November 13, 2013

The End of an Era--Epilogue

Well, the ol' fella finally sold. I paid $1,800 for it seven years ago, drove it about 70,000 miles, and wound up getting $1,700 for it. In addition to the $1,300 I got from the insurance company when the dude ran into the back of me on the interstate a few months ago, I figure I did okay. "Okay," being a very malleable term of art that means I didn't pay someone else to take it away.

I never did quite get it to the level of perfection I initially envisioned, said vision to have included such things as a suspension upgrade, maybe some paint, and a 427 side-oiler with a Detroit Locker and a close-ratio toploader. Oh, and maybe a nice set of new wiper blades.

But, still, it was fun for a long time, and made the days go quicker when it came time to putter about with it. Now it's time for someone else to see if they can get it to 300,000 miles. Only has 18,000 more to go, so I figure it won't be too long.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:45 PM | Comments (6)

August 16, 2011

Just like it was yesterday...

A very long yesterday, but yesterday nonetheless.

In any event, I decided that if I must take a break from not blogging, what better day to mark the occasion than my (and my wife's) 20th wedding anniversary!

The secret to our success? There is no alternative. We're both of the belief that marriage is intended to be a forever sort of thing, come what may, hell or high water, between a rock and a hard place, fire, hail, locusts, darkness, &c., &c., &c. Also, that when you add it all up, all that bad stuff is but a thimbleful compared to the simple contentment of having a nice person with whom to share the day (and the night).

Other items:

1. This stuff about marriage being a 50/50 proposition is garbage--it requires absolute 100% commitment and involvement every single day of your life. Even in your sleep. Just a tip--never tell your wife about this weird dream you had about you and Raquel Welch.

2. Do your job. Each of you have things you're supposed to take care of--if you don't know what they are, you better figure it out. The preacher who married us reminded me that I was supposed to be the man, and do things like kill bugs. Not that Reba couldn't kill them herself, but it was my job to do it. And I have done it as assiduously as I have been able to.

3. All that stuff you do that makes the other one mad? Don't do it. (Much) And don't ever say that all the stuff THEY do makes you mad. Because it doesn't. (Much)

4. Have a lot of children. They're expensive and occasionally dangerous, but then again, so are Ferraris. And you'll never be able to afford a Ferrari if you have kids, so enjoy what you've got. They do have their moments, though, you know--no Ferrari ever climbed up in your lap and gave you a big hug and said "I love you, Daddy." And then puked on you. Also, Ferraris won't take care of you when you get old and you walk out the door with your fly unzipped. Not that children will, either, but they will be sure you know about it by laughing at you.

5. Never lie. But do learn to tell the truth properly, or else you're just making it hard on yourself.

6. Learn to live with imperfections. Not that Reba has any, but if she did, I would overlook them. Constantly.

7. You're not always right. Even if you are, pretend not to be.

8. Every once in a while, do something unexpected. Not including things like emptying the bank account, or committing adultery. I'm talking about maybe doing the dishes or vacuuming or making me a sandwich when I didn't ask.

9. If you're a guy, always remember the important dates. Birthday, anniversary, the date you got engaged, the childrens' birthdays. If you're a girl, when he forgets one of those, try to understand that a guy's brain has only three moving parts--food, football, and procreative activities. Anything he remembers beyond that is a blessing.

10. If you're a girl, always be a girl. Guys like that kind of thing. If you're a guy, and she goes off and does something girly like talking while standing in front of the football game on TV, remember that if you listen, you might learn something very important that you can use later while you're eating or enjoying procreative activities.

11. Be kind.

12. Take a lot of vacation pictures and occasionally share one on your blog because it's just so danged cute:

Dauphin Island 2011.jpg

And that's about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:21 AM | Comments (10)

April 06, 2009

What I did on Saturday.

Caution: Contains Volvo-related content. May not be suitable for anyone with an IQ higher than 12.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)

December 03, 2008

Yet another one of life's little milestones... UPDATED

...if you are a moron.

My lumpy old gray hunk of Swedish iron just turned over the quarter-million-mile mark!

A testament to the basic solidity of the thing, as well as the maniacal devotion to scheduled maintenance by the previous owner.

In any event, I believe I deserve a Federal bailout totalling $1,245,010,000.12.

UPDATE 12/9/08--OH, GREAT--now EVERYbody's getting in on the act!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:01 AM | Comments (16)

January 29, 2008

Pictures!

What better way to not blog than by posting pictures! (Aside from not posting pictures.)

A few shots from this year:


First off, PETS!!

Playing the part of Rafiki, Catherine. Playing the part of infant Simba being held up for approval of all the animals of the savannah, a very perturbed Lightning.

103_2749.JPG

Brilliant.

Enjoying the sunshine and dreams of chasing rabbits or rawhide bones, it's Patches.

103_2678.JPG

AWwwwwww!

Next up, some of you might be aware that the South was covered in a huge thick blanket of snow a couple of weekends ago. The teevee stations breathlessly dubbed this dangerous band of weather "WINTER STORM '08!" and gave it round-the-clock coverage.

It started about 11 a.m., was over by about 1:30, and left a killing choking layer of frozen precipitation nearly half an inch thick. It all melted by 5:00.

But dangitall, it was SNOW, and the kids have been irritated for several years now that the evil McBushitlerburton weather machine had not produced anything appropriately wintertime-frosty, so they were ecstatic. While it lasted. (Oh, ignore the date stamp--this actually happened on the 19th.)

Anyway, the first snowball:

103_2766.JPG

Boy holds up two rather pitiful competitors in the snowball arms race:

103_2768.JPG

Next, a tiny snowman, his tinier snow-progeny, a tiny snow-dog, and a giant ball of snow, all perched upon the gas grill to represent the growing danger of global warming:

103_2794.JPG

Global warming, though, is trumped by the threat posed by giant extraterrestrial canines transported to earth by a race of earmuff-wearing Amazons:

103_2811.JPG

The front of Casa de Possum, looking almost New England wintry. This was taken about an hour past the height of the blizzard.

103_2804.JPG

The Volvo looks right at home--

103_2797.JPG

I sorta wish it had that layer of snow on it all the time. Helps cover up the faded paint on the upper side. Also, if it had snow on it all the time, I would ride around with this on my back window all the time:

103_2810.JPG

I live for constant positive reinforcement, you know.

In other family news, Miss Reba had herself a birthday! As you can see from the candles on the cake, she's three.

103_2843.JPG

She's actually 48, and danged hot, if I do say so myself.

So, that's it for the family, although there is a dearth of pictures of Oldest, who does not take well to being candidly snapped.

And me? Oh, well, yeah, I guess there's a few shots of your host as well. Acting silly, as usual.

Hey, do you like those little butter mints like they have at baby showers and junk like that? Me too!

103_2760.JPG

What a moron.

Here I am all dressed up acting like a moron:

103_2696.JPG

AND FINALLY, this past Sunday we appointments to have our pictures made at church for the directory. This is what it looks like when I have to wait for something:

103_2848.JPG

Well, there you go.

Back to work now.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (20)

November 26, 2007

Trying to hang on to one tired fad just a bit longer...

itz

lol iron bowl!1!

lolironbowl.JPG

pwnd1!


Yes, I know very few people outside the state of Alabama care about this, but it sure makes being an Auburn fan a lot easier for the next 364 days.

In other news, Thanksgiving was mighty fine, and we got a new fake tree from our good friend Martha Stewart, who saw fit to put them on sale on Thursday, and I replaced the alternator in the Volvo Saturday because it was down to its last few electrons, and I bought myself a 4G flash drive for only 18 bucks at Staples and now I am all over that wacky mp3 craze the kids are wild about, and have been playing them in my new cheapo Best Buy car stereo with the USB port in the front, and I'm all sorts of busy at work, and it rained last night.

So, you know--things are pretty okay, as things go.

And how was your Thanksgiving?


(AP Photo via al.com, by the way)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:43 PM | Comments (8)

July 18, 2007

Other things you learn from working on cars.

Parlez-Vous Hot Rod?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2007

Things you learn while working on cars.

1. If you're crawling underneath a car, be aware that there are all sorts of little flying bugs that don't get high up off the ground. If one of them flies into your ear, it's best not to try to poke it with your finger if that finger is covered up with dirty black grease.

2. If you crawl out from under a car all sweaty and grease-eared with your mop of hair hanging down and plastered to your forehead, and your son comes up to you and says, "Hey, Dad! Your hair looks cool combed down like that!" don't believe him.

3. If after your labors and travails are completed and you walk into the kitchen looking like this:

luther.jpg

...and your daughter comes running up with a big grin on her face and lets you in on the secret that Mommy thinks you look sexy when you've been doing manly mechanicking work and are all hot and sweaty and greasy-eared, don't put much stock in it. Yes, she probably does get a little flutter when in the presence of a goaty-smelling he-man, but this is only in the abstract. Were you to attempt to clutch Mommy's bits and pieces with your besmutted meathooks, she will slap at you and tell you that you're dirty and stinky.

BUT, at least the car is now operational again, with a new center bearing and center bearing bushing, and center bearing support spring, and center bearing support spring cup washer. Downside? Well, there's still a lot of growling noise, which is probably the result of a bad bearing in the end of the transmission.

But that's a task for another day.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:48 AM | Comments (20)

July 05, 2007

A New Possumobile?

Maybe.

Dave Helton has been ever so kind to try to assist me in the event that I should have to procure alternative transportation. I'd told him that I was convinced that to avoid unnecessary damage from people running into me that my next car was going to be a dump truck. Ever the resourceful sort, for my next I Am A Moron Project, Dave suggested...


THIS!

I just happen to have a 1953 (or maybe a '56) International Harvester single axle dump featuring a single cylinder hoist, diamond-six engine with a one-barrel carb (complete with a dirt dobber nest!) and ARMSTRONG power steering. I hate to part with such a gem, but I know you are a man of class and discernment, so I would be willing to part with it to you for a the low, low sum of $45,000... and if you act today, will even throw in a bonus Moron Project! A 1964 Caterpillar 933 Traxcavator that RUNS... of course the motor does have a little miss in it... well, it's actually more of a peck...or maybe a knock... ok, it sounds like a little man with a sledgehammer is beating on the block,

BUT,

Think of all the fun you could have with the kids pulling the engine in your driveway (to pi$$ the neighbors off), rebuilding it, then driving it down the street knocking down mailboxes! It also makes a dandy snake killer, providing you can get on top of the snake and spin the tracks just right.

BTW, the Dump truck DOES run, you just have to have a really good battery or park it on the side of a hill.

And to prove he's not joshing, here's the Project in Question:

dumptruck.jpg

Sweeet.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:12 PM | Comments (12)

June 11, 2007

PAG Going the Way of the Dodo.

Steevil sends along this Bloomberg article about Ford's search for buyers for the remaining bits of its Premier Automotive Group: Volvo, Land Rover, and Jaguar--with the suggestion that acquiring Volvo would be a good way for me to branch out into a new career.

If it meant a reliable supply of 240 spare parts into the foreseeable future, I think I would be on it in a minute. Of course, the question of what to do with the rest of the company also comes up.

That I'll have to think about for a while. Obviously, the first thing to do is hire the Swedish Bikini Team as company spokeswomen. Second is to develop a new small rear-drive sedan about the size of the 240 that uses the 311 horse V-8 out of the XC-90. Six speed ZF, IRS, 4 wheel discs the size of serving platters, no ABS, no traction control, no power anything. But with a cupholder, please. And a heater core that doesn't require the car to be completely disassembled if it springs a leak.

Second, if you simply MUST have an SUV, make sure they're redesigned to look like this:

Volvo TP21_62.jpg

I think my plan will work just fine. I don't work cheap, though.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)

The Sopranos

Never seen it. Not a single episode. And not just because I don't have cable, because they do have the thing on DVD. I've just never understood the allure, and never really cared about watching.

Because let's face it, if I'm going to look at a soprano, it better look like this.

Rrrowll.

(Although judging by this, she could hold her own against Tony's boys.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:54 AM | Comments (3)

May 22, 2007

Oh, I just THOUGHT I had a Moron Project.

I genuflect before a Master.

Via noted English car enthusiast Steevil, there are no photos of what this Koventry Klassik looked like before, but I'll take the Fluevog's word for it that it was a rusty hulk. Certainly is quite a change from the way it looked when it left Jolly Olde--Mk. Xs look more like this in their factory-fresh state. Quite a sexy-looking big sedan, right up there with the E-type for creamy smooth goodness. There's a nifty site here, where you can peruse scans of the original showroom brochures.

Why, just the photo of the Mark 10's rear seat alone--Connelly leather, Wilton wool carpets, English burl vanity tables, lush chrome, carelessly lain mink coat and elbow length kid gloves--is enough to cause a certain stirrings that are not the least bit appropriate.

Quite a ride.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:43 PM | Comments (9)

Jack Bauer Update!

The only way the season finale could suck more?

dream.jpg

Next season Audrey wakes up and it's all been a dream.

I admit I've kinda dropped out this year, mainly because of having the watching hour interrupted by picking up Boy from his Scout meetings, but I did happen to have the radio on in the van last night and picked up part of the dialogue. (Our Fox affiliate here in Birmingham is on channel 6, which can be heard down on the far end of the radio dial at 87.7)

Okay, so Smelly Face Chloe's gotten herself knocked up, Powers Booth has decided to blow up an oil platform with an Navy air strike, and the platform is the final hiding place of JackDaddy/Babe's Handler on it and some Chinese guys and a submarine doohickey the ChiComm want. Problem is that that the Guy from Babe has Jack's nephewson, too, so Jack and Gray Haired Boss steal a chopper to go rescue him. HURRY JACK--those F-18s are going to be there in TWENTY MINUTES!!

Now look--an F-18 can fly at around Mach 1.5, or anywhere between 900 to 1,000 miles per hour. If they're twenty minutes away from this platform, that means that they're around 300 miles away. The West Coast just had a nuke go off, and the closest air assets we have in the area are 300 miles away!? Either that, or the oil platform is 300 miles out in the ocean. Which can't really be right either, because the helo managed to get there before the fighters. AND...

Anyway, Jack goes off with the helo, gets his Dad to let go of the grandnephewson, left him on the platform, grabbed onto the chopper, flew off, platform goes boom, Jack drops off, Gray Haired Boss says, "eh, whatever, he can swim."

Which he does--in the next five minutes, Jack swims from the oil platform to Brokenose Girl's Daddy's house, comes in all wet, threatens him, says LEMME SEE HER! OR I'LL CRY UNMANLY TEARS!! Goes in and sees her faking comatosis with her big buck teeth bared like some kind of BEAVER and he tells her she's rilly cute and sweet and he wants to give her his class ring and then he leaves the room and shares an unspoken moment with her dad, then goes out on the patio to watch the waves and get all vertiginous looking down at the rocks below.

Will he!? Will he decide to go find a shark to jump? Will Chloe's baby be all pinchy-faced? Will JackDaddy survive? (Of course he will.) Will the ChiComm leave Jack alone? WHEN WILL WE SEE KIM BAUER IN A BIKINI!? I don't know, but I think that's about the only thing that will get me to watch again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2007

It is the way of the moron.

You know when you were young, and there was always that kid in your neighborhood who managed to get the ONE cool toy for Christmas that everyone wanted, and that you never got, so you'd spend your time thumping a paper football across the table and wondering what it was like to play with with a genuine electric football set, that had players you could paint yourself to look like any team in the NFL?

Well, you never outgrow that feeling.

I came in one afternoon last week, and noticed that our neighbor four doors down the street had a brand new old car on his driveway. Looks like maybe a '52 or '53 Chevy sedan delivery (here's a similar 1950 model via eBay), unrestored but complete and not too beat up, wearing faded dark blue paint, blackwalls and dog-dish hubcaps. In addition to my well-documented feelings for weird small square cars, I also have a very soft spot for postwar Chebbies, and most especially sedan deliveries. I blame this on being dropped repeatedly as an infant as well as a magazine article I remember from close to thirty years ago about a '53 sedan delivery drag racer with a blown big block and an American flag paint job.

Anyway, now I have to look every time I go by the guy's house to see if he's out playing with it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:33 AM | Comments (8)

May 04, 2007

Oh, and you thought million dollar Hemi 'Cudas were unbelievable. UPDATED!

Well, I think it's kinda silly to pay that much, too, but that was before I saw this.

That's right--John Schneider's personal General Lee reproduction (built in 1997), and it's selling right now for $9,901,001.00.

Insanity.

(I realize there's some sort of celebrity mojo here, but come ON! It's got a column shift automatic, for pity's sake!)

UPDATE: And the final winning bid, from fishbashr1, $9,900,500.

If this bid is legit, and the buyer doesn't back out when he fully understands this car wasn't one of the originals in the TV show (again, it was built in 1997) and that it's just a Charger with a crate motor and fancy paint job (and a column-shift automatic), it will come close to doubling the record price ever paid for an American car at auction, currently the $5.5 million paid for Carroll Shelby's personal 1966 Super Cobra.

Now I like John Schneider and all, and I thought the Dukes of Hazzard was a fun show, but I think this is sorta pushing the "fan" thing a bit far.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:06 AM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2007

The title of the page pretty much says it all.

Carbage.

I do wonder why so many of them feature flamed paint jobs. Some sort of subconcious death wish?

Probably.

(Thanks to Steevil the Rocket Surgeon for the link)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

A Terrible Oversight

I seem to have missed the crowning of the Grand Champion of the Iowahawk 2007 Second Annual Earth Week Virtual Cruise-In, who just happens to be a home state fellow.

And really, how could you go wrong with this:

[...] this righteous ride stood out for sheer hippie-offending awesomeness, on all dimensions: a (1) rocket powered, (2) American made, (3) garage built, (4) pickup truck, from (4) Alabama, fueled by (5) roofing tar, producing (6) 14,000 horsepower. Even without a rifle rack, the concept alone is enough to make Laurie David curl into a fetal ball in her Malibu bunker. [...]

Awesome, indeed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:32 PM | Comments (3)

April 24, 2007

Electricity!

What with Earth Day having just passed, there have been a number of magazine articles lately talking up electric vehicles and such, and especially one of Instapundit's faves, the Tesla Roadster. Both PM and Popular Science feature the car this month, and it's been in the news for a pretty long time.

Electric power is great for cars--clean, quiet, max torque available at 0 rpm--but there's one downside, and that's recharge time. I've mentioned it before, but even if your electric car has a 200 mile range, you still have to stop for three hours and let it recharge. This works in some instances such as short hop commutes with long layover times, but not in every instance, like trying to get somewhere 300 miles away in four hours and STILL drive that distance and time at legal speeds.

Despite the environmental drawbacks of fossil fuel vehicles, they are efficient managers of time--if your gasburner has a range of 200 miles, you can "recharge" it and get back to full range again in about ten minutes, assuming you also go inside the gas station to pee and get some Slim Jims.

It's those danged batteries. And it's not going to get better anytime soon, it doesn't look like, because no one seems to be interested in coming up with the one thing that would make battery-powered long-distance travel feasible.

Commonality.

Cordless drills and saws are great, and the construction industry would be a lot less efficient without them, but the only way they're actually usable in the real world is because there are always a couple of extra batteries sitting on a charger being recharged. When the one in your drill gets low, you pop it out and put in a new one, and you're ready to go again. Anyone who hopped on the bandwagon early on and got themselves a spiffy new cordless and DIDN'T buy the extra batteries found out quickly that a dead cordless screwdriver is much more frustrating to use manually than a regular human-twisted one.

The reason this all works is there's (in general) a common enough battery template for these tools that they can work across a wide range of tools with the same type of cell. It would be even better if manufacturers would work to a standard dimension, then everyone's batteries could fit everyone else's tools, but failing that, they at least have a relatively standard array of voltages that the tools operate on.

But car makers, at least right now, are in a wild race to invent better mousetraps, which is great if you're trying to catch mice, but not so great if you're trying to run a car. The battery technology right now is all over the place, with some manufacturers using the old standby lead-acids, to things like the Tesla which use giant grid of what are essentially laptop batteries wired together, to the new GM Volt concept that uses batteries that haven't been invented yet.

What if, though, there was some effort to settle on a workable standard voltage, type, and size, and instead of pulling into a service station to gas up, you pull in to a bay and a friendly-voiced mechanical robot take out the discharged battery unit in toto, and plugs in another one while you wait. The old one is sent to a recharging rack, and you motor away after paying for the exchange of old for new, and you didn't spend any more time than you would have refueling your gas tank.

We're probably be too far along the path we're on now for such a thing--it would require a substantial investment in a recharging infrastructure (both to recharge them and the machinery necessary to pull and plug them back into a car), and somehow you'd have to have a sufficient number of (danged expensive) surplus batteries around to provide power whenever someone needs a quick fill-up, and the disposal problems associated with all these batteries when they reach the end of their lives hasn't really been thought out. But unless there's a way to quickly recharge batteries, the electric car is never going to make major inroads (so to speak) in the vast swath of land between New York and Los Angeles. The distances are too long, and people want to travel without bothersome delays.

If you don't have unpluggable batteries, I think the next best step is another thing I've mentioned before, having your own fuel-powered generator set in the car for when you don't have the time to park and recharge. This is the same thing that Diesel-electric locomotives and submarines use, and the type of powerplant in the generator can be optimized to be efficient for driving a constant-load generator rather than motivating the car. Chrysler's experiments with gas turbines back in the early 1960s (and actually on into the '80s and '90s) were interesting not because turbine power works as a vehicle powerplant--they work best at a constant, high rpm, they take too long to spool up to speed for passing and merging into traffic, and they are thirsty--but that they found that a turbine can swallow just about any fuel, including things like coal slurry.

Obviously, the whole idea of electrics is to try to get away from burning carbon fuels at multiple points, but the good thing about something like coal is that we have plenty of it. The turbine can also run on poorer quality fuels that won't work for powering a car, which frees up some energy for those applications that require better fuels. And again, it works best at a constant high speed, which works best when you're using it only to run a generator, rather than under constantly changing road and load conditions. And this being the greatest country on Earth, there's already been some smart folks who already have stuff like this available. (Although it must be on the pricey side, seeing as how they don't have a price list--but dangitall, that Tesla's gonna set you back a hundred thou, so let's not quibble over small change!)

Anyway, some pretty interesting stuff (.pdf) going on out there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:39 AM | Comments (7)

April 20, 2007

It makes me feel warm all over!

I was wandering around the Internet last night (no, you don't need to know why) and came across the EPA's automobile fuel economy website that lists the government rating for cars both past and present. Being ever the curious sort, I thought I'd check on what the ol' homely lump of iron was originally rated at.

I have been somewhat concerned about mileage, and thought I might not be getting as good useage as I should, because one does tend to hear about some REALLY impressive consumption rates. Some of the Stupid People boards I haunt have people claiming nearly 30 mpg, which I found disturbingly high. No real reason to think mine should be quite that high, but still, you don't want to be wasting too much.

I have a daily round-trip commute of 30 miles, with about 22 of that being Interstate, and the remainder a variety of surface streets. Weekends vary, but mostly they're spent doing local driving around home. Anyway, you figure maybe 70 percent highway, 30 percent city. Second, I run that A/C all the time, even in winter (although not on high, and obviously the heat control is turned to hot, but it does help keep the windshield defogged), and I don't drive particularly slow--on the Interstate, I follow traffic speed and it it's moving at 75 or 80, by gum, so do I. But I don't do a lot of floorboarding the accelerator and constant speed changing by stomping on the brake then back to full throttle. Anyway, with all that and based on my scrupulous record-keeping for the past two years, it looks like I average about 22 miles per gallon.

I looked up the Brick on the website, and was pretty surprised to see that an '86 Volvo 240 with an automatic was rated at 21 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 22 mpg average. Pretty darned astounding, I'd say, for a 21 year old hunk of metal with 235,000 miles on it would do pretty much exactly what the sticker said it should.

And let's face it--it really is just so darned sexy.

(Crossposted on Revolvoblog--yes, it DOES still exist!)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (4)

April 04, 2007

Well, bless her heart.

Are we sure she wasn't trying out for a defensive tackle slot instead of cheerleader?

Click at your own risk.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:04 PM | Comments (5)

April 03, 2007

Lucky Duck.

Well, I guess it depends on your definition of "luck," but I think anyone who manages to find a 31-year-old car with less than 25,000 miles on the clock in a sweet little old lady's garage is pretty darned fortunate. Even if the car IS an orange Volvo.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:51 AM | Comments (10)

March 29, 2007

Notable, Indeed.

Via Kim Du Toit, a little celebration of one of the finest hand implements ever created.

And further good words from a retired Texas Ranger. (Not known if his tears can cure children of cancer.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:42 PM | Comments (9)

March 23, 2007

Well, bless their heart.

Hard-core Bama fans name sons `Tyde' and `Saban'

Parents vow undying love and support for sons, unless Auburn wins.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

Car Talk

Chef Tony, noted fondler of cast iron cookware, sent me a link to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times about an old friend of mine: The 'X' marks AMX's spot in auto history

Actually, a pretty good article for what is admittedly a rather obscure model. For a more detailed history of the car, probably one of the best sites is The AMX Files. As I noted to Tony, as a former owner, there are a few minor details I noted that aren't quite right in the article.

1. The 2-seat AMX showcar shown in the article came first (although it wasn't actually a two seater--it had a trunk-mounted jump seat called a "Ramble Seat" that could pop up, and the rear glass would also raise up to provide a windshield of sorts), so it's a bit of a misnomer to claim the AMX was nothing more than a shortened Javelin--in actuality, it's more like the production Javelin was a lengthening of the concept car AMX. The production AMX was a shortening of the production Javelin. In the end, it's nothing but a minor (and sort of confusing) quibble, since they were developed more or less side-by-side as companion models based on a common ancestor.

2. Despite what the article says, the AMX hood was no longer than the Javelin's. They shared front bumpers and fenders, so the hood had to be the same length or it wouldn't match the edge of the front of the bumper. They also shared doors, windshield, trunk lid, rear glass, drivetrains, suspension (although AMXs had axle-mounted traction links standard), and interiors (except for the rear seat, obviously). Although the AMX was distinctive, the two cars didn't look like entirely different cars from two different makers--the relationship was pretty apparent.

3. Speaking of the hood, the two blisters on the '68 and '69 models had simulated louvers, not real ones. '70 models got a functional hood scoop.

4. The serial number plaques on the dash did not follow VIN production numbers. It's possible to have a car with a lower dash number than a car that was built earlier in the production run. The serial number plates were supplied to AMC loose and were randomly picked out and installed as the cars came down the line.

But that's about it.

Mine was a 1969, and at the time I bought it, I had no idea it was one of 195 specially painted "Big Bad Blue" cars with painted bumpers. It also had the "Go Pak," which consisted of stiffer suspension, heavy duty radiator, battery, alternator, etc., stripes, and power front disc brakes. It was in pretty sad shape and I thought the color was horrible, so being young and inexperienced (and with able assistance from my Dad, who knew even less about such things than I did) I had the bumpers chromed and the car repainted bright Matador red with silver painted stripes.

It was beautiful, but it probably damaged the collectibility of it. I went through and redid the interior and rebuilt the engine and did a bunch of other stuff and entered it in a few shows, then I sold it when I got married in '91 for $6,500. This was back when people would have thought you were insane if you told them Hemi 'Cudas would one day cost over a million dollars. It was about what the average Camaro or Mustang of similar vintage was selling for at the time.

It was a great fun car although a real handful in the wet. I'm surprised I'm not dead.

Tony said he'd like one, so some words of caution--if you do ever get one, beware of rust in the rear quarters--there are no more sheetmetal quarters available except off of junkers, so you have to patch whatever rust or damage you find.

Also look out for crappy quality NOS trim bits. When I had mine, you could still order some trim parts from the factory, but they were of vastly inferior quality to the original parts. I bought a rear reflector strip and it looked like crap, and the lettering was crooked.

Front suspension is another issue--the '68 and '69 both used a type of spring and trunnion thing with a strut and top mounted spring that had a weak point in the center. These break and it was a lot of money even back then to rebuild it.

Anyway, quite a blast to drive, although I don't really crave to have it back now. Things change, you know.

OH, and before you all write to tell me about it, the one at the Alabama State Trooper Headquarters in Montgomery is a Javelin. Some of those had the AMX package--AMX having became the name of the performance option package on the Javelin from 1971 to 1974.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:48 AM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2007

Fame and Fortune, Brought to you by Volvo!

How very odd.

I got an e-mail this morning from a young lady who produces prepackaged interview things for local TV news shows. According to her, she's working on a story based on the idea that drivers might know about AAA and such, but might not be aware they can get roadside assistance through their insurance company. In the course of doing her research (i.e., Googling) she'd run across my post on Revolvoblog about using my insurance-company-provided roadside assistance service the other day and wanted to do an interview with me about my experience.

As I am a well-known recluse, I first tried the "why don't you just e-mail me your questions" ploy, which never seems to work with reporters, and it didn't work this time either, since she wants to send out A CAMERA CREW. (!?)

This seems like an awful lot of fooferal for such a completely boring story, but apparently local TV news is a heavy buyer of boring fooferal.

Who'd a'thunk it!?

Anyway, I told her I'd be glad to have them come by during lunch sometime next week. What should I wear?

This--

Big Boy.JPG

or this--

modpossum.jpg

or this--

purple terrygasus.jpg

or maybe this--

terryshat.jpg

Oh, and I suppose I should ask if it's okay for a few family members to be there, too--

mulleted.jpg

Fame makes for such difficult choices...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (26)

March 14, 2007

I only know a little about cars...

...but I suppose enough so that I tend to get a regular stream of folks who find Possumblog when they're searching for answers to car repair and maintenance questions.

Such as the person who came by yesterday wondering: how to fill cooling system on pontiac aztec.

As with all car repairs, consult your owner's manual first. Second, if you have any reservations about the procedures, it is better to take it to a qualified ASE-certified repair facility. Having dispensed with those two vital disclaimers, for the do-it-yourselfer, the following is my recommendation for the Pontiac Aztek. The following is for all model years.

1. Raise the hood and make sure the engine is cool to the touch, and then carefully remove the coolant reservoir cap.

2. Allow the unoccupied vehicle to roll into the nearest body of water that will allow the coolant reservoir to be completely submerged.

3. Leave.

I hope this helps.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:04 AM | Comments (6)

March 13, 2007

For lovers of Furrin Cars, Parrots, and Mechanics with a Literary Streak

I was looking around last night for a variety of junk, and did a search for some things for my Volvo and somehow ran across one of the most interesting places I've ever seen on the Internet.

The place is called Foreign Affairs, and is the website of a repair shop and used car dealer in the Staunton, Virginia area, and it sounds just like the sort of place I would enjoy working in (should I ever decide to ditch my current vocation). Although it combines two of the most disreputable sorts of businesses (no offense to honest used car dealers and mechanics--all five of you), you simply have to admire any shop that prides itself on "avian entertainment, and pointless pettifoggery." The avian entertainment consists of Remington and Kuzo (scroll down past the lovely wife of the proprietor), both of whom I'm certain will appeal to Miss Janis.

I found this page first, which is a documentary of sorts of customer complaints about their cars, and the photos and explanations of what was wrong. Some of them are frightening to see, but the prose is certainly entertaining: "Most engines don't operate well with a hole in the piston. Maybe a small hole. When your engine overheats, STOP and call a tow truck."

That's a photo of the mighty Volvo B230F. Proving even anvils have their limit of abuse.

Anyway, a thoroughly engaging website and what sounds like a great bunch of folks. I sure wish they had a location in Trussville...


(By the way, I had some trouble getting some of their pages to load this morning--just keep hitting reload if you have to.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:11 AM | Comments (7)

Jack Bauer Update!

Woman scorned + lost marbles + cutlery = very bad idea

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2007

Well, we might not be all that good at basketball...

...but we sure seem to have figured out the water stuff!

Auburn Women's Swimming And Diving Claims Another National Championship

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - For the second straight year and the fifth time in the last six seasons, the Auburn women's swimming and diving team is National Champions. It wasn't as dramatic as last year's three-point victory over Georgia that came down the final race, but for the second year in a row, Auburn had to come from behind on the final day, this time erasing a 32-point deficit to Arizona to win by a final margin of 58 points. [...]

Congratulations, girls!

UPDATE: To satisfy Skinnydan's visual craving for muscular broad-shouldered women, here are some photos from the meet taken by Todd van Ernst.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:18 PM | Comments (2)

March 02, 2007

American Idol

Atonal Barba is still in it, which I find disturbing. Yes, she was one of two cute chicks I picked before anyone started singing, but great Caesar's ghost, now that they ARE singing, she's terrible. Even worse than that girl from last year who posed in Maxim.

Overall, I'm still a bit put off by the lack of talent this year. Maybe the producers need to work a bit harder on getting actually talented people in front of the judges rather than the insane and delusional. I mean, I understand why they have the crazies, but a little of that goes a long way.

Kellie Pickler? She's a big fan of Dolly Parton, and I have to say she seemed to have taken to heart Dolly's quip about putting 20 pound of mud in a 5 pound sack. And was it just me, or with that eye makeup and lighting did she not look way too much like Tammy Wynette? And not in a good way--in that sad, "I've been up fighting with George all night" way.

Who needs to go next? Ryan Seacrest. The catty banter with Simon got annoying the first time, mainly because it wasn't funny or clever, and it got in the way of the show, which (although he might not believe it) is NOT about Ryan Seacrest. Next to go after him? Randy Jackson. He's very pitchy, dog. If he could ever come up with something else to say other than pitchy, dog, or hot!, I might have a different opinion. Or not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:22 AM | Comments (18)

February 22, 2007

Product Recommendations Needed, Please.

Okay, so I have tried to economize ever so slightly in my consumption of carbonated non-caloric caffeinated soft drinks by purchasing a box of cans and sticking them in the fridge here at work. Obviously, since I'm not able to stand there and watch the refrigerator 24 hours a day, there has been a tendency for this arrangement to become less economical (for me) due to the insistence of some miscreant(s) in purloining my sodas.

I figured rather than holding a Captain Queeg-like inquest (the holding of which is further compounded by the fact that I'm having my ball bearings laundered) to discover who's been taking my strawberries, that it would be better just to buy crappy store-brand junk no one would want to steal. Sure, I like Diet Coke, but I'll drink the cheap rotgut stuff, too. Especially if I get to drink everything I buy.

THIS STATE OF AFFAIRS continued until earlier this week when I noticed two Publix diet cola cans in the big bin of aluminum cans beside the aforementioned refrigerator. No one else buys this junk except me. Those were my cans. But I don't put my cans in that bin.

So now someone's taking even the crappity-crap drinks.

::sigh::

My solution is that I should just get myself one of those tiny microminirefrigerators that holds maybe 8 or 12 cans and leave it hidden in my office. And locked. This will also have the happy side benefit of my not having to use the filthy office refrigerator, the interior of which looks like something out of Silence of the Lambs.

ANYway, do any of you faithful readers have any recommendations for something like this? It has to be 110/120v AC (although switchable to 12v DC would be okay so I could take it on vacation, but it's not absolutely required), it needs to be compact, and it needs to be suitable for constant use. I figure the locking part I will handle with my own expedient-engineered hasp and padlock, unless someone makes one with a lock.

What say ye?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:10 PM | Comments (13)

February 15, 2007

YES!!

Via Skillzy--"Comicvine has teamed up with the best cognitive scientists, Professor Charles Xavier and Doctor Fate, to give you the tools and guidance to make the best possible match between you and a comic book character. We've created 35 infallible questions to match you to a fictitious character in the most accurate and meaningful way."


Hard to beat Mary Jane! However, I am rather puzzled that the next two choices are mutants...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (14)

February 08, 2007

Sure beats the theme from Mission Impossible.

Via Hemmings weekly newsletter: Big-block ringer

Tired of being in a crowd and unable to determine whose cell phone is ringing? Heres a way to be different very different.

How does the sound of a 427 big-block Chevrolet sound? If youre a gearhead, it is music to your ears and far better than that lousy AM radio in your 1969 Impala, which could not drown out those sweet engine sounds if it wanted to.

Unusual Automotive has just the answer: the sounds of the aforementioned 427 and many others, like a big-block at idle, a lumpy cam big V-8, a revved-up, modified engine, a small-block wide open, a V-8 race engine and wide-open throttle. You can also get a chainsaw as your phones ringer.

Prices start at a measly $1.50 for the ring tones. For more information, go to www.unusualauto.com or call 888-439-0788.

- By George Mattar

Imagine any of THOSE going off in church!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:56 PM | Comments (6)

February 06, 2007

I am a bad person.

I just keep missing The Jack Bauer Show, and I know how much some of you crave my action-packed recaps of the previous evening's show. Part of the problem is the constant back and forth of taking Boy to Scouts and back, and trying to eat supper, and also watching Heroes, which, as you all recall, includes a cheerleader.

If there was only some way--some device or machine of some sort--whereby television shows could be recorded and played back at a later date...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:18 AM | Comments (9)

January 30, 2007

Heroic Jack Bauer Update!

Well, I missed last week, so this might not make as much sense, but anyway, there's all sorts of fallout falling out everywhere and everyone is all, like, screamy and upset and so Jack is trying to find the other four visitors, which actually aren't swarthy sorts with suitcases, but nucular sorts of suitcases. Jack runs and gets some stuff and then asks Chloe for some maps and diagrams and copies that and then Weaselly Guy from the Ally MacBeth Show tells Uptight Boss Woman (who's now married to Gray Haired Boss) that he hates her with a white hot hatred, but it's not personal, so he says he's gonna tell on her and Gray Haired Boss for letting the Bad Arab Terrorist outta jail if she doesn't pack her desk supplies in a box and leave the building. Rather than plugging his sorry carcass with a series of .45 caliber holes, she runs in to President Palmer's Little Brother President and tells him that she has to leave, and rather than say it's because the little twerp from Numb3rs is blackmailing her, she apparently thinks that President Palmer's Little Brother President will think that's overtly racist, and doesn't tell him that she's being forced out and he says, "Oh, no you WON'T!" but she pleads and says she has to go be with Gray Haired Boss and that he should listen to himself instead of anyone else, especially if it's a wormy little weasel.

THEN, they're all looking for someone's cell phone that got left somewhere, and it's got guys talking on it, and it's not really anyone important but they've wasted a lot of time on them, when they should have been doing something else.

Okay--confession time--I missed the first fifteen minutes of the show because the kids had Heroes on, and Reba was talking to me, and then I had to go get Jonathan from Boy Scouts, so I heard the next thirty minutes on the car radio, which leaves a lot to be desired--copy that?--and then by the time I got back home I was assaulted by Catherine who was telling me that the little boy's power was being able to withdraw lots of money from ATMs and we find out that next week Claire finds out who her real mommy and daddy are, and her mommy's apparently a barely contained pile of combustion!

Something tells me that I'm going to have to tape both shows and bring our little TV/VCR to work with me to ever find out what's going on again.

NEXT WEEK PREVIEW! Jack hits someone, shouts, and rolls in the dirt. Gray Haired Boss looks concerned. Chloe hits someone, shouts, and rolls in the dirt. Claire puts on a cheerleeder outfit and looks concerned. Hiro hails Mr. Sulu on the subspace frequency.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:37 AM | Comments (2)

January 23, 2007

Jack Bauer Update!

LAST NIGHT ON 24!

I, uhhh, I--Jack, well, he slapped around some people, and did not display proper weapon handling safety protocols, and talked on the phone and junk.




OH, OKAY!

I missed it.

YES, I MISSED IT! So sue me! I forgot it was on and watched Heroes instead. Which is pretty good, too, almost in kind of a Twin Peaks sort of way. Although I think I wouldn't be watching if it didn't have a cheerleader.

