A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
Friday September 28, 2012
Cars In My Life - Sports Cars: Earlier, I wrote about some of the vehicles I dreamed of owning when I was growing up. As a 12 year-old, I spent my days pouring over various car publications, becoming an expert on which vehicle was best suited to fulfill my dreams. And getting ammunition to win debates with my fellow pre-teen car buddies.
As an adolescent, most of the cars I lusted after were sports cars. As an income-earning adult, one of my goals was to satisfy that long-delayed desire.
After I graduated from college and had worked for a few months, I sold my college car - a red '63 VW - and bought a two year-old Corvette. It was a used 1963 model but appeared to be in good shape. I purchased it from a private party for $2,700. New Corvettes were selling for over $4,000.
Mine was a convertible but only had the hardtop - not the soft top. I soon located a white canvas soft top assembly and installed it. The car was Silver Blue with a dark blue interior. There was nothing better than cruising down the road on a summer day with the top down and enjoying the faint V-8 burble as ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama's War on the Republic' by David Limbaugh
This book picks up where Limbaugh's previous book, 'Crimes Against Liberty', left off, chronicling President Obama's record since mid-2010. It's not pretty.
Limbaugh wrote, "In wholesale breach of his 2008 campaign themes, he is zapping America of its optimism and hope, replacing those with despair and malaise. He is using his bully pulpit to turn the American dream on its head, demonizing success and glorifying government dependency."
The book is a detailed, well-researched indictment of the Obama Presidency - and it's ... (more >>>)
So, What's The Problem Here? Last week, a man was charged in connection with the theft of two checks totaling more than $50,000 from President Barack Obama's national campaign headquarters in Chicago.
Wait - isn't this just a form of that 'wealth redistribution' that the president advocates?
Headline of the Week is from The People's Cube: 'Adobe Acrobat Update Sparks Violent Protest In Muslim World'.
In Pakistan, a Cabinet minister offered a $100,000 reward for the death of Adobe Acrobat, urging the Taliban and al-Qaida to perform the "sacred duty" of helping locate and kill the "blasphemous contortionist."
"Their insinuation that our system may be somehow 'riddled with bugs' is a blasphemy punishable by death," Minister Ghulam Ahmad Balor told the reporters. "How else, if not by killing people, can we demonstrate to the world that our system cannot be improved because it is already perfect? It was designed by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and no Adobe Updater can ever update that."
Scores of people were injured in clashes with police as protests continued in the Muslim world against the most recent Adobe Acrobat update, downloaded to one of the region's fifteen computers.
Runner-Up People's Cube Headline: 'FBI's billion dollar facial recognition software malfunctions after scan of Nancy Pelosi's face'.
"Call A Doctor. And Then Help Me Find My Nose." Actor Herbert Lom, best known for his movie roles as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering superior in various Pink Panther films, has died at age 95.
His many movie lines will live long in my memory and make me chuckle: "François, I just cut off my thumb."
And: "What you've said, Clouseau, qualifies you as the greatest prophet since Custer said he was going to surround all those Indians."
Quote Of The Day is from Oscar Ameringer: "Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other."
Thursday September 27, 2012
Drive Time: The weather had not been very good since we arrived home from BC, but Sunday dawned with lots of sunshine. Fall was definitely in the air though; at 8:00 am, the temperature was only 42 degrees. Nevertheless, I fired up the '39 Plymouth and went for a drive.
The leaves are just beginning to turn here; the summer green colors are gone - replaced by that washed-out, early-Fall dull green which precedes onset of yellow, red and brown. The tide has turned. Summer's gone. The days are shortening; the light at the end of day is wan. But the morning roads were almost empty and I had a very enjoyable ride.
I took a longer ride on Monday - to Hockinson and back - the sun was shining brightly but ... (more >>>)
It Happens Every Time: I go away for a brief spell and everything falls apart.
In Fall 2008, I took a few weeks off and the world financial markets collapsed. The Dow dropped faster than Lindsay Lohan's undies after an evening of binge drinking.
When we took a winter break in Palm Desert in early 2009, our local bank failed, wiping out our shareholder equity. And the Icelandic government and banking system collapsed.
In 2011, we traveled to Philadelphia. Dr. Kevorkian died, severe flooding caused chaos in North Dakota and the new Arab Spring thing erupted in violence.
We returned from our latest vacation to find that, not only has Andy Williams croaked but the whole Middle East is on fire with anti-American protests and our ambassador to Libya has been murdered.
