changes on the horizon. I'm not getting any smarter (or younger), but I am appreciating the knowledge and experience I'm gaining as my body wears out, and I have to say that the lack of spryness is well worth the trade for wisdom. And I have a whole decade to wait until I'm 41 ... though it feels like I was 21 just yesterday. Uh oh....

This Month....
This month, we delved into some air intakes and exhausts. Allowing air to enter and exit your engine more easily will boost your engine's efficiency. And as we all know from the countless magazine articles, better engine efficiency gives you increased power, better fuel economy, and lowered emissions.

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