A Blog About Cars ... And More
Friday July 30, 2021
AutoSketch: 1940 Packard Darrin - Driving In Style
The first Packard automobile was produced in 1899. Packard quickly became the most well-known of the premium brands. The marque developed a following among wealthy purchasers both in the United States and abroad. In the 1920s, Packard exported more cars than any other in its price class. By the end of the 1920s, Packard was outselling every other luxury car in the world. During the mid to late 1930s, Packard outsold Cadillac by 2 to 1.
Packard cars were elegant and handsome, whether factory-bodied or custom-bodied by coachbuilders. But, one of the best-looking Packards of all time was the Packard Darrin, a semi-custom created by Howard A. 'Dutch' Darrin.
Dutch, the man behind the 1937-1942 Packard Darrin, left an indelible imprint ... (more >>>)
"It's Summertime, Summertime, Sum-sum-summertime ..." The Jamies' 1958 musical earwig can get inside your head, displacing more and more rational thought until you become a drooling moron. That's why I don't have the song in my iTunes library.
The tune has been used in commercials for Buick, Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food and Applebee's. I have seen Buicks driven by elderly, drooling morons and I have observed them pulling into the parking lots of many an abominable Applebee's. So there. (Well ... that's better than staying home and eating Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food, I guess.)
In any case, Thursday was definitely summertime. The weather was summery - 73 degrees and blazingly sunny with hazy azure skies at 9:30 am. (By afternoon, the temperature reached a hot-hot-hot 93.)
It was definitely time to take a drive in my '39 Plymouth business coupe. And I did. I drove with windows down and with '50s rock-n-roll playing through the speakers. But not 'It's Summertime'.
Mt. St. Helens wasn't visible - too much haze. Some of the haze is from lack of rain, some may be due to smoke from the the wildfires in central Oregon and Washington. Traffic was moderate and I had a fine drive.
Car Story: Some time back, USA Today had a nice, car-centric profile of Jay Leno. Excerpt: "I had two jobs as a kid, one at a fast-food restaurant and one at a Ford dealership. And I'd put the money from one job in one pocket and spend it. And the other paycheck I'd save," he says. "I do that now. I have always banked my Tonight Show money and lived off the stand-up. I have one credit card, no mortgage, and I don't lease."
"When I was little, I was never a sports guy. The notion of tossing a ball back and forth seemed ridiculous. What am I, a dog?"
One day while riding his bike, "I saw a man standing next to his 1952 Jaguar convertible. And I was transfixed. The guy asked if I wanted to sit in it. I did. And I never forgot that moment."
"Maybe I'm just trying to get someone as excited about cars as that guy did for me. You know, the first car I bought when I had any money was a '50s Jaguar."
The pause is imperceptible, the grin childlike. "Wanna see it?"
Electric Bus Scam: More than two dozen electric Proterra buses first unveiled by the city of Philadelphia in 2016 are already out of operation. The entire fleet of Proterra buses was removed from the roads by SEPTA, the city's transit authority, in February 2020 due to both structural and logistical problems - the weight of the powerful battery was cracking the vehicles' chassis, and the battery life was insufficient for the city's 'easy' bus routes.
Philadelphia had placed the Proterra buses in areas where it thought they could succeed but quickly learned it was mistaken ... (more >>>)
Anti-Catholicism Rears Its Ugly Head: "The Board of Regents of the University of California voted to end its affiliation with all Catholic hospitals if they do not agree to perform "abortions, euthanasia, assisted suicide and the direct sterilization of patients," in direct violation of their Christian religious beliefs.
Robert Zimmerman wrote, "All of these treatments are optional, and can be scheduled. I can see almost no medical issue preventing the safe transfer of a patient from of a Catholic hospital in order to get one of these procedures. In fact, I can't even see a reason for any patient who wants an "abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, or direct sterilization" to even be in a Catholic hospital.
The only reason the university's Board of Regents has for imposing such a rule is to either force Catholics to violate their religious beliefs, or to get such religious hospitals blackballed from serving any patients, and thus in the long run destroy them as institutions."
Drunk With Debt: Unless Congress raises or suspends the debt ceiling, the federal government will most likely run out of money in October or November, the Congressional Budget Office said recently.
The current suspension of the debt ceiling is set to expire at the end of July. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of catastrophic effects if a hike is not passed. Oh yeah - let's find out. I say, "Screw it. Lets freeze the National Debt and see what happens." Lay off 50% of government employees and see if anyone notices."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans will not support raising the debt ceiling. I'll believe that when I see it. Republican pussies have always caved in the past.
The national debt is over $28 trillion dollars. Don't raise the ceiling, lower the spending. Any Republican who votes with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling should be voted out of office.
Killadelphia: Philadelphia has achieved the highest murder rate in the country, on a per capita basis, as compared to the 10 largest cities in the United States. Over 314 people had been murdered in the City of Brotherly Love so far this year. Homicides are up 35% from the same time period in 2020. Murders so far in 2021 are higher than the full-year totals of six of the past 12 years.
Democrats seem to have a special skill for running cities ... into the ground.
Life In The Pre-Cilantro Era: James Lileks wrote about ordering coffee in simpler times: "I can't imagine walking into a diner in 1947 and hearing the waitress ask if she could start a joe beverage for me. Nor can I imagine the cook coming around from behind the grill he has a faded anchor tattoo, stubble, a stained white apron - and telling me I can't put ketchup on my hashbrowns because it might get on the bacon, and the bacon is uncured hormone-free bacon hand-rubbed with applewood shavings."
James' mythical tale was inspired by a modern day We-Don't-Serve-Your-Kind-Here encounter involving a condescending coffee joint: "I just ordered my usual summertime pick-me-up: a triple shot of espresso dumped over ice. And the guy at the counter looked me in the eye with a straight face and said “I'm sorry, we can't serve iced espresso here. It's against our policy.""
It made me think about the Jack Nicholson-diner waitress scene in 'Five Easy Pieces': "Do you see that sign, sir? Yes, you'll all have to leave. I'm not taking any more of your smartness and sarcasm."
Music Of My Life: I've added a new page for all my postings about popular music. You'll find it here.
"But Wait, There's … No More!" Ron Popeil, the Grand Old Man of infomercials has died at age 86, following an unspecified medical emergency.
He was an American inventor, pitchman, and founder of the direct response marketing company Ronco Corporation. He coined the phrase "Set it, and forget it!" (for his Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ) and popularized the phrase, "But wait, there's more!" on television as early as the mid-1950s. His dad, Sam Popeil was also an inventor and salesman of numerous kitchen-related gadgets such as the Chop-O-Matic ("Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made ... All your onions chopped to perfection without shedding a single tear.") and the Veg-O-Matic to major department stores.
Ron also developed the Ronco Pocket Fisherman. Popeil is also well known for his housewares inventions like ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day: I wonder what the part of my brain that used to remember phone numbers is up to these days?
Wednesday July 28, 2021
Chrome Overload: How can you not like a guy who loves chrome?
Somewhere underneath all that shiny customization resides ... (more >>>)
All In On Electric: Mercedes-Benz reported that all its new vehicle platforms created from 2025 forward will be electric only, and that the company plans to have an all-electric product line by 2030.
