Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas!!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!!

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
Isaiah 7:14

Last night my son and I drove around taking pictures of Christmas lights on houses. Below is the best we saw.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Blue Christmas x 2

Elvis tugs at your heart strings.

Seymour Swine provides a laugh.


Detroit and Crappy Cars

Hat tip HurricaneRadio
Listening to the debate about bailing out the Detroit automakers, I think of greed, stupidity and lousy cars. The auto manufacturers and the unions have been greedy and stupid. It didn't take a genius to see this coming down the road given the automakers and unions approach to business.

But, the bottom line is bad cars. Foreign automakers, in particular the Japanese, outperform the U.S. manufacturers in design and quality. I decided to take a look at some of the lousy pieces of junk Detroit foisted upon the public during my adult life. I'm doing this from memory, including cars of my family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and my own.

The first that comes to mind is the Chevy Vega. A friend of mine bought one of these rolling pieces of trash. He had to have the engine rebuilt at 60,000 miles. Plus everything about the car was cheap, trim, fit, etc. In general, the Vega ran well until you got it off the lot.

During the mid-70s, Ford made the Granada. Magazine ads bragged about how it looked like a Cadillac. Unfortunately, the Granada beat the Cadillac in poor quality. It needed a full-time mechanic as an option.

Speaking of Cadillac, I wonder why the Indian tribes that protest test the use of Indian names and references by college teams, which is an honor, don't sue GM for defamation. Cadillac and Pontiac are names of Indian chiefs. Having their names pasted on rolling pieces of junk is surely an insult to the tribes.

Chrysler went through at least a decade without making a decent car. My parents bought a new 1965 Plymouth station wagon. That may have been that last good car they made for 20 years or more. Much later my mother had a Plymouth Horizon. The first car Consumer Reports rated as unacceptable. It had the disturbing characteristic of not automatically straightening out when exiting a turn. The driver had to manually turn the steering wheel back to straight. I drove her car a few times. I was on edge the whole time worrying I would forget to turn the wheel back going around a corner.

The Horizon also ate alternators for lunch. As I remember, my mother, who drove sparingly, had to put two or three in it. In contrast, I've never had to replace an alternator in one of my cars. For the past ten years, I've driven about 50,000 miles a year.

One guy I worked with owned an American Motors Matador. A leading auto magazine described it as a rolling brick. American Motors had a list of bad cars, the Matador, Gremlin, Hornet, Pacer and probably some others I've repressed from memory. Of course, AMC went under and there was no bailout for them.

Chrysler made its K-car which served as a platform for a Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler. Keeping pace pressed to keep pace with deficient design and engineering, GM made the X body car. The best feature of these cars was that, due to the rattling and engine wheezing, the mechanic could hear you coming.

My ex-wife bought a Ford Tempo a few months before we married. Unsurprisingly, this car did nothing well. I often described it as defining mediocrity or ordinary. The A/C wouldn't keep the car cool during the southern summers of Tennessee. The cruise control died within two years. The best feature of the Tempo is that they quit making it.

Late in life, my parents began driving the Ford Taurus. They bought two or three used ones from car rental agencies. Like other Detroit offspring, the Tauruses demanded frequent repair although my parents drove relatively little. They like the cars because of their size and you could buy one cheaply. Wonder why.

In 1991, we bought a Ford Aerostar minivan. A vehicle I actually like except for its proclivity to transmission and engine problems. During cold weather, the transmission would allow the engine to rev to about 1,500 rpms before catching. It was like revving up the engine and popping the clutch but without knowing when the clutch would pop. Once it warmed up the problem disappeared. This was "fixed" under warranty which meant it was worked on and the problem stopped until the next winter when the warranty had expired.

Later, the Aerostar developed a roof leak which made it the only car I've owned which leaked in the rain. The Aerostar's engine required a contortionist as a mechanic. To change the spark plugs, I would reach two from above, one through wheel well and the other two by removing the interior engine cover and locating them by feel.

