Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Nearby Deptford, NJ is the home of hot air ballooning. It says so on the water tower. Someone flew a hot air balloon from Philly to Deptford when Washington was president, and every year there is a festival at the County College. They let me go inside one as it was being inflated.
You didn't think I'd post up photos without including one of the cat, did you?
Longwood Gardens in nearby Kennett Square, PA. They were having a chrysanthemum festival, so I suppose these are chrysanthemums.
This is also a chrysanthemum. I don't know the type. I just thought it looked cool. A macro lens and a monopod. They wouldn't let me in with my tripod. Bastards.
This is at the 12th Street Amusement area in Ocean City, NJ. If you get the chance, you can actually ride these things. I just take pictures. That's the moon in the upper right corner.
This is the same ride in a different spin. A 30 second exposure, stopped way down. The funny thing about doing these long exposures is the way people will stop as they walk near the tripod. They don't know what's going on, and they're afraid they will ruin the picture, but they wouldn't show up on the photo even if they walked in front. Otherwise, it's interesting to see that people are also capable of standing completely still for 30 seconds without even trying.
Occasionally, we get one of those winter drizzle-rain storms before the air freezes. The branches get the water-ice glaze and it is quite a show. This is a peach tree in back of the office where I work.
A snowstorm froze-up a big tree down the road from my house. I shot B&W film thinking I could get an old-style look, but I suck at monochrome, and this is the best I could do. The sound you hear is Ansel Adams rolling over in his grave.
Another cool ride in Wildwood, although I wouldn't know how cool it is, since I don't go anywhere near the things. I just like to look at them.
This is the top of the same ride. Once it gets to the top, it spins around and comes back down in a spiral. There are people inside, probably screaming. You wouldn't catch me on this if you gave me money. It makes a nice photo, though.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
- Gerald R. Ford, August 9, 1974
Meanwhile, you cannot get blood from a stone – or some men, for that matter…
WASHINGTON - Gay men remain banned for life from donating blood, the government said Wednesday, leaving in place — for now — a 1983 prohibition meant to prevent the spread Of HIV through transfusions. They also reiterated that if you have used intravenous drugs or been paid for sex you are likewise permanently barred from donating blood.
While I realize that there is a nationwide blood shortage, I am nevertheless squeamish about needles and lying around for 15 minutes with one jabbed in my arm. Although I am one of those universal donors, I have only given a couple of times, and it is a rather unpleasant experience for me. Having led a rather clean life for the past 5 decades, I cannot dodge the issue with any illicit lifestyle choices or sexual dalliances. There is one that I may need to reconsider, however … being paid for sex. Count me in. I hope.
The bidding starts at one dollar.
As requested, I went to great lengths to find photos of the model and where possible, I got the matching color and body style as well, and I'm only missing one. With the exception of the first, they were all purchased new.
1972 Chevy Vega. My Sainted mother matched my $600 savings and we purchased this green hatchback in 1975 so that I could drive myself back and forth to my first job. It served its purpose, even though; at the end of its useful life it would use more oil than gasoline.
1976 Ford Pinto. Yes, that Pinto. The one that was supposed to blow up if it was hit in the back. This one I bought brand new for $3,600 with credit acquired by working at my first job. The only option it had was white sidewall tires ($36) and I asked if I could have them taken off and get credit for it off the price. It didn’t even have a radio, just a blank opening where my friend and I eventually installed a cassette player.
I drove it 76,000 explosion-free miles. Ford put a skid plate in the back between the gas tank and bumper that made it a little safer. I had to have the camshaft replaced because every once in a while the engine would seize up and it would come to a grinding [literally] halt. I had to sit on the side of the road until the engine cooled, after which it would run for a while longer.
It was my first manual transmission, and I learned to drive it on the dealer lot. Just like litter training a cat, all you had to do was show me once and I picked it up quickly.
1984 Ford Escort GT. This one had an FM radio. I remember that the monthly payment was $204. Having gone for 5 years without a car payment, I lost a night’s sleep over the decision to buy it, even though the Pinto had become unreliable and I really had no other choice. It was black, and I vowed to never again own a black vehicle. It was a pretty cool little car, and it ran great but I was never really happy with it. I would only keep it for 3 of the 4 years of the car loan when I found my next fixation.
1987 Pontiac Fiero. It was burgundy red, and my first car with air conditioning. The basic coupe model, it cost $8,229 brand new. The master plan was to keep it for a while and move up to the GT model later. They stopped making them in 1988, so the plan backfired on me rather quickly. I put 127,000 miles on this one before I started to have doubts about its reliability and functionality. Repairs were costly, since the engine had to be removed to replace anything major. The oil pump failed and the timing chain broke, which each cost $500 to repair.
I remember being told “You’re going to have to replace the clutch.” What I found was that the clutch was hydraulic and required attention to its fluid level. I never had to have it replaced.
Two seats is generally one too many for me, but the lack of trunk space started to wear on me, so my next car was more practical and more colorful.
1994 Ford Escort GT. It was back to the GT and another car payment. This was the first car I ever ordered from the dealer, with all the options I wanted. It was necessary, since there weren’t a lot of them around. My biggest mistake with this one was the choice of color. I remember reading an article that said magenta was going to be the next hot car color. Ford called it iris, and I chose it over hunter green. What I didn’t realize was the way people would interpret the color. It was a good car, though. I drove it for 112,000 miles on the original exhaust system. All I ever did to it was routine maintenance, brakes and tires. Eventually, it had to go as I got tired of hearing stupid comments about the color. Plus, I figured I was pressing my luck with the zero-repair deal. My next car would be more neutral.