The Yoke's On You: If you buy a new Tesla Model S or X, you'll find that the conventional round steering wheel has been replaced by a 'yoke" or 'butterfly-type' wheel.
The new steering wheel may look cool but it is obviously not ideal for low speeds and for quick maneuvers in case of slipping or sliding.
Can't FritoLay Make Them? They make Tostitos chips, don't they? Referencing an article about how chip shortages are leading to ‘dead’ cars on factory storage lots and vehicle production halts. Don Surber wrote, "Red China has us by the short hairs. And the cowards they paid off - the Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bidens - do not care. We don't need another stimulus. We need a chip factory."
The Beach Boys: Everyone knows the story of this American band and sometimes tragic soap opera. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. And that's the gang that made the best vocal harmonies and created the best hits of the 1960s. They sang about love, growing-up, surfing and hot cars.
The Beach Boys came to my attention when they recorded 'Surfin' Safari' in 1962. I was already in college by then but enjoyed their music, especially the car songs. The B-side of Safari was '409' - a car song about the big-engined Chevy introduced that year. In 1963, they released 'Surfin' USA'. It was kind of a rip-off of Chuck Berry's 'Sweet Little 16' but made for good listening. The B-side was 'Shut Down' - another car song about a drag race between a 413 cubic-inch Dodge and a fuel-injected Corvette Sting Ray. The same year, the group released 'Little Deuce Coupe' - a song about a '32 Ford hot rod.
I liked the original early to mid-60s Beach Boys. I think … (more >>>)
Industrial Art: Simple design often yields elegant, minimalist art. A piece - unearthed from a forgotten storage box - is a square bin with a hinged lid made from clear Plexiglas. I designed it and my company built it almost 40 years ago to display colorful candies. Six of these were placed inside a custom-fitted rectangular Plexiglas case, which was sited on a retailer's countertop. When a customer wanted to buy some candy, a clerk removed the appropriate box using the handle and opened the lid, pouring the desired amount into a suitable bag or carton.
The entire design is water-clear transparent acrylic, including the hinge for the top. Such hinges are commonplace today but, at the time this item was manufactured, were brand new. My firm was ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Pizza Czar: Recipes and Know-How from a World-Traveling Pizza Chef' by Anthony Falco
Many ancient cultures, especially in the Mediterranean region, produced basic flatbreads with a variety of toppings. A precursor of pizza was probably the focaccia, a flat bread known to the Romans as panis focacius, to which toppings were then added. The word pizza was first documented in A.D. 997 in Gaeta and successively in different parts of Central and Southern Italy.
Modern pizza evolved from ... (more >>>)
July Virus Update: Clark County had 24,931 cumulative confirmed cases - 640 new cases this month, down 58% from the same period last month. The total number of people hospitalized is no longer reported but there have been only 13 new hospitalizations in the last two weeks. The percentage of beds occupied by covid patients has dropped from 8.1% on June 5th to 3.1% on July 10th. The mortality rate for July is 2.2%. This table summarizes data for cases and deaths in Clark County over time, beginning with March 2020.
As of July 22nd, there have been - cumulatively - 260 confirmed Wuhan flu deaths in Clark County, Washington from the China virus, a rate of 513 per million. There were 14 new deaths in the past month - up from 12 last month. Of the 260 total cumulative deaths, at least 237 of the deceased had underlying medical conditions.
The death rate for Washington State ... (more >>>)
Driving Away The Faithful: One of the Prime Directives of business is Don't Piss Off Your Customers. In an era of dramatically declining Catholic worship, the current tone-deaf pope seems to have never heard of that one.
Pope Francis has issued a new motu proprio restricting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, declaring ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day - and a cool thought in the summer heat - is from James Lileks: "Realize that no one remembers the perfect Christmases. Everyone remembers the ones where the tree caught fire or the dog drank from the stand and coughed up needles through February."
Or, I would add, the one where next-door neighbor Gus - a little too full of the Christmas spirits (if ya know what I mean) - rang my parent's door bell one Christmas morn, wished us a merry Christmas and then threw up all over our front steps.
Monday July 26, 2021
Summer Heat, Haze And Sun: It was all blue skies and sunshine at 8:15 am on Saturday, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive along the back roads of North Clark County. The temperature was 58 degrees. It reached 89 by afternoon - in the shade - if you could find some. Time to stay inside with the AC on and take a nap. And I did.
There was some haze from wildfires in Oregon (near The Dalles and the 900 -acre Jack Fire in Douglas County in Southern Oregon) and central Washington (near Yakima and near Wenatchee) and I couldn't see Mt. St. Helens on my drive - not that there's much worth seeing in summertime.
Traffic was light and I drove with the windows down, getting some fresh air. The Plymouth ran great. Good drive.
Small, Decontented And Unsuccessful: The Henry J, a mostly-forgotten small car from the early 1950s.
The Henry J was a compact American car built by Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and named after its chairman, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. The Henry J was introduced as a 1951 model on September 28, 1950.
The car was designed and priced to attract ... (more >>>)
That's A Lotta Toyos: On July 21st, a white 2021 Toyota Camry SE became the 10 millionth Camry to roll off the line at the Georgetown Kentucky facility. Toyota is also in its 35th year of operation in the Bluegrass State. I still see V20 series (1986-92) Camrys around these parts. They seem to be bulletproof. I've heard that early Camrys were prone to rust but, since no one salts the roads around here, they don't corrode away.
My wife's 2005 Avalon Limited - an oversized Camry for all intents and purposes - still looks and runs great.
Happy Birthday To A Legend: Hot rod pioneer Ed Iskenderian of Isky cams turned 100 this month. He was born to first-generation Armenian immigrants in Tulare County, CA. While at L.A.'s Polytechnic High School, he built a customized Ford Model T.
After the serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, Iskenderian established ... (more >>>)
Of Bad Sunbirds and Bad Management: Recently, Tom Klockau wrote about a concours-condition 1976 Pontiac Sunbird. He was intrigued by this "corporate sibling to the Chevy Monza Towne Coupe, most of which dissolved by around 1990." The Sunbird was based on the Chevrolet Vega, a fact which explains some of its problems. I guess that, if it's a bad-enough car, it eventually becomes a rarity.
I only knew one guy who owned a '76 Pontiac Sunbird ... (more >>>)
Bumper Cars: A late-1960s Auto-Skooter brochure produced by Lusse Brothers of Philadelphia, PA. Cousins Joe and Ray Lusse ran a machine shop supplying ... (more >>>)
I Heart Nukes: I can't wait for mini-nuke plants like the working model Martin Prince made for the children's contest in The Simpsons 'Homer's Enemy' episode from 1997: "Behold, the power plant of the future, today!"
I know just where I'll put mine.
Jewish Comic Legend: Jackie Mason - an iconic Borscht Belt stand-up comedian (ranked No. 63 on Comedy Central's 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all-time) and film and television actor - has died at age 93.
