Monday, March 23, 2015

New Mustangs And Other Vehicles

Well, there's this:

That's right, it's a new old Mustang, upgraded but classic.

Pretty sweet. Starting about $120,000, not unreasonable compared to what other similar-ish vehicles cost. I tagged my best college pal, Doug Clark of Garage Knights and he replied "back to the good old days. Well, I'm down to just 5 of them now and only 2 run LMAO" (to which I answered, "I'll take one off your hands if you like; let me count my change jar...LOLOL").

That was fun. Somehow I ended up looking at motorcycles on Craigslist. (you know that I was looking at Things, right?) Now, I'm not in the market, shoot, I don't even have motorcycle temps, but here's some old bikes I like.

"1982 Honda 250 Custom. No title. Needs carburetor work. Easily repaired or used for parts. $400"

"I have owned this for MANY years! It has been in inside storage until 3 days ago and now it must go. If you are looking to restore it nothing is frozen. It rolls with ease and the cables are not frozen. Or you can part it out on eBay. There is no title but I will provide a bill of sale. It has been so long that I do not remember the year or CC of the bike. I have no interest in it anymore, it came out of storage and the first one to get here takes it home. $250"

"Honda CB360 for sale. Clean title, good cosmetic shape for a bike of this age. New brakes, brake lines, points, condensers, battery, rectifier/regulator. $1400."

Somehow I found my way to a page about these, and thought that it's right up my alley: a good beginner bike, on and off road, 70+ MPG. Reminds me of the Scramblers I like so much.

Let's retrace the steps, for fun:

A Supercompressor article about the aforementioned Mustangs led to

Please God, Let Jeep Make These Concept 4X4s which led to

Keanu Reeves' Motorcycle Company Debuts First Bike (I think) which came from this page of links.

However, my search history has me thinking that I just clicked on this Yahoo story after logging off my email. Not as much fun, eh?

I then Googled the TW200 and found this story and thought, "that's a bike I could ride!" There are plenty available on Craigslist, and they can be had pretty reasonably, if you ask me. New ones are around $4500.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Drive-by Media Strikes Again and Again and....

So, this is making the rounds today: Gay activist faked own kidnapping.

Let me say but one thing: the fact that he is a "gay activist" has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY as far as we can tell at this time. That, however, is the headline.

Like the 3 students killed at UNC over a parking space, the media grabs the most sellable part of the story, even if it's not a part of the story, to entice the idiots.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Little We Know

A couple of stories came by my internetting today, one from NASA regarding the sun, one about the deepest borehole in the world, and one about the oceans' role in ending the Ice Age.

We all know the Sun is a big burning ball of gas, but the text in this article reveals something to me (remember, by the way, the principle of Confirmation Bias: I don't believe humans cause global climate change, so these things jump out at me): we don't understand the sun very well.
“The images that have all the pretty loops and arches are extremely hot material,” physicist Dean Pesnell said in an interview with Yahoo News. “We would like to understand where all those arches come from. They are filled with things that are about 2 million degrees. The sun itself is just about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.”
The borehole article is filled with things we didn't know, and it's from Mother Nature Network, no doubt a bastion of "humans are killing the planet" thinking (caveat: I haven't checked that claim).

Before the hole was drilled, geologists could only hypothesize about the composition of the Earth's crust. Needless to say, the amount of geological data produced by the project was unprecedented. Mostly, it revealed just how little we really know about our planet.
For instance, one of the most surprising findings was the absence of the transition from granite to basalt at a depth between 3 and 6 kilometers below the surface. Previously, scientists had used seismic waves to glean information about the composition of the crust. They had discovered that a discontinuity existed at this depth, which they assumed was due to a transition in rock type. But the borehole drillers found no such transition; instead they found only more granite. It turns out that the discontinuity revealed by the seismic waves was actually due to a metamorphic change in the rock, rather than a change in rock type. It was a humbling realization for theorists, to say the least.
Even more surprising, the rock had been thoroughly fractured and was saturated with water. Free water was not supposed to exist at such depths. Geologists now surmise that the water consists of hydrogen and oxygen atoms that were squeezed out of the surrounding rock by enormous pressure, and is retained there due to a layer of impermeable rock above.
Researchers also described the mud that flowed out of the hole as "boiling" with hydrogen. The discovery of such large quantities of hydrogen gas was highly unexpected.
By far the most riveting discovery from the project, however, was the detection of microscopic plankton fossils in rocks over 2 billion years old, found four miles beneath the surface. These "microfossils" represented about 24 ancient species, and were encased in organic compounds which somehow survived the extreme pressures and temperatures that exist so far beneath the Earth.
The final mystery revealed by the borehole was the reason drilling operations had to be abandoned. Once the drill reached depths in excess of about 10,000 feet, the temperature gradient suddenly began to increase unexpectedly. At the hole's maximum depth, temperatures skyrocketed to 356 degrees Fahrenheit, which was much higher than the 212 degrees Fahrenheit originally predicted. The drill was rendered useless at such temperatures.
The project was officially closed down in 2005, and the site has since fallen into disrepair. The hole itself was welded shut by the rusted metal cap that today covers it, as if to permanently hide the hole's many mysteries from the surface world. 
 Though the hole's depth is impressive, it's a small fraction of the distance to the center of the Earth, which is estimated to be nearly 4,000 miles deep. By comparison, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which has reached the outer layers of our solar system, has relayed information from over 10 billion miles away. The human race truly understands less about the ground beneath its very feet than it does about the cosmos that abound. It's humbling to realize just how much mystery still exists right here on our little blue world.

