Thursday, June 25, 2020

My First Car

My first car was a candy apple red 1965 Ford Mustang. It was plastic. But it was, I could tell even at my young age, high quality plastic. It might have looked a lot like the one in the picture.

I've had a lot of cars such as it over the years. Lots of Hot Wheels. I had a blue Jeep pickup that I still have. I don't know what happened to the white horse trailer or the horses that came with it.

I also built a lot of cars out of Legos. S. Evan Townsend original designs. I tended to put jet engines (red Legos) on them.
The Blue Jeep Pickup

But toys were my first introduction to cars. And, if you've read this blog, you know I like cars. I totally understand why Jay Leno owns so many cars (286 according to Google). There are so many cool cars with different personalities and different capabilities. If I were rich enough, I would have 286 cars, probably.

At one time I owned seven cars (long story). Now I own only two. And of those seven cars, only four were cool, the rest were my son's cars and I didn't buy them "cool" cars.

How do you feel about cars? Did you have any cool toy cars as a kid? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, June 18, 2020


The Equation
I saw somewhere that CuriosityStream had a sale going, a full year for only $12. I thought that was a bargain so I signed up. I've watched three things, so far. One on Venus where I'm debating having a scene in my current work in progress, one on quantum mechanics, and one on the Cassini probe called Cassini, the Grand Finale. That show talked about Saturn's moon, Enceladus which has cryovolcanoes. They mentioned how fast the material (water, mostly) is ejected from the moon. It leaves the volcanoes at 1,200 mph. And that  number sounded familiar.

A little over six years ago, I blogged about Io's volcanoes and how fast the material that comes out of them is exiting the volcanoes.

Io is one of the moons of Jupiter.

Using the gravity of Io and how high the plumes go, I calculated (using the equation above) that the material must exit the volcanoes at 1,075 meters per second (or 1.075 km/s) to reach the altitude they do (as high as 200 miles over the surface of the moon). And, according to Wikipedia, the correct figure is 1 km/s. Or 2,236 miles per hour. That's pretty fast. Faster even than Enceladus.

But what I was glad about, what that my calculations six years ago were mostly confirmed. The source Wikipedia used might have rounded down to one significant figure and if I do that, I get the same answer (1 km/s).

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Flag Day

It's Flag Day in the U.S. Not a well-known holiday, but it is an excuse to use my flag picture:

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Eyes Have It.

Eyes amaze me.

For example, my son's cat's eyes. Her name is Lily and sometimes I look at her eyes and just marvel what an amazing creation eyes are. The cornea is the most stunning part. It's living tissue yet it's completely transparent. (Well, except in my case because I'm developing cataracts.) Lily will turn her head and I can see through her cornea. I wish I had a picture of that.

And I recently visited my son and his wife. But I was really there to see my grandson. And he has amazing blue eyes. They remind me of the eyes I had when I was younger, before the blue started to fade. (He also has red hair, like his grandfather, so he's my favorite grandchild.)(He's my only grandchild, so
Beautiful Eyes

Or when I meet a person I'll look into their eyes and that seems to make them more real and human to me. They say eyes are the window to the soul. But I think you can tell a lot from people's eyes. They might be bright and happy or sad. Or dead-looking like a doll's eyes. I have seen that, but not often. But the eyes are one of the first things I notice about a person.

According to this website, an eye can transmit 100 million bits of information a second.  That's about as fast as my fiber optic internet connection. But eyes are organic, not electronic. So I think that's pretty amazing.

As I said, eyes amaze me. How do you feel about eyes? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Ford v Ferrari

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I am about to make a proclamation: Ford v Ferrari is the second best movie about car racing ever (the best is, of course, 1966's Grand Prix).

Ford v Ferrari puts you in the driver's seat of powerful, fast, and ultimately deadly cars. I regret now not seeing it in the theater because I'm sure on the large screen with a movie theater's sound it would have blown me away. On my television screen with my 5.1 surround sound, it blew me away.

I don't know how historically accurate the film is. Part of the story I already knew about how Ford wanted to beat Ferrari at the 24 hour race at Le Mans in France. They didn't do it the first time in 1965, but they did in 1966. The car they used was the Ford GT40 (the modern Ford GT is a tribute to that car).

The drama in the movie comes from trying to build a car to win at Le Mans and the corporate interference of FoMoCo. The last half hour of the film is pretty much the 1966 race at Le Mans. Somehow with sound and visuals, the director puts you in the car feeling all the tension, noise, speed, danger, and exhilaration of racing.

My only beef with the film is that there are lots of scenes of feet on car pedals (brake, gas, clutch) during shifts but never is there a heel and toe downshift (see the first moments of Grand Prix to know what that is) even during the downshifts.

And the movie isn't only about cars, It's about the personalities of Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles (played to perfection by Christian Bale) and how they faced the risk-adverse corporate types at Ford.

And even today you can buy a Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 from Ford in honor of Carroll Shelby.

I rarely give a movie five stars on Netflix. I did this one.

Note: I'm reviewing this films so late because Netflix didn't send it to me for at least 12 weeks after it came out on Blu-Ray even though it was at the top of my queue the entire time. I watched it last night.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


Today I went to Starbucks for coffee. Unlike before the COVID-19 lock down, I didn't stay long. But I did spend a few moments chatting with the employees. And I'm amazed and how much difference that has made in my overall mood.

Now I'm an introvert. A strong introvert. So you'd think I'd take the lock down in stride. But, no, I got stressed and depressed and had little desire to read. I did manage to write (including the first draft of a short novel). My wife would go through the drive-through to get our coffee and I wouldn't go with her because I was afraid of being exposed to COVID-19.

But now I'm less afraid and our local Starbucks had gone to a "grab and go" format where you can go in, order your drink, and leave. So this gives me a chance to interact with other people. And I'm amazed how that's improved my mood. The other day the manager and I were trading Star Wars jokes while I was waiting for my coffee (What is the internal temperature of a Tauntaun? Luke warm!).

So, it goes to show that human interaction is necessary and good, even for introverts such as me.

Have you had problems with your mood during the lock down? Has interacting with people helped? Let me know in the comments.