Mason made several appearances as a guest on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' during the 1960s. He appeared in Mel Brooks' 'History of the World, Part I', Steve Martin's 1979 movie, 'The Jerk' and 1988's 'Caddyshack II'. He was the voice of the robot tailor on Woody Allen's 'Sleeper'. He also voiced Hyman Krustosfski, Krusty the Clown's rabbi father, on several episodes of 'The Simpsons'.
Jackie one-liners: "That's a great profession, a doctor. Where else can you ask a woman to get undressed and then send the bill to her husband?" And: "Money is not important. Love is important. Fortunately, I love money." And: "I have enough money to last me the rest of my life unless I buy something."
Rest in peace, Jackie.
Most Dangerous, According To Tucker: When asked who is the most dangerous person in America, Tucker Carlson replied, "Barack Obama."
"He has cultural influence. He has some enormous contract with Netflix, creative contract with Netflix. Barack Obama has never created anything. He's a figure at Netflix, but he has more power in the Democratic Party than any other figure, including Joe Biden. And he's radical.
He's driven by his hatred, his resentment toward America and the population. He's race obsessed. He sees everything through the lens of race. He's a liar, not straightforward about his views or his aims. So, yes, by far: Obama. Obama is the opposite of Trump. Trump sounded scary but was effectively a moderate. Obama sounds very reassuring and calming, but he is absolutely a radical."
Tucker also believes that Biden/Harris are not running the country. The true leaders are Barack Obama/Susan Rice. "I think this is the third Obama term. This is the radical administration he wishes he had. Biden was always liberal but not radical. This administration is radical, and I think it's pretty clear that Biden is not in charge of it."
"What do our leaders tell us is important? Racism, transgender rights, slavery, which ended more than 150 years ago. There's no connection between what they're telling us is important and what most people think is important. That's a problem."
Thought For Today: One of the most remarkable displays of democracy in history is that one thousand islands managed to come together and agree on a single salad dressing.
Thursday July 22, 2021
Compact Shoot-Out: Motor Trend tested the 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE sedan against the new 2022 Honda Civic Touring Sedan and reported that the Civic was the winner hands-down.
MT noted that "the Civic ran away with this comparison. It outclasses the Corolla in almost every way we can think of. The Civic feels closer to an Accord than the Corolla does to a Camry … The Honda feels like a more mature car - quieter overall, more comfortable, more modern, more everything. It projects a strong premium vibe in the compact sedan segment. The previous Civic was the best among its peers, and this 11th-generation car goes a step further. The competition is nowhere close."
Big Hair; Bright Color: A photo, probably from the latter half of the 1960s, shows how high women's hair had become and how popular orange was as a color ... (more >>>)
Parking Lot Novelty: James Lileks has posted quite a collection of old motel postcards from the 1950s and '60s. They remind me of some of the places I stayed in on business trips early in my career. Usually the photos show period cars parked out front. Most are ordinary machines - Chevy post sedans, mundane Ford business coupes and the like. But the photo of the Lockview Motel has something completely different - a DKW 3=6.
The VW Beetle-sized DKW had a three cylinder two-stroke engine and was front wheel drive. The German import carried the interlocking AutoUnion circles as a front badge on the grille - the same ones used by its grandson, Audi. DKW claimed that the three-cylinder motor was as powerful as a six-cylinder engine, because of it's two stroke nature. Hence the name 3=6.
Tough sell though, because the little 1956 three-banger only made 42 horsepower. DKWs were a rare sight in the U.S. Not many were sold, probably the public didn't like the idea of having to mix oil in with the gasoline at every fill-up - a requirement for two-cycle engines.
In the October 1957 issue of Road & Track magazine, there was a full-page DKW ad posted by ... (more >>>)
I Can Canoo … Canoo? U.S. electric vehicle startup Canoo said it plans to build a plant in Oklahoma to assemble the odd-looking pod-shaped vans it calls "lifestyle vehicles" beginning in 2023. Canoo developed a "skateboard," or a low-rise platform that bundles batteries and electric motors with such chassis components as steering, brakes and wheels, on which a variety of vehicle body types can be built.
The company also said it has a deal to contract out near-term manufacturing to VDL Nedcar in Netherlands until the Oklahoma plant is ready. VDL will build Canoo's seven-seat vehicle for the U.S. and European markets, allowing Canoo to meet its commitment to start production in the fourth quarter of 2022. VDL is scheduled to build up to 1,000 vehicles next year, with a target of 15,000 in 2023
The Oklahoma plant will be on about 400 acres of land in Pryor, in the northeast part of the state. Last year, Canoo went public through a reverse merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). In April, it changed CEOs, with Aquila, a former software executive and one of Canoo's largest shareholders, taking over. The company eventually expects to offer delivery vans and pickup trucks.
The Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into Canoo, concerning Canoo's merger with a SPAC, plus its "operations, business model, revenues, revenue strategy, customer agreements, earnings and other related topics, along with the recent departures of certain of the Company's officers."
Book Review: 'A Man & His Car: Iconic Cars and Stories from the Men Who Love Them' by Matt Hranek
This is a hardcover book in a slipcase, first published in October 2020. The book's apparent objective is to explore the connection between car owners and their rides. It is primarily a photo book, with each vehicle photographed against a black background and a brief explanation about ... (more >>>)
Overpaid: The Evergreen Public Schools board - in Vancouver, WA - approved a raise for Superintendent Mike Merlino that brings his annual salary to $305,884 during the 2021-22 school year. There was no school last year. This guy and other administrators like him should have been paid zilch during that period.
In 40 years, the ratio of school employees to students has significantly increased, mostly because of bloated administrative bureaucracies. Productivity - as measured by output per employee - has, therefore, substantially declined. And student performance - as measured by test scores have not improved at all.
It's time to stop wasting our tax dollars.
Happy Birthday to my wife, who becomes a year older on Saturday and will be the same age as me ... for about 12 days.
Update: We celebrated her birthday with a large shared filet mignon accompanied by a bottle of Caymus Vineyards 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from California - a pricier wine that we usually imbibe. Made from grapes farmed in 8 of Napa Valley's 16 appellations, the wine is claimed to have a signature style that is "dark in color, with rich fruit and ripe tannins. This Cabernet offers layered, lush aromas and flavors, including cocoa, cassis and ripe dark berries." It tasted very smooth and carried a hint of sweetness.
Disney Only Cares About Commie China, Not You: Disney World has canceled Christmas. "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, an extremely popular yuletide tradition, is going to be rebranded. Instead, the Magic Kingdom will host a night time show. "The new 'don't call it Christmas' event is called 'Disney Very Merriest After Hours' - a generic, holiday-themed celebration."
Whoever came up with that idea deserves a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking.
That dry, high-pitched whine you hear is ol' Walt D spinning in his grave at 8,000 rpm. Don Surber wrote, "In the future, there will be only two holidays sanctioned by Corporate America: Juneteenth and George Floyd's birthday."
Headline Of The Week ... so far is from The Onion: 'New Study Shows People With Panic Disorders Respond Poorly To Being Locked In Underwater Elevators'.
