A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
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Tuesday September 30, 2014
AutoSketch: 1954 Chevrolet Nomad Concept Car - Dream Wagon
The 1954 General Motors' Motorama exhibit opened in New York City in January and later did a four-city tour (Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago). In addition to GM's production models, ten concept cars were on exhibition. These 'dream cars' included two-seater sporty concepts such as the Cadillac La Espada, Oldsmobile F-88, Buick Wildcat II, Pontiac Bonneville Special and the Chevrolet Corvair (a fastback Corvette hardtop). Also debuting at the 1954 Motorama was the Chevrolet Nomad, General Motors' first station wagon-bodied concept car. It was basically a Corvette station wagon built on a stretched Corvette chassis.
The silver-blue and white Nomad was fitted with ... (more >>>)
Color Is Everything: I've seen Tesla sedans in silver, white and deep burgundy. All looked very attractive. On a dreary rainy day last week, I saw a dark gray one exiting a coffee drive-thru in Vancouver. The weather and the color made the high-priced electric car look very ordinary.
Mostly Cloudy With A Chance Of Being Socked In: Fall has arrived and the weather changed in a blink from sunny, warm days to overcast and rain. Sweater weather has arrived and we had the fireplace going on Saturday morning.
At 11:00 am, rays of sunshine appeared, the temperature had warmed to the upper 50s and I headed to the garage to back my '39 Plymouth coupe out. By the time I got underway, there was only a small patch of blue, a narrow shaft of sunshine and most of the celestial vault was full of thick, darkening clouds. As I drove east, I saw fog ahead but I turned south before becoming enveloped by it.
The leaves were beginning to turn but spectacular colors had yet to appear. I enjoyed my Saturday drive, even though the roads were fairly busy.
Since I began another round of chemo on Monday, I probably won't be taking any more rides soon. It was good to get behind the wheel of an old car; the drive lifted my spirits.
A Surprising (To Me) Comment From Bill Maher: In an interview with Charlie Rose, Maher said, "I think liberals should stop bullying me for pointing out that Islam is not like other religions. To claim that this religion is like other religions is just naive and plain wrong. They do behead people (in Mecca). Now if they were beheading people in Vatican City, which is the equivalent of Mecca, don't you think there would be a bigger outcry about it? This is the soft bigotry of low expectations with Muslim people. When they do crazy things and believe crazy things, somehow it's not talked about nearly as much."
King Putt ... is an appropriate moniker for Barack Obama who thinks he's a monarch and spends much of his time playing golf.
Charles Krauthammer, one of the best conservative columnists around and probably the only one who is a Harvard-trained board-certified psychiatrist, has written about Barry O's mindset: "But let me just say as a layman, without invoking any expertise, Obama is clearly a narcissist in the non-scientific use of the word."
"He is so self-involved, you see it from his rise. Here's a man who says I don't do theater, you know, I don't do that. Well, his whole run in 2008 was theater, including the Roman, the Greek columns that he had around him at his speech at the convention in Denver." ... (more >>>)
Clipped Wings: Thirty-eight years ago this month, Paul McCartney and Wings played a benefit in Venice to raise funds for the city; however, the weight of the group's equipment did further damage to the main square of the city.
Quote Of The Day is from H.L Mencken: "Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods."
Friday September 26, 2014
Very Elegant Indeed: The 1930 Cord L-29 Murphy-bodied Town Car that captured the Most Elegant Award at the recent 2014 Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance is currently owned by the Nethercutt Collection, but the car's first owner was actress and singer Dolores del Rio.
Considered to be among the most beautiful women of her day, the Mexican-born starlet was one of the few celebrities to successfully transition from the silent screen to talking motion pictures. By 1929, her resume included a series of successful films with titles like 'High Steppers', 'What Price Glory', 'No Other Woman', 'Revenge' and 'Evangeline', allowing her to command a salary of $9,000 per week, whether she was filming or not.
"At a price of $3,295 (excluding the custom body by Murphy), the Cord L-29 was firmly within del Rio's financial grasp. Only three town cars were built by Cord and bodied by Murphy, which surely made del Rio's long-wheelbase limousine as unforgettable as the starlet herself. The Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance judges agreed, as the black Cord finished first in class before taking the show's Most Elegant Award."
I saw this gorgeous car in person at the Nethercutt Collection during our 2010 visit.
A Graphic Jobless Recovery: Scott Grannis has posted a graph which is worth a thousand words.
He wrote, "The six-month annualized growth rate of private sector jobs is still just a bit above 2%, the same rate we have seen since early 2011. ... Public sector jobs are no longer declining, and are now growing very slowly. The labor force is still growing at a miserably slow rate."
Overall, the jobs picture has been mostly flat during this 'recovery'.
Scott continued, "It's still a very sub-par recovery. There is no ... (more >>>)
War Woes: James Lileks wrote, "It's a long war far away with parades. No soldier kissing a nurse in Times Square when the double-tap on Japan put THE END up on the screen.
That was a war with bookends. There are no more wars with bookends, if there ever really was; WW1 begat WW2, WW2 shifted into the Cold War, the Cold War, it turns out, only took a smoke break before turning into another long wearying novel about Russia's psychological maladjustment, and so on. But there are dates; bombs fall, flags are hoisted, walls tumble, leaders flee. Perhaps it's best that we don't look for a date this time. The End usually means we adopt a new set of delusions, and those are usually dashed quite quickly.
No more of those, next time."
It's sad to realize that the last big war we actually won was World War II. The others were either fought to a sort-of draw or lost, not because of the soldiers who fought but rather the politicians and commanders who dithered. There are no dumb wars; there are however, wars fought in a dumb manner.