Bad thing?

I didn't even get to see all of THAT because I had to go run pick up Boy from his Scout meeting.

Anyway.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:41 AM | Comments (5)

January 19, 2007

The wonders of English

Steevil sent me an e-mail the other day detailing some of the odd little inconsistencies in the English language, but the example today is even better, mainly because it's such a good example of inconsistency in action.

In this Yahoo! Real Estate story about population changes, Steevil (famed rocket surgeon and brother of noted dead-language pedant Dr. Weevil), noted this inscrutable passage:

"Wisconsin, at 53.2 percent outbound, witnessed its lowest outbound influx since 2000."

"Outbound influx"!?

I wonder if there's such a thing as inbound outflux.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2007

As you all know...

...I have a great fondness for a certain Morman toolsmith named John Moses Browning, (a moment of silence, please)

John_Moses_Browning.jpg

--and more particularly for one of his inspired creations, the Colt M-1911 pistol.

SO IT IS WITH awe and reverence I give unto you the story of its creation, (with a hat-tip to fellow disciple Nate McCord).

By way of full disclosure, forgive me, for I have sinned.

The 1911-A1 which I didst buy in my youth, I did indeed work upon its inward parts, and didst smooth them with the stones of garnet, and of carborundum, and with cloths annointed with lapping compound, and didst make the feed ramp shine as the sun upon a still water, for lo, the pistol was made by Auto-Ordnance, and wast not assembled with the skill of the artisans of New Haven, and didst have many pits and tool marks which offended mine eyes.

Verily, not only the feed ramp did I smooth, but also the stirrup, and the disconnector, and the sear, and the sear notch did I smooth, for the trigger and its workings were not crisp, and the letoff was notchy, and these too did offend me and my hands.

Lo, if such things are a sin, I have sinned greatly, but I asketh forgiveness, in that for the most part is is still as it should be, and dost not have the extended ambidextrous slide release, nor the extended magazine catch, nor the ventilated muzzle, nor the extended slide and barrel, nor the elevated site rib with three dot sight, nor the stippled and squared trigger guard, nor the beavertail grip safety, nor tiger stripe cocobola stocks with the thumb rest and the coating of Teflon and bright nickle favored by whoremongers, and it dost function perfectly in all other ways; yea, excepting for occasional stovepipes when using a low-grade reload target ammunition.

Amen.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:45 PM | Comments (7)

January 16, 2007

JACK BAUER UPDATE!!

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON!!

I missed the first two hours, but apparently they went and got Jack off that Chinese boat, and made David Palmer's brother the President, and got Chloe to pretty-up a bit, and there's a bunch of lunatic Peaceful Religionists running around wanting to kill us all and that ain't good and so we NEED JACK!

SO, last night, they've got him and he keeps telling Gray Haired Boss not to call him (copy that) and there's this bunch of non-swarthy, highly diverse group of prisoners that are being let go to satisfy some evil dude who promises bad things will happen. BUT, that's just a cover. Seems there's only one prisoner he wants, who IS swarthy and non-diverse, and he got to hide on the bus that was going to the airport. They sorta figured out who he was based on Jack's childlike trust in ANOTHER swarthy guy who is one of the bad guys, but on the whole, rather more reasonable than the other bad guys who just wantses their precious 72 virgins.

ANYWAY, this guy's bad, but he knows the prisoner guy, and so they do computery things and send his picture to the guards on the airplane, and they start searching for him amongst all the people, who by now have changed into their more familiar all-swarthy, all-manly mode, and of course, he's not on the plane because he's on the bus and there's an evil guy guard that we managed to let enlist and have a gun, and he sprang the evil guy to go to a warehouse to start their nefarious plan.

WHICH RELIES ON having a trigger, that was supposed to be delivered by some swarthy-guy-next-door type, who managed to get shot then go to the neighbor's house and get the Hot Housewife/Nurse to patch him up and threaten to kill everyone unless her Dopey Husband doesn't comply with all his demands for pills and delivery service of the triggering device.

SO, the Dopey Husband guy leaves and goes and offs the warehouse guy to steal the trigger, then still manages to botch everything by not going STRAIGHT to Jack Bauer, but instead goes and gives the trigger to the warehouse FULL of bad guys, who have a nuclear suitcase, and they start arming it and the Dopey Husband guy is all, like, "Hey, let me go!" and they're all, like, "No WAY, running dog infidel! We're terrorists--this is what we do. Putz!"

IN THE MEAN TIME, Bald Palmer pardons Jack's swarthy bad-but-good companion, but Cowboy Curtis has an oldtime beef with him because the swarthy guy's terrorist buddies had killed two of Curtis' squadmates, and Curtis was all up for evening the score, but we didn't find this out until it was too late, because for ONCE, Chloe (who, by the way, looks much cuter this year) told Jack she was--wait for it--TOO BUSY TO DO HIS SILLY SECRETARIAL WORK! Since WHEN did Pinchyface Chloe EVER NOT have enough time to download and wash and fold and walk the dog for Jack!? NEVER! I think she's gone over to the other side. Anyway, her dilly-dallying allowed Cowboy Curtis to sneak away before Jack's Swarthy Evil Friend got in the black SUV and take him hostage and set about to killing him, which made Jack have to SHOOT COWBOY CURTIS!

NO! WAY! Yes way! I don't think Curtis will die, though, because Jack is just that good of a shot. So he goes and throws up and tells Gray Haired Boss that this just isn't working.

And then the terrorists blow up their nuke, and that's BAD!

Other things?

The Nose Whistling Guy from the old Calista Flockhart Show is on Bald Palmer's staff, and he's a weasel, which we know because he keeps thoughtfully holding his arms akimbo. Chloe has two guys on the staff that she's been keeping company with, and both of them seem like real dunces. Suave? Yes. Pretty? Yes. Fashionably dressed in black? Yes. Dunces? Oh, you betcha. There's a good-looking brunette who gets coffee and stuff, and somehow Bald Palmer has an interfering woman he has to put up with who had some kind of secret papers and I expect her to do the head bob and the Z-Snap and put him in his place pretty soon.

NEXT WEEK!

Jack shoots someone and roughs up Dr. Romano from ER, who has miraculously regrown his arm that got whacked off by a helicopter. Copy that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2007

Lots of money...

...makes being a moron much more doable.

Or that's the idea I get from this Popular Mechanics article that I stumbled on after following a link to this electric car article I'd followed from Doc Reynolds' joint.

Anyway, the PM guys apparently have buttloads of cash whizzing out their pants, and got the bright idea of swapping out the drivetrain and chassis from a Hemi-powered Durango into a tired old Jeep Wagoneer. Why? Because apparently the lure of the Hemi is so strong that doing something this weird and illogical is suddenly worth doing. I mean, it's neat they can do it, but it's still sorta in the vein of building a nuclear-powered goat.

Anyway, since they seem to be in the mood for such fun and pointless exercises, I now need only to find a way to get them to agree to fund my dream of swapping a Ford Cobra V8 into the Volvo...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:30 PM | Comments (16)

January 09, 2007

The Moron, it is strong with this one.

Remember a few months back when I told you about that old Datsun roadster parked out front of the service station there on Main Street?

I notice it's for sale.

Not that big a deal, except I notice it's for sale every single time I drive by, and it's getting increasingly difficult not to stop and copy down the phone number. I have no money to buy it, no place to put it, and no reason to want it other than its peculiarity, yet for some reason, I can't NOT steal a glance at it every morning as I take the kids to school.

And it's not that I'm angry or sad or envious or anything knowing that I simply cannot bring it home--it's hard to explain what the feeling is, other than maybe it's the weird sort of feeling some women must get when they see a guy they think is a fixer-upper. In the end, you know he's gonna keep on drinking and cussing and fooling around on you, but something still makes you wonder what might be if he'd just get a haircut and put on a nice pair of shoes.

Same thing here--you know the top will leak and the sills will rust and the carb will spray a fine mist of gasoline everywhere except down the intake manifold, but doggone it, an impractical, unreliable, yet oddly offbeat top-down car certainly does have a certain magnetism about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:37 PM | Comments (16)

Chomp Chomp.

Boy, that hurts to say.

As a loyal Auburn fan and Gator Hater from way back, it is almost more than I should have to endure to congratulate Florida on its gigantic butt-whooping of Ohio State last night. The only thing that makes is palatable is that the one flaw on their record this year was put there by the Plainsmen. Just like the LSU game, I consoled myself by every so often noting how incredibly well they were playing, then remarking to Reba, "Wow--they're good! But you know, Auburn did beat them!" ::sigh::

Anyway, it was also sweet to watch because the Fox play-by-play guys were so obviously pulling for Ohio State. Never have I watched a game where the announcers matched their anti-SEC bias with an almost total lack of insight about football. Absolute crap.

SO, anyway, Florida dominated offensively and defensively, could more or less run and pass at will, and had a devastating blitz that Ohio State couldn't stop. And for once, Florida behaved itself and drew relatively few personal foul penalties, with State seeming to be much more the frustrated bully. All around one of the best games Florida has played and so congratulations, Gator Nation!

Ick.

I need a bath now.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:23 AM | Comments (9)

January 05, 2007

Nick Saban FYI

Okay, everyone has had a couple of days to get used to the new guy, but I know there are some who still have some questions about the new Tide coach.

Now, I'm an Auburn fan, and I have no doubt that if I tried to do a humorous listing of things talking about what a crappy coach he is, no one would give it much thought. Why? Well, we might as well admit it--he is a good coach, and Alabama really should have a better season next year, and so anything negative I say would just sound like I have an inferiority complex or am eating sour grapes.

SO, in the spirit of welcoming a worthy competitor to the our fine state, I have taken it upon myself to do some actual research and find out some of the good qualities and things about Coach Saban that you may not be aware of, and present them in a way that will be most appealing to our brothers and sisters of the Crimson Nation.

SO, here we go:

1. Saban was born October 31, 1951 in Fairmont, West Virginia to Lara Lor-Van and Jor-El Saban.

2. "Nick" is actually Coach Saban's nickname, oddly enough. His actual given name is Snickerdoodle Bimpleydoo.

3. Nick Saban won an Academy Award for his appearance in 1983's Terms of Endearment.

4. Teams coached by Nick Saban have never lost a single game, and in at least five of the games, Saban himself played.

5. Upon the announcement of Saban's hiring, a heavenly host appeared in the sky above Bryant-Denny stadium and sang "Yea Alabama," and then chanted "Rammer Jammer."

6. Nick Saban has met with Iraqi Police Captain Jamail Hussein and offered him a scholarship, hoping to use him as either a strong safety or possibly a wide receiver.

7. Coach Saban has solved Fermat's Last Theorum in at least three different ways.

8. Nick Saban calendars sell in greater numbers than all kitten calendars combined.

9. Coach Saban invented the charged-couple device, or CCD, integral to all modern video equipment, then allowed all royalties from his patents to be directed to a charity to help kittens and sweet old grandmothers.

10. Nick Saban does not have an evil twin named Nabas Kcin.

11. Nick Saban's haircare products are all biodegradable and kitten-friendly.

So, there you are. Welcome to Coach Saban and his family, and we hope you've enjoyed learning more about them.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:00 AM | Comments (7)

January 04, 2007

Sweet.

Russell outplays Quinn as LSU wins Sugar

I stayed up last night expressly to see every last bit of Notre Dame get wiped up and down the field. I have to say, LSU played outstanding football and could have beaten anyone last night, maybe even Auburn. And really, I don't dislike Notre Dame so much as I dislike the disproportiate amount of favorable press they get nationally for being, well, Notre Dame, I guess.

Anyway, they got it handed to them and I'm glad if Auburn couldn't give it 'em, at least one of our fine SEC brethren could do the job for us.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)

December 12, 2006

Coaching Search

TUSCALOOSA (PNN)--Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore today denied reports that former coach Paul "Bear" Bryant has been contacted about returning to coaching the Crimson Tide.

Despite repeated denials from family members and representatives of the estate of the late coach, fans are mounting a strong push for his return, and media reports place the likelihood of him taking the job as slightly less than that of Miami Dolphin coach Nick Saban, who has himself issued repeated denials that he is interested in the job.

Bryant is seen as a strong alternative to other coaches who have been named as being targets of the coaching search such as Jim Grobe of Wake Forest and Paul Johnson of the US Naval Academy, each of who has also issued denials of being interested in the position at Alabama.

Fans note that Bryant, residing in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, AL since 1983, has all the desirable characteristics one expects in a leader of a program with such a long and proud tradition, and are confident that his current lack of interest could be swayed with only a small amount of effort on the part of the University.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)

December 08, 2006

Not really schadenfreude...

But something akin to it regarding this hot news item: Rodriguez won't take Tide job

University of West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez decided this morning that he would not accept the University of Alabamas offer to become the Tides head football coach.

Rodriguez informed his Mountaineers team of the decision at a meeting at 2 p.m. Central time.

Representatives of Alabama and Rodriguez reached an agreement in principle Thursday night on a 6-year, $12 million contract. Rodriguez agent indicated to Alabama officials that his client would accept today, but that did not happen.

Rodriguez met this morning with the University of West Virginia president, and met with the athletics director several times. Rodriguez wife, Rita, was in his office for several hours this morning.

"Yes I'm staying," Rodriguez said as he walked past reporters. [...]

Really, my feelings of whatever-it-is are directed toward every single news media outlet in the state, who for weeks--all the way up until lunchtime today--have been reporting this as a done deal.

All of them cackled about how WVU hadn't jumped fast enough to keep RR (as he's come to be called), how they'd reneged on their commitments to upgrade facilities, how weak the Big East Conference was and how that meant that the Mountaineers would never get a prime BCS spot, what a rinky-dink place Morgantown is, how much money was being dangled just for the plucking, the allure of the playing in the Grand Exhalted Shrine of Football That Bear Built.

No one ever really seemed to ask the question (honestly, at least) about why on Earth he'd want the job.

There has yet to be an honest appraisal amongst the fan base about what constitutes big-time college football nowadays, and why fan and booster and trustee expectations might be a bit over the top. About why a man would leave his home and alma mater for a pressure-cooker environment amongst a group of people who have more than a slightly elevated self-opinion of the value of their tradition (admittedly a hard-fought and deserved one).

Seems Coach Rodrigues might have taken the time to realize that all that glisters is not gold.

I hope Alabama finds a good coach, I really do. But I hope that they would remember they're much more in a place similar to the straits they were in when they hired Coach Bryant, not the heights they were at when he retired. And everyone also needs to remember that this makes choosing someone else that much harder--whoever it is will be seen for what he is--the second (or fourth, or sixth) choice.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:08 PM | Comments (2)

November 17, 2006

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor being stacked up with a whole bunch of work-related stuff that I really SHOULD be doing...

...can prevent THE SEASON FINALE of Possumblog Sports Center from kicking off! So let's hook up our earpieces and our lapel mics and get right at it!

As we all know, tomorrow is the game most eagerly awaited by all true football fans across this great world of ours--the colossal, super-fantastic, neato-keen contest known as the Auburn - Alabama game!

That's right, the Iron Bowl!

First played in a small park in the Lakeview neighborhood, just to the southeast of where our studios are located, the year 1893 saw the birth of sport's greatest spectacle as the fearsome Tigers of Alabama Polytechnical Institute beat down a bunch of fops, bounders, and cads from across the state by a score of 32-22.

And now, 113 years later, it has now come time for the 71st meeting between the schools. The two schools did not play each other for a 40 year break after a viciously fought tie in 1907, but the series resumed in 1948, and Saturday will mark the 59th renewal of hostilities. (Which is something of a misstatement, since The Game is actually played all year long by people with nothing better to talk about.)

In any event, the rapscallions of the Druid City currently hold a 38-31-1 advantage over the Gentlemen of the Plains, but the thing that makes this year of some importance is the fact that 15th-ranked Auburn (9-2, 5-2 SEC) currently has skunked the Bammers (6-5, 2-5 SEC) for the last four straight years.

As I predicted at the very first of the year, after last year's four-fingered victory taunt by Coach Tuberville--

one for the thumb.jpg

--the Bama Nation has been inflamed with a desire to give the Tigers a quite different finger to cogitate upon. Now, I will admit that I had much higher hopes for the Crimson Tide at the start of the year than they have demonstrated. I believed with everyone settled in and calmed down, they would have dominated this year and been much more victorious. One would think that a 9-3 team playing a struggling bunch of Six'n'Fivers would have nothing to worry about.

BUT ONE WHO THOUGHT SUCH A THING WOULD BE WRONG!

Oh, sure, the sportswriters like to point out the obvious things: Better team usually wins. (Thanks for that insight, Sparky!) But fans, the difference between "usually" and "always" is why they play the game, and that's the thing that makes all this so intense. Sure, Alabama might be craptastically inept, but as we all saw last week, even a wobbly opponent such as Georgia can suddenly call upon its will and determination (and an obvious deal with Satan) to turn completely around and do every single thing right. Likewise, even a good and luck-prone team can find itself performing so poorly that it could have done equally well had it stayed on the bus.

For this game, there's much more riding on it for the Tide, at least to hear their fan chatterings--a win might keep the young Shula boy at the head spot for another year, for instance. A loss? All bets are off--he might go, he might stay, but a loss would lead to a LOT of yowling and bitterness and whoopity-doo. Some have said he should maybe look into the NBA.


"Never Beat Auburn."

Heh.

Hehehehhheee.

BWAWWWHHHAAAHAAAAAAAAHHAA!!

Ahem. Sorry.

We are scrupulously non-partisan here at Possumblog Sports Center.

Anyway, another factor at play here is the dismay at being the butt of all that japery from the Auburn crowd--those ill-mannered bunch of cow-college upstarts who only have one national title to their credit. That tradition of championships means a lot to the folks in Crimson, and to be fair, it means a lot to this state, in that over the years it has generated a lot of favorable press--something quite rare given our ability to shoot ourselves in the foot with the media continuing to feed us ammo. So five in a row would be a bitter, bitter, pill.

As for Auburn's stakes in this, there's a bit less pressure. Our two SEC losses guarantee us no chance of anything more uplifting than an attaboy, and they further had the effect of eliminating us from the chance to play a BCS bowl. A win won't make us go up much at all, a loss would drop us down, but we know the post-season won't have quite the charm we thought (however briefly) it might once have had. And a loss is much easier to take if it results in a 9-3 season. If the shoe were on the other hand, and it led to a losing season, well, THEN someone might be hopping on a plane again and trying to recruit Bobby Petrino.

HAVING SAID ALL THAT, what's the actual deal here?

I don't know.

I think Alabama must win; I think Auburn has shown a great deal of weakness of late; it is a home game for Alabama; Auburn really is a better team this year in spite of the obvious weaknesses; Alabama has shown flashes of brilliance all year and some of their losses could have just as easily been narrow wins--like Auburn's have been; Auburn wants a thumb; Alabama doesn't.

Who knows what this all this will mean?!

I DON'T! Even looking at the cheerleaders does no good. (At least in predicting the outcome--they do make me feel happy all over, though.)

So, what does one do when he's unable to predict an outcome?

CONTACT A CELEBRITY!

As is usual with our Iron Bowl Coverage, we've brought in noted Auburn alumna and local media cutie Wendy Garner to supply us with a prediction!

"Hey Wendy--just wondering if I'm going to be able to get a special celebrity prognostication for the Iron Bowl score this week! Readers across the globe anxiously await your prediction, you know."

wendy g.jpg

"Quit contacting me or I'll call the police!"

Such a merry jokester!

After several more attempts, I can now report that The Official Wendy Garner Iron Bowl Prediction is...






wendy g.jpg

AUBURN 21 -- ALABAMA 17

Say you're not content with just ONE celebrity fortune teller?

WHAT SORT OF FIEND ARE YOU!?

Well, I don't know, but I anticipated that maybe the ladies in the audience would appreciate a little eye-candy as well, so we contacted noted psychic advisor James "The Amazing" Randi!

As I usually do, I sent him a long and someone crankish sounding e-mail begging for a celebrity prognostication, reassuring him he had plenty of time to consult various oracles and feel around in amongst some goat entrails.

He wrote back to say:

"I regret that my oracles are badly inflamed, and my goat died last month

James Randi."

That's pitiful. Not to be overcome with some made-up sob story, though, I told him to buck up and start spouting off some of that otherworldly advice he's so famous for, with the thinly-veiled threat that if he didn't, I could just as easily make something up. TO WHICH he replied:

"You just don't care about the poor goat?

James Randi."

Maybe if we were playing Navy, but other than that, no. BE THAT AS IT MAY, I have it on good authority that if James Randi actually cared, his prediction would be...




AUBURN 121 -- ALABAMA 6

So there you have it sports fans, another win for the Tigers seems certain! Game kickoff is at 2:30 pm Central, with television coverage provided by See B.S.

BUT WAIT, THAT'S NOT ALL!!

There is the matter of the final malicious, mean-spirited taunt of the season! It has the benefit of at least putatively being a TRUE STORY.

I've waited since the Summer 2006 edition of Auburn Magazine hit my mailbox to tell this story, wallowing in anticipation of reprinting it here. Now, I have no idea if I'm violating copyrights here, and if so, I do apologize and remind everyone that as a Life Member of the Alumni Association and having foregone many opportunities to make use of the hospitality tent, I figure by all rights it won't hurt if I lift this little paragraph and use it here. Especially since it's funny.

ANYWAY, having dispensed with all the legal technicalities, here goes. This was in the article entitled 'War Eagle' Moments--AU flag-wavers tell their best tales:

And last but not least: A bum rap for 'Bama

Since our compilation of War Eagle moments began with a recounting of the battle cry's dubious origin, we leave off with another seemingly unlikely story--not that we question the truth of the tale:

Gulf Shores resident Bob Grant '75 dragged a University of Alabama alumnus along with a couple of AU buddies to a golf outing in Nashville, Tenn., for the Tigers' meeting with Vanderbilt several years ago. The "Bammer" was haranguing the AU alums about the battle cry and admitted he was puzzled by how enthusiastically their "War Eagles" were returned by total strangers. The trio tried to explain the mystique of the words "War Eagle" to no avail. Annoyed, their 'Bama-loyal friend spied a derelict in an alley and yelled "War Eagle!" to the bum. "You ain't gonna believe this," says Grant, "but without hesitation, the poor old guy hollered back 'ROLL TIDE!'"

BUT WAIT, THAT'S STILL NOT ALL!!

In the spirit of open-heartedness to our foes this week, the Possumblog Sports Center has decided to honor a Crimson Tider as our Possumblog Student Athlete of the Week!

This high honor is reserved for those students who show leadership both in the classroom as well as upon the field of competition, and our selection this week is none other than lanky 5-10 guard, Alyson Butler. The winsome blonde freshman from Cleveland, Tennessee is just now beginning her tenure with the Tide, but her high school credentials from Walker Valley High mark her as quite the brainy lass, with recognition as a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, FCA, Anchor Club and the Circle of Champions, in addition to being her class president, the class beauty, and on the Valentine Court.

SO best of luck to you in your Crimson Career, Alyson, and congratulations on being named the final PSAotW for the 2006-07 season!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2006

Hey--

--you know what's cool?

F-15s in full afterburner right down on the deck, with lovely fall foliage in the background, that's what!

F-15.jpg

Thanks to Nate McCord, who identifies this as one of the F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour-Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

I would be willing to have a ride in one of these in lieu of my previously stated desire for my own personal-sized dirigible.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:59 PM | Comments (10)

November 02, 2006

Boy, how I hate that Miss Reba.

She comes in here at 11:30 because she had some business over at the courthouse, and she's wearing that suede jacket and that beige silk sweater with the tiny pearls on it and that tweedy looking skirt of hers that sorta cups under in the back and that pair of high boots of hers that fit her legs like a second skin, and she's all flushed and giggly from walking outside in the chilly air, and her hair's tousled and she starts saying all this suggestive stuff like, "Hey!" and "Could you validate my parking ticket," and then she has the nerve to tell me that I most certainly CANNOT close my office door and lock it and make sure her underwear is properly fitted! Can you imagine anyone being so cavalier? So uncaring about the damage that can be done to a person if her clothing doesn't fit correctly?

AND THEN, she had the gall to go to lunch with me, KNOWING FULL WELL that food makes me all tingly inside, and YET SHE ONCE MORE REFUSED to return to my office so that I could engage in my tingle-dissipation exercises with her!! What sort of cruel person does that to another!? Her, with her eyes sparkling like they do, and smelling like powder and hot dog relish!

AND THEN, when I walked her back to her van in the parking deck, she steadfastly REFUSED to allow me to warm my hands by placing them ANYwhere underneath her clothing! AND FURTHER, she nixed in no uncertain terms my idea of climbing under a blanket in the back of the van so we could conserve body heat, using the lame excuse that there were "cameras" in the parking deck, and that there was "no blanket in the back." HEY! IF I CAN PRETEND THERE'S A BLANKET, WHY CAN'T SHE!?

Some people can be so inconsiderate.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (8)

October 24, 2006

Nonetheless...

Motor Trend names Mercedes GL450 SUV of the year for 2007

Now, the Motor Trend awards aren't quite so much reflective of actual merit as they are of the power of dollars sprinkled out by various automakers' marketing departments. The amount of objectivity ebbs and flows over the years, but they have honored some real stinkers in the past, especially the string of "winners" in the '70s (via Wikipedia--1971 Chevrolet Vega, 1972 Citron SM, 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1974 Ford Mustang II, 1975 Chevrolet Monza 2+2, 1976 Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice, 1978 Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, 1979 Buick Riviera S, 1980 Chevrolet Citation, 1981 Dodge Aries/ Plymouth Reliant). Of course, you have to remember the span from 1971-1981 was something of a Dark Ages in automobiledom, but still, that's a pretty pitiful list of forgettables.

BUT, having said that, they have become a bit better over the past few years at recognizing actual merit, and this year they are not the only bunch of car writers who are recognizing the GL450 as a high-quality hunk of iron.

The only reason I mention THAT is that the national press has over the years continued to lay the faults of the previous generation M-class at the feet of the po' dumb ol' crackers down in Vance, Alabama who screw it together. As I've said before, you can't blame the workers for doing the best they could with what they were given to put together--the M-class was designed to sell at a much lower price than what most Mercedes customers usually pay, and as such it had several areas where cost-cutting were evident. But it would have been just as troublesome in service if it were built by ruddy-faced Germans in Stuttgart.

The new GL is built in the same plant, but it's a much more luxurious and less cheaply designed vehicle than the M-class, and it proves that given the right parts, the folks down in Tuscaloosa County can actually do quite well for themselves in putting together a darned nice car.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)

September 28, 2006

Why yes!

I AM a moron! How kind of you to notice.

You know, I really think there's something wrong with me, but a couple of weeks ago as I was taking the kids to school one morning, while I was still TWO BLOCKS AWAY from the grimy little service station right there on Main Street, a particular car caught my eye. Yes, even from that far away, the spores of a Moron Project can still affect someone like me. But tucked there beside some other cars was a jaunty little Datsun roadster.

Got closer and saw that it looked pretty much complete. How it came to be there, I'm not sure, but the guy seems to have some interesting old cars parked out there every so often. It's the old sort of service station like used to be every service station--blackened walls, racks of tires, and someone who actually works on cars.

Anyway, for the past two weeks, I have had to do a visual check every morning to make sure it's still there. I slowed down one morning and was disappointed to see that the driver's door didn't quite close all the way shut. Why did I notice that in particular? Because I was making a mental list in my head of reasons why it would be a bad thing to have. I have no excess cash to dally with such things, but Steevil's recent Triumph Spitfire purchase has caused me to have pangs of desire for things small and unreliable. (No offense, Steve.) So I had to figure some way of making the urges quiet down.

A couple of mornings later, I noticed that the door was completely shut--apparently they'd had to move it and had actually shut the door firmly rather than barely latched, and so ONCE MORE, the moron juices in my brain kicked in again.

Why do I even care? Who knows--the lure of the weird, I suppose. I've always had a soft spot for the old Fairladies (and their sedan counterparts, the 510)--I even have a paper model of one that I keep on my bookshelf. They're just odd enough, without being totally bizarre.

Anyway, I have no intention of inquiring about it, but it sure does cause a powerful itch.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:45 PM | Comments (4)

September 06, 2006

Jealous?

Me? Never!

I am, however, a master of prevarication.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2006

A gift from Steevil.

Mark Twain, architecture, primative monkey hindbrains, and a moron project all rolled up into one, with the stamp of a Real Author at the bottom.

Hard to top that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2006

Interesting Tool

Dr. Smith wrung out enough water from his computer to send along this Wall Street Journal article about a new way to research new car purchases--by watching them on TV.

When I first started reading it I thought it sounded pretty goofy, but then I realized it's really a very serviceable way to shop. Mainly because of the way in which it's done, with a standardized format that shows the same thing for each car, allowing comparisons to be done in a much more objective way than by using things like a manufacturer's brochure. Sites like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book rely on manufacturer's photos, which are intended to show the car in the most positive way--they are marketing tools to make you want to buy that brand, not necessarily useful for consumers trying to figure out which one might actually be better.

The only thing that does seem less than good are people who think this is all there is to it. One of the nice things about car magazines is they have commentary from people who drive a lot of cars. In a photo or video, it can be difficult to discern a difference in quality of finishes and parts and ease of service, and short of someone sitting down and actually observing these things firsthand, there is just no good way to tell if something is flimsy or comfortable.

Like anything else, it's not a do-all solution--it can help narrow down your choices and give you some bargaining power, but there is no substitute for actually driving what you think you want to buy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:38 AM | Comments (2)

Deneuvealanche!

I checked my site stats last night and was surprised to see that I had received a big uptick in visitors late in the evening. It was so much higher than my regular traffic that I figured I must have been the recipient of a Instalanche or something,

However, when I checked the referrals, it seems that all of the visitors were searching for images of Catherine Deneuve, and the one in particular that made them come here (or more accurately, to my old Blogspot site), was this:

::sighhhhhh:: Anyway, why the sudden flood, I have no idea. There was a story yesterday about the opening of the Venice (talk about something flooding!) Film Festival, and Miss Deneuve is the jury president, so maybe that's what sparked it.

And speaking of spark, my goodness, she is still quite the looker.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2006

World's Most Useful Blogger!

Sorry not to have anything posted this morning, but I've been working on my Boy Scout badge for helpfulness.

New Accordian Owner Skinnydan had a photograph he sent me--


--and wanted to know if I could help him date it based on the cars parked in the lot. I've done this before, too, when I ran across an undated photo of a building or project. Although you can't date something exactly, you do figure that if you have a car built in 1970 in the photo that the picture couldn't have been taken in 1940. You might not be able to get the upper age right, but at least you know the earliest time limit.

Anyway, as best as I could tell, the Mustang in the photo was the newest vehicle, which meant April of 1964 (when the Mustang was introduced) would be absolutely the earliest the photo could have been taken. No way to tell for certain if it was any later, but I kinda figure it was probably no later than about '67 or '68. For you car fans out there, the vehicles are, from left to right, a Renault Dauphine (uncertain vintage, built between 1956-'68), a VW Bug made sometime after 1958 judging by the larger back window, a '64 1/2-'67 Mustang, and a '64 or '65 Ford Fairlane. (And a big dope slap to me, because I didn't notice the Lincoln Continental parked in the upper parking lot. Looks like a '63 or '64 model, but it's a little too small to tell for sure.)

AND THEN, Miss Janis reached out to Cletus' Car Corner guys this morning to see about getting some help for repairing her bumper car. However, since they have been lax about checking their e-mail, the account had gone dormant, so as their technical assistant, I had to get that back up and running, and then track down Luther to see if he could offer some sage advice. He mentions he has been busy this summer, but I know for a fact he has spent most of his time the past few months at Godly Hollow's newly opened 7-7-7 International Magic Lotto Internet Sweepstakes Club. Anyway, I had to get him up and moving and finally did manage to get him to offer some assistance. And then I think he went back to sleep.


Now then, who else needs help!?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:25 AM | Comments (15)

August 24, 2006

Speaking of Land Speed Records...

Although the biggest news coming off the Salt this week has been the stunning 329 350 mph (still unofficial right now) Diesel-powered speed record, this item I originally saw in the Hemmings e-newsletter is what really caught my eye. In this press release, GM Performance Division rightly crows about its success this year, but notes one frightening whooptydoo:

[...] The team did have a couple setbacks during the week, proving just how hard it actually is to set a record at the Salt Flats, especially when considering a vehicle has to make two successful runs to set a new record.

Once a vehicle qualifies to beat the previous record, it is immediately impounded until the next morning when it can return to the same course for a record run. The combined average between the qualifying and record return runs are what establish a new record.

After only two passes, the Chevy So-Cal HHR was finished for the week on Aug. 14 due to an on-course incident.

GM engineer and driver Jim Minneker was beating the previous record of 226.835 in the G/BFCC class (G Class/Blown Fuel Competition Coupe) by more than 20 mph with a qualifying run of 246.686 mph when the HHR lost traction after parachute deployment at the end of its run. Minneker walked away with only minor bruises, and although the HHR was still structurally intact, it was unable to continue running. [...]

Emphasis mine--the Hemmings blurb said he rolled the HHR, but no matter--walking away from ANY 250 mph crash with only some bruises is just incredible.

As for the wreckage, there is a photo of the horrifyingly mangled vehicle in the extended entry. Hard to believe it was once actually a vehicle.



ewww.jpg

Shocking, no?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (12)

August 15, 2006

I saw that!

Military helicopter tested over city

I went to the restroom yesterday afternoon and just as I walked in, I noticed a big chopper swooping over by the Alabama Power parking deck. Not that unusual, since they do have a helipad and occasional arrivals and departures, but what caught my eye was that the helicopter looked not at all like the usual craft, at least with the brief glimpse I got of it through the blinds. "That looked like a Jolly Green Giant," I thought to myself. "Nah. Surely not." When I got on into the restroom, the window was open (of course--I hate it when people won't close the window) but when I looked out, the helicopter had gone on somewhere else and was out of sight.

But, sure enough, it was what I thought. All those years as a kid spent poring over aircraft books were obviously ones well spent. I guess.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:13 PM | Comments (2)

August 09, 2006

A milestone, of sorts.

For all you lovers of homely Swedish automobiles, at 12:21 p.m. today, at this stretch of Interstate--

located one mile from the I-59/I-459 interchange, the I Am A Moron Project turned over 225,000 miles.

Approximately. I mean, there was several years in there where the previous owner didn't have an operable odometer, but he did keep up with his mileage through the use of a highly entertaining and somewhat disturbing set of office calendars, where he obsessively would track his mileage driven to and from work each day, along with gas prices and repair work. Adding up the mileage of all the separate entries allowed me to piece together a workable estimate of total mileage that I used when I repaired the odometer gear. It's not exact, but I will say it's probably pretty darned close.

So, a tip of the hat to the fellows in Gothenburg who designed him, and to the folks in Torslanda who put him together.

(And yes, I know the temp gauge looks like it's about to explode, but it went back down to normal soon after the photo was taken. Don't know if I have a sticky thermostat or just need to change out the coolant. I will take care of it, though.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:26 PM | Comments (11)

August 08, 2006

Speaking of cars...

...Chef Tony e-mailed me the news that Chevy is going to go ahead with production of the Camaro concept car they've recently been flogging, and asked my opinion of the decision.

Well, I've actually already mentioned what I think of the concept, back in January.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but while the new Camaro is interesting, it still does not grab me the way the Dodge Challenger does, or even the new Mustang. I take issue with its unconvincing grille treatment, and with the fact that the lead designer STILL insists that inspiration for the concept came from the '69 model (the '69 was the one with the pronounced lines streaking back from the tops of the wheel well openings--the new concept looks much more like a '68, but what do I know), but most of all, I have seen how badly GM can mess up a perfectly good concept when it goes through the production justification process.

For some reason, DaimlerChrysler has been incredibly consistent in bringing cars to market that LOOK like the concept cars they were based on--Viper, Prowler, Magnum, 300, PT Cruiser, Crossfire, Pacifica--all of them obviously varied in detail from the showcar prototypes, but the overall look is remarkably true to the design intent.

GM, on the other hand, has long had a way of cheapening everything to squeeze out the last few quarter pennies. In the past, this has been quite visible, mainly due to the wheel and tire packages offered on their "hot" designs. Too often, what goes out on the sales lot are cars with supposed sporting intentions, wearing the most meek and knock-kneed wheels imaginable. The lamentable Aztek was most noticeable in this regard, with its huge ungainliness seeming to wallow around on roller skate casters, but it also afflicted the weird, Dustbuster-nosed GM minivans of the early-'90s as well. Both of these looked pretty interesting as concept cars, with wheels and tires large enough to add some visual balance to their peculiar proportions, but none of that made it through accounting.

To be fair, General Motors lately has made remarkable strides in coming up with good designs that translate well to production--the Pontiac Solstice was an especially well-done concept-to-production design, although the usual cheapness managed to manifest itself in other areas, such as interior trim and a certain heaviness and lack of integration not found in its closest competitor, the Miata. The Corvette continues to have much goodness to it from concept to roadway, and the HHR looks like its showcar forebear, and for the most visually arresting concept that became real, I'd have to say the giant-wheeled, gigantic truck/roadster SS-R looks about as much like the concept vehicle as was possible.

But that itself is why GM continues to confound me.

The reason the Camaro and Firebird were killed in the first place after the 2002 model year was that GM said they couldn't make a business case for it. Certainly plausible--the market for largish, rear-wheel-drive, V8 GT coupes has never been a huge one, and has been shrinking in recent years. Back in the long-ago, this didn't make as much difference because this ponycar segment (named after the most successful of the breed, the Mustang) relied on sharing parts with a variety of other model lines. The Camaro shared parts with the Nova, just as the Mustang did with the Falcon, and the Barracuda did with the Valiant. When Camaro and Firebird's F-body became its own platform with the 1984 model, GM took a gamble that they'd be able to sell enough to justify it. And they did, and apparently enough to give them the confidence to tool up for an even more capable upgrade for what was to become the last, 4th Generation version. It was a very good chassis, and maybe too good for a car that started out with economy car roots.

By the time the last ones rolled off the line, they were competitive with the Corvette in terms of power and handling. But there were no real gas-sipper, peppy sporty versions--sure, some came with V6s, but it wasn't a convincingly economical car to drive. And again, the market for big, heavy grand touring cars was changing, so it might not have made good business sense for Chevy to continue making them, or at least not in that way.

The nagging question I always had, though, was if there was no case to be made for keeping the car, or coming up with a way to justify production through shared parts with another model, how in the WORLD was there a way to justify production of the SS-R!? A huge, heavy, thirsty--but admittedly very fast--convertible truckette that could only seat two people. And the styling--although I like it from the kustom kar point of view, wasn't really one of those things that polarizes people the right way.

I'm sick to death of hearing car designers say about ugly stuff that only a few people REALLY like well enough to purchase, "Well, it's really a love-it or hate-it design." That might be fine for some things, but when you're making a multi-billion dollar investment, I think I'd have much have a design that THOUSANDS of people would give their left arm to own and only two or three hate enough to close their eyes when they see it, rather than vice-versa. I don't think the SS-R was ugly, necessarily, but I can tell you right now it was never something that a hundred thousand people would want to buy.

But, they built it anyway.

Must have had some extra money floating around after killing off the Camaro, and couldn't do anything with it.

