Thursday, February 28, 2019

Still my favorite...

I had been reading Mechanics Illustrated's Tom McCahill, and Sports Car Graphic since I was in grade school. I had raced go karts on road courses, I liked drag racing and fast muscle cars but there was always something about sports cars that appealed to me. A ride in an early Austin Healy 3000, my old man's friend Ed tossing the keys to his brand new, red '63 Jaguar XKE when I was a senior in high school and saying, "Take it for a drive." And did I. The occasional use of a Corvette off the used car lot. When I was 19, this car happened into my life. It was a revelation.

What I knew about Porsches was what I'd read about Porsches, which was more than most people knew in my home town. My dad had taken it in trade, the car store had $1350.00 dollars in it and that's what I paid for this 1959 Porsche 356a 1600 Super Convertible D. The car sold new in 1959 for over $3,000. It was a steal. I didn't even know the Convertible D was the rarest of the rare. A Speedster with a taller windshield and roll up windows, fewer than 2,000 built worldwide. It was Meissen Blue. Meissen Blue is the color of the fine porcelain china made in Meissen, Germany.

The interior was red leather.

In those days there was no internet, the closest Porsche dealer was in Minneapolis. I was pretty much on my own. I signed up for an SCCA Driving School on the old Brainerd Road Course. I learned some driving lessons and some Porsche lessons as well and made a few Porsche friends, too. That came in handy when the clutch burned out a couple of months later and was told, "Forget the Porsche parts, take to a VW dealer and have them put a Transporter clutch in it, that's what the guys who race them use." I had a front wheel bearing go out, I measured it with a set of calipers, went to the John Deere parts depot and rifled through hundreds of bearings until I found one, I was back on the road the same day.

My Porsche had an Abarth exhaust system, when you wound it up it sounded like an Indy car. It stirred my soul.

The Porsche drove like a dream, it wasn't fast, it simply did what you asked it to do. If you kept the flat 4 in it's sweet spot it was quick and nimble. It went where you pointed it without complaint. The brakes were good, great, for the times, in fact. The cloth top was tight, the fit and finish on the car was perfect, everything worked including the Blaupunkt AM/FM radio with TWO speakers. Too bad the only FM was WDAY FM playing elevator music. CKY and KQWB sounded good on it, so did KOMA and WLS at night.

When you were behind the wheel, you felt like part of the car or the car was part of you. It almost seemed like if I could think it, the car would do it. An Airline Captain friend of mine said the same about the F 16 he flew in the air force.

A social note, the car had reclining seats, so it was decent for parking. One weekend in Bemidji a friend of mine lost his virginity to a BSU sophomore in my Porsche while I drank a flat beer and waited in the rain under a grove of pine trees. I'll never forget their heads hitting the convertible top. Pretty big of me, don't you think?

Porsche built variants of the 356 from 1948 to 1963, the best were the 356a built from 1955 to 1960. Mine, a Convertible D with the 1600 Super engine was only built in 1959, they are very rare. A perfect, numbers matching car like mine is worth close to $400,000 today. Little did I know.

I sold mine to a B 52 pilot, I hope she is still alive and making somebody as happy as she made me.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Weekly Reader...

It's been so cold here, my fingers have been too numb to we go.

The Oscars are tomorrow, we started to watch Black Panther on Netflix, we lasted 20 minutes and went to bed...probably finish it at a later date, but I'm tired of Marvel Comics made into movies, hell I was tired of Marvel Comics in the 6th grade...

For the best Oscars preview...Drew Magary of Deadspin!

Here's a taste...

"Bohemian Rhapsody. Okay NOW we’re into the horrible shit. Bohemian Rhapsody was like if someone made the movie version of a Wikipedia page but somehow read the wrong Wikipedia page. Here’s a movie that made nearly a BILLION dollars worldwide despite the fact that you can listen to Queen for free at home anytime you like, and despite the fact that it was “directed” by an accused pederast who apparently abandoned the set every six minutes. That’s how you end up with composite shots that look like they were filmed in 18 different locations"

Read the whole thing here:

Since we are pissing around with English rock bands, this is interesting: The Sultans of Swing was a real band! Guitar George was a real human being for chrissakes...