Richard Fernandez wrote: "The great thing about World War 2 is that it ended whereas current conflict has been ongoing since September 11, 2001 with no end in sight. The only thing worse than war is endless war, especially a war which nobody wins after decades of fighting. This is the kind of conflict which modern political leaders specialize in fighting: violence without ultimate effect, sacrifice without any tangible result; conflict without any milestones, guideposts or landmarks. A war that never ends on the quarterdeck of a battleship, but only in the slow drawing of the blinds."
He concluded, "Do the right and winning thing or don't get into it at all."
Finally, Some Good News: Clark County (WA) has gained over 5,800 jobs in the past year. All but one employment sector showed a net gain in jobs over the year.
Education and health services added 800 jobs; government added 400 jobs; information grew by 300 positions; financial services chipped in 300 jobs; and leisure and hospitality gained 200 jobs. The county's manufacturing sector saw no change over the year.
As Clark County's economy has grown, the region's unemployment rate has steadily improved. The unemployment rate is expected to finalize at ... (more >>>)
Door. Ass. Bang. Eric Holder, arguably the most racist, biased and obstructionist attorney general in modern U.S. history and the man who once called America "a nation of cowards," is resigning. Holder was determined, in a bipartisan vote, to be in criminal contempt of the 112th United States House and thus became the only sitting cabinet officer in history to be so found. A known stomper of the Constitution, his legacy is mixed pile of contempt and acrimony.
Jim Geraghty suggested that Holder is leaving "to spend more time with his guns in Mexico." I hope his departure is Fast and Furious. Good riddance.
Joke Of The Day: A brain walks into a bar, sits down and orders a shot. "Sorry," says the bartender, "I can't serve you. You're out of your skull."
Wednesday September 24, 2014
When Cars Die: Bill McBride at Calculated Rusk has looked at vehicle turnover - the time between initial sale and the wrecking yard.
He noted, "The wild swings in 2009 were due to the "cash for clunkers" program. ... The estimated ratio for August was just over 14 years - back to a more normal level ... (more >>>)
Buh-Bye: As of 2015, Lotus will no longer sell road cars in the United States, as sales of the Evora sports car come to an end. A waiver granted to the Evora for its lack of smart airbags has expired, and Lotus won't be making the required modifications to help it comply with U.S. regulations.
The company is also in the midst of mass layoffs at its UK headquarters.
Lotus has been off my radar since shortly after James Bond drove that awesome, submersible Esprit S1 in 'The Spy Who Loved Me'.
Update: Lotus has now said they'll be back in 2016. Believe it when it really happens.
Book Review: 'Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues' by Joel Selvin
Pay no attention to the title of this book. It's less a story about Bert Berns but rather a tale of the evolution of R&B and pop music from the early postwar era through the late 1960s. It covers early rock & roll, girl groups, the British invasion and the beginnings of the psychedelic era. Profiles and interactions of many of the song writers, artists and publishing companies are interwoven with the dubious tactics of record companies, especially Atlantic Records.
One memorable story in the book was about Dick Rowe, A&R man for the British arm of Decca records, who refused to sign the Beatles after being unimpressed with their audition at Decca studios. Rowe "traveled to Liverpool to catch the band's show at The Cavern but turned back after encountering a mob in the pouring rain outside the club blocking his entrance. It didn't occur to him until months later that the crowd was waiting to see the Beatles." Rowe told Brian Epstein, the Beatle's manager, that "guitar groups are on their way out."
The author seemed to focus on the negative parts of the music industry ... (more >>>)
Be Sure To Stock Up Soon: Drinking red wine is better for you than going to the gym.
Researchers in the University of Alberta in Canada found that red wine, nuts and grapes have a complex called resveratrol which improves heart, muscle and bone functions; the same way they're improved when one goes to the gym. Resveratrol proved to be an effective antioxidant when tested on rodents which is why scientists are planning on testing it with diabetics. If results are positive for the benefits of the complex, patient's heart health could be improved just as much as it does when they work out vigorously.
Resveratrol is specifically found in red wine as are some of the beneficial antioxidants referred to when talking about heart health. Red wine is also known to reduce 'bad cholesterol' and prevent blood clots. (permalink)
Finally, Some Good News: Clark County (WA) has gained over 5,800 jobs in the past year. All but one employment sector showed a net gain in jobs over the year.
Education and health services added 800 jobs; government added 400 jobs; information grew by 300 positions; financial services chipped in 300 jobs; and leisure and hospitality gained 200 jobs. The county's manufacturing sector saw no change over the year. As Clark County's economy has grown, the region's unemployment rate has slowly improved. The August 2014 unemployment rate is expected to finalize at about at 7.5%, down from 9.9% unemployment in August 2013.
Several national business activity indicators - truck tonnage index, chemical activity barometer, architectural billings, and crude oil output - are showing steady upward growth. (permalink)
Military Now On High Alert: The Italian Army is planning to grow medical marijuana.
Quote Of The Day is from Greg Gutfeld: "If America was a house, the Left would root for the termites."
Monday September 22, 2014
The View From The Art Museum: This photo, taken in 1954 or thereabouts and posted on Hemmings.com, shows the view facing southeast from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Rocky Balboa famously ran up the steps.
In the photo, there are a number of cars parked in front. From left to right, they are a '52 Ford, a '49 Ford and a '53 Dodge - all a dark blue color, a two-tone green 1946 Chevrolet, a turquoise '54 Ford, a dark green 1950 Chevy, a gray '53 Ford four-door sedan, a dark blue '50 Chevrolet, a cream-colored 1946 Cadillac convertible with black top, a slate-blue 1946 Buick, a maroon '51 Henry J, a white-over-blue 1954 Ford Crestline Victoria hardtop, a white-over-deep orange 1954 Pontiac Catalina hardtop coupe and a white-over-salmon 1954 Nash Country Club hardtop coupe.
