Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kentucky Is On The Bottom of The Chart

I found this through InstaPundit, through this site, Whizbang.

I am proud to say Kentucky was amoung the states that scored a ZERO on the Brady Scale!

Well Done!

Another Missive From the Holler

Dear Cousin Red,

I’m guessin’ y’all heard the story ‘bout that women that got killed by her pet Killer Whale? Well, that news has reached us up here in the holler too, an’ ta me the whole dang thing just don’t make no sense no way.

First, I don’t know ‘bout y’all, but I sure as shootin’ ain’t gonna try an’ make a pet outta somethin’ that is named a KILLER. Hell, I ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I sure ain’t gonna make a pet outta a bear, and we don’t even call them KILLER bears.

Some folks is kinda funny, ain’t they? They think there all smart n’ such an’ can be in charge of every damn thing. They think they can take a killer whale an’ train him ta do parlor tricks. Then one day they find out the hard way that nature is in charge, an’ the ole whale has a ‘nuther notch on the wall of his tank.

Them same folks seem ta think they can control the weather too. All I gotta do is quit drivin’ my big Pick-up an’ start driven’ a Prius. I forget right now Cuz; is a Prius the one with bad gas pedal or the bad brake pedal? I guess it don’t really matter. Either way y’all is gonna need a big ole sumthin’ to stop your new toy.

Any how, they tell that the whole Earth is a gettin’ warmer. Tell me again, how much snow they got up east there in the last cupla days? Give it to me in feet Cuz; I don’t really like them numbers with 2 numbers in ‘em.

So they figur’ they can control killer animals, an’ they figur’ they can control the whole Earth gettin’ hotter or colder an’ they figur’ that they can control the baddest meanest beast on the face a’ the Earth: Gov’ment.

If’n the last 50 years ain’t proved nuthin’ else it’s proved that gov’ment is like kudzu. Sumthings respect the rule that if’n I leave y’all alone, y’all will leave me alone. Even snakes and skunks get that rule. When was the last time y’all had a skunk get in the house? They don’t do it. They know the rules.

Kudzu don’t care ‘bout the rule. If’n y’all leave kudzu alone it’ll take over every square inch a’ the place. leave one little leaf, an’ next spring the back 40 will be covered again.

Gov’ment is like that. They don’t respect the rule. We have kinda let ‘em alone up there in War’shington for a while, hopin’ they’ll do the same. It ain’t worked out. They not only took over the back 40, they’re workin’ up the back porch steps.

So it’s time ta get busy.

If’n nuthin else we gotta remind folks that you can’t really control a wild beast, the weather or the gov’ment. That’s why we keep goldfish, not killer whales, build a house ta stay warm an’ dry in, an’ keep gov’ment as small as we can.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cars I Have Been Loosely Acquainted With II

After the experience with the Pierce Arrow Dad and I kept looking through the Trading Post. One Saturday we saw a 1949 Packard Series 22 Limousine. The price? ‘First $100 takes it’.

We drove out to Amelia to a small garage and a fenced lot out back. The Packard had been stored in the lot about 3 years previously by a ‘former’ friend of the garage owner and he wanted it gone. This picture looks pretty close to the way we saw it, but it doesn’t give you the size of this thing. Add about 2 feet to a Chevy Suburban and that is close.

The car itself was a good buy for $100. The bottom half of the engine was in the trunk and the driver’s side floor was gone from the center of the car to the door.

But the seats- including the two fold down jump seats- were perfect. All of the glass was there and rolled up and down as smooth as silk, including the window that divided the back seat from the front. The body wasn’t beat real bad, considering it was in a small yard and surrounded by other cars.

That was the problem. The guy who owned the lot didn’t own the car. A buddy had asked to part it there for a ‘week or two’ 3 years earlier and he hadn’t heard from the guy in almost 2 years. It was being sold without a title which added another level of problems putting it back on the road.

Dad and I talked it over for a few minutes and let the guy know we would call him later that afternoon. On the 45 minute ride home we listed the good points and the bad points on the beast. One topic that came up was how many of them were there?

This is pre-(common)internet. Luckily I had purchased a book that listed the production figures on most US cars from about 1900 to about 1975. As soon as I got home I looked it up.

In 1949 Packard made 7 of these limousines.

We called the guy about an hour after we had left his shop.

He had already sold the Packard.

