a jaunty little webcam!
refresh this page for updated image
links! links! links!
send me a note!
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    an idyllwild weather clam!

    Our gal, The Idyllwild Weather Clam thinks that it will rain again today.

    Friday 23 June 2017
    Currently at 5:03 AM 60°


    Up to the minute now-casting provided by: Idyllwild Weather Clam Mega-Skyview Ultra-Precision Doppler 160000 Super Computron Forecast in Full Spectrum HD

    Entries in cars (66)

    Thursday
    Oct172013

    Octobernationals


    That's Exciting!

    Friends,

    I was driving home this sunny and comfortable afternoon with the windows rolled down and was passed by a rough looking Mercury Villager minivan. A minivan held together with duct tape and drywall screws. A minivan that smelled like taco grease and farts.

    I changed lanes and pulled up alongside at the red light when I caught the driver's eye. He grimaced a little, his eyes narrowed, and he started revving the bag of broken hammers under his imaginary race car's hood. So this was going to be a race then?

    Not sure I want to know what I would have received for winning. Fare thee well, fart van man. Fare thee well.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Thursday
    May162013

    I'm Doomed

    Friends,

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released their latest report on the crashworthiness of "compact SUVs" which groups the little Hyundai with the Ford Escape tall-ish micro station wagons with wee body on frame trucklets, which includes the only one extant—the Jeep Wrangler. Guess who did poorly?

    C'mon, guess.

    Yeah. I own one of those wee little trucklets and this report says that I'm going to die a horrible death in their new and redesigned crash tests. This is yet one more data point telling me that driving around is dangerous. Commuting 101 miles a day is crazy, right? I'm surely exposing myself to far too much risk every weekday.

    But wait, there's another big problem with a lot of driving that the insurance industry group fails to mention...

     

    Stick with it until the end.

    I'm smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb. I'm smart and I want respect!

    - bob

     

    Wednesday
    Jun012011

    Small Stories About Disappointing Things

    Don't look away.
    Friends,

    As the tags indicate, I think these things are related to each other in some way. I'm not sure you'll agree, but let's throw this stuff in the pot and see if we end up with stew...

    • There were a couple little automobile races on Sunday, starting with the American classic — the Indianapolis 500. My houseguests and I didn't care so much, but we watched the thing anyway and towards the end, fell in love with the pluck of rookie JR Hildebrand. What a clever fuel strategy! What skill staying out of trouble and holding his line! Look! It's the white flag and this kid's in front! And then he crashed on Turn Four, right before the finish line. On to our next story...
    • Nascar certainly can't let Indy Car have all the fun, so they decided to run a longer race on the same day. Again, we didn't care until the very end, but what's this? Dale Earnhardt Jr. is winning in the last lap! What skill staying out of trouble and holding his line! What a clever fuel strategy! Then he ran out of gas and some other guy won. Now for weasels.
    • My dear friend called this evening with a story that gives sharks and bastards a bad name. Her father is struggling with Alzheimer's Disease, but lawyers would like to depose him to testify in a dispute over a land deal from the 80s. His lawyers protested that he was too ill to travel and sit and speak under oath for hours, but the opposition hired an investigator to prove this wrong. Video camera at the ready, the investigator ignited an M80 outside his front door and recorded him ambling to the window to determine the source of the commotion. See? He can move around just fine, your honor. One more...
    • As long-time followers of this mess surely know, my hours at the Far Eastern Outpost of San Diego's Omnipresent Charitable Organization have been cut in half. In fact, my Wednesdays are literally cut in half to make the timing work. This knowledge did not prevent one of the bosses from getting huffy that I was not available to solve problems with his personal home computer not receiving company email in a timely manner. Allow me to clarify — one of the people who got together and decided to send me halfway out into the dodgy financial wilderness has the gall to protest that I'm not there often enough? Really? Seriously? I find this behavior stunning.

    So, how was your Wednesday?

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Apr202011

    A Jaunty Little Trip Planner - Pennsylvania in August Edition

    Friends,

    Let's go to Butler, PA this summer to celebrate the 71st birthday of the jeep at the home of Bantam Motors. Parades! Trail rides!

     

    Maybe we'll have jobs by then that'll give us the time off.

    Mark your calendars!

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Mar092011

    Division By Zero, Imaginary Numbers Confound The Elderly

    Another aspirational photo.

    Friends,

    There are people who live in this world who seem to embrace the rut their lives have fallen into. That's not surprising. What makes my head spin around is when those people become angry that something out of the ordinary has occurred within their scope. I was heading home this afternoon and had to perform a marginally flashy lane change to get around one of these people to hit the waning green arrow to make the left turn up the hill.

