Reading Reading

I Broke a Solemn Vow

February 19th, 2015
I hope you can forgive me.

A few years ago I read the novel Step on a Crack by (ostensibly) James Patterson and (reprehensibly) Michael Ledwidge. It was awful. Really, really horrible. After reading it, not only did I vow never to read anything with James Patterson’s name on it ever again, I vowed to stay clear of anything published by Little, Brown and Company, as clearly there was no editor there, just marketers trying to find ways to put Patterson’s name in larger type on the cover.

So-called critics gushed over the steaming pile of poo, which shows how professional critics make a living.

In fact, before I get to the actual subject of this episode, let me step into the way-back machine and relive just how ghastly awful Step on a Crack was.

Let’s you and I imagine for a moment that we are bad guys — wait, no, we are criminal masterminds. Let’s also imagine that criminal masterminds have a place they like to hang out and discuss evil plots. We’re sitting, having a beer, discussing which root certificate authority is the most vulnerable, when a new guy bellies up to the bar.

“Got a big thing going on,” he says.

“Oh?” You ask, not wanting to be rude.

“I know some stuff about this Cathedral,” he says. “If I can get a bunch of A-listers and world leaders in there all at once, I can do some damage.”

“Nice,” I say. We’re all evil here, and this sounds promising.

“How you going to get them in there?” you ask.

“A funeral,” he says, and that appeals to both of us. “Former first lady. Beloved the world over. She dies, the world comes callin'”

“Nice,” I say again. I’m not terribly creative.

“So you’re going to kill the former first lady?” you ask.

“Damn straight,” our newcomer says. “There’s this restaurant they go to every year. Anniversary or something like that.”

“And you’re going to shoot her at the restaurant,” you say.

“Even better,” the man says, “She’s allergic to peanuts.” You start to get that sinking feeling. Real masterminds keep things simple.

“You don’t say,” you say.

“Yep. I’m going to get a guy hired there as a cook, and he’s going to put peanut oil in her food.”

Questions start to bubble up in your mind. How does this man know that his peanut-oil slinger will be scheduled to work that day? How does he know that he will be on the line and get that dish? What if the chef decides to do the one for the first lady personally? This plan is starting to sound pretty fishy. “Or you could shoot her,” you suggest.

“Then people will know it’s murder. There will be too much security at the funeral.”

“Huh,” we say together. “She’ll have an Epipen,” I say. “One blast of adrenaline and she’ll last long enough to get to the hospital.”

Our fellow mastermind shakes his head. “I’m thinking what with all the excitement of the anniversary and all, she’ll forget it.”

“Isn’t she protected by the Secret Service?” you ask.

“Sure, but they won’t know about her life-threatening allergy. They’re just there to protect her life.”

“So…” I say.

You sum it up. “Your entire plan is predicated on the assumption that no one will be able to handle a food allergy, even though there will be several people there with a vested interest in being prepared for it, and she will die as a result.”

“What about your guy on the inside?” I ask. “They’re going to grill him pretty hard.”

“Nah, why would they?”

“Because he killed the former first lady.” You remind him. “They’re going to put the entire kitchen through the wringer.”

“I don’t think they’ll bother,” our fellow mastermind says. “Accidents happen, you know.” He slaps the bartop. “And that’s only step one! Wait ’till I tell you how we get away!”

The above part of the “mastermind’s” plan gets us though the first few preposterous pages of the Patterson/Ledwidge farce Step on a Crack. I read the whole damn thing, and I promise you it doesn’t get any better. Thus I vowed to boycott the whole Patterson swindle.

If you have already guessed by the title of this episode that I broke that vow, congratulations! You are smarter than any character in Crack. A while back I was early to pick up an order at Panda Express (as Chinese as McDonalds is Scottish, but some days nothing else will do) and I needed something to read. iBookstore was quick to tell me that the latest Patterson was FREE! I decided, for science, to see if the opening few pages of the latest work compared with Crack.

So I downloaded Private, only realizing later that by doing so I participated in the swindle. I helped produce inflated numbers for the book, which will ultimately lead to more people paying money for the rot. You see, each Patterson book is called a #1 best-seller because book stores order lots of copies, not because people buy them. THEN people buy them because it looks like the book is really successful. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Anyway, I read the prolog. The first sentence was really quite good. I stopped to savor the moment before continuing. The rest of that first very short chapter wasn’t too bad either, although the contortions the writer went through to make the protagonist as heroic as fuckin’ possible got pretty ridiculous. In one paragraph the dude is dead from unspecified war-related injuries, heart stopped and everything, then maybe three sentences later he’s knocked his buddy down and is running toward a burning helicopter. I think if the author could have worked in puppies in mortal peril he would have.

