Archive for June, 2008

Phone pole

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Here’s the view out of the train window. Very artsy, no? Reminds me of a photo Ansel Adams would have taken. Of course, Ansel would have thrown it away immediately. That’s where old Ansel and I part company. I publish everything. Taken with the exclusive RAZR-cam.

The Loyal Readers are back! It was a lonesome weekend around here, even though I had my trusty Loyal Pets, at least one of whom just loves to hang around with me. I read a little, worked on an electronics project (only destroyed one LED!), watched a movie (Boeing Boeing, about which more later), watched several episodes of SpongeBob, and . . . umm . . . must have done a few other things. Oh yeah, I got gas in two cars and figured out why the check engine light was on in the Suburban (not good news, but I’m waiting for it to happen again before I get excited about it). Also made and ate my meals. And slept. Et cetera.

Anyway. It’s nice to have them back. Loyal Reader Number One did very well in his performance, which made it a great capstone to his pre-college piano career. Congrats, LRN1!

Boeing Boeing was an interesting movie. It’s a comedy from the sixties, starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis(!). Tony Curtis is a guy who has three girlfriends (fiancees, actually) who are stewardesses from different airlines and don’t know about each other – their schedules just happen to work out to put them in Paris on different days every week. They all get new schedules on newer, faster airplanes, and start showing up at the same time. The interesting thing about the movie is that Jerry Lewis is in his post-Dean Martin days, and he’s actually funny. No moronic slapstick – just surprisingly good humor. I had no idea he could be good. Anyway, I don’t necessarily recommend the movie, but it was mildly amusing.

Time for Home Evening. See you tomorrow.

At Fairlane

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Here are Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two at Fairlane. Great Art indeed.

I guess some Morrowlife controversies are more controversial than others. Yesterday’s secession talk just didn’t generate much talk. I suppose that question must have been settled back in ’65. That’s 1865 for any of you Loyal Readers not quite up on your history. 1965 was a little less exciting.

Anyway. It’s Loyal Reader Departure Eve. They’ll be gone for about three days. I’ll sure miss ’em. Good luck, Loyal Reader Number One! I’m sure they’ll all have a good time. LRN4’s sister is coming up to Riverside from San Diego to visit while they’re that far south.

I’ll be lonesome while they’re gone, but don’t worry about me too much. I’ll have the dog, the snake, and the fish to keep me company. Not to mention the plants. That’s quite a crowd.

No controversy today. My Loyal Readers will just have to stew over the weekend. See you on Monday.


Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Here’s Henry Ford’s X8 engine. They say he got it pretty well developed, but ultimately didn’t end up marketing it. It turned out to be easier to get the flathead V8 working right. Good idea. Part of my famous Machinery series.

Well. Some Loyal Readers have been helpfully pointing out typos in yesterday’s post. I can’t find any – you might want to have another look. If you think I misspelled “canoeing,” though, you’re wrong. Check this out.

Man, is the air smoky! I don’t know how far away all those fires are, but we’re certainly smelling them. And breathing them, of course. It looks like Los Angeles around here.

Spoke with Loyal Reader Number Three on the phone this evening. He’s thinking of getting contacts and wanted a little input from me, since I wore them for many years. Good luck with your decision, LRN3!

Loyal Reader Number Twenty-Four mentioned in yesterday’s comments that she wouldn’t follow the Hungry Man diet, but she would “… pick up the book, and flip through a couple pages.” No need for regrets, LRN24, as long as you actually buy the book. Use it for bird cage lining, for all I care.

I’ll have to look in to the calorie situation on that diet one of these fine days. Maybe it would actually work. In the meantime, my day job is secure.

Today’s Morrowlife controversy: do you think we should try this here in Lardville? Sounds like a great idea to me.

The Loyal Readers are heading to Southern California Saturday morning for Loyal Reader Number One’s piano performance at the big music conference in Riverside. I can’t go, unfortunately. I’ll have to buy the CD. Or at least download it illegally. Good luck, LRN1!

See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Here’s Loyal Reader Number Two trying to get a huge steam locomotive stopped in time. Doesn’t look too promising. Part of my famous Machinery series.

No interest in the math/fuel/engine/Jeep discussion yesterday. I guess my Loyal Readers just aren’t ready for the blog to turn into a scientific automotive journal. Which is a good thing, since I have nothing else to say in that direction. At least not right now. Maybe I’ll try again later. I could always look at the economics of hybrids.