Anyway, I hope that GM does find a way to make a good, four-passenger, rear drive coupe. I hope it looks good, and drives good, and is built with an eye toward long-term value, not short term cheapness. I hope it is lightweight and efficient, yet sturdy as an anvil. I hope it can offer the public a variety of driving options, from simple, sporty, fuel-efficient transportation to something so lurid and violent and window-rattling that Mustang drivers wet their pants everytime they see one turn the corner.

That is a tall order, and one I don't think the Camaro concept as it is now will be able to fill.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2006

Sexy Car Redux

As you no doubt recall, I had a post earlier about some Brit magazine's list of sexy cars, some of which I agreed with, but the majority--not.

In a nice little surprise, my new issue of Automobile arrived yesterday, and lo and behold--their cover story was about the 25 Most Beautiful Cars Ever Made.

Now, "beautiful" is a slightly different set of criteria, at least to me, than what makes a car "sexy," but nevertheless, it was interesting to see that of the list I made up of cars that I like--

Jaguar E-type
Lamborghini Miura
Ferrari 365 GTB/4, S/4 Daytona
'63-'67 Corvette
Ford GT40
Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Maserati Ghibli
Lotus Elite
and a late addition of the Cord 810/812

--every single one of them was in the Automobile list, with the exception of the GT40. They also managed to grab a few from the other list that I thought deserved attention, such as the Bentley Continental, and my suggestion of the 1940 Lincoln Continental.

Pretty nifty list of other cars in the Automobile article--I can't remember them all, but there were the ones mentioned above plus the Jag XK-150 (which I'm not particularly fond of), the Jag XJ-6 (which I am), the 1963-65 Buick Riviera (almost bought one of those long ago), the various Chrysler Airflows, the slab-sided 1961 Lincoln Continentals (stunning, but not quite sexy in my mind). Anyway, I didn't have a disagreement with any of them, but one niggling little detail caught my eye.

IN the blurb abuot the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona, it was mentioned that its design influenced many different cars, including the Rover SD-1 and the Chevy Monza. Well, I might give some credit for the Rover's front side-marker light that sweeps back toward the front wheel, and the shallow groove along the side, but actually there is another Ferrari that is much more of an inspiration for both of the cars, expecially if you look at the vertically slatted B-pillar and the upward sweep of the sill of the rear quarter window--the 365GTC/4.

gtc4.jpg

Here's an unfortunate looking Chevy Monza Spyder for comparison--

monza spyder.jpg

Interesting thing about that name--it had a lot of fond memories to it based on Chevy's Corvair Monza Spyders of the early-'60s. Monza meant sporty turbocharged power, and Spyder meant convertible top. The later model Chevy of the same name was strictly a coupe (which made the Spyder part sorta silly) and all of the blazing power of other mid- to late-'70s cars. I.e., precious little. Which made the whole "Monza" part seem a bit silly, too. That, and the fact that under the skin it was the same as a Vega.

But hey, it was the age of disco.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:46 AM | Comments (7)

July 27, 2006

Well, I suppose everyone has their own tastes.

But, still, you gotta think something might be wrong with the folks at something called Top Gear magazine. What's The Sexiest Car In The World?

The humble Fiat 500 has beaten the likes of Lotus and Lamborghini to take the title of the world's sexiest car. According to Top Gear magazine the 500 has "the allure of the wholesome and uncomplicated". "Everyone, from strapping blokes to fainting flowers of womanhood, looks sexually charged behind its wheel," the magazine wrote.

"It works irrespective of age, beauty, wealth and position; even a nun in a 500 seems to telegraph a faint tingle of the procreative urge." [...]

Ick. I'd rather not read a sentence containing both "nun" and "tingle."

As for their choice--the 500 is undeniably cartoony cute, fun, cheeky, etc., but sexy?

fiat-500.jpg

Well, I suppose if you think Minnie Mouse is hot, I guess it could be, but if your tastes in sexy run more toward the type defined by the amply-hipped signorina to the right of the Fiat, then seems like it would be awfully difficult to think of the Fiat the same way.

As for the rest of the list, this is it:

2. Aston Martin DB5

DB5.jpg

Okay, that's a pretty good one, although more of a masculine sexy than feminine sexy. But still a good choice.

3. Maserati Quattroporte

Of all the Maseratis ever built, and they pick the Quattroporte!?

Of course, they might be thinking of the newer model which, in fairness, is attractive, but to me the name has long been associated with this lamentable pile of crap, the Quattroporte III of the 1980s--

quattroporte III.jpg

4. Chevrolet Camaro

Again, with there being four different generations of Camaro, it's hard to tell which one they picked, or even why they'd pick the Camaro over the Corvette, or if they insist on picking the Camaro, why they don't at least throw a bone to its brother the Firebird. Probably because they're a bunch of European gits who were thumbing through a car calendar that had a Camaro in it. ANYway, I like the Camaro and Firebird, but the early second generation cars are my favorites--and oddly enough, they were hammered by the American hot rodder press at their introduction for looking too European.

Here's a 1970 Z/28--

z-28.jpg

(Stolen from here)

and here's a nice 1970 (1/2) Trans-Am--

trans am.bmp

5. Citroen C6

I repeat my "European git" remark. Although I suppose you could call it attractive, it's not sexy at all. Let's just face facts--Citroens exist only to be weird, not sexy. Sorta like a Goth stripper who works at a nude juice bar and keeps a severed hand in her apartment. If there was every a Citroen that was almost sexy, I think you'd have to give it to the SM (which doesn't stand for what you think it does).

sm.jpg

But it was still weird, no matter what. And undependable. Something more along the lines of Sean Young during her James Woods period.

6. Lincoln Continental

::sigh:: WHICH ONE!? There was the original 1940 version which is stately and beautiful, but as sexy as Queen Elizabeth II, and the 1955 Mark II version which is breathtakingly elegant, but sorta not all that sexy-looking per se. And then there was every other thing that came down the pipe afterwards with the name Continental on it. NOT TO BE CONFUSED, however, with the--

7. Bentley Continental S1 Fastback

mulliner bentley.jpg

Now that's a car--but sexy more in the mature, full-figured, Maureen O'Hara kind of way, which is a very good sexy, but admittedly a more grown-up type. (Update--the picture I had up there was a James Young-bodied coupe, which looks slightly different from the Mulliner-bodied fastback.)

8. BMW M1

Eh. Nice car, rare, fast, all that. Eh.

9. Rolls-Royce Phantom

::sigh:: Well, maybe these guys DO think QEII is sexy. Sorry, guys--but there has never been a sexy Roller.

10. Sally the Porsche 911 Carrera (cartoon car)

Y'know, they probably never even figured out that the reason Sally Carrera is sexy is because the voice and mannerisms are those of the earthy, corn-fed Midwestern goddess Bonnie Hunt, who is American, and not some weird German girl who likes body-building and techno music.

My list? In no particular order (and yes, I know there's only eight):

Jaguar E-type
Lamborghini Miura
Ferrari 365 GTB/4, S/4 Daytona
'63-'67 Corvette
Ford GT40
Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Maserati Ghibli
Lotus Elite

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:50 AM | Comments (22)

July 18, 2006

Speaking of architecture...

Esther Williams.

esther williams.jpg

Yow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:08 PM | Comments (2)

The Exciting World of High Performance Tires!

The Flower of Vidalia, Janis Gore, sent me an e-mail last night, which Chet the E-Mail Boy was so kind as to leave upon my desk this morning:

Subject: Infiniti G35 - sport model

Hon,

That's what your mother has, isn't it?

I just got off the phone with my brother. He had a blowout on Hwy 28 between Jonesville and Alexandria Friday on his way to see a friend in Shreveport.

He couldn't find a tire at any outlet in Alexandria. He had to wait until Monday for service at the Infiniti dealership in Shreveport. They only had three tires on hand. They order from Dallas.

Replacement cost was $310 for the tire (not the rim, hon, the tire) plus the $30 an hour for mounting, etc.

Just to let you know.

Janis

First of all, what a MEMORY! I can barely remember from day to day what my mom's got, and I was WITH HER when she bought the derned thing! So kudos to Miss Janis for remembering. And also, thanks to her for the red flag, although as I noted in my reply to her, my mom is somewhat hardened to high tire prices since the Caddy she had before the Infiniti wore some pricey Goodyear shoes.

Her Infiniti has the base tire package with P215/55VR-17 tires, but Janis' brother's car might have the optional 235/45WR18 that would be a bit harder to come by. For those shopping Infinitis, it's worth remembering that they can be ordered with a full-size spare on an alloy wheel to match the others--if you DO have a flat, it's nice to be able to have a usable spare like that in order to allow you time to shop around for a better deal.

Local tire shops are usually always a better deal than buying through the dealership, although you do have to be careful and find someone reputable. At the Infiniti store, they've got a vested interest in making sure you're happy, but you do tend to pay more for that happiness. Thirty bucks an hour for tire mounting is a bit steep.

Another thing to consider is buying online, if you have a couple of days to wait. I pointed Miss Janis to Tire Rack's website (and there are other online stores, this isn't an endorsement of one over the other) and they have a range of tires priced from around $175 to $280 per tire, plus shipping. The nice thing about them in Brother of Janis' case is that they have a warehouse right there in Shreveport. You still have to pay for mounting and balancing and stuff, so it would still be a hefty tab no matter what, but it's still worth shopping around if you have the time to do it.

Which leads into the second part of the post, tire sticker shock. A lot of folks like the appearance of the big, wide, low-profile tires, but those tires are more expensive than something a bit more plain or smaller, and for the vast majority of people, you would never drive hard enough or fast enough to ever feel the difference. It's a lot like people who buy SUVs, but would never think of driving them off-road. You're paying an awful lot for capability you would never use. And when it comes right down to it, there's much more to enjoyable handling than go-kart-like transitions--cars like the older BMW 320i, the original Mazda Miata, and even the original Mini, that looked like it rolled on shopping cart wheels--all provide fun, safe, predictable, and good handling characteristics, even on what appear to today's drivers as tiny tires. An added benefit is those smaller tires are much less expensive than the outsized 17, 18, or bigger sizes common today.

Buy what you like, but just remember you might be paying for something you really can't use.

(And by way of full disclosure, when my mom bought her car, I pressed her hard to get the sport suspension package with the bigger wheel/tire combo, because, you know, it looks WAY cool. It also has a limited slip differential, which is a nice way to get an even set of burnout marks as you turn your expensive tires to dust. But in the end, I was overruled.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:33 AM | Comments (4)

July 14, 2006

"Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's ALIIIIIVVE!"

Yes, Järn LIVES!

Got home yesterday and got on my greasemonkey duds and went outside to hopefully finish up my month-long subproject (submoronproject?) of the "I Am A Moron" Project.

Wedged in the new fan shroud, bolted on the fan blade, tightened up the alternator and the A/C compressor, fixed a secondary problem with the fuel injection fuse, hooked up the battery, filled up the crankcase with oil, and got ready for the fateful moment.

I put the key in the ignition switch and took a deep breath. Turned the key--bzzutt-zut-buruhhh-pudda-pudda-pudda-pudda-pudda-pudda.... IT WORKS! IT WORKS IT WORKS IT WORKS!!

There is very little in the world that gives you that nice warm feeling all over as when you've torn something up and put it back together again and it works right the first time. Especially when it's a car. Seemingly so simple--fuel, air, spark--but so fiendishly full of hidden evils that can come up and ruin everything. All that jimmying I had to do, all that moving and tightening and loosening and turning and twisting--for such a little bitty engine, there was a lot I could have messed up on. But didn't. It's like Churchill's quip about there being nothing in life as exhilarating as being shot at without result.

The only nervous moment was right after I cranked it and nearly a quart of water started spewing out the tailpipe. My first inclination was to have a heart attack and think I'd developed a cracked engine block, but apparently it was just water that had accumulated in the muffler as it sat. I took it for a slow drive around the neighborhood to see if anything cropped up. Not a thing, other than him feeling a bit more arthritic in his suspension than usual. Back home to the driveway, and clambered underneath to check for leaks.

Not a drop.

And not a drop this morning, either!

Before, he could be reliably counted upon to soil his parking spot with a nice circle of oil every time he was parked for any length of time, but it seems we've conquered that bit of ill manners, too.

It sure is good to have it running right again--I even stopped and bought him a bath this morning at the gas station.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:05 AM | Comments (6)

July 07, 2006

Moron Projects!

Well, mine is moribund at the moment. Remember back before I left, I had been valiantly trying to change out the front crank and camshaft seals and change the timing belt? Well, it seems I am still lacking ONE tool necessary to remove the intermediate sprocket from the shaft. I have tried every combination of cheater, wrench, strap, plier, beaker bar, and incantation to get that one intermediate shaft nut off, and it won't budge. The upper camshaft sprocket bolt I managed to get loose by wedging a breaker bar into one of the holes in the sprocket face and the handle down onto the water pump snout, but there's no way to do that with the intermediate one. Just lots of frustration and damaged knuckles.

Tool? Yep, there's one specifically for this--Volvo camshaft sprocket counterhold 9995034. Of which there is apparently only one in all of Middle Earth. So, I have another supposedly universal-fit tool on order, but in the mean time, the poor old Brick has has to just sit in the driveway, forlorn and hobbled. I just hope I remember how everything goes back together. I did order some other stuff to work on also, but just haven't gotten around to putting on the flame trap relocation kit or the rear camshaft seal retainer kit. Maybe this afternoon. Or not.

LUCKILY FOR ALL OF US, the moron disease infects others so that even if one thing is at a dead stop, other things are continuing to wheeze and bang around for our entertainment. AS IS THE CASE with famous NASA rocket scientist and boat owner Steevil, who undertook while I was away to purchase for himself a brand new (well, for him, at least) white 1973 Triumph Spitfire, which came with a host of spare parts, as well as the ghosts of both Sir Joseph Lucas AND British Leyland! I hope Steve doesn't mind my posting a picture of his new friend herein--

Congrats, Steevil! And condolences in that it seems to have succumbed to an carburetor malady--Steevil reports having to have it flat-towed only days after purchasing it due to some wicked backfiring back up through the induction system. I'm sure it's nothing a little cursing, some Guinness, and a 3 pound brass hammer can't fix.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:31 AM | Comments (5)

June 19, 2006

Squirrels

Went out bright'n'early Saturday, and found that the filthy little brushy-tailed vermin (or at least one highly athletic and tenacious one) had taken it upon himself to gnaw into flinders one of the two plastic perches on my older bird feeder.

I left the round part in the hole, hoping that the birds would still be able to use it, but when I went out this morning, I saw that he'd been back and had chewed on it EVEN MORE, pulling it completely out of the tube. THIS is why I don't want plastic perches, and why you shouldn't either. Wood does no good, either. Squirrels are resistant to only one thing--cold, hard, metal. And they better stay away, or else they'll be getting a brainpan full of cold hard metal BBs.

Stupid squirrels.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (4)

June 16, 2006

Sällt Faderntag!

I rarely indulge herein in shameless self-promotion, but just in case you're undecided about what to get dear ol' Dad for Father's Day, don't forget to shop at my super-secret lumpy-Swedish-iron/redneck-themed Cafepress store!

Some of the more popular items include the "Cogito ergo volvo" (I think, therefore I roll) items, such as this gray tee shirt, as well as the slogan imprinted on a genuine mug.

Although not strictly for Dads, believe it or not, I have actually sold THREE of the B230F thongs! There is some young lady in Massachusetts with a wicked sense of humor. Or, not a lot of friends.

There are, as always, things from the "Luther's Garage" Collection, such as shirts bearing his time-worn shop sign, and even some things with pictures of Luther hisownself!

Have a look around, and make Dad happy with all sorts of stuff he'll wear or drink out of or look at with a mixture of pride and mild amusement! Or, you know, embarrassment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:26 PM | Comments (4)

June 14, 2006

My newest can’t-lose money-making venture?

Why, it would be Car-obics!

You see, you give people a car--say, maybe, an ’86 Volvo 240--and you tell them that you need to remove all the extraneous belts and such that must be removed in order to change a front crank seal.

Doesn’t sound like much, but after wrestling with things in the engine bay last evening, this morning I am sore in places I’d forgotten I had.

Now, I admit it’s been a while since I did any real mechaniking work, and part of my exertion was caused by unfamiliarity with what I was attempting to do. Since I hadn’t taken off the timing belt cover or anything else involved like that, I relied on my shop manual, my Haynes manual, and the multitude of Internet sites to try to determine exactly what I’d be doing. “Oh, it’s easy!” Remove this, take this off, and you’re there!

Well, theory versus practice, you know.

Before I got heavily into that work, I fixed my droopy headlight. That fancy set of Neuropean glass headlamps I bought a while back have a peculiar thing in that the mounting studs in the back are only press-fit into the plastic housing. And all three of them had unpressed themselves on the driver’s side lamp, making it droop down and be slightly goggle-eyed. Fixed that.

Now on to the BIG show.

In order (according to the manuals and such), the parts to be removed to get down to the crankshaft seal were the fan shroud, fan blade, upper timing belt cover, and accessory drive belts. The big pulley on the bottom was to be the end of my work last night, because I am waiting on the arrival of the proper tool to loosen it.

Basically, my intent was that I was just going to spend a few minutes getting the thing ready for the new parts. How hard can all this stuff be to pull off?

Three hours later, as night was falling, I would have to say, “darned hard to pull off.”

Fan shroud--two sheet metal screws hold the big plastic doughnut in place on the back of the radiator. PROBLEM: One was the wrong type of screw, put there by the jackleg mechanic of the guy I bought the car from. There are little expedient-engineered solutions all over the place on this thing and I keep uncovering them. The reason the screw was different? I don’t know, but it was also holding a thin metal strap that had been used to reinforce the fan shroud where it had split and cracked nearly all the way around. SO: I find out I need a new fan shroud, too.

Can’t get it off, either. Seems the proper order of things is to remove the FAN BLADE first, BEFORE the shroud.

Fan blade--four small nuts hold it onto the water pump shaft. PROBLEM: One stubborn nut that had been slightly rounded off by a past Mr. Badwrench, causing me to have to grunt and attempt to hold the shaft in place with a screwdriver in the other hand. Finally got all four nuts off and the blade and shroud were lifted out.

Upper timing belt cover--three bolts, one screw in the back. So to speak. PROBLEM: Each bolt was a different length and size, making it frustrating to figure out which wrench to use, and which will probably create more problems later on when I go back to put it on and can’t remember which bolts go where. SECOND PROBLEM: It’s cracked. Seems that the water pump pulley has been in extra-close contact for a while, and ground a nice semicircular groove and split into the face of the cover. Meaning, I need another cover.

Accessory belts--loosen the tensioning doohickeys so the alternator and A/C compressor can be swiveled around and the belts removed. For some reason, I also thought I needed to loosen the power steering pump. PROBLEM: Well, first, I didn’t need to loosen the power steering pump. Second, every SINGLE belt-driven thing in there was so tightly bolted at the swiveling places that they would barely move, making it necessary to try to hunt down the lower mounting bolts for all of them and attempt to loosen them enough so that they’d move, so that I could get the belts off.

THIS is where the Car-obics class really got intense.

None of these things has easy-to-find bolts--everything is stuffed way down low, behind the whoziwhatsit, bumped up hard onto the famajamma. Stretch and pull any which way you want, and you’re still only scraping hide off your arms. And there was the added frustration of the plastic pan below the engine--a Volvo exclusive that keeps road debris from the engine.

And it also keeps sockets and wrenches from falling onto the ground where you can get them, but rather causes them to tumble into a small, socket- and wrench-sized depression molded in the pan, which is just far enough away that you’d need an orangutan to reach under the oil pan and get it. Also, the handy depression fills with grease and oil and dirt, thus ensuring anything dropped into it won’t roll or move. It’s just stuck there in the goo. ::sigh::

Damnable Swedes! ::shakes fist::

Well, I figured it would come to it, and it did.

Time to take off the bottom plastic pan. Luckily, it was barely held on with a variety of five jackleg-supplied screws and bolts. PROBLEM: Well, wouldn’t you know it, but it’s all cracked and ready to be replaced, too! BUT, by Dingus, I could finally reach under there to the compressor bolts and loosen them up!

Sorta.

I mean, I still could have used a nice compound fracture somewhere in my forearm to REALLY be able to reach what I was reaching for, but I managed to get it loose. Finally.

Belts off, covers off, and when my parts arrive, I will be all ready to put them on!

However, I did have to clean up before going in for the night--all the junky parts were taken inside, and the tools, and then me. Covered from fingertips to armpits in gritty black oil--not from the engine parts--from trying to GET TO the engine parts.

Even after using a pint of Dawn dishwashing soap, a plastic scrubber, a bristle brush, then taking a hot shower and using a manicure brush and a back brush, I STILL had smudges I’d missed. HOW’D GREASE GET THERE!? Magic, I suppose. Wound up wiping the final bit of goo off with some hand sanitizer. I believe it’s time to head to the parts store and pick up a gallon of Go-Jo.

The fingernails are still a grimy black mess, which probably gave pause to at least a few people in my fancy-pants meeting this morning. I was just glad I could get up and get there--my chest muscles all hurt, and my fingers all feel swollen and pudgy. Well, more than usual.

LUCKILY, the meeting was blessedly expeditious this morning. We had 16 cases, and managed to dispose of them in an hour and twenty minutes. Of course, we WERE missing our usual loquacious interlocutor who yammers on and on about people wasting time in the meeting.

Anyway, it’s time to do some work now--something that won’t make my fingernails black.

(Unless I have to change the toner.)

AND REMEMBER GIRLS--be sure to sign up for my Car-obics classes TODAY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:46 AM | Comments (7)

June 09, 2006

Uh-oh

Or, on the bright side, maybe I’m just like Jed Clampett!

I mean, there IS bubbling crude involved.

Although it’s dripping onto the ground instead of up out of it.

And it’s not actually crude oil, but rather refined 10W-40, as produced by the Valvoline Corporation.

And no firearms were involved. Yet.

But it seems that my intemperance while trying to merge into traffic this morning--which caused me to press mightily upon the accelerator pedal of a certain Volvo I own, which in turn caused its swirly-roundy internal combustion producing bits to spin with great vigor--seems to have produced such an extreme amount of oil pressure that it completely blew out all of the accumulated grit, grime, dead animals, and other exotica that lurk inside of an engine with 224,000 miles upon it!

HOWEVER, in blowing all of this accretion out of the way, we learned that the accumulated grit, grim, dead animals and other exotica were actually serving as quite a nice gasket, in lieu of an actual gasket. I surmised this based upon the fact that it seems the front crank seal is now leaking like a…sieve? Well, no--sieves actually retain more liquid. Maybe like the spillway of Hoover Dam.

I got to work and had zero oil pressure. And to make matters worse, I had to get to the bank today at lunch, and then go back to the house to pick up some papers I’d forgotten. Meaning I had to try to nurse it to the closest purveyor of incredibly thick, leak-stopping oily goo in order to nurse it that much further to the house, where I could swap vehicles.

I went back out at lunchtime to see the poor thing sitting in a puddle of its own juice. Cranked it up, and since it had cooled off while parked, it actually had some pressure again, which was very good!

This pressure promptly evaporated once on the Interstate.

I managed to get to the Cowboy’s station at Tallapoosa Street, where I purchased two quarts of rich, life-preserving oil, as well as a pint of STP for extra thickness. After spending fifteen minutes in a line that did not move, I paid for my goods and went outside to pour them in. Managed to get the oil level to the bottom of the dipstick.

WELL SURELY this will be enough to get home!

Surely.

Off again, and this time with a nice healthy 4 atmospheres of oil pressure.

That evaporated close to the Trussville exit. Close, but not quite at.

So, I once again nursed my humble steed to the Chevron station and bought ANOTHER quart of oil to get it home and up the hill. Which it managed to do quite nicely in that it was only about two miles from the house.

Well, now, this is certainly a kick in the shins. Looks like instead of junkyard diving this weekend, I will be tearing off the timing belt cover and putting in a new crank seal (and belt, and idler). And praying there isn’t something ELSE that has let go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (10)

June 07, 2006

Well, because I'm a moron, that's why.

I got to musing last evening, and I turned to Reba as I sat watching the news and said, "You know what I want to do on Saturday? I want to go to the junkyard."

I have grown tired of the tiny electrical fault that lurks in the instrument panel on the Volvo that causes the tachometer and clock to stop working if the panel lights are on--if I turn the dimmer all the way off, they both work, but of course, when it's dark you can't see that they do. I thought it might be the dimmer, but that doesn't make sense. It's something in the printed circuit, and the best way to fix it (aside from ordering a new one, which are built one-by-one by a wizened old Swede in Goteborg from special unobtainium) is to go pull one out of a junker.

But, really? I just have an overwhelming desire to simply go off and plunder around and see what I can find. It's just that simple. Oh, I might be able to find a replacement panel, but I might not. I really just need some time to be undomesticated and get all dirty and stinky and tetanusy.

I sure hope it doesn't rain between now and Saturday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:28 PM | Comments (5)

May 23, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

CAN YOU GUYS NOT LET HIM HAVE FIVE MINUTES OF PEACE!?

And how, exactly, did the Chicomms get him out of the airport abandoned printing press warehouse (a sly knock against the dead tree media, perhaps?), beat him up, and have him on a slow boat to China in only five minutes?

I really, really wish they'd have gone with the alternate ending I wrote for them, where Jack gets to go to the bathroom, take a shower and shave, take a nap, eat a sandwich, and THEN goes and deals with the Chinese.

Hmph.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:01 AM | Comments (5)

May 16, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

I have no idea AGAIN!

In amongst the defective-electronic strife, there was also the issue of trying to get my work finished that I got called away from yesterday afternoon, and then there was a constant ebb and flow of children running into the bedroom to ask questions about an infinite variety of non-Jack Bauer-related topics, all asked while standing between me and the teevee. So I have no idea what's really going on.

BUT, we DID get to see Crazy First Lady Jean Smart silence a bad Secret Service guy who was beating up on her most favorite man in the world, Aaron the Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy, who is more manly than even Jack Bauer, but is too modest to have ever said it. And before all that, Aaron told President Machiavelli that he was bad and evil and a traitor, and not worthy of his respect. Which really frosted the Twerpresident.

In other things, Jack got to slap around the Weaselly DHS guy for erasing the tape, but not nearly enough, in that he didn't snap him in half and feed him to a tank full of sharks.

Brokenose Girl is looking hale and hearty again after having been suggested to chemical torture and nearly bleeding to death.

Chloe looks like she smells something REALLY stinky, probably related to a poison pill firewall.

There's more nerve gas and the Russian Bad Guy got loose and found his henchmen and took over a Russky sub in the harbor (and why it wasn't docked at the Van Nuys Airport I have NO idea) and they're a'gonna blast the whole city (of Van Nuys) with Roosian meesiles.

So, they're tracking everyone down, and copying that, and rogering, and NEXT WEEK IS THE FINAL EPISODE and Jack finally gets to point a pistol at the President and MEAN it, which means he'll probably wind up doing the decent thing and arresting him, rather than solving things The Cowboy Way, which should have been done about 10 episodes ago.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2006

Man, talk about your moron projects!

As if we needed more proof that Walt Disney was the world's greatest philosopher, we find out once more just exactly what a small world it is.

Well, see, I have this blog, and I know Miss Janis down in Vidalia, Louisiana. Then, one day in the recent past, I asked if anyone could give me advice to pass along to my sister about adopting a greyhound. Miss Janis suggested I solicit one of her friends for advice, a fellow from way down yonder in Australia (the greatest nation in the world, aside from Alabama) who goes by the name Kitchen Hand. I had not read Kitchen Hand's writings before, and was quite taken with his obvious love for the important thing in life, food.

Anyway, I added him onto my blogroll, then wrote a note to introduce myself and ask him about dogs, and he wrote me back with a very nice response that touched on all the necessary topics. Better yet, it appears he has been drawn into the wooly vortex that is Possumblog, and we welcome his comments and antipodean viewpoints.

AND NOT ONLY THAT, it seems we share a similar mental affliction. To make it worse, his whole FAMILY is all eat up with this dread disease, too.

As it happened, Kitchen Hand (not his real name, by the way) stumbled over to Revolvoblog, my other blog devoted to my undeniably sexy '86 Volvo 240, and left this comment:

So I wander around and check out your blog and find this.

Well, what a coincidence. Actually, probably not. Maybe just an odd conjunction or a fluke.

I have Volvos.

My Volvos:

1977 245DL. Pale blue. 417,000 kilometres. Owned since 1999. One prior owner.

1986 240 wagon. Gold. 445,000 kilometres. Owned since 2004 (I traded a 1978 245DL, red, upwards of 500,000 kilometres, odometer broken). One previous owner who was so eccentrically stickly, he wrote little notes all over the service records - which are six inches thick - querying everything the Volvo dealer did. Everything appears to have been replaced several times - grandpa's axe comes to mind. Runs like a dream.

1975 244DL. 260,000 kilometres, so barely run in. Pensioned off to my sister - she btootles around the countryside in it.

My son's Volvos:

1984 240DL. Silver. 300,000 kilometres plus.

1981 264GL. Blue. About to go to the Rainbow Bridge, or whatever it is for Volvos.

1991 240GLE. Gunmetal. 240,000 kilometres.

My brother's Volvo ... no, I'd better stop there.

I'll finish by saying that whenever there's a family dinner, the street looks like the Volvo Rescue Society.

Let us now all join hands and sing--

It's a Volvo after all,
It's a Volvo after all,
It's a Volvo after all,
It's a Vol, Ol, Vo!

Now if we can only get him to give us his recipe for Manifold Squirrel Stew...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:10 AM | Comments (10)

May 09, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

Well, I seemed to have gotten the meeting time wrong. Instead of it being 6:30 to 8:00, it was 7:00 to 8:30. And we didn't get home until 9:00. From what I heard from the girls, Jack landed the plane, President Machiavelli doesn't have the guts to do the right thing, the Homeland Security Weasel Guy is in on the whole scheme, and someone erased something Chloe was working on.

BUT, in the greater scheme of things, I am not upset because Boy had an enjoyable time.

I thought at first he wasn't going to get to go because we'd told him to make sure he had all his homework done, and when I got to Grandmom's to pick up Ashley, he popped up and said he'd forgotten part of his assignment and left it at school, and that he was going to have to type it up to hand in today.

Which meant we had to take him with us, make a detour to swing by the middle school, let him run in to his locker and get his paper, then make the jaunt to Clay, wait there for a long time, then come BACK to Grandmom's to pick up the other kids since Mom wasn't home from work yet, then go home and start typing up his paper for him, since he doesn't know how to type (and yes, he WILL learn how). I got through about 15 minutes before time to go, and Reba still was not home, so I wound up taking him down to the meeting house along with Catherine, who by this time had already bathed and gotten her pajamas on. I would have left her with the two older girls, but past experience has shown that's about like suspending a plastic jug of gasoline above a fire.

We made it to the meeting about 10 minutes late, but at least we weren't the latest to arrive, and luckily Reba got there not too much later to take Wild Child off my hands and to give me some sugar.

The boys are a raucous bunch, but they will get quiet if the Scout leader raises three fingers. Which he had to do a lot. They played some games, talked about lightning safety, and basically jabbered like a roomful of macaques. And as I said, Boy seemed to have a good time, and already has a couple of friends in the troop, so I guess it's time to go hit the Scout Store and start stocking up on stuff again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:30 AM | Comments (7)

May 03, 2006

Oh, I suppose because I'm a moron.

How else to explain yet another one of those sudden pangs of longing I occasionally suffer from?

After we got home last night, I got a chance to read my newest issue of AutoWeek. It was doubly good, in that it had a column by my favorite car woman, Denise McCluggage, that was at once melancholy, poignant, exciting, and uplifting. Man alive, she sure can write. And then, there was the weekly feature I really love--what used to be called "Escape Road," and now is simply "Vintage Cars." I enjoy seeing all the cool old stuff that's not quite on the collector market's radar.

This week's article was about the Lotus Elite. Now, I've always like Lotusesesses, but never really paid much attention to the Elite. But my goodness, that one in the picture, with the dark blue body and silver roof, and those spidery chromed wire wheels, well, in just the short read of the article it has replaced my other, long-term, wistfully dreamt-after, someday-maybe-before-I croak car, a Tuxedo Black '67 small block Sting Ray roadster.

Oh, I know--you don't have to tell me about the wispiness of Lotuses. The 'Vette is much more robustly built, and there's a huge cottage industry of spare parts and you can still get it worked on at the Chevy place.

But that Elite--my goodness. That sure is one nice bit of plastic. In white, it reminds me of a pretty girl in a tennis dress.

1960 Lotus Elite.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:54 PM | Comments (14)

May 02, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

Grr.

Okay, so we got home in plenty of time to watch, but supper was late getting started, and Daddy has this rule about not having the TV on while supper is underway.

So I missed the first fifteen minutes. Stupid Daddy.

THEN, when we were finally through with supper, I flipped on the television to see Jack getting out of the cargo hold of the airplane. Hey. I thought the hold wasn't pressurized. Then I find out later it is. This whole flight is weird--a plane full of regular-looking folks, yet it's called a "diplomatic flight," and it takes off from Van Nuys--which is apparently the hub of all West Coast air traffic and terrorist activity during this crisis.

Anyway, that cargo hold hatch gets a lot of workout during the show.

THEN THE PHONE RINGS.

AARGHHH.

My father-in-law, who was wanting to talk about whether or not he was getting a good deal on selling their old house. Yes. Yes. YES. YES--IT'S A GOOD DEAL!!! TAKE IT!! TAKE IT!! PLEASE TAKE IT!

Let's see--Crazy First Lady Jean Smart is talking to the Pillsbury Doughboy Secret Service Guy (in a wonderfully nuanced performance by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan) to try to get herself some pills, and he says "duh" and then she calls Mike the Chief of Staff to go get her some, and he talks to President Machiavelli, who lies to him about the nature of why everyone is still awake at 2:30 in the morning, and Mike says okay, and then the President says to dope her up anyway.

MEANWHILE, Stinkyface Chloe is in an airport fending off an sloppy drunk by using a stun gun (and for the record, a stun gun will not render an assailant--no matter how stinking drunk and uncouth he may be--unconscious for fifteen minutes at time) and trying to tell Jack which person has the recorder, and so Jack whacks an air marshall and takes his gun and badge, then goes and gets who he thinks is the bad guy and then whacks him and stuffs him down in the much-used cargo hatch.

THEN THE PHONE RINGS!

GAHHHHH!

It was a peaches and cream-voiced coed from the Auburn University College of Architecture, Design, and Construction, who wanted to talk to me about some of the activities that are going on down at the campus. APPARENTLY NONE OF WHICH INVOLVE WATCHING JACK HIGHJACK AN AIRLINER!

As quickly as I could possibly work a word in edgewise, I asked her to PLEASE call back some other time.

NOW, HiJack's doing his gun-point-interrogation, and the guy he's stuffed into the luggage is baffled, and then the air marshall is woken up when the plane hits turbulence, and they finally figure out that HiJack's in the hold, and so the pilot starts depressurizing. HiJack gets Chloe to route a phone call to the captain--and just how is it that they can do this, and I drop out of coverage whenever I go between Heflin and Anniston--and Jack tells the pilot to circle around until he searches everyone, and the pilot says "That's a negatory, good buddy," and says he's gonna land as soon as he can, and he'll personally come down there and thump Jack for messing up the cargo hold.

Sometime the Evil President gets a call from his Evil Handler, who's still wondering what's happening, and Pres says "I'm being good, I promise," and then the Evil Handler goes back to wondering how he can get back on ER.

Jack decides he wants out of the cargo hold, and manages to find the control cables running through the ceiling and starts playing them like a harp and the plane goes all wonky and he tells the pilot to circle, and then HiJack finds the air marshall and stuffs HIM into the hold, and Jack comes upstairs and starts pointing his gun everywhere. EEEEK!

He starts searching everyone, and Lady Boss back at CTU brings in Fired Gray Haired Boss for dramatic effect and tells him to shut up his talking so she can talk, which she does. Her little weasel twerp calls Mike to cry about being out of the loop, and Mike tells him to shut up and quit being such a big baby, or he'll be going the way of Rudy the Hobbit or Dull Chubby Deadgar.

BACK IN THE AIR, Chloe has figured out that the copilot is the bad guy, and Jack ONCE MORE finds a way to call him and tell him to beware, and we think maybe the pilot is a doofus, but we see he's only being cagey and really believes HiJack, because he asks, real polite like, what happened to the OTHER copilot. Bad Copilot says, "Oh, he had to go see a man about a dog or something. Or had to wash his hair. Or something. I don't know--I just show up when evil henchmen tell me t--I mean, I don't know nuthin'."

Suddenly, Cagey Pilot acts like he's got a leg cramp, and he gets up to let Jack into the cabin when Bad Copilot whacks him with a Maglite--BUT NOT BEFORE Cagey Pilot lets Jack in, who slaps the Bad Copilot around, and Bad Copilot is crying because no one else can LAND THIS PLANE, obviously not realizing that Jack Bauer can fly or drive any vehicle ever made on Earth, and probably a few flying saucers, too. ANYway, Jack doesn't let on that he knows a thing or two about airplanes, and tells Bad Copilot he'd better turn over the recorder before they all blow up real good due to sudden intentional deceleration.

And now, Jack has the recorder! Yay! Of course, he trusts Bad Copilot has given him the RIGHT recorder, and doesn't play it back for confirmation. Now then, to get to the airport so he can go implicate Evil President Machiavelli! I imagine they'll go back to Van Nuys.

NEXT WEEK! Uh-uh-uhhh--not going to go to Van Nuys if Machiavelli has anything to do with it, because he orders the plane to be shot down. Everyone is all, "what ARE you doing!" and he tells them to bug off because he's the President, and Jack's trying to dodge missiles and land, and the Bad Copilot is screaming like a little girl and....

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:35 AM | Comments (17)

April 27, 2006

Whoa, Nellie!

Keith Jackson says he's done broadcasting

According to the story, this time for good.

Although he has always seemed to toe the same line that other sports media guys do when it comes to giving SEC teams short shrift when compared to Big 10 or Pac 10 teams (or anyone else, for that matter), he truly does have a terrific voice that is both evocative and knowledgeable.

I will miss hearing him.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2006

Fuelishness

Luther clambers out from under the truck where he was napping to hold forth on the best way to save money on your gasoline bill.

Likewise, Larry Anderson has some tips as well for extending your range--if you have a manual gearbox. Whenever I have driven a stick shift vehicle, I have always short-shifted, mainly out of sheer laziness. Even better is if you can gauge your speed just right and shift without using the clutch. That one takes some practice, and a relatively level road if you don't want to make all sorts of uncomforting transmission noise.

But as Larry notes, engines work most efficiently at wide open throttle with a heavy load, as when you're in a gear too high and it feels like the engine is about to die. You don't want to lug the engine to the point of detonation, but you do get the best mileage when it's about that close to stalling. The second trick is trying to drive as constant a speed as possible--cars only use a few horsepower to maintain their velocity once they're up to cruising speed--it's the accelleration up to that speed that is inefficient. So anticipate stops ahead of time and try to modulate the speed so it's more regular. No blazing starts or front-bumper-grinding stops.

In the end, this is information that's been around for years and years, but we tend to forget about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

Oh, okay--Jack Bauer Update.

I have to say that I wasn't in top form for watching last night because I'd come home and immediately gotten out and started cutting the grass, and didn't get done until 7:30. It was a nice evening for it, though, mainly because the grass still had enough dampness to it that it packed into the grass catcher nice and thick and didn't release a big cloud of dust when I emptied it, yet the yard wasn't so soggy that it made ugly wheel marks from the lawnmower.