Behind the parked cars is ... (more >>>)
There's Still A Little Summer Left: It was a balmy 71 degrees at 11:30 am Friday and the sky was bluer than I've seen in a month, filled with Johnson & Johnson puff ball clouds.
After a somewhat rough chemo treatment earlier in the week, I was beginning to feel more like my old self, so I hopped in my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive.
The leaves are beginning to turn but the weather was fine with lots of sun and I had a very enjoyable tour on the back roads of Clark County.
"If It's Not Scottish, It's Crap!" So proclaimed Mike Myers' character in the SNL Scottish Shop sketch.
Based on last week's vote, The Scottish Shop (pictured here in 2001 Edinburgh) is still part of the UK.
Justice For All: James Lileks wrote about 'Environmental Justice, "I don't trust any sort of Justice that needs to be modified, because it is arbitrary, subjective, not codified or subject to appeal, and assumes a prima facie good that trumps objections. If you object to a goal of Environmental Justice you are doubly damned, once for hating the Environment, and once for being Unjust."
I've written earlier about another adjective-modified Justice: "Social Justice was originally a concept proposed by theologian Luigi Taparelli d'Azeglio in 1840 as a way to defend civil society from the ever-increasing intrusions of the state. Social justice, according to Taparelli, was the legitimate realm of justice beyond formal legal justice. Pope Leo XIII popularized it in his 1891 encyclical 'Rerum Novarum'. But 'social justice' was soon hijacked by activist do-gooders, who completely changed its meaning to fit their socialist ways."
Social Justice has been used to justify everything from illegal alien sanctuaries to cookies for the homeless - as if they don't already get enough sugar from all those bottles of Night Train Express. And don't get me started on the Fat Poor. If someone was really poor, they'd be thin. Rail thin.
Witty Observation: Tom McMahon wrote, "A Label I'd Like to See Just Once on a Bottle of Ketchup: Restaurant Package - Please Re-Sell On EBay."
Quote Of The Day is from H.L. Mencken: "Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage."
Thursday September 18, 2014
Saint Testa Of Rossa, Pray For Us: Ferrari enthusiasts are very disturbed by last week's firing of Luca di Montezemolo, who has headed up Ferrari for over two decades and presided over record profits. He and Fiat head Sergio Marchionne disagreed about the management of the Ferrari brand. Di Montezemolo was given a $35 million Shutta-You-Mouth severance package, so the 67-year-old marquis need never work again especially since his net worth is estimated at $400 million. Fiat (FCA) owns 90% of Ferrari.
"In addition to their on-track success, Ferrari also found great financial success in the now ubiquitous merchandise licensing deals that were spearheaded by di Montezemolo, which has allowed Ferrari to maintain a lucrative revenue stream despite capping production of the cars at 7,000 units annually." Marchionne wants to expand production by 40% and broaden the model range. Many auto pundits fear that such a move would dilute the brand's exclusivity.
Regarding Sergio Marchionne ... (more >>>)
Rail Upgrades: The retrofuturistic Zooliner, one of the park trains from the Portland Zoo, is in a shop in Ridgefield, WA, getting a restoration and a power upgrade. As is another Zoo locomotive and tender, the oil-burning Centennial 4-4-0 steam loco, a scaled-down replica of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad's 1872 Reno locomotive.
Built in 1958, the Zooliner is a scale replica of ... (more >>>)
Only In America: Arrested in Maine, a man posed for a mugshot while wearing a t-shirt of himself posing for a previous mugshot.
I Thought That The Department Of Homeland Security Was Responsible For America's Security: Paul Mirengoff of Powerline wrote about an anti-American Islamist who has finally been booted from DHS.
"In 2010, the Obama administration appointed Mohamed Elibiary to DHS' Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). It reappointed him in 2013 with the upgraded title of Senior Fellow.
Last week, however, DHS let Elibiary go. Given ... the Obama administration's affinity for Elibiary's bizarre views about Islamic radicals, we're probably lucky that Elibiary won't be staying on.
The Washington Free Beacon identifies two possible reasons why Elibiary had to go. The first is his record of sympathetic comments about radical Islamists. Elibiary has said on twitter that America is "an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution." He has also opined that the Muslim Brotherhood poses no threat to the United States.
The rise of ISIS also seems not have bothered Elibiary. In his view, the "return" of a Muslim caliphate was inevitable." This comment drew praise from affiliates of ISIS.
It was enough to make one wag wonder whose homeland Elibiary wants to secure."
Elibiary certainly doesn't sound like my kind of Fellow.
Boom! Finally ... Some Good News: At least 14 members of the Islamic State terrorist group were killed near Baghdad when a rocket whose warhead they were filling with chlorine gas exploded.
Iraqi security officials said seven more ISIS militants were injured in the incident, which occurred near the town of al-Dhuluiya, about 55 miles north of Baghdad.
Challenging And Smelly: The People's Cube has come up with the ISIS Bucket Challenge, described as a "a life-saving activity involving dumping buckets of piss on the heads of Western pacifists with "Coexist" bumper stickers to raise their awareness about them actually having those heads, at least until ISIS shows up and chops them off."
Book Review: 'Mad As Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies' by Dave Itzkoff
'Network' was and is a great movie; it has held up well even though it was released in 1976. Itzkoff's book tells the behind-the-scenes story of this dark comedy, which transformed the way we thought about television. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" was the war cry of Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch). It has jumped by being a movie line to part of our pop culture lexicon - a cry by a crazed, delusional Thumper in a herd of clueless Bambis.
Angry, unhinged Beale was not nearly as angry as Paddy Chayefsky, 'Network's' driven, controlling, Oscar-winning screenwriter. But somehow, this odd film attracted a superb cast - Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Beatrice Straight, Ned Beatty and Robert Duvall. Directed by Sidney Lumet, 'Network' managed to win four Academy Awards.
