Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Big Bucks

February 14, 2013

5000fI picked up a copy of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye at the library this week.

Later, as I opened it up to read, I noted it still had the old “sign out” card in a pocket inside the front cover. The second  name on the list was that of my first grade teacher with a due date of June 1956. Now, some 57 years later I get around to reading it.

While there is little mention of dragons slain or grails quested in the book, it is clear that things have changed  a bit since this book was written. After having to Google a couple of automobile makes I had never heard of, (only a few Jowett-Jupiters  back in my neighborhood) my interest peaked with the story’s arrival of a five thousand dollar bill. Marlow receives one in the mail from a client/friend and comments  about it, ending with the statement that there were only about a thousand left in circulation.

Consulting the wise sage Google, I found that, as of May 30, 2009 there were only 342 of these bills that had not been destroyed after being officially discontinued on July 14, 1969. (Hey, I did find one for sale in Chicago for only $69,000.)

I’m sure that had I been rich enough to have had one back then, I would have probably  driven my Jowett-Jupiter  to the automatic car wash and shoved the bill into slot (as I did with a $20 one time) and been  inundated  with 19,976 quarters in change. However, my real interest was in how Chandler came up with the data on the bill’s circulation to began with. One would hope that there had been a recent magazine or newspaper article featuring high denomination bills that he had remembered. Researching this in the late 40’s or early 50’s would have been a chore at best, requiring much more than picking up my iPad and typing in “$5000 bill”. . . which, incidentally, took less time than reading this sentence.


Creating A Dilemma

May 13, 2010

Just finished mowing our lawn – and I use the word lawn only in the sense that the Wikipedia states that: A lawn is an area of recreational or amenity land planted with grass, and sometimes clover and other plants, which are maintained at a low, even height.

I, of course, am pushing the “ other plants” part, as our three and a quarter acre” lawn” consists of predominately wild onions and dandelions. However, if kept mowed it does pass the “ low, even height” criteria.

Today’s mowing did reveal that the moles have started early and this year’s infestation may be a new record – which triggered my natural ability for genius (this is my story, and I’ll tell it however I want.)

First of all, I looked up wild onions and was surprised to find that several species are treated as culinary delicacies, so thereafter mine will be referred to as wild leeks.  Additionally, with the current rush of wineries in this area, I’ll also declare our dandelions as prime for dandelion wine making. Therefore I’ll apply for the farm property tax rate which appears to be about one-sixth of its real value here in Illinois. There is also a clause that states  If it does not have a contributory value, it is valued at zero.” We’ll get to that later.

Illinois ranks as number three in the nation for farm subsidy, with over $3 billion annually, so I figure a decent income from the government on those delicious leeks. There are also several new business grants as well as a $72,750 state subsidy to the Illinois wine producers group. I expect a decent share of that for my fine dandelion wine.

The state subsidy information was footnoted to a publication titled, “2010 Illinois Piglet Book” which purported to be about government waste in the state, but must actually be a guidebook for enterprising  entrepreneurs  and agricultural investors such as myself.  It is full of advice such as:

*$34,000 grant to a tree farm – I’ll get my share of that from the trees I’m digging up in the neighbor’s woods to replace the storm-loss I suffered last year.

*$1.6 million paid to county fairs for subsidizing entertainment – again, if the neighbors don’t get a kick out of this. I’ll give my share back.

*$100,000 or so to music groups – mowing with my iPod blasting ought to account for something.

*$9 million to tourism or visitors – everyone who drives by seems to look at our place . . .

and the list just goes on.

Additionally (and this will also go back to the clause in the tax law that I referenced regarding the non-contributory land) there is an “Agriculture Risk Protection Act”  which provides for crop loss reimbursement, using a rather unnecessarily complex formula. For example, if I insure for fruits and vegetable loss at $22 an acre, . . .  well, who really cares.  I’ll get paid for the loss. What with the moles and my neighbor’s soiza grass steadily creeping along, it appears that my total production will be lost and subsequently subsidized (which also makes three or four pretty decent alliterations – my English 101 instructor  would be proud. And with the millions the state gives to universities. . . )

Now, with all this potential farm subsidy as well as the loss reimbursement, I’m faced with the dilemma of whether to leave the new Porsche at the summer home in the Hamptons and the Ferrari at the winter place on Montserrat – or vice-versa.

My wife said not to count my chickens.


Chicken non-farming?

Jesus or Barry Gibb?

December 6, 2009

Last week brought the latest sighting of Jesus – this time by Mary Joe Coady, of Methuen, MA on the bottom of her steam iron.

Far be it for me to be skeptical, (ha!) but a quick search shows alleged images of Jesus on everything from potato chips to interior doors advertised on eBay at prices rivaling Porsche Boxsters.