AS FOR JACK--well, he patched up Brokenose Girl's gushing artery and got on the phone with her daddy and told him off for betraying him, and her daddy's all apologetic, kinda, and then Jack gets a call from Stinkyface Chloe that she's working out of Gray Haired Boss's den on breaking into the CTU computers using a Commodore 64 and a toaster. Jack gets her to find the satellite that takes pictures of fleeing felons, and goes after the Former CTU Agent/Nerve Gas Guy/President Machiavelli Henchman guy who'd sliced open Brokenose Girl.

They take off in the stolen police car, catch up with him, run him off the road into a barn, and Jack captures him after the bad guy's pistol runs out of ammo and he gets all huffy like a little girl, even though he has a spare magazine that he's fumbling around with. Jack gets him and is mean to him, but, as is the case with all such things, refuses to fill him full of bullet holes, and leaves him alive so he can later do all sorts of ninja mind games with Brokenose Girl.

In the mean time, the Former CTU Bad Guy tells Jack that his Black Helicopter Crew is tracking Brokenose Girl's daddy and it gonna off him unless Jack gives up and lets him go, and Jack, who seems to have become much too susceptible to threats directed at either Brokenose Girl OR her conniving daddy, is about to let him go when Daddy does the right thing and drives off a cliff into the conveniently placed ocean, thus negating Former CTU Bad Guy's bargaining power.

"Well, crap," he says, and Jack pistol whips him instead of filling his knees full of lead, and ties him up and in a fit of stupidity, leaves Brokenose Girl to guard him.

IN THE INTERVENING TIME, the folks at Homeland Security finally figure out that Chloe's been gone for a long time, and they interrogate the Redheaded High School Intern, who says Chloe intimidated her real bad like. The Homeland Security Boss Lady is all put out, and then learns that the President might be evil, and so she starts thinking of things to do, but her slobbery little Quisling second in command is all over himself trying to find Chloe and make a name for himself--apparently the "Participant" ribbon in the sack race at the annual Homeland Security company picnic just isn't enough for him.

Jack goes off to try to find the tape recording of Nixon Machiavelli, who has placed poor Crazy First Lady Jean Smart under arrest to get her to shut up and "reassigned" Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy to get him out of the picture and keep CFLJS from knowing what a real man is like. CFLJS is a'hollering and a'screaming to be let out, and Evil President tells her to drink a big cup of STFU and quit trying to ruin everything his evil little pea brain has come up with. She says she hates him, but in order to spare the American people, she won't say just how much. Gee THANKS, CFLJS!

Evil President checks in with his handlers, who praise him and promise him he'll get a nice present--maybe even a pony!--for all of his fine unflinching loyalty to a secret cabal of nervous-looking guys.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE BARN, Former CTU Bad Guy wakes up from his cold-cocking administered by Jack and starts in on Brokenose Girl and tells her she needs to call all the bad guys who're trying to kill her so they can go save her poor drowning daddy, who's drowning, in the water, because of HER, so it's like she's KILLING HER OWN DADDY, who just happens to be DROWNING, in the OCEAN, like a DROWNING DADDY, and finally Brokenose Girl draws down on him and starts yelling "I'M NOT LISTENING! BLAHBLAHBLAH I'M NOT LISTENING and if you don't STOP, I'MA GONNA BUS' A CAP IN YOU!" Then Jack calls her on her phone and tells her to run away, because Smellyface Chloe has told him that more Black Helicopters are on the way.

INSTEAD OF DROPPING FORMER CTU BAD GUY IN A HAIL OF BULLETS, she runs away into the barn to await the inevitable. BUT, hooray for Cowboy Curtis! He shows up with his tactical team right as Brokenose Girl is about to whack Former CTU Bad Guy, and his boys dispatch all the bad guys EXCEPT for Former CTU Bad Guy, who has got to be the luckiest guy in the world.

SO, as it ends, Jack is back at the airport looking for the guy that has the tape recorder, that the Former CTU Bad Guy handed off way back up in the early part of the episode, and Cowboy Curtis saves the day, and the Homeland Security Boss Lady calls Gray Haired Boss and warns him to get Pinchfaced Chloe out of the hizzouse before her stupid underling twit gets there to arrest her.

NEXT WEEK--Jack takes over an airplane full of people who look like they just boarded a regular old commercial flight, even though they got on the plane at 1:00 in the morning and nothing is supposed to be flying, all for the sake of finding that tape recorder. Chloe tries to wait as long as possible before leaving so there will be suspenseful music. Machiavelli does something evil.

If I left something out, it's because I got distracted by something shiny.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:52 AM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2006

The Yearling

Well, everyone's been wanting to see ponies, so courtesy of Dave "Bog Harrow" Helton, here you go.

That's a fine looking specimen.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2006

222,222

Mark of the Beast x 333.6667?

Nah--I just thought you'd like to know that yesterday afternoon on the way home, my homely Swedish box rolled past that magical number on its odometer. 11,111.1 miles per year is not too bad of an average, I don't suppose.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2006

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Boy, I sure love listening to Emmylou Harris.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:51 AM | Comments (4)

Mouse Count

Eleven.

Three on Saturday, none on Sunday, and then I got home yesterday evening and found four of the vicious little beasts stuck to various traps, including one trap that had two on it. And found that they'd gotten into some of our old tax papers, as well as an old kid's seat cushion I had on the countertop. Filthy little squeaking things were all in it, but I didn't want to move the cushion for fear that they'd come skittering out and run all over my arms and freak me out.

Time for more traps, so I went back out to the store before supper and got more. Set them out, and had four more this morning, including one trap that had three stuck to it.

Catherine's comment? "Awwww, they look so cuuuuute! Except when they're dead."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:05 AM | Comments (15)

Jack Bauer Update!

ONCE AGAIN, I was stymied in my efforts to fully engage myself with the program due to having to clean up the kitchen after supper and constantly shush loud little children! GAAH!

BUT, as best I can tell, President Nixon isn't Nixon at all, but a cleverly diguised Rasputin Machiavelli, and he's just be acting like a weak, vacillating idiot for the past several month (hours). Everyone else pretty much seems to be the same--Jack is Jack, Chloe still smells something stinky, Brokenose Girl is acting like she's bad but we know it's just a deviated septum, Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy Aaron is still manlier than Jack, Crazy First Lady Jean Smart is crazy--she actually kissed Machiavelli this week, and my stomach contents very nearly came flying out onto the television.

DIRECTORS OF 24! NO! MORE! CLOSEUPS!

Unless it's someone like an attractive Russian strumpet. Who, by the way, was not on this week. But the sight of the President and First Lady swapping spit was horrid, and the disclaimer at the start of the show should have mentioned something about "extreme graphic violence and public displays of affection by saggy-jowled people." Ick.

ANYWAY, I have no idea what's going on, other than now Machiavelli is trying to get Jack all killed, and Jack's trying to find the recording that the Hot Brunette Lady in Waiting took to the bank before she got all shot up, so Jack and the Dead Ex-President's Brother go kidnap the bank manager and make him go open the vault, and they all three listen to the recording and it's all about how Machiavelli was behind it all, in his own words.

Then they have to shoot their way out of the bank, because the Former CTU Nerve Gas Guy found Hot Brunette when they somehow intercepted the little girl's 911 call about her mommy hitting her head on the table, and so he went and found them, and kidnapped everyone again, and had his henchmen surround the bank where Jack, Bank Manager, and Dead Ex-President's Brother were. BUT, thinking quickly, Jack decides they DO want the cops to show up as a diversion now, so Bank Manager trips the silent alarm and the police come and the henchmen start blasting away at them, so THEN the ARMY GUYS come on the scene with a pile of Humvees and Ma Deuces and take out the henchman as Jack, et al., escape in a squad car.

Bank Manager, however, is no longer part of the show.

WHILE ALL THIS IS GOING ON, the good folks at Homeland Security have now turned their efforts to finding Jack into the primary goal of the organization because they got a call from Machiavelli to do it, and they're all in thrall to his Rasputinlike powers. So, Brokenose Girl decides to go for a drive, and she's really going to meet Jack and her daddy, who's William Devane, and Some Blonde Agent and a Dork bug her SUV with a tracking device. She stops to pretend to get gas, and Stinkyface Chloe tells her how to find the bug using Channel 17 on her walkie-talkie.

BUT WAIT--despite the fact that the show takes a great deal of liberties with reality, one thing I could not abide was the way in which the tracking device was ditched. She found it in the wheelwell of her car--stupid people who put it there should be thumped for not breaking in and planting it somewhere so deep she couldn't find it--but be that as it may, she ditched it by attaching it to a public works bucket truck. ON THE INSIDE OF THE FRONT FENDER! The big- cab versions of those trucks are based on regular pickup truck cabs, with the exception that their big wide front fenders are made out of FIBERGLASS. Which, last time I checked, is non-magnetic. SUCH A CAVALIER ATTITUDE TOWARD REALITY I WILL NOT BROOK! I mean, it's one thing for everyone to be able to run around and talk on cell phones and the only ones who ever get intercepted are the guys supposedly on secure lines, but there MUST BE A LINE DRAWN SOMEWHERE!

Anyway, they lose her, and then find her again by using a satellite, which Sourfaced Chloe sneaks into the basement and disables then runs to ladies room to freshen up, and the DHS guy is like, "What were you doing!?", and Chloe's like, "PShyeah, I'll write you a report on my pee habits."

SO, the President's bad, Laura Palmer's Dad from Twin Peaks is probably not all good, but he didn't have the Dead Ex-President shot, Jack's on the way to meet Brokenose Girl and William Devane at the Van Nuys airport, Chloe will finally get caught because of something the Redheaded High-School Intern did, and there'll be a big synchronized swimming event. Or at least, I think that's what happens.

(SarahK has a more thorough version, as usual.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

What's the Word?

Thunderbirds to fly at military air show

What's the action?

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform their usual spectacular flyovers at tomorrow's (Saturday) River Region Air Show at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. [...]

You know, even though I am a big fan of military aviation, I have never once gotten to see a show by the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels. I wish I could go to this, but even if the price was a dollar twice, I can't because we've got junk to do this weekend, as usual.

::sigh::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:43 AM | Comments (5)

April 06, 2006

Is it just me, or...

...have I overused the word "rrrowll" today?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:47 PM | Comments (2)

April 04, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

I have no idea what's going on--Reba had to work late last night and I had to make YET ANOTHER call to CenturyTel to tell them that Barry's supposed fix of my DSL service had, in fact, NOT worked (STUPID DSL!), and so that all meant a late start to fixing supper, which meant a late start to eating supper, which meant a late start to finishing supper, which meant that the kids were still polishing off their tasty grilled dead animal flesh as I was trying to watch the show AND clean off the table AND referree amongst the various children.

SO, I have no idea what's going on--Crazy First Lady Jean Smart's really hot brunette lady-in-waiting is in cahoots with the nerve gas guys, and she's trying to get Dead Ex-President's Brother killed, except the Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy saved him and brought him to the ranchhouse. Then there's the thing from last week that I missed where Jack blows up a natural gas facility real good to incinerate the nerve gas, which was cool, and he carried out Some Russian Guy on his shoulder.

Odd, but there's flaming debris all over the ground, yet none of the pretty streetlamps are busted.

Anyway, Jack shouts at the Russian Guy to try to make him live longer, which doesn't work all that great, then he shouts at Cowboy Curtis, who nods, then Jack leaves and talks on his cell phone.

Back at CTU, some weasel from DHS is trying to convince New Lady Boss to crush Gray Haired Boss and take over the whole world, and CTU, so that everything runs just as smoothly as the airport security system that allowed terrorists to dig a giant hole in a hangar floor at the airport and hide a bunch of nerve gas there in the first place. They decide the most vulnerable person is Brokenose Girl, who now is REALLY hot for Jack after he throttled her last week. She really fixed up nice again this hour, though, oddly enough. Last week (hour) she was all sweaty and screaming and tousled, and this week (hour) she apparently rushed to the CTU Powder Room and quickly brushed her hair and trowelled on some foundation and mascara. ANYway, they want her to sign something implicating Gray Haired Boss as an Incompetent Boob, but she says, "No way, weasels!"

Then Jack calls and needs his dry cleaning picked up or something, but Stinkyface Chloe is being fired, and she's the only one who can hack into the computers and find out where his laundry is hidden, and she's leaving, and Brokenose Girl decided to save herself by going ahead and signing the Weasel Paper--with the stipulation that she gets to keep Chloe around so she can help save Jack.

Jack's like all "whatever" and doesn't know what Brokenose Girl has gone and done in order to save him, and so he runs and finds Dead Ex-President's Brother and the Hot Brunette First Lady Assistant clutching each other in a barn, so he sneaks around to the back and surprises them, and then they go to find the Brunette's daughter, who has been kidnapped by bad guys, and Jack becomes part of a sniper team to take out the bad guys, but they wind up killing everyone EXCEPT the Nerve Gas Maker Guy, who gets away from Jack and Cowboy Curtis's guys in a hail of bullets. Jack seems to be able to make impossible shots and kill swarms of bad guys--except for bad guys needed to provide plot continuity.

ANYway, I missed something, and then at the end, we find out that the guy trying to get Jack killed, and who'd told Nerve Gas Guy to kidnap Hot Brunette's Daughter was NOT Laura Palmer's dad from Twin Peaks, but was...





RICHARD NIXON!

That's right! And that just makes no sense at all--sure, he's a craven, bedwetting lunatic, but up until now he's never been worth ANYthing at creating any kind of believable conspiracy. He blows around like a piece of trash in a windstorm, always simpering and cowering and acting like a weasel. And now you're telling me he's the one behind all of this!? Well, if so, I think it's about time for him to be slapped around--a LOT--by Jack.

Anyway--I have no idea what's going on, so maybe you should check out SarahK's usual excellent recap instead of mine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:59 AM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

I HAVE NO IDEA!

See, last Monday, I was knee deep in various kid related stuff, and so I only caught dribbles of what was going on--there was that leggy brunette Russian girl with the great big bank accounts, and she sold some kind of schematic diagram of something to the bad guys, and she was also doing naughty things with some hippie slacker intelligent German guy, who, if you ask me, wasn't so intelligent, because he allowed himself to fall for the brunette Russian, and Jack whacked him around a bit and got him to give her up if Jack would let him use a WetNap, which Jack had to get downloaded from the NSA by Miss Pinchface (which is illegal, believe it or not) and then the Expresident's Brother went into a place that had a roadblock AND a truckful of goons who were intent on messing up the spinner rims on his new Jag, and they was a'chasing him into a tunnel, and then the Unintelligent German Guy pops in the chip that Jack made for him into his cheap Euroknockoff Blackberry and the whole thing smoked up like the tapes from the old Mission: Impossible teevee show, and the Unintelligent German Guy was all p.o.'ed because he was going to take the WetNap and sell it to some other dirty terrorist who probably doesn't bathe regularly either, but after it burnt up, he couldn't do it, so he shook his fist at Jack, and Jack was all apologetic, but I think in the back of his mind he was laughing at the stupid German and his long hippie hair. But then, in a strange twist, Jack finds out from the Brunette Russian that the diagram she had was very diagrammatic, and schematical, and had been got from BROKENOSE GIRL! Yikes--she gets around.

NOW THEN--as for last night, we ate supper at Reba's parents' house, so we didn't get home until late, and a bunch of stuff had already happened by the time I got the tube turned on.

Best I can tell, Impassive Bald Secret Service Guy is more of a superman than Jack Bauer, and goes out by himself with a wimpy little 9mm and takes on the whole truckload of bad guys with AKs and does a great deal of damage to them AND rescues Expresident's Brother. But not the Jag.

They've got Brokenose Girl hooked up to some bad juice in an IV, and she doesn't know anything, because Jack comes busting in to where the Brunette Russian hotty is being held and slaps a guard unconscious, steals his pistol, and points it at the delicate curvy parts of Brunette Russian and finds out from her that she was only playing with him about Brokenose Girl, and that the schematics are of a natural gas facility. All that gas--someone get me the Bean-O! Interesting side note--either tall leggy voluptuous Russian brunettes are really stupid, or Jack Bauer is so powerful that his threats to shoot Brunette Russian are made real because he can cause a Glock to fire EVEN WHEN THE SLIDE IS OUT OF BATTERY! He was just a'pointing that thing at Brunette Russian, and she was just all weepy and lip-biting, and Jack was all screamy, all the while the slide on the pistol was locked back. And this after he'd already racked the slide to chamber a round--don't those rent-a-cops know anything about Condition One!?

Jack yells and then runs to go find Brokenose Girl, who is screaming because of the bad juice in the IV, and they hug and have a moment together of intense intensity, despite the fact that Jack has left a known Brunette Russian terrorist hooker alone in a cell with a knocked out rent-a-cop, so she's probably already all over him getting his wallet and the key to the handcuffs.

Last part I saw was some cute redheaded high school intern telling Smellyface Chloe that in order to get the nerve gas into the natural gas, the terrorist dudes have to lower the pressure, and so Pinchface Chloe somehow tapped into all the pressure readings of all the natural gas facilities in the area (wow, there's a LOT of those) and found one that was low. Gray Haired Boss thanked them both and went on off to go do Important Bossy Things, and then we find out that Cute Redhead High School Intern is a psychopath who thinks Gray Haired Boss was putting a move on her.

WRITERS OF 24! STOP THIS CRAP RIGHT NOW! I don't want to see anything about a delusional intern chick having flights of fancy about Gray Haired Boss! Let her get kidnapped or let Kim run over her with a forklift or something, but the story line you're thinking about is stupid and I will mock you if you continue to do it. And please--in close shots of firearms, make sure that it's actually ready to fire, or people will start thinking this whole thing is just some made-up TV show.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:16 AM | Comments (8)

March 17, 2006

There is an old saying--

--"never bring a knife to a gunfight." However, if you do happen to have the foresight to bring a gun to a gunfight, it would probably be best to remember to bring a loaded one--Auto parts owner, 74, opens fire on robbers

CAROL ROBINSON
News staff writer
A 74-year-old Birmingham shop owner stared into the barrel of a gun inches from his face Thursday, but said he felt no fear.

Joe Montabana could see there were no cartridges in the cylinder of the snub-nosed revolver. It was brandished by a bad guy and pointed straight at him.

Montabana got angry. And he fought back.

The longtime owner of Joe's Auto Parts near the Kingston community grabbed his own revolver, and moments later unleashed five shots toward the would-be robber.

"When he saw my gun, he went out the door really quick."

The fleeing man jumped into a waiting car occupied by two others. It was unknown whether anyone was injured; police were watching area hospitals to see if any gunshot victims would show up.

Montabana said it began when the man came into his 47th Street North store about 1 p.m. and asked him to duplicate a key. Montabana turned his back on the customer briefly, and when he turned back around the man had pulled the gun.

"He said something like `this is a robbery' or `you know what this is,' and he said `go around to the cash register,"` Montabana said. "I saw all the chambers were empty, so I just walked back behind the counter and got my own gun."

The robber immediately dashed for the front door. Montabana followed him and, once outside, opened fire.

"I just walked right here and started shooting," Montabana said, showing where the getaway car had been parked. "If I didn't hit the car, I don't know how I missed it."

Montabana opened the shop in 1965. The only previous trouble for his business happened 20 years ago, he said, when someone robbed the business, firing shots at his wife, who works there with him.

He seemed relatively unscathed by Thursday's event and said he had no qualms about firing his gun.

"He was robbing me. All I'm upset about is my damn lunch got cold."

Although I am all for self-defense, I am concerned what could have happened had this turned out a bit differently--if the robbers were injured, managed to survive, and found themselves a lawyer.

Although the shop owner might have reasonably believed he had been in danger at first glance of a drawn gun, the owner did state that he saw quickly that the gun in the man's hand was empty, and that he had no fear of him. If he realized the gun was empty, and opened fire anyway, it's possible he could be charged with assault, or worse, if any of the shots made contact.

Second, the robber immediately tried to flee, thus becoming much less of a threat. Rather than stopping at the safety of the doorway of the business, the owner went outside and started firing at him. Again, not a good idea--if either robber or accomplice was injured or killed in the one-sided exchange, the owner could have been facing jail time.

Third, since the owner believed the robber's gun to be unloaded, and fired anyway, if he hit anyone other than the robber, it would be much easier to charge him with negligence in the bystander's injury. It's one thing for someone to be injured incidentally in your effort at self-defense, but when it becomes less obviously self-defense on your part, your liability starts going way up for collateral damage.

Alabama (along with Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Washington) is currently debating a law to ease the restriction on a private citizen's "duty to retreat" from a threat caused from someone attempting to illegally enter their home or vehicle; in effect, giving citizens the same right as a police officer to stand his ground, and to use lethal force if threat to life seems imminent. Even if the law is passed, however, it still would not give people the right to chase after and shoot at persons who are no longer threatening them.

For those of you who do own firearms for self-defense, be sure to know the legal risks inherent in making use of them. An excellent online primer on the subject (and self-defense in general) can be found at the FOP Range website run by local law officer John Grigsby.

And don't let your lunch get cold.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

TORNADO WARNINGS!! AIEEEEEE!!

We had a bunch of weather come through last night, with winds so strong that they blew the blazers off the local TV news stations' meteorologists and caused their sleeves to roll up to their elbows. Strong winds also blew reporters out onto the sides of various Interstate highways, where they pronounced that it was raining, and windy, and dark.

MEANING, that all but the last twenty minutes of The Jack Bauer Show was preempted, and although they promised to show the whole thing after the late news, I just satisfied myself with the sliver I saw.

Nixon and Crazy First Lady Jean Smart had a moment because Nixon's a wuss and keeps crying and pouting. Don't hold his hand, Martha--slap him into the middle of next week!

Meanwhile, back at CTU, the nerve gas is all over the place, and Rudy manages to redeem himself by playing with a bunch of flashing LEDs and a computer and scores a touchdown, but does not survive long enough to be toted from the field on the shoulders of his teammates.

Some long stalky brunette gets out of bed and talks on the phone and plays on the computer while wearing lingerie. Must be one of those bloggers people keep talking about.

The hot but rather angry Kim Bauer wants to leave and never see Jack again, which causes him to used his Anguished Face, then Brokenose Girl comes over and holds his hand, which makes me uncomfortable in the workplace.

Speaking of which, some harpy from Homeland Security calls up from a car phone to CTU to ask if their refrigerator is running, then laughs and says they'd better catch it. Then she hangs up and tells all the other igmos in the limo that she's going to turn CTU into a Wal-Mart of Federal Preparedness, with employee drones who will be forced to wear little smiley buttons. AND she intends to make Gray Haired Boss the little old retired greeter guy at the front door.

Downstairs in the hospital, the Former CTU Agent/Nerve Gas Salesman looks near death, and so Handsome Swarthy Blowed-Up Guy decides to kill him on off, but Jack wants to interrogate the guy some more beforehand and tells Swarthy Guy just to hold up on the vengence thing, but Swarthy Guys, once they get their angry up, just can't let it drop, so he gets a syringe full of bad stuff and then has a moral moment of indecision--at which point the Former CTU Agent/Nerve Gas Salesman has his own little Jack Bauer Back from the Dead moment and LEAPS up off the bed and jams the syringe into Swarthy Guy, grabs a gun, and leaves! That's one tough hombre. Jack runs in and finds Handsome Swarthy Guy getting all sweaty from the self-injection of bad stuff, and hugs him and yells for help and employs his Special Anguished Face, which is similar to his Anguished Face, but includes some extra squinting and grimacing, with heavy breathing.

NEXT WEEK! I have no idea--I missed that part.

NOW THEN, I have more drawing to do, so you people will just have to go read other things for a bit until I'm all through.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:43 AM | Comments (6)

February 28, 2006

Yes, still hard at non-blogging.

I even took junk home to work on last night. Not that it interrupted me to see if Jack Bauer would get off the probation I placed on the show.

Thankfully, he was real good last night--AND CTU finally came to its senses and Section 112ed that stupid fat hobbit out of his job. All it lacked was him screaming about strawberries and rolling two ball bearings in his hand. I do have to wonder why they hire rent-a-cops to secure that place--they've got more firepower than the entire Army of Northern Virginia had, and they still get Tim and Ricky from Triple AAA Security GuAAArds to look after the joint. Thankfully, they knew Cowboy Curtis was The Man, and backed him up.

Nixon? Could they be even MORE obvious?! I knew the moment he slid off his divan that it was going to be that whole Nixon/Kissinger come-to-Jesus-meeting scene replayed. A bit less next time, okay writers? Anyway, it's about time someone accidentally hit him in the head and accidentally incapacitated him for a while so we can get something done about this nerve gas.

Brokenose Girl? I find her much MUCH hotter when she's angry than when she's mooning over Jack. I do wish she'd kneed Rudy at some point in there, because he deserves it.

Speaking of hot, next week The Hottest Bauer (i.e. Kim) returns. I just hope they don't let her start pushing buttons and junk, or she'll mess everything up.

'Splodey stuff? Had it in spades this week--them terrorists blowed up the Presidential limo real good, but NOT good enough to kill Loyal But Impassive Bald Headed Secret Service Agent, who it's obvious Crazy First Lady Jean Smart has a crush on, mainly because he is a real two-fisted man's man, as opposed to her husband, who not only is Nixon, but also a slimy little Quisling who should be hit in the head with a very VERY heavy object. Anyway, after CTU is FINALLY able to tip off the Secret Service about the plot against the motorcade, instead of running away fastly, these goombas jump out of armored limos and start blazing away with MP-5s. Guys, it should be obvious to you now not to jump out from behind secure cover and start blasting at guys who ARE behind cover. Good way to get peppered with birdshot, let me say. Anyway, they all get taken out and the terrorists come down with machine guns and start trying to blow up the rest of the blowed up limo and Crazy First Lady Jean Smart is a'hugging all over the Ruskie president and his Very Attractive Russian First Lady to keep them from getting hurteder, and then the terrorists get a flame-thrower after them! Which seems a bit silly, especially when Brave and Impassive Bald Headed Secret Service Guy recovers from being stunned by the 'splosion and rolls out the door and starts dropping bad guys like he's in a shooting gallery, and manages to start a bad guy barbecue when he lights off the tank of flammables the flame-thrower guy is carrying.

I like that Brave and Impassive Bald Headed Secret Service Guy a lot. I mean, not like the way CRLJS does, obviously. Really.

Other 'splodey stuff? Jack tries to find out where the nerve gas came from by visiting the place that made it, which just happens to be where some other guy who used to work at CTU now makes millions, except he's really another bad guy, but Jack's spidey sense must be broke, because he lets himself get zapped with a stun gun (which seems to knock him out much worse than being heart surgeried like he was a few seasons back) and then gets lured into a trap where the Bad CTU Guy leaves him locked up in a room with a notebook full of flashing LEDs. FLASHING LEDS!? WHY, THAT'S a BOMB! "Aw, poopie!" says Jack, and he understands where his daughter Kim gets her highly-tuned sense of getting herself into a jam.

BUT, being that this is television, we know that the Bad CTU Guy has to first call someone to explain everything, and rather than just kill Jack immediately, gives him several minutes to MacGyver his way out of yet another sure-death situation. Blows the door of the vault, and hides under the computer flooring. Slick! Although I do wonder why he never thought to use any of his fancy telecommunication devices, or why he didn't just slip the bomb out of the big louver on the wall.

Best line? Chubby Loser Friend of Chloe who says, "But that's illegal!" Someone give that pud a dopeslap and lock him up with the hobbit!

ANYway, next week, Return of Kim! And it's TWO HOURS LONG!

Now then, back to my self-imposed exile so I can do more dumb ol' work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

Jack Bauer Update!

I have no idea. Last night was full of distractions--first of all, Mike the Aging Hippie TM called right after supper to let me know he'd once again been forced to change jobs. He's found himself at a big corporate place out in the 'burbs, so I predict it won't be long before they wonder what on earth they've done. Also found out he's gone and gotten himself a new Suzuki of the insanely fast variety. He's now become one of those silly young kids out drag racing on John Rogers Drive every night. Best I can tell, he would be the oldest guy in the group by a good twenty years, as well as the the most pigmentally-challenged. He has a way of standing out, that's for sure.

In the middle of that, Oldest would not hush her incessant yelling from the bedroom upstairs that she needed help with something, and the kids kept wandering through the kitchen while I was trying to talk, and Reba kept telling them in her loud outdoor voice to be quiet because I was on the phone, and then later in the conversation, Rebecca brought me one of Catherine's little porcelain dolls whose leg had been accidentally broken. Probably owed money to someone.

Add to this that our downstairs furnace doesn't work right (still, after several years) and I got the bright idea that it must be the thermostat. So I was going to go to the hardware store and get a cheapy one to test the thing, so after I got through talking to Mike, Etc., it was only a few minutes to showtime, and then I found out Oldest had managed to wait (yet again) to not do her homework until the last minute and needed a piece of posterboard while I was going to be out anyway. Jumped in the car and zoomed down to Marvin's and found that even the cheap old knob on the wall is just about as expensive as one of the nice thermostats, so I got a better one, then zipped over to CVS to pick up some paper, and got home JUST IN TIME for the show to start.

My plan? Put the television on the counter, and while I was ironing a shirt and a pair of pants for Jonathan--it seems that today he is supposed to give a demonstation of an Olympic sport, and he had been assigned figure skating, and rather than dress him up in spangles and bows, I figured his dark blue shirt and black pants would do for a costume, except they were wrinkled and needed to be ironed, thus my need to use the ironing board--anyway, while doing that, I would watch Jack blast away at bad guys. Or so I hoped.

The moment I started, the phone rang--it was for Reba. I went back to my ironing and wondering why no one in CTU will stand up to the chubby little hobbit in their midst, and then Reba came down and started excitedly talking about the food for the anniversary dinner. It had been her brother on the phone, and so she had to recite their entire conversation three times, and sometime in there Crazy First Lady Jean Smart got dressed and told Nixon he was evil (duh) and there was a whole lot of bad-guy-on-bad-guy hole shooting, and then Jack went and got some guy who was the guy who originally sold the nerve gas, and we're probably going to have the wrapped asparagus, and the roast beef rolls, and the cheese centerpiece, and with the spiral sliced ham, which is good hot or cold, that should be plenty, and Susan is going to have the flowers and the tablecloths all ready, and so then Crazy First Lady Jean Smart gets in the limo with the Russkies, and poor crazed Rudy starts screaming and being all girly and pouty and throws Gray Haired Boss in the holding cell, even though we all know that anyone can just walk out of any of those CTU holding cells if they have a toothpick, and speaking of toothpicks, the cheese and fruit centerpiece really would take the place of one of the flower arrangements since it is so tall, and DERN this shirt's sleeves are so wrinkled that I'm ironing new wrinkles into the bottom of the sleeve.

Reba finally went back upstairs, and after much more ironing, I finally had enough and put that stuff away and figured I'd start on the thermostat. Somewhere in there, Jack was running and shooting, and there were more black helicopters, and I got right in the middle of taking the thermostat off the wall when Rebecca came down and said that Ashley and Mommy were having trouble with the computer because the printer was printing out the wrong things or something equally improbably, and so after a second or twelve of doing a Ralph Kramden slow-burn, I calmly told her that I couldn't come right now because I was right in the middle of tearing apart the entire downstairs in an attempt to get the furnace working so Rebecca's mommy would quit complaining about it always being cold downstairs, and that I would be upstairs in about five minutes after I put everything back the way it was before and deal with the thermostat later.

Rudy finally got fed up with everyone hiding stuff from him and talking on cell phones to people across the room, so he instituted a Protocol 23, Martinet Micromanagement Plot Device, where everyone sends him everything so he can ignore it and try to get back his key card from Courtney Love's boyfriend.

Got upstairs during the scenes from next week, which include Jack shouting, and Brokenose Girl looking longingly at him, and found out that the computer was no longer broken or not working or whatever it was doing, meaning that I had really no reason to have been stopped from my thermostat changing-out in the first place, and probably could have finished it with no trouble.

SO, I suppose I'll just have to watch next week, because I have no idea if this week's show was really any good or not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:38 AM | Comments (8)

February 17, 2006

The end of an era.

Navy's F-14 fighter jet flies its final mission

By Steven Komarow, USA TODAY

The F-14 Tomcat, the fighter jet that soared into the national imagination in the movie Top Gun, has flown into the danger zone for the last time.

The Navy announced Thursday that the last F-14 combat mission was completed Feb. 8, when a pair of Tomcats landed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt after one dropped a bomb in Iraq.

Capt. William Sizemore, who flew on that last mission, said the Tomcat will be missed.

"This is one of the best airplanes ever built, and it's sad to see it go away," Sizemore said in a Navy report from the ship. "It's just a beautiful airplane. And it just looks like the ultimate fighter." [...]

For you airplane geeks out there (such as me), this is quite a bittersweet announcement.

Not quite as bad as when the last F-4 was taken out of service, but close.

Well done, Tomcat.

tomcat.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

Finally!

The women's biathlon gets some attention!

Alas, not in a good way.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006

Most idiotic car ad ever?

Possibly--I just can't quite get a grip on what they could have been thinking.

My newest Automobile magazine came in the other day, and last night was the first time I've had a chance to thumb through it. As I paged along, I came to a nice slick Saab ad--a new 9-3 silhouetted in front of a Saab fighter jet. Cool. Dark and forbidding and techy, all in one. Up at the top, the Saab logo and the tagline "Born From Jets."

Well, Saab has over the years often made mention of their aeromotive history in close association with their cars--one of my favorite ads is a shot of a Saab car on the ground with a fighter blasting by, inverted, just overhead.

Anyway, the ad in the magazine was a fold-out, so I did--nifty--a color poster inside of a 9-3 on a runway. (I assume the ad was supposed to commemorate Automobile's 20 years in print since it had a "20" logo with the magazine's logo and the dates. I might have missed the ad in previous issues, but this was the first one I can recall seeing.) I folded it back over and saw the ad copy, which had a picture of a lumpy Saab J21 and a lovably homely 92 sitting beside it on a runway.

j21-3.jpg

The caption?

"Before Saab made cars, Saab made jets."

Well, it was kinda comical to me, because as you can see, the J21 in the photo has a very obvious propeller sticking up from between the tailbooms. So, there was that, and I also thought that they started making cars before they got into the jet business. Well, whatever.

Then I turned the fold out over to the back, and saw this corker, which is really what got me all worked up enough to post all this crap--"After World War II, there wasn't a demand for jets anymore. So Saab decided to compete in what the believed would be a postwar automotive boom."

WHAT!?

Now you don't have to be a car guy, or an airplane guy, or a World War II guy to recognize that first sentence doesn't make a lick of sense. After World War II, there wasn't a demand for jets!? Jets were the Next Big Thing! That's just stupid. Sure--every manufacturer was concerned about what to do after military orders dried up, but jets were where the technology was going. And further, it made it sound like everyone, including Saab, was making jets during World War II, which is stupid, too--the only operational jet fighters during the war were the German Me262 and He178, and the British Gloster Meteor, and (barely) the Lockheed P-80.

To the Googlemachine!

In five seconds, I found this website that details the timeline of the J21. Read it, and you will note that it did not enter service until 1946 and stuck around until 1952. Which is interesting, in that WWII ended in 1945. Also note that it was one of only two fighters successfully converted from prop to jet power. The resulting J21R entered service in 1947, which is the year that the first 92 prototype was made, and hung on until 1955, when the J32 took over. (Update--the J29 entered service in 1953)

Anyway, in the greater scheme of things, it really doesn't make that big of a deal, but to those folks who are sticklers for such things, it seems like such an easy thing to NOT try to manufacture an alternative corporate history just to suit an ad tagline. If anything, the 92 and the transition to jets at Saab happened together--it was born WITH jets--why not emphasize it as a big brother-little brother relationship?

I blame GM.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:09 AM | Comments (13)

February 14, 2006

MMmmm--MILK!

Despite what I'm sure will be great temptation, we will brook NO naughty jokes about Ms. Hurley's latest compensated endorsement deal.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:27 PM | Comments (7)

Jack Bauer Update!

I give up--Rudy is the stupidest moron in the whole shire--too danged chicken to admit he got his butt whipped by Courtney Love's roadies, but willing to gas a bunch of kids in a mall!? And then next week wants to have Jack arrested AGAIN for doing the right thing?

And NIXON! What in the world is wrong with you people!? Why in the world did you elect this guy!? Poor Crazy First Lady Jean Smart should knock him in the head with an ashtray or something. And then she should run over to CTU and slap the moron hobbit around a bit until he cries like a little girl.

Frankly, about the only thing that will keep me watching is if Kim returns to CTU to be the Special Swimwear Agent.

Stupid show.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:32 AM | Comments (8)

February 10, 2006

Time to close up shop.

Not to head home--no, a good while before that happens. Just time to quit fidgeting with this mess and tie up some stuff before the weekend. Which will contain yet another meeting with the cake lady tonight at 7:00, getting up early in the morning to take Rebecca over to Clay-Chalkville High School so she can take the ACT test (yet another one of those deals where one of the kids got involved in the Duke University TIPS program; and yes, I realize "ACT test" is redundant), then a building committee meeting Sunday at 3:00, then another church meeting at 5:00, plus the normal ration of churching-up the rest of the day on Sunday. All of this, and it's supposed to get all wintry again tonight and tomorrow.

I'm already tired and sleepy. I think I probably will be even more so when Monday rolls around.

In any event, all of you have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday. If I wake up on time.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:37 PM | Comments (1)

February 09, 2006

Of interest only to airplane geeks.

Massive plane, NASA's Super Guppy, lands in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — NASA's Super Guppy, a massive aircraft described as a warehouse with wings, has touched down in Huntsville, bringing with it a habitation module for the International Space Station.

The European-built Supper [sic] Guppy, which left from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, arrived at Redstone Airfield on Wednesday afternoon. NASA engineers plan to use the 8,496-pound habitat module to develop advance life support systems for trips to the moon and other missions. [...]

For those who don't know, this is what they look like.

super_guppy.jpg

Looks straight off of a Disney cartoonist's board, but they're pretty darned cool. Read all about it here, and see all the ones that came before, all the way back to 1962, here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:40 PM | Comments (11)

And speaking of 'Brick House'...

...I got to see approximately 10 minutes of the Grammys last night. Fortunately, I tuned in right at the overdone tribute to Sly Stone, which included an appearance on stage by some girl in a black dress whom I later found out was a singly-named lass who goes by Ciara.

My goodness.

Now, I'm not one to slobber and hoot and drool when attractive womenfolk make a public appearance, most especially when Miss Reba is around. I do have manners, after all. Thankfully, she's not the insecure sort, so I am able to note if a particular woman is especially nice-looking without drawing fire or a swift elbow in the ribs, but still, I give due respect to all concerned and try to give my compliments in as gentlemanly fashion as possible.

So, having just sat down in the chair in the bedroom and flipped on the TV, there that girl was, up there just a'singing and a'walking along.

My goodness, but that girl has some legs.

Reba came by and stopped for a moment--"Who's that?"

"I have no idea, but Reba, that girl has legs."

"Oh, so you like her legs, huh?" There was just a slight edge there, but doggone it, there was no denying the obvious. And after a second or two more, Reba has to admit it as well.

"Well, I got to say--that dress shows 'em off. And they don't jiggle when they shouldn't."

"Yes, they are long, and firm..."

"Uh-huh."

"...and muscular, yet supple..."

"Okay now."

"...and glowing with a subtle bronziness..."

"ALRIGHT ALREADY!"

Which reminds me, it's time to order flowers for Valentine's Day...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:19 AM | Comments (12)

Absolute insanity.

Okay, folks--we're seeing another Dutch tulip craze. This is a car-related thing, so if such makes your eyes roll back in your head, skip it. ANYway, I got my weekly e-newsletter from Hemmings this morning, and this article caught my eye--Q-Jet craziness?

