Tuesday September 28, 2010
Trip Report: We have completed a wonderful 12-day driving trip to Northern California, putting over 2,000 miles on our Lexus. There were spectacular sights to see and we returned home with lots of great memories - visual, culinary, machinery-related and historic.
Photos: I have posted images online, grouping them into six different categories:
1. California Wine County: Napa and Sonoma area pix can be found here.
2. California Railroad Museum (Sacramento, CA): A page of train photos (big trains and little ones) can be found here.
3. California Auto Museum (Sacramento, CA): Formerly, the Towe Ford Auto Museum, new owners have expanded the horizons of old car collecting beyond FoMoCo offerings. A selection of pix are posted here.
4. The Blackhawk Museum (Danville, CA) has eighty-plus spectacular automobiles on display. 'Spectacular' doesn't adequately describe the awesome metal displayed within.
In quality of vehicular machinery, this place rivals the impressive Nethercutt Museum.
I have posted two pages of Blackhawk photos, starting here.
Be sure to check out the Blackhawk's Maharajah Daimler with a cobra snake bulb horn mounted on each fender.
There is also a picture of the famous Hispano-Suiza with the wood body.
Equally impressive is the low slung, multi-colored Ruxton. I have also posted a photo array of the fantastic Alfa BAT cars.
5. Yosemite National Park photos can be seen here. The park has many beautiful spots; Teddy Roosevelt was right to deem it worthy of federal protection.
The park attractions - tours, gift shops and hotels are supposed to be overseen by the National Park Service. But the bureaucrats 'design' the tours and set low standards for everything else. Then they job out operations management to the lowest bidder - in this case Delaware North Companies.
After experiencing the joys of Glacier National Park last year - where everything was done with aplomb, we were appalled by the conditions/treatment at Yosemite. The hotels were drab and dumpy - including the $500+ per night Ahwahnee - supposedly the Park's jewel property. The gift shops offered cheesy and poorly-made crap.
Manny, our bus driver, was a jerk and a bore. The tour was supposed to be eight hours but Manny made many useless stops, extending our suffering to 9+ hours. While driving from place to place, he 'entertained' us with sexist comments, banal chatter mixed with ecological sermons more sanctimonious than a Prius Club Meet. He repeated the same tiresome facts over and over again. It was a very unprofessional performance.
Luckily, we stayed outside the park - in Buck Meadows. I liked the name; it sounded like a 1930s movie cowboy. Our hotel accommodations were a little rustic but clean and pleasant. We even had dinner at the Buck Meadows Restaurant, a roadhouse with torn vinyl booth seats but surprisingly good homemade food. The lasagna was decent and the chicken noodle soup was the best I've had in years. (Although, I only have chicken noodle soup once a year or so.)
6. Other Northern California Experiences, including the world's largest yo-yo and jelly bean-shaped pizza can be viewed here.
Driving: The Lexus was, as usual, a wonderful tour car. It was comfortable, surefooted and nimble. On Highway 99 north of Stockton, a giant eight-foot Black Mamba snake appeared in front of me. Even though I was traveling at about 73 mph in the passing lane, I snapped the wheel sharply to the left, avoiding a collision.
At this speed, other cars I've owned would have probably skidded into the center barrier but the Lexus never missed a beat. The stability control and a couple of guardian angels swung us back to safety in a smooth, seamless manner.
The 'snake' turned out to be a massive strip of truck retread which another tractor-trailer had hit, sending it into the air.
I averaged just under 24 miles to the gallon on our extended trip.
Car Sightings: On Oregon's I-5 near Grants Pass, I spotted a maroon slammed '49 or '50 Ford woodie followed by a green '47 or '48 Ford wood-bodied station wagon with custom rims. Both were wearing SloPoks badges (a Vancouver WA hot rod club).
Saw a trailer full of Smart cars on I-5 near Medford, OR. It looked like an big enclosed horse trailer but the colorful graphics on the side showed a bevy of Smarts stuffed inside. Spotted an electric Tesla roadster winding around the hills near Sonoma.
