Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The British Seagull Outboard

Another dead brand which that continues to enjoy popularity among a fairly large group of
enthusiasts.  Dead simple technically, lightweight and reliable, they were used extensively as a
"kicker" auxiliary motor for sailboats.  

Relentless Quest, Lobsterboat Racing - Trailer

Trailer for an upcoming video production about lobsterboat racing in Maine.

Great Michael Lewis Article on the mishegoss in Iceland

Iceland’s de facto bankruptcy—its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance—resulted from a stunning collective madness. What led a tiny fishing nation, population 300,000, to decide, around 2003, to re-invent itself as a global financial power? In Reykjavík, where men are men, and the women seem to have completely given up on them, the author follows the peculiarly Icelandic logic behind the meltdown.

by MICHAEL LEWISApril 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dead (But Not Forgotten) Brand of The Day - BULTACO

Bultaco was a Spanish motorcycle manufacturer best known here in the US for it's excellent dirtbikes. My Uncle had a couple of these in the 70's and even though they effectively ceased production in 1979, they continued to enjoy an excellent reputation into the 80's. Even today there is a cultlike following that transcends their modest production volume. Having what I consider one of the best ever logo's certainly doesn't hurt either, demonstrated by the fact that you can still readily purchase Bultaco tee-shirts and stickers.

Trivia: Bultaco was formed by Francisco "Paco" Bulto and the company name is a a combination of the first four letters of his last name and last three of his nickname. And CEMOTO is an acronym for "Compañía Española de Motores"

55' Florida Bay Coaster by Benford Design Group

I first fell in love with these boats from small ads placed in the back of boating magazines for a book of boat designs called "Small Ships" by Jay Benford.  The book is a surprisingly good collection of imaginitive and practical designs by Benford inspired by traditional working boats.  Despite the resemblance to the coastal "Tramp Steamers" of the past, the design is thoroughly modern well thought out with a clear emphasis on extended cruising or living aboard.  This boat has Heads which can honestly be called bathrooms, full sized appliances, extensive storage and even an office.  The deck well in front of the pilothouse has room for a Jeep and a good sized outboard launch (not a dinghy) on a rack above, either of which can be lifted with the hefty crane
just forward of the well deck.  The shallow draft of this design allows the boat to get close enough to shore for the Jeep to be offloaded directly onto the beach with the crane.   This particularly nice example was recently constructed by Johnson Yachts of NZ.  

More information can be found from these sources

The Chariot from Lost in Space

Just because it was so damn cool ! Click the Chariot for Bonus Bloop Sound

John Stewart with Mad Money's Jim Cramer

Wow, Stewart is in rare form in this segment, it's the best
indictment of the financial industry I've seen since the meltdown
started.  I give Cramer props for keeping himself composed in
the face of whithering criticism.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Honda Pilot changes model year 1990 - 2002

People always moan about cars getting bigger and heavier year after year, but this is extreme !

1990 Honda Pilot

2003 Honda Pilot

Aiwa CS-880/J-88

When I was in high-school, this was the  Ne Plus Ultra of
boomboxes.  I could only aspire to such awesomeness
forever out of reach, money wise.  Even today, I think these
are still pretty cool and would love to have one.  Unfortunately
they are pretty tough to come - by I couldn't even find any
evidence that any were ever sold on e-bay.

Israeli musician Kutiman is a freakking genius

Check this out, this YouTube mashup is unbelievable

Motor Court Cottages

Pretty much everyone has seen these little motel buildings beside busy
roads in vacation areas.  I've always had a soft spot for these buildings,
partially because of the great variety in their designs.  I have always 
thought they would make great guest houses for a vacation home, or
cabins for a family camp. Does anyone know the story behind these things?
Most seem to date from roughly post WWII until the late 60's or so
and they clearly were very popular during that time. Is their design organic
and colloquial or the result of a travel industry trend, with standard designs
and pre-fab units ?

Correction: turns out this trend started during the depression.

Guess Again !

Though it looks like something Uri Gagarin would stumble out of with a three
day beard, this is not in point of fact a Soviet era space capsule, nor is it a
sensory deprivation tank (though the outgassing of the plastics might bring
on a similar halucinogenic effect).  Behold the igloo satellite cabin, a portable
shelter originally designed for Antartic Eploration.  This would certainly make
an ecclectic addition to the back 40.

Manufactured by Icewall One

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Prefab That Started it All - The Quonset

I first remember Quonset Huts from their appearance in Gomer Pyle PFC and McHale's Navy.  What I did not know is that they take their name from the place they were first manufactured, Quonset Point Naval Base, Kingstown RI. Some 150,000 were produced during WWII and after the war, they were sold to civilians for $1,000 each.  I used to see them a fair bit in rural N.E., but seems they have mostly rusted away.  A friend of mine was absolutely mad about them and always wanted to have one as a second home.  Post WWII housing was scarce for returning GI's and  the city of Los Angeles set up a temporary settlement of 750 Quonset huts intended to house 1,000 families, at it's peak Roger Young Village, named after Pvt. Roger Young, housed 5,000 individuals.  Seems to me the simple Quonset hut would have been better that flimsy and toxic Katrina trainers. The Village was demolished mid 50's.

Formula 1 vs. Rally Car vs Road Car

This is a bit dated, but it's a really good illustration of how staggeringly fast
F1 cars really are.

