Every November for the past nine years I've been privileged to be a part of the Craftsman Tool Seminar that comes to Southern California. The Craftsman Tool Seminar is a chance to see what new tools are joining the extensive Craftsman line. It's also an opportunity to exchange ideas with the experienced guys who engineer and test each and every tool before any item makes it into Sears and other hardware stores. The fact that we're treated to a few free samples adds immensely to the fun of attending.
Several seminars past, we were introduced to the latest version of a precision box-end wrench that actually ratchets to tighten or loosen. This is a very cool tool, and even though it's not a new concept, the quality is superior to any others in my toolbox. It's by far the preferred tool for loosening and tightening nuts and bolts. If you don't have one, be sure to not-so-subtly hint about this to friends and family as an item for your next birthday or holiday gift.
This year the clever engineers added a special socket to fit into this ratcheting box end wrench-so if someone has borrowed your socket wrench, you can simply slip this new socket into your box-end wrench and carry on. It may seem a bit redundant, but what the heck, you never have enough tools.
Something else I thought was very cool. Several months ago (as you're reading this), Ford Motor Company introduced the new '05 Mustang with a clever television commercial starring a technically edited version of the late Steve McQueen in an automotive field of dreams. As the proud owner of the movie Bulluit that stars Mr. McQueen, I was grinning like a kid seeing Santa Claus when the spot aired. My wife noticed and remarked that I must regard Steve McQueen as a pretty cool guy. Yes, my friends, he was as unique and charismatic as they come. Plenty of us young bucks wanted to copy his loner style, but none of us have ever made the lofty grade.
Another thing that struck me as too cool for words was an article in the Nov./Dec. '04 issue of Motor Trend's Truck Trends written by Mark Williams and illustrated by Mark Stehrenberger entitled "Future Designs: The Europeans Are Leaning Toward Pickups." The four illustrations anticipate what Mercedes Benz and BMW might create for the sport-utility truck market in the not-too-distant future. These light-truck concepts are obviously technologically evolved and can be described as modern Crew Cab El Caminos or Rancheros but with decidedly tighter European styling and detail.
I realize these light-duty trucks might be a remote future cargo-carrying product, but as a former exterior body designer, I think the possibilities are tremendously exciting for a versatile vehicle that can carry four or five passengers in comfort and a V-8 engine block or an Italian leather armchair in the bed also. If European or American automakers follow Mark Stehrenberger's design lead, they'll be visually exciting, as well.
Yes, the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series was another very cool 2004 event. I was in awe at the team's comeback against the formidable New York Yankees. I agree with their fans, the curse of the Bambino is finally over. Anyone else think that Johnny Damon was a remarkably thoughtful and charismatic spokesman for his team?
Speaking of sports, I have to say in light of recent professional athletes' behaviors, that the NCAA basketball tournament is another of my favorite things and a cool way for college athletes to earn an undisputed National Championship. I look forward to March Madness every year hoping the Arizona Wildcats can get another one for Lute Olsen before he retires. With the parity of the top 10 or 15 teams, there should be plenty of hopeful anticipation for fans of the best college basketball programs in this country.
Everyone at CCT hopes you (our loyal readers) had a safe, joyous and cool holiday season. Now onto the best year ever...Happy 2005!