A Bentley Flying Spur was parked in the Napa Valley Wine Train parking lot during our train ride. Must have been a fellow traveler. The roads of Napa and Sonoma were filled with mega-stretch Lincoln Town Car limos - mostly white or black ones - for wine tasters who plan on getting seriously tipsy whilst sampling the wares at various wineries. I've heard that wineries hate the limos because they bring obnoxious drunks who never buy anything.
There were lots of expensive cars on the streets of tony Danville, CA including a red (of course) Ferrari Modena.
On the way home, I saw a bunch of older street rods head toward Corvallis OR on Highway 34. Spotted a 1940 Ford panel van headed south on Interstate 5 near Donald OR.
I caught a glimpse a red '60s-era pagoda-roofed Mercedes SL near Wilsonville. Around West Linn OR, I saw a black 1956 Thunderbird with the top down and sporting a naked Continental kit.
Dining: We found several interesting eating places on this trip:
Allegra; Napa, CA: Located in an old bank building downtown, there is a very ample selection of wines and decent food. Although it's highly rated, the restaurant is pleasant but nothing to rave about. Busy and noisy, too. Meh. (permalink)
Celadon; Napa, CA: Located near Napa's riverwalk, this establishment offers good drinks, well-prepared food and a nice atmosphere. (permalink)
Cucina Biazzi; Ashland OR: Outstanding Italian cuisine in a hard-to-find restored 1884 private home. Drive up the driveway and you'll find ample parking and patio dining at the rear of the dwelling. The house is charming, the Chianti Classico is exquisite and the Ravioli Bolognaise is exceptional. Highly recommended. (permalink)
The Firehouse; Sacramento, CA: This fixture of Old Town Sacramento offers turn-of-the-century elegance, well prepared food plus an excellent and extensive wine list. Every California governor since time immemorial has dined here. You should too. (permalink)
Giuseppe's Pasta & Grill; San Ramon, CA: Awesomely delicious food combined with excellent service at surprisingly modest prices. For wine, try the Stella Red from Rutherford, CA. It's made by the restaurant owner's cousin and was delightful. (permalink)
Rosso; Santa Rosa, CA: The unpretentious strip mall location belies the delights which await inside. Try the Goomba (a spaghetti and meatball pizza - sounds awful; tastes great) along with one of the many excellent wine offerings. Rosso is also a wine bar and wine store. (permalink)
Grape Expectations: The Napa Valley Wine Train offered exceptional food, service and ambiance. Best train tour we've ever taken. The Vista Dome package is pricey but worth every cent.
The Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, CA was awesome ... and it's still under construction. The place should be spectacular when complete.
The Robert Mondavi Winery was just as good and professionally run as it was when we visited 28 years ago.
Random Observations: Who says travel doesn't broaden the mind?
• McDonald's has the best fries. Burger King has the most flies. I finally tried the Carl's Jr. cheesesteak burger - a cheesesteak piled on top of a hamburger. It sounded better than it tasted.
• On the narrow, winding roads in Yosemite National Park, I watched as a Ford CUV - driven by a clueless idiot - almost spun off the road and went over a cliff. Maybe that's why they call it the Ford Edge.
• I wore my Miracle Hat during our trip, contributing more photos to the hat album.
• In Chico CA, I watched a fat, blind, female bicyclist blow through a red light at speed, driving one-handed while holding her white blind stick with the other.
Bet she won't live long enough to collect Social Security. We nicknamed her Ms. Magoo.
• We made an overnight stop in Yreka, CA. This town has been in decline since they closed the gold mines in 1886 or thereabouts. In 1941, it tried to secede from California to be part of the new state of Jefferson.
We selected the top-rated restaurant for dinner (number 1 out of nine establishments, according to TripAdvisor.com). At the Purple Plum, we were greeted by a Business For Sale ad at the counter: "Price reduced to $135,000."
The food was indifferent and they ran out of two kinds of house wine during our brief visit. I guess they're reducing inventory along with the selling price.
My wife summed it up, "If this is number one, I'd hate to be eating at number nine."
