Where Do You Think We Are?

The Block Editor still SUCKS!

A Year And A Half

First…what would you say/think if I told you I bet $20 each to win on the five longest shots in yesterday’s Kentucky Derby? An hour before the race every fiber of my being was screaming at me to do just that.

As I began to think about executing these bets, the weight of the last 12 years sunk in. NOTHING I have done in that time seems to have worked out as I had hoped. In the end, I didn’t make the bets. Of course, the second longest shot in the 148-year history of the Kentucky Derby came charging up the rail at the end to win. Rich Strike went off at 80-1; the horse was not even entered in the race as of 8 AM Friday. I have to admit I literally cried with disappointment a few minutes after the race ended. While the winnings from a $20 bet on Rich Strike would not have been a life-changing amount of money, it sure would have felt good.

As I wrote here, life has defeated me. I have no confidence left to do anything. If you had told me 12 years ago this month that I would have been unemployed/retired, not by choice, for the last decade I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend that scenario. (By the way, I STILL don’t have my car. The part that was supposed to be delivered on Thursday to the dealer will not arrive before Monday. By the time my wonderful wife and I return from our trip, and assuming the car will finally be fixed by then, it will have been almost 40 days without driving it.)

I’m sure that many, if not most, of you are growing weary of my frequent lamentation over my perception of my lack of good luck. It is what it is and it is not good. Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

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A year and a half ago–November 8, 2020, to be exact–my wonderful wife and I moved into our Arizona home. That day was also a Sunday (yes, the driver and crew delivered our contents on a Sunday) so it has been exactly 78 weeks since we moved in. That move was also filled with all sorts of disappointments, but we are happy to be here. (The interstate moving business is a racket.)

In some ways, it doesn’t seem possible that it’s already been a year and a half, but in others it seems like we’ve been here for years. The last year has not exactly been a picnic with the death of my wonderful wife’s mother from cancer and then my wife’s own cancer diagnosis five weeks after her mother died.

I am writing this post at about 2 AM on Sunday because I just can’t sleep despite taking 10 mg of melatonin. The only time in my life I can remember being in such a state is the two-month period that began in early January, 2004 when my mother died and then I almost joined her the following month.

Sometimes I just want to scream and cry, but nothing good would come of that. I worry that I would get out of control and damage the house and/or myself.

If you’re still reading this post, I will reward you by stopping now.

 

#AYearAndAHalf

#TheEndOfConfidence

#disaffectedmusings

 

John Unitas

All-time great NFL quarterback and Baltimore icon John Unitas was born on this day in 1933. Sadly, he died almost 20 years ago and, by an eerie coincidence, on the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His death was overshadowed in the news that day.

While working for the Orioles, I had the good fortune to interact with Unitas on more than one occasion. He was always most gracious. Two or three times a season I would end up sitting near him during a game. I felt sorry for him because he was inundated with autograph requests. He never showed any displeasure at these interruptions even though signing autographs was difficult for him as he had limited use of his right hand, the result of football injuries.

This next section comes from my post on this day in 2020:

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When I was young Unitas was one of my “Holy Trinity” of sports idols along with Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth.

Unfortunately for me, I never had the opportunity to see him play before he suffered the serious elbow injury that cost him most of the 1968 season. He was never the same after the injury.

Since I am the author of this book and it is no longer in print I am going to show you the article about Unitas in my book about the greatest NFL teams of all time.

 

 

I tried to find a non-copyrighted image of Unitas in his legendary high-top football cleats to show here, but could not. Here is a picture of a gift from Dr. Zal.

 

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As I wrote in my book, Unitas’s place in pro football history cannot be solely expressed by numbers and charts. His rags-to-riches story–his father dying when Unitas was just five years old, being drafted by his hometown Steelers but being cut without playing in an exhibition game, his playing semi-pro football for a season at $6 a game and working in construction before signing with the Colts and getting his chance when former first overall pick George Shaw suffered a broken leg in a game–resonated far beyond the confines of Baltimore.

I do want to make some statistical points about Unitas, specifically about his 1959 season. He threw 32 touchdown passes in a 12-game schedule. Today, the NFL schedule is 17 games and the rules have been changed time and time again since the late 1970s in order to bolster the passing game. Unitas’ 32 TD would still have finished in the top ten in the NFL in 2021.

More about 1959: in a 12-team league, Unitas threw one-sixth of all NFL TD passes. His touchdown to interception ratio was 32-to-14; the rest of the league’s was 165-to-207.