At some point in the future, I will take another break from blogging. Start building fallout shelters and printing militia money now.
As to those Muslim riots, our president - the black Neville Chamberlain - gave a speech at the U.N., gently wagging his anorexic finger at the various despots in attendance and warning meekly that "the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."
Sigh. Too bad I didn't invited to the U.N. Here's the speech I'd have given:
I'm Wasting my Life ... so you don't have to. Anybody else see the pilot for 'Vegas', the new CBS television series? No? Well, congratulations. You've just saved an hour of your life.
Three-word plot summary: cowboys versus gangsters. Sadly, it's dull and formulaic. Every aspect of 'Vegas' has been done better by some other TV show. It's also a hat show with Dennis Quaid in a cowboy hat and Michael Chiklis in a Frank Sinatra fedora. Watching 'Vegas' made me long for the late '80s show 'Crime Story', which was far more believable, entertaining and period authentic. And had better hats.
The lack of authenticity can be seen in the show's vehicles. The opening credits state 'Las Vegas - 1960'. We quickly see a 1963 Ford police car with a red crushed velour (!) interior. One of the principal pickups is a '64 Dodge with 1970s aftermarket white stroker wheels. One of the bad guys drives a '64 Pontiac Bonneville hardtop coupe. A murderer was captured in a car chase where Quaid finally stopped him by blowing out the front tires of the killer's '62 Cadillac with a rifle. I also got glimpses of a ''63 Plymouth and a late '60s or early '70s Chevy Nova in background scenes
When they can't get the cars right, you have to question the authenticity of everything else you see. Verdict: big time-waster - don't bother.
Quote Of The Day is from Adam Carolla, "Most people are stupid. If you asked most people what Mt. Rushmore is, they'd say, 'That's where Walter Payton is buried.'"
Wednesday September 26, 2012
Trip Report: We have returned from an eight-day, 800-plus mile driving trip to Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver, BC. We marveled at the sights and visited old friends.
Our drive to-and-from in my Lexus was pleasant and uneventful. We hadn't visited Vancouver, BC in almost 30 years. It's bigger than ever and still full of beauty.
Our first stop was at Cabela's, purveyors of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear. The firm's stores are not mere retail fronts; they are tourist attractions as well, featuring - in the case of the Lacey, WA one - a mountain full of wildlife right in the middle of the store.
Skilled taxidermists have created realistic mammals. Meanwhile, the fish are alive and swim happily in public-aquarium-sized tanks.
Turn a corner and you might encounter a full-sized elephant.
I bought a couple of items at Cabela's, including a new straw hat to wear on this trip.
• The LeMay: America's Car Museum in Tacoma, WA bills itself as one of the largest collections of vintage vehicles, with 165,000 square-feet of space under its flashy, bright-silver exterior. There are no other large car museums open to the public in the Pacific Northwest, so you'll have to do with this one.
This new facility was mega-hyped to the point where it seemed like the Second Coming of a Chromed Deity; in the flesh, it was a letdown. Originally conceived with a spiral ramp display showcasing eras of automotive progress, financial limitations forced the nonprofit to settle for something less grand. Much less grand.
Unfortunately, the display seemed disorganized with decades jumbled together. Most vehicles were not well-presented; some sections of the museum seem like an underground parking garage.
For the most part, the vehicles were displayed without cultural or historical context; non-car people will be quickly bored. The automobiles included selections from individual collectors, corporations and the huge LeMay auto collection, once the largest in the world. On the day we visited, the elevators were broken and we had to negotiate the four-plus stories by foot. The lighting of the individual cars varied and was often unflattering.
The architect who designed this monstrosity should be shot with the interior decorator positioned right behind but, despite the museum's shortcomings, many of the cars are worth seeing. The LeMay has its own parking lot but charges $5. It should be noted that far superior auto museums like Blackhawk and Nethercutt offer free on-site parking.
Three pages of car photos from the LeMay Museum begin here.
• Chihuly Garden & Glass Exhibit at Seattle Center is an art experience showcasing the most significant works of acclaimed glassblowing artist Dale Chihuly. This exhibit is the largest display of Chihuly glass in the world; every piece was created specifically for the setting.