Since I loved 'Network', I was ... (more >>>)
Not That I'm Planning On Dying Just Yet ... but I have updated my 'How to Plan a Funeral' page.
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks on "Bubble-up, America's favorite also-ran version of the perpetually underwhelming Seven-Up. It's like being "the second most popular indistinguishable copy of Velveeta." Be Alive! it says, suggesting somehow that the act of drinking Bubble-Up was a proof of one's existence. I burp therefore I am."
Tuesday September 16, 2014
Early Start: I've witnessed this every place I've ever lived, so I suspect it's true everywhere - people sleep in a bit on Saturday and then they all seem to hit the road by 10:00 am.
Since I woke up early, I decided to get an old car drive in while the roads were still relatively empty. I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and headed out. It was a gorgeous morning with a cloudless blue sky and a view of mostly bald Mt. St. Helens. At 8:30 am, the temperature was a cool 56 degrees; it eventually reached 86 degrees.
I had a very pleasant and uneventful drive, except for having to pass an ancient Toyota Land Cruiser which was puttering along at 35 in a 50 zone. The Plymouth was running great and when I put my foot down to pass ... Yeeehaaaaa!
I'm glad I got my ride in Saturday as this week is chemo week for me and I may not be feeling up to an old car ride in the near term.
After an afternoon nap, I cooked Costco Prime sirloin steaks on our cheap-n-cheerful Char-Broil grill. At 6:00 pm, it was still 75 degrees outside - a comfortable temperature for outdoor grilling. We enjoyed the steaks along with roasted veggies, Omaha Steaks' stuffed potatoes and a bottle of 2008 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc, one of my birthday presents from my wife.
Usually used as a 'blending' wine, we discovered Cab Franc at the small and dumpy Cougar Crest tasting room near the airport during a 2007 visit to Walla Walla, WA. Cougar Crest has since moved to far more upscale quarters west of town - befitting its fine product, but the wine tasted just as good as it did seven years ago. The winery describes it thusly: "Cabernet Franc has become the rising star of our estate vineyard. Allowed to thoroughly ripen on the vine with flavors of red currents, violets, herbs, pepper and spice compliment a rich mouth feel. The finish is long with tobacco, caramel and toast aromas."
Well, I don't know about the 'toast' part but I could definitely discern the pepper and the herbs. It was delicious and our meal was most satisfying as well. I managed to clean the grill before darkness set in, which - unfortunately - happens earlier every day. It's now dark before 8:00 pm.
Unimpressive Kitty: Jaguar recently unveiled its XE model, claimed to be an entry-level, 3-Series competitor. It will arrive in the U.S. as a 2017 model sometime in 2016.
It is a pleasant-looking but boring four-door sedan. It's exterior looks are inoffensive but unexceptional and generic. The interior is ho-hum and vaguely Korean. And where's the swoopy coupe version?
I have no plans to buy a new car anytime soon but, if I had to right now, I'd probably choose a small luxury coupe. At the moment, I'd probably pick the Cadillac ATS coupe, because it is very attractive and distinct. I'd buy a dark blue one and have some custom gold pinstripes added.
Update: On second thought, maybe not. I just used the 2015 ATS configurator and a V6 coupe with AWD and an upgraded interior prices out at over $50,000. Fifty grand for the littlest Cadillac? I don't think so.
Once Upon A Time In Philly: This 1963 Philadelphia photo appeared in Hemmings.com and shows the view looking east from Market and Front Sts. The skyline of Camden, NJ can be seen across the Delaware River.
On the Philadelphia side, a white over green PTC bus (with an orange stripe) can be seen heading south on Front St. The area by the river used to be a landing/terminal for the Philadelphia-Camden Ferry. It was torn down - the pilings are still visible in the photo - and the area was declared to be Penn's Landing and in the 1970s became gentrified with shops and restaurants along the waterfront (replacing the rundown Roe Inn corner tavern on the southwest corner of Market and Front) and tall ships on display.
Now, it's all changed with below-grade Interstate 95 blocking the view of much of the waterfront and a SEPTA bus depot about where the old American gas station used to be.
In the photo, Camden looks to be ... (more >>>)
Feelin' Cool: Michael Bastasch wrote in The Daily Caller, "The numbers are in and the verdict is that there has been no global warming for 17 years and 11 months, according to satellite data.
Satellite data prepared by Lord Christopher Monckton shows there has been no warming trend from October of 1996 to August of 2014 - 215 months. To put this in perspective, kids graduating from high school this year have not lived through any global warming in their lifetimes. According to Monckton - the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and a former policy adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - the rate of warming has been half of what climate scientists initially predicted in the early 1990s."
And yet the BBC and Los Angeles Times have a policy of refusing to report opinions of climate-change dissenters. After all, the science is settled and Al Gore is not to be challenged.
Last week's weather headlines included 'National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration: 246 Cold Temperature Records In First 10 Days Of September', 'Earliest Snowfall On Record In South Dakota, 'Summer Snow Blankets Denver', 'Wyoming Buried In 20 Inches Of Snow' and 'Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches All-Time Record High'.
Music Of Your Life: Well, maybe he didn't write the music of your life but he certainly did mine. Bob Crewe has died at age of 82.