    This garnered me the number three spot at the next light with the time to look in my mirror to see the passing victim plod through the intersection against what was surely a red light by this time. He ends up sitting in the other lane about three more cars back and leans out his window, "Hey! What's your f[***]in' hurry!" I turn around and shout back, "I gotta get out of here!" This was true.

    True, but not complete. Ever since my friend Clare implanted the notion that the Valley is a vortex, sucking alumni back in if they're not careful those decades ago, I haven't been comfortable spending any more time than absolutely necessary. It has become a creepy place that must be avoided, or at least visited only briefly with a clear exit strategy. At the end of my workday, I gotta get out of there and I do with all the muster that the teensy tiny racecar can bring to the fight. My week-daily mania also extends to the people who would stand in the way of my goal of scratching and clawing my way out of their sea level hell.

    Mr. Shouty was disturbed that I made my way around him. Around the lumbering chicane he was piloting without aim, heading back to what must be a just barely adequate home to wait out yet another few hours in his poorly drawn life. He was an em dash in the sentence of my day, but his outrage made me stop and consider my own motivation. Why had I considered him the embodiment of all that's wrong with that dusty waiting room called the Coachella Valley? Why?

    My real answer to him should have been, "what's the hold up?" This beautiful life and the lovely things in it, particularly at the higher elevations where I reside, aren't going to last. That's obvious, but I'm also concerned that today's angry man doesn't approach this brief time afforded us with more urgency, or at least understand why somebody else might. His finger wag seems to be a surrender. He doesn't have much of a destination and isn't too fond of anybody who might have one of their own.

    Of course I'm reading much more into this than the plain facts present, but I don't care all that much. What I do know for sure is that the interchange was helpful in clarifying where I stand. Gasoline up here in my little burg is up to $4.19 a gallon for regular, which is an outrage, and slowing down for fuel economy's sake seems like a good idea, but there's no place like home. And there's no place like this home.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Sunday
    Feb202011

    Storm Watch 2011! - Motor Racing Edition

    Snowy ridgeline. Friends,

    I was supposed to head to the desert early this morning to see the vintage auto racing at the new Chuckawalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center. Unfortunately, something happened overnight...

    Fun game: find the teensy little car! A foot and a half of snow fell on my little town and buried the cars. This wouldn't be too tough to deal with except the local government hadn't yet plowed the road, so I called off the trip.

    Taken after the plows arrived. With the ice and snow on the ground and the new brakes I installed only yesterday, I wasn't sure that traveling off the hill was a good idea.

    Chilly forest time. Was watching the Daytona 500 on teevee a good substitute? Not at all.

    Sticky. But the neighborhood is very pretty today.

    Your pal,

    bob

    Wednesday
    Dec222010

    Storm Watch! 2010! WTH!!11!one!! - Honda! Discord! Edition!

    Flippy!

    Friends,

    I think we all know that during inclement weather events (again with the event. really? -ed) there might be some value in exercising caution while navigating the byways of this here metropolis. However, as I approached my driveway coming home from work this afternoon, that calculus seems to have been flawed. Revised:

    (we all) - 1 = most of us except for person trapped in her car laying on its side in front of my house

    Get ye to a hospital.

    Mme. Puppy Dog was losing her mind as the fire chief pulled up in the driveway, the CHP parked behind that guy, the ladder truck (for double-decker Honda Accord rescues [sadly, they only have double-decker honda accords in england. -ed]) next to Ponch, and the wrecker parked nearby. The nice thing is that the rain stopped and it started snowing. I would hope that this is much more pleasant for the people rescuing said sideways person than a torrent running down their collars.

    I'm sure that'll buff right out.

    I don't know the circumstance that led to someone pulling a half-Chitwood in front of my house, but I can guess. Too fast. Road too slick. Somebody pulling out from the back of Chez Noisy across the street. Bing, boom, bam, and there you go. Mister or Missus Accord gets taped down to a board and earns a trip to the hospital.

    This year really hasn't been dangerous enough, right?

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Dec082010

    This Product Doesn't Work: A Love Story

    Clutch linkage

    Friends,

    As you may know, the Mighty Jeepster is fast approaching her fourth decade trundling over this great land, and for the most part the old girl's held up well. Some of the design decisions made by Kaiser Jeep Corporation and later American Motors have proved to be flawed, like turning the edges of fenders up to catch the most water and snow, directly stamping some body panels from sheets of rust, and eschewing central fuse boxes in favor of tangled bundles of wire made accessible by reaching past sharp metal edges and self-tapping screws; but on the whole the Jeepster is a brilliant, if impractical, mode of transportation. On a personal note, yes, I have had a tetanus shot lately.

