A Blog About Cars ... And More
Tuesday May 31, 2016
AutoSketch: 1940-41 Lincoln Continental - Stars Of The Lincoln Show
If you're into the 'What If' game, you can spend hours imagining what the Ford Motor Company would have been like if Edsel B. Ford had run the show. What if Henry had been pushed aside to work on his crazy ideas like the soybean car and special farmer-oriented vehicles?
Edsel was known as a listener and a delegator - a good manager. It would be easy to envision an Engineering Department under Edsel, ditching those transverse front leaf springs in favor of a real front suspension, equipping all cars with hydraulic brakes, fixing the vapor lock problems on the Ford V8 and the durability problems on the Zephyr V12. Ford might have become the King of Vehicles, setting the world standard - or at least the American standard - in all things automotive.
But, alas, it was not to be. Shackled by the increasing lunacy and unpredictability of his father Henry, whose emerging dementia had him on the trolley line to Crazyville, Edsel sought refuge in style while his dad ranted about the Jewish banking conspiracy and tried to run FoMoCo into the ground with his agrarian-focused, semi-addled brain.
Style was something with which Edsel was comfortable; he had a lifelong passion for art. He and his wife were patrons of the arts and Edsel, while having no formal design training, had a good eye for things. You don't have to be an expert on grape stomping to appreciate a good wine.
Edsel ran Lincoln ever since Henry bought it for him in 1921. Edsel had ... (more >>>)
Three Years Late: Over the weekend, MotorWeek briefly reviewed 'Memoirs Of A Hack Mechanic' by Rob Siegel. This book was published in June 2013. I reviewed this enjoyable tome in March 2014. You'll find my review posted here.
Humongous Revenues, Puny Profits: Malcolm Berko wrote disparagingly about online mega-giant Amazon. "Amazon has 231,000 employees, revenues of $107 billion, net income of $600 million and a market cap of $275 billion. Amazon generated $110 billion in revenue and with net profit margins of 0.6%, earned a niggardly $600 million."
Amazon trades at $700 per share - an absurdly-high 550 times earnings. "Jeff Bezos, who seems to have lost his hair, needs a lot of magic, and soon, because nothing in this world is worth 550 times earnings. And some Amazon doubters think the purchase of a 6-month put option might be a profitable trade."
Mr. Berko didn't like Amazon when ... (more >>>)
Joke Of The Day: One-armed butlers they can take it but they can't dish it out.
Friday May 27, 2016
There's Always Magic When Zagato Is Involved: Aston Martin and iconic Italian design house Zagato teamed up to create a striking, carbon-fiber-bodied concept which was unveiled at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, a glitzy concours on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy.
This is the fifth time that Aston and Zagato have collaborated on a car over five decades, beginning with the gorgeous DB4 GT Zagato in 1960. The newest one is gorgeous, too.
Why Rick Steves Loves Those European Trains ... and why we don't want them: Randall O'Toole wrote a very insightful article about European rail transport versus American rail - light and otherwise.
Tourists may be enjoying public transport in Europe but locals less so. In fact, "from 1970 to 2010, all forms of travel grew in the EU-15, but auto and air travel grew the most. Air's share of total travel grew from 1.5% to 8.0%, while auto's share grew only from 73.9 to 74.7%. Bus, urban rail, and intercity rail all lost market shares."
Unfortunately, those Euro Railpasses are no longer the bargain that they used to be. Not for ... (more >>>)
It's Now Official: Donald Trump has now surpassed the 1,237 electoral votes needed to clinch the Republican nomination.
Many television and print pundits as well as clubby, tassel-loafered GOP establishment types remain in shock and/or denial. They didn't think this moment would ever happen and it has turned their worldview and various political rules-of-thumb as upside-down as an old-fashioned pineapple cake.
Well, I say, "Screw 'em!" In the 2010 elections, Republicans begged for control of the House. "We'll make things better." We elected the Republicans; voted them in with a clear majority of 245 Representatives. Lead by John (aka: The Orange Perry Como) Boehner, nothing got done. And Paul Ryan's not doing much better.
In 2014, the GOP Establishment asked us to give them control of the Senate. "That's what we need to fix everything - give us the Whole Megillah," they asked. And we the voters dutifully did so; Republicans got a clear majority 54 to 44. What's Mitch 'The Mumbler' McConnell done since then? Nada. Americans now feel pissed and betrayed. And rightly so.
Donald Trump, in all his brashness, has won over frustrated voters, who feel that their representatives are being co-opted by influence peddling. The Donald is a politician not for sale, a phenomenon seen less often than a Higgs boson particle. Neither conservative nor liberal, he's best described as a pragmatist - a man who understands what's possible ... and a man who gets things done.
Let's ride with Trump.
Good Advice: Gerard Van der Leun offered three tips for air travelers:
Quote Of The Day is from Eric Hoffer: "People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them."
Wednesday May 25, 2016
Quite A Looker: I'm not in the market for a car these days ... but, if I were, the 2017 Mercedes Benz C300 coupe would probably be on my short list.
It looks a lot like the S-Class coupe but costs only half as much as the six-figure S.
What Did You Expect? Once again, United Airlines has been awarded the dubious honor of providing the worst customer satisfaction ranking of North American airlines, according J.D. Power.
I have added this tidbit to my 'Air Rage' page ... which you'll find posted here.
Book Review: 'Black Noon: The Year They Stopped the Indy 500' by Art Garner
We are spoiled by today's dazzling coverage of the Indianapolis 500 race, with its many camera locations (including in-car micro-cameras and overhead shots from the ubiquitous Goodyear blimp). But it wasn't always that way, with fancy graphics and never-ending barrage of driver/race statistics.