• The Foam Man in Corvallis fabricates the best pillows. I stopped there on the way home and got a replacement for the custom neck pillow he made for me some 23 years ago. Nice guy, too.
• Most of our trip was sun-filled, but the bright sun disappeared - replaced by dense fog as soon as we hit Sunny Valley, just north of Grants Pass, OR.
Oh Irony, thy name is Sunny Valley.
Actually, Sunny Valli is Frankie Valli's older sister. I pointed out that she's a big girl but she doesn't cry. My wife added that Sunny probably "walks like a man."
All in all, this was 12 days well spent. (permalink)
Monday September 13, 2010
Summer's Almost Gone: After several days of cloudy and rainy weather, the sun came out on Saturday morning, so I fired up the '39 Plymouth and went for a nice drive.
Even at 11:00 am, it was only 54 degrees and the leaves are starting to turn.
But the skies were blue; the air was crisp and clear and the car ran like a top.
Rolling Art: Any phrase book which lists "they don't make 'em like they used to," should have a photo of the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. It is difficult to find such sensuous lines in any of today's vehicles, although the Ferrari 458 Italia comes close.
I've stopped using the word 'classic' in describing older cars because it has been so badly misapplied.
I Guess They Know Their Market: The local alternative paper, which I read whilst waiting for a pizza steak at Philly Bilmos, carried an ad for the Vancouver Harley-Davidson dealer.
The headline promised a new Harley for a cost of "about six bucks a day." It then noted that the cost was "cheaper than your smokes, a six-pack, a bar tab, another tattoo, a parking ticket, a gas station burrito, cheap sunglasses, bail, more black t-shirts or a lip ring."
Transit Fascists: The PATCO Speedline is an elevated/subway train which runs between downtown Philadelphia and Camden County, New Jersey. Opened in 1969, it was once the pride of modern mass transit. I was a regular rider in the 1970s, when I commuted from Jersey to Rohm & Haas Headquarters near Independence Hall. At the time it was called the Lindenwold Hi-Speed line.
In its prime ... (more >>>)
A Joyful Noise: In Philadelphia, the city is trying to silence the bell of a Catholic church. "For 104 years, the bell at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in hilly, blue-collar Manayunk has joyfully summoned the faithful to prayer, celebrated marriages, and marked the ends of wars.
Now, in a city whose many sacred symbols include a cracked bell, someone has filed a complaint to silence St. John's 5,000-pound bronze casting." Because ... (more >>>)
I'd Like To Suggest A Place Where I'd Stick My FOOT. A news article about Brigantine, NJ begins, "First it was Bennies, then Shoobies. Now there's another derogatory nickname for summer tourists who visit the Jersey shore: FOOTs. It's an acronym for "Out Of Towners" preceded by an obscenity."
Bumper stickers appeared recently on a few cars at Brigantine City Hall with the slogan "I Ain't No FOOT." That prompted memos reminding city workers about appropriate behavior.
"Many locals have long resented summer visitors, blaming them for noise, trash and traffic, while overlooking the added revenue they bring. In northern shore towns, they're called Bennies (an acronym for "Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York" or variations thereof.) In the south, "Shoobies" refers to the days when New Yorkers and Philadelphians packed their lunch in shoe boxes for trips to the shore."
Brigantine is an island city, just north and east of Atlantic City, covering a mere 6.4 square miles of land. It has neither casinos, a real boardwalk nor an amusement park to draw day-hoppers, so it remains a fairly sleepy town. It has no industry to speak of and its entire economy depends on tourists and the trade of summer residents, most of whom come from Philadelphia and its suburbs.
I last visited Brigantine ... (more >>>)
RIP: Suave character actor Kevin McCarthy has died at age 96. McCarthy appeared in nearly 100 movies, including the classic 1956 sci-fi film 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'.
He played Dr. Miles Bennell, a local doctor whose patients accused loved ones of being impostors. Bennell soon discovered that it's not a mild case of mass hysteria but rather that the townspeople were being replaced by perfect physical duplicates: "They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next ...!"