    Another bad idea manifesting its flaws over the last few months, though, has been the way they decided to channel the force exerted by your left foot into decoupling the engine from the transmission. As far as clutch linkages go, the solid metal rods were a huge improvement over the seizure-prone cable used previously, but this improvement only counts in the vacuum that Jeep engineers seemed to live in at the time as everyone else had moved to hydraulic clutch actuation by then.

    In the world of today, a mechanical clutch linkage is archaic, almost quaint. A near-as-dammit direct connection between you and the drivetrain, without any pesky fluid (or cables) to dampen the feeling of control. Unless it breaks.

    Which is exactly what happened.

    Actually, it's been a problem for years. The previous owner, who happens to have been the singular Stinko himself, and I have both enjoyed pulling over on busy highways to retrieve bits of linkage that had fallen off of the car. We've thrilled oncoming drivers by darting in front of them to recover one irreplaceable and indispensable bit of automotive arcana or another from the street after one highly worn ball had separated from its ill-fitting socket. The final insult came two weeks ago, during a prayer service I was holding to encourage the Jeepster's safe exit from the steep slope of my upper driveway, the clutch pedal flopped to the floor. We've been through this before, but as I inspected the rods laying on the ground, I noticed that the connecting sockets had shattered, leaving nothing more than dimples where deep holes had been decades ago. These pieces were done.

    What to do? I could just replace all the metal articulating parts with modern reproductions made in China out of soap and particleboard. I could retrofit pieces of hydraulic clutch from a more current Jeep, or even from a Datsun B210, but that means cutting big holes in the firewall, which I oppose since it's easy to assume that the firewall is the only thing holding the body together. I could try one of the many aftermarket "better ideas" including chain drives or electric solenoids. Fitting these would require a fairly large checkbook in addition to my faith that gentlemen named Buckshot and Big Al have thought through all of the engineering problems that might arise. Instead, the obvious choice was a near replacement with modern, proven parts and technology that didn't cost too much more than Chinese soap.

    This story doesn't really become interesting, to be honest. Nobody (and I mean nobody) makes aftermarket upgrade parts specifically for the Jeepster, so you hope that CJ-5, 6, 7, or Wagoneer parts will work. The parts I ordered are certainly an upgrade, but as shipped, was half a foot too long. And also too short. And too stiff. And the wrong angle.

    So I fixed it.

    I can't quite pinpoint it, but there's something very relaxing about discovering a solution to a problem and resolving that problem and I would've enjoyed it a lot more if resolving this problem didn't involve laying on my back in the wet, heavy, leftover snow from a couple weeks ago. Modifications made, fine tuning complete, I set off on a test drive that went just a few more blocks, and a few more, because it was such a joy. Again, it's a terrible car with a horrid driving experience that will terrify the weak-willed (or those tepid souls who must have some manner of directional control, shock absorption, climate control or safety belts draped over their narrow shoulders), but once it was back on the road is was the finest motorcar ever produced. And I, the most discriminating motoring aficionado, was able to take in the ambience of piloting this triumph of technology as I headed downtown to pick up my celebratory pizza.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Monday
    Sep202010

    This Seems Like Kind Of A Big Deal

     

    Friends,

    So, the new vapor recovery gas nozzles mandated by the secret super children at the California Air Resources Board have a problem with their handle latches not working properly. No big deal, right? We'll just use another vendor.

    The problem is, there is no other vendor and the non-releasing latches have stuck open and have caused people to douse themselves with gasoline. Luckily, the state fire marshal has leapt into action and mandated that the latches be removed, causing gas station owners to howl that their patrons will find another way to not hold the handle while gas is pumped.

    This is all very funny and tragic and emblematic of the shortsightedness of unelected bureaucrats, but it also gets to my point that if the petrol-fueled internal combustion engined automobile was only proposed today, regulators would have none of it. "It's too dangerous! You would allow ordinary people to drive around with a tank full of explosive hydrocarbons wherever they want? To drive near schools! What if a terrorist should get a hold of one of these mobility machines!"

    The best way to fix this, of course, is to go back to the old and perfectly fine vapor recovery nozzles. You know, the ones that we've been using for a couple years now. Oh, and put all of the CARB board members in stocks in the public square. So they'll be safely away from the petrol spray. Because we care.

    - bob

    Thursday
    Sep022010

    A Road More Dangerous Than The Most Dangerous Road

    Friends,

    The roadworks happening right now on the Palms To Pines Highway are extensive and have involved a lot of stoppages during the warmest part of the day. I find that I'm annoyed sitting in traffic (surprise!) so I've diverted to taking what is colloquially termed The Banning Road—a poorly considered and haphazardly engineered pile of twists and turns that had inspired my most famous car crash. It's no wonder that there are so many bits of motorcycles littering the roadside along the way.