Full "flag-to-flag" coverage of the Indy 500 on network television didn't begin until 1986. Same-day, tape-delayed coverage began in 1971, with Chris Schenkel and Prep alumnus Jim McKay as hosts/announcers. Back in 1964 (the setting for this book), one either listened to the big race on the radio or paid to watch it live in select movie theaters in major cities. In '64, there was no Jim Nabors to sing 'Back Home Again In Indiana' (he did so from 1972 to 2014); Vic Damone performed the 500's signature song in 1964.
The 48th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held on Saturday, May 30, 1964. It is mostly remembered for the horrific fiery seven-car accident that resulted in the deaths of two excellent race car drivers, Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. It was the last race won by a front-engined roadster, driven by A.J. Foyt.
'Black Noon' chronicles this dark day in the Indy 500's history. When Indy rookie ... (more >>>)
RIP: Actor Burt Kwouk, OBE - best known for his role as Clouseau's manservant Kato ("Kato, you fool!") in the many Pink Panther films - has died at age 85.
Mr. Kwouk acted in numerous other films and television shows.
Separate But Equal, My Ass: The president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) says that the Obama administration's assertion that single-sex bathrooms are discriminating against gender-confused individuals in much the same way that blacks experienced discrimination in the United States is a "gross insult" to all who fought for equality for African-Americans.
"There is simply no relation between the struggles that Black Americans have faced and the desire of a tiny minority group to violate the dignity and privacy of women and girls," said Rev. Bill Owens. "To suggest some sort of equivalence is a gross insult to all of those who marched with Dr. King and faced fire hoses and hatred in the name of equality."
It's hard to argue with Reverend Owens in this matter.
No Surprises Here: As expected, Donald Trump won big in yesterday's Washington State primary (with about 75% of the vote) and edged closer to the 1237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination.
While Republicans had a real primary, Democrats decided to allocate their delegates in the March 26 caucuses, where Bernie Sanders won all 39 counties and claimed the state by a 3-to-1 margin. Feel the Bern, Washingtonians.
Bad Pun Of The Day: Acupuncture is a jab well done.
Monday May 23, 2016
In The Land Of Useta Be: Fred Reed (b-1945) wrote that, in the United States he remembers, "they didn't have these funny little Japanese cars with itsy-bitsy four-bangers. Nope. They had great virile monsters thirty feet long with eight huge cylinders like buckets. A dog could have slept in them.
Sure, those rocket-barges were probably ridiculous and left a trail of parts that fell off because quality control wasn't that great, but they were real cars. They embodied a spirit I liked.
Today, cars seem to be designed with hair-dressers in mind."
Why So Many People Feel Poor These Days: Breitbart News noted, "The number of Americans NOT in the workforce during the month of April increased substantially compared to the previous month - again tipping over the 94 million mark - according to Labor Department data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 94,044,000 Americans were neither employed nor made an effort to find employment - due to discouragement, retirement, schooling or otherwise - in April. Last month's numbers represented an increase of 562,000 over the month of March, when 93,482,000 Americans were out of the workforce."
In total 151,320,000 Americans had a job last month and another 7,920,000 Americans were unemployed. 2.1 million workers have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. 568,000 discouraged workers stopped looking ... (more >>>)
Old Measuring Devices: Over at Hemmings, Tom De Mauro recently blogged about a Starrett dial indicator found at a flea market.
I have a similar gauge made by B.C. Ames of Waltham, Massachusetts, which we always referred to as a snap gage. I was given the device when I worked at Uniroyal in 1965-66 to measure the thickness of rubber sheeting. At Rohm & Haas and, later, Discovery Plastics, I used it to check the thickness of acrylic sheets.
It could handle thicknesses of up to 0.312 inch thick material. Ames still sells my No. 25 pocket thickness device. My snap gauge is over 50 years old and works ... (more >>>)
Last Week, Death Came In Threes: Legendary and always dapper '60 Minutes' correspondent Morley Safer has died at age 84.
He joined CBS' '60 Minutes' in 1970 and set the record for the show's longest-serving correspondent, retiring in 2016 after 46 years. In fact, Safer enjoyed the longest run anyone ever had on primetime network television.
Actor Alan Young, who starred as Wibur Post on 'Mister Ed' has died at age 96. Young was already a well-known radio and TV comedian, having starred in his own Emmy-winning variety show, when 'Mister Ed' was being readied at comedian George Burns' production company. Burns is said to have told his staff: "Get Alan Young. He looks like the kind of guy a horse would talk to." The show ran for 143 episodes.
Alan was also the voice of Scrooge McDuck.
TV pitchwoman Julia Meade died at age 90 while, ironically, while watching television at her home in New York City. The fledgling actress became a household name to Americans as the public face of Lincoln cars beginning in 1953 on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and as a promoter of a range of other products, including gas-powered appliances, Hudnut hair products, Life magazine and Kodak cameras.
By the late '50s, Julia had dethroned Betty Furness as TV's leading pitchwoman.
Rest in peace to all.
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "Hoarders prove everything's collectible."
Thursday May 19, 2016
Pamper Yourself. Or Be Pampered: Dan Neil tested the $129,245 BMW 750i xDrive. Features? You want features? "The oh-so-charismatic opera lights built into the B-pillar; the lustrous alloy door trim, speaker grilles and switch caps; the cool ambient lighting seeping into the cabin from every edge and seam; the perfume atomizer in the HVAC system, to mask the scent of class angst. A heated armrest? Now they are just showing off."
Opera lights? That's oh-so-very 1970s Lincoln, n'estce pas?