Still, better than Crack. The writer at least has some sort of voice.

In the second chapter of the prolog he visits his father in prison and learns he will inherit fifteen million dollars and a (thoroughly discredited) private detective agency (named “Private”) that caters to the rich and famous. His n’er-do-well twin brother is not to know about this.

There’s a few hundred pages after that, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read them to know what’s going to happen. Hot movie star almost-girlfriend imperiled by evil twin, (only of course that’s the big surprise), yadda yadda.

Not bad for a Patterson, though, I’ll give ‘em that.

The Great Adventure The Great Adventure

It’s a Tough Life

February 17th, 2015

I mentioned to the light of my life that I was craving burgers to replenish my strength after my last (for a while) visit to the colon doctor.

For most people, the response would be, “where do you want to get them?” Not so my sweetie. Her response: “I’ve been wanting to make burger buns!”

And so she did.


Idle Chit-Chat Idle Chit-Chat

An Entropic Milestone

February 14th, 2015
Taking pride in wearing things out.

I was riding to work, waiting at a traffic light. Due to the geometry of that intersection, it is safest for me to declare myself in the actual traffic lane rather than sit meekly to the side where cars are willing to brush me aside to pass. Fifty feet after the intersection, there is plenty of space for me to move over. All I have to do is move out smartly and keep with the flow for fifty feet.

On a bike, it’s surprisingly easy to do just that. Watch the light, and when it changes stand up on the pedals, pull up on the handlebars to add arm strength to the power being delivered to the crank, and you as a cyclist can be the fastest vehicle of the cluster to reach fifteen mph. Past fifteen, cars have every advantage, but by then you’re through the danger zone, the motorists behind you appreciate your effort, and everyone parts friends.

Except on this particular ride, at this particular intersection, that’s not quite what happened. The light changed, I stood on my pedals with my skinny (but, I hasten to add, deceptively strong) legs, and began to pull through the intersection. Then… SKPOW! SCHWANG! My chain jumped right off the sprocket! (Not sure if it was the front or rear sprocket; I was too busy trying to not be killed.)

After a half-turn of the crank the chain caught again and the driver behind me did a good job not killing me. But I was a bit rattled.

A mile later, the chain jumped again. WTF?

One advantage of working at a big-ass company: There are company discussion groups about just about everything. I joined the bike-commute group (novices welcome) and asked what might be going on. I mentioned that my bike only had 3600 miles on it.

First came a response from someone asking for more details about my bike. Shit, I had meant to put in my first question, but spaced it.

How about this for a detail? My bike is a 30-speed. Thirty. Three gears in front (excuse me, ‘chain rings’), and ten in back. When I was a kid, there were two kinds of bicycles: bikes and ten-speeds. That was the entire taxonomy of the two-wheel world. My bike was a purple Scwhinn with a banana seat. It was awesome. One by one, however, my friends graduated to ten-speeds, and eventually I did too. Ten-speeds were the bosses of bikes.

Then there was the Schwinn Stingray 3-speed, with the big ol’ shifter lever. We all grew up knowing a guy from the next street over who had one of those. It was a bike, but it was the king of bikes.

Anyway, forty years later, once I revealed that I was riding a bike with a derailleur (or derailer for the less-pompous crowd), it was generally agreed that 3600 miles was more than I should have expected to get out of a chain, and that I was probably damaging my gears with every stroke of the pedals.

You see, the chain is a series of links with rollers that the sprockets mesh with. The rollers turn on the pins that connect the links of the chain. When the spacing of the teeth on the sprockets and the spacing of the links in the chain is exactly the same, all is happiness and joy, as the power delivered by my skinny-but-deceptively-strong legs is shared by every tooth on the sprocket that is in contact with the chain.

But as the chain turns, mile after mile, the pins that connect the links in the chain get worn down, which increases the spacing between links. Only a tiny bit, but that’s all it takes. Now at any given moment all the force of the pedaling is borne by a single tooth of the sprocket against a single roller in the chain, because the next roller in the chain is just a little to far from its corresponding gear tooth. Push too hard, and that one roller-tooth interface just can’t hold up. SPKOW! Even in normal pedaling, all the force from my muscles is being transferred through a single tooth of the gear, which can wear down the gears really quickly.