The Caspian Sea Monster - Lun Ekranoplan

During the Cold War, the Soviets experimented extensively with "Ground Effect"or WIG (Wing in Ground Effect) vehicles.  Anyone who has been on a commercial flight has experienced the ground effect, to me it is most pronounced on landing as the wheels are about to touch the ground.  What's happening is the the wing lift is increasing and drag is reduced - the plane feels like it's working less hard, and that is exactly what is happening.  A plane designed to fly only a few meters above the ground or water can fly at airplane speeds and carry ship like loads.  The Soviets made a huge ground effects plane called the "Lun" Ekranoplan pictured below.  The video is a Russian TV show about the Ekranoplan program and has a cool flyby as viewed from a ship.  Boeing has one currently in design for the US Army.

Lun Ekranoplan floating, the things on top are anti sub missile tubes

Lun Ekranoplan in flight.

To learn more about the ground effect Click Here

Elipse Winged Plane

Apparently from Belarus

Via English Russia

A Machine for the Zombie Apocalypse

A Tree Mulcher - I think this would work pissah against
Zombie Hoards


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GTFOOH !! The Cosmic Muffin

Not to be confused with the late great Darrell Martinie (the REAL cosmic muffin). 
This is Howard Hughes' old plane reborn.

Now THIS is a flashlite (Like Crocodile Dundee's Knife is a Knife)

The Polarion Helios Searchlight 4100 Lumen $2,300
For comparison a powerful regular flashlight puts out something on
the order of 60 Lumens

The Dornier DoX Flugboot 1929

12 Count-Em 12 525hp Engines.  I love the looks of this thing, so damn over the top, it looks like
it should be in a Miyazaki Anime a-la Porco Rosso or something.

LearFan 2100

This remarkable airplane captured my imagination when it
appeared in Popular Science Magazine in 1981.  What is truly
remarkable about this plane is how ahead of it's time it turned out
to be.  The last project of Bill Lear (of Lear Jet fame), completed shortly
after his death by his wife, the LearFan was constructed of carbon
fiber, and combined near jet speed with astonishing efficiency.
It used 1/5 of the fuel of a Learjet and 1/3 as much as turboprop
planes of the day. It achieved a car like 10mpg and with a full 
compliment of passengers it was less thirsty per person than
most cars.  It failed FAA certification over concerns about it's
innovative gearbox, with which two engines drove the rear pusher
prop and the extensive use of relatively untested carbon fiber.
Fun fact I learned researching this: Bill Lear invented the 8 track !
Click the link for a vintage promotional video and more info on

The Wallypower 118

You may remember this boat from the movie "The Island"

Here are a few technical tidbits
16,800hp (3 Gas Turbines)
60 Knots
Fuel Economy 15 Gal/m
Strangely enough, they also make ski's

Great Mashup : Beatles, Kinks, LCD Soundystem

Monday, March 9, 2009

CH Marine Shelter Harbor 38' Motor Yacht

These boats really are truly gorgeous, the prototype was designed with and for
Billy Joel, who took an active part in the design process. The goal was to create a boat with traditional style & craftsmanship, a fast (40 knots 46 mph)cruising speed and thoroughly modern accommodations. As anyone what has spent any time around powerboats can attest, a 40 knot cruising speed is extremely fast. Cruising speed (not to be confused with top speed) is typically a pace the boat can maintain comfortably for long periods of time without undo stress on the powerplant, hull or passengers. I have seen at least one of these on tooling along Martha's Vinyard and they are extremely fast and quiet, with none of the roaring and pounding typically
associated with go fast boats. Anyway, it's a beautiful boat, follow the link to the MFGs site for more info.

CH Marine

Sportsmobile Ruggedized 4x4 Diesel Camper

I would absolutely love to have one of these. I love camping, but I don't like
sleeping on the ground and I don't like being around a million people. Fully
outfitted by Sportsmobile who
has been doing this since 1961 truly a go anywhere adventure vehicle.

The Ace Cycle Car

Built by Liberty Motors in Seattle on a custom basis, the Ace is a modern interpretation of the Morgan Aero V-Twin Trike from the 30's and 40's. Powered by a Harley Davidson motor coupled to a 5 speed car
transmission, I am sure it's a blast.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

DWR Airstream

Design Within Reach has paired with Airstream to outfit one of their iconic
travel trailers.


Similar to the WeeHouse, another prefab unit that would make pretty good camp
cabins. The larger size has a bathroom, though for ease of maintenance and cost
considerations I would be tempted to make one large building for kitchen, dining
shower and bath as in a traditional camp. The also have solar setups and HVAC.

Barbie Turns 50 !

Fire? Phhht ! Mankind's REAL greatest discovery.

I contend that mankind's greatest discovery in not in fact fire, though I will be the
first to admit that as discoveries go, fire is right up there with masturbation and
food. I contend that the humble Pile is in fact mankind's greatest discovery. Think
about it, it's pretty tough to make a fire without first assembling a pile of wood,
isn't it? In retrospect, it's obvious that piling behavior would be naturally
selected for, after all, a meal is basically a Pile of food. A shelter is a Pile of
materials, a bank is a Pile of money (or later collateralized debt obligations), A
book is a pile of paper etc. It is probable that the Pile also lead to the concept
of ownership and thus to armed conflict, taxes and the practice of law. Am I right or
am I right?

W.G. Low House, Bristol RI

Here's a good look at one of my favorite shingle style houses, unfortunately now demolished.
I would love to build a copy of this in the San Juan Islands, the
huge porch is the best. Another cool feature is that in order to use all the space
in the huge gable, McKim, Mead and White laid out the interior with multiple
staggered floors roughly on half stories. I have been meaning to render this house
in Google SketchUp. If I can find a scaled drawing maybe I will do that this week.

Great Computer Animation Short About Wright's Fallingwater

This is really quite good

Fallingwater from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.

Check out Cristobals other works here