"The danger with the fully decked 7-series is cannibalism. I consider myself a dedicated sybarite with a bum finely calibrated over many years; but really, as I lie back in the pleated-leather command chair (right-rear) with my feet up and my tongue hanging out, I'm not sure I could appreciate the difference between this car and, say, the Rolls-Royce Ghost, which shares the basic 7-series architecture and costs about $200,000 more. The down-the-road atman of both cars is the recognizably the same: the amniotic hush of acoustic glass; the flying carpet algorithms of the complex air suspension; the glove-soft Nappa leather over massage and climate-controlled recliners; powered window shades …zzzz. Both cars are superior places to take naps at 100 mph."
Dan concluded, "There is a limit to how luxuriously supple and poofy and connected and pillow-filled you can make a car, and that constitutes a leveling effect superluxury brands have to pretend doesn't exist.
That leads to the crowning irony that this majestic car is not expensive, but rather an irresistible bargain. Where are you going to get the money? Details, details."
Quick, Before It Rains: Wednesday was sunny and warm, with the temperature eventually reaching the low-70s. Since clouds and rain were forecast through the weekend, I decided to take an old car drive while conditions were good. Good thing I did; by mid-afternoon, the clouds had rolled in.
The temperature was 65 degrees at 11:00 am. The sky was light blue with clouds to the north and the east. The clouds where white with dark bottoms; Mt. St. Helens was completely socked in. But there were no clouds overhead and I enjoyed full sunshine as I motored along.
Which Is The Third World Country Now? Thirty years ago, GM made cars in Flint and you couldn't drink the water in Mexico. Now GM builds cars in Mexico and you can't drink the water in Flint.
Another Reason We Won't Be Planning Any More Trips To London: London's iconic red double-decker buses will now have signs declaring "Glory To Allah."
Britain's largest Islamic charity says it wants to "break down barriers" and portray Islam positively by launching a new advertising campaign which will slap the phrase "Glory to Allah" on the side of London's red buses.
The new campaign by Islamic Relief is, ostensibly, targeted at raising donations for their Ramadan aid to Syria, but is attracting attention for the "hundreds" of buses which will be decorated with the phrase "Subhan'Allah."
It is ironic that a country that led the Crusades finds itself at the target of crusade of whom they launched it against. We last visited the UK in 2001 but we won't be going back.
Book Review: 'Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World' by Adam Grant
The first few chapters of Grant's book were exciting and inspiring. Then the book wandered off into less-compelling and more mundane examples of non-conformity and my interest dropped sharply. Anecdotes were both uninteresting and unconvincing.
I still believe that most non-conformists ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from the late Lyn Nofziger: "Back when he was governor, Ronald Reagan always went home reasonably early. He didn't believe in hanging around the office for the sake of hanging around the office.
One time, about 5:00, he was on his way out when he stuck his head in our office and said, 'Fellas, go home to your wives and daughters.' We said, 'If we do, who's going to do the work?' And he said, 'It doesn't need to get done. Go home.'"
Tuesday May 17, 2016
Follow The Sun: We had some nice, sunny weather last week. Wednesday was particularly pleasant, with blue skies and a 70 degree temperature at 11:15 am. Naturally, I backed my 1939 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and took a little drive along Clark County's rural roads. I passed a school bus barn; yellow monstrosities were streaming out of it but - lucky for me - they were headed in the opposite direction. Otherwise, traffic was pretty light and I had a most enjoyable drive.
Temperatures peaked at a very warm 85 degrees. In the afternoon, my wife and I drove to East Vancouver and, along the way, got an awesome view of snow-covered Mt. Hood.
Thursday was even hotter, so I took my drive a bit earlier under bright blue, cloudless skies.
Friday would have been a good day for a drive but I had a dental appointment - I would have rather been in the Plymouth than in the dental chair.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday ... well, it rained.
The dark blue Chrysler is now on display at the Imperial Palace Collection in Las Vegas.
Murican? The GMC Canyon pick-em-up truck can now be had with a diesel engine, as can its Chevrolet Colorado stablemate. But the Duramax 2.8 liter, I-4 turbo-diesel motor is made in Rayong, Thailand. The diesel Canyon isn't cheap; prices start at $37,000 or so.
Boom! Thirty-six years ago tomorrow, Mount St. Helens erupted, causing a massive debris avalanche. It reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet and replaced it with a mile-wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake uncorked a gas-charged reservoir of magma that leveled 230 square miles, killed 57 people and triggered the largest landslide in history. The explosion equaled the force of a 20-megaton bomb.
It's generally quiet right now, although there have been a series if quakes under the mountain over the past two months.
I see the mountain every day (unless it's clouded over); I live a mere 35 miles away as the ash flies. I had never really noticed St. Helens on my drives up and down I-5 until it blew its top. The devastation was impossible to imagine. Trees knocked over like toothpicks. Mud and ash everywhere. Gray 'snow' on the ground. I had an incredible view of the eruption, since I was staying at a motel overlooking the Columbia Gorge in Hood River, Oregon. I was provided a ringside seat - a north-facing room with a large picture window.
At the time of the eruption, I was 36 years-old. It was not a great time in my life. My dad had died two months before and my small business was struggling and barely hanging on. The economy was turning downward and interest rates were heading to the stratosphere. 1980's inflation rate was 12.5%.
That week, I was on a sales trip trying to drum up business for my small plastics company. As I headed east on I-84, stopping in various towns to make calls, most of the ash seemed to be running just behind me. By late week, I reached the apex of my trip in Boise, Idaho. By then, the majority of the ash cloud was traveling north into Montana.