A love story about greasy food...

In my little shitty hometown (piss off, you know I loved growing up in Grand Forks) The Kegs had great fried chicken and I had a girlfriend who ordered it every damn time we went there. The breading and the "dippin" honey got all over the car seat. The 3 piece chicken cost three times what a burger did, but you got the fries with it, so there's that! You could get a Sloppy Joe at the Kegs for 19 god damned cents. The car hop would bring you one with a sneer on her face and toss it on the tray.

The prices are a hell of a lot higher now. I took Cakes there a few years ago and the food is still pretty good. She liked the Sloppy Joe and gave the fries 5 Stars. She had a cherry coke, too. I had a double barreled hamburger (a pre Big Mac, Big Mac)

Sidebar, a friend of mine talked one of the Kegs carhops into going out with him after work, he said she was nice, but her hair smelled like French fries. I think she was from the East Side.

Another sidebar, one summer I was working on construction, on payday a co-worker and I went to the Kegs and ordered one of everything on the menu, cost us just under $23. We sat at one of the picnic tables and ate the whole damn order, right there in front of god and all the slack jawed customers sitting in their shit box cars watching us. In Grand Forks we were an event or two shy of solid entertainment options, so that's how we rolled.

Pioneer Chicken, a homegrown fried chicken chain endorsed by O.J. Simpson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, that once boasted 270 locations.

Holy Lord, it’s still around.

Why did nobody in Los Angeles ever tell me this?

Pioneer Chicken, a homegrown fried chicken chain endorsed by O.J. Simpson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, that once boasted 270 locations.

Holy Lord, it’s still around.

Why did nobody in Los Angeles ever tell me this?

Pioneer Ch
Pioneer Chicken, a homegrown fried chicken chain endorsed by O.J. Simpson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, that once boasted 270 locations.
Holy Lord, it’s still around.
Why did nobody in Los Angeles ever tel homegrown fried chicken chain endorsed by O.J. Simpson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, that once boasted 270 locations.

Holy Lord, it’s still around.

Why did nobody in Los Angeles ever tell me this?

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Trip, preplanning...

George is not a camper, George has seldom communed with nature unless you count sitting poolside, occasional rips to the beach or opening the fucking sun roof on his car. The plan is to remedy that this spring or early summer. There's been so much snow in the Sierra, it's screwing up my trip planning.

The rough plan so far is Death Valley, Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, a brief break and a free lunch from Hilliard in San Jose. Then south down Highway One through Big Sur, a stop at Kirk Creek, then San Simeon and Cambria, hit a few Central Coast Wineries and then back to the Canyon.The trip will take a week, roughly a 1,000 miles of driving, a 100 or so off road. No hotels, tent camping every night. Given Geo's level of experience, this will be like taking a 9 year old, unruly boy along. A nine year old boy who drinks.

The plan is for  rock and roll music, the blues and country music. We'll drink whiskey, eat steak, hot dogs, eggs and bacon cooked in an iron frying pan over an open fire (if possible) Geo says he isn't going to shave, I'll be doing my shaving in the side mirror of the Jeep. Geo snores, so I may be sleeping in the Jeep.

Anze the Dog is coming with us, giving me another mouth to feed. I'll be busy, Anze and Geo will be asking for dinner, cold drinks and constant attention. I won't be scratching Geo's ear or giving him belly rubs. Like Anze, he may need brushing.

If we weren't so old, I'd suggest climbing Mt. Whitney, be neat to stand on the top of the highest peak in the lower 48, right? But, I know of a great view of it from Highway 395.

We can look at it from the road and eat pastry from the Danish Bakery in Bishop, CA  or we could camp at Whitney Portal or  Portogee (there's an ethnic slur) Campground in Lone Pine and let the younger folks tell us about their climb, while we drink whisky.

Mammoth Lakes will be great,, if the snow is gone by then. The plan has been to drive on 4X4 forest service roads to Yosemite. Snow could be a problem, if it is, I'll figure something out. A few days at Yosemite will round out that first part of the trip.

We'll see Big Jim in San Jose for a fine lunch on his nickel, of course. Then see my grandkids in Santa Cruz and head south down Highway 1.