So, you're watching one of the televised Barrett-Jackson auctions and you think the prices paid for complete cars is nuts. Well, here's one for the books: Somebody recently paid $3,906 for a rebuilt 1970 Rochester carburetor for a 1969 Ram Air IV GTO.

The seller, Chad Brousseau, sold the rare item on the Internet, and after 24 bids, somebody bought the carb with GM number 7029273 on it. Brousseau said in his ad that the carb was great for that concours restoration and had an NOS choke pull-off included. We don't doubt that. But used Rochesters are a dime a dozen and at most cost $50 in any junkyard.

Brousseau is no dummy, but we question the sanity of the buyer of this carburetor. After all, unless he owns the long-lost car this carb came on from Pontiac way back when, this carb will never be matching numbers correct, will it? In 1969, you could buy a brand new GTO, albeit without options, for about $3,400.

- By George Mattar

Just incredible. But people do crazy stuff for funny colored flowers, too, so I suppose it's to be expected. However, I can tell you this right now--this market is going to bottom faster and harder than the '90s boom for Italian exotics did. Despite there being some rare cars out there due to their top notch condition or rare combination of options (several million-buck Hemi 'Cuda convertibles come to mind) in the end, most of the muclecars everyone is salivating over are much more ubiquitous than their inflated values would tend to indicate. Remember when everyone had to have a Series I E-Type? Prices neared the seven digit mark, and then collapsed when everyone who wanted one got one. There are a lot of potential buyers for these '60s and '70s Detroit cars, because there is a lot of spare change floating around and a lot of guys who want one to relive their second adolescence. But trust me, there are a LOT more cars than buyers out there. And no one should pay nearly 4 grand for a Quadrajet.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:22 AM | Comments (2)

February 02, 2006

That just means English isn't the only language...

...that you can neglect to use your turn signal in.

Judge: Alabama may give driver's tests in multiple languages

By SAMIRA JAFARI
The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state judge ruled Wednesday that offering the state driver's license exam in a dozen languages is not in violation of a 1990 amendment to the state constitution, which states that English is the official language of Alabama.

Circuit Judge William Shashy said the amendment "makes English Alabama's official language — not its only language."

His ruling came on a suit filed against the state by a nonprofit group called "ProEnglish," which contends that by law the test should only be administered in English. They contend that the Alabama Department of Public Safety's practice of allowing tests in multiple languages not only violates the constitution but endangers all drivers.

Attorneys for the state said administering an English-only test would violate a federal anti-bias law because it would have a "disparate impact" on non-English speakers.

Shashy noted that Alabama is one of about 25 states that have declared English as their official language, but that none of them "refuses to accommodate a limited English proficient person in their driver license examinations."

I think having to administer the test in all those languages is a waste of money, but that's what our government does best. I don't really mind that someone can ask for the test in their language, but given how poorly most people drive here, the argument that non-English speakers will make things more dangerous is pretty weak. Not to mention the fact that before all this crap started, illiterate people could take an oral exam rather than a written one (they still can, for that matter). I'd much rather have someone literate, even if it is in another language, than someone who can't read anything at all.

In a related vein--back in '86 when I went to Europe, all I had was my regular driver's license and one of AAA's (not really necessary) International Driving Permits, and I drove from Heidelburg to Munich with only as much knowledge of German as I was able to glean from Hogan's Heroes reruns--and everything turned out jussssst fine. Mostly.

Having recently seen what passes for driver's education in the state, I don't think the safety advocates are fighting the right enemy--how about working to have driver training actually mean something in the first place?


By the way, the languages the test is available in are Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2006

Oh, hey, remember that Check Engine light?

The one that came on this weekend in the Honda during all of our running around? Well, I don't think I mentioned it, but by Sunday, it felt an awful lot like the transmission was giving up the ghost--lots of juddering and slipping, especially going uphill from a stoplight.

SO, off to take it in this morning to the dealer down the road a bit. Also figured I'd spring for an oil change. They wrote that up, and put down the obligatory 80 buck charge for reading the diagnostic code. (An aside--if there was EVER a profit-center for your service department, it's $80 to read that code.)

Anyway, after dropping it off and taking a leisurely scenic drive into work with their Chet the E-Mail Boy-like driver, I awaited the bad news.

And it got very late.

And so I called.

"Just trying to call you on the other line, Mr. Oglesby--I got some good news and some bad news."

Such words strike fear into the heart of all sane men, no matter how mighty their physical constitution.

"We got your oil change done with no problem, so that's good. And well, it's kind of a good-and-bad thing. The check light indicates you've had a complete failure on your transmission."

Oh, piffle. Is THAT all!?

What a relief.

No, really.

See, this model of Odyssey (built in the former Liberal Party bastion, Canada) had a defect in the transmission, and said transmission was part of a nationwide warranty campaign, which extended the warranty to seven years or 100,000 miles.

FREE TRANNY, BABY!

Of course, the new one won't have near as long of a warranty, but then again, it shouldn't have a designed-in defect, either. AND, since it's a warranty deal, I don't have to pay 80 bucks for some tech to spend five seconds plugging in a code reader.

AND according to the service writer, we can still drive it until the new gearbox comes in--although I intend to take it home and park it until then--no use getting us stuck in the middle of nowhere with an inoperable vehicle.

Been there, done that.

SO, thank goodness it wasn't something non-warranty. You know you're living an odd life when you're GLAD your transmission is the thing that's screwed up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:32 PM | Comments (7)

January 20, 2006

The perfect thing--

if Wilson Pickett had written "Volvo Sally."

I don't usually link a lot to my other site, Revolvoblog, because, well, it's all Volvo-related and I understand that such topics can be highly offensive to small children and sane people, but frankly, this find was too good to pass up.

(Oh, hey--be the first on your block to have valuable Revolvoblog junk!)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

A Confession.

I hate to admit it when I am second best at anything, but late yesterday fellow blogwriter Kenny Smith sent me a link to a site that forever puts to shame my feeble efforts at Ritualized Taunting of Football Opponents.

The site--Onepeat.com.

Gentlemen, I tip my hat to your inventiveness and vituperativeness.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:32 AM | Comments (4)

January 17, 2006

Also on the teevee

...I note an increasingly frequent barrage of advertisements and "exciting" pre-events for the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Itlee.

I've said this in past Olympics, but it bears repeating--the only event worth watching is the women's biathlon, yet once again it appears that it will get shunted to the side in favor of the popularity-contest activities such as ice dancing. Why is there no Campbell's Soup Biathlon SuperStars show? Why is there not wall-to-wall coverage of the Biathlon World Cup? I blame Scott Hamilton.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:13 PM | Comments (4)

January 10, 2006

Cars!

Again.

I mentioned last week about the hideously atrocious Chrysler Imperial concept car that debuted at the Detroit show, and didn't give a whole lot of attention to the Challenger concept that is also there.

Again, let me say the Mopar guys nailed that one.

Like the Ford guys did with the GT and the new Mustang, it is a modern interpretation of a very attractive past design. Not too slavish a line-for-line copy, but something that picks up the best design elements and incorporates them into a pleasing shape that should do well. (Of course, you have to sorta ask yourself how it is that if Mopar could have designed something so attractive and modern 35 years ago, why can't they come up with a similarly forward-looking design now, but let's not quibble. Or quabble.) And let's just hope that the build quality is nothing like the originals which, frankly, were garbage.

Not to be outdone, I see where Chevy has rolled out a Camaro concept at the show as well.

::sigh::


The linked article chitters on about it being based on the single-year '69 model, which might be what Chevy's telling people, but if that's the case, it only points out just exactly how bereft of historical perspective GM's designers have become. (Op. cit., the new GTO.) IN any event, the design is a bit more 1968--it has the Coke-bottle waist, and no vent windows. The '69 had some agressive "speed lines" breaking from the tops of the wheel arches, which the '09 concept doesn't have. Overall, the look is muscular, but they once more missed the boat with that horrid grinning-Jack-Nicholson grille.

WHO THOUGHT THAT LOOKED GOOD!? The one styling trope that has remained constant throughout the four generations of Camaro's 1967-2002 run is a bold, straight grille--the best probably the '69 RS with the hideaways. Not frowny, not smiley--not an anthropomorphic face at all, but a serious, purposeful, look. And what feeb came up with those taillights!? Did they hear that Daimler/Chrysler were doing a Challenger concept, and so they ran out and got some lamps from a '72 Dodge Challenger, turn 'em upside down, and hope no one notices, just to hedge their bets? And that cowl induction-looking hood--it's almost right, but not quite. And exactly why isn't this thing at least called a Z/28!? Or a Z anything?

Larry Shinoda is probably taching 7,000 rpm in his grave.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:26 AM | Comments (4)

January 05, 2006

World's Ugliest Car?

I would rank it right up there with the Pontiac Aztek. Got my latest edition of AutoWeek yesterday, and no sooner had I opened it than my retinas were ripped assunder by photos of the new Chrysler Imperial on display at the '06 Detroit show.

Here it is--click at your own risk.

IT BURNNNNNNS! AIEEEEEE!

I've not been a real big fan of the most recent 300C and thought it was a bit chunky looking, but this--this thing--is more eye-watering than pulling out nosehairs one-by-one while watching Rosie O'Donnell reruns with the sound turned up.

It has the graceless charm of a Russian ZIL flatbed, the breathtaking misshapeness of a 1960 Rambler, the low sleekness of Cabrini Green, and yes, the funky chic outdoorsily urban gestalt of the clumsy and lamentable Aztek.

What has happened at the Chysler design studios!? Did they have to lay everyone off and hire monkeys? Are they all smoking crack-laced heroin steeped in toad scrapings? Is this some kind of early-arriving April Fool's joke?

The interior looks nice, though, so your chances of being visually disabled while driving is probably pretty low, unless you look out and see yourself in the reflection from a window, or see another one on the road.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:45 PM | Comments (14)

December 15, 2005

My job...

...does not have very many perks. But on occasion, one does get to meet some interesting folks. Like a guy who don't bat an eye when he tells you his company makes motorcycles that cost 68 grand apiece.

Rara avis.

(And the press release just hit the wire.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:44 PM | Comments (4)

I am a moron.

How else to explain the fact that I just bought another four aluminum alloy Volvo wheels?

A while back I found a nice set of wheels from a Volvo 740 Turbo on Ebay. The style is called Draco--for all of those who care, which, I believe, is exactly none of you--but in any event, they were going to be a future upgrade to the old Volvo when I finished wearing out the tires that I have on the car now. But, they weren't my first choice of bling. The old 240 Turbos had a similar style (but I think better looking) called Virgo, and I had really wanted some of these when I first started fixing the thing up. Downside? Well, even on Ebay, they routinely go for 400 bucks (plus shipping) a set. Quite a bit more than the 80 I paid for the Dracos. (Which look just like these, except dirty and scraped.)

But, you see, in my searching, I stumbled across a set of the elusive Virgos again, and for some reason, no one else seemed to have found them. I patiently waited and watched the price climb to 30, and then all the way up to 50 dollars. At the very last minute, I put in a tiny bid, KNOWING I would immediately be outbid.

Well, except, I didn't get outbid. Upside? I got a set of four rare alloy rims for fifty-one clams. Downside? I HAVE ANOTHER SET OF WHEELS TO SQUIRREL AWAY IN THE GARAGE!

I am such a moron.

It's time for a Volvo Garage Sale...

UPDATE: Steevil sends a link to show that sailors can be afflicted with the moron disease as well.

Hmmm--I wonder if they make a depth-measurer-thingy for lumpy Swedish cars?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:39 PM | Comments (11)

December 06, 2005

Well, that's disappointing.

SACS extend Huntingdon College's probation for another year

I hate to see any college on probation, especially one that has figured out the right way to have a co-ed cheerleading squad.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)

November 18, 2005

It is time.

IRON BOWL TIME!

(A long post--if your browser cuts off before the end of the post, press your F11 key twice.)

Tomorrow marks the 70th meeting betwixt the Tigers and Tide, and although I don't really care too much one way or the other who wins or loses, there are a few readers of Possumblog who invest in the contest a bit more than the normal amount of enthusiasm. Don't believe me? Take a look at this picture that Kenny Smith just sent me.

As is the tradition here at Possumblog Sports Center, we once more trot out the hoary old family favorite that I wrote a few years back (again apologizing to Clement Clark Moore), just to get us into the spirit of things. There is a slight revision to my original version in order to suit the venue of the game. Oh, and the rhyme and meter sometimes stretch the limits of artistic license--forewarned is forearmed.

'Twas the night before the Iron Bowl, when all through Alabama
Not a critter was stirring, not even a yellowhammer;
The RVs were parked by the stadium with care,
In hopes that some sandwiches from Mama G's soon would be there;

The students were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Jack Daniels danced in their heads;
And mama in her blue jersey, and I with my big orange foam #1 finger,
Had by the teevee started to linger,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sofa to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a golf cart, and some fat redneck in a red suit--
So at him I yelled, "HEY! Get off my yard, or else I will shoot!"

With a little old driver, so sloppy and drunk,
I knew in a moment it must be Bob from down the street who is just about the most rabid Alabama fan I know.
More rapid than War Eagles his curses they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, D*&!@! now, D$#?**! now, P&%$$$#@R and V*&^~!
On, C**&$#@@T! on C*&%?! on, D!@#$R and BL*&&^>?N!
To the top of Denny Chimes! to the top of Bear's tower!
Now #$@##%^! away! Feel the Tide's Power!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the moron he climbed,
With a snootful of scotch, and an urge to pee, ill-timed.

And then, he was tinkling, I heard on the roof
The dribbling and dripping of that big goof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down Bob slid and slammed to the ground.

He was dressed all in crimson, from his head to his shoes,
And his clothes were all tarnished with cigar ashes and booze;
A roll of toilet paper, and a box of Tide were flung on his back,
And he smelled like a pig or some kind of macaque.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow (except for the thin brown stream down the side from his dip of Skoal);

The stump of a stogie he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a giant beer belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was dimwitted and slow, a right stupid old cuss,
And I laughed when I thought of him getting hit by a bus;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had more things to dread;

He spoke not a word, but rolled over with a smirk,
And let loose a thundering back burp, the rude old jerk!
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, and striking a pose;

He sprang to his cart, to his team gave a whistle,
And away he drove off, like a low-flying cruise missile.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he weaved out of sight,

"Hey Auburn!
Hey Auburn!
Hey Auburn!

We're gonna beat the hell
out of you!

Rammer Jammer
Yellow Hammer
Give 'em hell Alabama!"

::sniff:: Always brings a tear to my eye, it does.

NEXT UP: MERCILESS TAUNTING OF THE OPPONENT!

Yet another old favorite--

Two Auburn players were fishing on one side of a river, and soon were joined by two Alabama players way over on the opposite bank. They began verbally harassing each other across the distance, until one of the Alabama players could stand it no longer and challenged the more vocal of the Auburn players to a fight.

"JUST TELL ME WHO YOU ARE!" hollered the Bama player across the river.

"COME ON AND GET ME, YOU BIG HICK!" yelled the Auburn player, "AND MAH NAME'S CLARENCE!"

The fight was momentarily stopped however, due to the width and current of the river making crossing impossible.

"HOW KIN I GIT OVER THAR TO WHUP YER BUTT, CLARENCE!?" called the Crimson Avenger.

"GO DOWN YONDER ABOUT A HALF MILE TO THE BRIDGE AND COME ON AND GIT ME!" said Clarence.

Time passed, and after a while, the Alabama player came back with a worried look on his face to find his friend wondering what had happened. "Where you been!? I never seed you go over and fight Clarence over there!"

The first young man replied, "Well, I was all het up to go, but when I got to that bridge, there was a big yeller sign on there that said 'CLEARANCE 13 FEET HIGH' and I lost mah nerve."

NOW THEN, having done all that, on to the tale of the tape. The Plainsmen come into the game resurgent after putting away the Georgians between the Hedges last week, although a bit battered and bruised. They exhibited a poise under pressure in that last game that is a credit to them and to their coaches. They failed to give up, a situation which would have helped a lot against their first opponent of the year, the Yellow Jackets of GaTech. They have the added benefit of the home turf this year, and this game will mark the naming of the playing surface in honor of my good friend Pat Dye, so it would be quite a letdown to lose this one.

THE TIDE, on the other hand, seems to be taking the LSU loss very hard. It was heartbreaking, yes, and messed up any chance for a national title, but still, this is an excellent team, as much as it pains me to say. They are FINALLY playing like a team this year, even if the nasally-gifted young Brody Croyle does get a lot of press related to his BMOC status. Defensively, they are tough as they come, which might be their downfall. Offensively, they manage, but they don't quite have the offensive-defensive-special teams balance that Auburn has recently shown, and Auburn's defense will press hard on Croyle. Look for some interceptions.

If the Crimson defense can hold on tight, it will be a close, hard-fought game. The Bammers can score enough to win, IF their defense is able to shut down the Kenny Irons/Devin Aromashodu/Ben Obamanu run/pass threats by the Tigers. Look for Alabama to blitz often--this has been about the only thing that has stymied the Tigers this year--pass protection has generally been good for soph QB Brandon Cox, except the line seems less able to pick up the blitz. Plays have seemed to develop too slowly, and Cox has shown a slightly elevated level of confusion at these times. Adjusting to this and maintaining some calm will be crucial.

Then on to the special teams--here I have to say Auburn has an edge, especially in punting and on kick returns.

BUT, what of the most important measure of football prowess!?

Auburn's cheerleading page has managed to stay relatively well updated this season, although the photo quality has been spotty. And there is this continual insistence on having pictures of male cheerleaders. This must end.

However, nothing could have prepared me for the shock of seeing how shamefully, woefully underrepresented Alabama is in this contest, with only one photo of each squad. Such a pity. Thankfully, there is some consolation in that the Crimson Caberet seems to understand their importance to the overall ability of the team, manifested by their display of not only another squad photo, but individual members as well. And no guys. Still, both Auburn and Alabama do a much better job with sports such as oh, say, volleyball, where not only do the participants get a big write-up, they also seem to be really, really tall, and blonde. That's a good thing.

IN ANY EVENT, it is now time to go on to the most exciting part of our show, the WEEKLY SCORE PREDICTION! And this week, being special and all, means CELEBRITY PROGNOSTICATIONS!

You might recall a couple of years ago I managed to con James "The Amazing" Randi into giving me a prediction for the game (which turned out to be exactly right) and so I thought I would give him a chance again this year to use his supernatural psychic powers.

I woke up Chet the E-Mail Boy and had him send out this letter the other day:

From: Terry Oglesby
To: randi@randi.org
Date: Nov 15, 2005 10:26 AM
Subject: Once more in need of your Auburn-Alabama prediction!

Good morning, Mr. Randi:

My name is Terry Oglesby, and you might recall that last year [sic--as I said, this was actually two years ago. Ed.] I requested your amazing mental powers to assist me in predicting the score of the Auburn versus Alabama game. I posted your prognostication on the highly stupid blog I write called Possumblog, and obviously, since you have such extreme psychic abilities, your prediction of a crushing Tiger defeat of the hated Crimson Tide was COMPLETELY correct!

After some added clarification on my part.

BE THAT AS IT MAY, it has now become time once again for the annual Festival of Football Madness here in our fair state, and I was wondering if I could once again impose on you for a Special Celebrity Prediction of the score. It would certainly be a thrill for both me, and all both of my readers.

Yours truly,

Terry Oglesby

I waited with extreme anxious waitfulness, until Chet came huffing and blowing into my office with Mr. Amazing's reply:

From: James Randi
To: Terry Oglesby
Date: Nov 15, 2005 10:38 AM
Subject: RE: Once more in need of your Auburn-Alabama prediction!

I’m now in awe of my own powers, and must decline to further exhibit these abilities, for fear of winning my own prize.

Remember, I’m 100% correct, at this point – so I’ll now retire.

James Randi.

Crushed, yet still not defeated, I had Chet send one more message--

Well, poop. Hmm. Could I use your rejection letter instead? It would still go a long way toward giving the place a little celebrity glamour.

Terry

And guess what?! SUCCESS!

Sure...
James Randi.

WOO-HOO!

Now then, counting up the total of words in the message Mr. Randi first wrote, I arrive at the number 36. Counting up the total number of words in his LAST message, I arrive at 3. Therefore, I think it safe to say that Celebrity Score-Guesser James Randi predicts Auburn 36--Alabama 3.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL--I have saved the best for last!

None other than the lovely and fantabulous NBC13 Health Reporter and Auburn alumna WENDY GARNER!!

Say hello, Wendy!

wendygarner.jpg

"HELLO!" [not her actual voice]

I also had Chet send her a message begging for her perspicacity--

From: Terry Oglesby
To: "Garner, Wendy (NBC Universal, WVTM)"
Date: Nov 15, 2005 9:59 AM
Subject: The Arn Boll

Hey Wendy--

I am going to do my usual annual celebrity forecast on Friday for the big game. Now I know in years past you were bound to secrecy about your prediction, but since your station's not doing the weekly picks this year, would you consider giving me your official prediction? I would certainly appreciate it!

Hope everything's going well for you, and look forward to receiving your reply.

Thanks,
Terry

With quiet anticipation, Chet and I listened for the tell-tale clatter of his telegraph key, and we were richly rewarded yesterday morning:

From: Garner, Wendy (NBC Universal, WVTM)
To: Terry Oglesby
Date: Nov 16, 2005 10:46 AM
Subject: RE: The Arn Boll

Gladly!

AUBURN- 28
alabama- 14

How are you? I hope you're doing well!!
WAR EAGLE!

wg

She's so darned cute! (And I say this platonically, given that her husband is a gigantic fellow who played football at Auburn, and who would probably like nothing better than to squish me into a runny paste.)

Anyway, I hold great hope for her accuracy.

Finally, what would the Possumblog Sports Center pregame show be without a pick from our Football Pickin' Chicken?! Pretty darned boring, that's what! Sadly, it seems our LAST Football Pickin' Chicken, Avi, ran off to Barbados with a man claiming to be a matador and expert in C++ and Fortran. So, we've had to get Kit, the Wonder Cat, to stand in today for the FPC. Take it away, Kit!

Kit the wonder cat.jpg

Stupid cat. Well, before he passed out, he expressed concern about the game, and seems to think it will be a low-scoring affair. As best as I can tell, he said Auburn 14--Alabama 13, but it's hard to tell with all the purring and burping up of hairballs.

ANYWAY, that my friends has been the EXTENDED PLAY VERSION of Possumblog Sports Center! Tune into see the big game at 2:30 on See B.S.

Until either the SEC Championship or a bowl game of some sort, we bid you adieu!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)

November 17, 2005

Time once more for More Mean-Spirited Taunting of the Opponent!

And oldie but a goodie.

An Auburn and an Alabama engineering student were working for a road contractor one summer. At lunchtime, they both sat down on the edge of the unfinished bridge they were building and opened their lunchboxes. The Auburn student exclaimed, "Hot dogs AGAIN! If I EVER get hot dogs in my lunch again, I swear I'm gonna jump of this bridge and kill myself!" The Alabama student opened his lunchbox and pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "Peanut butter and jelly again! If I EVER get another peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch again, I swear I'm gonna jump off this bridge and kill myself!"

The next day arrived, and as they sat on the bridge about to eat lunch, the Auburn student pulled out his lunchbox. Sure enough, hot dogs. He threw down his box in disgust and flung himself to his death. The Alabama student looked in his lunchbox, and, as you can guess, he had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And, as was his promise, he plunged headlong off the bridge to his demise.

At the funeral, the mothers of the two students tried to console each other. The mother of the Auburn student cried, "If I'd only known how much he hated hot dogs, I would have made him something different!" The mother of the Alabama student wailed, "I just don't understand! My poor son made his own lunch every day!"

Now then, I'm gonna go have lunch with My Friend Jeff and swap magazines. I promise we will not be near any bridges.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

Christmas Gifts

...for the child who has ALMOST everything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:09 AM | Comments (6)

November 16, 2005

What time is it? TIME FOR MERCILESS TAUNTING OF THE OPPONENT!

Today's joke an old one, shamelessly stolen from Buzzle.com.

A University of Alabama football player was visiting a Yankee relative in Boston over the holidays. He went to a large party and met a pretty co-ed. He attempted to start up a conversation by asking her, "Where does you go to school?"

The co-ed, of course, was not overly impressed with his grammar or southern drawl, but did answer his question.

"Yale," she replied.

The UA student took a big, deep breath and shouted, "WHERE DOES YOU GO TO SCHOOL?"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (3)

November 15, 2005

Time for the Next Installment of Mean-Spirited Taunting!

This was a cute one I picked up over on the WSFA website:

A first grade teacher explained to her class that she was an Alabama fan. She asked her students to raise their hands if they were Alabama fans, too. Not really knowing what an Alabama fan was, but wanting to be liked by their teacher, their hands flew into the air. There was, however, one exception. A little girl named Jane had not raised her hand.

The teacher asked her why she decided to be different. "Because I'm not an Alabama fan," she answered.

Hearing this, the teacher asked, "Well, then, what are you?"

"I'm a proud Auburn fan!" the girl said.

The teacher was more than a little perturbed at this information, and her face grew slightly red. She asked Jane, "Why are you an Auburn fan?"

"Well, my dad and mom are Auburn fans, so I'm an Auburn fan, too," she responded.

The teacher grew even more agitated. "Jane! That's no reason!" she said loudly. "What if your mom was a moron, and your dad was an idiot!? What would you be then?"

Jane smiled and said, "Then I'd be an Alabama fan!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2005

Saturday?

Well, I imagine there was stuff to do--I do recall several loads of laundry being done, and other stuff, but the big thing was FOOTBALL!

The Tide couldn't quite pull it out. I'm actually sad--I pulled for them because an LSU loss would have made it mathematically easier for Auburn to be able to have a shot at maybe going to the SEC playoff. Still, in the back of my mind, I kept remembering what Reba related to me about what one of the more obnoxious Bama friends at church said back a few weeks ago, when LSU picked off Auburn in overtime--she sidled up and quietly said to Reba, in the good-natured but still-dead-serious way that the True Believers have--"I am soooo glad LSU won!"

Well, backatcha, woman.

Reba was gracious enough not to say anything to her yesterday. Probably best to wait until after Saturday.

AS FOR AUBURN--what a game. What a game. I can't quite recall one as wild as that, with more lead changes than a NASCAR race, and the sort of high drama that makes you check to make sure you have the ambulance company on speed dial. And poor ol' John Vaughn got that LSU monkey off his back in the best possible way--the winning score in the last six seconds of the game. Hard to beat that.

But they're going to have to, because as we all know, the biggest game of the year comes up in only five more days, meaning this is the kickoff of

THE WEEK OF CEASELESS, MEAN-SPIRITED TAUNTING!

Today's cruel jape comes courtesy of Skillzy, who has this gem:

A man showed up at a Bama game with a little dog with a red collar and a little red sweater with an A on the back. The gate guard said “Hey, that’s a cute dog, but you have to have a ticket for him too”. The man replied, “Yes, I know. I take him to all the games. When we beat South Carolina he will run from the top of the stands to the bottom, skipping every other step, when we beat Mississippi State he will walk up and down the aisles on his front paws, and when we beat Ole Miss he will turn little back flips”. The guard smiled and said “well, that’s really something. What does he do when we beat Auburn?” The man looked down and said, “I don’t know, I’ve only had him 3 years”

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2005

The Assimilation Nears Completion

I was obviously very late today, but due to no fault by anyone in our family. Reba and I have had to take separate cars this past two weeks because she's been tied up with billing at work, so I am unfettered by the potential for errors in judging preparation time.

HOWEVER, I can't control everyone else, and so this morning someone got the bright idea of recreating the recent Parisian carflagration on the side of I-59 inbound to Birmingham. Right there around Roebuck Parkway, meaning the usual delays and backups were exacerbated by flames and emergency vehicles and rubberneckers. I had originally planned to go on and go that way, but it was all at a dead stop, so at the last moment I decided to hop on I-459 and link up with I-20 down the road a ways. Just like everyone else.

Yep, it was jammed, too. But at least it WAS moving.

Now, unbeknownst to me, Miss Reba, who left the house before the kids and I, decided to go straight through. And, obviously, became mired down. In one of those odd coincidences, it seems that even though I had taken the kids to school, and gone a completely different route, when I-20 and I-59 finally merged into one at the airport exit, I had managed to arrive at the on ramp at just the same time as Miss Reba.

Again, I did not realize this until she called a few minutes ago and said I had an AWFULLY intense look on my face when I merged in front of her. I hadn't even realized she was there!

BUT, the most important part of the conversation, and the topic of this post--"Yeah, I was just toodling along, and I saw this old silver Volvo come by, and I thought, 'Hey, that's a pretty good-looking Volvo,' and it was all shiny, and had nice shiny taillights, and then I realized, 'HEY! That's TERRY!"

Surely you see the signs that my "I Am A Moron" Project has finally reached a fatal level on those around me!

Evidence?

A) She sees a car, and can correctly identify it as a Volvo.

B) Despite the poor condition of the paint on top of the car, she still seems to think it looks pretty good for its age.

C) She notices inconsequential items such as the taillights.

and D) She notices all of this without being prompted AND without at first realizing it was her moronic husband's car!

MwuhahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!! SHE'S MINE!!

I won't even go into when we went out to eat this past Sunday, and she noticed a late model C70 parked next to us that had headlight wipers, and she asked me if mine had those, and I told her no, but that it had space for them and they could be installed, and she didn't say, "Well, don't get any bright ideas," but rather, "Those look so CUTE!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:31 AM | Comments (10)

November 07, 2005

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

WARNING: Graphic Volvo Content! Do not read extended entry if you are likely to be offended by such content!


Finally, finally, finally!

Did one more read-through of my instruction sheet that I wish to thank Dave Shannon for providing, got my tools, and set to work.

One thing I want to say for sure--although Reba thinks it's weird for me to take pictures of what I'm doing, it turned out to be a lifesaver. So always have a digital camera handy, and take pictures as you go along.

I won't go into all the details here--that Dave guy's site pretty well covers it all. Except for the part about just exactly how hard it is to get the fool thing out of the car. Obviously, it was constructed without the steering wheel in place, and to try to maneuver the thing out with the tiller in the way creates many problems. But not insurmountable. And unlike some things, this would not have been any easier with two people. Basically, it's just not meant to be done. As if that could stop me.

Anyway, I did get it all torn up and after I got down to the guts inside the dash, I tried to figure out what went wrong with my defroster. It puts out about as much warm breath as a corpse. Before I tore into everything, I figured out I wasn't getting any vacuum to the damper controls--I could push the buttons all I wanted to and nothing different would happen.

SO, I played with the vacuum servos for a bit and could tell they had enough seal to work--one would move when I squished the other. Hmm. I wonder if there's a vacuum line loose outside in the engine?

Popped the hood, and started looking for rubber lines coming out of the dashboard. Found a couple of electrical connectors that I have no clue what they do, and then finally, the open end of an old greasy rubber tube with tape on the end. BINGO! I pulled it up from behind the cylinder head and traced it back around to the firewall. Well, that's where it goes TO, I wonder where it hooks into the engine?!

I looked around the intake manifold, and right there in plain view, a nice little copper elbow, begging for a rubber tube to violate. I cut the brittle end of the rubber tube off, stretched it as far as I could and pulled a bit out of the firewall, snugged it onto the the elbow, cranked up the car, and HOORAY! The little vacuum servos went back and forth just like they should, delivering air to the defroster ducts, and the floor vents, and a blast of air out the center when called upon! Yippee! (Yes, I was happy to figure that out.) Shut it off and heard the satisfying ::sighhhhh:: of the vacuum reservoir leaking down. Apparently, I've been driving around without any sort of damper control since I bought it, being that this is the first time I've heard that whoosh when I shut down. Very nice. Sometime after I got things back together, I decided I would get some more tubing to make the engine line a bit longer--it was stretched further than it should, and it needs to have some slack for when the engine rocks back and forth.

OF COURSE, after my successful tracking down of this item, this morning I just found out that the guy whose website has the dashboard replacement ALSO has a tip on fixing the vacuum line. Almost the same thing as what I did. I sure wish I had read that beforehand.

Anywho, while the dash was out, I looked at everything and marvelled at the junk crammed in there, and watched the very entertaining windshield wiper arms and cables and pulleys operate. OH, and I had to work on my odometer, too!

See, it kinda makes a bit of a herky-jerky motion as the numbers on the trip odometer go around, and as you recall, I replaced the tiny white gear inside the guts of the thing when I first started driving the car. Well, I thought that it was possible I had put the tiny gear in upside down on its tiny little spindle, and maybe it was causing things to drag. So, I took the instrument panel inside, pulled the speedometer head, opened up the odometer motor, looked at the gear, and satisfied myself that I had indeed put it in the right way. I buttoned everything back up and went back to work.

It was about lunchtime, but I couldn't eat, because I was running out of time, and I wanted to get the new dash in before we had to leave. And added to this was the fact that while she was at TJ Maxx, Reba had gotten a bottle of some sort of Moroccan marinade that had pomegranate juice in it, along with vinegar. LOTS of vinegar. The whole kitchen smelled horrible--she was cooking some steak strips for the kids to have some fajitas, and the overpowering vinegar smell was more than I could take.

FRESH AIR!

Now then, getting the new dash into place.

As hard as the old dash was to get in, the replacement was even harder to get in.

I didn't care too much if I broke something on the old one, but the new one I had to be extra super special careful. Which was impossible. After much grunting and pushing and pulling and aligning pegs with holes and shoving and grabbing, I finally had it more or less in position. Started screwing in the many screws, found that I had one of the light switches caught between the framework and the dash. Undo, move, rescrew. Then, the cable.

Great huge thing running under the ignition switch. Little did I remember that the cable had originally run OUTSIDE the dash, and I was doing ALL I COULD to ram it back up under the pad. No luck, obviously. GRR! What was I doing wrong!?

"Terry, it's..."

"I KNOW, I KNOW, I'M COMING!"

It had gotten to be 4:00, and Reba had come out--fully dressed and ready to go--to remind me. We were supposed to leave at 4:00. And I was still covered in sweat and smears of sticky soundproofing mastic. And my dashboard was still not in right. And I had to get a shower and put on nice clothes, because I thought it was a nice clothes event.

I locked up my stuff and took off upstairs, rather in a put-out mood, I must say.

Showered, washed my hair, shaved, brushed my teeth, deodorized, put on my shirt, pants, socks, shoes, belt, tie, loaded my pockets, grabbed my suit coat--4:15. Quite possible the fasted pit stop I've ever accomplished.

All because Reba's mom wanted to leave at 4:00 so we could get there and find a parking place. Reba called to let them know we were just now leaving. They weren't ready to go.

::sigh::

We went on toward their house--they were going to follow us down, and Reba's dad had told her they'd wait for us at the turnaround at the entrance to the neighborhood. Got to the light, turned, and there they go. Turning out of the subdivision. So much for waiting at the turnaround.

The drive down was very relaxing, which must explain why it was so hard to stay awake. Must have been the soothing rain and the hypnotic windshield wipers.

BUT, we did get to Tuscaloosa!

Next: Where's Moody Music Building?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:02 PM | Comments (4)

November 02, 2005

Part Two of the Plan Proceeds.

Actually, more like Part 2.2. Part One being the delivery of my new cruddy old wheels, Part Two being getting them out of my office into the van so I could take them home at lunch today. (No, I do not intend to buy them lunch. They're on their own on that score.) However, I was stymied in my effort to proceed with Part Two due to a decided lack of a way to get the box out to the parking deck.

Obviously, being wheels, they should roll just fine, but I thought it might look a little too weird to try to roll four wheels onto the elevator, down the corridor, up the ramp and load them. I needed something to put the box on, such as, oh, the department's set of hand trucks.

AND THUS BEGINS THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY HAND TRUCKS.

First stop, downstairs in the other part of the division. Looked in the plan room, in the back of the plan room, asked the intern kid in the dungeon of the plan room, looked in the computer geek's warren, was told in NO uncertain terms that those things were on MY floor and had BEEN there for months. ::sigh::

On the way out, looked in their supply room (also looked for any cool supplies they might have upon which I could perform a little light-fingered requisition), then stopped in the inspector's hive and their conference room. Nothing.

Back upstairs.

Looked in the junk room, the small junk room, then in the nest of zoning people, and was told that The Guy Who Can't Do Tables in MSWord (and Who Talks To Me at the Urinal While I Pee) knew where they were.

::SIGH::

Gee, I wonder if I could maybe just carry them out one-by-one...

Went and asked The Guy where the hand trucks might be.

"OH! Those are downstairs. There in the map room. In the closet. Come on! I'll show you!"

Can't you just tell me?

"Guy, can't you just tell me?"

"Aww, no--come on, I'll show you right where they are!"

Back downstairs, this time with full-time blithering accompaniment.

Into the place I started, walked past the intern kid, Guy opens locked closet door, and THERE, bright shining in the bluish fluorescent glow...

our hand trucks.

Yay.

I leaned around the corner and told the intern kid where they were in case anyone else needed to know. He said, "Thanks, sir!" Kids.

I left The Guy standing there jabbering to himself and to anyone else he could buttonhole as I went back upstairs. Loaded the box, managed to get back out of my office without killing myself, onto the elevator, back downstairs, down the corridor, up the ramp, to the van, and SUCCESS!

And yes, I returned the hand trucks to their rightful home.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)

November 01, 2005

WOO-HOO!

My wheels are here! My wheels are here!

The UPS guy just dropped off a big box full of four dirty, scuffed, Draco alloy wheels!

Hmm.

Now, how to get these into the garage without any uncomfortable questions?

They might just have to hang around here in the office as paperweights for a while...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:47 PM | Comments (16)

October 27, 2005

Say it ain't so, Jö!

U.N. report: Volvo, DaimlerChrysler paid illegal surcharges to Iraq in oil-for-food program

ASSOCIATED PRESS

UNITED NATIONS — About half of the 4,500 companies in the U.N. oil-for-food program, including Volvo and DaimlerChrysler, paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks and illicit surcharges to Saddam Hussein’s government, a U.N.-backed investigation said in a report released today.

The report from the committee probing claims of wrongdoing in the $64 billion program indicates that about 2,200 companies participated in extensive manipulation of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq. [...]

Must I now divest myself of my lump of iron so as to remain ritually pure from the taint of corruption!? Maybe not--

[...] The report said, for example, that Brussels-based Volvo Construction Equipment paid $317,000 in extra fees to the Iraqi government on a $6.4 million contract. Volvo Construction is part of Swedish-based Volvo Group, which referred all questions to Volvo Construction Equipment’s headquarters in Brussels. The group is separate from Volvo automobiles, which is owned by Ford. [...]

Danged Belgians.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2005

Good morning!

Finally left last night around 7:15, but that's just fine, because it meant I got to stay here long enough to make sure I won a couple of pieces of Volvo plastic on Ebay. Yay.

AND IN OTHER NEWS--

In the increasingly incestuous world of blogs, it should come as no surprise that one of Possumblog's children's friend's uncle's nephew on his mother's side blogs has spun off YET ANOTHER offspring. A Moron Project Blog about Moron Projects!? Well, it was bound to happen.

Just got a note this morning from a certain fellow who has decided to start a general interest blog about car repairs and restoration. Cletus (possibly not his real name) comes to us via the B-B-Q Emporium at Compleat Redneck, where he hangs around with Billy Joe Bob and Elroy and Bubba and several other regulars and rocket scientists from Redstone Arsenal.

