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September 18, 2019

My first car


It was a white 1966 Buick Skylark just like the one above, except mine was a convertible.

I was living in L.A. so of course I wanted a convertible.

I paid $500 cash for it to a guy whose Los Angeles Times classified ad brought it to my attention.

The transaction took place in front of his home in West Hollywood, California, in the spring of 1976.

It's a fact that I got along just fine in L.A. for ten years — from the time I arrived from Milwaukee to start college at U.C.L.A. in 1966 — without a car, using my bike and taking the bus and walking.

Once, from a bus window, I saw Joni Mitchell, carrying her guitar case, jaywalking across Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

But I digress.

Oh, I loved that Buick, even after some old lady ran a stop sign in Santa Monica and T-boned the driver's side door such that the whole side of the car was caved in to the point the armrest touched my rib cage. 

From that point on I got in and out either by climbing over the twisted metal or using the passenger side door.

Tell you what: no one ever messed with me on the freeway once they looked over and saw that side of the car.

What's amazing, now that I think about it, is that the car was so solidly built — and a convertible to boot — that the frame remained intact and the roof still worked and it ran just fine for years.

A girlfriend from back then called it "The Thrasher," a perfect name.

I sold it for $100 in 1979, then paid $500 for a 1969 dark green/black Lincoln Continental with "suicide" doors.

I remember that car weighed 5,005 pounds, which I found impressive: two and a half tons!

It got about eight miles per gallon but no matter, it had a huge gas tank.

I happened on this blast from the past in yesterday's Wall Street Journal story about a guy in Massachusetts who collects 1966 Buick Skylarks.

That's him in the photo below,


with a portion of his fleet.

From the story:

A '66 Skylark Stands Out in a Brigade of Buicks

A Massachusetts man shows off his Gran Sport collection and explains his devotion to the high-end muscle car

Jimmy Shiels, 54, a general contractor from Franklin, Massachusetts, on his 1966 Buick Skylark Gran Sport collection.

One of my first cars was a 1966 Buick Skylark convertible. In 1985 I went to a car show and I said to a friend, "I really want to buy a Gran Sport," which was the high-performance Skylark. The guy standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I have one of those for sale."

I bought that car on September 5, 1985, and that was the beginning. I started thinking, I want a convertible 1966 Skylark Gran Sport. I want one in every original factory color sold in 1966.

Today I have about 25 unrestored examples I keep in a barn. Some took me 18 to 20 years to buy. It has been about building relationships with owners all over the country.

There was one owner I met at a car show in 1987 in Connecticut. I was young and he said I was not ready for his car, but I kept in touch. Eighteen years after I met him, I wrote him a letter saying I wanted his car. Coincidentally, he wrote me on the same day I wrote him, saying he was ready to sell, and the letters crossed each other in the mail. What are the chances of that?

The green convertible pictured is another car I pursued for a long time. I found the owner in Ohio and went to visit him three years ago. He did not want to sell his car, but I gave him my business card and promised him I would take good care of it. He said, "I'm going to give your business card to my sister and when I pass, she'll contact you." Which is exactly what happened last year.

What is a 1966 Buick Skylark Gran Sport? At the time, it was basically a gentleman's race car built during the early years of the muscle car era. The car was more expensive than most other muscle cars, and fewer were built. When you drive one today, you feel how different it is from today’s cars. You can hear the engine and feel the power.

I am at the point when I have had to ask myself: Should I continue buying these cars? I've decided to keep going. I have a son and a grandson and I hope they will pick up where I left off.

September 18, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

North polar dunes on Mars


From PhysOrg:

This captivating image was taken in the north polar region of Mars by the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's CaSSIS camera.

Dunes come in various characteristic shapes on Mars just as on Earth, providing clues about the prevailing wind direction.

Monitoring them over time also gives us a natural laboratory to study how dunes evolve, and how sediments in general are transported around the planet.

During winter in the polar regions, a thin layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the surface and then sublimates — turns directly from ice into vapor — with the first light of spring.

In the dune fields, this springtime defrosting occurs from the bottom up, trapping gas between the ice and the sand.

As the ice cracks, this gas is released violently and carries sand with it, forming the dark patches and streaks observed in this CaSSIS image.

The image also captures "barchan" dunes — the crescent or U-shaped dunes seen in the right of the image — as they join and merge into barchanoid ridges.

The curved tips of the barchan dunes point downwind.

The transition from barchan to barchanoid dunes tells us that secondary winds also play a role in shaping the dune field.

The image is centered at 74.46ºN/348.3ºE.

The image was taken on May 25, 2019.

September 18, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What causes the color of gemstones?

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The informative site Compound Interest tells you all about it.

Lagniappe: Mohs hardness scale rankings.

September 18, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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Links to over 15,300 radio stations' web pages and over 11,200 stations' audio streams from radio stations in the U.S. and around the world.

Free, the way we like it.

Fair warning....

September 18, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grilliput* —minimalist portable grill

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Features and Details:

• Stainless steel

• Integrated hanging hook

• Packed size: 11.4" x 0.9"

• Assembled size: 9.1" x 10.2"

• Lightweight — weighs 19.8 oz. (560g)

• Built-in cleaning groove for soiled grill rods






September 18, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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