Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mister Jalopy's Guide to Life & Death with Modest Automobiles

The first time I disassembled a carburetor was at the entrance to Yellowstone Park. With an audience of buffalo, you really have an incentive to get it back together correctly. Individuals have been embarrassing themselves in front of the noble buffalo as long as people have driven the American West. I hoped to set the record straight. An experience like that will burn 'needle and float' into your brain with more clarity than a textbook ever could. Having seen that particular needle and float only one time, I can picture those components more clearly than I can imagine my morning cereal spoon.

That is how you learn. With grease smudges on your forehead and semi-trucks whistling by, there is a hyper awareness that sears information to your brain as sure as instinct. But where do you start?

After being invited to Foo Camp, I decided I wanted to bring something cool to show off and I thought it would be a clever way to get out of hosting a session. Plus, I have a backlog of projects that reach from here to the top of Jack's Beanstalk. Sometimes I think that I should create a list of all the projects, but that invariably leads to an upset stomach and an immediate desire to take a nap.

A favorite idea was to sell books in a standard bulk gumball and sticker machine. Small books. Very small books. A specific volume that would have just enough information to get you started on a new path in life. I have a shelf at home that is dedicated to inspirational books that open a foreign world and change you in a fundamental way. I am not talking about going to Morocco. I am talking about "Getting Started Right with Turkeys." Or "Shop Work on the Farm", "5 Acres and Independence", "Aircraft Sheet Metal Construction", "Locksmithing", "Your Self-Service Store" and "Backyard Poultry Farming". These books give a peek into what might be. One day, you are Joe Average. A nobody. End of the week comes and you are tending baby chicks and picking locks. A transformation has taken place. You are a giant.

Granted, reading a book about building an Ideal Turkey Sunporch is no substitute for bringing home a gobbler. It is a just a starting point. And that's why I wrote Mister Jalopy's Pocket Guide to Life and Death with Modest Automobiles. It is just enough to get you started, to take you from "someday, maybe" to "aw, hell yeah. Let's just do it!" If you are new to old cars, you will pick up some hard earned tips that I wish I knew 12 years ago, but it will be nothing in comparison to the automobile knowledge you will absorb during the first week of old car ownership.
In addition to the Pocket Guide, the Hooptyrides Vending Center also sold brass gears,
toggle switches, tiny motors and even an Olympus lens from a microfiche machine.

Having grown up down the street from the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation, I have an appreciation for extreme views expressed in 7 point type. Get the right message and it survives without the luxuries of margins or whitespace. I figured I could write a very concise guide to fold up into a standard sticker envelope and peddle it for a dollar. I am partial to machines that operate without electricity. Also, I like machines that are coin operated. And I am very fond of bookmobiles and the whole idea of dispensing information where it is needed. Maybe a Dr. Bonner's soap label of automotive information was the future of publishing...

Well, it turns out the Foo Campers are much more interested in talking about innovation than buying innovation. The suite of vending machines grossed about ten dollars. Perhaps they would have been more interested in a version of Starting Right with Turkeys.

Never one to let disastrous sales results dampen enthusiasm, Mark Fraunfelder suggested that we make the Pocket Guide available as the first title in the Boingboing Digital Emporium of DRM-free products. So, I reformatted it to fit a standard letter size sheet of paper and the pdf is available now for the same value price of one dollar. Same content in a slightly different format.

The joys of owning a jalopy could never be experienced without sitting in the driver's seat. A palpable dramatic tension is added to everything from cross-country road trips to neighborhood picnics when you are never sure if your car is going to start. Mishaps will leave you crying tears of hysterical laughter as you recount tales of tragedy narrowly avoided. It is a very visceral existence. If you spend two hours polishing the chrome bumper on your bucket, treat yourself to an In-N-Out burger at the Lankershim Blvd branch. Or a malted at your local dive. Or a cold beer on the side of a desert highway. You will be surprised how inspiring these moments can be. It makes you believe in everything.