We had come that close to owning one of only 7. And here are pictures of two of them.

Cars I Have Been Loosely Aquainted With

I ran across this at Jay Leno's Garage today, and it got me thinking about a couple of collector cars that might just have slipped through my fingers.

One summer my Dad decided he wanted to restore a car, so he and I started looking through the Trading Post (an old paper that advertised all sorts of things) for something interesting.

One we ran into was a 1933 Pierce Arrow sedan for $1000. This was back in probably 1990 or so, and fully restored this car was worth around $50,000. We called the owner and the story got even better. Her father-in-law had bought the car new and drove it from Chicago to Cincinnati in 1963 when he came to live with her and her husband. He parked the car in their driveway (in a rather upscale part of town) and never touched it again. Father-in-law died in 1970 and the car was still right where he left it. Her husband had recently taken ill, and she was basically selling off all his stuff.

Pierce Arrow was a well known car 70 years ago, and I think their last year of production was 1935 or so. They were a luxury car- you could buy maybe 10 Model-A Fords for the cost of one Pierce Arrow- and owning one in ’33 would be akin to having a top of the line Mercedes today.

We took a chance and went to see it. The car was complete down to the wing nut on the air cleaner. The tires even still had air in them. The roof was made of leather, over top of wooden bows, even though the sides were metal. Car manufacturers hadn’t yet figured out how to make a solid metal roof that didn’t ‘drum’, or flex, as the car ran down the road. And this is where the trouble started.

Cars of this vintage were almost a wood body wrapped in steel. Sometime in the 30 years between when the car was parked and when we went to look at it the roof had started to leak. And thirty years of water had ruined all of the wood. The wood that framed the roof, doors, body, floor and seats was gone. The paint was faded on most of the car to a mottled blue, and the chrome was dull and pitted.

One bright spot was the front end. A bush had grown up over the grill, headlights and fenders. These parts looked like brand new. If they had thrown a tarp over this thing in 1963 it would have been a $20,000 car.

As it was, it wasn’t worth the $1000 she was asking.

We thanked her for her time and kept looking.

And kept regretting our decision. That car would have been an immense amount of work, but would probably been worth it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What is Art?

I found this over at Althouse today and left a small comment that I just had to expand upon.

Part of the discussion involved exactly who was the artist of this piece, as the named artist actually had the piece carved by someone else. Who was the artist? One comment was that an architect doesn’t build his own designs; does that mean he can’t be known as the designer? Another point raised was that many classical artists had apprentices do some of the base work on their pieces, yet they are still known as the artist, and many classical statutes were not done in their final form- marble or bronze- by the artist whose name they are known by.

I find these arguments specious for a couple of reasons. First, even building a house is not typically a one man job. Neither is pouring a bronze statute. Building a large building requires a completely different skill set than designing one. Builder and designer have a symbiotic relationship; the builder couldn’t design and the designer couldn’t build the kind of structures they can complete together.

Same with the artist and the marble sculptor or bronze caster. There needs to be a symbiotic melding of technical skill and artistic vision for the final product to be a true work of art.

And if an apprentice has completed a portion of a work for and under the direction of his master, isn’t that job? The master has the vision and the technical skill that he is passing on to the apprentice.

Where do we draw the line between artist and craftsman?

I create things out of wood that I have designed, usually in my mind’s eye. They have never been made before, and usually have some use. Are they art or folk art?

Even the Mona Lisa had a use, as a portrait of someone. How many great works of art are that way? If the portrait of Grandma was done by Whistler, you have a work of art. Done by House Painter Joe, not so much. They may have the same technical quality, but just not the same publicist.

How many other ‘primitive’ artists were painting in a style and subject matter similar to Grandma Moses? Yet she had a decent publicist, or at least somebody willing to shill her work, and that made the difference. But, I digress.

Back to The case of The Carved Log. We have an individual who spots a dead log. She feels this log has some artistic merit (judgment call; maybe as it sat, surrounded by its descendants it had some beauty); cuts it into several pieces (any fool with a saw can do that); hauls it to her studio/workshop (depending on your attitude) and makes a fiberglass cast of the tree (competent craftsman work; anybody who has bondoed a fender could probably do the same).

Not having the skill to carve a reproduction of a dead tree, she sends the cast to a man who does, and he faithfully reproduces the dead tree by cutting down a live one and carving it to match. They then lop the thing into chunks (this piece is MASSIVE) so they can ship it to a museum.