Why is it always Jesus that everyone sees? No one knows what he actually looked like – all we have are paintings and such that are only depictions of what the artist thought he might look like. We do know what Barry Gibb looks like and most of these “images” do have a faint resemblance to him. Yet no one goes running off shouting that there is an image of Barry on their steam iron, potato chip, etc.

For some boring background take a quick look at Wikipedia , and while this source is not the last word on anything, I think we can all agree that Kodak moments were in short supply during Jesus’ life;

The first photograph was made in 1814 by Nicéphore Niépce using a sliding wooden box camera made by Charles and Vincent Chevalier in Paris, the photograph was not permanent though and it faded. Niépce built on a discovery by Johann Heinrich Schultz (1724): a silver and chalk mixture darkens under exposure to light. While this was the introduction of photography, the history of the camera can be traced back much further. Photographic cameras were a development of the camera obscura, a device dating back to the Book of Optics (1021) of the Iraqi Arab scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen),which uses a pinhole or lens to project an image of the scene outside onto a viewing surface. – Wikipedia

And additional sleep inducements (again from Wikipedia) on the idea of Jesus’ image;

The depiction of Jesus in art took several centuries to reach a conventional standardized form for his physical appearance, which has subsequently remained largely stable since that time. Most images of Jesus have in common a number of traits which are now almost universally associated with Jesus, although variants are seen.

The image of a fully-bearded Jesus with long hair did not become established until the 6th century in Eastern Christianity, and much later in the West. Earlier images were much more varied. Images of Jesus tend to show ethnic characteristics similar to those of the culture in which the image has been created. – Wikipedia

So.  Who do you see on the iron?

Chinese idea of Jesus

Polydor Records idea of Jesus


Bad boys, bad boys. Watcha gonna do?

October 27, 2009
JC & othersPatty, Brett, JC’s son, a sober JC and wife in our garage at Daytona – bike has been renumbered for a short race the morning after the 8 Hour. (Photo from Oct ’06 Race)

This year’s October bike week at Daytona was opened in grand style by our old “friend,” sometime sponsor and millionaire playboy, Jamie (JC) France. Jamie’s opening act was to get himself arrested in a high-speed chase while racing across the Seebreeze Bridge in his Lamborghini against half-brother Russell’s Porsche Cayenne . Both were drunk and Russell ended the fiasco with a shouting match with arresting officers where he was quoted with such intelligent tidbits as, “I am a France. Do you know what that means? We own this city.”

Followed by, “I am gonna have your job. This is the biggest mistake ever. You are so done in Daytona.”

And the smartest thing he said was the, “Oh f—“, when the officer rifled through his pants pockets and found a plastic bag full of cocaine.

In an additional display of brilliance, a woman riding in the front seat with Russell (who said she hardly knew him) told police, “He was going so fast, I put my seat belt on.”

While Russell’s little tantrum topped it off, Jamie’s participation was good enough to gain him a “lifetime” suspension from his day job of driving the Brumos Porsche in the Rolex Sports Car Series. (We’ll see how this works out – as daddy owns the series.)

Brett suggested we call him and offer to fill in driving the Porsche for the rest of the season – however he’d have to change the number to 76.

And if you don’t understand, you just haven’t been reading this blog. (Bike Racing)

Serious Thought For The Week

September 17, 2009


Money can’t buy happiness . . .

But it feels better crying in a Porsche than a Hyundai or Kia!

Okay . . . Who Is Actually On First?

September 13, 2009


While building five airplanes and tinkering with dozens more, I have worked with a lot of types of aluminum; 1100, 3003, 5052, 2024, 6061, and 7075 alloys – in various stages of temper; 0, H14, H32, H34, T3, T351, T42, T6, T651 all in both bare and Alclad finish.

I have purchased the aluminum from probably as many as 12 different sources over the years and have never once seen it listed as “Aircraft” aluminum.  Yet, browsing though any automotive, boating, motorcycle, lawnmower, kitchen appliance, etc. catalog will produce any number of items manufactured out of “Aircraft Grade” aluminum.

Being a born worrier, it has always bothered me that I didn’t know what this “Aircraft Grade” aluminum really was . . . until last night. While looking through a new aircraft accessory catalog (of all things), I came across a page of GPS mounting kits that were made of . . .

You got it!

Marine Grade” aluminum.

Thinning The Herd

July 30, 2009

A while back I posted an article “Big Brother is Watching . . . that mentioned Wal Mart’s computer program. (Why aren’t you reading the old posts?)

Yesterday we stopped by Sam’s and saw what can only be the bait for a new use of their computer prowess.

There, in the DVD section, you could buy a video of 633 television commercials. My only hope is that this triggers the big computer system housed in the Bensenville facility to place a call to Assassins – R – Us, forwarding all the relevant data from the purchaser’s Sam’s Club membership card and dispatching a club-wielding killer to pound them into oblivion.

Whoever coined the quote, “it takes all kinds,” surely didn’t mean to include people who actually like TV commercials.