One more aside to acknowledge what you all are thinking: Yes, I did write this entire episode to brag about wearing out the chain on my bicycle. You know why? Because I wore out the freakin’ chain on my bicycle, that’s why.

Now I’m shopping for a new chain, and will be regularly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of options. They all are the quietest chains; they all shift the best. There’s one choice that costs twice the average cost of the other candidates, but claims to last longer (Diamond-like coating, whatever that means). Does it last twice as long? Pretty much impossible to measure.

I feel like I’m leveling up in the bike world. I’m a guy who wears out chains. I’m a guy who wears out tires. I’m a guy who knows what ‘chain ring’ means (it’s the gear in front). I’m the guy who flexes his calves in the mirror when no one is looking. I’m a bicyclist.

Idle Chit-Chat Idle Chit-Chat

Happy Birthday: the Dirge

February 2nd, 2015
It's supposed to be a celebration, dammit!

A woman I work with will not tolerate the singing of the traditional happy birthday song, unless all agree beforehand to try to make it sound remotely happy. It’s a sad fact, when we’re all gathered around the flaming cake, few or none of us are confident in our singing skills. We start off slowly, “haaaaa…” waiting for everyone to find he note, then move only tenuously to the next note once everyone gets there: “py…”. And with those two notes the tempo is set.

As a result, we waddle through a ponderous rendition of what is supposed to be a celebration. We wheeze out a docile song in which “happy” is only another lyric to endure. Behind me as I sit at Stanley’s one such happy moment just played out, crushingly ponderous yet still out of tune.

If you’re going to do it badly, at least have fun! This ain’t no fuckin’ opera, it’s happy birthday! Let’s as a nation make this resolution: We will suck at singing happy birthday. We will kick ass at singing happy birthday.

A humble suggestion: If you are in a group that murders the moment, when you reach the end of the song, shout (and I mean shout), “double-time!” and sing the damn thing again, twice as fast. It will be four times as fun, and eight times as happy. Your ancestors will thank you.

Politics Politics

Simple Energy Policy

February 1st, 2015
Economics 101

It seems that oil prices are at historic lows. OPEC is dumping their product on the market while fracking is increasing supply in the US, while the growth in China’s demand for oil is falling short of expectations.

There are lots of theories about why OPEC is continuing to pump oil into such a shitty market, but in the end their motivations don’t matter. Oil is cheap right now.

So let’s burn theirs! Let’s sit on our own reserves until the price goes up. The oil under American soil will be worth a lot more later than it is now. A lot more. The US trade deficit is largely about energy, but if you can balance that with an increase in the value of our assets, it’s not such a big deal.

Better, let’s use their cheap oil to produce a crap-ton of photovoltaic cells, and invest in other energy-up-front technologies.

However you figure it, you buy low and sell high if you want to succeed. Right now OPEC is selling low. I’m OK with that. I’d hold off on the domestic fracking; we can destroy our land later if it proves necessary. It will sure be a lot more profitable later.

Observations Observations

An Inspirational Leader

January 31st, 2015
The who is as important as the what.

Friday at my group’s morning status meeting we spent a lot more time talking about the odds and ends of life than about actual work. One of the topics: what sports my boss’s newborn son would participate in. The Official Boss of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas believes her son’s reckless and pain-oblivious behavior makes him a good candidate for hockey. That gladdened my heart.

I don’t think I brought up martial arts, but I did have something to contribute on the subject.

Before I get to the specific advice I dispensed (at no charge), I’d like to point out that martial arts are an excellent choice for a kid. Way better than gymnastics, especially for girls. Why get them started on something they will have to abandon when they weigh more than 100 pounds? Better to get them into a good dojo and learn confidence and skills they can take to the grave. I think black belts would look fantastic on grandmas and grandpas alike.

But the phrase ‘good dojo’ brings me to my specific advice. On my Wednesday morning route I pass a fitness/martial art studio. Jiu Jitsu is mentioned in one of their signs. In the gray light of early dawn the lights of the studio spill out into the street. This week as I passed I looked in and saw a collection of young students doing exercises on the floor, all clad in their white robe-thingies. Seated next to the mat on a folding chair was the instructor. He was slouched down, his arms folded across his nearly-horizontal chest.