McCarthy played Biff in the 1951 movie, 'Death of a Salesman' and co-starred in the 1991 semi-cult film, 'UHF'. He appeared in loads of television productions, from 'Kraft Theatre' in the 1950s to 'Fantasy Island' in the '80s.
He was a cousin of former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy.
Kevin was almost a ringer for Robert L. Gardner, a legend in the plastics business, who was one of the key people involved in converting Detroit from the use of pressed glass tail lamps to injection molded red Plexiglas.
Acrylic plastic allowed bigger lenses to be made with better optics, far-improved breakage resistance, true reflex capabilities and more style flexibility. The use of acrylic literally changed the shape of taillights forever.
The first commercial use of transparent red Plexiglas molding compound was the center brake lamp on the 1947 Chrysler.
Born in 1915, Bob Gardner was a generation older than me but I was lucky enough to know him. I once carpooled with the legend and learned much from him as we drove back and forth to work at the Independence Mall corporate headquarters in Philadelphia from semi-rural New Jersey.
Bob was riding with me in Underdog the day its odometer rolled past the 100,000 mile point just east of Camden, NJ. "You know, Joe, this is the first time in my life that I've ever actually witnessed a car hit the 100,000 mile mark," he said. I blew Underdog's oooga horn to celebrate the event.
Bob was an affable and helpful gentleman who was full of fascinating historical facts and stories about the plastics business in its infancy. Including tales of hauling 50-pound sample drums full of Plexiglas molding pellets up to New England - in a company-owned '37 Ford woody wagon - for evaluation trials in primitive plunger injection-molding machines at area molders.
Always a debonair dresser, he worked part-time at a men's clothing store after his retirement from Rohm & Haas Co.
Bob died in 2000 after a long and fruitful life. Requiescat In Pace, Bob. Thanks for all the stories. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Morgan at the House of Eratosthenes: "Justice depends completely on truth; anarchy, not so much."
Saturday September 11, 2010
Never Forget: September 11, 2001 - it was unthinkable and ghastly.
When my clock radio went off at 6:00 am (Pacific Time) and there was no top-o-the-hour news report - just continuous jumbled updates about a "small airplane" hitting the North Tower of World Trade Center a few minutes earlier.
I quickly got up, turned on the television and learned that the airplane was a large commercial jet. Then my wife and I watched the second big jet crash into the South Tower. Two airplanes within minutes of each other - it was obvious that this was a terrorist act of some kind. I saw the shocking attacks continue - including the airliner crashing into the Pentagon.
Later, I heard the reports of the big United Airlines jet crashing in a Pennsylvania field - a failed, human-filled terrorist missle intended for the U.S. Capitol. More innocent victims.
I spent the rest of the day witnessing the grim aftermath unfold.
After three solid days of being glued to the television in one of those 'I Cannot Look; I Cannot Look Away' numbing spirals of horror, my wife and I decided to get out of the house and connect with real live people. So we drove to central Washington state. In those pre-blog days, I recorded this journal entry:
"Just got back from a car club meet in Yakima, Washington. Drove through the heartland - farming communities of Washington/Oregon. Lots of American flags flying from homes, car antennas, pickup beds, etc. Passed a prayer service on the athletic field of the Goldendale (WA) high school. (No separation of church and state there!)
We ran into a Studebaker driving club along the way - lots of cool old Studies including a bullet-nosed, red 1950 Commander convertible with patriotic red/white/blue bunting. Everyone at the meet was talking about the events of 9/11 - somberly, but with a positive resolve. "We'll get through this" was the operative feeling."
It's been nine years and there have been no further successful attacks on U.S. soil. Divine Providence? Perhaps - but God helps those who help themselves. Meanwhile, Saddam is dead and Osama may be just a pile of bones somewhere along the Khyber Pass. Terror plots within our borders have been discovered and stopped. We have reclaimed the luxury of becoming a bickering, partisan nation again.
But Islamic terrorism has not disappeared. There is a global jihad being waged against all "infidels" - Americans, Europeans, Russians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and others - in order to re-establish the medieval Islamic global empire.
America must continue to assertively and aggressively protect and defend itself from this violent jihad.