Money was tight, so I was staying in cheap motels and living frugally. I was enthusiastically touting our firm's plastic vacuum-forming capabilities as well as our recent foray into plastic sheet distribution. 1980 turned out to be my company's best year for vacuum forming, although our machine utilization never exceeded 50%. (We soon decided that there were greener plastic pastures elsewhere and sold our PVI vacuum forming equipment a few years later.) Acrylic sheet sales put an additional $10,000 in the company's coffers that May. Impressive, since we had just been appointed as an Acrylite distributor two months before.
We were also beginning to make inroads into the clear acrylic display market; Pacific NW Bell (the phone company) and Hewlett-Packard had recently given us substantial point-of-purchase display orders. (Eventually, store fixtures and displays became our largest market segment: 92% of total sales by 1988.)
Despite the worsening economy, our overall sales for fiscal 1980 were up ... (more >>>)
Why U.S. Productivity Stinks: Scott Grannis wrote that "a significant increase in transfer payments (money the government gives to people for a variety of reasons) beginning in late 2008 corresponded to the beginnings of a significant decline in the labor force participation rate. Many millions of workers have left the workforce, and it could be due at least in part to the fact that the benefits that accrue to those not working (e.g., food stamps, disability payments, welfare, earned income credits, assistance to single-parent families) are greater than the net benefits of working, especially on an after-tax basis.
Transfer payments now equal 20% of disposable income, and that is a big number that currently totals $2.74 trillion and consumes fully 73% of all federal government spending. Maybe it's simply the case that our government has grown to the point where it is now suffocating the private sector. Too few people are working and too many are on the receiving end of federal largesse. And for those who are still working, the burden of complying with regulations and the burden of taxes is inhibiting their ability and willingness to work and invest more.
We are not going to see significant improvement in productivity and living standards unless and until we adopt policies that are more conducive to work, investment and risk-taking. It's that simple. Unfortunately, the proposals being discussed on the left (e.g., higher taxes on income and capital, plus higher minimum wages which price many young workers out of the market and inhibit new business formation) are only going to exacerbate the current situation."
Let's face it: Given ever-increasing, costly, government-imposed labor regulations, upwardly spiraling health care costs and the like, many companies have reduced their workforce by subcontracting services overseas, including engineering and technical services.
The U.S. has become a Regulation Nation - a sure-fire killer of productivity. Donald Trump has vowed to reduce regulations, if elected. He "would scrap a slew of federal regulations that he said are even more of a burden on American business owners than high taxes, and would try to refinance longer-term U.S. debt. "We're lowering taxes very substantially and we're going to be getting rid of a tremendous amount of regulations," Trump said in an interview with CNBC. I hope he means it.
Politically, eight years of Obama have empirically demonstrated that Hillary Clinton (aka - Obama II) is not the answer. Trump might be, if he can inject some backbone into a generally spineless Republican Congress and replace those onerous regulations with common-sense legislation.
Unfunded Mandates & The Abuse Of Power: Barry O. though his sycophant Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, "has sent a letter to every public school district in the country telling them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity, as opposed to their birth certificate."
Don't forget that, the word in Title IX (cited as the source for the mandate) is sex, not "gender identity." Sex is a physical, immutable characteristic.
William Katz of Urgent Agenda wrote: "There is, of course, no public input permitted. This is dictatorial government, seeking to impose an ideological solution consistent with the agenda of the hard left. The public be damned. Women who innocently walk into restrooms be damned. This is the way you will live your lives, peasants!
It is frightening. It is things like this that partially explain the rise of Donald Trump." Speaking of regulations ... (more >>>)
RIP: Fifties pop singer Julius LaRosa has died at age 86. His biggest claim to fame was that he was fired on-air by television host, Arthur Godfrey in 1953. LaRosa's career was relatively unaffected at first but it was soon swept away by the rock-n-roll tsunami of the mid-50s.
Julius has the distinction of outliving his mentor/tormentor Godfrey by over three decades. LaRosa's on-air firing exposed the public to Godfrey's dark side. Arthur Godfrey was said to be the inspiration for Andy Griffith's Lonesome Rhodes character in the movie, 'A Face In The Crowd'.
Separated At Birth? Are those two female pundits on FoxNews, Lisa Boothe and Ashley Pratte, twins? I have a hard time telling them apart. They even sound the same.
Joke Of The Day: "I like to play chess with old men in the park, although it's hard to find 32 of them."
Friday May 13, 2016
The View Through The Windshield debuted on May 13, 2004. You can view the earliest posts here. I used few images back in '04; in those early days, most people (including me) still had dial-up internet and I didn't want to slow down page-loading any more than necessary.
My blog is self-described as "about cars ... and more." I usually lead off almost any day's posting with something transport-related. Non-automotive postings include news articles which I find significant or humorous, nostalgic items as well as my opinions on social and political issues. And lots of other stuff, including business and financial subjects. And, I'm still posting book reviews at the rate of 50 or so per year.
Even though I'm only a few months shy of age 73, I'm feeling pretty well these days. The cancer treatments of the last couple of years were an ordeal but the latest test results show no indication of cancer and I'm thankful for that.
Most of my website traffic goes to the main blog page - it out-pulls any other interior page by twelvefold, although the main page of my site remains the second most popular page. But the blog page is two and a half times as popular.
Traffic to the blog page up 5% compared to last year. Since I don't sell ads, web traffic has no impact on my life. The View Through The Windshield is strictly a one-man voluntary operation; I don't have co-writers or a comments section. This blog is my journal, not a collaborative or a community forum. And that's how it's going to stay.
I have no plans to expand my online presence: No Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, RSS feeds or podcasts. Furthermore, I don't want 'Facebook friends'. If you are a real friend, you'll fly out here and buy me a couple of drinks.
It's always gratifying when readers compliment me about something I wrote. While I'm merely a loose thread in the mighty warp and woof of the internet, this little filament of a blog will continue to cling to the internet fabric for a while longer.