Trees and shrubs serve as backdrop to the glistening floral-inspired artwork. The indoor gallery portion was wonderfully lit, mostly with overhead spotlights. Bowls looked like they had light inside but it was all done with focused ceiling spots. The outdoor garden had spotless glass sculptures arranged among natural plantings. I marveled at how clean the glass surfaces were and wondered how they accomplished it.
Photos from this exhibit as well as pix of some Seattle icons are posted here.
• Vancouver, British Columbia and its environs made for a pleasant vacation. Despite the big city feel and hordes of beggars, people were polite and the streets are remarkably clean. No graffiti was observed - anywhere.
As you walk the streets, don't try to eavesdrop - the cacophony of languages makes it impossible and gives a Babel-like vibe to the oft-crowded pavements. Asians, East Indians, Americans, Middle Easterners, French, Germans, Brits and others make for a 21st Century melting pot. There are restaurants and shops to please every culture. Including Japanese hot dogs, whatever they are. And Vietnamese subs.
And, for donuts, there's always that Canadian favorite, Tim Horton's. Pick up a dozen, eh.
It seems like every city has - at one time or another - commissioned artists to produce fiberglass street statues in bizarre and amusing colors: cows with stripes, plaid bears, polka-dot orcas, etc. While walking around Vancouver, we spotted a couple of large replica Chinese terracotta warriors. You know, that faux army originally produced under the orders of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.
There are 33 statues scattered throughout the Vancouver metro area. Here's a little known fact: In China, every one of the terracotta warriors has the same first name ... Clay.
• Restaurant Reviews: We had some exceptional dining experiences during our Vancouver stay. Our top three picks were Le Crocodile, Bishop's and, in North Vancouver, the Black Bear Neighborhood Pub.
Runners up included Dunn's Famous, Kingston Taphouse & Grill, Q4 al Centro and Seasons in the Park.
The biggest disappointment was an expensive place named CinCin. Avoid it. No matter, the city has over 1,700 dining spots from which to choose.
All recent restaurant reviews are posted here.
In related news, while we were out of town, two local restaurants closed their doors, apparently for good: Galeotti's and O'Brady's Drive-In.
• Lodging: During our Vancouver visit, we stayed at L'Hermitage Hotel downtown. Described as a luxury boutique property, the 60 room establishment offered magnificent accommodations and friendly, highly-personalized service. There is even a friendly little dog in the lobby to welcome visitors - and a stuffed plush toy visage nearby to substitute when the real canine is on his break.
Our suite was spacious; the staff was a delight. In almost 50 years of travel, this was one of our top lodging experiences.
• Car Sightings: Saw my first ever $100,000 and up Fisker Karma sedan during our trip. It was a swoopy, dark-colored model pulling out of a parking space on busy 4th Street in the Kitsilano neighborhood.
I spotted numerous smart cars including Car2Go smarts in distinctive light blue over white colors. Car2Go is a car-sharing service like Zipcar. We also saw lot of construction equipment as the city seems to be undergoing a building boom.
And ... last but not least, we encountered an old, rarely-seen Nissan S-Cargo commercial delivery vehicle bringing flowers to our hotel. The Citroën-inspired S-Cargo was a funky retromobile produced by Nissan from 1989-92. Mostly sold in Japan, I saw a few in London during a 1991 visit to the British Isles.
In much of Vancouver, people get around by taxis, skateboards, bicycles or walking. Public transport was plentiful including a large fleet of electric trolley buses. The #20 ran right by our hotel.
Most trolley buses are articulated so they can handle tight corners and are nicknamed Bendy-Buses. At every intersection a rat's nest of overhead trolley wires can be seen.
In the downtown area, 80% of all taxis wear Prius badges. There were a couple of black London cabs plying the streets, as well as a ’47 Chrysler in yellow taxi livery promoting a restaurant.
We experienced a great personalized tour of the city from a cabbie driving a yellow Prius. We had signed up with Landsea Tours but after almost an hour of delay, with no update as to when the tour would actually commence, I walked over to a taxi and arranged for the driver to give us an impromptu tour. Although he was from India, our driver/guide had lived in Vancouver for seven years and was very familiar with the city and its lore. The Prius had a roomy rear seat and nimbly handled the heavy downtown traffic. It was a delightful experience and cost less than Landsea.
Photos of the sights in and around Vancouver are posted here.