Excerpt: "Throughout the 200 clinical trials we ran, all participants suffered immensely and reported that they did not enjoy the experience," said Dr. Samuel Lepore, who led the Yale University study, explaining the results were the same whether the sound of a thrashing great white shark or that of an exploding torpedo was suddenly blasted over loudspeakers as the elevator doors shook violently.
"Most interestingly, every single subject appeared to be further agitated when informed that oxygen levels in the elevator were dropping rapidly. Typically, some variance is expected in trial studies, but in this case we found none."
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "If you're 60 or 70 and *still* too mealy-mouthed to say what you truly mean, then really, what was the point of growing old?"
Tuesday July 20, 2021
Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer: Stealing a line from the 1963 Nat King Cole hit song, it was certainly a little hazy and, eventually, hot enough to make you lazy on Saturday.
When I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe at 8:00 am, the temperature was already in the upper 50s and the sky was a hazy light blue with a few wispy clouds here and there. By afternoon, the temperature was over 80 degrees in the shade - if you could find some - and felt even hotter than it was. Time to stay inside with the AC on and take a nap. And I did.
Nevertheless, I had a good early morning ride. The roads were almost empty, the air was fresh and summery, everything was green and Mt. St. Helens had lost all its snow, looking like a hazy gray ball of dirt in the distance.
Miracle Motor Tune-Up: Man, this device does everything ... (more >>>)
"Like God Clearing His Throat." That's how one onlooker described listening to a 1967 Corvette with a 427 engine and sidepipes start up.
Kabooom! 400,000 Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks are being recalled because the side airbags can explode. The bags are made by Joyson, the successor company to the infamous Takata.
"The recall covers certain 2015 and 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks. ... The airbag inflator can rupture or the end cap can fly off on both sides of the trucks. ... Dealers will replace both side airbag modules ... About 9,000 of the trucks were recalled last year for the same problem."
Fire! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued an alert to Chevrolet Bolt owners, as the vehicles' LG Chem battery packs could have a propensity to catch fire.
Last week, the safety organization recommended that the cars be left outdoors (ideally a healthy distance from anything flammable) and never left unattended while charging.
So, you can't put it in the garage. And you can't recharge it overnight. Why bother buying one? Why take a chance that your home will catch fire?
Life Is A Lark: I've been reading 'Willow Grove Park', a book which is primarily a bound collection of captioned photographs. It brought back a lot of fond memories of this long-defunct Philadelphia area amusement park and its slogan, "Life is a lark ... at Willow Grove Park."
The book covers the period from the amusement park's 1896 opening until its final days in the mid 1970s. (A large shopping mall is now on the site. Like the U.S. needed another one.)
It was interesting to see how the park and the rides changed over the years. In order to keep people coming back, old rides would be discarded and new rides would replace them. In its early days, one of the biggest attractions ... (more >>>)
More Bidenflation News: Last week, core inflation rose to 5.4% annually - the highest level since the 1991 Gulf War. Even more worrisome, the Producer Price Index soared by 7.3% over the past year.
And people are feeling the heat, paying 45% more for gas, 88% more for rental cars, 29% more for washing machines, 25% more for airfare, 17% more for hotel rooms, 5.6% more for milk, and even 8.4% more for bacon.
In September 1991, oil prices went through the roof after Iraq invaded and took over Kuwait. But inflation can be curbed. Under President Donald J. Trump, the USA was a net producer of oil and natural gas for the first time in 50 years. Unemployment fell to 3.5%.
Joe Biden reversed that by opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and blocking drilling. Unemployment is now 5.9% and inflation 5.4%. When you cancel pipelines and try to eliminate fracking, gas prices go up. It took centuries to build America. It will take only one fool as president to bring it down.
In related news, Serendipity3, a restaurant on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, is offering $200 French fries.
"The dish, titled Creme de la Creme Pommes Frites, features ingredients including Chipperbeck potatoes, Dom Perignon Champagne, J. LeBlanc French Champagne Ardenne Vinegar, cage-free goose fat from France, Guerande Truffle Salt, truffle oil, Crete Senesi Pecorino Tartufello cheese, shaved black summer truffles from Italy, truffle butter, organic 100% grass fed cream from Jersey Cows, Gruyere Truffled Swiss Raclette and a topping of 23-karat edible gold dust."
At the rate Biden's going, $200 fries many become the norm.
Little Known Facts: In January 1943, the sale of pre-sliced bread was banned to reduce bakeries' demand for metal parts during the war. Later in the year, canned food and shoes were rationed.
Pulling The Cord: cRemember how you signaled to get off the bus ... (more >>>)
Prescient Genius: In 1995, American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist Carl Sagan warned about the future, writing, "I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance."
Carol Sagan died in December 1996.
Geezer Joke: At a mall food court, an old man was staring intently at a teenager sitting at a nearby table. The teen had spiky hair in a variety of colors, including green, red, orange, and blue.
Finally, the kid sarcastically asked, "What's the matter old man, never done anything wild in your life?"
The geezer replied, "Got drunk once and had sex with a peacock. I was just wondering if you were my son."
Bad Pun Of The Day: Definition of a will - a dead give-away.
Friday July 16, 2021
A Race Car For The Street: On March 4, 1966, Carroll Shelby presented the keys to a Ford GT 40 Mark I Factory Road Coupe to David Heerensperger of Spokane, WA. It was one of only 31 cars built to road specifications. The car was finished ... (more >>>)
$138 Per Horsepower: Shelby American has unveiled its Lariat 4X4-based 2021 F-150 pickup, which boasts a supercharger to boost output from 395 to 775 hp and pricing that starts at $107,080.
"There are plenty of cosmetic tweaks, too. Big fender flares widen the stance, while the stripe package leaves nobody unaware that you're driving a muscle truck. The provenance of the vehicle is unambiguous, too, as a giant "SHELBY" badge sits pride of place in the front grille. The truck also gains a custom hood with big nostrils for snorting up plenty of air, and a set of custom 22-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires. A smattering of badges and stickers help complete the look, while the interior gains "Shelby" embroidered seats, billet pedals, and other small touches as well."
American Graffiti, Philadelphia-Style: I always enjoy watching the 1973 movie, 'American Graffiti'. Set in 1962, it's about a couple of high schools grads who spend on one night hanging out, cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college. I can identify with it because of the time frame - I graduated from high school in '61 - but have trouble relating to the California setting and the coolness of the cars in the film.
In the 1950s and early '60s, my East Coast adolescent reality was much different than the 'American Graffiti' kids.
California was (and still is) still much more car-centric than Philadelphia. Most of my friends in high school didn't have cool rides. My school buddies who were car guys couldn't do much work on vehicles because ... (more >>>)
Cryptocurrency Made Simple: An explanation everyone can understand ... (more >>>)
God Weighs In: The George Floyd mural in Toledo, OH was destroyed by a lightning strike. What's that Bible thing about worshiping false idols?
Sixty-Plus Years Later: Harper Lee's Pulitzer prize-winning book was first published in 1960. Now, the historical novel is banned in many high schools because it has been deemed Racist, because it "creates a white savior narrative" - an arbitrary verdict I don't agree with. I read it when the paperback edition came out in '61 or '62 and enjoyed the book very much. The first film version of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' was very good, too, but I thought 'TKAM III: Revenge of the Sith' really sucked.
