Summer Sabbatical


Red-hots and habanero peppers from my garden

After a summer sabbatical of sorts, I’m back.  I have not forgotten about my blog, instead for some reason the spark to write has not been there so I decided on some time off.  I know, it’s not like I have a huge following – so who cares, right?

During my time off the F1 boys took their summer break, and have returned to the second half of the season (should be exciting – Lewis or Nico?)…  The whole entity of F1 is in the works of changing ownership…  The English Premier League is back and Manchester City has started a fine season undefeated (so far)…  I just hope the change of leadership for F1 is as good as it has been (so far) for MCFC (time will tell)…

And last but not least… We find ourselves on the eve of the first of the “debates” that will showcase the best that our two major political parties label as “presidential candidates” (yeah right) which incidentally, isn’t much – scary shit indeed.

Goodies from my Garden

Today’s post tells the story of my latest “experiment”:  as you can see in the featured photo it shows just a small sampling of this year’s bumper crop of hot peppers from my little garden.  My garden is not elaborate, just a couple of planter boxes with some good soil and several tomato plants with some habaneros peppers, red-hot’s, Tabasco brand peppers and serranos for good measure.

img_3840 The tomato plants consist of three Roma tomato plants which have produced some awesome tomatoes for pasta sauces (Wifey has made some amazing dishes with the Romas!) and two other plants yielded some great tomatoes suitable for awesome Caprese salads with my own grown basil.

Good times.


Weapons grade spirits…

So back to the hot peppers…  Many years ago, I lived in Aiken SC.  Not far from Aiken is “The Garden City”, the home of The National: Augusta GA.  One of the specialties of one of my favorite restaurants in Augusta is a “Cajun martini”.  Their trick was to let hot peppers infuse in vodka.  So, I went to Costco and purchased some Kirkland brand vodka – the bottle said it is made in France but the price was good so I figured why not.

Half the bottle of vodka went into a Mason jar and I added the habaneros.  The rest of the vodka remained in the tall bottle (pictured left) and I added the red-hots in there.  After a couple of days, I took a whiff – yikes!  Good stuff!  Today, I poured the liquid in some saved bottles and placed them in the freezer.  I’ll add a post later with taste results.


Weapons grade pepper flakes…

Finally, my friend Thom was kind enough to take several Ziplock bags full of my hot peppers and prepare them in his food dehydrator.  And of course, I now need to shop for a dehydrator – so if you have any recommendations please let me know in the Comments section at the end of today’s post.  Amazing thing these pepper flakes!

I’ve been adding this extra condiment to pretty much everything!  The heat is not unbearably toxic, instead it is very tasty indeed but not for the faint-of-heart.  One thing though:  even after being dried and chopped the fumes are still there.  I’ve had several episodes of sneezing during dispensation.

Other Stuff

Nest Thermostat Review

Several of my friends at work have been telling me about their Nestthermostats and how much they like them.  I’ve stayed away from the Nest devices because they are a) rather pricey and b) I already had a programmable thermostat.  But, I decided to do some research…

As it turned out, Nest had price reduction this summer and I took the plunge.  Against my better judgement, I ordered a thermostat from the Nest website rather than from Amazon.  Yes, I would have received it free of shipping charges and with 2 day delivery, since I have Prime but I figured I’d order from the factory, and hopefully get a latest version of the thermostat.

This order was doomed from the start.  It appears that there must have been many folks just like me on the fence about the price and they too, ordered thermostats taking advantage of the price reduction.  After a couple of weeks I started calling Nest customer service and as expected the other side of the phone call was answered in some foreign land with reps that have a very poor command of the English language.  Eventually after many attempts, I finally spoke with someone in the continental USA and they explained demand went through the roof and inventory went the opposite direction.  They asked me to be patient and that they would knock off another $25 plus reimburse shipping in return of not cancelling my order.  After a few more days I received my Nest Thermostat.

The device reminded me of unpacking my iPhone and iPad.  The thermostat is exceptionally well made, impeccably packaged and well documented.  It even includes a very nifty screwdriver with a very comfortable handle.  Installation was a breeze and this thing just plain works.   After a “learning” period the thermostat has settled and the one thing that stands out is how constant temperature is maintained.  My old thermostat just did not have this level of accuracy.

The thermostat can be controlled from an iPhone as well as from the device itself.  And I must reiterate the app is very handy.  Now I can control the thermostat away from home and best off all Wifey has the app too – so she can adjust the device.  Happy Wifey, happy life.