Hiding Behind Religion: Unlike many nations, the United States believes in freedom of religion. However, we do not permit abusive cults and other violent, extremist organizations to use "religion" as a cover (Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.).
Regarding Islam, Karl Denninger has asked, "Do you have a legitimate religion - that is, the worship of divinity and prayer for personal peace and enlightenment - when practitioners and priests of that religion threaten people with death for mere speech that they find "unbecoming" (or "blasphemous") toward their particular religious practice?
Or is the truth that you have, in point of fact, a war-based political movement that has co-opted the trappings and claims of religion as a shield from laws that, in the civilized world, would otherwise lead to immediate criminal sanction for the publication and dissemination of these threats?"
There are many cases in point - certainly the fatwas issued because of cartoons depicting Muhammad. Or the death threats against novelist Salman Rushdie. Or the the honor killings, mutilation Muslim women or the stonings of "sinners".
The most recent incident is the Ground Zero mosque and the subsequent intent of a fringe pastor to burn Korans at his church. We have been told by government officials, "Don't protest the Ground Zero mosque. Don't burn a Koran. It'll imperil the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It'll inflame tensions." Shari‘a -peddling imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has warned that the "Muslim World" will "explode" if it does not get its way. (While they're apparently prepared to "explode" if a single Koran is burned, Muslims around the world have no problem burning the American flag, effigies of Americans and anything America-related. One sees this almost daily on news broadcasts.)
It seems the "Muslim World" is always ready to explode about something or other. Have you ever seen a Muslim on television who is not angry about something? Where are all the happy Muslims? Why don't they speak out?
Have you ever seen a Muslim on TV who is not trying to blow something/someone up? Or burn it? Or issue a fatwa so some other angry Muslim will blow something/someone up as a proxy? Where are all the 'moderate' Muslims? Why don't they form an anti-extremist Tea Party-like movement?
William Katz has written, "In the last few weeks we have seen, once again, that Americans aren't the hickish dullards portrayed in leftist Hollywood movies and on the "prestigious" campuses of the northeast. Yes, they say, Muslims have a right to build their mosque near Ground Zero. But no, they say, it's an insensitive idea, and the group behind the mosque (and community center) should reconsider.
Yes, they say, that whacked-out pastor in Florida has the right to burn the Koran. But no, they say, it's a very bad and harmful thing to do, and shouldn't be done. The right is there, but it isn't right.
Contrast again please with the stunning comments by the imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, who said on TV over the weekend that if the mosque issue isn't handled "right," there could be repercussions around the world.
Where I come from, that's called blackmail, and Americans know it. I wish a reporter had confronted this chap with that word and asked his reaction."
Ultimately, as it is with every Middle-Easterner I've ever encountered, it's always about the money: "Hisham Elzanaty, an Egyptian-born businessman who says he provided a majority of the financing to gain control over the two buildings where an Islamic community center and mosque would be built, said he already has received offers for three times the $4.8 million price of the site."
In other words, "Bribe me."
Which brings up an interesting fact. For all their bribes, shari‘a banking, incoherent Al-Sadrian economic theories, 'geef-me-a-deal' bargaining, riba-condemning fiscal policies and souq-and-caravan economies, predominately-Muslim countries are the poorest on the planet. Instead of doing productive work, many Muslim nations are too busy manufacturing outrage and corruption. Or attempting to suppress the religious freedom of others. Or committing acts of terror.
We must not submit to Islam and we must not back down to a bunch of 7th Century, bloodthirsty barbarians.
In September 2001, America learned that radical Islam is at war with us. It's a war we must win.
Never forget. (permalink)
Thursday September 9, 2010
Repeat Business: In the middle of closing a deal on a 2010 Fusion Hybrid, the buyer asked the salesman, "Didn't I trade in a 1928 Whippet for a used Model A with you?"
Salesman Al Steinmetz pulled out his meticulous sales notebook and replied, "Yes, I credited you $12.65 for a 1928 Whippet as a trade in for a 1929 Ford Model A that you bought for $25. On July 29, 1939."
Full story here. By the way, 1939 was a good car year - in my opinion.
