Review me

So… Our industry changes constantly… As do the places that we care about for reviews! I forgot about this site and have not been using it. Apparently we now DO care about Dealerrater!!!

I have one review in the last year… It was some folks that I tried really hard to work with, and ultimately refunded their money… But they still ditched on me as the most untrustworthy guy in the universe. I tried. Thats all I can do.

Anyway… Loving and kind words about your experiences with me or Fort’s would be appreciated. If you have a similar field that uses reputation management… Let me know… I’ll send some cyber-love back to you.

Also… Google reviews are always welcome!!!

Eric Stahl

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RIP Tom Petty

I have way too much stuff to be working on without writing a love letter to Tom Petty!  This is a blog post.  Consider this a warning, I dont have a good beginning or ending to this story… Just thoughts about Tom and why I love a few of his albums.

Today news broke that he was found unresponsive and is on life support.  At the time I write this, nobody knows if he is going to make it or if he has already passed.  Rolling Stone and other media outlets were quick to state that he had died, and now nobody is getting a straight answer.  (Don’t get me started on Rolling Stone… Ordered a subscription for Summer and I have been unimpressed with the sheer amount of political rhetoric spewing forth from its now diminutive pages)

Petty caught my attention in the 80’s as one of the first acts to use the music video format as a means to get to the audience.  Lets be realistic… His music is not easily loved by teenagers of my generation.  “You got lucky” was a long form video he put out at the birth of the format… It caught my eye for its Road Warrior vibe.  On his next album, he put out a cool video for “Dont Come Around Here No More” and suddenly, he was a video and pop star.

That last song, co-written by Dave Stewart of the Eurthmics, has NOTHING but some southern pride lyrics to share with its source album “Southern Accents”.  This song was techno and poppy.  Southern Accents had very little on it that was anything like this.  I always thought of that song as a kind of a bait and switch to get me to buy my first Petty album.

It was, and still is, a good album as I have kept it and streamed it over the years.  Its got attitude and was a little redneck rebellious.  Honestly, I didn’t really know how to handle the messages at 13 years old.  There is a lot of southern pride and prejudice laced throughout that album, and I dont think it could be made today.  If you dont know, Petty is a northern Florida guy.  He definitely grew up in Dixie.

The next album he released was a live set from the Southern Accents tour… “Pack up the Plantation” (Again, southern pride front and center).  This album had some cheesy covers and older tunes that I was vaguely familiar with.  I loved it…  Loved hearing his nearly visible grin as he is calling out one half of the audience to “Shout” louder than the other side during “Shout”.  I played this one to death.  I think I wore out the cassette.

Two years later I picked up “Let me up (I’ve had enough)” because I was still digging on his last two albums.  “Jamming me”, the first track released, was filled with witty pop references, and of course, had a cool video.  As usual with his albums… The sale of the pop song gets you in the door.  This album is filled with all kinds of musical styles.  Its really a mishmash of country, waltzes, southern fried rock and Phil Specter sounds that I am entertained and satisfied after any listen. Even 30 years later.  Its nearly timeless, except for the pop tinged opening track.

The link below is for one of my favorite tunes on “Let me up”.  Its a soft, sweet song about a guy who has blown it and is content knowing that his ex is better off now with her new life.   Sad little song, but its timeless.  Making it more timeless: No cheesy syth or electronic drums.  This song will last a long time.

There are a few other songs I could picked off that album.  “Think about me” “How many more days” and “Ain’t Love Strange” are great as well.

I learned to love the Travelling Wilburys album.   I was always a fan of ELO and Jeff Lynn…  So, I dug hearing new stuff by him.  The George Harrison and Roy Orbison songs were more learning for my ears.  (I just watched the Harrison Documentary this past weekend on Netflix which had Petty being interviewed about Harrison)  The songs with Bob Dylan?… Not so much love for those tracks!

My last Tom Petty Album was his monstrously successful “Full Moon Fever”.  I think every song on that album became a hit.  Unreal when you think about it.  Jeff Lynn, who produced it, and Tom must have found a magic formula when they recorded and produced this album.

Probably one of the reason’s liked the guy and could get past his nasely whine tone, was his every-man persona.  I love seeing (What appears to be) a normal guy have success.  He’s not contrived, polished and pushed down your throat by the record companies… He’s just a guy who has a solid set of skills and can write a great song.  Good on him.

BTW… The three hour documentary about Petty and Heartbreakers is solid.  I highly recommend it.

RIP Tom if it doesn’t go well tonight.

Posted in Music | Tagged | Leave a comment

Red Mist passes it first test

The 1990 Celica GT lived up to its destiny this past weekend by making it through the local Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) event held at the Pekin Airport… Yes, they have an airport!