Gregory Peck won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. Who knew that the character's grandson, Darth Finch, would turn out to be so evil.
Like many people, I have a voice in my head. Mine sounds just like Gregory Peck. It never tells me to... (more >>>)
Conundrum: Ask Schrödinger ... (more >>>)
Has Portland Gone Licence-Plates-Optional? Jack Bogandowski asked, "Is it just my neighborhood, or is the whole City of Portland seeing the sudden appearance of unusual numbers of cars, vans, and trucks on the streets with no license plates? And I'm not talking about the old Pennsylvania look, with a plate on the back only. I'm talking about no plates, front or back, and no temporary card in the window, either."
And wow come nobody is ... (more >>>)
Improved And Bigger Fair: Over the past few months, I've added several photos to my 1964-65 World's Fair page. You'll find it here.
History Repeats Itself: The proprietor of Sippican Cottage wrote that the government purchased land at Ned's Point in Mattapoisett (MA) for $240 in 1835.
Then, the United States Lighthouse Service (an agency which was made part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939) "built a 35 foot tower with a - get this - whale oil lantern on top. Well, it was better than fireflies, I guess. Mattapoistett is right down the street, er, I mean coast, from New Bedford, so the whale oil lamp no doubt kept many whaling ships from running aground here so they could continue to supply the whale oil lighthouse with oil to keep the light burning to keep the whaling ships from running aground when getting the whale oil to supply the lantern that kept the whale ..."
"I see a pattern developing. See: ethanol."
Quote Of The Day is from Adam Carolla: "What we used to settle with common sense or a fist, we now settle with hand sanitizer and lawyers."
Wednesday July 14, 2021
Most American Car: Cars.com rated vehicles on assembly location, parts content, engine origins, transmission origins and U.S. manufacturing workforce.
The winner was the Tesla Model 3, the entry-level EV model made by America's leading electric car manufacturer. "Tesla has the No. 1 spot for the first time in the index's 16-year history. The California electric vehicle maker's compact sedan, the Model 3, topped the No. 2 Ford Mustang to lead the index for 2021; the Tesla Model Y, Jeep Cherokee and Chevrolet Corvette rounded out the top five models."
Makin' Sting Rays:
Who knows - one ... (more >>>)
Sixty Year-Old Car Story: 1961 was the year when I graduated from high school. More importantly, the it was the year that a well-known racer drove his rental car into a hotel swimming pool over a $100 bet. Read the whole story here. You'll probably recognize many of the names.
"In October 1961, Augie Pabst drove a Hertz Ford Falcon into the pool of the Mark Thomas Inn at Monterey, California. It was done on a bet by Roger Penske and Walt Hansgen." And there's more. Much more.
Car & Train Pix: Over the years, I've taken photos of car shows, car collections, auto museums and railroad museums.
I've posted a page of links to these photo collections here.
Etch-A-Sketch Elvis ... (more >>>)
When Rock Was Young: Bill Haley and his Comets rocked the house during a performance at the Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania on April 20, 1956:
Hershey is located about 100 miles west of Philadelphia and just east of Harrisburg, PA.
LaVern Baker also performed to the crowd of 8,000. Other performers included ... (more >>>)
Gone: The Bijou Cafe in downtown Portland has closed for good. The cafe was a French-inspired restaurant serving American cuisine in downtown Portland's Old Town Chinatown. The cafe opened in 1978 but struggled during the 2020 pandemic. "Its owner, Kathleen Hagberg, told the Oregonian that once downtown lost its office workers and tourists during covid, she was unable to stay open." She added that "when everybody starts boarding up their windows, nobody's going to come down here."
Nightly riots are killing downtown Portland. This is just one of many stories out there.
Amazon The Octopus: A recent article by Dana Matioli in The Wall Street Journal details Amazon's latest tactic: demanding a piece of their vendors' companies as the price of doing business.
"Suppliers that want to land Amazon.com Inc. as a client for their goods and services can find that its business comes with a catch: the right for Amazon to buy big stakes in their companies at potentially steep discounts to market value."
The technology-and-retail giant has struck at least ... (more >>>)
The War Against Donald Trump And Its Consequences: Darryl Cooper, aka MartyrMade, is a researcher, writer, and podcaster who has put together a brilliant summary of the decline in trust of our basic institutions. Darryl examined fact after fact from the last five years to explain why conservatives - the people who used to believe in our government, in law enforcement, in the election process - have become cynical and disillusioned.
Tucker Carlson said of Mr. Cooper's writing, "This is true and every honest person knows it." It is well worth your time to read Cooper's analysis.
Education Quote Of The Month is from Scott Adams: "I support teaching Critical Race Theory in schools if they include a lesson on how Teachers Unions are the primary source of systemic racism because they restrict school competition."
This Explains A Lot: An organization named Mental Health America has announced that "Oregon is the absolute worst in prevalence of mentally ill adults. Fifth-worst in prevalence of mentally ill youth. … Oregon is the fourth-worst state in the country for mental illness overall."
Advice Of The Day: If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: "Take two aspirin" and "Keep away from children."
Monday July 12, 2021
June & First-Half Auto Sales: The Bureau of Economic Analysis released their estimate of light vehicle sales for June this morning. The BEA estimates sales of 15.36 million SAAR in June 2021 (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate), down 9.8% from the May sales rate, and up 18% from June 2020.
"This was well below the consensus estimate of 17.1 million SAAR. Sales in June were likely impacted by supply issues." Mainly imported microchips. I've explained the real reason for the chip shortage here. But the Wuhan flu is on the run and people are buying vehicles again.
Most manufacturers saw large increases in the first six months of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020. General Motors sold 1,150,955 vehicles, a rise of 28%. Toyota Motor Co. saw sales rise 45% to 1,050,522 units. Ford Motor Company sold 876,264 vehicles in the first half, an increase of 20%. BMW Group sales jumped 48%, while Mazda leapt by 47%.
Six-month sales overall increased 32% over last year. Big year-to-date sales winners were Genesis (up 150%), Acura (up 65%), Buick (up 64%), Audi (up 59%), Porsche (up 57%), Volvo (up 57%), Hyundai (up 56%), Tesla (up 55% - to an estimated 114,550 vehicles sold in the U.S.) and Lexus (up 53%).
Exceptions to the rising tide scenario were Fiat (down 26%), Jaguar (down 25%), Infiniti (down 11%) and Dodge (down 8%).
Interestingly, the battery-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E outsold its traditional gasoline-powered Mustang counterpart in June, 2,465 units to 2,240. "The combustion-engined model, however, still leads the Mach-E in total sales this year, having managed 31,950 to the EV's 12,975 in 2021."
'In The Summertime': With apologies to Mungo Jerry:
And I sure did. After days of morning clouds and/or rain, at 10:30 am Friday, it was very sunny and the temperature was in the upper 60s (it eventually reached 84 degrees), so I fired up my'39 Plymouth business coupe and drove to town for a fill-up. Premium was $4.139 - thanks, Biden - but gas was plentiful and there weren't many people at the pump islands. Afterwards, I drove east of town and took a tour along the back roads of Clark County. Traffic was heavier than I expected but it moved along.