Kendall Auto Group is a large multi-state organization, with 13 different new-car franchises. I bought my LS 460 from Kendall Lexus in Eugene, Oregon and purchased my 1980 Oldsmobile from Dunham Olds-Cadillac of Eugene, which later became part of the Kendall empire.
Question Of The Day: How can CBS possibly revive 'Hawaii 5-0' without McGarrett's black Mercury Monterey?
Doing Things Americans Won't Do: An Iranian illegal immigrant tow truck driver who struck a mother and her two toddlers on an Oxnard, CA street and drove away with the children dragging under the vehicle has been charged with driving under the influence and causing injury, hit-and-run and mayhem.
Fernando Guerrero Lara, one of two men arrested in a deadly shooting at ... (more >>>)
Fiscal Moron Seeks Finance Guru: Everybody knows that community organizers are generally ignorant about money matters. Expecting our current president to be different is foolhardy. In 2008, the voting public felt that Obama would compensate by surrounding himself with economic experts. Instead, he picked a bunch of tax cheats. (Forty-one Obama White House aides owe the IRS $831,000 in back taxes.)
He does however, seek advice from Warren Buffet - the Oracle of Omaha - on occasion. In July, the White House released a photograph of President Obama meeting in the Oval Office with Mr. Buffet. Unfortunately, Obama is so clueless he doesn't seem to understand what the billionaire investor has been telling him.
Claude Sandroff of American Thinker has written, "Warren Buffet provides economic advice to his goofy novice, and then has to watch our over-rated chief executive herald that a non-existent metric - the profit-to-earnings ratio - had reached levels that cried out to all those sitting on the sidelines to jump back into the stock market."
'Profits-to-earnings ratio' is the equivalent to using the 'ass-to-heinie ratio' in describing Kim Kardashian's famous posterior. Makes no sense. Neither Economics ... nor Assonomics.
While I'm doing analogies, it is tempting to compare Ms. K's 2010 oversized, out-of-all-proportion, overexposed rear end to the current U.S. national debt. Imagine how better-balanced and appropriately-sized the 1986 debt level was by comparison. Much like Linda Kozlowski's shapely buttocks, which we all enjoyed while watching 'Crocodile Dundee' that same year.
Returning to the main subject of economic advisors, Warren Buffet is certainly renowned but, if you want the best results, you want only the most successful advisor ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt' by T.J. Stiles
Stiles offers a thorough, authoritative biography of the titan who arguably fostered the Industrial Revolution.
Born in humble circumstances on Staten Island during George Washington's presidency, Commodore Vanderbilt rose from a lowly boatman to boat owner (financed by his tough mother who made him pay interest on all loans), to operator of the nation's largest fleet of steamships to railroad magnate.
The Commodore had his fingers in ... (more >>>)
Seasonal Adjustment: The Onion has reported that "with the back-to-school shopping season in full swing, office-supply chain Staples announced that it would be hiring thousands of additional sales personnel to mope uselessly around the store and sullenly count the hours until closing."
"We found that our usual numbers of bored, vacant-looking floor staff were not adequate to fully ignore the influx of customers," said Staples spokeswoman Andrea Dalton.
"Now, whether shoppers have questions about which backpack is best for a middle- schooler or how long laptops are under warranty, they can find plenty of sales associates who either don't know or don't give a shit."
Staples sources confirmed that many stores would also be adding extra cashiers to resentfully process returns.
Quote of the Day is from Bill Vaughan: "Economists report that a college education adds many thousands of dollars to a man's lifetime income - which he then spends sending his son to college."
Tuesday September 7, 2010
Labor Day Weekend: On Saturday, I took a ride in the ol' Plymouth. At 11 am, it was only 59 degrees under mostly cloudy skies but the traffic was very light and the drive was most satisfying.
I did another drive on Monday morning at 9:30. It was sunny and the roads were deserted.
The absence of cars on my rural loop made it hard to tell whether the year was 2010, 1959 or 1939.