He wrote or co-wrote a tone of memorable songs including 'Silhouettes' by The Rays in 1957, 'Lucky Ladybug' by Billy and Lillie in 1959, 'Sherry' by The Four Seasons in 1962, 'Big Girls Don't Cry' by The Four Seasons in 1962, 'Walk Like a Man' by The Four Seasons in 1963, 'Dawn' and 'Rag Doll' by The Four Seasons in 1964, 'Navy Blue' by Diane Renay in 1964, 'Let's Hang On' by The Four Seasons in 1965, 'A Lover's Concerto' by The Toys in 1965, 'Jenny Take A Ride' by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels in 1965, 'Devil With A Blue Dress On' by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels in 1966, 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You' by The Four Seasons in 1967, 'Jean' and 'Good Morning, Starshine' by Oliver in 1969, 'Lady Marmalade' by Patti LaBelle in 1974, 'My Eyes Adored You' by Frankie Valli in 1975 and many more.
Rest in Peace.
Quote Of The Day is from Ronald Reagan: "I think its time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that our founding fathers intended for us."
Friday September 12, 2014
Car Aerobics: The day began on Thursday with taking our 2005 Toyota Avalon to the repair garage for an oil and filter change - a 55,000 mile requirement. When it was done, we swapped it for our 2008 Lexus LS 460, which had the 25,000 mile oil and filter change, along with a tire rotation. When I picked it up, I drove to a nearby Vancouver gas station, fueled it and ran it through a car wash.
I also took my '39 Plymouth business coupe to a Battle Ground gas station, where I added Sta-Bil to the gas tank and filled it up with Premium. Afterwards, I took a longish back roads drive south to the top end of east Vancouver. Then headed back home.
My old car ride was most enjoyable, although there were plenty of signals that Summer's End is nigh. It was chilly (55 degrees at 8:45 am) and windy with lots of leaves were coming off the trees. Most of the foliage was still green but was becoming that faded, low-saturation hue that happens just before it morphs into gold/yellow/brown. A few trees were beginning to display Fall coloring. But the sky was still a cloudless summer blue and there's no rain in the forecast.
Speaking of gasoline, the engineer part of my brain forces me to record all fuel purchases in spiral notebooks. I keep one in each car.
I've owned my 1939 Plymouth since 1994. Here's a list of Premium gas prices in September of each year - 21 years' worth. Yesterday, I paid $4.189/gallon for Chevron Premium with Techron.
Auction Mania: A two-tone green 1958 DeSoto Firedome convertible sold for $192,500 at Auctions America's Auburn, Indiana sale. The Firedome was the mid-priced DeSoto, positioned above the entry-level, Dodge-based Firesweep but below the better-equipped Fireflite and Adventurer models.
I continue to be amazed at the auction prices restored DeSoto convertibles seem command these days. No one wanted DeSotos when Chrysler made 'em; now they're hot-n-pricey auction fodder.
Speaking of amazed, at the same auction, a white 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible sold for a whopping $231,000.
Undelivered Promises: Rod Ward of Model Auto Review magazine has written, "A worrying trend in the model vehicle industry is seeing drastic cutbacks in some promised releases. These cancellations of new releases are usually attributed by the makers to lack of forward orders or difficulties with Chinese suppliers." New releases have been cancelled or delayed by Minichamps and Corgi.
On one model car sales website, I maintain a Wish List of upcoming models. Promised dates keep slipping, models on the list disappear with 'no longer available' substituted for the description and ... (more >>>)
More Undelivered Promises: Anybody remember this quite from Barack Obama in January 2009? "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency." Hardee-har-har.
Farewell, Jaws: Richard Kiel, the 7-foot-2 actor who played Jaws, the James Bond villain with the teeth of steel in movies 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (1977) and 'Moonraker' (1979), has died at age 74. Kiel broke his leg last week and died in St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California.
Ironically, Kiel suffered from acrophobia - a fear of heights.
In somewhat related news, Zeus, an American Great Dane, proclaimed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's tallest dog - standing 7 foot, 3 inches, has died at age 5. Zeus resided in Otsego, Michigan.
Patty - An Embarrassment and A Disgrace: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke this week about the Hobby Lobby case. "Just a few months ago, five men on the Supreme Court decided there should be a group of women across America who are required to ask their boss for permission to access basic health care."
H.L. Mencken once wrote, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." The Democratic Party, especially dumbell Patty, has taken his words to heart.
Christianity, Medical Care, Islam And The Mid-Term Elections: The Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the Western World and the originator of 'hospitals'.
Just as the Syrian Christian Church did in the East, the Catholic Church in the West pioneered putting into practice the words of Jesus: "I was sick and you visited me." And "Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, so you have done unto me."
Some ancient cultures had some medical/superstitious practices, they were primarily for the rich and royal. Healthcare for the poor traces its roots to Christianity.
In the 4th century ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Karl Denninger: "Choose wisely; you only get one life and there are no do-overs."
Wednesday September 10, 2014
Look Ma, No Hands: Cadillac will introduce a model in two years that can travel on the highway without the driver holding the steering wheel or putting a foot on a pedal.
"The 2017 Cadillac model will feature 'Super Cruise' technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said yesterday in a speech at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit.
GM declined to release the name of the model that will carry the feature."
Barra also said that, in two years, the company will become the first automaker to equip a model with so-called vehicle-to-vehicle technology that enables the car to communicate with other autos with similar abilities to warn of traffic hazards and improve road safety.
The V2V feature will be "standard on its 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan, debuting in the second half of 2016, she said. The Super Cruise feature will be on a different Cadillac model and goes beyond similar technology available on some Mercedes-Benz models that operates only at low speeds."
All this from General Motors, a firm that can't seem to make workable, safe ignition switches. Now they want to drive your car for you.
Good luck with that.
The Truth About Shoes: Jack Baruth has enlightened me about the sad state of Florsheim shoes today. "Florsheim used to be one of the great American shoe makers. In an era where most clothing products were made in this country by people earning some sort of semi-living wage, Florsheim occupied the position of shoemaker to the middle class. ... Today's Florsheims are made in India."