In the meantime, here's to the beginning of another year: Cheers!
Wednesday May 11, 2016
Chromania: I love chrome. Therefore, I'm jealous of those 1950s Canadians who could buy cars which looked like American ones but had 23 extra pounds of shiny stuff. Compare the 1956 Ford Fairlane with the 1956 Meteor Rideau:
Yes, yes, I like the clean look of the minimally-chromed '53 Studebaker Starliner coupe, 1956-57 Continental Mark II, '61 Lincoln Continental and 1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray. And all those classics designated as design milestones by the Museum of Modern Art.
But there's just something about lots of chrome ... come to think of it, the Museum of Modern Art would look a lot better if it were chrome-plated. It would also make it easier to clean off all the pigeon droppings. (permalink)
Euphemism Nation: Obama's Justice Department announced a plan to throw $1.75 million at young criminals in hopes that they don't become adult criminals. But you'd never know that given the linguistic fog the DOJ has conjured up.
"A press release issued earlier this week describes a new $1.75 million grant program as designed to help young people involved in the justice system find jobs and housing."
Wait, you ask, if these young people are "involved" in the justice system, doesn't that mean they already have jobs? Like, say, as a trainee in the dispatcher's office, or a desk clerk in the attorney general's office, or maybe a janitor at the local courthouse?
Not exactly. In this case, "justice-involved youth" is what we're now supposed to call juvenile delinquents, also known as young criminals.
"This is not a euphemism run amok as much as it is an exercise in obfuscation. After all, euphemisms at least try to convey the same meaning, just in a less harsh way, as the words they replace. Such as: 'substandard housing' for slum, or 'differently-abled' for crippled. But being 'involved' in something can mean anything. An arsonist could be described as a person who is 'involved in the home building industry'. A drunk driver will likely end up 'involved in traffic enforcement'."
William Katz wrote, "He who controls the vocabulary controls the country. The left has learned that. The right has not. The left is much better at twisting words."
The Death Of California Dreamin': Most of the Mammas and Papas are dead and California is on a ventilator.
"More than 25 years after the first Jamba Juice shop opened in San Luis Obispo, the owner of the smoothie company announced plans to move its headquarters from California to Texas within eight months."
Jamba Inc. will close its Emeryville, Calif., office and establish a new corporate home in Frisco, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas. Chief Executive David Pace said Jamba was looking for places that had "competitive operating costs," access to "skilled restaurant talent" and an "attractive cost of living," along with a central location for further expansion. And no Jerry Brown.
Smoothie move, Jamba Juice.
"Jamba will follow longtime Southern California burger chain Carl's Jr. in moving its corporate home out of the Golden State. In March, CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., which owns Carl's Jr. and St. Louis-based Hardee's, said it would move its Carpinteria headquarters to Franklin, Tenn., next year. The company said the move was intended to consolidate the two chains' headquarters into one location."
Once upon a time, California was perceived as America's dream, especially Southern California - a land of warmth and sunshine, blue ocean and beaches not far from the city. Then there were the palm trees, modern freeways, interesting and novel (for me) architecture and lithe, tanned people dressed in sharp clothes who drove gleaming, desirable autos. Just watch old '50s television shows set in the Golden State - like '77 Sunset Strip'.
Unfortunately, the Golden State has fallen on hard times, with a poverty rate that is now twice as bad as West Virginia's and substantially worse than the rates of poverty in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, according to a new measure of poverty developed by the federal Census Bureau.
Thanks, liberal Democrats. This is what being ruled by leftists and allowing the unrestricted flow of illegals will get you. It is extremely sad to see a state so rich in natural resources (especially its fertile farmland) be destroyed by politics.
One Tourist's Impression Of The City Of Brotherly Love: Gavin McInnes wrote, "I just flew back from Philadelphia and boy, are my arms tired of shooing away homeless people. The city of brotherly love has been overrun with broke bruthas asking for some love and it's so depressing, you tend to forget the incredibly rich history of the place."
He added, "While walking back from the Liberty Bell, I saw about a dozen drunk losers dancing and sleeping on a street corner like it was a 17th-century jail cell. They had a boom box playing R&B and it created a sort of homeless nightclub where they could all party together, vomit, and urinate."
I'm glad we're never going back.
Book Review: 'Car Crazy: The Battle for Supremacy between Ford and Olds and the Dawn of the Automobile Age' by G. Wayne Miller
This book covers early automobile history from the late 19th Century through the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908.
The Ford versus Olds story is a bit contrived, since Oldsmobile was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In 1901, the company produced 425 curved-dash Oldsmobiles, making it the first high-volume gasoline-powered automobile manufacturer. Olds was forced out of his company by the Smith family who were the majority shareholders. Olds soon formed a new automobile company, REO (his initials). While Oldsmobile outsold Ford in earlier years, Fredric Smith's insistence on producing luxury cars lead to the downfall of the firm and its subsequent takeover by General Motors.
Henry Ford produced his first car in 1896 - the bicycle-tired Quadricycle. He started - and left - several companies over the next several years. One of them became Cadillac. Ford eventually found partners who shared his vision for lower-priced cars and eventually developed the Model T.
The book covers in detail several long distance auto trials and races, including ... (more >>>)
Disappointing News: Not giving a rat's patootie about what the people want, the UK's Natural Environment Research Council announced that its new polar research ship will be named after BBC broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough even though the name 'Boaty McBoatface' won a voter poll.
Boaty McBoatface decisively won the poll gaining 124,109 votes while the name Sir David Attenborough received a mere 11,000 votes.
