January 12, 2009
'They are who we thought they were' — Dennis Green hasn't changed a bit
The then Arizona Cardinals coach's legendary post-game meltdown (above) after his team, playing on Monday Night Football in 2006, went from a 23-3 late third quarter lead over the Chicago Bears to losing the game 24-23, has become the stuff of Coors commercials and late-night comedy.
I happened to listen to the radio broadcast of yesterday's Steelers-Chargers divisional playoff game and couldn't figure out who the color analyst was, he sounded like some really old guy with a craggy voice and over-the-top delivery whom the play-by-play guy referred to as "coach."
Only early in the second quarter did the announcer identify his sidekick as Dennis Green.
Funny as heck and very entertaining he was, for sure.
Do-it-yourself cosmetic dentistry: Why pay more?
Bonus: No one will ever know 'cause it all happens in the privacy of your own home.
Embarrassed to smile?
Until now, there's been no affordable remedy for unattractive smiles.
Imako Cosmetic Teeth fit over your teeth to hide your dental problems,
for a beautiful smile.
No expensive visits to the dentist, because you mold them to your teeth at home.
You can speak clearly and drink cool liquids or smoke while wearing them, but they're not for eating.
Can be worn over natural teeth, bondings, veneers, crowns and temporary crowns.
For sizing, measure your 4 front teeth:
Small — 1-1/8" wide; Large — 1-5/16".
For women and men.
'The quality of clothing tells you so much of what you need to know about a person' — Pier Luigi Loro Piana
He was quoted thus in Christina Binkley's January 8, 2009 Wall Street Journal article about her quest for the best white dress shirt in the world.
Embedded within the story were many pointers on what to look for when it comes to quality.
Long story's tips in short form: The thickness of the buttons and firmness of the collar are dead giveaways (to a trained eye).
Since I buy my white dress shirts from J.C. Penney and have no plans to alter this practice in my current incarnation, the article was of academic interest only to me.
But the quotation from Mr. Loro Piana — co-chairman and CEO of the Italian luxury clothes maker Loro Piana — stopped me in my tracks.
There are two types of people in the world: Those who agree with his point of view and those like myself who believe such thinking is symbolic of dead tree media, Detroit and other relics of the soon-to-be past.
What's your take?
The hand-sewn Borrelli shirt pictured up top has 4mm-thick buttons and was the crème de la crème of the WSJ's tested shirts.
It costs $331.
I can see how that could be the case.
Is $14.99 good for you?
'Cause it works for me.
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
Meet Sergio Morales — 'The Harley Whisperer of Havana'
Long story short: "Mr. Morales is the last mechanic here making his living by fixing them the old-fashioned Cuban way, with homemade parts to preserve a nugget of Americana in the alleys of Havana."
Here's Joshua Robinson's January 8, 2008 New York Times article about this singular man, pictured above in his dining room.
- For a Lone Mechanic, Cuba Is Still Hog Heaven
Sergio Morales’s friends gently rib him about the dirt under his fingernails and the grease that fills every line in his 58-year-old hands. The grease has been there so long, they tell him, that it must predate Fidel Castro’s revolution.
But Mr. Morales has heard all the jokes, and not a single one makes him look up from his work.
He just shifts his cigarette from one side of his mouth to the other as his fingers twist and caress the tools in front of him, granting new life to one of the few Harley-Davidson motorcycles that remain in Cuba. Like Mr. Morales, and possibly the gunk on his hands, they too predate the 1959 revolution.
Mr. Morales is the last mechanic here making his living by fixing them the old-fashioned Cuban way, with homemade parts to preserve a nugget of Americana in the alleys of Havana.
Harleys are believed to have arrived in Cuba as early as the 1920s, according to Martin Jack Rosenblum, the former historian of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Durable and powerful, they became standard issue for the military and the police.
But after the revolution — and the United States trade embargo that followed — the supply of Harleys and parts dried up. Soon, most of the bikes fell into disrepair or were smuggled out of Cuba. Today, Mr. Morales said, there are fewer than 100 here. Cared for properly, however, the old Harleys will last seemingly forever.
“These engines are practically immortal,” Mr. Morales said, adding that rebuilding an engine takes him between one and two years, given the need to fashion his own parts.
Mr. Morales’s own love affair with Harleys began in 1972, when he began fooling around with them as a young auto mechanic. Since 1959, they had gained a reputation for being cheap, though hard to keep running. Policemen were given the opportunity to buy their bikes from the department for less than $40 as the pool of roughly 2,000 Harleys at the time of the revolution slowly dwindled. Far more common were the East German MZs.
“At first, we realized we just needed them to get around,” Mr. Morales said of the Harleys. “We couldn’t buy MZs — you had to be a student — and we didn’t have any dough. Then we got to liking them because they were tough bikes. Even without new parts, we figured out how to make the old ones last.”
Picking up tips from a few old mechanics who had once worked for Harley-Davidson in Cuba and fashioning his own spare parts from bits of the cheap Communist-built cars around Cuba, Mr. Morales began to learn his way around Harleys the way others learned musical instruments.
“It must have been the only country in the world where poor people could buy Harleys,” Mr. Morales said.
But the first Harley he bought was not one everybody could afford. He found a 1946 Knucklehead Servicar. Servicars, originally used by repairmen for house calls, were fitted with three wheels and a small box on the back for carrying parts and tools. Mr. Morales had to have it but, because it was in excellent condition, spent not $40 but $1,200, which amounted to six months’ salary for him at the time.