Lastly, let's peruse the article about the oceans.

"The oceans are leaking carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," said study co-author Gavin Foster from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
The findings suggest these regions were pumping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The gas concentrations in the two regions spiked at different times, hinting that different processes underlie the rise in ocean carbon, the researchers said. However, in both cases the scientists think carbon dioxide levels in these two regions jumped because water rich in carbon and nutrients welled up from the deep ocean. 
Yet scientists still puzzle over what triggered these giant burps in greenhouse gas. Leading theories include changes in ocean currents or wind patterns. Some researchers recently suggested that sea-level drops triggered underwater volcanoes to erupt more vigorously, belching carbon dioxide in the process.
"We don't know the ultimate case," Foster said. "[But] we're one step toward the answer."
The researchers plan to test additional sites and examine how carbon dioxide levels changed through the glacial cycle, he said.

Not man, certainly 10,000 years ago. They. Don't. Know. There is also no Cause/Effect relationship proven between CO2 and temperature ("proven" being the important word there, by the way)

Seriously, readers, don't get fussed and have your tubes tied or something. We don't know everything we think we know.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Journalism is Dying In a Job Description

You want to know why print journalism is dying in the USA? Here's a job description I came across today, bold, underline, and italics are my emphases: and The Enquirer are searching for a Community Press Content Coach to join our newsroom.
As Community Press Content Coach:
  • 100% of your work is focused on the 25-45 audience.
  • You work with reporters to identify the watchdog questions that will help readers make smart choices for their communities and get to the bottom of their questionsYou ensure the reporter uses public records and the best sources to be authoritative.
  • You ensure watchdog stories deliver clear findings that are unique in the community.
  • You identify stories that are best told through emotional narrative and coach reporters to develop the characters and places  relatable to the 25-45 audience.
  • You ensure that the Community Press/Recorder reporters collaborate well with Enquirer rpeorters. They should share tips, sources, and report stories together to ensure all Enquirer Media readers get the best and most relevant content.
  • You plan for mobile first to determine the best storytelling approach and what assets the reporter must gather to produce content that is complete, authoritative and shareable.
  • You deliver to the planner on time, to ensure our products are interesting every day and the reporter/photographer can build a following.
  • You ensure each content creator is the news leader in their field. They are competitive; they rarely get beat.
  • You can demonstrate ways that you coach reporters to help them be successful.
You report to: the Editor

I like that the idea is an "emotional narrative" because that's what news is all about, right? Emotion. Not facts, thoughts, actions, noooooooo. It must be "relatable" and "shareable" so the reporters don't "get beat" and can "build a following."

That's fantastic. Oh, and let's not forget the typo, "rpeorters" in the text. Wow.

I thought the person that did these things was called an "editor" not a "Content Coach." Welcome to the new age, I guess.

Remember, this is the company (Gannett) that just reorganized (eliminated) a pile of positions, and asked experienced journalists to re-apply for their jobs in an effort to get them out of the organization. Award-winning long-term writers. If you want to work in this field, you are nuts. I wouldn't bring any personal items to your desk, so you can carry everything out when it's your turn to get "re-organized."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chris Rock on Race in Hollywood Is Epic

If you haven't seen it, Chris Rock (who I disagree with on stuff, but still like a lot!) has been writing and talking a lot lately with a new movie coming out, Ferguson, etc. This new essay is epic for several reasons, but I'd like to point out that he says something I have been saying for years (cue: confirmation bias). Our media is liberal but racist. Pretty white females as victims or perps get stories on 20/20 or Dateline while thousands upon thousands of black males get killed and it's not even noticed other than to scare white people from "going downtown" all across the county. The media (and they are all liberals, folks) portray black Americans in the context of crime almost exclusively.

