September 2003


I can’t believe I’ve become such a vehicle technology nut, but I have. How many other people do you know who have two electric vehicles?

Here’s the latest development. Sarah is the woman at USAA who manages all my affairs; Becky is my sister; today really is her birthday; but no, I didn’t plan this ahead but just acted on inspiration.) Becky got back to me immediately, and since she enjoyed it so much, I thought I’d pass it along.

—– Original Message —–

From: Louis Bryan

To: Sarah Reinbach

Cc: Becky

Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 11:26 AM

Subject: money




Please don’t take this as an indicator of increased dementia, but I’m gonna buy a new car.

Yes, we all know that with significant guilt I went out last year and bought a Prius when my old car was only nine years old and had lots of life left.

Well, I’ve been looking at the web site for the 2004 Prius, and the technological advances are so enormous that I’ve just gotta upgrade.

Besides, I tell myself, the trade-in value for my 2002 ought to be high since the demand for the Prius is so great in the Bay Area. Furthermore, even though the 2002 is certainly the most entertaining automobile I’ve ever owned, it has three flaws.

First, it’s a struggle to get the Segway into the thing. It won’t fit into the trunk because the opening is too small, and getting it into the back seat is a serious hassle. The 2004 has a hatch back, which will simplify using the Segway when I’m out of the city.

Second, its high speed handling leaves a great deal to be desired. It feels quite unstable over 75 or so, not that I routinely go that fast, but even at legal highway speeds I don’t feel like I have as much margin as I’d like. The 2004 specifically addresses this issue.

Third, and most importantly, it’s the wrong color. At the dealer’s I’d told the salesman, “I’ll take that gray one there.” Even though to persons who are not a little color blind the vehicle appears a lovely lavender, the salesman was clever enough to know that the customer is always right.

A last word about the new Prius: One of the hot new features is a little module thing that you can have in your pocket and when you get close, the car senses your presence and unlocks the driver’s door for you and turns its ignition on so that you don’t need anything so vulgar as a key and can just reach out and touch the Start button to activate the propulsion system. The gasoline engine would of course not start yet since it’s now trained not to come on until after you’ve reached a certain speed and actually need it.

I’m thinking that that little module thing could be pried open and the teeny chip taken out and then, after a quick visit to my veterinarian, yipe!, I’d never have to worry about misplacing my car keys again.

The only problem with this plan is that I don’t seem to have enough money on hand. So could you celebrate Becky’s birthday by taking 20K out of her inheritance and putting it in my checking account?


Happy Birthday, Becky.


Many thanks, Sarah.



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