The Aerostar had the full-time four wheel drive feature. Ford seems to have a problem with such transmissions. My ex has an Explorer and one of her brothers has an Expedition. Both, especially the Expedition, have had more than the usual number of transmission problems. The Explorer's transmission died about 2 weeks ago and will most likely be replaced by a Japanese make.

In contrast, for my young adulthood I owned a 1966 VW Bug for 15 years along with a couple of other cars. The VW was as basic as they come. It had a reputation of reliability although by the standards of today, they were not. On the other hand, it was easy and cheap to maintain and repair. Twice I had the engine replaced. The first time it cost $250 for a factory rebuilt engine. The second time $350 for the same.

Currently I drive a 1998 Toyota Camry with 280,000 miles on it. Each day I drive a 120 mile round trip to work and back. Every 100,000 miles I have the timing belt and water pump, which runs off the timing belt, replaced. The only other repair was the replacement of the turn signal/windshield wiper control unit that attaches to the steering column.

Everything works great. A/C keeps me cool. Heater is fine. No transmission problems. Nice radio/tape deck (it's an older car). This Camry has over a 100,000 more miles on it than any other car I've owned except the VW and has had fewer repairs than any either.

They say Detroit matches the quality of the Japanese manufacturers but I have a lot of trouble believing that. Last night my son and I stopped and looked at the 2009 Subaru Forester. Very nice car for not much money. My sister and others I know have had very good luck with Subaru's. If I can swing it, I'll be buying one a Forester in a few months.

UPDATE I came across this and had to add it. Barack Obama's opinion of the Ford Granada:
"The car I learned to drive on was my grandfather's Ford Granada," Barack told Indianapolis radio station WFBQ. "It may be the worst car that Detroit ever built… This thing was a tin can. [Detroit was] trying to compete with the Japanese. They wanted to keep the cars big, so they made them out of tin foil… You basically couldn't go over 80 (miles per hour) without the thing getting out of control."
And, what was Obama doing trying to go over 80 mph. Is this evidence of a life of crime and disrespect for the law?

A commenter thinks the Granada was compared to Mercedes. Turns out the Granada was compared to Mercedes and Cadillac. Talk about over statement. Magazine ad comparing Ford Granada to Mercedes and Cadillac plus an ad comparing the Granada to just a Mercedes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Slingin' Sammy Baugh Passes Away

Please excuse the bad pun, but Sammy Baugh, last surviving member of the inaugural class of the NFL Hall of Fame, died in Dec. 17 at the age of 94. Baugh revolutionized the passing game.

How good was Sammy Baugh? This good:
Baugh was the best all-around player in an era when such versatility was essential. In 1943, he led the league in passing, punting and defensive interceptions. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four as well. He threw six touchdowns passes in a game twice. His 51.4-yard punting average in 1940 is still the NFL record.
Baugh still holds Redskins records for career touchdown passes (187) and completion percentage in a season (70.3). His 31 interceptions on defense are third on the team's career list.
Baugh still holds the NFL record for the most years leading the league in passing. He is tied for the most interceptions in a game, not thrown, made. He played defense too. He is also tied for the most years, 4, leading the league in punting.

He accomplished all this with only a leather helmet and no face mask. Sometimes when co-workers start debating who were the best players in the NFL, I'll bring up Sammy Baugh and, if needed, show them the record book. No doubt, Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest of all time.

My favorite Sammy Baugh story as told by Sammy himself.
Baugh matched his finesse with toughness.

"One time there was a defensive lineman who was coming down on me with his fists closed," he once told The San Antonio Express-News. "A couple of plays later, I found a play we could waste and I told our linemen to just let him come through.

"The guy got about five feet from me, and I hit him right in the forehead with the ball. He turned red and passed out. It scared the hell out of me."

More here and here.