I’ll tell you, as someone who has tried to reproduce a copy of an existing object, that is hard, demanding work. You need to have at least the same skill level and tools as the original artist, and the ability to copy their technique. Any stone mason will tell you the same thing; if you want him to copy a stretch of wall, he will need to study it first, to make sure he can copy the original builder’s methods, and have a similar pile of stone to choose from.

Deciding that a log is artistic is a crapshoot. Carving a reproduction of one is artistic.

Is it my kind of art? Not really. Is it a one of a kind technical piece? Yes. But anyone with a similar skill could do the same thing, to the same or a different log.

Take a landscape by anyone of the Hudson River School. I find those to be art because they are one of a kind reproductions of an irreproducible event. Anyone with a similar technical skill could reproduce any one of those paintings, but it took a special eye AND the competent technical skill to produce it in the first place.

Modern art is sometimes difficult to place as art because of the sometimes lack of technical skill. I remember a ‘sculpture’ that sat in downtown Cincinnati for years. It was a large block of stone on a stainless steel pedestal. The alleged artist took a block of stone straight from the quarry- it still had all of the marks from where it had been drilled and split from the parent stone- and had a craftsman build a pedestal for it. He called it ‘Law and Order”. I wonder what happened to it? I haven’t seen it in years and can’t find a reference on line. Maybe they actually carved something out of it.

Then I also remember a Picasso I liked. He did it for I think Look Magazine (again, I can’t find a reference on line) I think back in the early ‘60’s. The photographer who was there did a low light shot and Picasso took a stick from the fire and drew a horse in the air. Beautifully formed and proportioned, it was a combination of Picasso’s imagination and the technical skill of the photographer. And a one of a kind image. I doubt anyone in the room saw the image. Without the photograph it wouldn’t have existed at all.

That type of stuff I like. That is ART. a definative, one of a kind combination of artistic eye and technical competentce.

I also wonder what happened to the original, ‘artistic’ log.

I bet they cut it up for firewood when they were done.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of when I lost my Dad. I was struggling with a new way to remember that anniversary on the blog and I ran into this today over at my favorite guilty secret site, The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys.

Dad built me a track like this back in '66 for Christmas. It had 3 lanes, banked turns and 10 foot straight aways. I don't want to think about the hours he put into that track with only a circular saw and a Black and Decker jigsaw. Every screw was driven by hand; no battery operated drill drivers back in the day.

The whole track is 4 X 12, so it takes up a chunk of room, even more when you need to leave a couple of feet behind it to get around back to reset the cars.

I got 4 cars with it. 1/25 scale size- yeah, its a big track- and if I remember correctly 3 of them were Ferraris (yeah; just like the one above). A Red one, a White one and a Blue one. The fourth was an open cockpit racer, with the driver exposed. In those days you didn't buy a car off the shelf either. You bought a kit and assembled the car body like any plastic model kit. I can imagine how he felt the first time I hit the gas on one and instead of turning in the corner it sailed right off the track and into the concrete basement wall, then fell 3 feet to the concrete floor.

But never a cross word about it. He decided to make it a father/son project to build 'grandstands' around the turns. He and I spent a Saturday cutting pictures of people out of magazines and gluing them to a piece of cardboard that went between the side of the track and some dowels drilled in to the base.

No more flying cars, but forevermore the driver in the open racer was headless. It didn't seem to affect his driving ability, and we had lost his head in somewhere in the basement anyway.

What the Hell; it wasn't MY head.

My friends and family and I enjoyed that track for years. One day soon- as soom as I have the room for 48 square feet of racetrack- I'm going to fix it up, drag the cars down from the attic and enjoy it again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Kid On The Block

I found this through Instapundit.

I have to question why they think a Democrat will take the seat if Paul wins the Republican nomination. Is it because they think Paul is too Conservative for the state?

Or is it a scare tactic?

To be honest I like Dr. Paul's politics, but I know he's not a native Kentuckian, and the last thing I want is a Hillary Clinton representing me in Washington.

I guess I shouldn't be concerned; he has apparently lived here since 1993, when he married a native Kentuckian. 17 years still makes him a newcomer, but I guess I can trust him not to be a carpetbagger.