We had nothing but sunny weather during our Northwest excursion; temperatures were typically in the low 50s at night and in the low-to-upper 70s during the day. (permalink)
Monday September 10, 2012
What We Need Today ... is the device advertised in the October 1957 issue of Road & Track:
In this era of four buck per gallon gas, we could all use one. Do they make these for other cars too? How about Lexus? Or Toyota? (permalink)
Cane Mutiny: I still have my grandmother's wooden cane from 1955 or so. I've used it in the past when I've injured my knee or ankle. These days, I take it with me on early morning golf course walks - to lean on when I rest, or to deal with seriously uneven ground. I suspect that it might be good for fighting off wild cougars, although I've yet to encounter one close up.
About 25 years ago, I put a new rubber tip on the cane. Recently, I discovered that it had worn completely through. Time to get a new tip.
My wife bought a package of two at Albertsons. That's a fifty-year supply. Selling rubber cane tips at a supermarket? This is why I can't find my favorite brand of potato chips anymore. It's been dumped in favor of cane tips. I'm ready to start a food mutiny against all supermarkets.
When I complained to my daughter about this, she pointed out that her supermarket sells Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise. I asked her if any of the Thomas stuff was edible? "No." Did they sell a Thomas hopper car carrying a load of potato chips? "No." It's the same with cane tips. You'd think they would make them out of licorice, instead of rubber. That way, you could eat the spare tip.
The new tip is much ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents' by Steven F. Hayward
Regnery Publishing has offered almost two dozen books in its Politically Incorrect Guide series. The latest is a guide to U.S. Presidents from Wilson to Obama. Historian and Reagan biographer Steven Hayward rates a century's worth of Chief Executives based on their performance in upholding the U.S. Constitution.
This is a easy read that thoroughly addresses its subject. I learned/relearned several things about our presidents ... (more >>>)
I'm Not Ready ... to sing 'Happy Days Are Here Again' just yet, but the stock market seems upbeat for some reason. The S&P 500 is up over 16% year-to-date.
European risks declining? Tortiose-like improvement in the U.S. economy? Looking forward to President Romney? I dunno, but I'll accept any good news investment-wise.
"A Man's Got To Know His Limitations," said Harry Callahan in 'Magnum Force'. Recently, Clint Eastwood said that his Republican National Convention speech achieved exactly what he wanted it to. He then proceeded to label President Barack Obama a hoax. And the public is finding out Barry O's limitations.
"President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that's what everybody needs to know. I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle."
Dead accurate aim, Clint. Good job.
Unraveling: "Democratic officials are worried that three groups that pushed Obama over the finish line in 2008 - younger voters, seniors and Wal-Mart white women - are as frustrated as other groups about the economy and Obama's failure to change Washington and might stay home."
I had to look up 'Wal-Mart white women'. The demographic consists of Caucasian females with a high school diploma and a household income under $50,000. Sounds a bit insulting; I know lots of value-conscious, fairly-prosperous women who like to save money at W-M.
Former Clinton aide Maria Echaveste said that too many Obama supporters are "not engaged." Hmmmmmm. Maybe they're just no longer 'supporters', Maria.
Highly-respected Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said that his data indicates that the economy is "still weakening," and that might push any of Obama's must-have groups out of reach, maybe over to Romney. "There's some probability, in fact one-third, that some group could just go and say 'Enough'."
Enough, indeed. Almost every senior I know is against Obama this time around. Most have read about the coming consequences of Obamacare and are angry. Some are already experiencing trouble getting appointments with specialists - a problem they didn't have before. Just wait until they see the changes in Medicare Advantage programs, beginning next month.
Seniors who rely on money markets, CDs and other fixed-income investments for income have been forced to change their lifestyles due to artificially low interest rates, courtesy of the Fed and its Quantitative Easing programs.
Younger voters can't find suitable employment. They're working part-time or at McJobs, while carrying massive loans for their now-useless degrees.
The thrill is gone. Those disillusioned by Obama will either stay home on election day or vote Republican.
I realize that the polls show this election to be more-or-less a dead heat at this point, but I think that the only people answering their phones when pollsters call are liberals. They love to talk. All my conservative friends screen their calls and won't dialogue with poll trolls. At Pew Research, the response rate of a typical telephone survey was 36% in 1997 and is just 9% today.
August's Chick-fil-A appreciation day popularity may be a better indicator of voter sentiment than any political poll. People are just plain fed up with bad economic policies, excessive government control and silly political correctness bring shoved down their throats by this ultra-left, Democratic administration.
Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "Put a white lab coat on an idiot and you don't get an infallible sage; you get an idiot with more pockets."
