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Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Car Pr0n #58

Keeping with the numerical theme, today's car was easy:

1958 Ford Thunderbird. Picture from this classified ($14.5K? Serious?)

The '58 T-bird is one of those love-it-or-hate-it cars. It represents everything that a car company can do wrong with a vehicle. The T-Bird was introduced in 1955 as a competitor to the Corvette, a lithe, two-seat convertible with an 8-cylinder motor meant to move the small (for the time period) car quickly.

But in 1958, Ford changed the parameters for the 'Bird.

The Thunderbird was always designed with more of a "personal luxury car" feel, so making it larger to accommodate the entire family was a smart move. Not smart, however, was taking a small (again, for the time), light (ditto) car with a V8 and making it larger - they'd have been better served with a different marque and left the T-bird as a 'Vette competitor.

What it did do, though, was pave the way for the Mustang, which is - after the F150 - Ford's greatest success story. As the Thunderbird grew ever larger, which turned it into just another large car, there was a decidedly missing component to Ford's stable. The Mustang - designed by none other than Lee Iaccoca - filled that hole, and has done so for more than 50 years now.

OTOH, the T-bird had to die so that the 'Stang could live, and the '58 T-Bird was the beginning of the end...

That is all.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksggiving Tradition...

I've posted this every Thanksgiving for at least the past three years (I may have posted it prior, but I'm too lazy to go look).

"With G-d as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." This has to be one of the funniest gags ever. "The Pinedale shopping mall has just been bombed by live turkeys. Film at 11." "It should have worked." "It's like the turkeys mounted a counter-attack." Just love that bit.

This is the first Thanksgiving we're on our own, so it should be interesting. We've done Thanksgiving with my folks for the past, well, ever; the Mrs.' family isn't all that big on it, and Mom G. being, well, an Italian mother goes all out. Usually by the time we get to the turkey we're too full to do much more than pick at it - which leaves plenty for cold turkey sandwiches on homemade bread on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

This year, it will be the four of us, quietly (HA) sitting down with our barely-larger-than-a-chicken turkey in the dining room (this is like the third or fourth time we've used the dining room since moving in less than a year ago; I think we've used this one about half as much as we used the one in MA the 15 years we lived there...) We've got a traditional Thanksgiving feast planned: Turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and pies. Oh, the pies... Might even be a glass of wine tossed in for good measure.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Take a moment today to think of the men and women serving in our Armed Forces that can't be with their families today because they're too busy being our heroes.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

And, Right On Cue...

Joseph in IL steps in and pinch-hits for my muse with this story...

Man arrested; deputies say he aimed banana at them
A man is facing a felony menacing charge after two western Colorado sheriff's deputies say he pointed a banana at them and they thought it was a gun.
[drops mike] I'm done.

I mean, seriously. How can I possibly parody this? How can you come up with satire when real life is that much more bizarre? Now, I won't dig on the cops too much. It's possible this guy whipped the banana out quickly, before they could identify the item but just saw something in the man's hand. To their credit, they held their fire after the man explained it was a banana.

It gets better, though.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports 27-year-old Nathan Rolf Channing, of Fruitvale, was arrested Sunday.
See? Can't. Make. This. Up.

Fruitvale. A banana. I think my work here is done.

No, wait, there's this:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

That is all.

If Anyone Sees My Muse...

Kick that little minx in the tail and tell her to head on back.

Between the faux outrage over "shirtgate," the depressing news out of Ferguson (and the attendant stupidity from pretty much the entire spectrum of the perpetually offended), and other related news-type stories, I'm all "shocked-out".

Plus it's Thanksgiving, which means a full-court press for Christmas. This time last year, we were working frantically to clean out the house in MA for the move to VA, and wound up moving into the new house on December 23rd. Ergo, we didn't have a Christmas last year. This year, I want to make up for that transgression. Think this:

Okay, that might not be as grand as I've got in mind, come to think about it...

I'll still be here, but the posting, as you've probably noticed, is going to drop off a bit in the coming weeks. I'm hoping that the new year will bring with it a renewed lease and more to talk about, but one thing I'm finding, now that I've gotten out of MA, is that there's a lot less to be angry about. Sure, there's the overall, national-level stuff to be sure, but the day-to-day stuff has gotten a lot better.

I mean, I haven't acquired a rifle that didn't have a bayonet lug since I've moved to VA...

That is all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sorry, Just Don't Have It...

Watching my Facebook feed fill up with news out of Missouri, I can't help but feel the same frustration as when I hear the latest SJW complain about a racy shirt on a science geek or crap about "cis-male" anything. The frivolous use of any "ism" - whether it be sexism, ageism, racism, etc. - detracts from legitimate cases.

Complaining about some science geek's hawaiian shirt - making it the center of a news story about an exciting scientific event - takes away from the thousands (probably more) of cases of legitimate sexual harassment that occur throughout the country on a regular basis. Claiming "racism" when a thug charges a cop and gets shot for it detracts from legitimate instances of police overreach, profiling, and overreaction.

Hell, I'll be one of the first to agree that there are plenty of stories about cops being too quick to go to guns. That's a training issue, and everyone would benefit from increased training that lessened the reliance on deadly force and made the application thereof more effective. No one likes stray rounds, not even the most gung-ho officer.

When armored vehicles rumbled through Boston suburbs and cops were pointing machine guns into houses without a single thought for the occupants inside (who, mind you, were ordered to stay inside, so the cops knew folks were in those houses), there were no protests. It's hard to envision a more heavy-handed application of police power than forcing folks to stay in their homes and rolling military-grade weaponry through the streets with no regard for Rule 4, yet no one rioted.

Police can and do make mistakes. We've seen enough no-knock warrants to have ample evidence of that. When they do, they need to be held accountable. When Officer Roid Rage in Ohio can't be fired after threatening to murder a concealed-carry permit holder, there's a problem with oversight. But there were no riots then, either?

When we see images of businesses being put to the torch and consumer electronics and alcohol being stolen under cover or protest, it significantly lowers the give-a-s**t-meter for actual cases of racism and police overreach. My fear is that real, legitimate cases of abuses of power will be pooh-poohed, swept away by the brush these protestors helped create by destroying Ferguson, MO in the wake of this decision.

It's like none of these people ever heard the story of the boy (Gender normalism!) who cried wolf (animal stereotyping!)...

That is all.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Close Encounters of the Vehicular Kind

So, this morning I had a very close call on the drive into work. As I changed lanes from the left lane to the middle lane (which was clear), the car in front of me decided to do the same. He didn't leave exactly enough room to accomplish this, but I saw him starting to move and had already applied the brakes in anticipation of getting cut off.

Then the guy in front of him did the same thing. 

Except he saw the cars now in the middle lane, panicked, and stopped. Yes, stopped. Guy in front of me slammed on his brakes, I slammed on mine. Hard. Launched my lunch bag off the passenger seat onto the floor and everything. I heard the brakes lock up, and everything went into slow motion as the back end of the Jeep in front of me got closer and closer.

Fortunately, the truck's brakes held, and I stopped about 6 inches from the guy in front of me. Six inches isn't an awful lot of space, especially when it's all that stands between you and a very expensive accident report. It's a reminder that the unexpected can happen literally any time, and that being prepared isn't something you do once in a while, when you're thinking about it.

It's also a reminder that we can't anticipate everything. I counted on the guy in front of me cutting me off; I didn't expect the guy in front of him to do the same, then panic and stop (on the highway, because that's a smart thing to do, right?) While I was ready for one thing, another caught me by surprise. Fortunately, I'm a big believer in keeping safety equipment in good working order, and the truck's tires and brakes were up to the task. What could have been an expensive accident turned into a story, instead.

Be careful out there. Idiots are everywhere.

That is all.


Saw Interstellar this weekend. It came highly recommended by several folks whose opinions I trust on such things, and in general it has gotten favorable reviews.

Visually and viscerally it is an *amazing* film. It was worth seeing in the theater for no reason other than the cinematography with the sound - scenes on earth are loud, with background noise and the hundred little sounds we hear everyday, while in space it was completely silent. Very, very well done there. I completely understand why folks have strongly recommended seeing it in an IMAX theater.

For me, though, the plot and sciency stuff is what did me in. There's a little too much deux ex machina sprinkled liberally throughout, and the big "gotcha" revealed at the end, I had picked up in the first ten minutes. The writing is good, overall, with the struggle for survival placed squarely against the struggle to keep one's humanity. Sometimes they mesh; often they do not.

It could have been about an hour shorter and been fine. While a little suspense-building is necessary, it almost seemed like parts were left intentionally long just for the sake of being long. At two hours and 49 minutes of run time, for a movie with little actual action sequences and fairly little dialogue, it seems like it could have easily been much closer to two hours and not lose much.

I can't get too heavily into the plot issues I had without giving too much away, but none were deal-breakers. I'm glad I saw it in the theater, but I'm on the fence whether I'll get the Blu-Ray when it comes out. We've got a decent sound system at Casa G. Sud, and I can pause it for refreshments or comfort breaks. That makes a difference.

On the flip side, they rely pretty heavily on surprises and gotchas - I don't know if the second viewing will hold up when you know what's coming. The suspense is a pretty big part of the film, and knowing how it's all going to pan out from the get-go might take some of the fun out of it. Maybe wait until the Blu-Ray release is marked down then watch it again.

I liked it, I did. It's visually stunning and has been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey (which, for the record, I thought was abysmally dull and boring), and the plot is such that it's pretty much the sturm to 2001's drang as far as plot devices and good guys/bad guys. The story does hook you in, and you genuinely care for the characters in the film. That's a rare movie that can make you care what happens to the people they've created.

Go see it in the theater, ideally something with a real bitchin' sound system. You'll thank me later.

That is all.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'd Say They're In The Tank, But...

...that would be offensive to organizations actually in the tank. Read this piece by CNN and just TRY to claim the media is not ridiculously biased. TRY.

On immigration, a tale of two presidents
When George W. Bush couldn't get an immigration overhaul though the Senate, he gave up. When Barack Obama couldn't get a bill through the House, he changed the rules.

Rewriting the immigration system was at the core of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" political brand and was dear to his heart.
Yeah, that's it. Bush just "gave up" whereas brave Sir Robin Barack Obama pushed on. He's not acting lawlessly, he's a courageous knight of change, bravely tilting at windmills Congress who are refusing to act on this problem.

Right. Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

Congress isn't "refusing to act" - they're refusing to pass your ridiculous amnesty. They're doing it for a very specific reason - their constituency is telling them to do this. What proof do we have? Oh, I'd say a historic drubbing that returned the Senate to the GOP, heightened the GOP lead in the House, and turned a number of Governor's mansions - including MASSACHUSETTS, ILLINOIS, and MARYLAND - over to the GOP.

By any metric you'd care to use, the midterm elections of 2014 were a clear message: the party in charge - and make no mistake, with the White House and Senate, the Democrats were clearly in charge - wasn't getting things done to the satisfaction of the American people. So how does Barack Obama respond? He goes against all conventional wisdom and the express wishes of the party coming into power.

Yeah, that's a sign of a good leader, ignoring everything that doesn't fit into your narrow view. He's a visionary, at least according to CNN, who I'm surprised could take the kneepads off long enough to write this insane puff piece. Any wonder why people consider journalists to be slightly less trustworthy than used car salesmen or amoebas?

Apologies to amoebas; to my knowledge they have never intentionally shilled for an imperial doofus like Teleprompter Jesus.

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #57

I think there's only one car that could possibly have been today's pic.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. The quintessential '57 Chevy. Well, now that I think about it, there might be one other:

1957 Chevy Nomad. Of course, the Nomad is based on the Bel Air, so it's kinda cheating. Either way, though, there's a pair of really nice cars, the likes of which we'll not see again.

I've often wondered if GM were to come out with a retro- Bel Air or Nomad, how well they'd do. The VW Beetle sold like absolute mad and reinvigorated VW's tired line; the new Camaro and Challenger have revived the muscle car with a modern twist; even the silly MINI and Fiat 500 are selling well. There's a hunger for the old styling, but with modern appurtenances and engineering.

Done right, I think they'd sell the hell out of it. Done wrong - like the Ford T-Bird, the Chevy HHR or SSR, or the Plymouth Prowler - and it could be the death knell for retro cars. Chevy's batting 1,000 on proven designs (Camaro) but 0.00 on the new/retro (HHR/SSR). I think if they came out with something on the Impala frame with a vaguely Bel Air appearance they'd sell a ton of 'em.

Time will tell, I guess, but for now I'll look at the pictures and drool...

That is all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tech Bleg

Yesterday, when I left the house to go to work, it was 15 degrees. With a wind chill. In November. In Virginia. I was talking with a friend about heat and the upcoming winter, and not looking forward to heating bills (while contemplating raising the thermostat a degree or two), and the suggestion was made to get a programmable thermostat. We can set the temperature low during the day, and have it come up a few degrees warmer at night.

Now that the Mrs. is working a solid 9-5 M-F gig, we can investigate something like this. For years, she worked second shift or overnights, so a programmable thermostat wouldn't work for us - there was only a few hours where the house was empty. Then we had kids, and she went down to part time, so along with the off-schedule, there were one or two days during the week where someone was home all day (especially when she worked weekends, because there would be a second week day she'd be home).

So, basically, I have no idea whatsoever what's a good brand of programmable thermostat. I'm fairly confident in my skills for installation (I figure if I can install a dimmer switch without electrocuting myself, a programmable thermostat should be about the same complexity), so it comes down to brand and features. Also, never having used one, I'm figuring there will be some trial-and-error when it comes to turning the heat/air conditioning up/down.

The US DOE claims a significant savings - 5-15% of your heating bill - with a programmable unit. I find it interesting that their default temp is several degrees higher than our regular setting, and is in fact even higher than the new temp I was thinking of raising the thermostat to... It does makes sense, though - with our current lifestyle, we should be able to run the furnace at a significantly lower temperature for half the day, and bring it up as the Mrs. and I get home for just the night.

So, anyone got a recommendation for a good programmable thermostat?

That is all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WTF Harbor Freight?

So, today is Dad G.'s birthday. He's one of those impossible-to-shop for people, because any time he sees something he wants, he buys it. When asked for gift suggestions, his response is almost always of the "a check for a million dollars" or "a yacht" variety rather than something useful. So, when he tells me that Harbor Freight just opened up close to them, the little light bulb over my head went off. Gift Card!

The first clue something wasn't right should have been when Citibank bounced the purchased, claiming potential fraud. Now, I've ordered from dozens of online retailers, some that I was particularly skeptical about, and never gotten a fraud alert (I did get a fraud alert from a soda machine in a rest area in NJ, which I found puzzling, until I read up that one of the tactics of thieves after stealing a wallet or purse is to make a small purchase on the run to see if the card is still active).

Now, I've got it set up so the alerts come in a text to my phone. I responded in the affirmative to the text and received confirmation from Citibank that the order had been released. Apparently they crossed in the ether, because the next day I get an e-mail from Harbor Freight telling me the cc authorization failed and they had canceled my order. They gave an order number and an 800 phone number, with the line "We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week."

Apparently they didn't mean in a row...

First off, my order status according to the customer service number was "processing", not canceled. When I attempted to speak with a representative, I was informed that they were, in fact, closed. Which would be the exact opposite of being available "24 hours a day 7 days a week." I'll try again later in the day, but it's a cause for apprehension that I've been told my order is canceled, but now it's "processing," so I'm reluctant to place a second order or explore alternate birthday ideas until I have confirmation either way. And even then, I'm not 100% sure.

Great job making Comcast look competent here, Harbor Freight...

That is all.

Tipping Their Hand...

Ah. So Rand Paul is 2016's John McCain...

I'm a Liberal Democrat. I'm Voting for Rand Paul in 2016. Here Is Why.
The editor of Breitbart Unmasked, a site that I enjoy immensely and find informative, recently told me that supporting Rand Paul disqualifies a person from being labeled a progressive. My rebuttal was that he might be right. However, I also mentioned that Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia agreed with my latest Congress Blog piece. In the article, I explain why Rand Paul is correct in questioning the legality of President Obama's troop deployments. Sadly, people at UC Berkeley are more interested in protesting Bill Maher than condemning a conflict George McGovern stated weakens our country in the same manner as Vietnam. Hundreds of airstrikes, over 3,000 soldiers deployed, and a request for $5.6 billion is a war, folks.
I don't know the author of this piece from a hole in the ground, but I'm going to go ahead and call shenanigans here. I have a hard time believing this self-proclaimed "liberal democrat" is going to vote for Rand Paul over Hillary! Clinton or whatever stump the donks put up in 2016. I suspect that Rand Paul is, like John McCain in 2016, the Republican the Democrats would most like to run against, and therefore we're going to see favorable press like this from now until the nomination.

After the nomination, of course, the knives come out and the press savages Paul for being an ultra-right-wing extremist. Don't believe me? Run a Google search for "Mitt Romney Right Wing Extremist". Seriously, do it. Mitt freakin' Romney. The man who was Governor of MASSACHUSETTS, is a right wing extremist. The man who signed into law the health care bill that Barack Obama would use as the template for ObamaCare is a right wing extremist.

If HuffPo is pushing Rand Paul, be afraid. Be very afraid.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Good Read...

Someone you might know wrote a good article over at the work place...

Which Gun for the Mrs.?
“I want a gun.”

Ahhh, the moment I’ve been waiting for. Don’t screw this up.

She said it nonchalantly, as we were watching television. Normally, she understands that important conversations are to wait until commercial break, and that she should never, ever interrupt “Longmire.” Or “The Walking Dead.” Or “Justified.” Or “Burn Notice.” Or any game involving a ball, unless it’s soccer, in which case she is welcomed to interrupt as often as possible, for as long as possible. I’m pretty sure that’s in the marriage vows somewhere.
Yeah, it's quintessential Ambulance Driver. Go, take a read. In his inimitable way, he very slyly and subtly lets you know how not to take a new shooter to the range, and especially how NOT to introduce your significant other to the shooting sports. Having been privileged to shoot with AD, I can assure you he is nothing like this in real life: he helped me get squared away on shotguns, and his instruction was both excellent and tuned to his audience.

Besides, the picture alone is worth the price of admission...

That is all.

Holy Awesomeness, Batman!

Stretch sent this in, (rightfully) figuring I might be interested...

Earliest officially licensed Batmobile for sale
The Batmobile made for the 1966 TV show from a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car by legendary car customizer George Barris may be the one we think of as the first Batmobile, but that’s just because the TV show was such a smash hit (pow! bam!) and the car so damn cool that it became an instant icon. Its iconic status garnered it $4.62 million including buyer’s premium when it sold at auction in January of 2013, and I myself repeatedly referred to it as the first Batmobile.
No, it's not this:

It's this:

1956 Oldsmobile 88 frame and 324 CI engine, constructed in a New Hampshire garage by a local metal fabricator. It served as an ice cream delivery vehicle for a while, before being decommissioned and left to rust for 50 years. It was found last year and restored to its full Batmobile glory, and is now at auction.

Anyone got a spare $200K they want to invest?

That is all.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Around The Blogosphere...

Daddybear has a book out. I've read a good chunk of it (I got an advanced sampling that I was supposed to beta-read, but didn't get it finished in time. Mea culpa, Daddybear, mea culpa). It's good stuff. Take a read.

Borepatch is being tested for our old nemesis prostate cancer. This, folks, is why I wear a kilt for 1/12 of the year. Better testing = earlier detection = more folks surviving. I will not let this bastard claim my blogson, not as long as there's a kilt to be worn and a shred of shame to be auctioned...

Tam liked Interstellar. This is now the second person whose advice I value advocating for this movie. I may have to break down and see it in the theater. SCI-FI saw it and loved it, and advised me to see it in IMAX if possible. Fortunately, there's an IMAX theater not even 10 miles from my house.

Robb has a great observation about parenting and kids that succeed. And part of the reason that I am posting this is because I want to brag about BabyGirl G., who made high honor roll her first quarter in middle school. WTG, kiddo!

LawDog recounts Jennifer getting made - as a cop. When I first moved to VA, I was in limbo for a few months while we sold the house in MA and found a house down here. As a result, I had no CCW permit, so the only way I could carry was open carry. Only once did anyone comment, and yes, he asked if I were a cop...

I know the content has been on the lean side recently, but there's always good stuff on the blogroll!

That is all.