Striking out on his on, Cletus has started Cletus' Car Corner (and gets extra points for proper apostrophe use!), about which he says--

Well, it's been a long time coming but I finally started my own blog. Seeing as I am as at least as good a mechanic as those NPR guys, if not as rich, I decided that this would be the Internet equivalent. This is how it works. You write me your car related questions and using the crack research team down at the BBQ Emporium, I give you the answer to your problems and at the same time maybe even tell you what your car needs. The big difference between me and the Car Talk boys is you don't get to hear my maniacal laughter while I look up the answers on the Net.
I happen to know Cletus in real life, and despite his homespun ways, in addition to wrenching a variety of makes, he's been in the Army and currently does all kinds of smart-guy stuff up in North Alabama. I won't say much more in order to allow him some sense of mystery, which is so necessary to the proper demeanor of the best auto mechanics. You don't expect a magician to tell you his secrets, do you?! Of course not!

Anyway, if you have a question about car repair and life in general, be sure to say hello to Cletus. Obviously, Luther, Possumblog Garages/Revolvoblog's chief mechanic, is all up in my face wanting to help out, too, so you might see him wander by, grumble, spit tobacco juice, hem, haw, and leave without fixing anything, just like he does around here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2005

Well, it was bound to happen.

The nice lady who stumbled into Revolvoblog the other day has not only been bitten by the Volvo bug, but also the blogging bug as well.

Poor woman.

But, as usual, if her efforts turn out well, I intend to take credit for it.

(Also, be sure and see Jordana's Volvo, too!)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)

October 11, 2005

Another Moron A'birthed!

I had a commentor over on Revolvoblog this morning who somehow managed to find his (or her) way in there, and confessed to having started a Moron Project of his (or her) own in the form of a '90 DL wagon. It's certainly nice to know how pervasive Moron Projects are!

Anyway, in honor of his (or her) request, I did a bit of reworking on one of the products in the CafePress shop so he (or she) could order a coffee mug with cogito ergo volvo (I think, therefore I roll) on it. They make marvelous holiday gifts you know. Not that I'm suggesting you go buy any. Or six.

Just sayin', is all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2005

Well, it's not quite the Iron Bowl...

...but it gets pretty close, nonetheless.

Seeing as how the Tigers are off this week, we'll have to make do with some slammin' high school action with the always entertaining Paws and Claws Bowl, pitting the 5-1 Hewitt Huskies against our next-town-over rivals, the 4-2 Cougars of Clay-Chalkville.

And you know what? I really wasn't that hepped up on going. I really just wanted to go home and go to bed. But Oldest is having to go and help sell red-gray-n-white school tchotchkes, so I suppose it won't hurt me to go. And it's always a good game--the rivalry is intense beyond all reason, so there's always plenty of hitting and stuff. And this year it's at home, so that's okay.

Really, the only question is whether or not to get out Possumblog Sport Center's spindly Football Pickin' Chicken, Nancy Pelosi,to help with the prediction.

Being that she is accustomed to prognosticating for college games, this might be something she is uncomfortable doing, what with how shy and unwilling to go beyond her knowledge she is. I'll have Chet the E-Mail Boy go get her and see how she handles this task.

Hmm. Football Pickin' Chicken Nancy Pelosi seems listless and disinterested. Maybe if Chet holds her.

Nope, not working either.

"WELL, maybe I'll just have to go put on a pot of water to boil and..."

There now--that's better! Nancy Pelosi's much perkier now! I'll place her in the specially-constructed Football Pickin' Chicken Coop with Improved Digital Technology and Live Doppler One Million Feed and we'll see what she predicts.

HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE 24
CLAY-CHALKVILLE 21

Here's hoping she's right, because there ain't much meat on those drumsticks of hers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2005

And speaking of cartoons...

...is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the striking similarity between the grille of the new Subaru B9 Tribeca--
tribeca.jpg

and Squidward?
squidward.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:35 AM | Comments (5)

September 30, 2005

Did you say Moron!?

Oh, you betcha!

My Friend Jeff seems to have caught the "I Am A Moron" bug from me. He sent me an e-mail yesterday morning, and over the course of several minutes it devolved--or deVolvoed--into the stupidest pile of crap you could ever read.

And yes, it is my fault.

Anyway, since it is laden with all sorts of hot Volvo action, I won't burden you with it here, but will direct you over to Revolvoblog for the fuller accounting.

That is, assuming you want to read a coversation between two really dumb guys talking about sturdy, if prosaic, Swedish motorcars.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

September 28, 2005

Quite Possibly, the only place you are likely to EVER see--

--the proper nouns "Hollywood," "National Lampoon," and "Trussville" in the same place:

Area natives co-producing latest National Lampoon movie

Two Birmingham producers are doing their part to bring Tinsel Town to the Magic City.

Jonathan Barbee and Steven Gurley, natives of Trussville and Mountain Brook, respectively, are currently in Hollywood and serving as co-executive producers for National Lampoon's next box office release, "Cattle Call." The romantic comedy wrapped production Sept. 3.

Barbee and Gurley, of Media Works Communications in Birmingham, produced local and regional television programs, films, and commercials before seeking big-screen opportunities.

"It's a whole different world of filmmaking here in Hollywood, and we are excited to have National Lampoon behind this film," Barbee says. "This is a great opportunity for us, but it's an even bigger one for Birmingham and the state of Alabama." [...]

"A lot of filmmakers try to make movies in Alabama and bring the film industry here. We've learned that you have to first prove yourselves in Hollywood with a successful film, and then Hollywood will follow you back to Alabama," Gurley says. [...]

Makes sense to me. I suppose that's why the movie treatment for Possumblog: Silver Screen Hijinx is still languishing.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:23 AM | Comments (6)

September 27, 2005

Well--

--they must have gotten it fixed. I wonder what keeps messing up with it?

No matter. SO, as I was saying, I've gotten to play with the Photoshop toy for a bit this afternoon. I found one site called Planet Photoshop (it's actually here on Earth) that has some fairly good tutorials (although they all seem to presuppose a relatively high level of competence). I found one that sort of intrigued me, a somewhat goofy one on how to color black-and-white photos. I know how much the artsy sorts hate such things, but I think it's kinda neat, and I've done some colored pencil tinting that turned out looking pretty cool. SO, I figured I'd give it a try, using one of my favorite B&W photos, this one of Loretta Young--

Rrrowl. Anyway, that's that, and this was a first pass at putting some colors on there--

This took about an hour--mainly trying to figure out what buttons and stuff you're supposed to click on. The actual process of putting the color in wasn't so difficult. The thing that's a bit off, at least to my eye, are that the shadows and highlights only read as lighter or darker hues of the same color, which winds up looking awfully dull. In actual light, reflections can have a touch of complementary color in them, which tends to make the colors appear more vibrant. Another thing that I mentioned down in the coments below is that I have a bad eye for just picking the right color. I've always relied on the name on the pencil or marker to get me in the ballpark, and trying to figure out skin tones and stuff based on those multi-million hue grids is difficult for me.

Anyway, learning about such things is rather entertaining.

Oops--well, my comments won't allow photos, so here we go:

Here's sepia toned Loretta:

Annd here's colorized sepia toned Loretta:

The biggest problem was figuring out how to turn the photo into sepia. And I finally figured out that the bathing suit is a one-piece--the top and bottom are made together, but I thought until I was reworking it again that it was a top and a pair of pants. Anyway...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:26 PM | Comments (8)

September 20, 2005

Sign of the End Times?

I report, you decide--

University of Tennessee: 1-1 overall, 0-1 in SEC play
Vanderbilt University: 3-0 overall, 2-0 in SEC play

I'd says it's definitely suspicious. I'm just glad Auburn was able to beat Ball State. (Of course, so is Lil' Joe Biden.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:12 PM | Comments (6)

There may be little Possumblog today...

...but there's always Oktoberfest!

Were I ever to take up drinking and carousing, I would blame this photo.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:25 AM | Comments (4)

September 15, 2005

HHR

Yes, the new Chevy "It's NOT a PT Cruiser" Heritage High Roof, aka Cobalt MiniWagon/Dessert Topping AND Floor Wax.

I've written about this one before, back when I was taunting Bob Lutz for getting so defensive about the inevitable comparison to the competitor's product. Anyway, I saw a brand new one for the first time this morning on the way in to work.

Black, with shiny wheels. Not bad, although a lot smaller in person than it looks in pictures. And the roof seems to be chopped a bit--sorta squatty-like. But the real test? Miss Reba, who cannot STAND PT Cruisers. Says they remind her of rolling turds. I kinda like them myself, although more for the inside than the outside, which is a bit mannered, but at least had the benefit of being original(ish. I mean, it does hark back to the '30s.)

Anyway, I pointed the HHR out and explained a bit about it and asked her opinion.

"Well, I hate to say it, but I like the way the PT Cruiser looks better than that thing."

Mr. Lutz, if there's any consolation, you can at least be happy that it's not as bad as the late Pontiac Aztek.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:22 PM | Comments (15)

September 09, 2005

The things you see in bumper to bumper traffic.

Before I even get started with this, let me say right now that I love every single person in Ohio--you're all wonderful, even if you are Yankees. You also have a wonderful, beautiful state that is hi in the middle and round on both ends.

Second, this isn't intended to be one of my usual Yankeephobic tweakings.

Third, until this morning, I had always thought Alabama had the ugliest and most insipid normal-issue car license plates in the entire country--nay, the WORLD.

Until that black Corolla cut in front of me. First thought--"Well, bless their heart--they're from out of town, and to make matters worse, they learned to drive by filling out a correspondence course."

Second thought--"Where ARE they from?!"

Even though their butt-end was right in front of my bumper, it was still exceedingly difficult to tell the name of the state on the plate--it was red on the top, and blue on the bottom, and white in the middle, which would be suitable for all U.S. States as well as half of the world who use red, white, and blue in their national flags.

I finally was able to make out a name at the top of the plate, which was written in loopy happy teenaged girl handwriting--and yes,it said Ohio. With a pretty little star over the 'I'. OMG! Sewww KEWL!

Please, Buckeye Staters--if you're proud of your state, make the name easier to read. Especially on something like a license plate, where your fellow drivers might only get a teeny glimpse of it as they flip you off and blow the horn. People want to know who they're mad at, you know? (And no, I didn't do any horn-blowing or finger-waving. It's very rude. But I know how some of you are.)

Second, I was finally able to make out the slogan--"Birthplace of Aviation." All well and good, and I never knew the Montgolfier brothers (or Icarus) grew up in Ohio, but be that as it may--two thoughts. Once again, if it's worth being proud about, make it big enough to READ! And maybe, instead of some little-kid drawing of a pwecious pwetty sunshiney thing that's missing only smiley face eyes and grin to make it complete, put an AIRPLANE on there. Or something. ANYthing.

I understand the perceived need by the tourism folks to slather anything they can on the plates so people will feel all warm and fuzzy, but honestly, I would prefer to see this.

(Or this, for that matter.)

Now then, I feel all better.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:38 AM | Comments (13)

September 07, 2005

Stupid, STUPID Blogger!

Been a while since you heard that, eh? Well, I was just going to take a minute to update Revolvoblog with, well, with nothing really since I've had no time to work on things, but no matter--I went ahead and wrote my snippet, pressed Publish, and just like old times...

pht.

Nothing. Pining for the fjords, it was.

Stupid, STUPID Blogger.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:34 PM | Comments (6)

August 30, 2005

My package?

Hooray! It finally got where it was going! I've been waiting on this for nearly three weeks now--the guy I bought it from on Ebay has pretty good feedback, but even his positive comments are peppered with notes about slow shipment. He seems to think that as long as he ships within the guidelines set by Ebay that everything's hunky-dory, which is technically true, but not a great way to do business if you ship EVERYthing slowly. And he was nearly impossible to raise on the e-mail machine, which inspired no small amount of nervousness on my part. But, thankfully, it did ship and only took a week to get here from California, which I suppose isn't so bad.

Further, in what I think would be classified as a minor miracle, the thing got to the house UNDAMAGED! It was in two cobbled-together cardboard lamp boxes, and cushioned with newspaper. Not very confidence-inspiring as I pulled it out, nor was the fact that one of the mounting pins on the front edge had poked a hole through the box. But after getting all the paper off and taking a look at it, the dashboard was in perfect condition--uncracked speaker grill, uncracked defroster vents, and a pristine cover. In fact, it looks almost new. A nice thing, especially when you see the condition of the one that's in there now, which looks something like a relief map of the Grand Canyon. In any event, I'm still astounded that this big long hunk of plastic managed to make it all the way to Alabama in one piece. Now, if I can just get it installed without tearing anything up...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

"Say, Terry..."

"...surely you did SOMETHING to relax this weekend!"

Oh, silly--of course I did. I typed! Yes, really. You thought maybe I was joking about the moron thing?!

Well, it's like this--I got to thinking the other day it would be nice to have some new designs for the Revolvoblogshop, but maybe something a bit different. I mean, all the other designs are just FLYING out of there (like a dead parrot), so maybe if there were even MORE things no one wanted, it would make a difference.

I like old gas signs and junk like that--what collectors call "petroliana"--and thought it might be nice to see what all I could think up. It's a bit like what Lileks has been doing with his matchbooks, except rather than make up a story to go with a real matchbook, I'd make up a story AND the graphics to go with it.

So, I got to thinking, and I consulted with Luther, our chief mechanic here at the Axis of Weevil World Headquarters, as well as at Revolvoblog Garages. Luther has been in the business a very long time, and thought it might be fun to reminisce with some of the junk he kept from when he ran his own place.

Such as this lovely wall sign, which was professionally done by his boys, Jimmy Neil and Clew. As you can see, Luther was set on being able to fix anything, and chose to experiement with a variety of marques and found them all quite unreasonable. (You should be able to tell this is a fictional sign, because no one actually can fix anything made by Lucas.) He ran his shop in Godly Hollow from 1945 to 1953, 1955 to 1956, 1958 to 1965, 1969 to 1978, March, 1982 to May, 1982, and finally from 1983 to 1996, when he came to work for us. The intervening years he did other things, about which he will not speak.

Some of the stuff he has include several things from the various gasoline companies he sold for over the years. Again, these aren't real companies, but they could be if someone had ever existed to create them. First up, Re-Di-Co, founded in 1908 by three sisters in Gadsden who were tired of the smell of the gasoline of the day (which smells pretty much like it does today) and contracted with a laboratory to produce something for their motorcar that stank less. Work proceded on this until the Great War, when the enterprising scientists of the lab convinced the War Department that an odorless fuel could give them an advantage over the Huns. The government granted the laboratory a stipend of over $3,000, and although the promise never was quite fulfilled, the sisters soon went deaf-of-smell and the Germans were defeated, so it didn't really matter. The company sold just plain old gasoline until 1946.

Dot gas came out in 1940, and was sold in three counties in Alabama and one in Florida. It was inexpensive, and not a very high quality fuel, and sales relied on pleading with customers to buy their gas and on product giveaways, such as Dot dishes with the colorful Dot logo in the center. The company folded in 1950, after being purchased by the Spot Oil Company.

One of the more vigorous of the local oil companies was the Deep South Petroleum Corporation, makers of the Penn-Ala-Tex line of products and boasting of offices in Houston and Birmingham. The offices were both just answering services, and although the products were made of the "finest blended Pennsylvania and Texas crude," it really was nothing more than a mixing and blending operation using other companies' products, located in a warehouse in Huntsville. Something like the way enterprising entrepreneurs take tap water and bottle it, then sell it as something better than plain old tap water, Penn-Ala-Tex prided itself on being able to sell a whole lot of sizzle without much steak. The tagline "It's STA-BIL-ATED!" was meaningless, but the company managed to do quite well for itself with such meaninglessness, until all of the money ran out and the offices moved to Argentina.

Luther also found one of his favorite bits of ephemera, or as he charmingly calls it, "trash," in a booklet from the Cotton State Oil and Gasoline Company, makers of Bama-Lene brand products.

Cotton State's founder and CEO, Wilson L. Peltipuller, was a stickler for modernity and the scientific method, as well as something of a germophobe who valued cleanliness in everything he touched. His insistence on sanitation extended to his products, which he claimed to be so pure as to be potable. The advertising for Bama-Lene touted its healthful benefits for both cars and humans, and to prove the point, he often drank small quantities of his company's gasoline as "a refreshing digestive purgative," would wash his hands in towels dampened with a mixture of naptha and kerosene, and used a mixture of light petrolatum and benzene as a pomade.

Mr. Peltipuller died on April 14, 1956 at the age of 103. His cremation was a five-alarm affair that lasted a week.

We hope you've enjoyed this trip down nonmemory lane, and invite you to think of the "Luther's Garage" Collection when it comes time to buy gifts for your loved ones!

(All graphics copyright Terry Oglesby, obviously.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:29 PM | Comments (4)

August 16, 2005

BERGMAN! VOLVO! DUKE BOYS! SCARLETT JOHANSSON! IOWAHAWK!

Thanks to Dave Helton for this link to the ever inventive Iowahawk, and his treatment for a worthy successor to the original Dukes of Hazzard show.

WARNING: Contains Volvos.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:31 PM | Comments (2)

Moron Project AND Heat Exhaustion!

Such fun! Anyway, the full recounting of the hot HOT backseat Volvo action can be read here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:39 AM | Comments (6)

August 12, 2005

Fill in the blank.

"I am a _____."




"Moron?"

DING! Give that visitor a prize!

You notice that I bailed yesterday to go to my dentist appointment around 2:00. However, what I did not mention is that my appointment wasn't until 4:00. Why would I leave so much time in between?

Oh, surely by now you can guess. I mean, you already got the fill-in-the-blank part right.




"Junkyarding?"

EXACTLY!

Now then, the rest of this is silly Volvo talk (and will also be crossposted on Revolvoblog), and you can skip out and go read something else now if you want. This might be entertaining nonetheless, for it does contain fleeting thoughts of dire peril. Oh, and then there's all sorts of heartwarming family comedy/drama activity at the end of the entry, so you might not want to hear about that, either.

Now then--still there?

Okay, here we go...

Anyway, I just had to go back and get those lovely blue rear seat headrests I had seen on my last visit. BUT FIRST, I had to figure out ahead of time how they come out, because I didn't want to get there and not have the right tool.

So, off first to my shop manuals.

Nothing. Not a blessed thing.

The factory manuals I have don't have the section about interiors, and the cheapo Haynes book says nothing about them. ON TO THE INTERNETS, where I found out that headrest removal is absolutely no different from any other topic of a technical nature, in that it seems the guys who are most willing to share their expertise are also the ones in most dire need of basic writing skills. Or skylz. It would be nice to just have a simple set of clear instructions.

I did find one obscure post that kinda had the information I was looking for, and it mentioned that there were 10mm nuts holding things together (somewhere) and that it needed two people--one inside to pull the rests upward, and someone in the trunk to release some sorts of clips. Hmm. Obviously, I am only one person. (Despite all the voices in my head.) This might take some ingenuity. Or stupidity.

Anyway, I began planning my raid on Wednesday night, when I got out my trusty 10mm combination wrench and a couple of pairs of Vise Grips. My plan being to use those as my extra set of hands to hold the clips in, while I was inside the junker pulling up on the headrests. I laid the tools in an inconspicuous place (i.e.--in plain sight, being that the garage is a mess) so that I could retrieve them yesterday morning without raising the suspicions of a certain wife of mine, who is not too keen on my ever-increasing forays to the wrecking yard.

Oh, and clothes. This one would require I have better clothes to wear, so before bed I bundled together my jeans and a tee shirt and my shoes, the reasoning being that I could bring them with me to work and change in the restroom before I left. After I got through, I would go home and drop my stuff off, clean up, then change back into my regular clothes for the dental visit.

You know, it's very complicated being a moron. Made more complicated just by the fact that I'm a moron.

ANYway, bailed out yesterday, grabbed my jeans from the office chair--I figured I could put on the tee-shirt and shoes later--changed in the restroom and headed off for the bad part of town.

Stuck my tools in my pocket, walked in, paid my buck, and sprinted to the lovely foreign car ghetto to see what I was in for. Remember, I had only briefly looked at the mounting beforehand the last time I was there, and had no pictures or anything else to study before I got there, so this was going to be an on-the-fly learning experience.

Okay, there it is. An '87, blue, hit hard on the front, and there are my headrests.

Okay.

There they are.

Yep, that's them.

I looked at the mounting brackets in the trunk. Hmm. Hard to see what sorts of release clips they were talking about. And hard to reach, too. Seeing as how they have everything up high on stacked rims, I couldn't reach the brackets at all. Gee, I wonder if I'll have to get IN there!? It was like a swamp, with both spare tire wells full of water. Eww. The thought also flashed through my mind of me, in the trunk, and a sudden gust of wind slamming it, trapping me forever. ::shudder::

Surely there's a better way to do this.

I hope.

And I still hadn't seen any sorts of 10mm nuts anywhere. Back around to the back seat. Maybe if I took the seatback off? The bottom cushion had already been undone and rolled forward, so I looked for something to undo the back cushion.

IMPORTANT INSTRUCTION NUMBER ONE--There are two sheetmetal tabs that form hooks down at the bottom corners of the back cushion. These hold two loops attached to the cushion itself that keep the seatback in place. Bend the sheetmetal tabs up, pull the bottom cushion forward until the loops clear the tabs, and then pull the seatback up hard. It might take a couple of bumps with your hand, but what happens is when you lift up, you are unhooking the clips at the top of the seat cushion from the sheetmetal. After you do that, the seatback will come right out.

It's surpisingly light. And bulky. I leaned it up against the fender and AH-HAH!

IMPORTANT INSTRUCTION NUMBER TWO--Those 10mm nuts? They hide behind the rear seatback. There is no other way to get the brackets off without taking the seatback out and getting to those nuts. Thankfully, they ARE 10mm. I would have been in bad shape if they were 11s or 12s.

I spun them off easily and both headrests were soon flopping on the package shelf. Now then--how do they come out?! Each one is supported by two metal rods that go down into the mounting brackets, and the mounting brackets were still attached and the mounting brackets were too big to come up through the holds where the metal rods went through. If I could just reach through to the trunk, but there was a piece of hardboard material (like the stuff they used to put on the back of TVs) blocking it off. Gee, if that was just out of the way...

WHAT AM I THINKING!? It's a junk car--I can just break that stuff out of the way! So I did. It snapped and buckled and pretty soon I had a nice big area to work with. I reached through and grabbed one of the mounting brackets, still attached to the metal headrest rod, and sorta pulled on it. Pop. Right into my hand.

SWEET!

I finally got to study it up close to see what the deal was with the clip.

IMPORTANT INSTRUCTION NUMBER THREE--these are NOT the kind of clips that PUSH IN. The Vise Grips I had still banging around in my pockets would have been useless, because the clips, which look a bit like the shirt clip of a pen and are made of white nylon (that can break off, by the way), have to be pulled out slightly to clear the notch in the metal rod. If needed, I would have had to put a flat piece of metal like a screwdriver under them to hold them up to remove the rests.

AS IT WAS, they all just came right off. With the brackets loose from the car, they would rotate around the headrest rod, so I just turned the brackets to the side of the rod without the notch, and they slid off with no problem. Two of the clips had already had the little lift tabs broken (again, the nylon they're made out of is fragile) but the clip action itself is unharmed.

SUCCESS!

I proudly gathered up my toys and started to leave. But--but--I wonder if there's anything ELSE I could find?

So, more plundering. I went down the rows and found a few of the round plastic discs that hold the carpet in place, and some instrument panel light bulbs, and two tiny windshield washer valves from a couple of different 740s (these keep the washer fluid from draining back to the jug), and HEY! LOOK!

SWANKY!

I found a nice (relatively speaking--it was nice when it was new) wagon that had the elusive factory accessory armrest in it! Of course, I didn't have the right sized wrench to get it out (I suppose I could have used the Vise Grips if I had remembered they were clanking in my pocket). No matter--I hadn't brought my screwdriver, either. Next trip.

Paid the princely sum of ten entire dollars for my goods and hurried out to the car, because it was now nearly 3:15, and I had to get home, unload, clean up, get re-dressed, and get to the Money-Sucking Pain-Inflictor.

Home, unload, race upstairs, wipe down with a giant glob of cool, refreshing hand sanitizer, dry off, new underwear, office shirt and pants, nice shoes, ready to go, get to dentist's at EXACTLY almost five minutes late.

Swab of numb-juice, try to relax, continue to sweat, needle in the jaw, try to relax, continue to sweat, DRILL! Actually, not bad at all. All done in about twenty minutes. AND, I found out her husband does powder coating and wheel refinishing as a hobby! Just the thing I'll need when I find that elusive set of wheels from a 240 Turbo!

Home, pandemonium of the sort only excited children fresh from their first day of school can produce. They were all jabbering at top volume, all at once. It seems they all had a very nice first day, although Jonathan's schedule is still not exactly right--he needs to swap band and PE so he'll be in the correct age groups for each. So many more papers to be signed! Bus forms, more acknowledgement-of-receipt-of-the-rules forms, lunch menus, show and tell items for Catherine, on and on. And more supply stuff needed.

Looks like with all the confusion, it'll be pizza night. Which is fine, because after all of that, I STILL had a building committee meeting to go to at church at 7:00. Trying to get the contract prepared.

Order pizza, I surreptitiously run to the garage to play with the headrest and massage some gooey vinyl treatment onto them, get busted by Miss Reba, whose exasperation I cannot tell whether it is feigned or real, PIZZA'S HERE!, go get that, pay, get the stuff inside and set it on the kitchen counter, go put stuff away in the garage, and hear Reba say the pizza's missing a piece.

WHA!? Sure enough--a tiny square hunk was gone from an edge. Surely the driver...NAH! Surely not. SURELY they just dropped a bit when they were moving it from the oven to the box. I mean, it was back at the back of the box, not the front, where a guy might be able to just snag a piece. Unless he cleverly rotated it around after he got it. BUT, that COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. That is my hope, anyway.

We called and they told us they'd either send another one or give us half off on our next order. I took the half-off deal, just to keep the driver from having to come back again and possibly not take anything, but LEAVE something awful in the box.

I ate a single slice on the run, and headed out to my meeting.

Meet, meet, meet. Good one, lasting about an hour, and seems like we've got the ball rolling up the flagpole at both ends. Thankfully, these meetings really are pretty good, with none of that silly garbage. Although there is a bit more chit-chat than necessary. Anyway, got everything together to forward on to our lawyer to review. Funny thing--I could have sworn that in some of our earlier committee meetings that someone said we had a lawyer on retainer who did stuff like this for us. I asked last night after the architect guys had left--"Hey, what's the name of our lawyer so I can send him this?" Everyone looked at me like I'd grown another head.

Turns out we don't have anyone on retainer. And all the time, I've been chatting with no sense of irony or guile that "we'll have our lawyer look it over," thinking I was going to have someone to send it to. Luckily, we do have a former member who will more than likely be willing to look it over for us.

Another funny thing was as the meeting was breaking up, the architect was chatting about how prices are going up on materials, and how some subcontractor had submitted a bid on something recently and had it marked as being a price valid for only ten days. "... Ten days! And I just said 'daammmmn'."

He said it almost under his breath, and I'm not sure if the other guys on the committee even understood it (he has a pretty thick Arabic accent), but inside I was just about to bust out laughing. I might have to tell him later to be careful with the damnations and such, it being a church project and all.

Back home around 9:00, told Cat and Boy to go to bed since it was a school night, got upstairs and was met by Miss Reba, who asked, "Did you go to the store?"

"Uhhh, was I supposed to?"

"Well, Jonathan needs a three-subject notebook--"

"I thought we had one!"

"--no--he needs that for tomorrow, and--"

"AND I STILL NEED CONTACT SOLUTION," said Oldest. ::sigh::

Turned around and headed back to the store. At the stairs, Boy told me the PE teacher said they needed to bring spray on deodorant instead of dry. On the list

Store, grabbed items, noted that Thursday evenings are apparently THE time to go to the grocery store if you're shopping for tall tanned blonde girls, paid, home.

What a long day.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

It might be pushing things a bit far...

...but I did decide to go ahead and put together a place for interested folks to get certain objects, in exchange for colorful bits of paper and metal.

Since the beginning of time, Possumblog has been free from any commercial content, since portions of it are done, ahhhh, not from home. But since the "I Am A Moron" Project blogsite has been spun off to its own little corner of the web, and since I intend for it to be done during playtime, I didn't think it would hurt if it had its own way of generating parts-purchasing small change. So, if you ever wanted a shirt with a B230F engine on it, or junk like that, there is a place you can get stuff like that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:24 AM | Comments (8)

August 04, 2005

SWEDEN!

Land of Volvos, moose, and fermenting herring!

By Stephen Brown

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - In a rare break in the clouds during a rainy Swedish summer, just when it looks safe to venture out for a breath of fresh air, the smell of rotten herring wafts over.

Sunshine is rare enough in the short Nordic summer and trying to enjoy it outdoors also requires a strong stomach in August when Swedes traditionally tuck into "surstromming"

The dish of fermented herring, rivals South East Asia's durian fruit, Iceland's buried shark or Norway's "lutefisk" as one of the world's most objectionable delicacies.

A peaceable people who otherwise care for the environment, fish-loving Swedes sit outside to open and eat a dish that is only deemed ripe for consumption when the tin containing it is buckled and bulging from the fishy fumes. The smell is so pungent that even neighbours and passers-by get a snootful.

"You can't sit inside and eat it because it smells so much," says a waitress at Sturehof restaurant, where the aroma from the herring served at tables on the pavement mingles with the perfumed ambience of Stockholm's poshest shops. [...]

MMmmmYUMMY! Read it all--if you dare.

Now then, that reminds me, I haven't had lunch yet. Be back in a bit.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:42 PM | Comments (5)

August 03, 2005

Sideline Blogging

Some reprinted posts for now over on Revolvoblog, of the events leading up the purchase of my current play-purty. Future posts, of course, will be current matter rather than backstory.

Also, as several have asked, no, Revolvoblog won't be a daily sort of place to check, unless you just LIKE that sort of thing. It'll be more sporadic, but just as dull, as what you've grown accustomed to here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)

August 01, 2005

Ouch.

Wouldn't you know it, but it held off raining long enough for me to cut the grass Saturday. Twice. Once to get off the upper ranges of the overgrowth, then once more to pick up the big gobby soppy windrows (or, to be more precise, lawnmowerrows) of wet clippings that made long clods across the yard. The normal two-hour meditation session hour lasted three and a half, and my ankles are sore, and my hips, and the bony parts of my elbows (the elbones, for you medical types). BUT, doggone it, the grass (i.e., weeds) is (are) cut and now I can once again rejoin the good graces of my neighbors.

One of whom is new. I didn't realize it, but our rear neighbor Young Phyllis George Lookalike Girl and her husband and kids moved at some time in the near past, and sold their house to someone else. I met the new neighbor guy Saturday when we were trying to shoo away someone's big stupid hound dog that wandered into our yards (and got into his dog's pen). Nice guy, but he sure has a long way to go before looking like a young Phyllis George.

Let's see, what else--OH, I picked up my suits Friday with the reet pleat and drape shape, and I must say I look very acceptable in both. Also dropped off my old suit to be snugged up a bit.

Then I went home to drop things off before meeting up with Reba and the kids over at her mom's house. Seems she allowed herself to be dragged into the preparations for the Saturday shindig, so we had supper over there while she and the kids helped out. BUT, before I got there, there was the Super Terrific Big Gift Box to ME (whom it is all about) that arrived, just as I was getting the trash can in. Mr. UPS stopped outside on the street and delivered a big long box full of BRAND NEW EUROPEAN GLASS HEADLAMP UNITS (made in Taiwan) for a certain spiffy old Volvo. COOOL! I have tried the polish route on the clear plastic lenses, which managed to not do too much. The lenses are still foggy-looking, and by gum, I want to be able to see to drive and not have to put up with a dull and ugly front end.

On the car, at least.

SO, with a portion of the proceeds from Moby, I laid down some dough for some nice(-ish--they aren't quite as wonderful as OEM, but they only cost half as much) E-code lamps and side marker lamps. Only problem is they didn't send the new bulb connectors. I will withhold judgement on the company (FCP Groton) until I see how they handle this small, but crucial, oversight.

But, I am tickled nonetheless.

EVEN MORE SO, my evil plan to corrupt the pure and innocent Miss Reba with my dementia seems to be bearing fruit! BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!

Saturday as I was taking a break from killing myself, I had taken a moment to fix one of my new taillight bulbs. One of the backup lights wasn't coming on, so I had to fix that--it was just not pushed all the way in to the bulb holder--and as I was doing that, Miss Reba came out to see how I was doing and to deliver a cold drink to me.

"Let me ask you something, Terry."

::gulpgulpgulpHUHAHUgulpgulp::glup "Uh?"

"Since you got your little shiny hubcaps from the junkyard, and your new taillights, and you painted--"

"Dyed."

"--dyed your plastic stuff on the doors, and since you're going to do the bumpers so they will all look nice, have you ever thought about getting something to make these--"

She was pointing at the headlights! YES!

"YES! They're right inside the garage! They came yesterday. And they're not plastic--they're EUROPEAN style GLASS ones that won't get all dull-looking! AND it comes with new lights for the sides, too!"

The European reference hooked her--"OOooo!" she said.

So, it appears my evil plan is paying off. Of course, any evil plan, or for that matter, any Moron Project, requires maintenance, so I will have to be sure to buy her some chocolate ice cream. And finish typing her paper.

And I was also a good sport and took the two older girls to the cookout our youth minister had yesterday for the teenagers, after we had already worn ourselves out with two worship services and lunch all smacked together right after another that morning at church. I had intended just to drop them off and come back to the house.

And there I was, thinking I might get to sit and rest and read the paper.

Wrong.

But before all that, I had to go get gas in her car, then go by the drugstore to pick up some medicine, then get some vittles (chips, dip) for the girls to take with them to the cookout, and then hauled them over there and HAD TO STAY WITH THEM. Reba was very insistent that I stay, since parental presence was the only thing that would have made Rebecca want to stay. The older kids occasionally act like older kids to the younger ones, and it hurts Rebecca's feelings.

Actually, it turned out to be pretty fun. I kidded the minister about burning up the hamburgers, and then sat down and played about five hands of UNO with Rebecca and her friends, which helped make it fun for her, and then we got to eat and I sat and chatted with a couple of the moms who were there without manly accompaniment (me being a somewhat close approximation thereof), then Rebecca and her friends went and got sweaty playing hide-and-seek. Ashley stayed in the house to hone her flightly laugh-talk jabbering skills. It was all very good, aside from the flies. Time to go about 7:30, so back to home, and pretty much that was that.

Oh, wait--forgot about the soiree at Grandma's on Saturday. I was a model of anti-socialism. I was so beat from the grass-cutting and inflatable pool removal (it deflated and spilled out all that precious water onto the ground, and also managed to rot the ground underneath so that it started breeding flies--really) that about all I wanted to do was sit and vegetate. Tons of people, a lot of whom I hadn't seen in years, but I wasn't able to do much more than say 'hey' and sit on the steps. Time to eat, I got a plate, and since Grandma broke her own rule and allowed the children to go downstairs, I made myself the deputy warden and went down there to keep an eye on them and make sure they didn't tear anything up or spill things. And got treated to a three-hour Fairly Odd Parents marathon. Actually, a pretty funny show--this was the first time I'd been able to see it, and I was in the proper exhausted mode necessary for it to be really, REALLY funny. And I didn't have to make idle chit-chat with adults, so it was all good.

Anyway, an action-packed weekend full of food and confusion. Oh, and I'm sore.


OH, and how could I forget!? I also had to go buy a battery for the Honda Saturday morning. I thought the kids might have left a light on or something, because it was very hard to get going Friday night, but they hadn't left anything on. 75,000 miles? Yep, probably time for a battery. So, FIRST thing Saturday, before I started the grass-cutting, I went down to Advance Auto Parts to get them to put in a new one. Done in about ten minutes, the only problem being that since the battery had been disconnected, the radio was now in anti-theft mode, and in order to play it, I was supposed to put in some sort of five-digit code. Which I had no idea where I could find. We bought the van used, and I never saw any sort of code or other radio information.

::sigh::

Sounded like a trip to the dealer.

Got home and was looking in the passenger door bin to find whatever had been rattling, opened the glovebox to see if the rattle was in there, and saw a small sticker on the side of the box. White, black numerals. Hmm. Five digits, followed by a series of numbers underneath. I wonder....

Turned on the ignition, turned on the radio, punched in the five digits--EUREKA! That was the code! I was very happy. Until, of course, I had to cut the grass.

And yes, the lawnmower blade insisted on coming loose again, so I had to stop and go buy a 22 cent lock washer from the hardware store to finally fix it once and for all. Or until next time.

ANYway, that's it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:49 AM | Comments (11)

July 29, 2005

Lunchblogging AND Catblogging!

Boy, aren't YOU thrilled!

Lunch was very okay--we went to Moe's Southwestern Grill over off of HIghway 280 where Rossi's used to be (the mark of a true Southerner being that he gives directions to strangers based upon landmarks that no longer exist). Parking's always like a demolition derby, and I absolutely hate having to order things based on their stupid Seinfeld/Friends/other 20th Century references, and I hate hearing the guy at the register shout "WELCOMETOMOE'S!!" at no one in particular, and I hate the pictures they stuck up on the wall to show what the food looks like, because one of them looks like what the food will look like after it's been put through the miraculous human digestive system.

Overall, okay food, though. I got the Homewrecker with chicken and black beans. Should be quite an experience for anyone within earshot (or noseshot) in about an hour or so.

AS FOR LUNCH, had you been there you would have gotten to hear about Jeep driving, nouveau riche rednecks and their cussed infidelity, tensile structures, real linoleum, interviewing for jobs that you know you'll never get, gristle (Jeff got the steak version of what I got, and it was full of cartilaginous goodness), modern art of a sort, valet parking, Kiwi Black Shoe Dye, wives, women, bosses, lime, pig sphincters, and work avoidance. All in all, quite a list, reading back over it.

After we were through, out to admire the blackness of my lower body molding, counterpointed with the shiny trim rings and rich Estonian plastic taillights. He was quite impressed. Took him down the hill to the nearby office building where he wound up having to park, swapped magazine, told him my trick of using an open tin of wintergreen Altoids to make the car smell nice inside, gave him one of the funk-infused Altoids so he would smell just as fresh, and then wandered back here.

FOR CATBLOGGING! AND MORON PROJECT PHASE II REPORTS! BOTH! TOGETHER! IN ONE POST!

Ouch, my throat hurts from all that shouting.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, I set to work changing out the taillights after I got supper going on a low heat. In the midst of the changeover, Reba and the Oldest and Youngest girls came home and went inside, and then all of a sudden, I noticed I had a visitor.

"Whatcha dooooin'?"

"I'm changing out the taillights on the old car so they'll be pretty and shiny."

"Can I help?"

What daddy could resist!?

So, here is my little mechanic's helper-Cat, holding the offending passenger side taillight, as she stands beside the newly installed version--


Next, the driver's side, which our youngster points at here with remarkable grace and aplomb:

Out with the nasty old fixture and its barely-repaired lenses, which can be seen in this stunning photograph-

AND, in with the new, which made someone very happy--

And for some reason, she decided to demonstrate this subtle bit of oddness--

All in all, a very productive afternoon and evening, especially after supper, when I typed another five pages or so of Reba's research paper.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:47 PM | Comments (7)

AS YOU NO DOUBT RECALL...

I had to leave early yesterday to go get the three younger members of the clan enrolled for the new school year. Ashley's was Wednesday and Mom got to take her to that one, which was just fine by me. Although the fees were startlingly huge.