Wow. My first thought was how disrespectful this was to his students, then I thought about how disrespectful it was to his dojo, and to his discipline. Martial arts have a strong spiritual element; training is focussed on the mind as much as it is on the body. At least when it’s done right. Thinking about it now, I think an instructor has two options: Stand over the students, attentive and engaged, and correct their form, or do the exercises with them. The dude may as well have been smoking crack in front of his impressionable charges.

So my concrete advice to my boss was simply, “don’t let a dude like that teach your kid.” I think that message can be applied in a much wider context.

Observations Observations

Ripoffs are Relative

January 30th, 2015
Sometimes the best advertising has someone else's logo on it.

Most days on my way to work I pass a Shell station that advertises a price per gallon almost a full dollar over the going rate. These days, that’s almost a 50% markup. When I pass in the early-rush-hour morning, there is almost never anyone filling up there.

Across the street is a Chevron station which charges twenty cents less per gallon. That’s still a huge markup over the average price in the area, but I do see people filling up there. The price looks pretty good when compared to the Shell station.

Which makes me wonder…

What if the Shell station was only keeping a token amount of gas in its reservoirs for the occasional blind idiot customer, and the owners of the two stations split the profit on the sighted idiots who purchase the slightly-less-outrageously-priced fuel at the Chevron?

Idle Chit-Chat Idle Chit-Chat

The Last Thing You Do

January 24th, 2015
It's the punchline to the joke of your life.

A few years ago, a friend of mine was at a funeral. There’s a part of the ritual in which you sit in climate-controlled comfort and gaze upon the corpse, then there’s a procession from that place to the plot where those remains will be interred. Well, slippery roads, a steep hill, an idiot in an SUV, etc., led to the hearse getting t-boned in dramatic fashion. Before the procession could proceed, a new corpse-buggy had to be called for.

It arrived, and that’s when the powers that be discovered that the coffin itself had also been damaged. The seals had been broken. The body had to be taken back to the mortuary to be reboxed. Why? Because the mortal remains of a fine person had been converted to toxic waste, so people could look at the dead person before those remains went into the ground. Really.

What an insult to the soil. It angers me to think that my body may not in its own turn nourish the planet that sustained it. I want to be fertilizer. I should be fertilizer. Run me through a wood chipper, dump me out over the roots of an apple tree, and I promise you I will do my best to make those apples taste better than any others.

Cremation is less of an insult to our planet, I suppose, but it’s hardly carbon-neutral.

I was mighty happy the other day when after a high-fiber meal I had more time for Facebook than usual and I came across a link to this: What to do When You’re Dead: Science Edition. Here’s your chance to make the last thing you do something constructive. Apparently liquid nitrogen is better than a wood chipper. While less dramatic, I’m good with that choice. Note that launching yourself into space is not terribly environmentally sensitive, either, what with the rocket exhaust injected directly into the ozone layer. But it would be cool to be a meteor. With the proper preparation, your friends could watch you streak across the sky and vanish into nothingness. That would be a hell of a way to leave the building.

But whether you choose any of those alternatives or come up with one of your own, think about it: What do you want that last thing you do to say about you?

Observations Observations

Grotesquely Obese Men and Urinals

January 15th, 2015

You know, I’m going to leave it right there. I’ve seen things.

Politics Politics

Rough Draft of a Letter to the Editor of the Local Paper

January 12th, 2015
My tax dollars at whork.

Recently Park Avenue in Santa Clara had some work done. The sequence went like this, with roughly two weeks between each step:

1) Scrape off most (but not all) of the markings on the road. Result: a less-safe road.
2) Repaint most (but not all) of the markings scraped off in step 1, right in the grooves left by the scraping machine. Result: step 1 is rendered moot, but the road is still not as safe as it had been before.
3) Scrape off the entire road surface and put down new asphalt. Result: steps 1 and 2 are rendered entirely moot. The road is now a wee bit better than it was before.

What did steps 1 and 2 accomplish? Nothing. Nothing at all, aside from putting my money into the pockets of corrupt contractors and the people who are supposed to be preventing this sort of shenanigans. How much, I wonder, was the government billed for the completely unnecessary work?

At this writing, not all the markings have been restored, so the road is still not as safe as it was. And honestly, there are many less visible roads that could have benefitted from the upgrade much more than that stretch of Park.

Now let’s shift our focus to Miller Ave. in Cupertino. After the ritual pointless scraping of the bike lanes, a new surface was laid down, and it is simply awful. Already there are troughs in the road, and water collects in traffic lanes on days with no rain, presumably from the gutters. As I ride up the street I can see cracks forming in the asphalt already. This work isn’t an investment, it’s an ongoing liability.