I liked Boaty. It was the people's choice and, if Pee-wee's Playhouse had a yacht, it would have been named Boaty McBoatface.
Speaking of Pee-wee, have you ever wondered if Greg Gutfeld is his older brother?
If you don't think Boaty McBoatface is a sufficiently classy name for a ship, just close your eyes and imagine Thurston Howell III saying it. (permalink)
Question Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?"
Monday May 9, 2016
Woof. Woof. Dan Neil wrote that Buick's latest compact Geezermobile convertible is slow - old dog slow. Nevertheless, Dan noted, "There are Buick dealers in South Florida with their tongues hanging out to get these cars. These things are retirement-village Lamborghinis."
"This car is destined for seniors in the Sunbelt, particularly Florida. One thing we know about senior car-buyers is they do fewer comparison test-drives, often one or none. They might thus be unaware what a trembling relic the Cascada actually is.
Dynamically, the Cascada never had a chance. Sitting sideways under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injection in-line four, pedaling the front wheels through a pretty dated six-speed automatic. Four-thousand pounds divided by 200 hp comes to a well-marbled 20 pounds per horsepower.
The Cascada comes off the line like an arthritic bloodhound comes off the couch when called - painfully, noisily, yet eager to please. Figure 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds, but somebody will report you to the SPCA."
Prices start at a barking-mad $33,900.
Blue Skies, Smilin' At Me. Nothin' But Blue Skies Do I See: Early last week, I visited the Oncology Center for blood tests and a CT scan. On Friday, I saw the oncologist and got the results. All is well, at this time. The blood test measures cancer markers - carcinoembryonic antigen - in the blood. Mine is now 0.6, which remains within normal range (0-2.5 µg/L). The suspect area is unchanged in size - a further indicator that the cancer is dormant or, possibly, dead. My next blood test will be in mid-July.
Friday was a gorgeous, sunny day, with blue skies marked by an infrequent one-dimensional cloudy wisp here and there. Temperatures were warm and everything is in bloom with lots of verdant grass to be seen.
As soon as I got home, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a celebratory lap around the county's back roads. At 12:30 pm, there was some lunchtime traffic but I didn't mind. The temperature was a balmy 73 degrees. By late afternoon, it reached 82.
I saw a couple of unusual vehicles, including a red Polaris Slingshot - man, that sucker is low, followed a few cars back by a 1959 Chevrolet four-door with loud pipes.
I had a very enjoyable ride and a great remainder of the day, celebrating with some wine later in the afternoon. My kids arrived on a very sunny Saturday and we had much to celebrate in addition to Mother's Day.
Furthermore, I gave my daughter a ride in the Plymouth in the 82-degree Saturday afternoon heat. She shot some Through The Windshield video which she posted on her Facebook page. To experience the sights and sounds of a virtual ride in my old Plymouth, go here.
We got thumbs-up from a couple of vintage (late '60s) Camaros as were driving along. (permalink)
And ... In Other Weekend News:
Rare Sighting: From Stumptown Blogger comes a photo of a Council Crest streetcar at 5th and SW Washington in 1949 Portland, OR. What interested me was the light colored sedan on the lower right - it's either ... (more >>>)
Stained Glass Memorial: Recently, my cousin Fred sent me photos of a stained glass window which was donated to Philadelphia's historic St. Gabriel's Catholic Church by our great-grandfather.
St. Gabriel's Parish is at 2917 Dickinson Street in Philadelphia, PA. The parish, located in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philadelphia, was founded in 1895. The church was designed by noted church and theater architect ... (more >>>)
Trump's Success Summarized: Ann Coulter wrote, "A guy just won the Republican nomination for president by spending no money, hiring no pollsters, running virtually no TV ads, and just saying what he truly believed no matter how many times people told him he couldn't say that." Mirabile dictu!
While the Beltway Insiders dismissed Trump as the muffin stump of their cloistered political world, real people liked his "can-do" attitude. Will a President Donald Trump accomplish all he has promised? Probably not. But, if he delivers on only 25% of his vows, he'll be light years ahead of any elected Republican (senator, congressperson, president) in the last 25 years. And, yeah, I'm talking about you Bushes as well as Paul 'Playing Hard To Get' Ryan.
Quote Of The Day is from H.L. Mencken: "A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier."
Thursday May 5, 2016
April Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a healthy 17.42 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in April, up about 4% from April 2015, and up about 6% from the 16.46 million annual sales rate last month.
General Motors Co. posted total April U.S. sales of 259,557 vehicles, a decrease of 4% compared with April 2015. Retail deliveries rose 3%, fleet deliveries slipped 5% and commercial sales rose 4% in April.
The best-selling GM vehicle for the month was the Chevy Silverado pickup, which saw a year-over-year sales increase of 9% to 49,990 units. Sales of the GMC Sierra pickups rose 14% in April to 20,531 units, while the Colorado midsize pickup posted a sales increase of 48% to 10,362 units.
Total Chevrolet deliveries in April fell 2% year over year to 183,442 units, although retail sales rose 5% to 134,562 units. The company's Buick brand saw a year-over-year total sales decrease of 3% in April but an increase of 13% in retail sales. Cadillac's April sales dropped 29% to 11,236. Sales for the first four months of 2016 fell 12% to 46,869. Most Caddy sales were SUVs.
Ford Motor Co. reported a U.S. sales increase of 4% in April, to 231,316 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with April 2015 sales of 222,498. Truck sales rose 14.8% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups rose nearly 13%.
Sales of the Lincoln brand rose 20% year over year in April as sales of Lincoln utility vehicles rose by 53% to 6,985 units. Car sales totaled 2,791 units in the month (-22%). Overall Lincoln sales were 9,776 vehicles.