For yesterday, Cat's registration at the elementary school was at 3, then Boy and Middle Girl were to follow up at 5 at the middle school. And I took off at noon, which meant--what else, but, FUNTIME WITH THE MORON PROJECT!

Hooray!

Yes, this was done deliberately. See, I have lunch with My Friend Jeff today to swap magazines (the ones he forgot to bring two weeks ago), and he hasn't seen the new shiny hubcaps. But he HAS seen the ugly chalky-looking lower bodyside moldings--they look terrible, as witnessed by these photos I took yesterday to impress everyone.

This is the area behind the rear wheel--yuck--

and this is the rocker panel molding--also blech--

This is a pretty common problem for a lot of cars. The oils evaporate, and it gets all gray looking after a while, and there's not much you can do to make it look any better. It eventually gets to the point where even brake fluid won't cut the chalky film. So, your alternatives are to paint it with flexible black bumper paint, which is (as I found out with Moby) a rather arduous task, although it does wind up looking pretty okay. Sorta. Or you can get some stuff that's pretty expensive--at least 18 bucks (including shipping) for a couple of 4 ounce bottles of cleaner and black inky stuff you apply to the offensive areas. Heard good things about the product, but being a cheapo and a moron, I figured there surely had to be SOMETHING out there that would also do the job.

I especially got to thinking this when I was at the grocery store the other day, and passed by the shoe polish, and had a sudden brainstorm (actually, more of a light passing shower). There were all these bottles of Kiwi Black Leather Dye sitting there. "Hmm," I said to myself, because as you know, I say that a lot.

"I wonder," I continued, "if this junk would be just as good as the stuff they sell in the IPD catalog? I mean, it's black, and made to be water-resistant, and certainly does a good job on shoe leather. Hmm." At the time, I left it there, because let's face it, it's a silly idea.

That is, until I checked a few places on the lovely Internets, and found that OTHER moron-project holders had done the exact same thing, and found that it worked just as well, IF NOT BETTER, than the product made to do it. Add to this the fact that it's about one-quarter of the cost. THRIFTY MORON MAN into action!

I figured it wouldn't hurt to try a bit and see what happened. Couldn't look any worser. SO, on the way home yesterday, I dropped by Winn-Dixie, picked up a couple of bottles (not knowing how much it would take), and a set of three cheap-o foam paintbrushes, and some aluminum pot pie tins to pour the juice into (not wanting to risk the ire of anyone who might have an emotional attachment to the various plastic butter bowls that pack the kitchen cabinets), and a Diet Coke for fortitude.

Off to home, changed out of my work duds into something suitable for slopping black gunk everywhere, and then hopped back downstairs. I figured it would be a good idea to wipe the plastic down with some degreaser, just in case, so I got my old can of that and a cloth and my brushes and my dye and my pie pans and WHEW, boy, it sure is hot at noon in Alabama!

I sat down on the concrete and started wiping sweat and degreaser off and on with equal rapidity. Moment of truth--popped off the lid, then the tiny foam pad applicator, poured some of the elixer into the pan, dabbed the brush into it, and went to work. WOW! Let me tell you, fellow moron friends, this stuff ROCKS!

Just be sure to smooth it out neatly, and color a panel at a time, and understand that for the worst areas, you might have to go over it twice or more to get full color, and if you sit on the concrete in the middle of the day in Alabama without shade you sweat a lot and it stings your eyes and makes your neck burn up. But, the sun does have the benefit of rapidly drying the liquid, so you can work pretty quickly. And the results are quite worthwhile--

This is the passenger side--nice and inky black now!

The only problem is that now the bumper covers, which heretofore had looked nice and black now look dingy in comparison. BUT, I had no time for those, because it was now rapidly approaching after 2:00, and I had to clean up, run go run get Cat, and get to the school before 3:00.

WILL I MAKE IT!?

Tune in for the NEXT exciting episode!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:15 AM | Comments (6)

July 26, 2005

See what I miss by not having cable!?

I was just browsing through Amazon for interesting things, and came across this--a video of an A&E special from 2000 on VOLVOS!

Good GRIEF! Can you IMAGINE the excitement and thrilling scenery that must contain! Well, even though I don't have cable, I can at least watch the tape.

Of course, for entertainment value, it's still hard to beat a book, such as this one, or better still, this one. Nothing like curling up with one and a nice cold glass of Diet Coke.

But before all that, I really need some of this. Nothing like hiding the gray to make things look younger, you know!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2005

Odds and Ends

Went yesterday at (late) lunch to see about how much it would cost to get the Volvo painted. Even at the cheapo mass-production paint slopper, it would cost more than it’s worth. Walked in to the shop over in Fairfield, and was surprised to see the exact same badly bewigged dude who used to work at a different shop out in Roebuck. You know, some guys can look pretty good with a hairpiece. But there are just some hairpieces that look bad, period, and the guy under it would be a LOT better off to just let the wind blow through his scalp. Such as this guy. The fur pile, something of a late ’70 groovy swooper, was daintily perched atop his pate, with a nice broad gap between the edge of the piece and the skin, all around the perimeter.

Anyway, these type of paint places work on volume, and they don’t really do a great job of painting, but what they CAN do is an incredible job of coming up with all kinds of pictures to show you what all can go wrong with paint. But not theirs, of course.

NO, never.

Theirs is the best in the business. See? A warranty, and for a whole YEAR! That means QUALITY!

But, I knew that going in, and wanted to at least see what their price would be.

Hair Patty Guy had another customer in the shop, whom he coddled and joshed with and fed him a continual line of soft-soap patter about how great his car looked, and how nice his daddy was, and how pretty that flip-flop paint was and how it made something like a purplish aura around the car--or something like a violet-blue color, but more in the purple range, especially out in the sun. Really pretty.

Finally, he got through blowing smoke up that guy’s skirt and got to me. “HEY! You know what--you look just like Stephen King! You know, the author---Stephen King!”

Folks, I have been told I look like country singer Roy Clark, and like “Voice of the Crimson Tide” Eli Gold (in fact, the moronic color copier guy just came in to give us a chat, and the first thing he said when he walked in the room was, “Hey, you look like Eli Gold!”), and even like genial local television anchor Scott Richards. But I have NEVER IN MY LIFE ever been compared to Stephen King. As you can imagine, I was speechless. “No one ever told you that!? You look just like him! Guy that wrote all them books.”

“Ah, well, no, no one’s ever said I look like Stephen King.”

“Well, you do! Let’s go look and see what you got out there.” We walked to the door, “Bet you wish you had his money, huh?”

“Yep.”

He and his clipboard walked around the car, and he went into full, feeding-frenzied-shark mode, tapping on various body panels and sighing and whistling and figuring with his tiny little pencil. “What sort of paint job did you want--I mean, I can paint it and send you away, but it wouldn’t look like the factory paint, or I can give you a full job--strip the roof, the trunk, the hood, fix the dents, make it look real pretty and new and shiny--whew! Boy, that acid coming out of the building into the sewer pipe smells BAD!”

“I don’t want the cheapest job, but I need to know a general price for painting it so it looks like factory paint.”

“Okay, come on back inside where it’s cool. It’s hot out here.”

We went back inside where it’s cool, and he started scratching with his pencil and humming to himself and figuring and ciphering and carrying the 1 and such, then got agitated and said, “Well, if we do the prep package--and look--look here at this picture I got here--this here’s what’s happening to your paint on there now, it’s got these here cracks--” He had jumped up and was patting a poster on the wall that detailed the horrors of paint badness--like one of those gingivitis posters in the dentist’s office, except with sheetmetal.

“Look, I just need a price for painting the car--I’m in a hurry, I’m on my lunch hour, and I need to get back.”

I think I hurt his feeling.

He sat back down and started more figuring and finally arrived at a figure of $902. I asked him if they gave written estimates. He wrote it on the back of his business card.

Thanks, mister.

Out the door, and then decided to go by my first choice, but one I knew was going to be tremendously expensive. Don Lenoir Auto Paint and Body, out in Ensley, has been in the business forever, and do some of the best paintwork in town, and more to the point, are scrupulously honest and forthright about what they’re going to do, and how, and how long it’s going to take. Super nice folks, but what I figured was right--more than the price of the car. But they do it right, and I know it would be better to pay more and have it right the first time than to keep screwing around with the paint slingers and have them mess it up. Time to start saving up. I figure by next year I’ll have enough in the Moron Project Fund to make it look brand new again.

AS IT IS, it looks better with the new hubcaps--even Reba thought so, and she’s notoriously unpicky about such things.

Here’s the before, with the pizza pan wheel covers--

And here is what the wheels themselves looked like underneath the wheel covers--

And, finally, here is the hot sexy Swede NOW!--

The photos look a bit hazy because the camera had been inside the house in the cold air conditioning, and the moment it hit the tropical air outside, everything fogged up. And then, yesterday when I drove home, it came another one of those late afternoon monsoons, and it messed up my nicely polished trim rings! ::shakes fist at Mother Nature::

IN other odds and ends, after we got home last night, we went back to the Galleria so I could get myself a couple of suits. Same store I visited the weekend before last, except THIS time the sales manager was working. Now, THIS guy knows how to move material! Completely efficient, called me back first thing this morning to let me know he’d ordered my plain, uncuffed pants, and said he’d let me know when they were in and I could come back for the fitting. He was so nice I bought two suits--one a charcoal with faint multi-colored pinstripes something like I have now, and a navy blue pinstripe like the kind I used to have that I wore slap out. In all, I was in and out in about 15 minutes.

I will be so danged purty, people are going to start mistaking me for that George Clooney feller!

THEN we went shopping for Rebecca and Catherine some pants. It took two hours, and they got four pairs of pants. ::sigh::

Now then, off to go get my black shoes reheeled and get some lunch, and then back here to finish some more stupid typing work.

OH, HEY--another odd end--CNN/Money Magazine voted my little ville of Truss to be the 56th best place to live in America this year! WOO-HOO! WE'RE NUMBER 56!! Watch out, Madison, Mississippee--next year we're gunning for 55th!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (14)

July 19, 2005

Pimp my Volvo!

Left the seminar with a happy heart, having knocked out all my mandatory requirements for the year, and decided to make the fun happy jaunt back to Pull-A-Part for some spiffy things for the Volvo. As I mentioned is some post in the past, the last time I was there, I noticed there were several cars with the economy hubcaps and trim rings. The year mine was built, the big deal was the “aero-look,” so you tended to see lots of cars with big flat hubcaps to cheat the wind. Mine was no exception, and had the oh-so-cool big flat plastic covers over the wheels. At the time, the shiny trim ring and small hubcaps with the V centers were too old-fashioned to even be considered on something so sleek and aerodynamic as a Volvo 240, so they were mostly found on wagons. Or on older sedans.

BUT, time is a cruel taskmistress for all plastics. The covers on my car were faded and ugly and the centers were cracked, and they just looked terribly tired and worn and dated. Baby needs some flash! And since I don’t want to spend any money right now on anything nicer, I though it might be worth going back to the yard and seeing if I could find some of those older, cheaper wheel jewelry that would be worth snagging.

One of the best things about these old sparkly things is that they aren’t made out of plastic. They’re high quality Swedish stainless steel, like a set of fine Scandinavian cutlery, and no matter how dirty they are, they CAN be polished and cleaned up and be all sparkly. SO, back to the junkyard, where I walked in with my little boy blue checkered shirt and jeans and went straight to work finding some appropriate rings and hubcaps. Wound up with seven sets of rings and caps, so I culled the best ones and gently placed the rest in the trunk of a sedan, which I might go back later and get, just in case. The ones I got were mostly in good shape, aside from the dirt and spider eggs. With my prizes clutched in my chubby, brake dust-begrimed hands, I headed back up to the main building to pay.

Now, you have to remember, on Ebay and such places, things like what I was carrying might bring a price of around 20 to 40 bucks a set. My total price? $18.18. Hard to beat. Although, I still had some work to do on them.

From there, I drove all the way to Leeds. It seems that my tablemate throughout my continuing education seminar was one of the engineers at the firm our church is supposed to interview for the fellowship hall, and was one of the guys who came to the building last Friday to look around. They were supposed to send us some stuff by yesterday, but they hadn’t, so he was going to have it delivered to the building. He told me his wife was going to drop it off, so I drove out there to pick it up so I could study on it. Got there, and it was nowhere to be found. Not in the mailbox, not in the secretary’s office, not in either of the preachers’ offices, not in my mail slot. Nowhere. Grr. Peeve number nine. Making it worse was all the time I wasted that could otherwise have been spent scrubbing wheels.

Turned around and headed back toward home, with a stop at Wal-Mart to pick up some wheel cleaner that promised to be so easy to use that brake dust would simply pack up and leave once it saw the bottle. Also got some metal polish. And a brush.

Went and picked up the kids from Granny’s house, went and got them some food and some gas in the van (250 bleedin’ miles on the thing since Saturday!) then to home, where they were instructed to fend for themselves whilst Daddy played with his toys.

Popped off all the nasty old plastic hubcaps, and started cleaning the wheels. 20 years of brake dust build up. Four wheels. Four sets of trim rings and flat hub caps that needed to be cleaned and polished. Four tires to be Armor-All’ed. I started about 6:00 p.m. I finished at 8:30. Worn slap out, and drenched with sweat. BUT, I did take some pictures! BUT, they are still in the camera. I promise you, too, will get to see the new old crap on the car, as soon as I can download them and post them. I will say it looks a THOUSAND times better, though. The shiny stuff sort of makes up for the lack of paint on the upper surfaces of the body.

After that was over, I went inside and started typing on Reba’s final paper, just so she wouldn’t think I was shirking my actual duties.

And that’s about it for the weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

It's HERE!

What you've ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!

IT'S...


MORE VOLVO FUN! HOORAY! WITH PICTURES! DOUBLE HOORAY!!

I know all of you--well, okay, all ONE of you (thanks, Nate!) have (or is that has?) been asking for a photo of my newest accessory for the Ancient Swede--the coveted and highly-prized TwoHundredThousandMile badge. Not being one to want to disappoint his vast readership, we now dive headlong into the photo album. AND, as a special presentation, there is actually a photograph of notoriously camera-shy ME in there!

Well, first off, I got home yesterday and ran upstairs and got my camera. And then my badge. Here is a shot of my prize that is almost artistic, except it's out of focus. Oh, well. And please, no comments on how cheesy it looks. This is what passes for high-class Scandinavian workmanship.

Next, ANOTHER blurry photo of how I attached the machine screws to the back of this priceless (meaning it was free) medallion. Well, sorta. It's really too blurry to make heads or tails out of. But, you will notice that I DO include myself in the shot, and in such a way that makes abusive Photoshoppery nearly impossible!

Finally, a shot of the badge in place on the grille. Yes, I realize it's crooked. I fixed it after I noticed it was askew, and now it's nice and centered and level. And no, I don't know why I didn't take a picture of it nice and centered and level. As far as the actual installation, it was pretty easy to put in place, because the grille is held in by two little plastic twist retainers on top. Pop, pop, and the whole thing comes off in your hand. Put the badge on, tighten the nuts, put a dollop of silicone adhesive on the threads to keep the nuts in place, and you're ready to impress all of your friends at the lunatic asylum.

Now, some of you might want to see the rest of the car--so far, the only thing I've shown is the exterior. Well, OKAY, if you REALLY want to see it, here goes--

Here's the trunk--it's large enough for a dead moose!

Here's the incredibly powerful B230F engine that fills the tidy engine compartment with great honking gobs of horsepower--

Here is the lovely blue interior front and rear--reminds one of the frigid sparkling blue waters of Lake Vänern, doesn't it? Or maybe the interior of some old guy's Buick.

Here is a closer picture of the driver's seat (in Swedish, "förarsätet") area, but not one so close as to show the cracks in the dash.

Speaking of which (the dash, that is) here is a photo of the newly-repaired odometer showing the astounding figure of 214,385 miles, along with the newly-installed tachometer. (And no, I still haven't figured out where the short is that causes the tach to die when I turn on the headlamps. I figure I'll just shine a flashlight out the window if I have to.)

To the right of this are the various tiny invisible accessory gauges--from Ell to Arr--the new old clock, the voltmeter, the oil temperature (in worthless Celsius degrees), and the oil pressure (in equally worthless bar measurements). Below those are some holes where cool(ish) air comes out, and various knobs and levers that are connected to other things. Most of which work. Kinda.

And finally,
famous Swede Anita Ekberg!
(Stolen from Kim Du Toit)

Hooray for Volvos!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)

June 23, 2005

What a nice story.

Italian Town Salutes Sophia Loren

POZZUOLI, Italy - There's no place like home for Sophia Loren, who has received the honorary citizenship of her hometown in southern Italy.

Dressed in an elegant all-white outfit with a scarf, the 70-year-old actress was presented with a blue band representing honorary citizenship of the seaside town of Pozzuoli. She broke into tears during the ceremony. [...]

I thought it was kinda odd that she'd be made an honorary citizen of the place she grew up, but I think that's because I'm thinking more of something like national citizenship that sticks with you. I suppose it's probably more like making her an honorary resident.

Well, whatever--the only reason I posted this is so I would have an excuse to put up her picture.

You know, that's one mighty attractive septuagenarian.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:07 PM | Comments (4)

White Eyeliner

In which your intrepid correspondent yet again gazes in wonderment at female fashion.

Dropped by Sonic this morning to get some breakfast (I was able to do this because the kids we're with me--even though Grandma gives them some breakfast, they'd want something from the drive-in as well). Ordered, drove around to the window, and was met by a young slim freckle-faced redhead of exception cuteness (it is the law in our town, after all, that all girls must be attractive), but she affected a most distracting type of makeup. I realize it's all the rage amonst the young set, but I have to tell you, girls, if you wear white eyeliner, it makes you look like a mangabey.

And yes, I mention mangabeys mainly to keep Ed Flinn's interest in Possumblog alive.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2005

Wow.

No sooner had I pressed the Save button on that last post when I got a call from the dispatcher that the guy was in the parking deck waiting on me! That's rather on the fast side, I'd say.

Ran over and paid him, and he said he'd call me when he got through. Well, it's been rather cloudish around here, and it takes about 7.9 minutes to get from my desk to the uppermost level of the deck, in which time a sudden cloudburst could completely fill a windshieldless Volvo, so I told him I'd just hang around a while.

Turned out to be a good long while--one hour, and he's only HALF DONE! Seems when the good wizards of Gothenburg decide on the way to put a windshield in a car, they figure it would never ever have to be removed again for the life of the car. The young fellow averred that Volvos are the absolute worst when it comes time to replace the front window.

Anyway, first he gingerly popped off the molding around the window, and then set about to break loose the fifty eleven dozen plastic clips holding it in. He tried mightily to keep the clips intact, but after struggling for many minutes, he just started breaking them off.

We shot the breeze for a while, told him where I work, talked about the weather, then he started the actual removal process. It's definitely the job for young strong wiry men. He pushed and shoved a variety of edged implements under and around the windshield, grimacing and tugging and shattering the edge of the glass trying to free it from the mastic bed. He stopped briefly and removed his glove, bit at the knuckle of his finger, then spit in the garbage can he'd brought with him.

"You didn't by chance just get some glass in you, did you?"

"Aw, yeah. Don't matter. I got plenty of Super Glue."

I laughed and he said he told the same thing to the doctor when he got the tip of his middle finger lopped off. Only went to the hospital at the end of the day, even though he couldn't get the bleeding to stop, and only because he felt kinda dizzy. Managed to finish eight windshields before going, though. No biggie.

He continued to grunt and pull, he asked how long I'd had the car, told him the story of the previous owner, he told the story of the car he'd just bought. We agreed that it's nice to have one you can actually work on with a screwdriver and a wrench.

FINALLY got the glass out. It looked like it had been out in a hail storm.

By this time, a giant dark cloud was moving in just over Southside, and I told him I hated to do it, but I thought I might better go ahead and pull it in under some cover before the deluge hit. He'd said before he was glad I had it out in the open, and I really hated to pull it in, but he said it was okay.

I left him up there putting the new clips on the new glass, and I came back here to check my messages and get some work done. I had just gotten in the building when the rain started in earnest, so I timed it pretty well. He should be through in another half-hour or so, and I have to tell you, that tough young man earned his keep today wrestling with the Volvo.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Y'know what's worse than waiting on the cable guy?

Waiting on the windshield guy. I just now called back to see if the guy was going to be able to get here early or not. The girl who dispatches calls came back on the line after tracking him down and told me he was going to come on now and do mine.

You know, I was really just calling to see if he was going to get here before time for me to leave--I didn't want him to think I was being impatient or anything, because if your windshield guy wanted to, he could make it a VERY uncomfortable drive home.

Anyway, now I'm going to have to put off lunch for a while and wait for him to call back. And it's getting cloudy, because in the near future it's going to start raining buckets. I sure hope he gets here before that happens.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2005

Power Tour!

I dropped the kids off this morning and then stopped by McDonald's on Edwards Lake Road to get some breakfast. Being that I have something wrong with me, the moment I rounded the corner at the drive-through menu, my cardar kicked in when I sensed the presence of a high concentration of Moron Projects. Sure enough, I spotted tailfins over at the motel across the way, and as I drove on around, noticed that the lot was full of old iron, all of it in very good condition.

I figured there must be some kind of car show in town, but when I got on the Interstate to come to work and saw a dark orange '71 Z/28 tailed by a light beige '65 Nova with a cowl induction hood and Ontario plates, I knew it must be something a bit more involved.

Little did I know that they and the rest of the troops at the motel were part of the Hot Rod Power Tour. It's been several months since I picked up a copy, and didn't realize that yesterday Birmingham was Day Five of the itinerary. Today it looks like everyone's taking a LONG drive down to Tallahassee via Montgomery, so everyone be sure to be nice to our visitors and wave.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:28 AM | Comments (4)

June 03, 2005

You know that scene...

...the one in The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman is at the pool, and the guy tells him he's got "just one word" for him? That scene? Well, that guy was right!

I checked the mail yesterday and was tickled to see a USPS Priority Mail envelope, which meant my brand spankin' new plastic gear had arrived to I could fix the odometer in the Volvo! Hooray. I scurried inside and opened up the envelope.

Now, I have looked and looked at all the pictures on the 'net, and I knew it was supposed to be small, but in real life, you know what? It IS small. Tiny. Miniscule. Petite. Near microscopic. A small translucent white wafer about 4/10s of an inch in diameter, with 25 itsy little teeth marching around the perimeter.

Seems like 29 bucks is a bit on the steep side, but then again, I'm not in plastics. And I suppose it's better to pay $29 than a hundred, or two, to have someone else take out the gauge and replace the eensy little shard of petrochemicals.

Anyway, I can hardly wait until tomorrow, when I get to tear all KINDS of things up trying to fix the thing!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

Of Lawnmowers and Englishmen

Museum entices lawnmower lovers out of the shed

Offered to you without commentary, except to note the final paragraph:

[...] "I have been to many museums, but none so exciting or interesting as this one," reads one guestbook entry.

"Must get a lawn."


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

"I Am A Moron" Project SMACKDOWN!

Well, it's come to this, has it. A CHALLENGE. "Begun the Dumb War has," eh?

Apparently so--"peaceful" (heh--as IF!) Lenise over at Paxifist has thrown down the Moron Project gauntlet, putting up this beautiful example of North Carolina engineering prowess against my latest Moron Project.

HAH! And DOUBLE HAH! Everyone KNOWS that you can live in a car, but you can't drive a HOUSE!

Errr, which, I suppose, means Lenise actually WINS this round, seeing as how a house is so much more useless than a car. (At least in Moronthink.) But that's the thing--does the winner in this contest actually WIN, or is it like being "it" when you play Tag? I don't know. Why? Because I am a moron.

ANYWAY, in lieu of the vacationing Thursday Three, and since Lenise seems to enjoy a challenge, is there ANYONE ELSE who wishes to raise the bar even higher, with a Moron Project even more moronic or projectile than hers?

If so, I suggest flooding her with all sorts of e-mails and comments.


UPDATE: Apparently, this whole "Old Car as Moron Project" thing is catching on--now Kim's jumping into the pond, and with what else? A Mercedes fixation! Hat tip to famous NASA scientist and Director of Possumblog Space Enterprises, Steevil, who has his own floating moron project going (i.e. a boat), and notes that he did have something like this, which he sold after buying the boat. Steevil also says that if his wife ever sees a yellow Mercedes convertible with matching hubcaps, though, it would probably be the start of a his-n-hers moron project.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:24 AM | Comments (19)

May 18, 2005

How'd that work out?

Well, I'll tell you! I got home and Reba and the kids still weren't there yet, which usually means that she got stuck at work. Sure enough, I walk into the kitchen and the phone's ringing. "Hey--I got stuck at work. Can you go get the kids? I already called Mom to let her know."

Off to pick up the kids, wait forever for them to get their butts in gear and get their junk together, then a stop at the grocery store to pick up some lasagna for supper, then home, then answer fifty-leven-jillion questions about stuff while trying to get lasagna put into the oven, Reba finally gets home, I smooch on her a bit, go upstairs to change into my Volvo-cleaning clothes, and in a stroke of extreme luck, one of the girls in Reba's class called to ask her about something, so while she was otherwise occupied with the telephone, I pantomimed that I was going to be outside playing on the driveway and snuck out.

Only to be discovered by the children, who wanted to know if they could ride Catherine's scooter in the driveway while I played with my toy. ::sigh:: This always means I can't REALLY devote as much slavish attention to an inanimate object for having to watch out for them to make sure they don't get hit by one of the interminable number of slacker kids with loud thumping bass tubes rattling the neighborhood as they go screaming down the street at 50 miles an hour. (I am going to install my own speed bumps pretty soon.) Anyway, the younger three came out with helmets and scooter and the inexplicable addition of the red wagon and began zipping dangerously close to all the cars in the driveway, and the street.

But, never one to let such things put too much of a kink in my plans, nor the fact that I was nearly two hours later getting started than I had planned, I set in to work with a giant bottle of Simple Green and some old cloths. Door jambs now look like those of a brand new car. Amazing how much goo builds up in twenty years. Reglued the little retainer onto the back window that holds the center brakelight frame, cleaned the trunk gutters and even cleaned some more gunk from under the hood. Used nearly a half a bottle of concentrated, undiluted solution and a pile of old diapers and towels. At some point in there, Reba came out and talked to me about stuff, although I am at a loss to remember what is was now. I hope it wasn't too important.

Finished up with a trip around the interior with the cleaner, then a vigorous swiping with the stuff to make the rubber shiny. That dashboard is still hurting my eyes, though. All those cracks, in an otherwise like-new interior. I might have to move that to the top of the money-wasting priority list.

Came in at 8:00 for lasagna, found out that I had completely missed American Idol, and had a very good meal interrupted by leventy-seven-gazillion questions about other things of great importance to the children, such as, "why do ticks suck blood?"

Clean up the dishes, send them off to bathe, get off my Volvo-cleaning clothes, and take a few minutes to sit and relax with some fine literature.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)

May 17, 2005

You know what I'm going to do?

I think I'm going to go home in just a bit and play with the Volvo some. (I drove it to work today, you know.) Might clean the wheels again, or at least see if I can. And maybe look up under the dash and see how all that stuff comes apart. Taking things apart is very important. Almost as much as being able to put things together!

Of course, by stating plainly what I want to do this afternoon, I have a feeling my plans for automotive time-wasting will be dashed by someone wanting me to do something not the least bit car-related.

Oh well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:31 PM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2005

Oh, I don't think I would use THAT!

I was checking on a part for the Volvo just now on Ebay, and came across an ad for another 240 DL that a man was trying to sell. In the description, this note, describing what he intends to do to get the polish off the moldings (shouting caps in the original):

THERE IS BLUE RESIDUE ON THE MOLDINGS (NOT OVERSPRAY BUT RATHER THE CHALKY DUST); I'LL ATTEMPT TO GET IT OFF WITH AMORAL TRIM DRESSING.

Well, that's not going to go very well if you have a chrome fish decal, let me tell you.

This might be the product intended to be used. Cleanliness is next to godliness, you know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:11 PM | Comments (2)

May 10, 2005

You know the best thing about yesterday?

I got my catalog in the mail!

All kinds of goodies for morons like me! Everything that will ever break or go on the fritz and leave me stranded beside the road can all be ordered from these guys! WOO HOO!

I'm just glad that after checking the wiring harness, it appears that either it has been replaced with a good one, or it just hasn't started falling apart yet. Either way, it's a good thing.

You know, I might have to start a separate Moron Project Blog for this if it keeps taking up so much of the important, serious work that goes on here at Possumblog Industries.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:22 AM | Comments (24)

May 09, 2005

How to hurt yourself.

Well, first go home on Friday and decide to start things off with a rousing swing through the front yard with the lawnmower. It had gotten tall again (the back has, too, but I didn't feel like cutting it), and it's probably a good thing I went ahead and cut it when I could, otherwise all of my snooty sorts of neighbors truly would have been shocked and aghast at the veritable hoopty yard I had going on Saturday afternoon.

Got up early Saturday, full of glee at the thought of the culmination of the seconds (maybe even minutes) of planning and forethought I had given to my purchase. Rousted the kids, then hopped in Moby to drop him off at the car cleaners for a shampoo of his carpets. I tell you what--four children can be very messy. Thank heavens for floor mats, although they were nearly black themselves. I do wish that the car wash place would have hit them just a little bit harder with the dirty water sucker machine, though. When we got the van back, I had to kneel down and move or fix something inside, and came back out with two big muddy spots on my jeans. Thanks for nothing, Splish Splash on Morrow Road! They also slathered the dashboard with Armor All or some other suitably snotty stuff, and it looked ridiculous. Had to damp that down with a cloth, and thank heavens it did cut the sheen a bit.

Anyway, we got on toward Gardendale (Reba came by and picked me up at the car wash place) and we sat in the parking lot at the Shoney's for a long time. Long enough for me to take this picture of the kids in the back seat.

You will notice them all engaged in a variety of activities--none of which involve interaction with each other. Which is probably a good thing. That's my shoulder on the bottom right. Cat's watching the DVD player mounted between the two front seats, Ashley is reading a book, Rebecca is staring out the window and listening to her CD player, and Boy is somewhere behind Ashley, also watching the DVD player. Ahhh. Quiet.

Man showed up, we did some paperwork, swapped cash, and visited for a while, then his wife and Reba talked forever, and all I could think about was A) I wanna drive my new toy, and B) I wanna go pick up Moby so I can get on with cleaning him up because I don't have all day, y'know, so we need to cut the palaver and GIT!

Luckily, my internal monologue never became audible, so I stood and acted pleasant. THEN we left!

YAY!

Nice ride--and I'm being serious. It's a bit buzzy at highway speed, but really no more so than Reba's Focus. It tracks straight and true, and for some reason feels much heavier and more substantial than her car, even though they have the same curb weight and about the same power. A lot sure has changed in automobiles in the past twenty years, though. The interior plastic is very hard, and has very deep graining in it, and there's no "Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear," and no computerized idle control. It does have a marvelous cupholder, however. Attached to the end of my arm. Makes you wonder how people ever did without built-in cupholders.

Home, and then back to pick up Moby, then home again, and NOW, time to set in to clean him up nice and shiny (but not snotty-slick--eww.)

This is really where I got myself started being sore, too.

First step, cleaning the seats. I had them out from when we moved the mattress, so they were pretty easy to get to. While they dried, it was time to move on to the door jambs and underhood area. I don't know what it is, but no one seems to clean their cars up anymore before they try to sell them. I don't get that. I realize it's work, but it sure does help them sell faster.

It should be noted that the work that comes later than the next paragraph would have gone by much quicker had I not taken some time to dote on the Swedish lump in the driveway. The poor guy had slaved over the thing for years, but in doing so had gotten polish all over the rubber. Nothing looks worse than gray filmy black rubber, so on an off chance that I might have a good idea, I grabbed a can of WD-40 and squirted a bit on a corner of the bumper. JUST AS I THOUGHT! Stuff cleaned the polish haze right off the rubber. SO, instead of taking time to clean Moby, I HAD to go all the way around the Volvo with the WD-40 and a rag--all the lower body rubber, the bumpers, the doors, the windows, the windshield, the rear window, the roof gutters--all of it. It looked MUCH more presentable, and ten years newer (if you ignore the faded paint). But now it was time to do what I was supposed to be doing.

I had gotten some vinyl cleaner wipes from the car parts place, and I set in to clean all around the door rubber and the jambs on Moby. Probably should have used Simple Green, but the wipes worked fine, too, although probably more pricey. Driver's door, side windows, rear hatch, side windows, sliding door, passenger door, underhood. It's good to at least knock the greasy dirt off the engine pieces and accessory bits and the filler caps--again, it doesn't have to be perfect, but just a few judicious swipes with a cloth can make it seem much cleaner and better cared for. So, I did that--battery, master cylinder, air cleaner cover, jack, A/C stuff, fan shroud, labels, junk like that. Looked very nice when finished. THEN it was time for the shiny stuff. I don't slather it on, though--just enough to do some good. Start back where I did the cleaner, and then went all the way around again. Very nice. And tiring. BUT--I wasn't done.

Because now it was time to paint the bumpers. This is where my neighbors COULD have gotten mad, because I moved the van right out to the end of the driveway, and had all my painting junk all over the place. Good thing I cut that grass, because it would have just been intolerable with that scene of automotive restoration combined with a crop of dandelions the size of sunflowers.

Anyway, I mentioned before these bumper covers are urethane skins, and the base plastic is a bile yellow color that has been progressively peeking out more and more all the way around. Looks horrible, and I would think make it much harder to sell. I had gotten a price from a local paint shop of $389 to do what I was about to set out to do. For that much, I could screw up pretty badly and still come out ahead.

But I didn't screw up. It helped that my dad and I used to dabble in car painting, so I have at least an idea about the proper way to mask and prep the surfaces. That doesn't mean it's particularly easy--lots of twisting and hunching over and getting up and sitting down. I guess I made it worse by only doing a section at a time rather than the whole thing at once, but that turned out to be a good thing.

SO, masked off the front bumper first--base mask first of a tape line around the grille, lights, side markers, fog lamps; then some added protection for the upper parts and tires with some newspaper. (By the way, always use autobody masking tape--keeps from pulling the paint off.) Degrease the surface, shake up the cheapo can of bumper paint, and have at it.

Few minutes and WOW! That looks darned good! I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it turned out looked very nice. And probably just as good as what the paint shop would have done. Cool.

Next, the rear bumper--open hatch, base mask on lamps and body, then some newspaper on the sides, and the addition of a piece of stiff poster board to use as a movable mask. This is easier on certain areas because of the difficulty in papering the hatch area. Scraped off the dried flecks of traffic striping paint from where I ran through a wet line several years back (grrr), degreased, paint, PRESTO. Man, this stuff does good!

Unmask, then start on the driver's side. By now, with all the bending and squatting and hunkering and sitting and scooting and trying to do it all at a madman's pace, I was starting to feel some twinges. And it was getting dark. It was pretty obvious I wasn't going to get the whole thing done on Saturday. ::sigh:: Masked off the molding on the driver's side, again, piece by piece. Back, middle, door, and the bit behind the front wheel. Finished up at a bone-weary 8 p.m., and only because I couldn't see anymore, even with the streetlight. One of the young ladies around the street came by on a jog with her dog and asked how I was doing all that in the dark. "Very carefully." I told her I actually couldn't see anything, and was calling it quits for the night. As if she cared.

Next day, errrrphgr. Hmmmmph. ::creak::POP:: Hungh. And that was just me rolling over to turn off the alarm clock. Got everyone up and to church, taught my class, Jonathan learned from me that you can't go dipping your toe in Satan's pond and still be okay with God, good sermon on Eve (who made some bad decisions) and then on to meet my mom at the Golden Toilet. Ate heartily of germ-encrusted things, and then we drove around looking at some new subdivisions. She's ready to move, and wants less house. I keep trying to get her to move closer to us, but she's still reluctant.

Took her back and dropped her off, and then back to home. Hmm. Two hours before church. TIME TO PAINT! URPH!

I changed back into some work duds and got my masking tape and paint out again. This time I had the sliding door, which actually worked out just fine. Rear molding, sliding door, passenger door, and the bit behind the front wheel. Ta-DAHHHH! And finished with time to spare. As well as a soreness that lingers to this very moment. But also much pride of satisfaction at not spending $400 to have someone else paint the bumpers.

It all turned out looking very nice, and I finally felt good about selling him. He's not perfect, but he looks much sharper now than he did.

So, anyone wanna buy a '94 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE Sport Wagon? $3,250 and he's yours! (Comes with remainder of can of paint for the bumper.) You've seen the outside, so here's the inside--

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:46 PM | Comments (8)

Sob.

I just had an entire entry right here, of the ordeal with cleaning and painting the bumpers on the van, and it was a spectacular post full of information and pathos, and was doing an image upload of the van, and now the post is all gone. All gone! I feel like crying.

BUT I WON'T.

But I do have to go to staff meeting now, and then to the courthouse. Dang it all. But, I won't say stupid STUPID Movable Type. Yet.

Grr.

But here's what Moby looks like in his freshly cleaned and bumper-painted glory--

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (6)

May 06, 2005

You know,

I suppose I really should cut the grass this afternoon. I will probably be too excited tomorrow when I get to play with the new toy. And there's also the matter of getting Moby cleaned up as well. We're going to drop him by the detail place on the way out tomorrow morning so they can bathe his carpets, which are actually medium gray, and not black. Thank heavens for floor mats, I say. If all else fails, I can just swap those out for some clean ones. But I sure hope they're able to get them clean, just the same.

And after the bath, he gets to come home and I have to paint his bumpers. Chryslers of this era (as well as a lot of cars) had flexible painted bumper skins with a hideous yellow inside color. Once the paint starts to wear off, they look terrible, but thankfully a nice coat of new bumper paint makes them look nicer. And then, out comes the For Sale sign. I don't think I will bother with anything like E-Bay, though. Too many squirrels. First, take it to Carmax and let them give me the absolute bottom dollar, then do a little online research to find the upper range, then pick something in between.

AND THEN, there's Mother's Day Sunday. We've decided that Mom can't do without a trip to the Brazen Trough, so we'll do that, and then she wants to go look at houses. She lives in a nice place over in Southlake, but she's getting the itch to move again. Maybe something a bit closer to us. But not too close. She doesn't want to be in our business. Or be called upon at all hours to tend to our rugrats, I think is a more likely reason. Anyway, we'll haul her around awhile and let her wander around the houses and see what she likes. She's got a good eye for construction.

Reba's gift from the children was a pretty little hydrangea (that I will have to plant) I got from the nice lady I always go to at the flower shop over in the AmSouth-Harbert building. Miss Reba was quite tickled with it, as well as the presentation. And there'll be CARDS as well! And dinner with my mom at Golden Corral! Oh well, two-and-a-half out of three ain't so bad. (She loves my mom but has a hearty dislike for the GC.)

SO, anyway, all of you have a wonderful weekend, and if you still have your mom hanging around, give her a call or a visit or a germ-infused meal and tell her that you love her. She'll appreciate it.

See you Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

"I'm a Moron" Project is GO!

V-Day countdown now at -22:32:00 (or so--I mean, by the time I post this, it'll change again, and I just don't have the ability to set up a cool countdown clock to go here, although I did think about putting in a baby due date countdown, but that seemed rather pointless since it only counts days, and not minutes and seconds, so--wait--had to change the time again--okay, so just bear with me.)