We may camp a night in Big Sur or beat it to Kirk Creek, maybe Lime Kiln. The last nigh we'll stay at San Simeon State Park and have dinner with the Cochruns and Griffins. On the way home stop at Windward Winery and get Cakes a bottle or two of good wine, we'll admire Lana Cochrun's art work while we're there..

When we get home, Anze will be ready for his own bed, me too.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Weekly Reader, post Valentine edition...

You're sound asleep in your rented room, tired from a long day of work, two cops kick open the door and demand to know if you have any weapons. You're startled, you mutter, "Huh, ah right here." You reach for your ID, your wallet.

All hell breaks loose, the two cops start shooting, you're hit 16 times. You spend the next year in the hospital, most of that year you breathe through a tube. You have to learn to walk again and because of your injuries, your right hand doesn't work anymore and your job as a refrigeration mechanic is over. You also live a life of constant pain. That's what happened to Justin Theoharis.

Theoharis just happened to rent a room from a man whose son had violated parole and was arrested just before the cops broke into his room and opened fire.

It took years, but King County, Washington settled with him for 5.5 million dollars and somehow ruled the shooting was justified.

The president* held a press conference today announcing that he is declaring a "National Emergency" to get funding for his god damn wall. It's bullshit, he knows it, the American people know it. This emergency is such a dire situation that after the press conference he flew off to Mar-a-Lago to play golf.

In addition to declaring the National Emergency, trump said President Abe of Japan was nominating him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Abe hasn't commented.

He also said that President Obama told him he was "close to declaring war" on North Korea. President Obama hasn't commented., Personally I think Obama should call a press conference and call trump out.

Imagine if you had been in a coma since 2015 and woke up today in fine shape, you turn on television and saw this unhinged presidential* press conference, you'd stroke the fuck out.

By the way, during today's press conference, trump literally did a bad Chinese accent when he brought up a conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Literally a sing song, "flied lice" accent.

Earlier this week we got a one page note on the results of the presidents* yearly physical. The last physical President George W. Bush had as president was close to 50 pages long and highly detailed, so were the physicals of President Obama. trumps was one page. No test results. Later in the week, the doctor added that trump had gained 6 pounds, putting him at 243 since his last check slipping him into the obese category On a personal note, I'm an inch shorter than trump and when I was fat as a pig I weighed in at 237, I looked half as big as the president* does. That and I didn't need a golf cart to haul my fat  ass around.

Patriots center David Andrews (number 60) is an inch taller than trump and weighs 300 pounds. Sure he's younger and in shape, but get real...

Compare and contrast...

I read a lot this week, it's been raining in SoCal, making Albert Hammond a bald faced liar. I reread Carrie Fisher's books. I like them, she was funny as hell about herself, her troubles and about life in general. She said of the cast and crew of the first Star Wars film. "Everyone believed in the movie, except George Lucas" She also said, her step dad Harry Karl, didn't say much, but he farted all the time.

Cakes and I had a nice Valentine's Day dinner, shared a bottle of wine. However we went to bed so early I work up at 3:58 this morning and have been up ever since. I need a nap.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I Won't Grow Up Without Putting Up a Fight...

Ever had your ass kicked and been punched in the gut at the same time? I have and it put a grin on my face. The car is mean, it's an American car. A state of the art,, electronically controlled throwback to the days of the muscle cars, the cars of my youth.

On the Freeway entrance ramp, I floor it in 1st gear, the car sidesteps a tiny bit until the computer takes control and modulates the traction, I shift into 2nd gear at 5800 rpm, the car dances to the side again, into 3rd at about 90 mph, the car dances again. When I hit 100 mph, I slow the car down to a steady 75 in the left lane, I shift in to 6th gear, the tachometer drops to 1700 rpm, the exhaust at the back of the car is barely rumbly. The cabin is quiet, the ride is smooth, there is no wind noise. The car has a Tremec 6 speed manual transmission.

The 8 speed automatic is faster, smarter and quicker than I am, The manual is more fun. It doesn't take me long, but I can rev match a downshift with this car. The Tremec is a great transmission.