Roku Review

And another cool toy purchased lately was a new Roku 3 device.  With all the awesome content available for streaming I figured I’d give one of these a try.  This time I did order from Amazon at a good price and in 2 days I had the device at my doorstep.  The device is really nice and as advertised it powered right up and immediately started working with very little fuss.

Unfortunately due to the way my house is designed the wireless signal did not prove to be strong enough for the Roku.  I don’t have any issues with my other devices (even the Nest thermostat) but for some reason the Roku just could not lock in a strong enough signal.  So, I crawled under the house and ran a physical wire between the router to a switch that allowed me to finally hard wire the TV, the Roku and the DirecTV receiver.  Amazing how well all this works with a wired signal.

Streaming is awesome.  So much available content and all with flawless performance.  A real gem this Roku device has turned out to be.  My favorites so far:

  • Netflix streaming is great.  I changed my DVD subscription and the streaming version is a must-have.
  • Amazon Prime offers video too.  Awesome content there too.
  • FilmOn – this is free and is simply amazing.  Basically you can watch live British TV.  It is soooo nice to be able to watch F1 races on the British feed and not have to put up with Leigh Diffey’s annoying voice and idiotic commentary on the NBCSN broadcast.  Incidentally, the British version of the coverage is superb.  Much more insight and certainly not “dumbed down” as is so much the norm on NBCSN.

And I guess I have tried to cram way too much in today’s post.  Sorry about that…


Hot, Damn Hot…

The last few days here in the Upstate of South Carolina the weather has been HOT, DAMN HOT.  I mean Summer in the South – gotta love it baby!   And it ain’t no “dry heat” so don’t start with that crap.

Add to this,  today the HVAC system at the office had “issues”.  And by this I mean, as I drove up this morning and exited RedRock, in the parking lot I could hear one of the units broadcasting that special sound bearings make when there is no more “bearing” left.  You know, that dreaded sound of metal-against-metal.  From my vantage point, it appears the bearings gave up the ghost several days ago and of course…  Things quickly went down from there.  Reminds me of the day the wheel bearing went bad in bowtie6 but not quite:  the bearings on the AC unit were playing a serious symphony of sorts.  As we say in the South, “bless their heart”…

So the temperature in the office proceeded to get rather “toasty”.  My buddy Jeff felt the “warmth” too and proceeded to pull up that glorious video from “Good Morning Vietnam” on his iPhone, where the sorely missed Robin Williams talks about things being HOT, DAMN HOT.  Yes indeed – today felt exactly like Roosevelt E. Roosevelt said…  HOT, DAMN HOT.  You have to watch the video…

Yes indeed!  HOT, DAMN HOT!!!  And as Martha Reeves and the Vandelas said, “There ain’t no where to run” in this heat.  If you don’t “get it”, watch the video.

Oh, and many thanks Jeff for the video…


That Magic Moment…

IMG_3306I’ve had my 2014 Camaro SS (RedRock) for six months now and it has been everything and a bag of chips – today though, was that magic moment.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been testing the limits on RedRock.  Pulling at the tail of the beast if you will…  Today, driving home from work I decided to take a spirited drive.  I selected “sport” mode and switched the Range Device on.  For those of you that don’t know what that is, well…  That is the “on” switch that GM forgot to include.

The Range device enables the Active Fuel Management (AFM) to be disabled.  This means the L99 is in full 8 cylinder mode all the time.  With the Range device “on”, RedRock takes on a different personality.

So, there is this off-camber left-hander on the way home that if you catch “just right”, will put a perma-grin on your face of epic proportions.  I’ve taken this all wrong before in bowtie6 and the result was a nice loop:  I ended up facing the wrong way.  Well today was special…  I was able to get RedRock in most impressive oversteer drift.  Nothing stupid, mind you…  Just right!  Just the kind of stuff that makes you want more…  :mrgreen:

I just love this car!  400hp at your beck and call is just intoxicating.  That magic moment indeed!


Just Because He Can


Hands on the back of a Ford, because Fords must be pushed…

Today’s post falls in the class of “just because he can”…  You know, “just because he can” – you have the skillz; the artistic “gift”.  And my cousin Jim falls in that category.

In today’s featured image you see the trunk lid on the 1940 Ford that Jim is building.  Jim is a bit of an “artiste” and he wanted something unusual, something unique, something “just because he can” on the 40 Ford’s trunk.  How about those trunk hinges?