 

I’ll stop here. Long live John Unitas!

 

#JohnUnitas

#disaffectedmusings

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Kentucky Derby

The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby will be tomorrow. For the first time since 2019, that race will return to its usual place as the first of the three races that comprise the “Triple Crown.”

I used to be a big fan of thoroughbred racing. I also used to be part-owner of a racehorse. (I hear the jokes: which part did you own? I’ll bet it was the…) My father’s second gas station was so close to Pimlico racecourse that one could hear the track announcer make the call.

In my opinion, Secretariat was easily the greatest thoroughbred in history. Even though he ran in these races 49 years ago, he still holds the record for the fastest time in all three Triple Crown events. I grant you that his “official” Preakness time, not formally recognized until 2012, may be a case of gilding the lily due to sentimentalism, but the Daily Racing Form time noted on the 1973 chart of the race would have been a record even if it was 2/5 second slower than the “official” time granted in 2012.

I think it’s quite possible that if thoroughbred racing continues for a thousand years and the Belmont Stakes is run in all of those years, Secretariat’s time in that race (2:24) will never be equaled. Andrew Beyer is, perhaps, the sport’s most famous writer. Many years ago he created a metric (the Beyer Speed Figure) to grade a horse’s performance in a race that attempted to control for things like the inherent speed of the track.

A very good Beyer number is something in the 90s. A triple-digit Beyer is great. Calculated after the fact, Beyer’s numbers were not published until 1975, Secretariat’s Beyer Speed Figure for the 1973 Belmont Stakes would have been 139, easily the highest of all time.

Anyway…to honor Secretariat and tomorrow’s running of the Kentucky Derby I offer these photos:

 

 

It should surprise no one that I have spent countless hours looking at performance charts like the one shown above. Oh, the “113-05” is not Secretariat’s Beyer Speed Figure for the Belmont Stakes but a “speed” metric invented by the Daily Racing Form.

If you plan to watch the race tomorrow, I hope you enjoy yourself. It is exceedingly likely I will watch.

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By 1973, American car performance had been denuded. Lower compression ratios were “necessary” so automobiles could run on unleaded fuel. Insurance companies significantly raising premiums on “performance” cars and new government safety and environmental regulations were the drivers of reduced performance. (No pun intended; OK, maybe I did intend.)

For example, in 1970 the Corvette was available with a 454 cubic-inch engine rated at 390 HP and the excellent 350 cubic-inch small-block LT1 rated at 370. In 1973, the big block was rated 275 HP and the standard small block at 190 although a 250 HP version was available. Yes, some of the change was due to the way horsepower was measured/recorded (gross vs. net), but much of it was due to the fact that cars were de-tuned.

In time, automotive engineers proved to be smarter than governments and insurance companies. Before we’re all forced to drive electric automatons, let’s appreciate what we have now: fast cars with great handling and braking that are orders of magnitude safer than cars from 50 years ago, not to mention more efficient and that generate far less emissions. Yes, the experience with my Z06 (I still don’t have the car) shows the trade-off, but I still think today is the Golden Age of automobiles.

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

Enjoy your weekend. Mine will be much better if I have my car back by tomorrow…

 

#KentuckyDerby

#Secretariat

#GoldenAgeOfAutomobiles

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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1,400 = >2,000

No, I didn’t flunk math. (I hope that would be obvious by now.) This is the 1,400th published post for Disaffected Musings. I don’t know the exact number–because the Evil Empire, AKA Guck Foogle, is really evil–but in my previous blog I published over 600 posts. Therefore, I have published more than 2,000 posts.

Through yesterday I had written more than 716,000 words on this blog. Once again, I don’t know how many words I wrote for my first blog, and I am 99.9% sure the average words per post were lower there than here, but let’s say the number was between 200,000 and 225,000. That puts me within striking distance of one million total words written in my blogs.

As I wrote in my 1000th post for Disaffected Musings, writing a million words is a carrot to keep me blogging. Of course, in that post I meant a million words on this blog alone. However, why should I ignore my previous efforts?

I am more than 50% certain that WordPress will disable access to the Classic Editor as of January 1, 2023. Of course, I didn’t think I would have access to it this year. Anyway, the new editor is awful and will make blogging too much of a chore to continue.