This Challenger doesn't have the big engine, it has the 3rd highest rated, a 485 hp, naturally aspirated 392 CID Hemi V8. That means it has no supercharger. It does have cold air induction. This car is two years old, the previous owner, an old motorhead like me tastefully modified the car, he installed Eibach springs, inproving the handling and lowering the car 2 inches all the way around. He added a custom set of black 20 inch alloy wheels and upgraded the tires to Pirelli P Zeros. When he ordered the car he added the Brembo brake package, the SRT full computer control program built into the dash screen. The challenger has a black carbon fiber Hellcat hood, the top insert is painted black to match and so is the deck lid. He also electronically chipped the engine's computer, I'm guessing it makes around 500 hp.

The car has the full SRT interior, black leather and Alcantra sport seats with red seat belts. And it has a 10 speaker Alpine audio system.

I pull over on a side street a block or two off the Freeway. I set the suspension on TRACK, dial back the traction control to the SPORT setting. I set the engine controls on TRACK Performance and get back on the road. I'm on the old Santa Susanna Pass Road, it's twisty and it goes up and down hill, some of the turns are tight, but it has it's fair share of broad and fast sweepers. God damn this is fun. The Challenger is front heavy and it understeers, give it some throttle and the car settles into a tighter line. I'm not pushing it hard, just hard enough to have some fun, on one of the tighter right hand turns, I get into the throttle heavy, the rear end steps out, the car and I drift through the turn. It's well balanced and easy to drive, even though I probably just took 2,000 miles off the rear  tires. I turn left on Topanga and head back to the Freeway. Just as I crest Rocky Pass I see a red (aren't they all) Ferrari in the rear view mirror.

Image result for picture of red ferrari f40

He comes up on my left side, he takes a long look at the Challenger and sprints ahead. I catch up and we both slow down and let traffic clear ahead of us, we're in the two middle lanes of the 4 lane road. I shift down to 2nd gear at about 60 miles an hour, I have no idea what gear he's in, he honks his horn three times and off we go. I'm right in the middle of the 392's power band and jump ahead about a car length, he catches me just as I shift into 3rd, he screws up his shift and he falls back again. The Challenger has a 3500 dollar Borla stainless steel exhaust system, at speed it sounds like a NASCAR racer. The Ferrari has that insane Italian howl. I'm trying to imagine what the pickup, Honda and Toyota drivers we pass are thinking as we fly by them at well over 120 mph. Damn this feels good. I get off at Tapo Canyon, The Challenger is snapping and barking as I slow down. The Ferrari follows me, We pull into a church parking lot, I think it's a Methodist church. I park and shut the car off, he follows suit. We both get out smiling. He say's "Is that one of those Hellcats?" I tell him, "No it's the Hellcat's little sister." He's an old bastard like me. We bond over the speed.

Good times on the road in California. And no I can't grow up.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Weekly Reader....

Randal Pinkett won the 4th season of "The Apprentice". Pinkett is a Harvard MBA, he's also outspoken about the president*.

I read an interview with him, once you get past the nasty racial implications, trump wanted him to share the win with the runner up, a white woman, that and the things trump said to him and about him. Pinkett said some interesting things about the Trump Organization and the working conditions.

Outside of the Donald's office the rest of the place was a dump, chipped paint, worn desks, out dated computers, many of them didn't work. trump didn't care. trump was disorganized, dictatorial, short tempered, profane, mercurial and disinterested in detail.

trump runs the White House the same way.

I've noticed the female Hillary haters have transferred their irrational hatred to Nancy Pelosi. Same people, the same Bullshit. Few of their comments are on policy, almost entirely on looks.

Not much was written about this session at the Davos Economic (billionaires) Forum. It was on AI and automation of work by robots. The rich guys loved it, 40% of industrial jobs will disappear within the next couple of decades. Automated over the road trucks will eliminate almost a 1,000,000 jobs in the US alone. Very exciting, right? One astute economist threw some cold water on the billionaire boners by asking "who exactly is going to buy your products?" Damn good question. If you want to know about the automated future read "Player Piano" by Kurt Vonnegut.