I just found out I am a rare breed in Kentucky- some body not registered to one of the two traditional parties. Apparently Kentucky has 2.9 million registered voters, only 190,000 of which aren't a Donkey or an Elephant. I actually wanted to change my party affiliation this election cycle solely to vote for Dr. Paul in the primary, and missed the cutoff for changing by two weeks.

I also like that Dr. Paul is not a career politician. He has positions based on principles, not triangulation. He is the kind of man we need in government; somebody who knows he can make more money by the honest job he has than by selling his vote in Congress.

I don't care what the pundits think. The polls already show him beating both Trey Greyson and any Democrat, and we still have 4 more months to the primary.

Will putting Rand Paul in the Senate instantly make the government smaller?


But its just like walking the Appalachian Trail.

One step at a time friends; one step at a time.

It's Called Borrowed Landscape For A Reason

I got an email with this case in it, and just had to share.

My problem is, I'm not sure whose side I'm on.

I would definitely hate to have my view destroyed by somebody else's house, but I could always buy the lot myself and stop anybody from building on it.

So I guess its easy for me to decide.

Its not your property, leave the guy alone.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kill or Be Killed

By your own weapon. With this thing it would be a crap shoot. I'm not sure if you would be safer behind it or in front of it.

I found this through Instapundit, so some of you may have already seen the post.

But did you read the comments?

The article says you can stuff this down your pants. Ain't no way. That thing must weigh 15 pounds.

And I want video of a Taiwanese guy shooting this thing. What is the average height/weight in Taiwan? 5-10 and about 165?

As one comment says; this ain't a gun, its a propulsion device.

Monday, February 15, 2010

You Want to Know Whats Wrong With The World?

Take a look at this video

What idiot dreamed this mess up? and what BIGGER idiot thought this was the direction 'fashion' needed to turn towards?

Does this show the total disconnect between normal people and the fringe nuts who believe themselves to be our betters? In spades, if you ask me.

I found this through one of my daily reads on the web, Althouse- who usually does law related items- who was initially talking about the brutality of the designers shoes.

I think she missed the brutality of his clothes.

If not to the models, then to the sensibilities of anybody with a modicum of sense.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ever Seen One of These?

I doubt you have. Technically, this car doesn't exist. What I mean is, Ford never built it.

This is a 1959 Edsel Ranchero. Somebody took a '59 Edsel station wagon and a '59 Ford Ranchero and combined them into this.

And did a damn fine job. I had to do an Internet search to find out that Ford never made this beast.

I found this one in Grayson Kentucky, outside of a combination A&W Root Beer/Long John Silvers.

So I guess I found a pair of strange combinations.

Rumor Has It

That for the first time in over 50 years come next January there will not be a Kennedy in Washington.

Apparently the last Kennedy there, Patrick, who was Teddy's boy, has received his inheritance and has decided to quit working for a living.

One more step in the right direction!

Firecrackers In The Snow

Sometimes its good to be unsophisticated.

And most of the time its fun!

'Nuff said.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"What The Heck Was THAT?"

I happened to spot this story yesterday while looking for something else.

I once had a bug hit my windshield that was so big my car shuddered. I can't imagine they hit this and didn't know it.

Interesting point in the article; there are only about 30,000 of these creatures left, and that makes them endangered.

Hell, there probably ain't 50 real journalist left, but I don't see the government calling them endangered and promoting their salvation.

Priorities, priorities, priorities.

The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys

I don't want to just repost things from somewhere else, but sometimes I just have to.

Like this. The Young'un was on my lap this morning watching this video with me, and her first words were "I want one".

Yeah, well so do I.

But I'd probably have to trade my house for his toy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Swine Flu Update

Heard much about the Swine Pandemic lately?

Neither have I. Except for the email I got (twice) that showed all of the places that still had plenty of vaccine available and were giving it away free.

I guess if the government's estimates of thousands dead has come true, the media are keeping the deaths VERY quiet.

OR, nobody has died or even gotten sick in the last couple of weeks. Remember when every newscast contained an item about an oldster or a child that might possibly maybe have some symptoms of Swine Flu?

Yeah, those have disappeared too.

And yet, they "CAN" predict the weather 10 years from now, if we don't stop exhaling. Yeah right.

A New Search Engine

I heard about a new search engine called Start Page which, unlike all of the bigger search engines, DOES NOT track, record and distribute your search inquiries.