Mt. St. Helens was hazy but it looks like it has lost a lot of snow since the last time I looked. The sky was a bright blue with little wisps of clouds here and there. I did spot an old MGB convertible on my travels, several recent-vintage Mustang convertibles with their tops down as well as a Miata roadster. It was nice convertible weather.
I had the window down, enjoying the good weather, fresh air and a sound mix of V8 exhaust noise and 'The Joe Niagara Show'.
All in all, it was a very good old car drive.
I Bet This Added Three Horsepower Or So: This 1950 ad for ... (more >>>)
Value Proposition: Jack Baruth tested a new, $116,300 S-Class Mercedes and wrote, "Well, here's what you don't get: heated steering wheel, upscale seats, the nice sound system, the nice instrument panel, the fancy wheels, power rear seats … I mean, there's more stuff you don't get, but I came up with the above list because all of that comes standard on a five-liter Genesis G90. If you want to equip an S-Class to Genesis levels, you should be prepared to spend about the price of two Genesis G90s."
The Merc tested has a V8 but you can save $7,000 by opting for a base model with an inline six cylinder engine.
The First Electric Ford: The older I get, the more I realize how much I don't know about cars and automotive history. Mac's Motor City Garage posted an interesting article about Henry Ford's plans to offer an all-electric Model T Ford.
"In 1914, Henry Ford announced an ambitious program to produce a battery-electric version of the Model T, but the plan quickly fell apart. … While the prototypes seemed to work well enough, in Ford's view they had a fatal flaw. His development crew had been unable to get the Edison batteries to perform as required. While nickel-iron batteries have a long service life, they are slow to charge, produce less voltage per cell, and … are considerably more expensive.
To move the project along, the team substituted ordinary lead-acid batteries, and at that point Ford's patience reached its limit. Without the Edison batteries, the electric flivver no longer had any reason to exist, in Ford's mind anyway. After a reported expenditure of $1.5 million, mainly in Edison batteries, Henry pulled the plug."
Some Twitter Facts: Twitter has a 15% Democrat voter bias. 3% of the population creates 90% of all tweets.
Guns Don't Kill People ... (more >>>)
More Signs Of Inflation: Maz Woolley of the British publication Model Auto Review wrote recently about "the continued inflated shipping charges for containers from Chinese ports to other countries. In the case of shipments to the UK these are now up to six times the cost that they were before the covid pandemic and worryingly show little sign of lowering soon.
An additional worry is that even at these inflated prices shipments are often delayed in China waiting for ships to arrive back to ship the containers."
Looking at ... (more >>>)
Old-Time Washer: If you've ever wondered where the term 'automatic washer' came from, take a look at its predecessor from 1941. This unit had a manual shift lever for various wash cycles. When the wash was finished ... (more >>>)
The Good Old Days: An interesting take on the 1950s comes from Don Rodrigo, a poster at American Digest: "Annette Funicello was an interesting phenomenon in the '50s, or, at least, appears to be so in retrospect when you look through the distorted lens of what we were supposedly like as Americans back then. She was an Italian brunette who was America's sweetheart at a time when a supposedly lily-white America was supposed to have preferred pale, blue-eyed blondes.
An Arab-American named Danny Thomas had a hit TV comedy, and Nat King Cole was universally loved. Oh, and Eye-talians ruled the beach blanket movies that Jews produced.
We were a more complex and nuanced (and grown-up) people than we are portrayed as being in the current narrative."
My take on the 1950s - including Annette - begins here. I've also written about 1957, when America was really great.
Quote Of The Day is from James Lileks on the future of home phones: "They'll never improve the home phone. They will get uglier and uglier and look less like phones; one day your kids will find you shouting Hello? into the steam iron, and put you in a home." Actually, Grampa Simpson did this on an old episode.
Thursday July 8, 2021
Not Any Faster Than Stock, Though: Rolls-Royce is producing a Land Speed Collection to "honor 1930s speed record-holder Captain George Eyston, who achieved three land speed records, culminating in a run at 357.497 mph in 1938 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Rolls-Royce connection is that Eyston's car, the Thunderbolt, was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce V12 aero engines. Each displaced 37 liters and produced more than 2,000 horsepower."
The cars are "painted a two-tone Black Diamond Metallic and Bonneville Blue (a light silver-blue specific to this model). Among the unique details: dashboard engraving that mimics the fissured texture of the salt flats, an image of the Thunderbolt's silhouette embossed on the front tunnel, and a special clock that adopts some of the markings of the Thunderbolt. The Starlight Headliner is said to exactly match the night-sky appearance on the date when the final Thunderbolt speed record was set."
Rolls-Royce will build 35 examples of the Wraith coupe and just 25 of the Dawn convertible. But they're already sold out.
She Must Be Close To Her 100th Birthday By Now: And the car is getting up in years, too. In this period color photo ... (more >>>)
Common Usage: Ford has filed for a yet another trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This time, it's for the name "Rattler," and the filing covers usage in the category of "motor vehicles, namely, automobiles, pick-up trucks, electric vehicles, sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles, and their structural parts."
Ford should be denied a trademark because of common usage. In the 1950s, Fords rattled so bad that the were often referred to as 'rattlers' or 'rattletraps'. I offer my experience with my dad's 1956 Mainline as Exhibit A.
Drive An Old Car And Celebrate: Sunday, July 11th is National Collector Car Appreciation Day.
Book Review: 'Volkswagen Type 4: 411 and 412: The Final Rear-Engined VW Cars' by Marc Cranswick
The Volkswagen Type 4 (411 and 412 models) was VW's attempt to capture the luxury-compact market segment and offer VW's first four-door model, while adhering to VW's traditional air-cooled, rear-engine design. Following the worldwide success of the Beetle, CEO Heinz Nordhoff was looking to expand VW's reach to better, more-profitable markets. But he dithered for more than a decade, commissioning numerous new prototypes and then never greenlighting any of them. One biting industry-insider quip was that the 411, finally introduced in 1968, stood for "four doors, eleven years too late."
In a rapidly-changing automotive landscape (new competition from Japan, an abundance of new American compact car models, rising labor costs in Germany, rampant worldwide inflation, new government pollution and safety regulations), the bland, overpriced Type 4 was an underwhelming offering - a car in search of meaningful context and a market. The ... (more >>>)
Drive-In Memories: The one drive-in chain I remember from early childhood is Hot Shoppes. My parents used to stop at the one on Hunting Park Avenue, west of Broad Street in North Philadelphia. The burgers were very thick and juicy (a real treat for me) and the car hops wore snappy uniforms.
Hot Shoppes began as ... (more >>>)
It's Happening Everywhere: Not too long ago, Santa Barbara was the place to live. Known as the Riviera of the West Coast, it was also the home the home of the Montecito rich, famous and beautiful. Now … not so much.