This was surprising news to me and indicates just how much the shoe industry has changed in the last 30 or so years. For the record, Florsheim's top-of-the-line Imperials were once-upon-a-time a very upper-management type of ready-made shoe, almost in a class with Johnston & Murphy. Not as expensive or stylish as Cole Haan - but far more comfortable.
This country was once dotted with Florsheim stores. I haven't seen one in years. The last one I knew of around here (at Lloyd Center in Portland) closed over 10 years ago.
The Middle Class Dress Shoe is indeed history, Jack. Nunn Bush, once a stolid, long-wearing example of basic clerical white-collar footwear is now sold at J. C. Penney. Blue-collar Thom McAn is currently being hawked in Kmart and Sears stores, where EBT cards rule.
Hanover once proudly made its sturdy and occasionally stylish footwear in Hanover, PA. Now, if you buy a Hanover shoe product, it might ... (more >>>)
Another Tech Miracle: Yesterday, Apple unveiled the iWatch, a new piece of hardware that you wear on your wrist so that you no longer have to look at your handheld device to find out what time it is.
Will wonders never cease?
Prices for the iWatch start at $349 and sales will begin early next year. Start lining up now, suckers.
State Department Barf Alert: Thanks to Scott Johnson of Powerline for putting my gut feelings into words. "State Department spokesman Jen Psaki makes me psick. If you read P.G. Wodehouse, you know the “P" in her name is silent, as in "phthisis," "psychic" and "ptarmigan" (as Wodehouse's Psmith explains). And Psaki's colleague Marie Harf makes me barf.
Together Psaki and Harf give the catastrophic foreign policy of the Obama administration a lighter than air, Valley Girl kind of feel."
Name That Key Ingredient: Greg Gutfeld has asked, "If olive oil is made from olives and corn oil made from corn, then what's baby oil made from?"
Just Wondering? A man beats up a black woman in a hotel elevator, knocking her out. The crime is caught by a security camera. Where is the outrage from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? How come there's no investigation by Attorney General Eric Holder?
Oh wait. The perp is Ray Rice, a black NFL player. He gets a pass, I guess.
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Ferguson any more.
Book Review: 'James Madison: A Life Reconsidered' by Lynne Cheney
James Madison was the longest-surviving of the Founding Fathers. Lynne Cheney has written a well-researched, very detailed new biography of Madison. Her book contrasts Madison's viewpoints with those of his contemporaries Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall.
Ms. Cheney details the consequences of Madison's epilepsy which he had from his student days at Princeton to the end of his life. Considering the lack of treatment (and understanding) of the condition, it is remarkable that he accomplished so much. As president, James Madison led ... (more >>>)
Asian Gambling: Macau's casinos take in seven times as much money as those in Las Vegas.
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is from The Onion: 'God Knocked Unconscious By DirectTV Satellite'.
Quote Of The Day is from British philosopher John Stuart Mill: "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that Nothing is worth war is much worse.
The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Monday September 8, 2012
Saturday Sun Run: At 9:00 am Saturday, the sun was bright, the skies were blue and the temperature was 65 degrees. This sounded like ideal conditions for a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe, so I headed out before the weekend traffic got too heavy.
The roads were lightly traveled and my drive was most pleasant. I had a pretty tough week of chemo and side effects, including a severe reaction to one of the drugs, and it was good to feel well enough for an old car cruise.
Early Unveiling:: The 2015 models of most automakers haven't yet hit the streets but Mazda has taken the wraps off the 2016 MX-5 Miata. What's up with that?
The styling is sharper and fiercer than previous models and the little sports car has shed some weight. It looks nice in red. The styling is less Lotus, more Jaguar F-Type.
Hobby Mag Changes: Like every other periodical, the hobby magazine business is consolidating.
Carstens Publications went out of business last month. The company been publishing Railroad Model Craftsman and other hobby magazines 50 years.
In an announcement, president Henry Carstens wrote that the current economic climate has placed the company in this position. He thanked readers for their patronage over the years.
However, White River Productions has acquired Railroad Model Craftsman, Railfan & Railroad magazines, as well as the book line formerly published by Carstens Publications. Railroad Model Craftsman was started in 1933.
White River also produces Model Railroad News, Railroads Illustrated, Passenger Train Journal, The Railroad Press and 22 railroad historical society magazines and associated items.
Barack Obama Channels Andy Griffith: 'A Face In The Crowd' is one of my favorite movies. It's about a hollow drunk who becomes a television faux folk hero. The lead character, Lonesome Rhodes, is played by a darker side of Andy Griffith, an actor mostly known for light comedies such as 'No Time For Sargents', another favorite.
Victor Davis Hanson wrote: "Elia Kazan's classic 'A Face in the Crowd' is a good primer on Barack Obama's rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways - confident that he should never be held to account.
Kazan's point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the "folks" are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth.
Rhodes's new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes's true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes."
VDH concluded that "we are just too lied out to believe anything our slick version of Lonesome Rhodes says anymore. And that fact may best explain his 39-41% approval rating."
All Americans need to play Patricia Neal's character and just walk away, shaking our collective heads in disgust and dismay.
Restaurant Review: Little Italy's; Vancouver, WA
In 2013, I wrote a review of this establishment's downtown Vancouver location.
Recently, I had the opportunity to dine at Little Italy's eastside location in a modern multi-use professional office park. The decor is a big step up from the downtown establishment and off-street parking is abundant.
The service was excellent and the food was ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from David Horowitz: "Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out."
Thursday September 4, 2014
August Car Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 17.45 million SAAR in August, up 10% from August 2013 and an increase of over 6% from the 16.4 million annual sales rate last month.