Boingboing post here
Boing Boing Digital Emporium here
Mister Jalopy's Pocket Guide to Living and Dying with Modest Automobiles here

Monday, September 18, 2006

Coloring Contest Entries

Now that I am spending any available free time considering designs for a completely unattainable 5 piece setting of porcelain tableware, I have had to outsource my custom van theme research and development.

Clearly the sweetest plum of owning a small business is the coloring contest - that's the money melon! Mr. Coop kindly scanned about 20 pages from a circa 1972 Ed Roth coloring book and the kids took it from there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Passionate Individuals with Exceptional Taste and Boundless Dedication

Without question, the greatest benefit of running my entertaining internet presence has been the people that I have met. For the borderline obsessive, it comes as a great comfort to find other people that are on a similar path of great folly.

As previously mentioned, I had the coolest neighbors at Maker's Faire. Due to O'Reilly benevolence and technical snafus that restricted sheet metal class attendance, I ended up with about two dozen pairs of leather gloves at the end of the weekend. A dozen pairs of gloves seems about right, while two dozen seems slightly over the top, so I split 'em with Toast and Jillian. Seems they had need for about a zillion pairs of gloves for a project they were working on and sent me this great cover in appreciation! Thanks, guys!

Bonus: Check out this bad ass bar they designed and built with their routing robot!

Nearly 40 years of Flagship Mercedes-Benz

Think you love Mercedes Benz? Yeah, I thought I did, too. That was until Hooptyrider Matt sent a link to his fleet of S-Class Mercedes. The impressive breadth and completeness of the collection almost allows me to overlook the clear corner lights on the W126. Matt! I will send you a set of amber lights if we could please take care of that issue!

If there is one constant to Mercedes design over the last 35 years, it appears to be the desire for the headlights to endlessly sweep backwards. Another iteration or two and they should be pointing straight up toward the sky like a spotlight at a furniture store grand opening.

So, Matt is nuts, right? Yeah. Totally batshit crazy. In addition to the enviable Mercedes collection, check out his Department of Entropy spoof trucks.

Why so cool? Attention to detail.

Holy mackeral. This is a perfect example of taking a joke so far that it stops being funny, starts being insane, flirts with brilliance and then comes right back around to knee slapping hysterical. Don't believe me? Check this and that. If you are still not convinced, click here.

Following the Can-Am Erasers post, I was delighted to learn that I was not the only individual who held world class autosports events on our school desktops. Hooptyrider Andy gets extra credit points for historical accuracy and the fact that all supplies were stolen from the workplace supply cabinet. Bravo!
Anyway, if I recall correctly, we have a mixed grid. The front row is
the Pink Stamps Lotus 30/40 lined up against a Lola T70. In the second
row is a Porsche 917 and a Lotus Elise. No reason why. Third row has a
Lotus Exige that started as an Elise but just didn't work out. Last car
on the grid is a Lotus 23. Guess it's Lotus night.
Mark Miller has a scope of interests that makes me look like a piker. Though the above e-racer is still in the development phase, check out his 'drive-able' 1936 Tatra simulator. Considering the rear engine V-8, it seems like the absolute cheapest, safest way to come face to face with the terror of the car's rear end walking out in front of you on every turn.

Sir Vincent Von Boris knows the joys of a pure craft project for the sole purpose of personal entertainment. As a kid, I would look forward to rainy days with great anticipation. Construction paper, pine cones, sea shells, pipe cleaners, white paste, felt, googly eyes, macaroni, poster paint, colored pencils, pompoms, balsa wood, X-Acto knives, tissue paper, finger paint, orange yarn, burlap, blunt nose scissors, cigar boxes, easter eggs, styrofoam, poster board, stencils, rubber stamps, Elmer's glue, Bic Magic Markers and Scotch tape.

Sir Von Boris, we are mighty impressed. The use of materials is top notch - the paper clip rollbar is absolutely inspired. Never a stickler for Can-Am accuracy when it comes to having a nice time, these cars are delightful for their Death Race menacing good looks.