Santa Barbara is being overrun with bums. Andy Caldwell wrote, "Whereas, some people are homeless through no fault of their own, instead of helping these people, your woke Santa Barbara City Council is trying to avoid spending $100 million to relocate several hundred homeless people because they rightfully fear these mentally and emotionally addled bums, derelicts, drunkards, and drug addicts will otherwise burn your town down."
So now we find ourselves ... (more >>>)
Grab Your Coat ... One of my favorite songs is the 1945 recording 'On The Sunny Side Of The Street' by Tommy Dorsey. I used to play a shellac recording of this on an ancient wind-up Victrola while playing along on my uncle's drum set in the 1950s.
Ann Clark Terry sang with her four sisters under the name The Sentimentalists with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and provided the vocals for 'Sunny Side Of The Street'. Hailing from Grand Forks, North Dakota, they were a mere 17 to 23 years of age when they signed with the Tommy Dorsey Band in 1944 to replace … (more >>>)
This'll Make Ya Feel Old: Ringo Starr turned 81 yesterday. Doc Severinsen, who led the band on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson', just turned 94.
Bad Pun Of The Day: A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulting in Linoleum Blownapart.
Tuesday July 6, 2021
Hot Prices For Old, Ordinary Cars: Toyotas and Hondas of the 1980s, the ones that were owned by the parents and grandparents of Gen Xers and millennials, have suddenly become collectible and are selling for thousands of dollars more than they did about two years ago. Vintage Toyota pickups, Honda Accords, Acura Legends and Volvo wagons are setting record prices at auctions.
"For example, a 40-year-old, four-door, Honda Accord had a furious auction on the Bring a Trailer auction site last year. The opening bid was $2,100, but that was just the start for the nicely preserved, first-generation 1981 Accord Special Edition.
By the second day of the seven-day auction, the bids had already exceeded $10,000. On the last day, three people placed multiple bids and didn't stop until the price had reached $21,000 (and a 5 percent buyer's premium to the auction company). To put that into context, a four-door Accord was priced at around $8,000 in 1981."
A 1990 Toyota pickup sold in June for $29,999 on Bring a Trailer.
Remember Bardahl? Bardahl Corp. was founded in 1939. The company is headquartered in Seattle, WA. Bardahl's oil additive was advertised ... (more >>>)
Gorgeous Again: Ferrari has introduced some not-so-pretty models in recent years. The latest offering is one of the most beautiful Ferraris in years. The 2022 296 GTB features a 3-liter twin-turbo V6 and hybrid electric motor package capable of 818 horsepower and 205 mph.
It will do 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. The sprint to 124 mph takes 7.3 seconds. Flat out, it will do in excess of 205 mph Dry weight is 3,241 pounds.
Inspired by the 250 LM earlier, "Ferrari claims the exterior styling illustrates the "perfect marriage of simplicity and functionality" much like the 1963 race car. The active rear spoiler at the back takes after the LaFerrari's while the windscreen wraps around onto the side windows akin to the J50 and other limited-run models. The digital-heavy interior is derived from the SF90 Stradale with capacitive controls and a standard passenger-side display."
Summer Cruise: Monday dawned with overcast skies but the sun came out around 10:30 am, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive. The temperature was in the mid-60s - it reached 82 as a high. There were lots of clouds to the north which obscured Mt. St. Helens. In every other direction, it was summer blue sky with puffy, cotton-ball clouds here and there.
I drove with the window down and listened to the Glasspacks mingle with 1957 music coming from the Plymouth's twin speakers.
My backroads route was practically empty - except for bicyclists here and there - although I did have to pass two slowpoke cars who were lollygagging around. Otherwise, I felt like I owned the road.
A Car Blog Worth Checking Out: Pat Ganahl worked for 'Street Rodder' magazine, became outdoor travel editor for 'Sunset' magazine, was editor of 'Hot Rod' magazine and then reincarnated 'Rod & Custom' magazine from the auto publication grave. He has also written and published automotive-themed books.
His website is called Pat Ganahl Rod and Custom and I found a lot of interesting stuff on it.
Pat is anxious for more readers, writing, "You've hopefully noticed that there are no ads along the sides of this column, or popping up anywhere. I'm not looking to grow this audience so that I can 'monetize' my archives like my business-minded friends tell me I should do. No, there's no money involved here. But punchline but we do need to grow this audience. It's pitifully small. I'm not sure how to do it, but you notice I said 'we'. I'll leave it at that for now. But the bottom line here is the same as that for all the magazines that have gone away. If I can't generate any more readers than we have get more people subscribed then I find it hard to be motivated to continue doing the work it takes. You don't even have to buy it. Its free. But if more don't use it, you're going to lose it."
Give it a look. His posts are a bit infrequent but each is information-packed and car-centric. I think you'll like it.
Interstate Musings: Some time ago, Kevin Wilson wrote an article in AutoWeek about the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act which gave birth to the Interstate Highway.
It was a good article overall but, in my view, had a few flaws. Wilson writes that the interstate system brought "unpleasant and unintended consequences. ... Among those were the deterioration of the railroads, which lost passenger and freight traffic to the highways, and the erosion of public transit systems."
Let's start with public transportation. In the beginning of the 20th Century, ridership grew steadily until the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1939, people took fewer work trips and often could not afford to take leisure trips. World War II fuel rationing forced many to use public transport. Patronage peaked in 1946, when Americans took 23.4 billion trips on trains, buses and trolleys.
After the war, ... (more >>>)
How Was Your Independence Day Weekend? We had a good one. The big surprise was lunch on Saturday - my daughter brought Texas-style smoked beef brisket from Matt's BBQ, a food truck in North Portland. Matt's uses an oak-fired smoker. My wife whipped up a big batch of her Famous Potato Salad, the closest thing you can find around these parts to the delicious white potato salad once offered by authentic Jewish delis in the mid-Atlantic states.
For Saturday dinner, I cooked Don't-Bother-Me Burgers on the grill; they went well with my wife's Famous Potato Salad. (Foodie photo here.)
There was enough brisket left for Sunday dinner.
On Monday, I cooked a big filet mignon to share - accompanied by scalloped potatoes and a nice Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon. We toasted my mom on her birthday.
In some ways, it was an odd Fourth. There were no fireworks around here due to the fire danger following the recent record heat wave. Even the amateur rocketeers were scarce, apparently using their common sense for once.
We didn't watch PBS' Capitol Fourth because we wanted to hear the American National anthem, not some Black National Anthem (sic). Besides, Nancy Pelosi still has the U.S. Capitol on lockdown and has turned it into a - literally - gated community. So much for "The People's House." Instead, we watched the Fox News' special and it was quite good.
Earlier in the day, Joe Biden mumbled something in a squeaky voice at a puny podium on the White House lawn. He stood alone and looked lost, as he often does. What a contrast to the Trumpian July 4th Events of 2019. At the time, I wrote that the D.C. parade was something to behold and President Trump's inspiring speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial was one of his best and struck just the right tone. "As we gather this evening, in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage," President Trump said. "Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told - the story of America."