I hate Google for some of it's stands, just found out Bing tracks and sells your info also. Start Page uses Google and Bing to conduct the search, but your IP Address on the search shows as Start Page, not your personal IP address.

So the next time I look for The Anarchists Cook Book, The FBI won't know about it.

Snow Day

Yesterday was a snow day for both me and the kids. I worked from home and the kids spent most of the day either outside or drying their clothes out.

They built a ramp in the pasture for their sleds that is about 3 feet tall and 10 feet long. I'll be mowing around the remnants of that thing until June.

And yes, they rode their sleds off of it.

It kinda reminded me of a Road Runner cartoon. The sled would run to the end of the ramp and fall straight down in slow motion. It was just like they hit an invisible wall.

The Young'un was right out there with them, climbing the hill with sled in tow and riding down toward the ramp. I don't know whether it was because she has more sense than the boys do or not, but she always seemed to miss the ramp. But every time they went out, she went out with them and stayed until they came in.

The new puppy enjoys the snow too. Yesterday it was a little deep for her to run, so she was hopping from point to point, always at the end of her leash. I had to untangle myself from the cord and almost every tree we went past. I have some video, and as soon as I can figure out how to upload it to this computer thing I might post some.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Congressman John Murtha Has Died

First my deepest and sincerest condolences to his loved ones. John Murtha was not a public figure to them; he was a Father, Brother, Husband and Friend.

But it's the Public figure we will comment on, and how his death will affect the future of this country.

Incumbents are always a special case. Usually (unlike this year) they are not seen as a member of a party, but as the holder of an office, and party affiliation is less important than when running for an open seat.

This means that as a Democrat he could win in a Conservative leaning district.

But can his possible replacement? Without the current anti-Washington trend a Dem maybe able to hold that seat. Now? I doubt it- unless that Dem has Tea Party support.

So another seat, in Democratic hands for 35 years, become Republican. Pelosi was only able to muster 218 votes the first time health Care went through the House. One of those votes is now a Republican; and one just died. It's beginning to look like we have (barely) dodged the Socialist agenda.

Hopefully it was close enough for the voters to see what the Democrats were all about, without any actual pain of living through it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Hate February

And I know why.

The days are short, cold and sunless. How in the Hell Phil saw his shadow in this muck is beyond me. I can't even find enough light to get my vitamin D. Or is it C we get from sunlight?

Don't remember right now, and don't care. I HATE February.

And I know why. During February I usually have a hard time becoming motivated. I can't even become stirred enough to check the Internets to see which vitamin it is we get from sunlight.

I hate February because of what it does to me on a yearly basis. There is no rush toward Christmas to keep me occupied and busy; any project I have can usually wait another day. Or two. Or seven.

I'm more likely to hit the lazy boy than I am the workshop on a weekend or an evening; a nap seems more productive than making sawdust.

But then the Ides of March hit. Grass starts turning a little greener; daffodils start peeking up through the morning frost and the new small leaves start sneaking past the bark on the lilac bush. The furnace starts running less and less and one day we can actually open a window, for the first time in what seems like a lifetime.

And I start feeling the stirrings of my motivation again. Spring not only reawakens the dormant saps to bring the plants to flower; it also brings to life the dormant creative juices that the darkest days of winter forced into hibernation.

I hate February.

It's the Purgatory of the year; the place we spend our penance in hope of the rebirth we have been promised. And every year the rebirth happens, and life goes on.

If we can survive another damned February.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Visiting The Heros

A friend sent me this link in an email and I tested it immediately. But I am having trouble describing the experience. I don't want to say it was fun or enjoyable, but I could spend hours there.

This is basically a database of every kid who lost their lives in Vietnam. (Hey; I'm 50 now. Everybody younger than me is a kid. And get off my lawn.) I looked at my state of course, and the first town's name that was in my county. Bellevue is a fairly small community and had 3 names listed. The oldest was 23; youngest was 19.

Most of these heroes were young enough only to be able to be remembered by nieces and nephews. We all may know Uncle Frank died in a war, but do we know where he was buried? What hill or village was valuable enough to someone to cost him his life?

How can you define the cost of war better than a list of of it's dead? And how better to honor their memory than not only keeping their names alive, but also some details that otherwise would get lost in the mists of time, and maybe even forgotten by their families?

I've set this site as a favorite, and intend to spend a few minutes there every morning, remembering a few of the many that paid the ultimate price for my freedoms.