Year over year, sales rose 6% at Fiat-Chrysler in April to 199,631 units - the company's best April sales level in 11 years, mostly because of Jeep and Ram sales. The Jeep brand posted a sales gain of 17% year over year, its best April sales ever. The Jeep Compass posted a sales gain of 124%, the Renegade posted a monthly sales gain of 131% and Grand Cherokee sales rose 12%. Fiat sales fell 19% to 3,045 vehicles. Chrysler brand sales dropped 18%, while Dodge sales decreased 3%. Only 60 of 'Savior-of-the-Company' Alfa Romeo brand were sold in April.
Toyota Motor Co. reported a modest 4% increase, while Lexus sales dropped 4%. BMW sales were off 7%, while Mercedes sales dropped slightly - less than 1%. Audi sales increased 6% to 17,701 units.
American Honda reported a 14% sales increase, with Honda brand sales increasing 15% and Acura sales increasing 9%. Nissan Motor reported 13% y-o-y growth. Nissan brand sales jumped 14, while Infiniti sales were up 5%. Sales of Hyundai-Kia were off 2%. Volvo sales leaped 33% to 6,169 vehicles, while Volkswagen sales slid another 10%. Subaru sales were up 7% to 50,380 vehicles. Mitsubishi sales increased 18% to 9,674 vehicles
Finally, only 110 Bentleys found buyers in April - a drop of 55%.
Automotive Slogan Of The Year: Recently, I watched a television commercial for the Audi A8. It ended with the tagline 'Ambition Never Rests'.
Where's The Passion? During a January 1987 trip to Arizona, we met some of my wife's uncles and aunts who were snowbirding from places like North Dakota, Montana and Colorado. When we pulled up in my white '87 Ford Thunderbird rental car, the uncles came running out ... to look over the car. "What's it got in it?" "Stick or automatic?" "How many speeds?" "What's the axle ratio?" I knew the T-Bird was a V-6 with a four-speed automatic and that the popular rental companies didn't even offer manual transmissions anymore but I didn't expect to be quizzed about the rear axle ratio.
We quickly headed to a local cafe for 'second breakfast'. The portions were huge. The women sat at one table; the men another. At our table, the breakfast conversation was mostly about cars. And axle ratios. Everybody at the table knew theirs - to two decimal places - except me.
They were disappointed by that but were happy to learn that my personal car - a Lincoln Mark VII had a V8 engine. "That 302's a sweet motor," said one. "Got pretty decent git-up-n-scoot," opined another. They had less to say about my wife's brand-new Honda Accord. "Don't know much about that Jap stuff," one muttered. They teased one of the group, whose daughter drove a notoriously unreliable Fiat X1/9: "How's her tin can of Spaghetti-Os runnin' these days?"
These men drove mostly full-size GM and Ford products. All were custom-ordered from their local small town dealer. They sat next to the salesman and checked the option boxes together - one by one. No bundled 'packages' for them. They enjoyed their new cars and traded them every few years for another new one. And they kept track of who bought their old one. "You know ol' Barney, he's still drivin' my '77 Caprice. She still looks nice, too. He keeps her up purty good."
It wasn't that my wife's uncles were car guys, they just knew their machinery ... and how to spec it out. They had a passion for machines. I understood this, having a passion for not just cars but plastic processing equipment, too.
All of these men are now dead. A new generation of car buyers has emerged, who know nothing about axle ratios, engine sizes or anything else. Challenge them on it and they'll respond, "Do you know the horsepower of the electric motor on your washer? Or dryer?" A logical question from people who see cars as appliances. (permalink)
"Ble, Ble, Ble, That's All, Folks!" Trump won Indiana in a landslide - 53 to 37. Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign as has John Kasich, making Trump the Republican presidential candidate, barring some black swan event.
While all the establishment pundits talk about the Trump phenomenon as "something never before seen in my lifetime," they should go running to their libraries with all those leather-bound first editions and read up on Wendell Willkie.
I'm currently reading 'Those Angry Days' by Lynne Olsen about the years leading up to World War II. Wendell Willkie, when selected - reluctantly - by the Republican Party, had the support of less than 3% of his party's membership but, nevertheless, came close to winning the presidential election.
It makes for interesting reading. Willkie might have won except for the fact that he was running against the formidable Franklin D. Roosevelt, a sitting president.
There are many parallels between Willkie and Trump. Willkie was a business executive who had never before run for public office.
Given Hillary Clinton's many weaknesses, including her surprising loss to Bernie Sanders (53-48) in Indiana and the possiblility of an orange jumpsuit in her future, I think Donald Trump has a fair shot at defeating her in the general election. Many conservative pundits feel othewise, especially National Review magazine which devoted a full issue to The Case Against Trump. On the other hand, NR is a money-losing publication with a declining, aging subscriber base.
In any case, the next six months should be interesting, exciting and entertaining - kinda like King Kong vs. Godzilla. Or maybe something else: David P. Goldman wrote, "This presidential race will look like Alien vs. Predator. I'm for Predator, without a second's hesitation, because he's our Predator. For all his faults Donald Trump would be (and I'm confident will be) an incomparably better president."
The Troubleshooting Guide To Almost Everything: Successful, fast-growth, very high profit businesses appear, at first glance, to have little in common with one another. Some are retailers; some are manufacturers. Others are wholesalers; still others provide services. One may have no employees; another has several dozen. Some are flashy and high profile; others are so low-key that they're almost invisible. What they all have in common is an ability to quickly solve problems and to learn from their mistakes. They know how to troubleshoot. If you want to improve your business, you'd better learn to be a good troubleshooter, too.