Friday September 7, 2012
Dark O'Clock: I arose at 6:00 am Thursday and it was almost pitch black outside. At first, I thought it was overcast and ready to rain, but by 6:30 the sun began to crest the mountains and I could navigate without turning on lights. Sunrise was officially listed as 6:38 am.
Temperatures were in the 40s but, by 8:30, it was almost 60. At 9:45 am, I decided to take a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe since it was such a nice day and the temperature had risen to a comfy 65. (By 1:30 pm, it was 85 degrees.)
The skies were almost cloudless and visibility was endless on this rural end-of-summer day. The traffic was very light and my drive was most satisfying. The absence of cars on my rural loop made it hard to tell whether the year was 2012, 1959 or 1939, as you can see from the view through the windshield (a phrase befitting this blog):
I did not observe the renegade rooster on this trip.
Last month, I wrote about the harvested hay in the field just off Brush Prairie's 170th Ave. and quipped that the resulting bunch of circular bales enrobed in white shrink wrap looked like giant albino Hostess Ding Dongs. See what I mean:
One of this blog's readers, Sam, used to tell his kids that fields such as this were marshmallow farms.
Sunset is now 7:38 pm; the days are getting noticeably shorter. (permalink)
Book Review: 'Trust Me I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator' by Ryan Holiday
The author, a self-confessed liar and trickster, discusses the roles of social media and blogging in dispersing information and misinformation. If you've been on the internet for more that three weeks, you've already figured out most of this stuff.
There's no How-To for decent, honest people here. It's a ... (more >>>)
DNC Wrap-Up: Thursday evening was the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention:
Sum-Up: At the end of the night, I think many of the Democrats in the hall wanted to re-elect Bill Clinton.
Quote Of The Day is from Clarence Darrow: "When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it."
Thursday September 6, 2012
Traffic Jammin': When we went out for our 7:00 am walk, it was gorgeous with bright sunshine, although it was a bit on the chilly side at 47 degrees. By 9:00 am, the temperature had warmed up to 62, so I hopped in my '39 Plymouth and took a drive.
There was construction up street that I didn't know about. Then, the main traffic light to town was out (again) due to more road construction and there were inefficient flaggers. And forty-two #@!&* school buses headed back to the bus barn along my so-called rural route. Then things lightened up - until a trash truck blocked the road while trying to negotiate a turn into a long narrow private road.
Later, I almost ran over a rooster who had decided to take up residence on the macadam.
But you know what? Even though the trees were just beginning to turn, the skies were still a bright July blue and the rest of my trip was pleasantly uneventful.
And I Thought The Lincoln MKT Hearse Was Ugly: Cadillac has just debuted the Caddy XTS Funeral Coach. This is another reason why I want to be cremated. Just carry my ashes to the cemetery in the trunk of my Plymouth.
Book Review: 'A Man And His Ship' by Steven Ujifusa
Once upon a time, ships were the only way to get from North America to Europe. And vise versa. Nations were judged by the kinds of grand passenger flagships they operated. Because of national pride, governments, including the U.S., subsidized prestigious passenger vessels.
We learn much about the passenger ship business in this book. Particularly surprising is the story of Frederick Barrett, one of the few coal stokers who survived the great Titanic disaster. He was rescued, taken to New York and immediately put to work in the boiler room of Titanic's sister ship, the RMS Olympic. No grief counseling or workers' comp was offered in those harsher days of 1912.
America's best naval architect, William Francis Gibbs, was a quirky, cantankerous and brilliant man. He designed some of the finest ships in history. Gibbs also designed and organized production of 70% of the U.S. naval ships in World War II.
His pièce de résistance was ... (more >>>)
Convention Follies: I don't think the political conventions mean that much, except to give each party promo spots and opposition clips. For instance, I bet the Republicans will get great mileage out of the DNC's 'Government Is The Only Thing We All Belong To' video. I suspect that, when the story of the 2012 election is written, the conventions will matter little, changing few minds.
The debates will be considered the decisive factor in swaying the uncommitted one way or another. Nevertheless, the conventions provide a great opportunity for laughs and snarky observations - like these moments from last night's DNC:
Quote Of The Day is from P.J. O'Rourke: "The Democrats are the party that try to make you believe more government involvement will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that say government doesn't work and then, they get elected and prove it."
Wednesday September 5, 2012
August Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were better than expected - 14.5 million SAAR in August, up 17% from August 2011 and up 3% from last month.