Oh, my quest for a million words will go on hiatus later this month. My wonderful wife and I will be away on vacation and it is likely I will not post at all while we’re gone.

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If 365 Days Of Motoring is correct, and I did corroborate the month–at least–with another source, then on this day in 1998 the following car was introduced:

 

See the source image

 

This is a picture of a 1998 Jaguar XKR coupe. The XKR designation means the engine was supercharged. The mesh front grill is, perhaps, the easiest way to spot one on the road although the hood louvres are also a feature.

Initially powered by a supercharged (duh…) 4-liter/244 cubic-inch V-8 that produced 375 HP/387 LB-FT of torque, the XKR could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 5.3 seconds. That’s still quick even by today’s standards. By today’s standards the car looks great as well.

The XK8, the platform for the XKR, was introduced in 1996 as the replacement for the long-running, yet much-maligned, XJS. The XK series was manufactured in two major iterations until 2014.

Given the issues my wonderful wife had with her XK8 convertible, I don’t think I could own one of this series, supercharged or not. I did find one XKR convertible within 50 miles of my zip code on AutoTrader, and the asking price is just under $10,000, but would you buy a Jaguar with 130,000 miles? Neither would I…

 

Once again, I welcome thoughtful comments. Thanks.

 

#1400=>2000

#JaguarXKR

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Wandering Wednesday

<Bitching About Blog Views> I am at least 99% certain that it’s been more than two years since a post has had as few views on the day of publication as yesterday’s installment of Threes And Sevens. That small number means the day had very few views as well. Very disappointing to me…<End Bitching>

 

I have written, on occasion, about the very imperfect nature of record keeping by people, especially the further back one goes in time. I have also written that many people, even intelligent ones, don’t seem to grasp this truth. I have had very smart people express incredulity that we don’t know for certain what was the first American car produced, for example.

ALL endeavors of human beings are imperfect because ALL human beings are imperfect. That truth is not understood, or is ignored, by people who blindly follow any ideology because it seems to me that all of the people in that category cannot acknowledge the possibility that their view, their belief, might be wrong.

I humbly offer this photo as an example of the fallibility of record keeping, even in modern times.

 

 

I showed the sheet on the left here. The sheet on the right arrived in yesterday’s mail. Note that except for the valuation date, none of the other figures match.

While none of the figures on either sheet indicate(s) the pension plan is in poor shape, it would be reassuring if they matched since they are supposed to measure the same things at the same time. I am in no position to ascertain which set of data is correct, or if either is even correct. (Oh, I’m not sure if “none” is singular or plural in the first sentence of this paragraph so I covered my bets with conjugating “to indicate.”)

NOTHING human beings do is perfect and that applies to recording/displaying data even in this day and age of computerized “big” data and analytics.

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This piece from Hagerty is about which “classic” cars have the least and most volatility in their prices. Hagerty has (have?) calculated something they call the “annualized volatility score.” From the article,

 

“Hagerty Insider does this regularly by calculating vehicles’ annualized volatility score. Considering vehicles that have run in the Hagerty Price Guide for at least 3.5 years, our data analysts plot percent changes in value over time.

A lower score denotes the car’s market value is fairly stable, with higher scores indicating volatility—they can swing wildly from one price guide update to the next.”

 

The most volatile car, by their measure, was the 1988 BMW M5. This car was the least volatile (picture from the article):

 

1957-Pontiac-Star-Chief-Convertible front three-quarter

 

This picture represents the 1955-57 Pontiac Star Chief, which has an annualized volatility score of 1.6 percent. I think that is a 1957 model actually shown in the photo. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

I don’t want to get into an esoteric discussion of the difference between structural and reduced-form mathematical models. I will say that statistics are not truth in themselves, but are an approximation of the truth. The underlying structure of a situation can change before we can ascertain that it has changed. Oh, show me another “car blog” where you would read anything remotely resembling this paragraph. (I’ll try not to break my arm patting myself on the back.)

 

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments. Like all other blog metrics, the number of comments has markedly declined in recent months.

 

#WanderingWednesday

#AllHumansAreImperfect

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Threes And Sevens: 1947

Should I mention that Henry Ford died in 1947? I just did…

1947 was proximal to automotive years of significance, but not one in itself necessarily. It was the next-to-last year of production for the last American car powered by a V-12 engine, the Lincoln Continental (shown below, image from Hemmings).