ANYway, the deal is on for tomorrow morning at 9:30 at the Gardendale Shoney's parking lot, and I am so excited at having something else to tinker with! Because, you know, I have so much spare time in which to tinker with old cars. It has been fun to do all the research on what all breaks and tears up on these things--in just the last few days, I have amassed a set of nineteen bookmarks to various other Moron Project Enablers. One of the projects for later will be to repair the odometer gear. Seems they all break at 200,000 miles. Tiny nylon gear, with some sort of internal destruct mechanism.

Another will be to see if it needs a new engine wiring harness. I found out these can be faulty AFTER I made my examination. Had I known then to look for crumbling insulation on all the underhood wires, I might not have that weird puckering sensation in my lower gut. It's not a job for someone who's never worked with cars before, but if you have, it's not that hard. Time consuming, certainly, because you have to mark where everything comes loose, and then make sure you plug it all back up the right way. But that's probably worth doing, just so it doesn't burn up into a pile of ash in the middle of the Interstate. Nothing sours a Moron Project like sudden uncontrolled combustion, you know.

Let's see, what else--oh, yes--the lamps. For anyone who thinks that they just don't build cars like they used to, you're right. Cars are wonderful nowadays, and they've figured out how to make good quality plastic that doesn't degrade in the sunlight like something out of a bad vampire movie. Such things were apparently still quite unknown to certain manufacturers, however. So, some particular brands ::coughVolvocough:: of cars need some help in this regard, with plastic lamp lenses that have aged to a be as hard and brittle as Nancy Pelosi. Not a big deal to change them out, but they can be pricey. Which is another one of those things that comes with proving just how moronic your moron project can be. I'm going to try polishing them out first, just to see if that helps.

AND THEN, there'll be the 20 inch spinner rims! And the coffee can muffler! And the wicked cool racing graphics! And the towel rack trunklid spoiler!

Ahhh--so much fun to come. Oh--wait, gotta change the clock again--hold on. There.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:57 AM | Comments (9)

May 05, 2005

Heh...

I may have to get a couple of these.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:20 AM | Comments (6)

May 04, 2005

Volvo Trivia!

Well, you know it was bound to happen.

1. Volvo was founded as a ball bearing manufacturer in 1924 by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson, and the first Volvo automobile was produced in 1927.

2. Volvo is the first person singular present tense of the Latin volvere, meaning "I roll." If you really want to be pedantic, it's pronounced "Wolwo."

3. The circle and arrow symbol is for the shield and spear of the Roman god Mars, who in addition to his day job as the god of war, also sidelined a bit as the god of iron. The same symbol is also used on engineering drawings to denote steel.

4. The Volvo High Mileage Club is open to owners whose cars have gone over one hundred thousand miles. Upon receipt of a simple form, the company will mail the owner a lovely badge. (I will be receiving two. And it is a badge, not a badger.)

5. Volvo is uncomfortably close to a certain word referring to anatomical matters.

6. You do not have to be a yuppie to drive a Volvo.

7. Every Swede receives a free Volvo every year on his or her birthday.

8. If every Volvo ever made was stacked one atop the other, the resulting wobble in the Earth's rotation would cause the Earth to plunge into the Sun.

9. - 14. [Reserved]

15. People will point and laugh at others who drive old Volvos, but it is intended as a sign of respect and admiration, not derision.

16. Good GRIEF, those crappy plastic headlights are expensive!

Thank you for your indulgence. Other interesting non-information will be available in the coming years.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:44 AM | Comments (5)

May 02, 2005

As promised, the tale of the hunt.

I had seen this particular shoebox about the same time I started looking for the Benzes, and kept it in the back of my mind for future reference. As you recall from previous maunderings, my peculiar itch that needed scratching was for a smaller, older, boxyish, and reliably stolid car. (I have always been fond of little rolling boxes, for some reason.)

Anyway, after the trip to Georgia, I fired up the Google machine and found the car again, and the price had been dropped by about two hundred or so. Hmmm. The picture you saw of it was the only one, and it was sufficiently grainy and dull that I couldn't tell anything about it other than it looked more or less intact.

But, I had already allowed myself to get too invested based on photos, so I called the gentleman and got the rundown from him. Seemed very promising, as did the Carfax report that showed nothing untoward had ever happened to it. He'd bought it when he was stationed overseas in the military, and took delivery of it in Germany, where he also had added on an accessory gauge package and some better speakers.

And since then, he seems to have slavishly devoted much rubbing and doting on the car. The paint is very thin on top, the combined effect of 20 years of Southern sun and obsessive polishing on his part. Good tires, glass clear, rubber still somewhat rubbery. There are some dings and scratches, and some of the trim isn't as tight as it could be, and the lenses on the lamps could use a good freshening. But, no rust. Anywhere, low or high or in the creases.

Over the phone, he'd said there was a bad place in the driver's seat, and indeed, there was an inexpensive cover over it when I first got there and looked in the window.

Hmm. Never can tell. I'd made a trip Sunday afternoon between church services way down to Childersburg to go look at another 240DL, one that the owner swore had been well taken care of, although it had a little bad spot in the driver's seat, too. And a bit of rust. But otherwise in great shape. I suppose if "great shape" means "ready to drop in a crusher," then yes, it was.

But the car I saw today didn't look like that. It looked...buyable. I went and got the fellow from his office and we walked back to where it was parked and he opened the door. Here we go--the test.

It smelled like...a car. One that had been vacuumed and cleaned, and loved and patted. No smell of decay--sure, it had lost that new-car smell, but what was left wasn't bad at all.

Oh, and that seat.

He pulled back the cover, and there was a tiny hole in the fabric about the size of a pencil lead. That was it. The rest of the seats looked nearly new. The dash does have more than its share of cracks, though, but at least it's not wavy and buckled. And it can be fixed pretty simply. Even by a moron.

We cranked it up and drove it. Tight. No squeaks. Good power. Nice. Different, but nice. Yep, this one's it.

We got back to his parking lot and I told him I'd take it. He fidgeted around with stuff, and showed me the half case of factory Volvo oil filters he had for it, and the two giant shop manuals, and the wax he wanted me to be sure and use. And then he just stood back and looked at it.

"You know, I don't--I just can't hardly stand to sell it."

Yep. You could tell, and it was about to make him cry. I know the feeling. But I assured him I would take good care of it, and it would continue to serve faithfully in the service of another.

We're going Saturday morning to go meet him and pick it up, and I may have to bring along a box of Kleenex for both of us.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:50 PM | Comments (23)

Okay, folks...

Start thinking of Swedish names.

Details later on in the day. But, most important, it has been loved.

(Second most important is it's 350 bucks cheaper than the Merc was.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:33 PM | Comments (37)

April 30, 2005

You gotta know when to hold ‘em,

Know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run…

Well, it started off auspiciously enough--a line of thunderstorms and tornadoes running the length of the state. But, it did move through early, so by the time we pulled out on our great safari at 8 this morning, the rain was already several hours ahead of us.

Put the old mattress outside to be picked up, with a big piece of paper pinned to it with the name of the charity to keep someone from thinking they could just walk off with it, and we were on our way. Stopped and got some breakfast, topped off the gas tank, and headed off toward the Eastern Time Zone.

Good drive, and missed all the eastbound race traffic, which I thought was awfully slick of me and my sense of timing. Made the exit toward Carrollton, stopped and called the seller of the object of my obsession to let him know we were close, and settled in for the last leg. This part of Georgia is very pretty--lots of rolling hills and thick woods, and Carrollton itself is a pretty little town. Blew through there and on to Newnan, and after coming all that way, managed to miss the very last turn. Oops. Turned back and into the leafy subdivision, and at the very end of the cul-de-sac…there is was! [cue chorus of angels]

We pulled on down in the driveway and I got out.

Hmm.

Now, I realize I had built this up pretty good in my mind (and to all of you good readers) and looking at the pictures and talking to the owner, I thought I had an adequate sense of what was wrong and right with the car. Car guys tend to think in terms of “footers.” If you say you bought a “20 footer,” it means it looks good from 20 feet away--but no closer. Well, I had this one figured for a 10 footer, which is pretty good for what I was intending. I knew there would be a little rust, and some rips, and some odd stray bits that were just barely tacked in place.

But. Hmm.

I got out of the van and the first thing I saw (from about 30 feet away) was a dark angry red strip right above the chrome trunk lid trim strip. Not a spot. A line. The owner came out and we exchanged pleasantries, but that cancer was on my mind. There’s always some rust, but there’s rust, and then there’s the sign of fatal lack of attention to upkeep. Body--straight, no waves. Doors--no sags, gaps even, close solid. Chrome--all there, but weak. Interior--not nearly so clean as in the picture. Driver’s seat--giant gouge all the way through the padding on the left bolster. Looked like whoever had it before had carried a grinder in his pocket.

And then, the kicker.

You bibliophiles know how it is to go into the library and sit there in a pile of old books. That wonderful smell of age and experience. And then, that smell of a box of books out of someone’s basement at a yard sale.

House hunters? The smell in an old house of years of love and cookies and endless hours cleaning and laughter and sadness and generations of homeyness. And then, that smell of neglect and despair and trashiness left by someone who only occupied a house, and never made it a home.

Well, cars are similar to that. There’s the old car smell of trips to the mountains, and that time the window got left down at the beach, and the trip with your first real date and you can smell the popcorn and her perfume, and the time that you helped your friend move and his stereo scuffed the back of the seat. And then there’s the smell of disuse and disinterest and disgust and almost a hatred left by successive owners who seem to have felt they’d been cursed in life to have been stuck with such a stupid piece of iron.

And that’s what this one had. The smell of sad abandonment. Once, it had been new and now it was just an old car. It had long ago ceased to be anything anyone cared about, and the fact that it survived this long was a testament to the car, not the previous owners.

This guy who was selling it had only had it about a year and a half. I have a feeling it had been his moron project back then--full of promise that he could fix it and make it nice again and cared for the way it should be. But, it just didn’t pan out for him. Best to take what you can get and don’t look back.

He hadn’t been the least bit underdescriptive of it at all--and I had asked question upon question about the condition of the car before making the trek. But there are some things you can only sense when you meet a car. I asked him to start it, and it cranked right up with a nice oily clatter. The mechanicals were working, but again only because it was built like a tank to begin with. But the rot had set in--hoses were crumbling, heater valve leaking, bits and pieces not just unhooked, but long gone.

I looked and listened and walked around it and looked, and felt that knot of sensibility growing in my gut.

This isn’t it.

Too much, too far gone.

He went and got some of the parts that went with the car and popped the trunk. The rain gutter around the opening was filled with pods of stuff from the trees, and again, the ever present grainy red stains that said someone quit caring about fifteen years previously. I walked back toward the open driver’s door and saw another bit of ruddy cancer--right where the door swing-limiting strap attached to the jamb. A neat red rectangular line marked where the sheetmetal had begun to separate--23 years of the door being swung open hard against the limit until it began to fatigue and give way, and then give way even faster when the water began to get to it. The door seals had long ago given up any softness they might have had, and were now like licorice, hard and dry.

“You want to take it around the block?”

I had a cashier’s check for $2,250 in my pocket. I had come all this way with my whole brood to see this thing. And you couldn’t pay me to take it. I tried. I wanted to like it. But it had gone unloved and uncared for just too long.

I looked at him and sort of shook my head no. “I, uh, well, I tell you--I think there might be more to do to it than I want to do. Just too big of a project, you know? More than I need to get involved with.” He knew. “I hate to have taken up all your time and all, but I think I’m just going to have to pass on it.”

Which was okay by him--from what I can tell, there’s a fellow down in Clearwater, Florida who’s more inflamed than me, and I get the sense that he was willing to pay the full price for it, and not really be too concerned about rust and smell and such.

We shook hands again, and I turned toward the van. Reba was looking at me with a puzzled look, and I just gave a short shake of my head.

Got in and closed the door--“Well, kids, say ‘bye to the car!”

“We’re not getting it!?”

“‘Fraid not. Let’s get home, now.”

And so, back up through Newnan and Carrollton, an odd feeling of disappointment and relief. I filled Reba in on the drawbacks, and told her I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think she quite understands the whole deal with something so silly as smell--after all, one smelly old car is pretty much like another, right?

Well, no.

It’s kind of like the clock we have in our kitchen--made around 1850, it’s a walnut-cased British fusee movement clock. Wind it every seven days, and it keeps time almost as well as my watch does. 155 years, and still doing the exact same thing it was meant to do. But you can tell that it was handed down through the generations always wrapped in a soft quilt, and carried on a soft lap, put in a place of honor in someone’s home, and dusted and cleaned and kept. It has scratches, and some of the paint has worn off, and it obviously isn’t a quartz clock when it comes to accuracy, but it keeps ticking calmly away, and seems to be content with a few scratches and nicks. It’s just bits of metal and wood, but it’s more than that, too.

A stop for lunch, and a drive back home, somewhat dampened by another line of rain that dogged us, and then a ten mile backup caused by a wreck near Munford. Home, found that the mattress was still dry, hung around outside and waited for the charity truck guys to come by while Cat rode her new scooter. The guys finally came by, and then I remembered a detail I needed to take care of. Went inside and called the insurance man and left him a message that the car deal I’d told him about on Friday was off.

Am I sad? Kinda. But I think I would have been much sadder if I had gone ahead and been pigheaded and bought the thing. There’ll be another one come along to play with, one that has been loved. And that’ll be the one I get.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:15 PM | Comments (9)

April 28, 2005

The die has been cast.

The deal is done. The Rubicon has been crossed. The piper must be paid.

I am a moron.

BUT, that's okay! For now I will once again have an old slow smelly vehicle of my very own! Here's the tour--

Passenger side front 3/4 Driver side Driver interior

Rear seat Dashboard

Special thanks to Uncle Sam for holding a portion of my tax money in a special non-interest-bearing savings account, and then for returning it to me so I can go spend it on something odd. (And I was able to get it for less than the one I had bid on.)

I just hope this doesn't mean I'm going to have to start wearing lederhosen. They do ride up so.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:52 PM | Comments (24)

Racin'

No, not that kind. The prissy Euro-type. Prompted by this headline: Alonso saving F1 from Schumacher dominance.

An article describing the talent this season demonstrated by Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who's shut Mike out of the running so far. But the headline is a bit frustrating--now, I don't really follow F1, but it's a far stretch to say Schumacher has somehow damaged the series, or made it in need of having to be saved. He's done a lot to make it interesting, in a time when the whole thing looked much less like a sport and much more like something to make money for Bernie Ecclestone. In a way, it's the same thing as what Tiger Woods has done for golf, or Lance Armstrong for biking. It's nice every once in a while to have a star, and to have someone up at the top to inspire people to come gunning. And to have someone who actually seems like an okay guy, who's just phenomenal at what he does.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)

Successful Moron Project Tips

Often, the difference between a successful moron project and and a failed one is determined by the level of familial involvement. It is very important to at least make the attempt to drag the rest of your family down with you.

Misery, after all, loves to have others to blame.

So, as I mentioned, over the weekend I managed to "let it slip" to Miss Reba about my nefarious scheme to procure an outlet for my dementia. The first step in this, obviously, is to not let on that it's a moron project, but to pretend that it's A Good Idea. This requires lots of gibberish. Which I am good at.

The next tip is to give only small doses of moronium at a time--too much may cause sudden lucidity and bring everything to a halt. So, I mentioned the vehicle I was chasing on Ebay, and before we drifted off to sleep Tuesday night, I mentioned that I had been outbid for it.

Administering the dosage while the subject is near sleep is another fine way of making sure the ideas are planted, yet be able to have plausible deniability should anything untoward happen. Like rational thinking. "Gee, you must have dreamt that!"

Another good thing to do is to take every effort to point out meaningless coincidences and treat them as omens. When I came home yesterday, the kids were already eating supper (church night--eat and run) and I sat down and noticed the cup Catherine was drinking out of. Red, plastic, giveaway from one of the high school football games. On the front, the Hewitt-Trussville Husky logo. On the back, the sponsor who paid for the cup. Who was it?

Why, the Mercedes Doctor!

"Cat, turn your cup around and show Mama! Look, Reba! The STAR!" When said with a slight smile and good-natured jocularity, the underlying madness of your quest is disguised as simple-minded banter. But it is yet another dose of moronium.

You can tell when the moronium has begun to take hold when the subject begins to ask YOU, unprompted, about the moron project, or even better, begins trying to "help" you in your long slide into idiocy.

For some reason, Reba has her own obsessive side, although it operates at a monetarily unattainable level. "Did you see the piece of want ad I had yesterday? There was a BMW in there that sounded REALLY nice, and they only wanted $38,000 for it, and it was here in Trussville!"

"Why no! I did not see it! But...," I said with much seriousness, "we could never afford anything like that. I'm just trying to find something small and humble to match my personality."

She did get the humor in the statement, but I indulged her by looking at what she was pointing out, and let her look through my copy of the Autotrader so she could get an idea of the differences between a '05 750iL and an '84 323. And the difference between those and what I wanted to get.

Then Reba asked yesterday evening if I had heard any more from the Ebay car, and I reminded her that before we went to bed the night before I told her I had been outbid. "Oh." Then I mentioned that I had found ANOTHER interesting thing. "Is it the one you were talking about at the shop that's kind of a light yellow color?"

I nearly forgot--one of the best ways to allow your moron project to gain traction is to sow confusion by pointing out many different versions of the object of your desire. There was a customer car in the lot at the mechanic's place that was really lovely, and I had mentioned it to Miss Reba the other day in passing. (And yes, I called to see if it was for sale. No.) But that's the one she thought I was talking about.

Back to the newest object at hand--"No, it's not the same one, but it's the same color. I'll pull it up and let you look at the pictures when the kids are in bed tonight when we get home."

Forbidden fruit--the idea that it's some sort of secret fun surprise to be kept from the children, at least for a little while--yet another catalyst making the moronium work better.

Back from church, kids bathed and in bed, and crank up the old Internets. The newest bit of bait dangling before me lives with its owner over in Newnan, Georgia--moronitude has no sense of territorial limits--and the fellow has been very nice to answer a raft of questions about the car. It's good, but not quite a pristine showcar. A survivor, and all in one piece with nothing missing or falling off. Yet. High miles--ridiculously so. But as is common with these cars, they tend to keep on going long after other cars have disintigrated. But it's still going to need a little engine attention, and probably before it reaches 500,000 kilometers. And it's right there in the right price range. (Although it never hurts to dicker a bit.)

The final part of the puzzle dropped into place last night as we were looking at the pictures of it. Boy had been in the bed and got up to go to the bathroom and came through our room to hug Mommy some more before going back to bed. He looked over my shoulder and I asked him, "Hey, Buddy--how do you like THIS car?"

"I don't."

"You don't!? Well, why not?!"

"It's too OLD!"

BINGO! I DID IT!

I laughed and told him that's why it was perfect. Reba, who up until now has been spared my lament about having everything I own converted to girlie/kiddie use, asked, "Why? So you won't have to worry about them taking it away from you?"

"Exactly! I'm tired of not having nothing but my underwear that I can say belongs to me and me alone!"

Boy (who along with Reba is not privy to this OTHER continuing whine of mine, since neither one even knows Possumblog exists) burst out into a gale of laughter at the mere mention of my underwear. So, obviously the moronium is having a good effect on the whole household. But again, use small doses, spread over time.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:06 AM | Comments (10)

April 27, 2005

Finally, some validation.

Dave Helton just e-mailed me with the following:

Did you know you're the #1 Google hit for Moron Project?

Sure enough, I am. Sadly, only number 4 on Yahoo. Unless it's in quote marks, in which case, I'm number one there, too.

I feel so...special.

But I can't help myself--they're just out there, taunting me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (8)

April 22, 2005

Oh, that wasn't so bad.

The evening mee(a)ting I had last night went quickly enough--I spent more time at the grocery store afterwards looking for something else to fragrantize the interior of Moby. Those two solid discs of whew I bought a few weeks back had been stewing in the van and so when I decided to drive it last night, I had to roll the window down to keep from getting choked. Just a little too intense, and a little too unlike any known naturally occurring odor.

So, I stopped at Food World on the way back and looked over my options. Of which, there are about 48 billion--stuff that's waxy, stuff that's oily, stuff that's solid, stuff that will play you a soothing song as it stinks up the place, stuff that makes a cute cloud, stuff that clips onto the car A/C vent blades, deodorizer, ionizer, deionizer, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antisocial. And little cutout cardboard pine trees.

I finally settled on a bottle of Febreze (hey, did anyone know it's Couch Appreciation Month!?), even though I absolutely hate the name Febreze. Sounds too much like Feeble Breeze. They didn't have the car version, so I just got a bottle of the plain stuff. Although I hate the name, I really do like the product--it doesn't smell like perfume, but it does smell clean. Interesting, too, is that after I finally got out of the store and doused the interior, the overwhelming odor of the first smelly things seemed to evaporate much quicker. I figure it should smell even better once the carpet and seats are actually cleaned. I took it several months back and had the car wash halfway clean it out, and then took it home and did even more myself, but the rugs really need a good steam.

ANYway--I have some OTHER stuff to get done this morning for our church building committee meeting (that I stupidly set for 4 tomorrow afternoon), so I'm going to mess with that for a bit.

IN THE INTERVENING TIME, go wish Skillzy a Happy Birthday!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:48 AM | Comments (4)

April 20, 2005

Hey, Catherine!

"Hey, Daddy."

"Guess who I saw this afternoon before you got home!"

"WHO!?"

"Your little rabbit friend! Remember? The one that you tried to catch last year? When you walked out here at night?"

"Casey? Katie--YES, Katie the Bunny! Where was she, Daddy?"

"She ran out from under the grass over there at the back of the yard when I came by with the lawnmower."

"Can I go catch her!?"

"Sure!"

As if she could--she makes WAY too much noise. But it was good to see Katie the Bunny back again. Although it might be Katie the II, or Bob. It looked a lot smaller than the rabbit we saw last year.

ANYway--it was grass-cutting time yesterday. Since I missed the weekend, and since the weeds didn't, and since I had yet to cut the backyard, it was definitely time to crank up the Murray and get after it.

After first being mauled by the neighbor's big slobbery golden retriever. Dern thing's as big as a horse now. He and his owners were out yesterday doing some yardwork as well, when for some reason Guy Neighbor decided to unhitch Dog from his mooring as I was getting the mower out of the Not A Utility Shed.

Click::BOUND::BOUND::SLOBBER::

Gal Neighbor fussed at Guy Neighbor for letting Dog loose, and as they gently bickered back and forth in the tentative way that young marrieds have, Dog crawled all over me and nearly knocked me down in his irrational exhuberance. I love dogs, although I don't really enjoy dog slobber spewing everywhere and the uncomfortable feeling you get when said dog is so happy that he mistakes you for a girl dog. Guy Neighbor FINALLY came over to pull Dog off of me, and after he was sitting down, I gave him a friendly pat (Dog, not Guy Neighbor) and Guy Neighbor finally got the hint that I needed to be about my mowing, so he sadly wandered back over to his yard.

Crank, putter, drone, mind wander. I thought some more about the "I'm A Moron" Project; clicked over some of the things I need to do to get Moby ready for a new home--paint the bumpers, steam clean the carpets, some fog light lenses; saw that the last application of week WEED killer didn't; ran over two fire ant beds and decided I needed some fire ant killer, too; marvelled at the weather--sunny, warm, breezy, unhumid, blue sky; wondered how Boy was doing up there in Huntsville; admired how beautiful our azaleas look this year; thought the whole papal election process would be much more interesting if the College of Cardinals had a football team and cheerleaders like Notre Dame does; startled Katie the Rabbit and reminded myself that I had to be SURE and tell Catherine when she got home. Something about weekday mowing isn't conducive to getting all worked up about life's little indignities, I suppose.

After Reba and the girls got home, I had gotten around to the back yard where I had the conversation with Cat about the rabbit, and then decided she needed something to do if she was going to be outside with me. So, I got her to fill the bird feeders. She enjoyed that. And we looked at the wrens up in the tangle of wisteria on the arbor. She liked that, too.

After that, she took herself over to the swingset and began acting like an orangutan. I looked up one time and she had somehow managed to climb up and hang from the top bar by her arms and legs. I started to make her get down--she's a big chunk of a little girl, and if she'd fallen it could have been very bad. But, you know, I did the same thing when I was little. I just told her to be extra careful and not to fall. Which she didn't, but I think that's more due to Divine Providence than her gymnastic skills.

She eventually wandered into the house and I finished up around 7:30 or so, and unlike the days to come in the choking heat of summer, I actually didn't feel all worn out. I sat and rocked for a bit and talked to Miss Reba, then came in and headed down to the drugstore to get our prescriptions, then drove by the Mercedes Doctor to look at the stuff on their backlot waiting to be repaired, then on to home for a good supper, a part of which will also be lunch today, caught the latest episode of The Office, despite my ban on teevee watching at the supper table (it's good to be the king, you know), then cleaned up the dishes, went upstairs and showered the grime off of me, helped fold the last of the weekend laundry, and turned in for the night.

Quite a productive afternoon.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2005

Buckle up.

We're taking a trip to Moronland!

It is an odd land where anything can be rationalized entirely without the use of logic or reason.

Those of you who fear to go to such places may safely bypass this entry. The rest of you are welcome to hop in!

SO--some backstory. As you all recall, when it came time in the course of Reba's former employ to start traveling to two different outer office locations--one in the wilds of Oneonta in Blount County 60 miles to the north, and the other to the wilds of Columbiana in Shelby County 60 miles to the south--it became apparent that such a huge amount of miles was going to eat us out of house and home in gasoline if she kept using the Honda. At the time, we had the Odyssey; Moby, the '94 Plymouth minivan; and Franklin.

As longtime readers will remember, Franklin was a 1980 Ford F-100 that was my beloved pet. Purchased from a construction worker in my hometown, Franklin had over 250,000 miles on his wheezing straight-6, never having had a rebuild, and only having had one clutch replacement.

An anvil, he was.

As green as he was slow, the children and I nicknamed him Franklin in honor of Franklin the turtle (also green and slow) as well as the fact that Ben Franklin is on the 100 dollar bill. F-100--get it!?

Well, they didn't either.

Anyway, Franklin was something of a handful--he was thirsty, and horribly smelly, and slow, and had a bad habit of backfiring like a cannon at every upshift. BBbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrRRRRR---BOOM! bbbbBBBBrrrrrRRRRRR---BOOM! But, he was always willing to work, and hauled many loads of rocks and wood and gravel and dirt and barbecue grilles and junk and boxes all over creation.

BUT--we needed something more fuelish for transporting Reba to and fro. We found her a happy little navy blue '01 Ford Focus in our hometown, and it still lives on our driveway till now. Franklin, however, was one vehicle too many. And so, onto the block with him. Finally sold him to a Yankee Bostoner who lives around the block from me. Goodbye, Franklin. Goodbye, last vestige of uncouth manliness I had (aside from my underwear and guns, that is.)

So, Odyssey, Focus (both still unnamed), and Moby, who has now rotated into the backup vehicle/beast of burden slot.

NOW THEN--yet ANOTHER change coming down the road. The arrival of a teenager, who seems to think she's too good to drive a big white minivan, and has her sights set on becoming the owner of a happy navy blue '01 Ford Focus. Which is okay--it's good and reliable and safe and predictable and not a bad looking little car (and Mom has already surreptitiously allowed her to pilot it through a parking lot--::shriek!::).

But then, what for Mom and Dad to drive? Mom likes the smaller car, but she likes the Honda as well. We need one large six passenger car for the whole family to fit in, but two is a bit on the much side, especially when gas is so 'spensive. I had publickly cogitated upon several different scenarios with Reba, some of which just had us keeping Moby, and some that would have allowed him to be sold in lieu of another, smaller car. If it would be for Reba, maybe another nice little Focus. Or, maybe something old and smelly that I could enjoy, and she could drive the Honda.

And thus we speed off into Moronland.

Irrationalization number one--since Reba isn't THAT hung up on cars, and can't tell one from another unless I'm there to tell her, and has already said she likes driving the Honda Odyssey (which is wonderfully reliable and safe and sturdy and safe and pretty, by the way), what would be wrong with allowing her the great good joy of driving it, and consigning myself to something odd and weird and marginally reliable--but, which I could claim as my very own, without fear that anyone else in the family would try to take away from me? (Again, much like my guns and my underwear.)

Irrationalization number two--since I am reasonably handy with the wrench set, and have a much higher regard for my mechanical skills than is warranted by actuality, an older car in reasonably good shape is not the worst thing I could be trapped into owning. I mean, all cars have little odd things to be fixed, right?

Irrationalization number three--what to get? Well, it can't be TOO weird--I do want it to work most of the time, and then when it quits be able to actually find parts for it. And it can't be TOO small--I still need to be able to get at least four other people in there besides me. But it can't be too large, either.

And there's this terrible unrequited fondness I have for small boxiness--I have a peculiar affection for small boxy sedans like late-'60s Falcons and Novas and Ramblers, and Datsun 510s, and 1600 Bimmers, and Volvo 240s. Plain, yet with some sort of odd charm in the architecture, and with no real need to show off with all that flashy squealing of tires.

Now, don't get me wrong--I love speed with a lusty earthy love that is rather unseemly. I think looking at pictures of the Jag E-type is pretty close to sinful, at least the way I do it. I like the slight pitter of dread you get in the pit of your stomach when you barely manage to keep from winding up upside down in a creek. I have a catalog of stories of a misspent youth in the company of crazed boys and cobbled-together machinery that will never be told for fear of the repercussions that could still arise. So, it's not that such things hold no charms for me--they do. But you can't do that ALL the time. Just like the joke about Groucho Marx, "I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while."

And, doggone it, I'm an adult now. Such showoffery--while undeniably fun--is a bit out of place in public. (And yes, maybe one day I'll feel thus constrained about public flatulence. But that is another discussion for another day.)

ANYway--a screwball admiration for small boxy cars.

A plan begins to take shape, and I start looking through the local AutoTrader publications for likely candidates, and plotting the means by which this can be convincingly (or connivingly) presented to a sure-to-be-skeptical wife.

Hmm, dumdeedum. ::flip::flip::

Amazingly enough, it seems that the current collector car fascination for late-60s, pre-1972 Detroit muscle cars had made even lowly Novas skyrocket in value to the same price they originally sold for. Or more. Who would pay that much for a Maverick, for goodness sakes? WHA? How much for a plain old Malibu!? What are people thinking!? Surely no one pays that much for junk like this.

And then--there, dangling before me, an interesting morsel of moron bait.

Boxy? In spades. Slow? Matched only by glaciers. Reliable? Undeniably so. A certain je ne sais quoi? Possibly, if I only knew what that meant. Smelly? Oh, just like a bus, brother. Cheap? Bingo.

The object of my current ineptitude?

Oh, something like this--

That, my friends, is a 1981 Mercedes 240D.

It, and various others of its Swabian ilk, trade for around 22 to 25 hundred bucks. (The 240/300 Mercedes originally sold for over 20 large back in the early '80s, back when that was a lot of cash.) I saw stupid '81 LTDs in the same AutoTrader selling for the same 2500 grickles as the Merc. In fact, there wasn't much of anything any cheaper. Certainly nothing as old that was as good of a car.

The chassis type--the W123--is one of the best screwed together things on the planet, built at a time when the idea of any Japanese car ever being any good would have evoked gales of Teutonic chortling. It was a car engineered and assembled with a different mindset, and was seen as a testament to the idea of precision craftsmanship and solidity. I recall reading a snippet from an article about the way the door handles on this vintage of Merc were made. The author couldn't understand why they were so heavy and thick and build like a steel ball. The engineer calmly explained that sometimes tow truck drivers had to use the handles to wrap a cable around in order to snatch errant Benzes out of canals. The diesel Mercedes engine is simple and tough and will last hundreds of thousands of miles without a rebuild as long as it's taken care of.

Okay, that's the good stuff.

The bad stuff? Well, they're twenty-plus year old cars. ANYthing mechanical can break down, and especially if it hasn't been properly cared for.

The 123 chassis also had a niggly vacuum-actuated system for the door locks and trunk lock and fuel filler door that relies on the good fortune of tiny bits of rubber sealing nipples to hold in the suction. If one gets a leak, doors either won't unlock, or lock, or both. Not really a hard fix, but a fussy one to get right. Having worked with GM vacuum lines before, it is not something I relish.

Seats--Mercedes-Benzes have wonderfully overbuilt seats, the only weakness of which is a horsehair padding that breaks down over time and with wear and can leave you sitting on uncomfortable springs.

Oh, and slowness. Did I mention slowness? The engine in a 240D has 62 (or so) horsepower. It hauls around a ton and a half of fine German steel.

Deliberately.

There are tales that crippled old men--on foot--can match it in a head's up drag race. But, once up to speed, you can go forever. And look awfully jaunty doing so. I saw a burgundy 240 the other morning as I came to work. Such a fine-looking thing--just the right amount of chrome, back when it was okay to have chrome. Staid, stolid. And miserably slow. Might have to see if I can find a 300D--they have a stunning 15 horsepower more.

Anyway, once the tax refund comes in, and a new mattress is safely installed in the bedroom, and some minor fix-up is done to get Moby ready to sell, there will again be an object of illogical interest in the driveway. At least I hope so.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:52 PM | Comments (30)

April 18, 2005

"I'm A Moron" Project Update

Y'know, if you're trying to get rid of a hunk of iron, and it's the type of iron that really doesn't sell that well, because it's the type of iron that only morons would be attracted to, and you go to all the trouble of putting your e-mail address in the advertisement for said article, it MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO CHECK YOUR E-MAIL.

I'm just sayin'.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:48 AM | Comments (6)

April 12, 2005

Man, I'm just a sucker for baby animals.

Dave Helton's got a new filly, and it already looks half-grown!

I'm terrible at suggesting names for other people's animals, but in the spirit of competition, I would offer "Nancy," after Nancy Hart.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (5)

April 08, 2005

And Speaking of the Wendy Garner Show--

This morning after the network NBC coverage ended, Miss Wendy (and other people, I suppose) from the local station was doing the second stop in the station's new Friday feature where they visit towns around the area, and this morning they were in IRONDALE! Right next door to Trussville!

I was all excited, and thought I might be able to swing by and bother her while she was on the air, but she and Ken Lass were inside the theater at Shades Valley High School, and I have a feeling they wouldn't have looked kindly to some big doof showing up on their doorstep screaming, "HEY! I WANNA BE ON TH' TEE-VEE!"

::sigh::

Oh well. One day she'll come to Trussville, I just know it!

(As an interesting aside, the new Shades Valley High was one of the last projects I worked on before I moved on to this job. It was not as much fun as one would expect.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:40 AM | Comments (6)

April 04, 2005

OKAY!

Sorry about the delay--I got busy on wasting time on the new site trying to make it look like this one (for some unknown reason related to obsessive-compulsive blogging disorder), and then I got all messed up and had to redo a bunch of stuff, and THEN there was WORK! AGAIN! The nerve of some people.

ANYWAY, as noted previously, this was a weekend spent doing several onerous tasks, the primary one being taxes. Up bright and early Saturday, sat down at the dining room table with all my junk and got busy. This year seemed to go a bit smoother than last, and I’m not quite sure why, because we had more stuff to figure out. I had intended earlier, if you recall, to get some of that spiffy tax software to help out, but I guess I’ll do that next year. Maybe.

The only glitch was that when I got ready to do my state return, I couldn’t find the forms. I don’t know whether I mislaid it and it got covered up with kid junk, or if it got stolen from the mailbox by an identity thief. The state has a very bad habit of printing both spouse’s Social Security numbers on the mailing label, and it’s out there for anyone who wants it. Doofuses.

So, I got through with the Feds, (and a tidy refund this year--I think $40,000,000, but I might be off a bit) and then went to the library to pick up a state booklet. (I also hopped on the computers for a minute to see if there was any e-mail that Chet had neglected to tell me about.) Back toward home again, and decided to make a quick pit stop at the AutoZone at the foot of the hill. I had decided to take Moby with me to the library for his monthly exercise, and when I got in, the combined effect of being outside in the weather and a host of icky stuff that I haven’t been able to clean out of the carpet, and just the general smell of machinery and old car had conspired to give the ol’ box the smell of a barrel full of burnt clutches. I drove over and back with the windows down hoping to get rid of the smell, but that can only do so much. So, some deodorant.

Blech. Nothing smells any good--all the coconut vanilla pine berry rain leather orange fresh Passion garbage just smells horrible. And that “new car” junk--no matter WHO it’s made by--does NOT smell like a new car. Unless all new cars are now made in a Tijuana cathouse.

I got two.

Home, and to work again on the state returns. Where I found out that politicians are not nice people. At least ours.

There is a spot on the deduction schedule sheet that allows you to deduct other taxes you’ve paid--mainly stuff like car tags, and I THOUGHT local occupational taxes. Both Birmingham and Jefferson County make you pay to work here, and the tab comes to a sizeable chunk. But this year, after I had gone through and done everything, I noticed that these occupational taxes were now supposed to be put in with other unreimbursed employee expenses. WHAT!? Surely not--those expenses have a 7.5% of adjusted gross income threshold. Of course, the total isn't quite 7.5%, and of course, I couldn’t deduct them. This bothered me, especially after I went looking in the booklet to see if this was a new change for this year. Nope. Not listed anywhere as a change, which can only mean…EEK! I might have done it wrong LAST YEAR!

I went back and looked at the instructions for last year, and sure enough, they CHANGED IT THIS YEAR WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE! Jerks. It cost me thirty extra bucks not to be able to deduct it. Pretty sneaking and conniving, but I’m not surprised. The amount they get from people who are able to make the deduction is probably miniscule, but to those of us who wind up having to fork over more dough in order for them to sit around and debate the merits of the queen honeybee versus the monarch butterfly, well, it’s rather galling.

It’s a shame tarring and feathering has gone out of style.

UPDATE! 3:30 p.m. Regular reader Stan the Government Man just sent me a link to a January 25, 2005 State Department of Revenue news release (.pdf file) that says I might be in luck!

Montgomery—The Alabama Department of Revenue issued an immediate taxpayer advisory today urging Alabama taxpayers who were mailed an Alabama Form 40 (Long Return) or a Form 40 NR (Non-resident Return) Tax Booklet and who have city and county occupational license taxes withheld from their wages or salaries to note errors contained in the booklets’ instructions directing those specific taxpayers to claim the local occupational taxes reported on their W-2s as miscellaneous tax deductions on the Schedule A. This direction is incorrect. Alabama law allows the occupational license tax to be claimed as a full tax deduction and as such, should be claimed on the Schedule A, under the section entitled “Taxes you paid.” The instructions for both the Form 40 and the Form 40 NR advise taxpayers who have city and county occupational taxes withheld from their wages or salaries and reported on their Form W-2s to report the amount on Schedule A, Line 19 or Line 24, respectively. This is incorrect. Taxpayers should report the amount of city or county occupational taxes withheld from their Alabama wages or salaries on Schedule A, Line 8, regardless of which return they are filing. […]

I say it means I might be in luck, because although I haven't mailed in the forms, to fix it would require me to go through and redo EVERYTHING. Again.

I'm thinking a bucket of tar and a pillow would be much less expensive. As well as much more satisfying. I suppose I'll redo it, just on the principle of the thing.

AND NOW, back to the drivel.

In amongst all the tax stuff, I also decided to get around to doing the other government-mandated interference in my life--changing the clocks forward. Going ahead and setting them forward early in the day makes it a bit easier to get used to the new time. Kinda. The clock count was up this year due to each of the kids having a timepiece--by my count, there were 14 to be fidgeted with.

And yet, we are still late all the time.

NEXT--Other stuff!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:50 PM | Comments (6)