On Monday evening, I cooked filets mignon on the grill. (No driving was involved, although I had to roll the grill into its proper place for cooking.) My wife and I shared a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (2006) from Sonoma California. It was an exceptional, robust wine that dropped you solidly into your chair as if it was made from the Anchor Baby of grapes.
On Tuesday morning, the rain arrived.
C-Change: The only Chevrolet dealer in Clark County, Washington has been sold and relocated. Former Seattle Seahawks star running back Curt Warner handed off his Vancouver Chevrolet dealership franchise to Alan Webb. The Chevy store has relocated to the new showroom Webb built last year for his Dodge franchise, which Chrysler terminated.
I had written about this rumored sale in July, with some additional background information on the two dealers.
The 16-acre Warner Chevrolet showroom and car lot at Southeast Mill Plain Blvd. near Interstate 205 is now vacant.
Last week, I drove by and saw what seemed like a homeless guy looking the place over. Or ... maybe he was a scout for Tesla Motors. (permalink)
Damn Near A Depression: The economy is like a gravely-ill patient in an ICU - the worst may be over but there has been a near-death experience followed by a long and painful path toward recovery. Bill McBride of Calculated Risk has posted a graph: 'Percent Job Losses During Recessions, aligned at Bottom'.
As the graph clearly indicates, this is the worst ... (more >>>)
Why No One's Hiring ... summed up in one sentence: "Employers who hire illegal immigrants can be fined, but the Obama administration warned this week that they also can be fined for asking legal immigrants to show their green cards before hiring them."
Similarly, there's the hypocrisy and mixed message of Obamacare: Barry O. wants every citizen to prove they are insured but people don't have to prove they are citizens.
If you're an employer, you lose either way. It's easier not to hire at all. Or use a temp service.
News Bite ... from The People's Cube: "White House revises policy to announce when President is at work instead of announcing when he is going on vacation."
"Bongo, Bongo Bongo, I Don't Wanna Help The Congo ..." Survivors of a river ferry disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo were struck with paddles by fishermen as they tired to swim to safety.
More than 200 people were feared to have died after the boat laden with fuel and passengers caught fire and capsized during the night-time tragedy on the Kasi River. Just 15 people survived and some told how they tried to swim to the nearby fishermen who refused to come to their aid and ignored drowning passengers' pleas for help.
"Fishermen attacked the boat and started beating passengers with paddles as they were (trying) to loot goods," said one survivor. "The fishermen refused to save passengers, instead taking goods into their pirogues."
Remember this incident the next time someone ... (more >>>)
Department Of Irony: Following the embarrassing news that Detroit mayor Dave Bing's GMC Yukon was hijacked by criminals last week, the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Cadillac Escalade - perhaps the 'Titanic' of land vehicles - was stolen and stripped of its wheels while he was in the Motor City last weekend "with the UAW's militant President Bob King leading the 'Jobs, Justice and Peace' march promoting government-funded green jobs."
Henry Payne has written "Add Jesse to the Al Gore-Tom Friedman-Barack Obama School of Environmental Hypocrisy. While preaching to Americans that they need to cram their families into hybrid Priuses to go shopping for compact fluorescent light bulbs to save the planet, they themselves continue to live large."
Detroit police are asking citizens to be on the lookout for possible suspects: well-dressed, polite white people carrying bibles and air-impact wrenches, who may "be rollin' on a fine set o' dubs."
Irony - Part Deux: A Los Angeles school has been named after Al Gore - but it's been built on toxic contaminated soil.
Joke Of The Day is from Henny Youngman: "A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months."
Friday September 3, 2010
'Summer Of Recovery' Rolls On: U.S. car and light vehicle sales reached a 27-year low in August, their worst level since the same month in 1983. August 2009 numbers were artificially pumped-up by Obama's wastefully expensive 'Cash For Clunkers' program. Last month's light vehicle sales ended up at a 11.5 million SAAR - down 21% from August 2009, and down slightly from the July 2010 sales rate.
"Home sales are way down, the stock market is way down, the unemployment report is very disappointing and consumer confidence is sputtering," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at TrueCar.com. "People just don't want to make big-ticket purchases because they're uncertain about their jobs and the value of their homes."