The term "drive-by media" popularized by Rush Limbaugh is so fricking accurate.  This couples with my constant criticisms of sweeps month sensationalism and the ever popular "summer of" series, be it shark attacks, abductions, or West Nile Virus. Ask anyone who has had a reason to be on the news and they will tell you: they got important details completely wrong, or omitted details to create the narrative as they saw it, truth be damned.

Chris Rock isn't the first to make this observation, but he'll at least bring it to the forefront. The people who make our movies are led by scumbags (to allude to Charles Barkley!) molesting children, doing drugs, and excluding everyone that doesn't look or think like them.

We cut it out in Top Five, but there had been a scene where Kevin Hart, who plays my character’s agent, is in his office talking to me, and he finds out that “Zoolander” (Ben Stiller) is down the hall and he’s mad because none of the agents called him. He’s the only black agent at the agency, and there was a line in the movie like, “I’m the only black agent here. They never invite me to anything, and these people are liberals. This isn’t the Klan.
But forget whether Hollywood is black enough. A better question is: Is Hollywood Mexican enough? You’re in L.A, you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans. It’s the most liberal town in the world, and there’s a part of it that’s kind of racist — not racist like “F— you, n——-” racist, but just an acceptance that there’s a slave state in L.A. There’s this acceptance that Mexicans are going to take care of white people in L.A. that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I remember I was renting a house in Beverly Park while doing some movie, and you just see all of the Mexican people at 8 o’clock in the morning in a line driving into Beverly Park like it’s General Motors. It’s this weird town.
You’re telling me no Mexicans are qualified to do anything at a studio? Really? Nothing but mop up? What are the odds that that’s true? The odds are, because people are people, that there’s probably a Mexican David Geffen mopping up for somebody’s company right now. The odds are that there’s probably a Mexican who’s that smart who’s never going to be given a shot. And it’s not about being given a shot to greenlight a movie because nobody is going to give you that — you’ve got to take that. The shot is that a Mexican guy or a black guy is qualified to go and give his opinion about how loud the boings are inDodgeball or whether it’s the right s—- sound you hear when Jeff Daniels is on the toilet in Dumb and Dumber. It’s like, “We only let white people do that.” This is a system where only white people can chime in on that. There would be a little naivete to sitting around and going, “Oh, no black person has ever greenlighted a movie,” but those other jobs? You’re kidding me, right? They don’t even require education. When you’re on the lower levels, they’re just about taste, nothing else. And you don’t have to go to Harvard to have taste.
Also, this should sting:

But if we’re going to just be honest and count dollars and seats and not look at skin color, Kevin Hart is the biggest comedian in the world. If Kevin Hart is playing 40,000 seats in a night and Jon Stewart is playing 3,000, the fact that Jon Stewart’s 3,000 are white means Kevin has to cross over? That makes no sense. If anybody needs to cross over, it’s the guy who’s selling 3,000 seats.

Awesome. And remember, this country is 67% white and 12% black. Suck it Stewart, you aren't that popular.

More epic talk:

I couldn’t have made Top Five at a studio. First of all, no one’s going to make a movie with a premise so little and artsy: a star putting out a movie and getting interviewed by a woman from The New York Times. I would have had to have three two-hour meetings explaining that black people also read The New York Times. A studio would’ve made it like Malibu’s Most Wanted. And never in a million years would they have allowed a scene where the rich guy comes back to the projects and actually gets along with everybody. No way. In most black movies — and in most black TV shows and even in most black plays — anyone with money or an education is evil, even movies made by black directors. They have to be saved by the poor people. This goes back to Good Times andWhat’s Happening!!
Go read the whole thing, but here's my parting shot: I remember when Ellen's sitcom tanked and people blamed homophobia. I disagreed, I thought it was because the show went from being about the characters to being about the character being gay, and it wasn't funny anymore. People clearly love Ellen, it seems, and trust me, we knew she was gay anyway.

I'll also throw in that several conservative types I follow say that if we want to win the culture back, just go make good art and the conservative message that may or may not be a part of it will follow. the problem with most "conservative" art right now is that it's conservative first and it isn't good quality art! Anyway, here's Chris Rock:

But there’s been progress. When I was on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we did a sketch where I was Sasheer Zamata's dad and she had an Internet show. Twenty years ago when I was on Saturday Night Live, anything with black people on the show had to deal with race, and that sketch we did didn’t have anything to do with race. That was the beauty: The sketch is funny because it’s funny, and that’s the progress.