This guide to problem solving was originally developed by J. Franklin Moore in the early 1960s for use in troubleshooting the processing of plastics in injection-molding machinery. By modifying some of the terminology, I've found that this six-step program can be used to fix all kinds of problems. This powerful program has already been used to troubleshoot vacuum forming equipment, diagnose and repair automobile engines, tune pianos, fix troubled marriages, landscape homes and treat illnesses. This simple and effective program has also been used by countless small companies to solve their business problems.
Here are the six steps to solving any problem ... (more >>>)
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Let's honor it with this little joke:
Book Review: 'Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man' by William Shatner
I'm not a Trekkie. I did watch most episodes of the 'Star Trek' series when originally broadcast from 1966 to '69. And I've seen a couple of the movies but that's about it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book; it was a fast and easy read. Shatner is a good story-teller with a rich supply of anecdotes.
The book takes readers beyond the Spock actor to reveal ... (more >>>)
Happy Mother's Day this Sunday to all moms (especially mine) - whoever and wherever they may be.
Mother's Day was officially established in the early 20th Century. At first, it was the custom to wear a white carnation to honor one's mother. In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers on Mother's Day, florists invented the idea of wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was deceased; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into a popular observation at churches.
I remember carnations being sold outside of churches on Mother's Day, when I was young. Men wore one as a boutonnière on the left jacket lapel. I was always saddened by the sight of my dad wearing a white one; his mom died when he was only 23.
In the past 35 years, I've not seen carnations worn on Mother's Day, either because the custom never caught on in the Pacific Northwest or because the tradition has waned. Perhaps it's because no one seems to dress up anymore, so there are no lapels on which to affix carnations.
Quip Of The Day is from John Candy: "Whoever said nothing is impossible obviously hasn't tried nailing jelly to a tree."
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Saturday Sun: At 1:00 pm, the temperature was still a chilly 57 degrees but it felt warmer in the sun. I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive.
Traffic was light and the colors were from a 4 pack crayon set, Crayola orange, blue skies with white Johnson & Johnson puffy clouds and lots of Spring greenery. Mt. St. Helens was guarded by bright clouds but the Eastern hills were visible and in bloom.
It was a fine way to spend part of a Saturday afternoon. The temperature eventually reached 63 degrees.
Later in this sweater-weather day, I cooked a large filet mignon on the outdoor grill. My wife and I split it, along with scalloped potatoes, roasted onions and bottle of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot (2001) from California's Central Coast.
Italian Dog: The Fiat 500 is sitting on dealer lots for an average of 138 days. Over the past year, sales have dropped by almost 26%. The 500L is parked on sales lots for 145 days.
That sounds awful until you realize that the Cadillac CTS has an inventory of 141 days and the ATS is even worse at 153 days. So much for Caddy's Dare Greatly ad campaign. Maybe people think it means We Dare You Not To Buy It.
Something Old Is New Again: Disneyland's 1955 Autotopia has been updated and reopened after a four-month closure. The update features cars powered by Honda. This Disney/Honda alliance brings a whole new look to this longtime guest favorite, with freshly-painted cars done up in Honda exterior colors.
May Third - A Day To Remember: 'The Third Of May', painted in 1814 by Francisco De Goya, commemorates Spanish resistance to Napoleon's armies during the occupation of 1808 in the Peninsular War - a military conflict for control of the Iberian Peninsula, involving Spain, Portugal and Britain against Napoleon.
Fifty-seven years ago, May 3rd was drilled into my brain during my Junior year at St. Joe's Prep.
For six months, Father Pichla kept reminding us that he was taking on us on a field trip to see a steel mill on that date. Except, with his accent, he pronounced it May Turd. Then three weeks before the trip he got pissed off at the class for some minor infraction and canceled it.
"Dat's it! No May Turd trip for youse," he yelled. Therefore, I've never toured a steel mill. I don't think I missed anything.
Bessemer converter, my ass.
Down At The Shore: I've added one more image to the section on Atlantic City. It's a matchbox cover for Mammy's, a great place for chicken and waffles.
Located on the ocean side of the boardwalk at Pennsylvania Avenue, the restaurant was owned by Lew Tendler, a well-known Jewish boxer from the 1920s. Lew also owned a restaurant on South Broad Street in Philadelphia.
Anemic Economy: Scott Grannis has noted that "it's probably not a coincidence that for the duration of this unusually weak recovery we've seen a huge accumulation of public debt, a huge increase in regulatory burdens (e.g., Obamacare, Dodd-Frank), generally high and rising marginal tax rates, and a punitively high corporate tax rate. The rewards to risk-taking, and the burdens of running a business and complying with increased regulatory mandates have depressed the economy's animal spirits. The government is slowly smothering the private sector."
Small businesses, which create more than 70% of all jobs, have suffered under the burden of government regulations. The annual cost of all mandated Federal regulations for firms with less than 20 employees is estimated at over $15,000.
It would be easy to lay this at the feet of the Obama administration but the fact is, burdensome regulations have been imposed since the 1970s and get worse with each presidential administration. Most of these regulations are not put in place by congress or presidents but by government regulatory bureaucracies, which "assume" their mandate and impose whatever rules they want without oversight - neither executive or legislative. These bureaucratic agencies include the EPA, OSHA, HHS and more.
The cited cost of regulatory compliance does not include the added cost of training poorly-educated, near illiterate graduates - products of our failing unionized education system, which turns out near-illiterate slackers with little knowledge and even less work ethic.
Add in mandated health care costs, the cost of litigation insurance (product liability, employee negligence) and the risk/reward ratio for new business ownership or growth for an existing business becomes unattractive.
Question Of The Day is from comedian Ross Noble: "How come Miss Universe is only won by people from Earth?"
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