The buying public was less than enthusiastic about generous incentives offered by automakers in August. Honda boosted discounts by 66% from a year earlier while Nissan raised incentives 28% and Toyota lifted them 27%.
"The deals are out there," reported Jessica Caldwell, director of pricing and industry analysis for researcher Edmunds.com. "People just can't be bought or enticed."
Sales at Ford Motor Co. were off 11%, GM was down 25%, Toyota and Honda dropped by 34 and 33% respectively.
Chrysler sales increased by 7% but the firm hadn't benefited much from last August's Cash for Clunkers program. And, almost 40% of Chrysler's U.S. sales through July were to fleet customers, according to industry estimates. Chrysler 'Fleet Queen' Sebring sales increased by 74% year over year, a very telling statistic.
At Ford, Taurus sales increased 51%. Lincoln sales were up 9%, led by the late, great Town Car. Speaking of almost-dead dinosaurs, Mercury Grand Marquis sales increased 347% to 2,788 units last month.
Lexus LS sales increased 11% to 939 units. Toyota Avalon sales were 2,512, a gain of over 17%.
Maserati sales were up 25% - 169 Masers were sold in August. Elsewhere in the luxury and near-luxury field, Cadillac sales were up 83%, selling roughly twice as many cars as Lincoln. Buick sales increased 66% and Jaguar leaped 62% to 1,414 units. Somebody's got money.
Little cars got little results. Smart sales fell 72% to 448 cars.
The Truth About Czars: Former Obama administration car czar Steven Rattner is coming out with a new book that shows Obama as "out to get" the car companies and the administration "making political decisions about how to deal with bankrupt automakers GM and Chrysler."
When Obama was told of the plan to pay GM CEO Rick Wagoner a $7.1 million severance package after Obama ordered that he be sacked, Rattner writes, "Suddenly I felt that I was indeed in the presence of a community organizer."
He describes presidential political adviser David Axelrod coming to car meetings armed with poll data to support the takeover and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel identify Congressmen in whose districts large Chrysler facilities were located.
Rattner said Obama was frustrated with the auto companies from the start: Obama asked, "Why can't they make a Corolla?" A question which once again demonstrated ... (more >>>)
Brat Pack: Julie Burchill has written about rude, stupid parents and their ill-behaved spawn, "At the end of the day, I can honestly say that smokers and drinkers combined have never come half as near to ruining nice days out for me, be they in restaurants, museums or parks, as other peoples' children have particularly the sort of entitled bourgeois brat whose moron of a mother is liable to say, as one cretin did in Waitrose a while back when her spawn came out with an ear-splitting scream: "That was a VERY good noise, darling do another, even louder!" I'm NOT joking! Yet increasingly there is no place to hide from the creatures they eat for free in formerly civilised establishments, and turn decent pubs into crèches." (hat tip: Kathy Shaidle)
Olde Salty, a boardwalk restaurant in Carolina Beach, NC, has recently posted a sign in its window: 'Screaming children will NOT be tolerated!' So far, the restaurant owner has received 40 answering machine messages about the sign - all but two were enthusiastically supportive.
I promise to patronize any airline brave enough to institute a 'Kids Pay Double' fare scheme, with the additional proviso that - if the kid is a screamer - the parents must pay for free drinks for all passengers within 10 rows of the miscreant. Guaranteed by a security bond posted in advance by the child's parents.
Quote Of The Day is from Alan Alda: "It isn't necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It's only necessary be rich."
Wednesday September 1, 2010
More Reasons Not To Invest In General Motors: Steven Spruiell of National Review has written, "Searching for bright spots, the Obama administration has seized upon the resurgent U.S. auto industry, and specifically on the bailed-out GM - which has posted its first profitable quarters since 2004 and looks set to relaunch itself as a public company this fall, just in time for the elections."
The problem is General Motors' accounting methods are so convoluted that it is very difficult to determine whether the company is truly profitable.
Accountants can twist the numbers to meet management's scenario du jour. It reminds me of the old vaudeville tailor joke: "You want a blue suit? Abe, turn on the blue light." (more >>>)