What we have here are “hands” made from a slab of aluminum.  Carefully machined, filed, trimmed, polished and etched.  No CAD mind you.  Just Jim’s trusted Porterfield milling machine and plenty of filing.  This, my friends, is “old school”…  Add to that the trunk on this 1940 Ford: it is all aluminum made from scratch.


Helping push the Ford!

I realize this is not for everyone.  Matter of fact, who would want this, right?  All I can say, is “just because he can”!  Jim told me about the “hands”…

  • They are made from a slab of aluminum milled on the Porterfield, the “old-fashioned way”.
  • Lots of hand-filing…  A file!  What is that??
  • The “hinge” part was the most difficult part; the pin through the three-piece hing took some doing.
  • The trunk lid has curvature – it is not flat.  Therefore the entire “hand” has a bit of a curve to it and the pin mentioned before had to be made to fit.
  • Check out the fingernails.  Yes, there are fingernails on the tips of each finger!

And here you go…  Each “hand”!  Just because he can…

Happy Independence Day weekend, everyone.

Our finest moment; Happy Birthday America!!!

Our finest moment; Happy Birthday America!!!


1937 Railton Special Limousine by Rippon Bros Coachbuilders

1937_Railton_12One of the featured cars in the August 2016 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine is a 1937 Railton Special Limousine by Rippon Bros Coachbuilders.  I had to do a double take when I saw the article because several years ago, I was able to photograph this very car.

But first, what exactly is a 1937 Railton Special Limousine?  This particular car hails from an era where a customer could have a car built bespoke to their specifications.  This Railton’s body was aluminum, made by one of England’s premier coach builders – the Rippon Brothers.  Matter of fact, Rippon Bros also built bodies for Rolls Royce.  This car was built for Reid Railton who was at the time, a land-speed record holder.

1937_Railton_11I had a chance to photograph this gorgeous car at a gathering of Hudson automobiles.  The event took place at the then owner’s home and there were numerous Essex-Hudson-Terraplanes on display.  But… What does this have to do with a Rippon?  You see, this limousine is powered by a Hudson engine!  Matter of fact Rippon cars were powered by Hudson engines and this was not the only one in the collection.  I’ll have more posts about the others soon…

Back to the 1937 Railton Limousine…

1937_Railton_02As you can see in this picture, the back seat has access to a pull-out table.  Each side featured a lift-top with compartments for many things…  On one side a fully stocked bar with crystal and barware necessary for making cocktails along with compartments for cigars ; on the other side a vanity, with mirror, hair brush, comb, and aspirin bottle.  There was even a center compartment with silver plated affairs to hold various snacks and sweets.  And that was just the start…

1937_Railton_03The rear trunk area includes custom fitted luggage!  That compartment at the very top, included plenty of tools all neatly arranged in their respective locations.  That trunk lid is special…  Note the part with the corrugated rubber – that is there for a reason:  it is designed for adults either standing or seated.  But why?  This car could also double as a shooting-brake and yes, it has a “secret”, water-tight compartment designed to hold shotguns.  I also remember seeing under the front seat several drawers containing an assortment of fuses, spark plugs, spare light bulbs, etc.  The dash also had a pull out map tray.  There was nothing left to chance here.

The chrome work around the front grille and emblem is something else!

IMG_3839The article in the issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic car magazine mentions this car is now part of the Gilmore Car Museum (Hickory Corners, MI) and was transferred there by the car’s previous owner, a Hudson collector by the name of Eldon Hostetler.

These pictures were taken when the car belonged to the owner prior to Mr Hostetler at his residence in Greenville SC.  If memory serves me right, this was in the summer of 2006.

Finally, I do remember this car as being gorgeous but at the time was not in “museum quality”.  According to the article in the magazine, the limousine went through an extensive restoration and won numerous awards.


Further Reading article about the 1937 Railton Limousine – there are interesting pictures here.

LaVine Restorations article about the 1937 Railton Limousine – apparently the Limousine underwent restoration by this company and there are very nice pictures on this link.

1937 Railton Limousine at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – this link opens to a beautiful photo collection from Ryland Scott Photography at the time the Limousine was shown a Pebble Beach in 2011.

Special Feature at Hemmings website – this link opens the article at the Hemmings website about the 1937 Railton Limousine.