    Yes, with a new set of shoes (from your mom's hyundai. -ed My Mom wouldn't have a Hyundai, but these new tires sure were cheap...) I've started carrying a little more speed in those off-camber turns. This is a big mistake. The radii tighten mid-turn as a rule rather than an exception. Oh, and there's no end of gravel, larger rocks and other debris right at the apex of many of the hairier corners. The steering goes light, the rear starts with a little howl, then starts to snap. Don't brake here, because a spin is coming. Normally, if the road surface were clean, a little more throttle would induce a bit of oversteer and I could power right out. No drama. What's happening instead is the summertime version of curling. Without the brooms.

    I could really use a broom.

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Aug182010

    Silky, Smooth and Sporty

    Friends,

    Once again, the internet provides. Here's a dealer video from 1973 extolling the genius of the Jeep Commando. Is it brilliant? Yes! Are there many drivetrain combinations? Of course! Stylish? Rugged? Amazing ground clearance? You bet!

    You could be led to think that you're a dope for not buying one. What a pity.

    Sorry.

    - bob

    Friday
    Aug132010

    Unlucky

    Hey, slick!

    Friends,

    I hate to admit when my brother Stinko is right, but he had some alarmist things to say yesterday about the lack of tread on the back tires of the Teensy Tiny Racecar. Something about no traction, something, something, crashing-something, do you have a spare? That sort of thing.

    Naturally, I was having none of this talk considering that I had A Grand Plan to replace those tires [hint: in involves the next paycheck] and told him that I thought the baldness of the tires actually enhanced traction. You know, like racing slicks!

    Um, the minute they change the rules in drag racing to allow gravel on the strip and throw in a couple hairpin turns, I'll let you know. In the meanwhile, the racing slick on a street car myth was officially busted during my drive home yesterday. That, and some of the plastic bits on the front of my car.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Jun022010

    Battle For The Sexiest Car In The World

    Friends,

    I may have mentioned a couple days ago that I thought the 1956 Volvo Sport was the Sexiest Car in the World. Clearly some have taken notice, as not two days later, my Miniature Racecar™ decided to stop running while I was down in the land that everyone but festivals and dirt has forgotten. Were the little car's feelings hurt and do little cars even have feelings? This is surely becoming a sibling rivalry amongst the cast off children of the Ford Motor Corporation.

    Will even more mechanical drama present itself if I dare mention the death of Mazda and Volvo's long lost club-footed aunt Mercury today? Isn't this just too much to take?

    Wednesday
    May262010

    The Sexiest Car In The World

    Volvo 1900 Sport hotness. Friends,

    I used to think that the Volvo P1800 was the prettiest car ever built, and when you look at this it's hard to argue... Volvo P1800 hotness. However, when the Swedes wanted to build their own Corvette, they came to the left coast of America in the mid-1950s and tapped Glasspar to fab up some prototypes. What you see at the top is the product of this weird two-year experiment. It's gorgeous, it's terrible, it sounded to the president of Volvo at the time that it was falling apart. It was called the Volvo Sport or the Volvo P 1900 depending on who you ask (on which continent). They made 68 of them (the chassis numbers go up to 67, but they made two number 20s because they're stark raving loonies) between 1956 and 1957.

    I'd like to have one, please. Thank you.

    - bob

    P.S. And to think, all this started from a poster of Volvo wagons on Jalopnik. The internets are one big rat hole, aren't they?

    Wednesday
    Mar312010

    Yes, Please.

    Is Jeep peekup!It's a concept Jeep that looks like an old Jeep that's a pickup. Just please change the name.

    Dear American Motors/Fiat/Chrysler,

    Please make this. Kill the Dodge Dakota and make this today. Good lord Sergio, make this.

    Thank you,

    - bob

    via JP Magazine. Thanks!

    Friday
    Mar262010

    Road Resurfacing In Anza

    Maybe a delicious beverage might help.

     

    Friends,

    Next week, the State Route 371 Pavement Rehabilitation Project begins in earnest. I don't think I need to tell you how exciting this is for the residents of Anza, Aguanga, and the proud Cahuilla people. Next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday should be an absolute joy for those hoping to drive between, say, Temecula and Garner Valley. Or San Diego and Palm Desert. Or even Oceanside and Thousand Palms... (you're getting a little carried away, aren't you? -ed)

    The first step is admitting that drivers will have a problem...

    - bob

    from Caltrans (warning: PDF link) via the Town Crier. Thanks JP!