Chrysler Group's August sales were up 14%, boosted by Chrysler brand sales (up 25%) and Ram truck sales (+18%). 4,150 little Fiats were sold, still chasing the Mini (5,718 units, up 84%). But Jeep was only up 6%.
Ford Motor Company's sales increased by 13%, Lincoln was up 2% to 8,141 units.
General Motors sales were 10% better than last year; Cadillac up 11% (14,704 vehicles sold). 25% of General Motors sales were to fleet buyers, compared with 26% for Ford Motor. Chevy sold 2,831 Volts this month.
In the luxury/near-luxury market, Acura sales jumped 73% to 15,646 units, Lexus sales increased 34% to 24,237 vehicles (including 786 LS models), Infiniti was up 24% to 11,155 units, Mercedes rose 12% to 22,686 vehicles, Audi sales increased 11% with 11,527 units sold, BMW was down 19% to 16,835 vehicles and 1,029 Jaguars were sold - a gain of 27%. Lamborghini sales leaped to 40 vehicles, an increase of 43%.
Volkswagen jumped a whopping 63%, Honda gained 60%, Toyota rose 46%, with 1,761 Avalon sedans sold, Subaru was up 36%, Hyundai Group increased 12%, Nissan rose 8%, while Mazda sales dropped 2%.
Fueled Argument: When Mitt Romney called the new CAFE regulations - that mandate a national fleet average of 54.5 mpg by the year 2025 - "extreme."
President Obama was quick to strike back. "My opponent called my position on fuel efficiency standards extreme. I don't know. It doesn't seem extreme to me to want to have more fuel efficient cars. Maybe the steam engine is more his speed."
But the Obama administration is already funding steam engine research. Well, It's probably an improvement after burning up all that money on solar power.
What's next - one of those perpetual-motion magnet engines?
Smoke On The Water: Located on the Portland side of the Columbia, the Thunderbird on the River hotel was destroyed by fire over the weekend. Smoke was so dense that the Interstate 5 Bridge was shut down for a while.
The once-great establishment - site of my wife's 50th birthday celebration - was unceremoniously shuttered in 2005.
No one ever officially said why it went out of business, but there have been rumors that the ground beneath the hotel had shifted, rendering the place structurally unsound and too costly to fix.
A Streetcar Named Disaster: Last week, while chomping down a delicious pizza steak at Philly Bilmos, I was reading an article in Willamette Week about the soon-to-be running Eastside Portland streetcar. What a colossal, predestined failure. The line will lose money - big money - right from the get-go and is already planning to offer abysmal service.
"The streetcar - a mode of transportation already notorious in the Pearl District and Southwest Portland for its sluggish pace and long waits between cars - will run even less frequently on all its routes when the Eastside line opens next month."
Eric Fruits, an adjunct professor in the urban studies department at Portland State University and a longtime critic of streetcar transit, has produced data to show that taking the streetcar is not as fast as walking. "It takes 32 minutes to get from OMSI to Powell's Books by foot," he said. "It's a virtual tie. But if you're waiting (at a carstop) an average of 8? minutes, the streetcar loses the race. You can get there faster by walking."
On my last visit to Portland's Westside, I had a chance to see the chaos wrought by the city's mass transit obsession. The track makes very wide swings, knocking out a bunch of parking at every quarter turn.
Every trolley stop has a shelter and landing, eliminating even more parking spaces. The streets are narrow and the trolley takes up more than half the street. Why the track radius is so large is difficult to understand; while the Skoda streetcars are quite long - 66 feet, they are double-articulated - making them 22 feet long for tuning purposes - and should be able to navigate extremely tight-radius curves.
The old PCC trolley cars of the 1930s were non-articulated, 46 feet long but had swivel trucks which allowed for tight turns even on the narrow lanes of South Philadelphia, the Bronx, Baltimore and old Boston.
During our entire time in the area, including exposure at peak commuting hours, I never saw an actual streetcar. I had the same experience when ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You' by Simon Johnson and James Kwak
This book begins with an interesting and informative history of the U.S. financial system. The title refers to the fact that British troops invaded Washington in 1814 and set the White House aflame. The financial history of the U.S. was interesting. But the book soon degenerated ... (more >>>)
Don't Be Gruel: I don't think America wants to go 'Forward'. My America is one that goes 'Up' toward a better, brighter future. The past four years haven't exactly been better or brighter, but we Americans are an optimistic bunch. Think about the songs we love: 'The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow', 'Blue Skies Smilin' At Me', 'The Impossible Dream', 'God Bless America', etc.