“In Cuba, it’s an entirely different relationship,” Mr. Rosenblum said. “It’s not about the fine art worship of the machine as a rolling sculpture, but a reverence for the bike as something cool and something useful.”
There are so few 1946 Knuckleheads in working condition in the United States today, it is hard to say what one would sell for. Any surviving bikes would most likely be ensconced in a museum, Mr. Rosenblum said. Mr. Morales’s Knucklehead currently sits outside his house on cinder blocks — he was repairing the wheels — providing some shade for a dog. He said it would be back on the road soon, running as well as ever, with the name Super Abuela, or Super Grandmother.
Of course, Super Abuela has had a touch of cosmetic surgery. Mr. Morales once fitted the box with a pair of small benches so that he could transport his family — two in front and six in the back.
“If you did that in the U.S., my God,” Mr. Rosenblum said, laughing, “Collectors would hunt you down and flagellate you.”
Mr. Morales’s personal bike is a 1950 Panhead, christened El Indio, which he bought in 1986 for $1,000 after selling his 1945 Flathead. The bike, which would easily fetch $10,000 in the United States today, still carries nearly all of its original parts. The wheels, though, are borrowed from a Skoda — the Czech automobile. Mr. Morales even fitted the bike with a sidecar, lifting the chassis from a Soviet Ural sidecar and designing a homemade copy of a Harley body.
El Indio lives in Mr. Morales’s dining room. A small grease-splattered room with double doors that open directly into the street, it is where Mr. Morales does most of his work, squatting on a short stool and surrounded by parts, some original, many homemade. He wheels his bikes in and out onto the bumpy gravel outside while his wife steps over and around the nine engines around the room.
“It’s how we’ve been living for 36 years,” she said, shrugging.
On the walls, Mr. Morales has American flags, a few motorcycle association plaques and a large plate that reads, “God created the world in seven days, and on the eighth, he created Harley-Davidson.”
He acquired most of the memorabilia in the last two decades, after the cold war began to thaw out. When information from the West began to trickle in around 1990, Mr. Morales was able to get his hands on a Harley-Davidson repair manual. They were the first instructions on Harley care he had ever seen in writing.
“We learned a lot of important technical things,” Mr. Morales said. “But we had already learned pretty much everything just from doing it.”
The caption of the photo up top, which led the Times story: "Sergio Morales working on the engine of an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his dining room, where he does most of his restoration work. 'These engines are practically immortal,' he says."
Long story short, from Jonathan Margolis's "Technopolis" column in last week's Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine: "It's a Victorian-style moving-picture flickbook which you can have custom-made from a six-to-eight-second video clip."
From the flickbook website: "Our flickbooks come in one handy size (125 x 65 mm), contain 70 pages, are printed on 250 gsm matt coated paper (silver digital), feature a 350gsm cover, and boast a special durable binding — ensuring that they flick perfectly, time after time."
But wait — there's more.
You can upload your short clip and create your own flickbook online — free.
Way, way cool.
£12.99 for a hard copy.
bookofjoe MoneyMaker: Ponytail/Chignon/French Roll-Friendly Car Headrest
Here's a chance for Detroit to trump the Japanese by putting this on the front burner out back in the skunk works.
The comment above came in yesterday about 90 minutes after the Ponytail Headband post appeared.
Best tie of the year
The contest is so over.
Designed by Anton Repponen.
January 11, 2009
Abandoned Russian Polar Nuclear Lighthouses — File under 'End of Days'
Abandoned Russian Polar Nuclear Lighthouses
The Russian northern coast is a vast territory thousand of miles long, and all this coastline is inside the Polar Circle.
Long polar winters mean no daylight at all, instead one day changes another without any sign of the sun rising above the horizon. There is only polar night for 100 days a year.
Across this northern coast there was always a short way for cargo boats to travel from the eastern part of Russia to the western.
Now this trip can be made fairly easily with the all the satellite navigation equipment like GPS and others, but during the Soviet Era they had none of this.
So, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union decided to build a chain of lighthouses to guide ships finding their way in the dark polar night across the uninhabited northern shores of the Soviet Russian Empire.
So it has been done and a series of such lighthouses has been erected. They had to be fully autonomous, because they were situated hundreds and hundreds of miles away from any populated areas.
After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures.
So, special lightweight small atomic reactors were produced in limited series to be delivered to the Polar Circle lands and to be installed on the lighthouses.
Those small reactors could work in the independent mode for years and didn’t require any human interference, so it was very handy in the situation like this. It was a kind of robot-lighthouse which counted itself the time of the year and the length of the daylight, turned on its lights when it was needed and sent radio signals to near by ships to warn them on their journey. It all looks like ran out the sci-fi book pages, but so they were.
Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the unattended atomic lighthouses did their job for some time, but after some time they collapsed too. Mostly as a result of the hunt for the metals like copper and other stuff which were performed by the looters.
They didn’t care or maybe even didn’t know the meaning of the “Radioactive Danger” sign and ignored them, breaking in and destroying the equipment.
It sounds creepy but they broke into the reactors too causing all the structures to become radioactively polluted.
Those photos are from the trip to the one of such structures, the most close to the populated areas of the Russian Far East.
Now, there are signs “RADIOACTIVITY” written with big white letters on the approaching paths to the structure but they don’t stop the abandoned exotics lovers.
Photos by kamatoz.
Sudoku without pencils
From the website:
- Sudoku Solitaire
You don't need to waste paper, sharpen pencils or erase with our Sudoku Solitaire board game.
Use 40 game cards (at 4 skill levels) to place the tiles.
20 Kakuro games included.