Thursday, March 31, 2011
Gets my vote on a Thursday night or any night. Once you hear that music from a hot pass you never forget it. OTR will post a video when he finds a good one.
OTR hopes readers enjoy Heidersberger's photo essay as much as he did. Like our experience in Cuba, the photos disappeared for many decades. They were rediscovered by viewers in 2001. Makes one wonder when American tourists will rediscover Cuba with their own eyes.
Illustrations: Arbuckle Coffee cards (1880s) from the family archives.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
"If I had a world of my own. . . ." OTR thinks most of us do have worlds of our own. And most of those worlds are small, manageable for the most part, likely quite satisfactory, and just what their owners want. But some seek much larger worlds. Others have larger worlds thrust upon them. Some worlds grow so large and universal that they approach the divine. There is even a term, hagiography, for the study of the "saints" among us. In time the term, as defined by Wikipedia, has come to "refer to the works of contemporary biographers and historians whom critics perceive to be uncritical and even 'reverential'".
OTR , news junkie that he is, thinks the world would be such a bore if the personal worlds of our saints really matched those of their hagiographers. Thankfully, there are those who explore the mortal sides of our demi-gods. After all, it is the flaws and foibles we recognize. That divine status is a bit more difficult for us mortals to discern.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
As a boy, OTR remembered that wailing, bluesy pedal steel guitar while listening to several small daytime AM radio stations during his summers in the mountains in West Virginia's panhandle. He didn't need a radio at dusk when the wind was right--the family could enjoy the same sound from scores of speakers at a nearby drive-in theater. The distant sound would drift in through open windows and doors providing background music for reading or quiet evening conversations at the cottage. Unforgettable.
Several memorial tributes to Mooney have been posted on Youtube in the last week. Here are two two of them. The first illustrates the Bakersfield sound. Be sure to expand the biography posted above the comments. The second features Mooney playing his composition, Crazy Arms (1956), ranked #4 on country music's list of all time hits.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
For more on this fascinating debate on settlement and cultural diffusion, readers can start with the Wikipedia entry on the Clovis culture. And here is a link to OTR's earlier thoughts on "who's on first?" For a technical report on the Buttermilk Creek Complex near Austin, link here.
Hat tip to Michael Yon.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Who knows, both the Volt and the Chrysler 200 could match the hype surrounding them. Then again, we are dealing with people who make a living reviewing the industry. As for the Detroit News and its integrity, OTR will leave that decision up to his readers.
What extraordinary risk we have at AutoWorld. Is it reality or a vision? There was a real AutoWorld once, built with the highest of expectations in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace a General Motors. If you want to learn why the ghost of AutoWorld fits this post, watch Michael Moore's Roger and Me or consult the Internet.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
New water quality standards have required detergent makers to remove phosphates from their products due to decidedly negative impacts on water quality and biological processes. OTR supports this action to restore and preserve healthy aquatic systems. There is a dilemma though. The detergent industry does not have a suitable substitute, not even a close one. There's nothing like phosphate to clean your dishes and make those glasses sparkle. To be honest, given the long and growing list of problems facing the world, scaly glasses simply don't rate. Still, what is to be done?
Some folks will accept their scaly glasses as a badge of environmental honor. Others may go plastic. Some may go paper. Some may buy new glasses on an annual basis. Enterprising hosts and hostesses have found another solution. They go to the local pharmacy, buy phosphate, return home, and "reformulate" their Cascade. This was not the intention of the new environmental regulations.
Today, Moonbattery's Van Helsing points readers to a Wall Street Journal article about what they call another nanny state threat, the front-loading washer. The prognosis is not good:
Front-loaders meet federal standards more easily than top-loaders. Because they don't fully immerse their laundry loads, they use less hot water and therefore less energy. But, as Americans are increasingly learning, front-loaders are expensive, often have mold problems, and don't let you toss in a wayward sock after they've started.
Readers can learn more at the Moonbattery post which includes a link to the original article. The frightening conclusion here stresses a new technology that does not clean clothes as well as washing machines built in 1996. Some new washers hardly clean clothes at all. Manufacturers are working to solve these new issues. OTR hopes the family's old top-loading washer stays alive long enough to see those solutions proven in the marketplace.
This regulatory trifecta is completed by an object most of us already know: the compact fluorescent bulb or CFL. At the outset, all of us know these bulbs are more expensive than traditional bulbs and the mercury content renders them significantly toxic if broken. From a performance perspective, OTR is reluctant to put them in any recessed fixtures, even when recommended, because some bulbs have malfunctioned and burned along with the attached houses. Furthermore, CFLs burn out quickly if turned off and on frequently. For example, a bathroom with multi-light vanity lighting is a poor application for CFLs. And we have yet to find a satisfactory CFL for our reading lamps. The light quality is inconsistent from one manufacturer to another. We all know the days of the incandescent light bulb are limited. Should OTR stock up? And what's going to replace his patio and garden spot lights?
All of these attempts at correcting an issue have resulted in creating unintended consequences, so far all at the expense of the consumer. Who among us wants poor water quality. Who among us wants higher electric or gas bills. What we need is some serious American innovation here. OTR has every confidence that we can build a better washing machine and lighting device, and restore the sparkle to his glassware. But pragmatism has its limits. Just because the drum spins, the bulb lights, or the formula soaps doesn't mean the consumer will be happy. Our regulators and manufacturers need to spend more time thinking before acting if they want to ensure compliance as well as mitigate environmental issues without creating new ones.
Illustration: Structural formula for the phosphoric acid functional group.
In 1911, my great uncle received this greeting from a friend who lived about a hundred miles away. A hundred years later, the same card expresses OTR's wish that his readers, like him, have enjoyed their day to be Irish. The rest of the year, OTR can only look upon being Irish from his Welsh ancestry and the Celtic connection. Close, but no shamrock.