'Forward' sounds like a collectivist order, as in, "Finish harvesting that row of corn." Then trudge back to the barracks for a small bowl of lukewarm gruel.
'Forward' is a loser slogan and anyone who runs under such a tagline doesn't deserve to be reelected. But it would probably be a good rallying cry for someone seeking reappointment as Commissar.
Bad Advice: President Barack Obama said recently that his re-election might help end the political stalemate in Washington, much like "popping a blister."
Whaaaaaa? My mom - and several physicians - told me that's how you get infections. In this case, an economic one and a socialist one.
In Related News ... the Democrats removed all references to God from the party's platform. And weakened its stance on Israel. Furthermore, in an interview, Obama gave himself an 'Incomplete' grade for his presidency. In the real world, that's usually code for "I flunked because I didn't do my assigned work." More:
Thought For Today: To reelect President Obama would be like backing up the Titanic and hitting the iceberg again.
Tuesday September 4, 2012
People's Cars: I saw a Ford Model A Convertible Cabriolet on the road last weekend.
Almost five million Model As were made during its production run from model year 1928 through '31. When I was growing up, Model As could still be seen fairly regularly on the roads.
Unlike the Model T, which was very uncomfortable at highway speeds, the Ford A could cruise at 50 mph all day - perfectly adequate in the 1950s.
Back in those days, car enthusiasts in their 30s and 40s bought As because they were cheap, easy to fix and spare part availability was abundant. Our next door neighbor had a Model A coupe project car parked on the street; he never did fix it up - no time. In its time, the A was the neat old car for everyman.
Probably the most famous Model A was Charlie Ryan's Hot Rod Lincoln: "It's got a Model A body that makes it look like a pup."
In many ways, these old Fords were like the air-cooled VWs of a generation later. In the 1970s, you could find lots of Beetles in school parking lots. They were cheap, reliable wheels. And Volkswagen parts - stock and modified - were plentiful.
Now the Ford Model A has become a rarely-seen old artifact of times long past. In time, air-cooled VWs will suffer the same fate. (permalink)
In The 50s ... that was the 10:00 am temperature when I took a Labor Day drive in the '39 Plymouth. There were low, dark clouds toward the east, obscuring the hills, but elsewhere the sky was a pleasant blue with white puffy clouds here and there.
Coating Pioneer: DuPont is selling its slow-growing car paint business to a private equity firm for $4.9 billion in cash. The auto paint division, with 11,000 employees, is a global supplier of vehicle and industrial coating systems with sales of more than $4 billion or so.
In recent times, the auto paint biz had become one of the firm's lowest-margin businesses. DuPont is now focusing on other industries such as food and biofuels, that offer better growth and profit potential.
This is a big deal because it marks the exit of a once-innovative company, which revolutionized the auto industry. In 1924 ... (more >>>)
Leathery Laments: It's no fun being old if you can't complain about stuff.
Recently I bought two pairs of shoes at a specialty shoe store, When The Shoe Fits. Very few of these kind of stores - specializing in well-made shoes and personal service - are remaining these days.
I bought brown loafers, meaning I needed to buy a belt because I didn't have any brown ones. Black, yes. Cordovan, yes. But cordovan has become an 'out' color in the shoe and belt biz. It's even hard to find .... (more >>>)
Money Troubles: The total U.S. debt passed $16 trillion minutes before the opening of the Democratic National Convention today.
Rumor of The Week: If Obama gets reelected, he's going to change the name of the San Andreas Fault to Bush's Fault.
Book Review: 'Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir' by Clint Hill (with Lisa McCubbin)
Clint Hill is the famous, decorated Secret Service Agent who climbed over the trunk of the Presidential Lincoln to protect Jackie Kennedy during the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. This book tells of Hill's years working security for Mrs. Kennedy.
It's a sad memoir of a devoted man who neglected his family in order handle the 24/7 duties of the Secret Service. Not much new is revealed here, although I was surprised to learn of the large number of overseas trips undertaken by Jackie. Looking through history's lens, the irony of her trip to cement the friendship with our great ally, Pakistan, now becomes apparent. How times change.
It was also interesting to learn ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "Does a rattlesnake die when it accidentally bites its tongue?"
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