 

See the source image

The first model year for the beginning of the tailfin era was 1948, and unlike most model years where production begins late in the previous calendar year, 1948 Cadillacs were not produced until February of 1948. The first “modern” overhead-valve, oversquare V-8 was introduced by Cadillac in September, 1948 as a 1949 model year car. Of course, Oldsmobile introduced a version of this engine in January, 1949.

So, what did happen in the US auto industry in 1947? Production reached 3.56 million cars, far ahead of the figure for the transitional, strike-afflicted year of 1946 when total production was 2.16 million. It is worth noting, though, that 1947 production was still well below the figure for 1929, which was 4.45 million. The Great Depression laid waste to the US economy for a long time and recovery took a long time.

While World War II led to an economic boom during wartime, the adjustment to a post-war economy was not smooth. US GDP declined in real terms in three consecutive years, 1945-47. Most of the increase in real GDP from 1929 to 1947 occurred from 1940 to 1944 when US real GDP increased by 77 percent.

Enough with the economic data…Chevrolet led American makes in sales/production in 1947 with approximately 672,000 units. Ford was second (430,000) and Plymouth was third (382,000). Chevrolet’s leading seller was the Fleetline two-door Aerosedan, which sold about 159,000 units. Here is, hopefully, a picture of that car:

 

See the source image

 

All 11 Chevrolet models for 1947, whether they were a Fleetline, Fleetmaster (that’s not confusing) or Stylemaster, were powered by the same engine: an inline 216 cubic-inch 6-cylinder motor that produced 90 HP, but 174 LB-FT of torque.

Ford offered two engines for 1947, an inline-six and flathead V-8. Its best seller was the Super DeLuxe Tudor sedan with about 136,000 units. From a site that sells computer “wallpapers” is a picture of Ford’s top car for 1947:

 

See the source image

 

One of the confounding issues regarding writing about the US auto industry is the fact, as mentioned before, that model years didn’t (and still don’t) completely coincide with calendar years. For example, while most US cars of the immediate post-World War II era were just slightly facelifted pre-war cars, the 1947 model year saw the introduction of two new designs. One was by Kaiser-Frazer, a car company that did not exist before the war, and the other was by Studebaker. However, both of these new models were actually introduced in the 1946 calendar year. The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® had this passage about 1947, “…in fact, the ’47s received even fewer changes than did the ’46s.”

Some would argue that given production of the Tucker began in 1947 that year was significant. In my opinion, while the Tucker story is interesting, the fact that only 51 of them were produced diminishes the significance of the car in terms of its real impact on US automotive history. Mine is not a popular opinion for sure.

Convertibles accounted for almost five percent of sales in 1947 while station wagons were almost three percent. Even Crosley, maker of very small cars, added a station wagon to its 1947 model year lineup. It was already producing a convertible. OK, I’ll show a picture of a Crosley station wagon (from Pinterest):

 

See the source image

 

Crosley produced 1,249 station wagons in model year 1947, about 6.5 percent of its overall output. The Martin Auto Museum in Glendale, Arizona has a section of its floor space devoted to Crosleys.

As always, I welcome thoughtful contributions and comments about 1947 or any other relevant topic.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1947

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Munday Mosings

For the fifth post with this title…my wonderful wife asked our server, “Is the beef for the taco salad spicy?” He replied, “No, it’s not spicy at all.” He either lied or was misinformed; the beef in my taco salad that was yesterday’s lunch was spicy.

I realize that eating at a “Mexican” restaurant carries the risk–for me–of spicy food, of the vile weed cilantro being used in many dishes. Still, when the server replies that an item is not spicy that should be good enough.

My GI tract has been unhappy since lunch yesterday. Perhaps I should have sent the item back after the first bite, but figured the sour cream would at least partly mitigate the spiciness. In terms of mouth feel it did, but the sour cream didn’t fool my stomach.

I recognize, of course, that here in Arizona the Latin American influence in food is significant. I also know that, in general, American restaurants have been making their food spicier for a long time.

My first experience with this was while I was working for the Baltimore Orioles. Not far from Memorial Stadium was a grocery store, with which I shared a name, that also made sandwiches and other “prepared” food items. Every Thursday was taco salad day.

I went almost every Thursday, either with friends or by myself. One Thursday the sauce that one could pour over the salad was much spicier than it had been previously. Of course, I didn’t know that until I had returned to the stadium. I ate very little of the salad that day.