Yes, it is.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Friday Blues

You aren't going to like this, but I have an unpopular opinion: Black Friday is the fault of American women. There, I said it.

Who drives US retail?

If you've been to an Old Navy over the last 10 years, you know the answer. The stores used to be divided down the middle, pretty much; guys merchandise on one side, ladies on the other, with some kids stuff tucked in as well. Repeat for the Gap, Banana Republic (which used to be a really cool catalogue nothing like the current store at all), Eddie Bauer, etc.....

Old Navy even had old Chevy pickups as the main decoration:

Now, like all the other stores, guys get about 1/3 of the space. Why?

Women shop. Marketing research, no doubt, drove men out of the malls and stores because they weren't the ones buying stuff.

I remember the women in the family shopping on Black Friday back in the day, and we all thought they were nuts, going shopping first thing Friday morning, then it became 6am, then earlier and earlier, then Midnight, now it's on Thanksgiving itself.

Why? The stores want to lengthen the season as much as possible, that's why you can Christmas shop in September at Sam's and Costco. The REAL shopping, however, starts after Thanksgiving, just ask any retailer. Extending that by a few hours is HUGE.

So, women will shop, and if they think there's a deal (whether or not there really is one: see every outlet mall in America), they will shop more, and because of this, stores open earlier, stay open later, and do whatever is necessary to give women the opportunity to shop.

When you complain about the damage to family values over stores being open on Thanksgiving, the sad truth is that it's your Mom's and sister's and Aunt's fault. 

If they stayed home, and didn't clamor for a bargain, Target would be closed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Project, New Side Gate

It was time for the old gate to go, and we've had the doors from a friend's old gate for a few years, so out with most of the old and in with the new-ish!

Digging out the woven screen/gap filling support column (the door used to be hinged on this side) was fun, here's the minion hacksawing an obstacle...

Old copper rod, maybe a ground strap, couldn't dig it out, so we hacksaw'd it!

Out, damned post!

Next. I squared up the remaining post to set door #1 as level as possible to measure the distance needed to install a new gap filling panel against the garage leaving the proper room for door #2

Doorstop strip recycled from old setup, of course. Waste not, want not!

Maybe refilling the hole and removing all the attached lumber is a good step, you think?

then, time to re-dig the correct hole for the new installation...

I needed to build a new anchor point against the garage from scratch. This is also from the old treehouse, which was made with lumber from a friends' deck tear-down that got us the gate doors!

Here's where the story gets interesting: I shortened all the filler pieces after carefully measuring the distance between the garage and the edge of the installed gate door, slid them in the grooves of the posts and get it all ready to pour some concrete to set it.

Too wide.

Dis-assemble, trim all the pieces, reassemble. Argh.

This was the easiest part, dump the mix, then add water and wait! Granted, after digging and redigging and shimming and squaring.

Once it had cured, on went door #2, with a little work on the jamb edge to let it close....

The top crossbar is necessary for strength and keeping the doors relatively square.

The lattice on the left remained to preserve the clematis already winding through it, that will get replaced before too long

A Project From the Summer of 2014

I want to get these off my phone, but also wanted to record them somewhere!

First is the Veggie Garden Table. It started with a broken patio table: I removed the legs and disassembled the top.

 Then I roughed out the size of the moveable raised bed using leftover boards from our treehouse (also constructed mostly with secondhand lumber).

The legs got chopped down to an appropriate height, old screws removed and the frame pieces measured, cut, and assembled.

The side rails, here in the middle, got ledges attached to them for the slats to rest upon. All the basic frame parts (4 legs, two ends and two sides) look like this just before rain stopped work!

Here's the inside of the corner layout: end pieces flush with top of legs, side rails set to correct depth (a 2x4 will trim the top gap, you'll see below), with a slat temporarily laying across the middle). Can you see my mistake?

Lopping off the tongues of the old table slats.

Removing table hardware to reuse table parts

More table disassembly....

Trimming the sides to match the end piece height:

Looks finished, but remember my mistake? Yes, those gaps on the ends because of my simple corners. Let's scavenge some hardware and drill holes for anchors, hammer them in and attach some blocks.

Now, casters (so far, the only newly purchased item) to keep it mobile if necessary (when filled with peat moss and soil, it's pretty heavy).

Trim pieces to fill the end gaps, resting on the blocks.

Landscape fabric (oh wait, I bought that new, too, oops), peat moss that I'd had laying around for years, and then topsoil (the next newly purchased item) and finally, new plants: peppers, basil, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, squash.

And, plants!

Finally, a frame of leftover pvc and some mesh to keep the birds and critters out!