Speaking of billionaires, Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame, didn't start the business, he was selling coffee making equipment and was pitching his product to the guy who owned the first Starbucks in Seattle. He took the idea and ran with it. Good for you Howard, but stop saying it was your concept to begin with. He also didn't grow up poor in New York, he was a middle class kid, who lived in government subsidized housing for, get this, middle class New York WWII veterans.

I read an interview with a guy who is an Design Engineer for Audi. He's working on interior design. He brought up an interesting point, automobile interiors have always been designed around the steering wheel. He recently drove an Audi with a joystick instead of a steering wheel. He said it was fun, intuitive and very easy to use. With the various levels of "self driving" rapidly approaching, the entire concept of automotive seating and control surfaces have to be re-imagined. With the advances in automation, he said, seat belts will have to be addressed. In the future seating will be fully adaptive. Club seating, seats on 3 and 4 way axis in addition to standard seating. He envisions "smart airbags" that would eliminate the need for seatbelts.

I just started an article about a guy who was shot 16 times by the cops. He survived. It was another overreaction by the cops who burst into to his room after arresting the son of the landlord on a drug charge. When I finish it, I'll pass it on. By the way, the guy is white.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The search continues...

We've been shopping for a 2nd car for awhile now. No rush, we need to get something for Cakes to drive back and forth to her office. It's a long commute, close to 70 miles a day. It needs to be safe, comfortable, get good mileage and have some style.

We started off thinking about a Wrangler. We both love them, but they are a lousy vehicle to commute in. Bad mileage, although the new ones get close to 25 on the highway. Problem is a new one costs 35k plus and our max budget is 25k. I can still get employee pricing from the Jeep store but...we're still going to be 30k plus for a Wrangler with wind up windows and manual door locks.

The car store has a Mazda Miata, a 2018 Grand Touring model. Less than a thousand miles on it. It has leather, Navigation, good audio system, all the goodies. a Miata is a fun car to drive and they get 30 plus miles to the gallon. Cakes is ambivalent about it. We'll drive it this weekend.

She doesn't want a Honda or a Toyota, a Kia. Not in her wheelhouse, not close.

We should have bought her Volt when the lease ran out. She loved that car.
She'd really like a Tesla.

Even the model 3 is too expensive. (50k on average) I don't trust Musk, my guess is that one of the major car makers will buy Tesla within the next few years. Interestingly the Tesla Model 3 is the best selling premium sedan in the US. 140,00 were sold. That's a lot of cars, but Ford sold 4 times more F 150s. Wrangler sold 240,00 4x4s last year. So Tesla sells, but it's a drop in the new car bucket.

You can buy a low mileage Mercedes C Class, she likes the coupes, a 2015 or 2016 is in our price range.

There was a white one on the market a few weeks ago. 17,000 miles, another one showed up with 11k. They were gone in a day. The turbo 4 Benz gets 30 on the highway and they last forever. We put 152k on her last Mercedes and other than consumables and regular maintenance, the car didn't cost us anything to own. Of course when we bought it new, the sticker read $54,000 dollars, so there's that. Those days are over.

I love our Grand Cherokee, I'll drive it until the wheels fall off, if I last that long. The Grand Cherokee was in the shop for a few days and the dealership let Cakes drive a Chrysler 300 sedan, all the bells and whistles.Driving the 300 back and forth to work she got mileage in the high 20's in the big sedan. I can get a Certified 300, a few years old with low mileage in our price range. Cakes liked driving it, but she is concerned that it's just not her "style". I like the 300, but it's going to be her car, not mine.

We bought a used, one owner BMW 550 last fall, high mileage car for short money, it was a nice car, but shit started to go wrong with it and we sold it to a mechanic and dodged a bullet. Whew. It soured Cakes on Bimmers for good. I had several over the years and they were bullet proof for the most part, but service rates were high and if anything went'd have to get into your retirement fund to get it fixed.

We'll see what happens. Now if it was up to me, I'd, ahhhh,, but it's not...

I should have never sold my C6 Corvette...funny story about the Vette. We were driving back from Phoenix, running at about 85 miles an hour, 1650 rpm in 6th, the car was smooth, comfortable and quiet. At 85 the mpg read out was showing 34 miles to the gallon. We got past by a Prius, probably the first time in automotive history a 400 plus horsepower Corvette was getting better mileage than a Prius.