Figuring that experience was an aberration, I dutifully returned the following Thursday for taco salad day. Much to my chagrin, the sauce was very spicy once again. I asked someone at the store about the taco salad sauce and they said they had recently changed the recipe. I never ate the taco salad again.

If you like spicy food, then by all means eat it. DON’T assume that everyone else likes it or should like it. Using Pareto as a guide, I would estimate that about 20% of Americans don’t like and/or can’t tolerate spicy food. Tyranny of the majority is still tyranny. OK, maybe tyranny is too strong a word in this context, but those of us in the 20% should still be able to dine out.

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Speaking of the Baltimore Orioles, for whom I worked from 1988 to 1994:

 

 

These are the first two pages of the annual statement for the pension plan that pays me every month and has since August, 2015. I also receive this statement from the San Diego Padres. Yes, I find it odd that for 2019 and 2020 the funding target attainment percentage was 100% while last year’s was 107%.

I could not live on my pension alone, but it’s a nice income supplement. As to why I started receiving it almost as soon as I was eligible, I spent months calculating the Net Present Value (NPV) of the pension stream at age 55–the first age I could begin collecting–and assuming I live to 80 using all sorts of fixed and variable discount rate models. The NPV hardly varied regardless of when I would start receiving the pension. As I have recounted, I decided to begin collecting on the day that most closely matched my last day as a full-time baseball operations employee and that I wanted to make MLB make nearly as many payments to me as possible until they put me in the ground or in an urn.

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I am reluctant to make generalizations, but I strongly suspect that many wives would ask, “Why do you need another car?” or “Why don’t we have just one car?” if their husband indicated he wanted to buy a car and a less than practical one, at that. My wonderful wife, however, is encouraging me to buy one and even suggested one I had sort of dismissed.

 

See the source image

 

From Mecum Auctions a picture of a 2007 Cadillac XLR offered at their Houston event in 2019. I must admit that I was in awe of the looks of this car from the first time I saw one at the annual Dallas Auto Show.

I was put off by the price, which is why I bought my second Corvette in February, 2007 instead of an XLR. While they’re not really cheap used, I can almost certainly buy one in the $25,000 range.

With my Z06 still in the shop, having only one car at our disposal has been an inconvenience. As for a grocery car/taxi being more practical, the number of days in a year when we might want to “carry” passengers is in single digits and, believe it or not, the Z06 is more than adequate as a grocery car especially considering we buy a lot of our groceries on Amazon.

My wife is wonderful, indeed.

 

#MundayMosings

#IHATESpicyFood

#MLBPension

#MyWonderfulWife

#CadillacXLR

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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I Saw My Car

I have proof that my car still exists and that, indeed, it is in the service area of the Chevy dealer where it was dropped off 12 days ago. My wonderful wife and I were returning from the new location of the Martin Auto Museum, now with a Glendale address, and a series of closed roads and detours brought us to within a half mile of the Chevy dealer. I asked her to drive there so I could, hopefully, get some more info.

“My” service advisor was polite and took me to where I could lay eyes on the car, but didn’t have any update as to when the car would be ready. He assured me that the tech working on it was one of their best, but that he was very thorough and would go step-by-step to diagnose and to fix the issue(s).

Obviously, this is a frustrating situation for me, but it’s not as if I really have any other options at this point.

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At 2 AM this morning I literally thought I was going to die. I woke up drenched in sweat, heart racing, stomach beyond being in knots and feeling indescribably weak. I have used the phrase “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” but for me you can remove the word “Good.”

I seldom drink alcohol, maybe 3-5 times a year, but had one mimosa yesterday with lunch at about 1:30 PM. When I woke up early this morning I could still taste the mimosa when I burped. Whether or not that’s the actual cause of my predicament, I have no idea.

Every f*cking day…

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I’ll post more photos from the museum tomorrow or Monday, but wanted to show these two:

 

 

These are pics of a 1955 DeSoto Firedome. I didn’t show a full side view because the car has Cragars, an abomination as far as I am concerned for a car of this vintage.

Note the bottom photo of the dash. Can you see the gear shift lever sticking out? This car does not have a pushbutton selector for the transmission, or one on the column, or one on the floor, but has the selector sticking out of the dash.

The new location is much larger than the old one and has cars as old as from 1905. If you’re ever in the Phoenix area and are a car aficionado, I recommend you visit the Martin Auto Museum.

 

#ISawMyCar

#1955DeSotoFiredome

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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