Another pretty day – they all are. Except when we’re canoeing. Then there’s a freak lightning storm. The Loyal Readers had people over to swim today, as they have every Wednesday this summer. The water has been at about 82 degrees for a couple of weeks now. That’s chilly when you first get in, but comfortable a few seconds afterward. They’ve been getting plenty of friends to come over, which is nice.

Speaking of the pool, I need this. It’s not too late to send me one for my birthday.

Nothing else new. We’ll make our decision this evening on the October cruise. I don’t think Loyal Reader Number Four is too hot on the idea, so I don’t think we’ll be going. We’ll know within a couple of hours.

Well, the votes are in. It looks like the bizarre lady singing about how much she loves her bathroom is the winner in the Worst Bathroom Song Ever controversy. Or is she the loser? Dunno. I just hope she was paid well for singing that song, which was an advertisement for a plumbing company. The other one was intended for the employees of a gas station chain.

Today’s controversy: I’ve invented a new diet that I think is really going to take off. I’m calling it the Hungry Man diet. The idea is that you eat a simple, healthy breakfast; a small TV dinner for lunch; and a Hungry Man TV dinner for . . . umm . . . dinner. I haven’t done all the math yet, but I think it will work. I’ll be even more famous than that Jared guy. Maybe even Jenny Craig! The controversial question for my Loyal Readers is this: would you try this diet? Better yet, would you buy my upcoming book on this subject?

See you tomorrow.

Edison’s gadget

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Here’s one of Thomas Edison’s gadgets. I can’t remember what it does. Any Loyal Readers care to venture a guess? Part of both my Machinery and Workbench series.

Missed the train, drove the Honda. The repairs seem to be great! I can shift into third without grinding! And there’s no new grease on the interior! Amazing.

I listened to a podcast on diesel engines this afternoon. They were interviewing a guy from Bosch, one of the companies that manufactures a lot of diesel components. When they asked him whether it was still worth it to spend the extra money for a diesel vehicle, given the current outrageous price of diesel fuel and the premium prices they charge for the engines, he was vague and talked instead about how great diesel cars are for the earth. Not a good sign.

So I decided to figure it out for myself. I checked out which 2008 cars are available with diesel engines. Turns out there still aren’t too many, but the Jeep Grand Cherokee does have several engines available, including a diesel. They charge a reasonable $1655 for the diesel above their 4.7 liter non-hemi V8 (the diesel’s only available in an upmarket model, which has a standard V8). Their website says the diesel gets 17 MPG in the city, and Yahoo’s auto website told me the V8 version gets 14 city MPG. Assuming gas/diesel fuel remain at $4.50/$5.50 and that you drive 15,000 miles/year, the gas engine will end up costing you $24107 in fuel after 5 years, and the diesel will cost $25919 (including the initial cost of the engine), for a net loss of $1812. It never catches up – at 10 years the difference is $1970 in favor of the gas engine.

Maybe my numbers aren’t reasonable, though. After all, diesel engines are renowned for their great gas mileage, so maybe Jeep’s numbers are just too low. So I created a fictional car with an engine that costs $5000 extra (not out of line for luxury diesel sedans) but gets 22 miles per gallon. After 5 years, the diesel engine saves you $357, given the constraints documented above. At 10 years, the diesel’s advantage is $5714. At the two-year point, though, the diesel owner is $2857 in the hole.

Bottom line: the Jeep diesel is no deal, but if you can find a diesel car that gets substantially better mileage than its gasoline counterpart and you plan to keep the car for an unusually long time (substantially longer than five years), it’s definitely better to spend the extra money on the diesel. For the most part, though, the oil companies are taking all the money. As usual.

Of course, I didn’t look at the differences in resale values, which may or may not give the advantage to the diesel. It depends on the future relative price of fuels, the unpredictable relative reliability of the two engine types (although diesels do have a reputation for durability, 1980’s GM models notwithstanding), and lots of other variables. Feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?

Anyway. Thanks to my Loyal Readers for their insightful comments on the beer commercial controversy. The consensus seems to be that making the commercial was bad for Kirby’s career path. Tsk tsk, Kirb. And do as he says, Loyal Readers, not as he gets paid to pretend to do.

Today’s controversy: want some good advice? Keep your bathrooms clean, men. Why, you ask? Because ladies love clean bathrooms. Controversial question: which song is lamer?

Time to do something else. See you tomorrow.