P.S. - My first introduction to Sammy Baugh was from a book my Uncle Dan gave to me for Christmas in 1964, 100 Greatest Sports Heroes by Mac Davis, illustrated by Samuel Nisenson. Some of these heroes are women. Heroines like Flore3nce Chadwick, Maureen Connolly, Babe Didrickson, Gertrude Ederle, and others. I still have the book and treasure the lessons I learned reading about the hard work, toughness and perseverance it takes to succeed. Thanks, Uncle Dan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Big Chill

From what I've experienced recently, you'd be more likely to convince me of global cooling and a coming Ice Age than of global warming. Today I have 4-5 inches of snow in my yard. Below is a picture of my backyard with the creek visable in the background.

Over the past month, we've had some form of snow more days than not, unusual for this early in the winter season for these parts. My kids' schools were closed due to snow today, again unusual for this early in the winter.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Turning the Tables of the Tow Man

Or, the benefits of front wheel/4 wheel drive.


Two Fun Christmas Songs

Barry Gordon was 6 years old when he recorded this song in 1955. This is a cute video featuring triplets and Gordon's recording.

This song is a tragic story of Grandma and some hit and run reindeer.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Doesn't Political Corruption Matter?

When news of Illinois Gov. Blagojevich's arrest reached the news, Katie Granju posted in its possibility of tainting Obama, a legitimate concern. What struck me was the first commenter's, Reverend Richie, words, "I am sure Sean Hannity and other Right-wing talking heads will have a picnic with this baby."

Twisted logic a warped psychology like this fascinates me. No concern regarding corruption or criminal activity that may involve the highest elected, most official in our country, obstensibly the most powerful person in the world. Just a swipe at Sean Hannity, et al.

Interestingly, according to Granju's more recent post on the subject, Hannity, et al may have a lot of fodder with which to work. Once again, Obama's words don't mesh with reality.


If This Doesn't Bring a Tear to Your Eye....

Nothing will. A little girl's love for her father is rewarded.

Does anyone give a hug better than a small child?

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Anti-Feminist Argument?

Reading the comments on to this entry on post abortion syndrome, I found this paragraph by a woman who most likely is a feminist.
Our reactions to choices we make or don’t make are greatly influenced by societal expectations and programming. Though we may make a decision that our gut tells us is the right one for us, we may feel guilty or ashamed because of societal brainwashing. Females are particularly susceptible to this, because society spends so much time imposing its will and control on females and telling girls how they ought to behave. As one small example, I grew up in a time when girls were not allowed to wear long pants to school, so we stood with bare legs in our dresses in the freezing cold at bus stops, even though we knew this wasn’t good for us!
Sounds like she is saying females are the weaker sex. Sounds like she is saying females cant' stand up to and withstand the pressures of society like males.

Maybe this is why feminists are always asking for special government programs just for them and special laws written just for their benefit. Because, feminists believe they are the weaker sex.


Favorite Christmas Carols

Marbel at Two Kid Schoolhouse has been posting her favorite Christmas carols. Her first three posts are here, here, and here. While I doubt I can keep up with her productivity, here are a couple of my favorites.

"The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole. Cole's melodic voice radiates the warmth of this song a way no one else has. As a kid I loved to sit in front of our fireplace and soak in the heat. I can still feel the glow from those fires when listening to Cole sing "The Christmas Song."

"O Holy Night" When I was in the third grade at St. Mary's School in Knoxville, there was a girl in the 8th grade who sang beautifully and well as being beautiful. I believe her name was Anna Lee .... Every boy in the school was infatuated with Anna Lee. During the church Christmas celebration, she sang "O Holy Night" with the rest of us accompanying during the chorus. Anna Lee sang with a wonderful soprano voice. Of course, I was a young, impressionable boy but I still rank her voice among the prettiest I've ever heard. I chose this video because of the beautiful female voices although it lacks the accompaniment of children.

Carrie Underwood also sings a wonderful version.

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