2005 Ford Focus SE. I bought this on President’s Day in 2005. I’m still driving it, and I’m fairly happy with it. It’s a PZEV [Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle]. I wanted a hybrid but couldn’t afford one, so this will have to do. It doesn’t get the gas mileage I would like, but it has been trouble free for over 2 years, so I really can’t complain. I’ll be putting new tires on it soon, which will be the first major expense, but that’s to be expected.
There ya go. Six cars in 31 years. The auto makers would be in worse shape than they already are if they had to depend on people like me (or FS5) to earn any money. Hey, a good car should last 100,000 miles – at least. Take care of your car and it will take care of you. The thing you quickly see that they have in common is that they are all "compact" size and generally fuel efficient. I think, even if I could afford something more, I would choose small and efficient. So, in answer to FS5's question to show us the car of your dreams...
Toyota Prius. Seriously. I'm a simple guy. I don't need 0 to 60 in 3 seconds or form over substance. I just need reliable transportation and I don't like to waste things - like expensive gasoline - regardless of whether or not money is a factor. They're still a bit pricey for me. The Focus is the most expensive car I have ever bought, and even that payment is a drain right now. Maybe by the time I'm buying my next car I'll be driving one of these?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
For those of us who follow sports closely, it should come as only a minor surprise to find that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is something of a dirtbag, and what better follow-up to Monday's post about child abuse and Tuesday's post about my favorite pro athletes than this interesting tidbit about a slice of his personal life that has thankfully leaked out. If you or a loved one has one of those red #7 jerseys, they make excellent packing material. To wit:
The case began April 25 when police conducting a drug investigation raided the house Vick owned in rural Surry County and found dozens of dogs. They also found items associated with dog fighting, including a “pry bar” used to pry apart a dog’s jaws. Police say that between 6 and 10 people could be involved, including Vick and a cousin, who reportedly lived in the house before it was recently sold. Vick himself is a licensed dog breeder.
One story reported on WIP today said that the house also contained treadmills for cats. The cats are used to get the dogs used to the taste of blood and are trained to be kill meat.
When an ESPN reporter asked Vick, "In the end, do you think you will be exonerated?", Vick replied, "No comment."
I wonder if he knows what "exonerated" means?
Then, jackass number 2 checked in, namely Washington Redskins' running back Clinton Portis, with this gem:
“I don’t know if he was fighting dogs or not,” Portis said in the interview. “But it’s his property; it’s his dogs. If that’s what he wants to do, do it.”
Late Monday, the team released a statement on behalf of Portis in which the running back said: “I want to make it clear I do not take part in dog fighting or condone dog fighting in any manner.”
I wonder if he knows what "condone" means?
And so, we have found yet one more clown in an industry full of them - namely professional sports, and it appears to run in the family. Vick's little brother Marcus is Jackass Junior, having been kicked out of VT and is such a rotten guy that he cannot even land a job in a profession that is full of them.
Pro athletes are arrested on almost a daily basis. Generally it is for drunken driving or some drug charge. Occasionally it is for something more heinous like spousal abuse or gunplay. It is sad that these man-children represent such behavior problems, and sadder that we are generally not surprised when one of them is charged with something as lousy as this.
Animals and children. I have zero tolerance for anyone who abuses either of them. Perhaps a nice punishment for this group of scumbags would be a day or so in the basement with the dogs?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Of course, I plan on following Paula Creamer for most of the tournament, as regular readers will no doubt suspect. The decision on how to best view the tournament will probably be more difficult, since I have been spoiled by TV. It may wind up being a game-time decision, and it will probably come down to whomever is leading or paired-up with Paula on the days I decide to go.
On the bright side, it's nice to have built-in blog posts for a whole week. Having [Havreing] said all that, it may rain for four days, rendering the week's pass useless, which is precisely why I do not get overly excited about things until they actually happen.
Monday, May 21, 2007
But it wasn't. These children were being closely supervised by what appeared to be adults. Moms of all shapes and sizes doting over their daughters. The only thing missing was the father. The one father who showed up was dragged kicking and screaming to the show. Something tells me that the fathers are as repulsed by this behavior as I, and they were probably at home doing what I was doing on Saturday night, hoping that drinking would make it all better. But it wouldn't. VH1 optimistically describes the program thusly:
God forbid that these kids have anything that a kid would have, including a normal social life or a parent who understands what it means to be a child. It wouldn't have surprised me if mom had thrown in some fake breast implants. Hey, why stop with the hair spray and fake teeth?
If you can watch this without cringing, you're a different person than I.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Speaking of irrelevant: CRAWFORD, Texas - In a biting rebuke, the White House on Sunday dismissed former President Jimmy Carter as "increasingly irrelevant" after his harsh criticism of President Bush.
Carter was quoted Saturday as saying "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." The Georgia Democrat said Bush had overseen an "overt reversal of America's basic values" as expressed by previous administrations, including that of his own farther, former President George H.W. Bush.
Which prompted this response from the White House:
"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded Sunday from Crawford, where Bush spent the weekend. "I think it's unfortunate," Fratto said. "And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."
Those Crawford bylines always make me nervous. I think Fratto's response speaks volumes about the arrogance and lack of respect with which this administration views critics. They think they are right about everything, and whatever you think is irrelevant and wrong. It is why I feel as though people who scream for impeachment are better off screaming at their dog. We are stuck with this witless moron for another 10 months, after which George W. Bush can be as increasingly irrelevant as history allows him to be. Unfortunately, he is doing damage that may never be repaired.Hockey's on.