Trip out west coming soon, I hope

Flew Boston to Phoenix, drove 4506 miles, flew back from Seattle. About 17 days worth of comments, pics, and I hope to provide links to vids on another site. In the meantime, here’s an old pic of a pipe from the Hoover Dam, which was visited along the way:


Yup, the Dam has that kind of scale………..

I hope to have the first 3 days done within a week.



As some of you may know, Putin was a KGB operative in East Germany before the collapse of the USSR. Of course he needed something to do, so out of nowhere he maneuvered himself into making himself deputy mayor of St. Petersburg. From there to Moscow and ever higher.

The KGB turned into the FSB. During the transition in between, a remarkable amount of files were open for scrutiny for maybe a year, but that’s another story.

Late 90’s saw those 4 apartment buildings blown up with a thousand killed. The Chechens were blamed for it, and then the big war really got under way.

Interesting that people in a 5th building found a big load of explosives and detonators in their basement that never went off. The materiel was all professional military quality, not home grown. No investigation was done at all, likely because, well, it might as well been all put there by the FSB or similar anyway. Gee whiz, this stunt has never been done before…….or since………..

Because of Russian media control (and in spite of some opposition), a large number of Russians think Putin is great.

Putin fun facts:

Worth 40 billion dollars. He got a good start when, while still in St. Petersburg as a deputy mayor, he and his buddies stole $125 million earmarked for emergency food supplies during a disaster. After leaving St. Petersburg to go to Moscow, he made sure the mayor was protected.

Yeltsin’s crew was in trouble. Putin did some wheeling and dealing to advance himself while Yeltsin was still in power. In return, Yeltsin was protected later.

After in power, ordered a $10 million dollar mansion for himself. By the time it was done, somehow it magically transformed into a $250 million palace. Of course he didn’t pay for it himself.

Any Russian leader like Putin needs to stay in power indefinitely so no one can come after him later after he leaves power. Currently, he is scheduled to be in power until at least 2024 (or 2026), in spite of the Russian constitution.

My informed opinion:

Putin has said he’s really worried about the shrinking Russian population. People aren’t procreating for a bunch of reasons besides economics. Women regard only half the men as suitable partners because the rest are abusive and/or drunks. Many of the mail order brides from Ukraine and Russia are professional women with very good educations, some speak some English. Ages from 20-50 mostly, many 30-45. Some have a kid. The first ideal place to find a husband is the U.S., as American men are regarded as the ultimate catch, because relative to the rest of the world, they treat women very well. Second place is Sweden, third is Germany or Italy.

News report over the past year:

Princeton University along with some other research entities did an analysis of our political system. Result? We don’t live in a democracy, it’s an oligarchy. Granted, it’s a nicer one than Russia.


I had originally stated that music was to be part of this blog. I realized I was sidetracked by other things, and there are hardly any music posts on this blog. That will be remedied in the near future. I have lots to say about a lot of different kinds of music.


Just reviewing some of my blogs tonight, including some that got much better than average responses. For some reason I was looking at them objectively, which is normally very hard to do.

I think at least some of my writing is pretty damned good. I was reading them as if they were not my own. I recall them as primarily being the ones that just gushed out of me with a laser focus and a smidge of wit. I found 3 of those tonight as a cursory perusal.

No doubt like other writers, I’ve beaten up on myself now and then, but not much.

I wonder what would happen if I tried to be a consistent, disciplined writer? I know I’ve touched on this before in possibly a tedious way. Certainly in emails to a few friends, and you know who you are.

I think of Bjorn and Benny of ABBA. For most of their professional lives, they’ve gone to their little cabin on their island estate nearly most days of the year for 4 to 10 hours and work on lyrics and music. Which means less than 3% of their time results in the final, great product, or something like that. Probably less than 1%. And they know that’s likely to happen every day they work.

You have to admire that. Emulating that is so tough. They treat it like a 9 to 5 job, just like the old Tin Pan Alley writers. Or any real professional throughout artistic history.

Basically working a 40 hour week to produce a stage rock opera or whatever once every two years, as best as I can figure, and I’m probably far off in my estimate. Hard for me to scale that since I don’t know what their true output is that results in public shows.

I know that some years back they did a Swedish language show about Queen Christina that played in only Stockholm or something like that. I’d like to see that just for the music.

Some people don’t know the show “Chess” was done by them. You ever hear “One Night In Bangkok” sung by Murray Head? It was a hit for a while a few decades ago. Still stands up with no problem whatsoever. Murray Head sang Judas Iscariot on the original “Jesus Christ Superstar” studio album by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

There was a later version on TV (PBS?) with Josh Groban and other talented people. Great staging and performances.


Gas mileage right now on extended flat road with auto transmission, mostly with cruise control:

74 mph: 24.35 mpg
65 mph: 27.1 mpg
40 mph: 31.1 mpg

Manufacturer rating for highway is 25 mpg, so I’m happy with those numbers.

This car idles remarkably low at about 700 rpm, will run in 6th or any gear at 1050 rpm. Keep in mind it redlines at 7000.

Transmission is rumored to be good for 800 pounds of torque, though draggers seem to rebuild them if they’re gonna run more than 600.

I figure if I ever upgrade the cold air intake and add a Bama tune to get it to 468 hp, I don’t have to worry about the transmission, as I don’t beat it all the time. Personally, I wouldn’t run the tranny more than 500 pounds. I doubt I’d ever be more than about 430 pounds at 468 hp.

I’d love to get a kit to lower the car 1.5″, but here in New England (New Hampshire) that’s maybe a bad idea, even though I don’t run it in the salt on frost heaves.

I commented previously about my gripe about only having bass and treble controls for the sound system. But if I didn’t say it before, it will crank louder than I can stand it without distorting or running out of power or flattening the speakers. First system ever I’ve had from a factory that will do that.