Who checked this work? Who said, “Good job, guys! See you on the next project!”

Stepping back, who authorized this work in the first place? To my untrained eye, Miller and Park did not need resurfacing, and as a bicyclist I’m particularly bitchy about road conditions. I could suggest several more-deseriving stretches of road. Or, better yet, let’s put the money into the crumbling school that the unnecessarily-resurfaced road passes.

But the federal money geyser says to mortgage the future to invest in infrastructure now, and somehow spending money resurfacing already-serviceable roads, at maximum inefficiency, is investing in infrastructure. The theory is that such work will pay dividends long into the future, yielding returns greater than the debt incurred. I have no problem with the theory, but that is not what is happening in my town.

Idle Chit-Chat Idle Chit-Chat

Dammit, Lyle!

January 9th, 2015

Were you to record the grunts and mutterings I emit as I pedal to work, you would hear me talking to Lyle. You might also hear, “Aw, come on, Victor!” and “Stay with me Johnson, stay with me.”

You might think, listening to me, that I rode with a posse of rather annoying people, but you would be wrong. Lyle is a traffic light. He wears his name on a large electrified sign hanging from his crossbar, the ultimate bling. Most days, Lyle waves me on with a cheery green, which only compounds the feeling of betrayal on those mornings that Lyle chooses to stop my progress to let some chump in a car turn safely onto the main road.

Sooner or later you learn who your friends really are.

Observations Observations

Back in the Saddle

December 22nd, 2014
It's like starting over.

The father of the official sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas has a saying when it comes to exercise: 2 days off is rest, any more than that is atrophy.

After riding to work for the first time in more than a week, all I can say is, “amen”. I did not tear up the roadway this morning. Not by a long shot. And my legs are already informing me that they are not enthusiastic about the prospect of the ride home tonight.

On a happier note, I have decided that 55˚ F is about the ideal temperature for a ride. So at least I had that gong for me.

Writing Writing

Honorable Mention!

December 22nd, 2014
It's good to be mentioned, especially honorably.

Writers of the Future is a big-ass writing competition, and it’s pretty prestigious to win. I did not win. It’s also cool to almost win, as you still get your work published in a book that people actually read.

I also was not a runner up.

But I did get an honorable mention. Honestly I don’t know how difficult that is; I’ve entered twice and been honored both times. My guess is that it means “good enough to encourage the writer to enter again.” I will be doing so. Several of my eligible stories fit the WotF style pretty well. My careful reading of the rules tells me that stories published over at Piker Press are eligible, so if you remember a favorite from back in the days when I was a regular there, let me know!

On a side note, I think I’m going to play with a short story during my company’s holiday shutdown.

Idle Chit-Chat Idle Chit-Chat

Half-Assing Christmas this Year

December 17th, 2014
There's something in the air, and it isn't snow.

My company shuts down for a week and a half, from Christmas Eve to New Year’s day. That’s pretty sweet, and many years I’ve used the time to visit family or friends. Not this year. After losing Thanksgiving to plumbing, and part of December to a totaled car, I’m way behind.

Additionally, my coworker, the guy who tends to the humming machines, will be traveling. As a result, I can’t stray more than a couple hours’ drive from the office. Somebody has to be there to kick the machines if they need kickin’.

As far as covering the software side of things for the Web applications my group has built, today my newest boss asked, “who do we call if we can’t reach you?” My answer: “There is no one.”

The domestic hardships have affected my sweetie even more than they have me. By now most years she has prepared big bundles of joy for people flung across the globe. Do not panic, dear readers, there will be big bundles of joy! However, some labor-intensive favorites will be missing. We have called a halt to the last of the plumbing work until after the new year so that bundles of joy can be baked. However, not all the bundles may reach their destinations in time for Jesus’ birthday party.

So it goes, as Billy Pilgrim might say.

If you happen to be in the bay area, do drop us a line. We’d love to see you, but alas, our guest room is filled with stuff right now. We’ll get that all sorted out next year.

The Great Adventure The Great Adventure

Automotive Dreaming

December 13th, 2014
Shopping for a new car isn't necessarily an entirely rational exercise.