Chrysler Group posted a 20% increase in August U.S. sales, aided by bigger discounts and surging demand for the Ram pickup and Jeep lineup. Chrysler and its dealers cited "tremendous Labor Day weekend sales" on top of a "very solid month." Jeep sales leaped 49%. Fiat sales were down 20%.
Ford Motor Company sales were flat. General Motors sales were down 1%, saved from a worse fate by GMC trucks, which showed a 10% sales rise. Cadillac sales slid 18%. The oft-hyped ATS and CTS models were down by 17% and 34% respectively. GM said its retail sales fell 4% while fleet shipments rose 9%.
Toyota Motor Co. experienced a year-over-year monthly sales increase 6%. Lexus sales were up 19%. American Honda sales were flat, pulled down by Acura which fell 9%. Nissan Motor Co. sales were up 13%, although its Infiniti brand fell 23%. Volkswagen brand sales dropped by 13%, while Subaru sales jumped 22% on demand for the redesigned Legacy sedan and revamped Outback. It marked the 33rd straight month of gains for Subaru and the first time monthly volume topped 50,000.
BMW and Mercedes experienced 11% rises in sales over last August. Porsche sales rose 37%, while Jaguar fell 31% to 1,184 vehicles. Maserati sales soared 278% to 1,233 units, outselling Jaguar for the first time ever.
Audi sales increased 22%. Once a small-time player in the luxury vehicle field, Audi outsold Cadillac, Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln and Volvo brands last month.
Tesla sold 1,800 cars last month, down 22% from last year. Perhaps reports of alleged high powertrain failure rates are scaring off prospective buyers. Or maybe people are tired of all the hype over this limited-range, high-priced electric car.
America's Decline: Fred Reed has written, "The United States, methinks, is not particularly stable. That anything seismic might happen is an idea doubtless inconceivable to most Americans, who still remember the America of Reader's Digest, but is daily less improbable."
"The economy declines, jobs leave for other climes, the petroyuan looms, college graduates crushed by debt find no work, the middle class shrinks, and the young begin to live perforce with their parents. Times of diminishing expectations are dangerous.
City after city joins the ranks of the bankrupt, semiliterate, corrupt black Bantustans which by honest naming would be called Lower Third World."
"America can no longer be called a democracy. The Constitution recedes in memory. Congress and the Supreme Court amount to nothing. Washington rests uneasily in the hands of a half-mad clique of geopolitical illiterates, warlike misfires playing dangerous games like little Kaiser Wilhelms in a sandbox."
"A sort of insanity rules, warning of stress building along many political San Andreas faults waiting for the Big One. A pathologically aggressive United States bombs countries almost at random while little boys are dragged from school in handcuffs for pointing a finger and saying 'Bang'. Girls suffer from bulimia and anorexia, lunacies nonexistent in psychically healthy societies. A crack-brained feminism makes cockamamie circuses of the universities. Bastardy runs at a perilous thirty percent among white women, verging on cultural disintegration, and seventy percent among blacks. The epicene young grow in sheltered, meaningless hothouse-suburbs, never having worked, baited a hook, been in a schoolyard fight, or existed outside of a feckless bored helplessness.
From the cellars come prancing homosexuals, men in dresses and panties, the surgically altered inverts and sadomasochistic hobbyists. The high schools are become drug markets, differing only slightly from the middle schools. Life is a cabaret, old chum, here in Caligula's bedroom."
On the other hand, we're going down the tubes in style. We "enjoy material comforts the kings and queens of old could never have imagined. Hot water on demand in virtually every home, no fire necessary. Heaters, fans and 'air conditioning technology' allow you to even adjust the temperature of the air itself to match your preference, any time of year. Enjoy fine soaps, lotions, textiles and perfumes. Even spices and teas are readily available, in hundreds of exotic varieties. Be shuttled around the globe in automobiles and flying machines, even if you have no royal blood at all."
And there's The Help: "While you're off practicing ballroom dancing or sampling exotic fruits, teams of professionals are standing by, ready to assist you in a medical emergency, rescue you from fire, clean your streets, repair broken amenities, and even help you fend off wild animal attacks-in-progress."
So, is the Big Gulp cup half-full or half-empty?
Blame Bush? Writing in The Weekly Standard, author Noemie Emery has chronicled the recent 'bad luck' of our incompetent, disengaged Commander-in-Chief and the excuses made by his still-loyal liberal pals.
"All the bad news, from Iraq to Ukraine, from Libya and Syria to the Mexican border, just seems to have happened: Obama was standing there, golfing or shaking hands with donors, and, like a burst of bad weather, the winds blew, the skies opened, and things went to hell. Mysterious forces conspired against him, terrible setbacks occurred for no reason, and we were left with effects without a cause." Including those despicable acts by ISIS, such as ... (more >>>)
Gutfeld Strikes Again: On Wednesday's 'The Five' on the Fox News Channel, co-panelist Greg Gutfeld opened the show with a scathing critique of President Barack Obama and his demeanor when speaking publicly about the threat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"No wonder everyone is confused. ... At our defense he's as inspiring as a soggy Cheerio. It's like watching someone take batting practice with a garden hose or teeing off with a rope or shooting pool with a butterfly net.
Selena Gomez has more testosterone."
Sad News: I had just returned from the public library, picking up my reserved copy of Joan Rivers' new book, 'Diary of a Mad Housewife', when I found out that Joan had died at 81. I really enjoyed her last book - reviewed here.
I don't care if Joan Rivers was profane, tasteless and vulgar; she made me laugh. She was one of a kind. She's been touted as a female Don Rickles - not true. She was sharper,wittier and more prolific than Don.
Comparisons with Sarah Silverman and Kathy Griffin - invalid. Neither could hold a candle to Joan. Both are vulgar and crass without being funny. Losers.