It was awesome to see the B-2 stealth bomber - flanked by F-22 Raptor stealth fighters - fly over the crowd at the Mall. Until I saw the F-22s off its wingtips, I didn't realize how huge the B-2 is. And the Blue Angels were incredibly impressive as well. Overall, the event was a moving combination of presidential eloquence and American military might.
As darkness fell, the fireworks were stunning - three times as many fireworks and the show lasted twice as long as usual.
That was 2019. Now it's 2021. Wow, I sure miss President Trump.
Nevertheless, I hope you had a wonderful and patriotic Independence Day. We Americans have many reasons to be thankful for our hard-fought independence.
Happy Birthday: My mom would have turned 103 yesterday.
Rabbit Test: On a somewhat-related note, while going through some old photographs, I found an item that my mom had kept for sentimental reasons.
It was a receipt for ... (more >>>)
Interesting Facts: In 2019, home-schooled students represented just 3.2% of US students in grades K through 12. By fall 2020, the figure had doubled to 11.1%.
Corey DeAngelis wrote, "Public schools lost nearly 1.3 million students this year."
Why? Pick your … (more >>>)
45 Versus Alleged 46: Donald Trump received over 75 million votes in the 2020 election. We are told that the Joe Biden got 81 million votes. That's always been hard for me to believe - even more so now, considering events over the weekend. "On Saturday, Joe Biden traveled to Antrim County Michigan. About 30 people turned out to see him. President Trump traveled to Sarasota, Florida. Over 45,000 came out to see him in a rainstorm."
The election was stolen. The myriad of evidence is compelling.
If You Consider … Teen Vogue to be a credible news source, you're an idiot.
Never Work For Amazon, If You Can Help It: According a Federal Trade Commission settlement, Amazon must reimburse its Flex drivers $61.7 million it stole from them.
The FTC filed a complaint against Amazon claiming that the company advertised drivers working in the Flex program could earn between $18 and $25 per hour and would keep all tips from customers. According to the FTC, Amazon decreased hourly pay for Flex drivers without informing them, and used tips from customers to make up the difference between the rate they promised to drivers and the new, lower hourly rate.
Any company that cheats from its employees is scum.
Thought For Today: Scientists claim the universe is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. They forgot to mention morons.
Thursday July 1, 2021
Almost Everything For Your Car: A service tech checks out a 1939 Plymouth two-door sedan with a scope at Frank Ridley's Super Service Garage, located at 10th and Wilshire Blvd. in pre-war Los Angeles.
Frank also dispensed ... (more >>>)
Inflation: According to analysts at Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price - what the consumer paid - for a new vehicle in May 2021 was $2,125 more than May 2020. That's a 5.4% increase year-over-year, and the hikes are even more month to month as they were up 1.2% between April and May this year.
The average price paid for a new vehicle hit a new high-water mark in May at $41,263. "Mitsubishi is seeing the biggest overall jump in average transaction prices with the 12% rise year-over-year. However, Stellantis, Honda and General Motors all enjoyed double-digit leaps in their May results compared with a year ago. Those results include all of their divisions, including the luxury brands."
I Agree Wholeheartedly: James Lileks thinks America's car companies should "bring back a car that would have looked at home in 1957 and they would sell a kajillion units. Something that leaned into the wind, had boobie headlights and forty-nine tons of chrome, two colors, poke-your-eye-out fins and a hood ornament in the shape of a rocket or a nuclear weapon.
But no: we get the same old same old, over and over." Amen! Well said.
Toyota Bad, Nike OK: Peter De Lorenzo, the AutoExtremist, wrote an angry anti-Toyota rant recently, because Toyota has outsold and outperformed his favorite brand Chevrolet in America and because Toyota donated $55,000 to 37 Republican "election objectors" who have asserted that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
I'm OK with Toyota making such contributions - less than $1,500 per politician. That's chump change these days.
I think there was wholesale and retail cheating in the recent presidential election. De Lorenzo has made leftist, anti-Trump comments in the past, so I wasn't surprised at his reaction.
Meanwhile, Nike CEO John Donahoe called the sportswear apparel giant a "brand of China and for China," following a fiasco it was involved in earlier this year over concerns about human rights abuses committed by China's commie government. Donahoe went on to say that the company intended to keep investing in its China operations.
I think Nike is the bad guy here … not Toyota. What do we hear from Peter about Nike? (Crickets chirp, tumbleweed rolls by.)
In my opinion, De Lorenzo ran out of interesting things to say about automobiles over three years ago and has been coasting ever since.
The Little Transit System That Couldn't: Ambient temperatures exceeding 110 degrees caused Portland's Streetcar and Max light rail service to shut down. It seems that the overhead wires and insulators were not designed to handle the temperature expansion. It has been known for years that Portland's TriMet transit agency can't handle the heat: Whenever the temperature reaches 90 degrees, the Max trains slow down.
This is a case of incompetent design. The system also shuts down when .. (more >>>)
Spud Queen: Presenting Miss Idaho Potato ... (more >>>)
Aren't They Pretty Much The Same Thing? How come ADD is bad and requires medication, while multitasking is considered a special talent?
Happy 82nd Birthday to the Wellington Fund, a mutual fund which began operations on July 1, 1929, just months before the worst stock market crash in U.S. history and the onset of the Great Depression.
A young Philadelphia accountant named Walter L. Morgan was its founder and offered ... (more >>>)
National Irrelevance: Rich Lowry is stepping down as editor of National Review's print magazine. Lowry came in, cleaned house of those whose opinions differed from his (example: John Derbyshire) and then drove readers away.
Don Surber noted that Lowry's biggest achievement in 23 years as editor: the Against Trump issue, writing, "National Review Hoists White Flag, Defiantly Rows To Outcast Island." NR's much-promoted annual cruises are now held on a rowboat.
National Review's circulation ... (more >>>)
Farewell: Donald Rumsfeld, who charted an impressive Washington career serving under four presidents but whose legacy largely was defined by his controversial tenure as defense secretary during the Iraq war, has died at age 88 of multiple myeloma.
In March 2004, a Fox News Special featured a day in the life of Donald Rumsfeld. While it was interesting, I wanted to know more about his gummint-issue vehicle. It was a first-generation (1998-2002) Lincoln Navigator. Painted black with darkened glass and lots of antennas sprouting from the roof. It had some special scoop/vents in the rear-side glazing - I bet it was armored.
The engine seemed to really wind up before shifting and I swear I could hear the whine of a supercharger as it revved through the gears.
During the first Gulf War, some reporter moron asked him why we were dropping "huge" bombs on the Iraqi troops. "We are trying to kill them," was Rummy's succinct reply. RIP.
Six Months Of Stocky Goodness: The stock market has had very good performance this year. For the first six months of 2021, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 12.8%, the Standard & Poors 500 Index grew 14.5% and the NASDAQ has risen 12.6%. The Vanguard Index 500 Fund (with dividends reinvested) returned 15.2%. Most money market funds are paying zero or near-zero interest.
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "The Decline Of America began when the public switched from watching 'Jeopardy' to 'Family Feud'. With 'Jeopardy', you had to know the correct answer. With 'Family Feud', you only had to guess what everyone else guessed."
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