A little time travel happening tonight, as I do the Heisenberg shuffle to keep the questions raised in this episode from affecting the answers. By the time you read this, we will have sipped our wine, gazed at the pictures, and perhaps shed a tear or two for reasons hard to define. We will have toasted the departed Roxy, and set a new course.

And now to the story…

My sweetie and I need to replace the eminently practical and utterly reliable Ford Escort that was declared by actuarial tables to be a total write-off this week. More on that anguishing process later, but in the end, it could have been a lot worse. We actually got a settlement that was a bit on the happy side of fair. It was not a gentle ride, however.

Now, suddenly, we’re car shopping. Buying a new car is out of the question, so we’re combing the used-auto sites, seeing what’s out there that we can afford. (One observation — surprisingly few Hondas. Unscientifically, I have to conclude that they hold their resale value extremely well.)

There are a lot of cars in our price range, but not all of them qualify as ‘practical’. This story is about one of those cars.

I was at work today, putting in some Saturday hours to catch up with my deadlines after dealing with all sorts of automotive distractions over the week. I got a call on the Sweetie Hot Line. When I asked her how she was, her answer was tentative. “Uh, oh,” I though. “Is 2014 throwing a farewell spitball at us?” 2014 has not been gentle.

That turned out not to be the case. What had happened was this: An online acquaintance of The Light of My Life had sent her a message about a car she was selling. She looked at the pictures and her heart went pitter-pat. The car is a 1960 Studebaker Lark V8. The Lark was one of the first North American entries into the car class that would come to be known as “compact”, and by 1960’s standards this car is tastefully understated. This one is apple red, has all new electrics (including an alternator instead of a generator), and based on the description is in very good shape.

A little trivia: The first couple of years it was out, the V8 Lark could do 0 to 60 in less than half the time of its competitors. That was mostly because the competitors were really friggin’ slow, but still. I learned that on Wikipedia today. I learned a lot about the Lark today. Strictly to help us make an informed decision, obviously.

My Sweetie was calling me to be a voice of reason. She needed someone to tell her how crazy it was to consider a car that’s already had its 50th birthday as a replacement for a modern, reliable ride.

My attempts to pour ice water on her dream were only half-hearted, however. There’s part of me which thinks driving a Studebaker around town is a pretty grand idea. Then my favorite redhead said, as an argument against buying it, “We’d have to go get it.”

“Where is it now?”


And just like that my head filled with images of a road trip with my sweetie, in a Studebaker, and writing each day about the road we had covered and the conversations we’d had and the comments we got at rest stops when we let Lady Byng out to pee. That would be awesome. After that, my attempts to dissuade her lost all muscle. “There will be a day you need to get somewhere and you turn the key and nothing happens,” I said. Which is certainly true.

Bench front seat. Remember those? This car seats six. Automatic transmission, but for a car like that we could put up with it.

Yet, from the very beginning there was something I could have mentioned, something that I will have to mention eventually, that will probably end the conversation. It’s about safety.

I’m sure we can get three-point seatbelts installed, and airbags are overrated. But there’s one other safety feature that modern cars have that almost no one talks about. Had our little Ford not had this feature, however, it’s quite possible I could have been badly hurt when the kid smacked into me. My head was snapped back quite forcefully, but the headrest on the driver’s seat caught me and protected me from potentially serious harm. As a result, our insurance claim was strictly about property damage.

Air bags are complex, expensive, and require extra complexity to keep them from doing more harm than good in certain situations. In contrast, the headrest is an example of safety legislation with a lot of bang for its buck. Simple and effective.

The Studebaker in question has no headrests. Pristine interior, red and white, but no headrests.

When I point that out to my sweetie, talk of classic cars will likely end, much as I’d love to glide along with my honey next to me on that bench front seat.

Or… not. Maybe this is the litmus test of our dedication to a classic automobile. Are we willing to be a little less safe to drive something cool? (Corollary: does that make us hipsters?) Are we prepared for weekends of cursing and scuffed knuckles to keep her running? Will I have dirty fingernails every Monday when I go to work? To be honest, I kind of miss having a high-maintenance car. It’s like exercise. Sucks when you’re doing it, feels great when you’re done.

Is it a sign from above that the car costs almost exactly what our insurance settlement is? Are we destined to be the curators (not owners — it will likely own us) of a classic automobile? It sure would be cool to do photo shoots with a ride like this.

We’ll have a little something to drink tonight, look at the pictures, and dream a bit. Then most likely we’ll move on, turning our attention to the sensible end of the spectrum, and wondering forevermore what might have been.