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It was about 15 years ago when I came to realize the absolute power that contrast has over perception, and I have never forgotten the lesson since. I was in Las Vegas for the CES show (isn't that a bit redundant, the Consumer Electronics Show show? It's kind of like VIN number). I was sitting in one of the less-traveled upstairs hallways, waiting for my friends to finish the MECP test. In the 15 minutes that I spent sitting there only a small number of people walked by, one of them being an extremely attractive woman in a dress that must have belonged to her much smaller younger sister. Being that she was the only person of above-average looks who I had seen down that hall, my initial perception of her was one of beauty.

A short while later as we were walking around the convention, we stumbled across something that I hadn't heard of before, the Adult Entertainment Expo (most commonly referred to as the Porn Convention). Apparently the two shows shared the convention center as well as the passes to get in. Our overwhelming curiosity forced us to venture to the other side of the white curtain and see what all this hoopla was about, and I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed-porn stars are not all that attractive in person. The point of this lengthy lead-in is that I saw the lady from the hallway in the porn convention and my perception of her had changed dramatically. In contrast to all the other scantily clad women at the show, her beauty was mediocre at best-it was more like gross, actually.

Over the years, I have described this lesson to people whenever they would say "girls didn't look like that when I was in high school." But recently it has occurred to me that this fits several situations in the custom-suspension arena, as well. For example, the folks who think their two-link rear suspension drives fantastic could benefit from experiencing the contrast between their beloved two-link and a properly designed four-link. The guys who feel driving a 'bagged truck with no shocks rides fine can also use a touch of contrast.

But I think, most notably, my hot-girl scenario is a good example of how a newcomer trying to find a shop to do quality work can be more than confusing. Hell, I was sucked in by contrast's powerful hold and I knew what an attractive woman looked like, and by that you can certainly see how someone who doesn't know what quality work should look like could be easily impressed by less-than-stellar fabrication. The sight of a 'bagged and body-dropped truck sitting in front of a shop would be perceived as angelic, regardless of what the shop's fabrication work looked like. Even if they looked at the work that the shop was turning out, any type of custom fabrication is going to look phenomenal to a beginner without any knowledge of what quality work should look like. This misrepresentation of perception that contrast has been dealing us has to be stopped! I am writing a letter to my congressman first thing in the morning and I urge you all to do the same. You can send your letters to