Red Mist, as the car is now affectionately called…  Grabbed better and better times all through the day.  That was good…  I was learning and getting better with each race against the clock.  This video below is one of the first runs.

You can see that the lines I picked were not very sharp, and I gave the cones a lot of room!  That improves with the next video… My last run of the day.

All in all… Fun day.

I had hoped that Summer would be there for this, I think she would have gotten a lot out of it… But, she had Cross Country and her team needs her! Next time???

Follow the nonsense on Facebook:

Posted in Video | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Chris Moyles show and two minutes of fame

So, this happened today…  We posted a video begging for a bumper sticker from the Chris Moyles show that broadcasts from London on Radio X…

He shared the video and it has 60K views on Facebook and 50K on Twitter.  Wow!

And yes… We are getting a bumper sticker!

The Twitter video that started it:

The full dissection of our video is here in this audio file:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

American Vandal

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tazewell County Libertarian Central Committe

I have been busy in Peoria working with the Libertarian Party of Greater Peoria over the past year. A few of us on this side of the river are ready to continue the experiment to Tazewell County.

I am an official councilman for Tremont Precinct 3. I know it sounds really official, but its more like a place-marker. Its lets the county know we have people representing the party in our area. We are not going away.

If you have any interest in local politics and want to be part of making a change… Please follow my page. (No commitment necessary!!!!)

Let the games begin!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse Coverage 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Illinois Taxes

I should probably specify and say Mackinaw/Tremont taxes when I title this post.  I get updates all the time from Zillow… I would be best served to delete this ap… I waste time looking at houses, knowing I’m not moving anywhere for five years at least.

Anyway… I am seeing a trend and it’s scaring the hell out of me. Look at the tax increases on these properties… 2015 is a slight bump. 2016 is a huge bump. What’s going to happen when the numbers show up from 2017? Big bucks! This is happening on improved properties and vacant lots.

How can we sustain these increases? Is everyone else getting an extra couple grand pay increase?

I said it was a mistake to vote for more loans for the DeeMack school… No matter how you reorganize the debt… High taxes like these will drive people out. This is not even taking big employers into consideration. What if Cat or State Farm moves a 1000 jobs? Will that football field and track be enough to keep people happy with the debt load?

We shall see what happens. But I can say this… At this rate of increase, I may balk on the first statement about living here. We might not make five years!

Btw… Ours went up 22% last year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Instagram and Snappy Chatty

Well… I have done it. Broken through to more social media nonsense. Instagram and Snapchat to be specific. God help me!

Instagram: Planetstahl, TheBeerReport, fortstoyota
Snap Chat: thebeerreport

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rose Garden Hill Breakdown – The Recovery

Continued from Rose Garden Hill Breakdown Post.

We were happy to get back to camp after the “trail repair” on Rose Garden Hill.  It had been a long hot day and we were looking forward to grabbing showers before hitting the campground. The word “campground” would paint a mental picture of campers, tents, and facilities for dining and showering.  Our campground was not so luxurious…  It was a few gravel slots backed up the Colorado river, about 5 miles out of Moab.  This camping is super cheap (5 bucks a day), but it’s also super thin on amenities.  Bathrooms (Fancy holes in the ground) are included…  Showers are not a feature that come with this price.  

Our original plan was to stop at the KOA and pay five bucks for a shower.  But they closed before we got back to town.  Showers were out.

We got back to our sparse campsite.  I washed off as much bearing grease as I could from my 5 gallon portable water tank…  Took a camp shower from there (Don’t know what a camp shower is?  Just ask sometime, I’d rather not describe it here).

End of the day… This hit the spot

Jake and I talked it over a very refreshing and cold beer.  Obviously, we were not going to be doing any more wheeling the next day with his FJ in its current state.  Our priority as a vacation was to get Jake’s truck up and repaired so we could finish out the trip.  

The nearest Toyota Dealer from Moab is Western Slope Toyota in Grand Junction.  Now, you might be saying “Why go to a Toyota Dealer?”.  First off…  I’m partial to my profession.  I trust our techs more than anyone on a newer FJ like this.  Secondly, Jake’s FJ is a 2014 with roughly 25,000 miles.  Our first hope was that this upper ball joint failure would be warrantable.  In order to make this a clean process…  Going to the dealer first was our best bet.  Was this warrantable?  In my opinion… Yes.  We were off road… No question.  Were we baja blasting and damaging the truck by being reckless?  No.  When the ball joint came loose…  We were crawling and and creeping up the hill and that joint should not have popped out.  

Rigged ball joint.