I wonder what they'll do for a casket? Joan Rivers wrote that she doesn't like shopping for caskets. "A simple pine box screams 'Cheapo'. And one of those huge, brightly-colored metal things looks like a float in a Puerto Rican Day parade."
Whatever box you end up in, Joan, rest in peace.
Book Review: 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century' by Thomas Piketty
After some 235 pages (of its almost 700 pages), I gave up. I found this book to be denser than a black hole and as boring as an evening with Al Gore. I learned nothing from this obtuse tome.
You know what else bothered me about it? ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is attributed to Andy Warhol but, I'm tellin' ya, I said it waaay before he did: "The mosquito is the state bird of New Jersey."
Tuesday September 2, 2014
I Didn't Know Brand Loyalty Still Existed: Mitsubishi has the lowest brand loyalty of any car sold in the U.S. with only 22% of current owners saying they intended to stay loyal to the brand in their next purchase.
"Not only have less than 22% of Mitsubishi owners said they intend to buy another Mitsubishi over the past two years, but the brand's loyalty rating fell 16% between the second quarters of 2012 and 2014, the largest decline of any make. Despite receiving among the worst ratings from J.D. Power's dependability study - 166 problems were reported per 100 vehicles - Mitsubishi sales have rebounded in recent years. Between the first halves of 2013 and this year, vehicle sales rose 30.2%, more than all but one other brand reviewed by Kelley Blue Book."
Other brands with low loyalty ratings include Chrysler: 23%, Dodge: 23%, Jaguar: 25%, Lincoln: 27%, Infinity 28%, Volvo: 29% and Buick: 30%.
Ford, Honda and Toyota are brands that keep at least 50% of their customers coming back on average and are also among the best selling brands in the United States.
Labor Day Cruise: At 8:30 am on Monday, the temperature was a cool 58 degrees; I decided to take a ride in my '39 Plymouth coupe before the traffic got too heavy. To my surprise, the roads were practically empty, which made for a pleasant trip. The skies were summer blue with few clouds, I had a good view of Mt. St. Helens which has lost almost all of its snow covering.
I returned home to do some chores, including cleaning our cheap-n-cheerful grill - we had a cookout Sunday evening - and fixing the bracket which holds the propane tank. It had worked itself loose over the past month.
My son-in-law recently acquired a very-used 2003 Honda Accord sedan from California and the Lexan headlights were very hazy, yellow and dull.
Polycarbonate plastic (Lexan) does not weather as well as acrylic (Plexiglas, Lucite); it will typically yellow with time and will experience surface haze after five years of outdoor exposure. But polycarbonate has better heat resistance and far superior impact resistance than acrylic, so it generally remains the material of choice for headlights these days.
I was able to get these headlamps crystal clear again using car wax, elbow grease and a power buffer. The headlights now transmit light better at night and, since the days are getting shorter, this is important for safety. See and be seen.
I discovered that the Honda's V6 engine was quite low on oil, so we topped it off with some Castrol GTX 10W-40 which I had in my garage.
In other Labor Day auto news, my daughter Lexoled the leather seats on her Subaru Forester. I was inspired enough by the sight of the Lexol spray bottle to give my burgundy leather recliner chair a good conditioning treatment. It now looks much better; in fact, the 20 year-old La-Z-Boy looks almost new.
Hey, what am I doing working - it's supposed to be Labor Day?!
Unsubscribing Is Tough: In regards to getting off mass e-mail lists, James Lileks wrote, "As you're informed, it may take 5-7 days for the change to apply, because apparently it's done by hand by an old man with narcolepsy who thinks he can take you off the list by taking a pencil eraser to the computer screen."
And: "Somewhere along the line I was added to a million lists for every single political cause in the country, and while some find the various wheedling pleas to be A) amusing, and B) a sign that both left and right are united in their constant sweaty panic that horrible things are imminent if I don't part with five dollars and Stand Up For This Thing That Requires Up Standing, they contribute to tsuris in my life and I despise them."
Whatever Happened To Nigel? Muhammed has been crowned Britain's most popular boys' name, based on figures published by the UK Office of National Statistics. The name of the Muslim prophet beat Oliver as the most popular boys name chosen by parents in Britain in 2013.
In related news, the decision by one of Great Britain's largest hotel chains to remove Bibles from its rooms has sparked complaints from Christians. Travelodge, which operates 500 hotels, says the Bibles were removed for "diversity reasons," citing the country's increasing multicultural influences.
It's not just Britain, either. Statistics Norway has counted the population of Oslo and found that Mohammed is the most common male name in Oslo for the first time ever. Altogether 4,801 boys and men are named Mohammed - surpassing Jan (4,667) and Per (4,155).
Political Correctness Run Amok: Social workers failed to save 1,400 children - mostly young white girls - from sexual exploitation in one English town because they were fearful of being called 'racists'. The abuse spanned a period of 16 years.
The Daily Mail article refers to the sex criminals as "Asian men," but the perps were not sex-crazed Japanese dudes, dressing up preteens in Sailor Moon costumes. No ... they were mostly Pakistani Muslims, beating, raping and swapping underage girls.
Headline Of The Week ... so far is from The People's Cube: 'Fargo cop shoots unarmed cow; town braces for bovine riots'.
Runner-up - from the same source: 'Obama vows ISIS will never raise their flag over the eighteenth hole', tied with 'Elian Gonzalez wishes he had come to the U.S. on a bus from Central America like all the other kids'.
Restaurant Review: Pasta Gigi's; Battle Ground, WA
Recently, this establishment moved to larger quarters and now serves lunch and dinner. We tried it for lunch and found the food and service OK - important because it's the only half-decent Italian restaurant in Battle Ground.
My initial complaints were ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from David Burge: "Washington (D.C.) is Comic Con for people who like to dress up and cosplay as mentally competent."
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