Saturday, June 26, 2004

A Laugh

I just checked email. Along with all the crap-ola spam, I had a neat note from by friend, Ian E.

Here are the instructions he gave me, which I tried and am delighted that I did. I needed a good laugh, and the British – of all people – provided it.

Go to www.google.com and type in weapons of mass destruction. Click on the “I’m feeling lucky button” and follow it around.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

On Fuel Economy

I bought a new Thunderbird in 1997, the last year Ford made the big coupes in the Ford and Mercury lines. It is a 4.6 liter, overhead cam V-8 which, according to the notional EPA rating, should expect 17 MPG around town and 25 on the highway.

Maybe a spinster Sunday School teacher from Keokuk, Iowa could get that kind of mileage, but I got off a rice rocket motorcycle not too long ago and tend to go when I go.

When the ‘Bird had 30,000 miles on it, I bought a K&N air filter for it which immediately improved fuel economy and enhanced performance more than somewhat. That was 40,000+ miles back.

Recently, I have had the need to do a great deal of driving, and (wouldn’t you know?) fuel prices have gone sky high. While I am achieving 20 MPG on the road, I am very open to doing things to improve economy.

The only gasoline available in this part of California that is not laced with MTBE is Union 76® which is more expensive than other brands, but with the price run up, the percentage difference is minimal. I decided to use it and picked up as much as 2 MPG improvement giving a yield of 22 MPG. That was a 10% improvement for less than a 4% increase in cost. A good trade, I’d say.

A couple of days ago, I scored a K&N recharge kit to clean and re-oil the air filter. Would you believe that my first economy test, a round trip to Pittsburg, CA followed by a round trip to Modesto showed a whopping 24.9 MPG, and this at an average speed I would estimate to be in the neighborhood of 70 MPH.

Henceforth, I think I will listen when K&N speaks – it never hurts to save money.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Ray Charles, RIP

Well, dang! I know that no one lives forever, but I hoped he would live a little longer — heck, a lot longer. I missed seeing him at the Santa Cruz Blues Festival last year and his need for a hip replacement surgery necessitated the cancellation of his scheduled appearance at the Long Beach Blues Festival in ’03. I had hoped to catch him there this year, but it is not to be.

His music has made my life better and I deeply appreciate God lending him to us for this time. The best eulogy I’ve read in a long time appears in the NY Times online. (See Story) Ray inspires that kind of reverence and I will miss him.

In another musical vein, one of my favorite online jazz stations is KPLU. They play a lot of stuff I like and I’m usually scouring the music etailers a couple of times a week.

MyCoy Tyner and Bobby Hutcherson teamed up for a couple of sessions a few years back. One of the resulting CDs is “Manhattan Moods” on Blue Note which is out of print here in the US. Upon learning that, I turned to the two local lending libraries where I am a member to no avail. I then found a used copy on ebay for $45.00. A little too rich for me.

Then I got several hits on a google search, one of which was www.101cd.com in the UK. To make a long story short, it only took a week from the time the order went through until “Moods” arrived in my mailbox. The cost was about five bucks more than I normally pay from domestic etailers, but it is a new copy at less than half the price I would have paid had I bought the deal on ebay. Examining the liner notes and the label, I find Printed In/Made In Holland. All the text is in English, and the music is still the best of the excellent entertainment those two have poured out for decades.

To make a good deal even better, I was scheduled to drive an hour and a half one way and return today. In addition to receiving “Moods,” I also received Dick Hyman’s “Swing Is Here” at the same time, so the long trip up to the Delta was swept along on the wings of song.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Chalabi Changes Role After U.S. Fallout
AP Headline (See Story)

I’ve watched the misbegotten OPERATON IRAQI FREEDOM with growing incredulity from the time Dubya addressed the UN sporting his bright red “power” tie. Here we had a well defined enemy who has attacked us no fewer than five times causing thousands of deaths of American innocents and billions of dollars in property damage. Iraq’s name never came up once in connection with any of those attacks. It was members of Al Qaeda who are Saudi citizens in the main.

This is beginning to read like a “B” knockoff of Dustin Hoffman’s Wag The Dog.

Irani Secret Agent Double-oh Chalabi cons the gullible American Dipshit Dubya into destroying Iran’s ages-old foe, in the course of the action, American bombs waste innocent Iraqis left and right, civil strife is loosed on the land, Al Qaeda which would have been hamstrung under Saddam’s regime finds itself free to roam, beheading Americans and blowing them up left and right. In the meantime, the oil rich region inhabited by the Shi’ites look to Iran for protection while at the same time the Great Satan’s treasury is dumped into the Euphrates and its Armed Forces are stretched to the breaking point.

All we need now to provide Clancy, Coonts, Coyle or whoever more grist for their novels is for the PRC to jump Taiwan, N Korea to nuke Seoul and Tokyo, or Russia decide to reclaim her lost colony of Ukraina.

One wonders if Double-Oh Chalabi likes his yogurt stirred, not shaken.

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