The drive from Moab to Grand Junction is about 120 miles.  I can tell you with complete certainty that it feels 5 times that long when you are watching the road for bumps and stopping to adjust ratchet straps.  The straps did loosen over the drive.  Those extra straps and frequent stops were completely necessary!

We rolled into Western Slope Toyota in Grand Junction about 10AM.  The Service Advisors were super friendly and said that we were gonna be OK on the warranty repair and they would move it up to the front of the line.  There were a couple problems with our repair though…  Grand Junction Colorado gets their parts from a Toyota parts depot in Dallas Texas.  It would be a few days before that Upper Control Arm (UCA) would be ready and installed.  Then…  Their alignment shop would need to be scheduled.  Holy smokes…  We were days out for a warranty repair!  

Western Slope Waiting room… Buckets in the service drive.

There was an alternative…  Order UCA’s on Amazon Prime using overnight shipping.  The guys at Western Slope were open to this.  This would remove Toyota from paying for a warranty repair, but we would be on the trail in another day.  Western Slope said they could do the work the next afternoon, but were not sure if there was enough time to do the alignment that same day.  We ordered Total Chaos UCA’s from Amazon with the expectation of having the fine guys at Western Slope do the work.  

Social Media is a wonderful thing.  Jake had put out a message on the FJ Summit forums on Facebook about his breakdown and wanting to know if anyone had UCA’s handy.  That didn’t pan out… But we did get a message from Keith and “Keiths Garage” in Grand Junction. Keith offered to get the FJ done as soon at the UCA’s arrived and to get it to his alignment guys ASAP when he was done.  Keith had a long history of working on Toyota 4×4’s in this part of Colorado and was well spoken about of by the locals.  This was a no-brainer.  

Keith’s Garage to the rescue.

This night…  We found a nice Best Western on the Northeast side of Grand Junction.  We had one criteria… An outdoor pool.  This hotel had one indoor and one outdoor.  It was a perfect situation for this dusty crew!  

After a dip in the pool…  Everyone got cleaned up and we headed to downtown Grand Junction.  If you have not been there…  Its worth stopping by.  Lots of cool shops and a nice brewpub kept us entertained and well fed for the night.

The next day…  The UCA’s showed up at Toyota at 10AM.  The guys at Western Slope Toyota were cool with our change of plans. They were completely backed up with work and they were really shoehorning us in to get the FJ fixed that quickly.  It was a relief to not force our truck into their schedule.  We ran to Keith’s shop where he was waiting with open arms…  By 4PM the truck was aligned and back on the road.  Keith and all the kind folks in Grand Junction saved the trip!  

The “magic” photo spot!

Now it was off to FJ Summit X.

After we were all in Ouray…  We had dinner at Buen Tiempo.  “Buen” seems to be our annual dinner stop when we are at Summit.  We had our dollar bill planted on their towering two story roof (If you don’t know how they do it…  Give the waiter a buck and watch).  When we were heading out, we ran into Woody and Heather Swearengen.  The owner of chatted with us about his imported Landcruiser.  I was schooled on the different models numbers for RHD, LHD, Petrol and Diesel models.  (because, someday I will have one!)  Woody and his wife are great folks and I always recommend signing up for Ih8mud for Toyota 4×4 fans of any skill level.  

Thursday morning we had a plan to hit the top most pass at FJ Summit.  Imogene pass is a rough trail road that runs 17 miles between Ouray and Telluride.  At its topmost peak, it tops out at 13,100 ft.  This is not like Pikes Peak or Mt Evans… You are crossing streams, climbing steep inclines, pinstriping your truck and grinding up your off-road tires on sharp rocks.  

The climb through the mountains was a striking contrast to camping in Moab just days before.  The weather was slightly cool with an air of dampness.  Everything was green!  Even the upper elevations above the treeline the small amounts of green were a glowing vision of life versus the overwhelming brown tones of eastern Utah.  When we reached the top of Imogene pass, it was crowded with Toyota trucks that were trailing with groups from FJ Summit.   We waited for about 30 minutes before we could pull off this picture of our trucks at with the sign.  It was cold at the top… But again…  After sweating and being wrung out in Moab…  It was a welcome change of season.  I told everyone to suck it up.  The temps back in Illinois were around 100 and these 50 degree winds would be forgotten as soon as we hit Kansas on the way home.

Top of Imogene

After hitting Telluride we had to call it over for the Stahl’s.  My family had to get back to Illinois to get my daughter to camp on Saturday.  Our layover in Grand Junction had cost us a day on the trails in Colorado and this was last hurrah.

Jacob and family spent another few days in the area before heading back.  His exploration led him to Bangs Canyon in Grand Junction.  Which, judging by the pictures and his reviews… Is a great place to run around in for a day.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment