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Monday, October 20, 2014

I Wish This Shocked Me...

But given that it's MA, it doesn't.

Hopkinton School Bus Driver Arrested For OUI With Students On Board
A school bus driver has been charged with operating under the influence — his third offense — while driving a bus full of high school students, police say.

On Saturday, 25 Hopkinton High School cross country athletes were returning from a meet at about 10:30 p.m., when the coach on the bus called police and reported concerns that the bus driver might be intoxicated, according to a Hopkinton police statement. Police met the bus as it turned into the high school’s parking lot and let students off safely.
I honestly don't know which upsets me more: On the one hand, we have a guy tasked with driving high school kids to and from an athletic meet that decided to tie one on to the point where other adults on the bus had to call the police. That's bad. However, is it as bad as the fact that he had twice previously been found under the influence while behind the wheel and was still not only driving on a valid license but driving a school bus?

I mean, still having your driver's license is bad enough, but being eligible to drive a school bus? *TWO* previous OUI convictions isn't enough to permanently bar you from driving a school bus? Are we really that hard up for drivers that we let the worst of the worst drive?

So, how many months before he gets his fourth offense?

That is all.


Knowing Your Limitations...

Folks who are friends with me on Facebook know I did something foolish this past weekend. Even though I really should know better; even though I am in the business; even though there's plenty of evidence against it; I did something stupid:

I field-stripped a Ruger Mark III.

I know, I know. I'm funny like that. You tell me I shouldn't do something, well, that's like waving the red flag in front of the bull. I had instructions. I had tools. I had an afternoon ahead of me...

I should have known better. It came apart pretty much exactly like the directions said it should. I got the four main groups separated, cleaned, and oiled with no problems.

Then I attempted reassembly.

The barrel went back on the grip assembly easily. The spring went into the bolt easily. The bolt even went into the barrel easily. Then I tried to get the mainspring housing back in and all hell (figuratively) broke looks.

Apparently, they're not kidding when they describe the steps that must be followed in order to get things back in place. I missed something (I think it was inserting the magazine to pull the trigger, now that I think about it) and when it all went back together, the bolt stuck open and the trigger wouldn't release the hammer.

At some point - I think it's when I grabbed the industrial-size screwdriver with the intent of prying the mainspring housing out of the pistol the hard way - I carefully zipped the Ruger in a pistol rug and put it in the safe. I had reached the point where any further action would have resulted in actual damage to the firearm, and despite how angry I was, I didn't want that.

I cleaned another gun (actually just ran a boresnake through an AR upper that I'm breaking in, that's about all I was good for at that point), took a nice, long, hot shower, and then did a little reading up on the Mark III on the 'net. Went downstairs into the workshop with a clear mind and took another look at the Ruger.

Now, I still don't know what I did to free up the mainspring, but it freed up and I was able to get the Ruger disassembled again. This time I took careful note of the position of things (and inserted the magazine), and was able to get it all together correctly. A couple function checks (including dry-firing a rimfire, which sets my teeth on edge even though they say it's okay) later and it was fine.

"A man's got to know his limitations." Dirty Harry, Magnum Force. Smart, smart words, and ones that we would do very well to heed. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, and even at that, I'm still working on it. I could tell the frustration level was getting to a point where I wasn't going to be able to do anything constructive, and was FAR more likely to result in something destructive. I took the most sensible route and walked away.

Kinda wished I'd done that more often, but I guess that's how I got to this point...

That is all.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Word Or Two About Ebola...

Man, this is just turning into a complete and utter goat-rope, isn't it? I mean, we're seeing actual news articles out there that would have been rejected by the staff at the Onion for being too far-fetched:

First, we have a cleanup crew powerwashing the outside of an apartment where the first ebola patient was staying in the US after he vomited all over the sidewalk. Notice the distinct lack of anything even remotely resembling protective gear, caution tape, or anything that might indicate folks should stay away.


A nurse who treated the first ebola patient called the CDC to see if she should fly, even though she had begun to exhibit signs. The CDC cleared her to fly on multiple occasions. Now, it's bad enough that the CDC told someone that DIRECTLY INTERACTED WITH AN EBOLA PATIENT that it was okay to get on a plane despite running a fever, but for a gorram nurse to STILL GET ON THE PLANE???

We have a "supervisor" overseeing the transfer of someone stricken with ebola shown in immediate proximity to the patient with zero protective gear. The official Ishityounot explanation is that he needed to be able to see the transfer. Folks, if you believe that, I have oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you.

The director of the CDC is apparently telling people you can give - but not get - ebola on a bus. Because that makes ALL kinds of sense. If someone shouldn't get on a bus if they think they have the virus, then clearly you *could* catch it on a bus. Or a plane.

And speaking of planes, airports are now screening travelers arriving from West Africa. There's no word on what they're going to do if they do find someone with an ebola-like fever. $20 says they'll admit the person to a hospital, but not quarantine the entire plane.


And of course, there's the blame game:

Ebola is the fault of the NRA. Because the NRA opposes Vivek Murthy as the US Surgeon General, and is apparently the sole reason he has not been approved, the ebola outbreak happened. Or something like that.

Ebola is the fault of the GOP-led Congress. Apparently we're not shoveling money at ebola research fast enough. We can sponsor studies into why certain protected groups get fat and others don't, and waste allll kinds of money attempting to treat firearms like a disease, but cut funding even the slightest and ZOMG EBOLA.


Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not panicking about ebola, far from it. What I am doing, though, is taking note of how pathetic our response has been. We haven't stopped people from coming to the US from infected areas, even though Europe has done exactly that, we haven't taken any serious measures whatsoever, and our policy appears to be little more than "run around like a decapitated chicken reacting poorly to every new twist in the crisis." I'm not filled with anything resembling confidence at how this administration would handle ANY crisis after watching their laughable response to the ebola situation.

Another thing that gets me, though, is that *both* sides have crackpot conspiracy theories out now. The loony left is represented above, while the crazy right is running around babbling about FEMA concentration camps and Obama canceling the mid-term elections using ebola as a cover. When both sides start coming out with batshit insane conspiracy theories, that's rather worrisome. I fear it's because the truth is almost scarier: This administration is in WAY over its head, has no f**king clue what it's doing, and hasn't the faintest idea how to deal with any of this. It appears their plan is nothing more than "hide under a pile of blankets and hope this all goes away."

I think I'd go for conspiracy theories, too.

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #52

Man, I hit a stumbling block today. I stared at the computer for, well, several seconds before thinking of a really cool car to post...


3rd generation Nissan Skyline GT-R. While all the iterations had their strong points, the third gen had a twin-turbo inline 6 cylinder that put out 276 horsepower. In the late 1980s. Remember, this is the time period that saw the Ford 5.0L V8 only putting out 225 horsepower and the Chevrolet big-block 454 CI V8 putting out 210 HP. 276 HP in a small, light RWD car was an autocross dream, and the GT-R had the sneakers to pull it off.

Japanese cars have always been either Godzilla (yes, that is intentional, and Skyline fans ought to get it right off the bat) or ridiculously underpowered toys, like the original Honda Civic (which, for those that remember, was actually the CVCC, after the engine's designation). It was a 1300CC, 55 HP econobox in an age of American land yachts with engine displacements quadruple that size.

Man, give me a twisty track and a GT-R and a full tank of gas and that's one helluva fun afternoon...

That is all.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Perspective...

I don't remember how exactly I got on the line of thinking; it just kind of happened.

When I was 10 years old, we didn't have cable TV. Cassettes were the latest and greatest, CDs and even videotape weren't around in any capacity yet, and video games were limited to arcades - certainly not anything in the home. We had radio stations, broadcast TV, and movies in the theater (and 187 years later when they came to broadcast TV).

About the only thing I had that my dad didn't have when he was 10 was cassette tapes. He had broadcast TV, radio, and movies in the theater. While I could go to a video arcade and play Space Invaders, he could go to the soda fountain and play a pinball game - pretty much a wash when it comes to the generations.

Well, my son's 13. Three years ago he was 10. Three years ago, we had a Blu-Ray player, a big-screen TV, MP3 players, OnDemand for movies, etc. Oh, and high-speed internet with pretty much all of recorded human history available at the push of a few buttons. Home computers - unheard of when I was a 10 year old, are so commonplace as to be unworthy of note. TVs are dirt-cheap, and we have literally hundreds of channels to choose from.

We have tiny computers capable of doing our banking, shopping, and basic human interaction living inside the phones we carry around for instant communication. My iPhone can do more than could the communicators in Star Trek - the 1960s vision of humanity many hundreds of years in the future. All of this is so readily available to my son that he thinks nothing of it whatsoever - it's part of the background (that's not to say he's not grateful for the things he has, mind you, just that it has always been a part of his life).

My dad brought home a VCR in the mid 1980s, probably 1983 or 1984. At the time, that was the most dramatic change in family dynamic I had ever seen. We could go to the neighborhood video store (what my son might think of as a giant RedBox), pick out a movie that had only 6 months prior been in the theater, and watch it in the privacy of our own homes. This was earth-shaking.

Friday nights would see us getting a couple pizzas at the local pizza place and renting a movie as a family. From National Lampoon's Vacation to Goonies to Indiana Jones, we watched the latest and greatest from Hollywood in our living room, on our own comfy couch, while eating popcorn we made for pennies. And we thought this was the single greatest thing that humanity had ever devised.

It's just weird that in the thirty years between my father and I, the biggest advance was in how we listened to music, whereas pretty much everything changed in the thirty years between my son and I. Had my father at age 10 been transported to meet me at age 10, not a heck of a lot would have surprised him. Sure, we had more than one TV, and the largest screen was a whopping 19 inches, but the basic device would have been familiar. Ditto the record player. While dad might have puzzled at the cassette tape, the basic concept would be familiar from a reel-to-reel device.


It would certainly be different for 10 year old me being transported 30 years in the future. The iPod Classic, smaller than the FM radio I thought was pure electronic magic in the early 1980s, can hold hundreds of hours of music with exceptional quality. TVs are larger, clearer, and more affordable now. We don't even need recorded movies - we can order them up through our cable TV service to watch literally any time we want. Need to research something for a paper? No need to run to the library and rummage through the card catalog; nossir, we just Google it.

It does make me wonder what my grandson's world is going to look like...


That is all.
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Hell Of A Road Trip

I think I might get a Mercedes G Wagon for my next car. Apparently they can really rack up the miles, at least the one in this video that Stretch sent did - some 500,000 miles...



Man, ain't that something? I'd be happy just to do a trip like that in North America, honestly. While Gunther really did rack up some impressive-as-hell pictures from the thousands of awesome locations, he went places I don't think I'd ever dream of going. While the trip to Australia only cost money (and, I would assume, shipping a G-wagon from Europe to Australia probably costs more than my truck is worth), going places like North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba is not high on my list of things to do.

Again, though, a full-on North America trip might just be possible, assuming I could find friends in Washington state and Maine to hold onto my guns when I hit the Canadian border. I could see taking a decade to criss-cross the USA and another to hit Canada. Heck, at a decade, that's 5 states a year (on average; you could do New England in a year, easy, that allows a little extra time for the boat trip to Hawaii...). Some of the larger states might require more time - I'd wager you could spend a full year in Texas, easy - but that'd be the fun of it.

And heck yeah, I'd want to meet up with as many people as possible along the way...

That is all.

Looking For A Barn...

...Like the one in the story that Formynder sent me...

Man bought a property with a few acres with a welded shut old barn – Jackpot!!
A man retired. He wanted to use his retirement money wisely, so it would last, and decided to buy a home and a few acres in. The modest farmhouse had been vacant for 15yrs.; the owner and wife both had died, and there were no heirs. The house was sold to pay taxes. There had been several lookers, but the large barn had steel doors, and they had been welded shut. Nobody wanted to go to the extra expense to see what was in the barn, and it wasn’t complimentary to the property anyway….. so, nobody made an offer on the place.
Just look at some of the pictures:

Group shot

Abarth Scorpion

Mini!


Sadly, the story as described above is not true: Barnfind.
What Cotter found out by tracking down the photographer was that the owner of the barn (and the 180 or so vintage cars contained within) was not a lucky buyer who had just purchased the property and was astonished to find a treasure trove in one of the farm buildings. The owner was an automobile dealer in the 1970s and 1980s who had built up an assemblage of cars over the years and stashed it in the barn (locking and soldering the doors shut when the structure was full) and who simply hired a photographer to document his collection.
It's still pretty damned neat, don't get me wrong. It touches on pretty much every one of a true car nut's dreams: finding that unmolested gem, the getting way more than you bargained for, the classic cars buried for years just waiting for restoration... The truth is more pedestrian, of course; no one "forgets" about an industrial warehouse full of cars.

Even the revised story doesn't sound complete. Why on earth would a dealer just walk away from literally millions of dollars in inventory (180 cars, some quite rare, some in original condition? That's pretty much the definition of fortune right there)? I would wager there's a not-inconsequential amount of tax dollars involved with keeping a property this size; has someone just been paying this all along and one day changed their mind?

It would be interesting to know the full story behind this "barn find"...

That is all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Science Is Settled!

When you can't get even the most basic of premises right...

Climate change: Models 'underplay plant CO2 absorption'
Global climate models have underestimated the amount of CO2 being absorbed by plants, according to new research.

Scientists say that between 1901 and 2010, living things absorbed 16% more of the gas than previously thought.

The authors say it explains why models consistently overestimated the growth rate of carbon in the atmosphere.
You know, that CO2 that they've repeatedly claimed is a direct result of ZOMG GLOBAL WARMING Climate Change? And they haven't even been using the right number. Oh, no worries, though. It won't affect grant money:
But experts believe the new calculation is unlikely to make a difference to global warming predictions.
Right. One of the central underpinnings of global warming has been proven wrong, but it won't change anything. Now, imagine if they discovered that it was 16% the other way? Think it'd still be no big deal? If you do, I have some lovely beachfront property in Arizona to sell, cheap...

Here's the thing, though. I believe them when they say it won't make a difference. Why? Because they're just making this up. We have seen, repeatedly, a willingness to stretch the truth to fit whatever their preconceived notion might be. They haven't exactly used sound scientific method or been all that interested in exploring options (that don't conform to hobbling the US and the EU on the world stage, that is...)

Wonder, though, what would happen if we started curtailing our CO2 output only to see plants start dying off?

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Car-nundrum, Redux...

So, I'm still thinking about a new vehicle. Even though gas is under $3/gallon here in VA, it's still expensive running the Earthf**ker every day back and forth in traffic. I'm getting under 14 MPG and going through a tank of gas a week, and while it's costing less to fill that tank, it's still way more money that I would like.

Not to mention, the truck is 8 years old and has almost 100K on the clock. While it's running great now, it won't be long before time takes its course and things start needing to be replaced. On top of that, it's got the archetypal rust starting to poke through on the fenders (which pisses me off to no extent, mind you. For 7 out of the last 8 years this truck has been garaged all winter long. The wife's Accord lasted 10 years with ZERO rust).

Yes, fixing the rust and dealing with problems as they come up is undoubtedly less expensive than a new car payment. I totally get that. I'm going to try to run the Dodge for at least a couple more years - I'm thinking that around 125K or so it's going to be due for new tires and brakes, and that gives 2 years for the rust situation to shake out, as well. I may reassess and decide it's worth dropping money into new tires/brakes/etc., or it may be time to trade the Earthf**ker in.

At some point next year, we should see the Elio hit the market. If - and this is the kicker - the price of $6,800 is correct (plus or minus a little bit; I'm willing to pay extra for an automatic transmission, frex) *and* the mileage is even close to what they're claiming (84 MPG highway seems very optimistic, although 49 MPG city seems possible), I will bring one of the little Elios home. At $7K give-or-take it can be financed painlessly over a couple years, three max, and having the Dodge relegated to once-a-month and bad-weather driving will significantly extend the life.

But we're all about planning, y'see. If for whatever reason the Elio doesn't make it to market or deviates substantially from the claims, I want to be ready for that possibility. As much as I dearly love the idea of a three-wheeled enclosed motorcycle (YAY HOV LANE!), I'm not going to pay Polaris Slingshot money for one. And that's without a cover that would enable me to drive the Slingshot year-round or even in the rain.

So, what does it boil down to? Sadly, the days of owning a pickup will be over should the Elio not happen. There are just too many good small cars out there to take the gas mileage hit - the last time I put money down on a big truck, gas shot up to $4 a gallon. I figure if I pick up a fuel efficient car, we'll see gas prices plummet below $2 a gallon for sure... While I really like the Toyota Tacoma crew cab, it's both more expensive than I need and the mileage isn't there. No truck comes even vaguely close to what I'd be looking for.

What then? Well, it would be a small car, like the Nissan Versa or the Toyota Yaris. The Yaris doesn't have a sedan version (strike one) and is considerably more expensive (like $2K, not counting the automatic - strike two). Other options are the Mazda 2, which is the same price as the Versa, but doesn't have a sedan and gets considerably worse gas mileage (28/34 city/highway compared to the Versa's 31/40). There's the Honda Fit, which again doesn't have a sedan version and is slightly more ($800) but offers slightly better gas mileage (33/41). The Civic brings the sedan, and the HF version gets the same gas mileage, but the price veers over $20K.

Again, a lot can change in two years. If gas prices take a sharp uptick, fuel-efficient cars start to become a premium, and gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs are harder to move. That makes selling a 10-year old Earthf**ker harder and finding a reasonably priced econobox harder as well. If gas prices stay low (under $3/gallon), then the reverse should hold true - small, fuel efficient cars look less attractive when gas isn't terrifically expensive. Two years can change a lot of things...

The really hard part comes if I get offered  a lowball figure for the Dodge. I'm willing to walk - heck, the Dodge is a result of me walking out of a Toyota dealership because they out-and-out lied to me about what they would give me for my Durango - but if the third place makes the same lowball offer, there's gotta be a reckoning. Is it worth holding onto the Earthf**ker and maybe getting a stripped Kia rather than trading the Dodge in and getting a Civic?

Now, I really do hope the Elio comes out on schedule and close to as promised. I can live with a few MPG off estimate, especially highway - my commute, while 90+ highway, is city mileage with all the stop-and-go. If the city is close - and the 1990s Geo Metro XFI got something like 45 MPG in city driving - that's a *HUGE* boost for me. Going from 14 MPG on a good day to 45 would cut my fuel bill by 1/3.

Do the math time: 200 miles a week by 50 weeks is 10K miles a year. At 14 MPG, that's 714.3 gallons. At 45 MPG, it's 222.2. Even at $3 a gallon, that's a savings of nearly $1,500 a year in gas alone, just from the daily commute. If I kept the Elio for 5 years, I would break even just on the gas used to commute at $3/gallon. Yes, it doesn't cover the cost of insurance or taxes, but those would break even just on the reduced wear on the truck (or close enough to it). Not to mention that sweet, sweet HOV lane...

Price also factors into the equation. The Elio is a dream at under $8K. At $14K, not so much - it doesn't have the creature comforts nor the  carrying capacity to justify the price of a new Versa sedan. I don't see taking the Elio up North for a bloggershoot, that's for certain. They're pitching it, smartly, as an "and" car - as in, I have a [regular vehicle] *and* I commute in an Elio. They bring the Elio to market at ~ $7,500 (figure a little extra for the auto transmission) and it gets 60/45 (highway/city), I will snap one up so fast it'll leave a vapor trail out of the dealership.

If I can pick up the Elio for close to what's been proposed, I'll do it in a heartbeat and keep the Ram for weekends and bad winter driving. Having a pickup is awesome for all sorts of reasons - taking TheBoy camping, hauling a trailer, making large item purchases, etc. It's paid for; by the time the Elio is out it will have been paid for nearly four years. It won't owe me a thing. If I can drastically reduce the wear and tear on it, it should last another five years without breaking a sweat.

The hardest part will be not giving it to TheBoy when he gets his license - and believe me, there is no way on G-d's Green Earth I am handing the keys to a 350HP, Hemi-V8-powered truck with a cap on the back to a teenaged boy...

That is all.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Not All The News Is Bad...

With all the bad news out there, from Ukraine to ISIS to Ebola, it's easy to lose sight of the good things in life. This is one of those good things...

Teen battling leukemia signs one-game contract with Philadelphia Eagles
For 40 years, the Ronald McDonald House has helped young people battling serious illness like Colin Delaney, a 15-year-old battling leukemia who recently received a surprise one-game contract offer from his favorite NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

On TODAY Friday, Delaney, a former middle-school fullback, was invited to sit behind the Eagles' bench for Sunday night's NFC East showdown with the New York Giants on NBC. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman then signed Delaney to a one-game contract, and presented him with a No. 1 jersey with his name on the back, as a part of TODAY's "Together We Make Football" series with the NFL, hosted by NBC's Josh Elliott.
Watch the video at the link. This story is first, but if you let it go, it plays other stories. Other stories of people whose lives have been affected by cancer, and how the NFL has helped these folks out in tough times.

We've heard a lot of bad news out of the NFL, too, with domestic violence, other types of violence, and other less-than-stellar behavior grabbing headlines. It's much easier to portray the players as one-dimensional jocks whose only concern is making more money than to see them as people, as fathers, as husbands. Not all players are self-absorbed pretty boys or wanna-be thugs - just like not all cops are Officer Harless.

It's hard to lose sight of that, sometimes, when all we see on the news is the constant barrage of bad...

That is all.

Birth of an American Icon

A co-worker, knowing how I am about motorcycles, sent this story in about a uniquely American icon.

Behind The Motorcycles In 'Easy Rider,' A Long-Obscured Story
On Oct. 18, the Calabasas, Calif.-based auction house Profiles In History will auction off what it says is the last authentic motorcycle used in the filming of 1969's Easy Rider, and what some consider the most famous motorcycle in the world.

Peter Fonda, who played Wyatt in the Dennis Hopper-directed film, rode the so-called "Captain America" bike, named for its distinctive American flag color scheme and known for its sharply-angled long front end.
This bike:


It's hard to imagine a more American motorcycle, isn't it? The motorcycle-as-American-icon took root in the post-WWII era, as American GIs returned home and celebrated surviving the war by hitting the open road. Motorcycle clubs turned into motorcycle gangs (mostly as a popular culture thing, as the average American was in more danger from meteors than biker gangs) in the 1950s, and then the tune-in, turn-on, drop-out counter culture of the '60s really brought it into full swing.

And little more exemplifies that spirit than Easy Rider, a buddy film about two societal outcasts finding America on a cross-country motorcycle ride. Our heroes - anti-heroes, really, in the best tradition of James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Clint Eastwood - defy convention and authority, and what better way to do that than on a customized Harley Davidson.

From a motorcyclist standpoint, the Captain America chopper touches on many things that bikers find themselves in trouble with the law over: handlebar height, lack of front fender, noise. It's a moving violation standing still, which is an impressive feat unto itself. Everything about this bike screams "bad boy" - which is why three of the four motorcycles built for the movie disappeared before the movie debuted...

I understand the appeal, but a cool million - or more - is a bit steep for my taste...

That is all.

Friday, October 10, 2014

That's Gonna Leave A Mark...

Fresh on the heels of getting bitch-slapped by noted neocon Jimmy Carter is this new bumper sticker, seen and reported by Stretch:


Ouch. If it wasn't such a serious matter, being completely and utterly bumbled by the current clown-in-chief (apologies to clowns everywhere) with lives on the line, I'd laugh.

And yes, before you point it out, I know that the flu kills more people every year. So does pneumonia. Do a little analysis, though. Very rarely does the flu kill perfectly healthy people. Usually the fatalities are those whose immune systems are already compromised.

The other thing is that it was entirely preventable. Travel restrictions, screening of passengers, etc. - except that, in the name of political correctness, we didn't want to screen people from Africa for fear of appearing racist. For the love of all that's good and wholesome, just step in front of a bus now if you really think that way.

There's a disease that's pretty much limited to one geographical area. There's nothing racist about applying a little extra scrutiny to folks coming from that region. It's not everyday that we have a clear cut case of political correctness killing someone, but after this debaucle, it's a near-certainty.

And don't even get me started about us putting thousands of boots on the ground in West Africa to combat ebola but not a single one in Syria to combat ISIS...

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #51

I agonized for several whole minutes over what vehicle to post today. Then it hit me: at the really cool visit to the Tank Farm last weekend, there was the military version of the Dodge Power Wagon. So...


1940s era Power Wagon. Made from just post-WWII until 1980, and then picked up in 2005 as an option, with it becoming an official model last year. The Power Wagon was the four-wheel (or six, as the case often was) drive version with eight foot box and power take-off to run different attachments (like plows).

I've always been a fan of four-wheel-drive trucks, starting with the very first vehicle I ever owned, a GMC Jimmy (Chevy Blazer). I had the S- series ("S" for small!) with the horribly underpowered 2.8L V6 engine, and even with the underpowered motor and all I managed to get into a fair amount of trouble.

Of course, the most famous Power Wagon ever:


Yep, from Simon & Simon, that vehicle that made Gerald McRaney a household name *before* "Major Dad".

Always been a big fan of Dodge trucks...

That is all.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Powers of Analogy Fail Me...

I... I just... There are no words...

Carter criticizes Obama on ISIS: 'We waited too long'
Former President Jimmy Carter said President Barack Obama "waited too long" to go after ISIS and criticized what he described as the president's changing foreign policy.

"First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic State build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria," Carter told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an interview published Tuesday. The 39th president was in Texas working on a Habitat for Humanity project.
That's not the real kicker. This is:
More broadly, Carter criticized Obama's foreign policy, an approach that he says is lacking in "positive action."
Ouch. Better put some ice on that, Barry.

When Jimmy "a giant swimming rabbit attacked me" Carter says you suck at foreign policy, well, wow. I mean, that's Gengis Khan telling you that you went overboard in sacking a village, or Leona Helmsly saying you were too mean to the waitstaff. I mean, I guess it could be worse. You could have Bill Clinton tell you that you should have responded better to attacks on Americans...

I mean, when the guy whose response to the energy crisis was "put on a sweater" says your policy is lacking, well... If the man who allowed American citizens to be held hostage to a foreign government with only one ill-conceived rescue effort thinks you suck at foreign policy, there's no amount of polish that will fix that turd.

It is interesting that Carter is speaking out. He was oddly silent when extremists tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993, or in Somalia, or the attack on the Cole, or when our embassies in Africa were bombed in 1998, etc. He was quite vocal on the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq, though; routinely criticizing everything Bush did in regards to Iraq and the prosecution of the war effort.

When Jimmy Carter says your foreign policy is lacking in action, though, that's gotta sting...

That is all.

Someone Tell Sisko They're Here...

(A million nerd bonus points if you get the references in the title...)

Finally! The flying car that really could be coming to a road (and sky) near you
It has been a sci-fi dream for decades - a car that can simply take to the air to avoid traffic.

However, a Slovakian firm has said it has finally cracked the problem.

The AeroMobil can fly 430 miles on a tank of petrol - and when its wings fold down, it'll fit into a normal parking space.
Here's what it looks like as a car:


And as a plane:


Now, there's a few things going on here. First off, I dunno if I'd be willing to bet my life on an airplane out of Slovakia. No offense to our Slovak friends, but it's not exactly an area known for innovation in aviation. Or engineering. Or automobiles, for that matter. This is something that I am going to literally bet my life on - once it's up in the air, you're betting that the folks that put it together knew what they were doing. When your Chevy throws a tie rod, you limp to the side of the road and wait for AAA. When this thing slips a cog, you look for something comfy to land on, and start saying your rosaries.

There's also a whole host of secondary questions. Would you have to drive to an airport and then get admitted to the airfield? How is that going to work? It would be pretty sweet to drive to Dulles, fly to Manchester, and then drive to the Northeast Bloggershoot, rather than drive the whole way, especially since the AeroMobil can travel 124 MPH in a straight line, meaning the whole trip could be made in four hours. Of course, the range is 430 miles, meaning I'd still have to stop somewhere along the way, like Hartford. Still WAY better than the NJ Turnpike...

I also wonder how GPS would work, even if it would, at the altitude the AeroMobil will be flying Actually, that's another question - what altitude will it be flying at? Allegedly it is going to require a pilot's license - not sure I disagree with this, mind you; I see enough idiocy on the roadways on a daily basis, I don't want them going over my house. Now, granted, there's no word on price, and I'll wager this is a "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" deal.

Here's another question to think about: What happens when someone piloting this decides it would be funny to take off on a long, empty stretch of road? Now, I will readily admit I know nothing about flying/tracking/etc. but what I'm wondering is, take an open, empty area like, say, sections of CO. Fly into Denver, then drive out to a location several hours' drive away. Get 20 miles away from the airport, then crank it up, take flight when no one's looking, and land somewhere close to their destination. Will radar/tracking be sufficient to catch folks doing this?

Sure looks and sounds like a lot of fun for an amateur pilot...

That is all.