    Friday
    Mar122010

    Cosmo Makes Me Feel

    Friends,

    It's Friday and I know that you've absolutely had it with making big decisions this week, but let's face facts—your car is kinda crappy with its unintended acceleration and the floormats and whatnot. What you really need is a car that evokes horse racing, rainy parking lots, smiling ladies, and has its own line of man swag. Not enough? I'll bet your car doesn't have a theme song like the '77 Mazda Cosmo AP does. I think you're going to be going out on a test drive this weekend.

    ...for another car. That has those things. That wasn't discontinued over 30 years ago. Sigh.

    - bob

    Friday
    Mar052010

    Great, Now What?

    Friends,

    I've been trying to write a post about an interaction I'm in the middle of on Facebook, but every angle I try to take on the subject seems, well, not interesting. That story is hereby spiked. What will go up is something else entirely, starting with another picture of an oddly proportioned Japanese car from the way-back machine...

    Subaru Roadster, c.1961
    1961 Subaru Roadster (that may have a different name that I can't read because it's in Japanese on their site). Rear-engine, 23 horsepowers of fury!

    • We were all entertained yesterday by the news that fierce gay rights opponent, Republican State Senator Roy Ashburn was pulled over for a DUI departing from a gay nightclub on Wednesday morning. One of those universe self-leveling moments, I think. Then I learn this morning that legal gay marriage in Mexico City had taken effect yesterday. Predominantly conservative and Catholic Mexico City? The one in Mexico? And we can't manage it in California, which I still find baffling.
    • As you know, I'm a registered Democrat, but I have been fairly vocal about my "Anybody but Barbara Boxer" campaign this November. The problem is that the opponent with the highest name recognition in California is Carly Fiorina. If you put aside my animosity against her based on her record at HP that killed my last job, her mouth isn't doing her any favors right now. She thinks that she's a better candidate because Boxer beats white men, she's anti-choice, and shares Sarah Palin's values (whatever that means. sounds like pandering to tea partiers to me. - ed Check!). So maybe not anybody-anybody. Maybe Tom Campbell can help...
    • You remember former speaker of the California assembly Karen Bass, don't you? She's running for the Congressional seat being vacated by Diane Watson this year. She's also the one who donated $20k to a ballot initiative to dissolve the citizen's redistricting panel. Well, as a parting gift to her Democratic caucus foot soldiers in our very broke state assembly, she promoted twenty staff members and gave them 10% raises in her last days as leader. Could stunts like this account for the deep financial hole the state's in? Is this the same speaker who kept banging the drum about "revenue enhancements" to plug the state deficit?

    Whew! Now that we've covered that, what's for lunch?

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Monday
    Mar012010

    Monday Not Dealing With Real Events Post

    Friends,

    The brilliant Hemmings blog has been running a series on the history of the Nissan Skyline, known to most here in the states as the mighty GT-R. While you should check in on all of the posts in the series (Ken and Mary!), today's installment features this bit that made me laugh out loud...

    1981 Nissan Skyline hatchback 2000 Turbo GT-EX RHR30
    1981 Nissan Skyline hatchback 2000 Turbo GT-EX RHR30. Eighties turbo hatchbackery–does it get any better? NO IT DOES NOT shut up.

    Checking in on bizarre Japanese high performance weirdness seems preferable today to dealing with the phone monopoly at work, the unreasonable demands of my co-workers, and other work things. Basking in the bright-white glare of yesterday's future, for me anyway, keeps me off the dock in tomorrow's (justifiable) homicide trial. You can get behind that, can't you?

    Your pal,

    - bob

    P.S. Not sure what to do about the nattering nabobs of negativism up here who thought my idea to save the Chamber of Commerce's site was rubbish. Should we go ahead with it anyway? Thoughts?

    Tuesday
    Feb232010

    Gentlemen! Start Your Denials!

    That's totally boss. Friends,

    Toyota USA President Jim Lentz testified in front of Congress today and let members of the country's most hated profession ask him pointed, self-aggrandizing questions filled with OUTRAGE! Lentz brought the statements, though, including this prepared thing...

    "We are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles. We have designed our electronic throttle control system with multiple fail-safe mechanisms to shut off or reduce engine power in the event of a system failure. We have done extensive testing of this system and have never found a malfunction that caused unintended acceleration."

    Throttle-by-wire systems scare the snot out of me as a rule. Look, the robots are clearly out to kill us, that's a given. The idea that a company as gigantic, wealthy and pervasive as Toyota can't design an economical car without resorting to cutting the mechanical throttle linkage is pretty troubling to me. Can't figure that out? Really?

    Maybe they have let their customers down—by being punks.

    - bob