Made In The USA: Vyper Chair

Like everything else in the modern United States, hand and shop tools have been split into an upper class and a lower class. The upper class is the Made In USA stuff like Snap-On and SK; the lower class is Harbor Freight and the various Chinese tool brands you find in Lowe’s and AutoZone. We used to have a middle class, the USA-made Craftsman tools that kept the Sears brand alive a solid decade past its sell-by date, but as of late Craftsman has mostly decamped to the Chinese side of things. (They’re trying to come back, now that Trump The Great Satan has leveled the playing field with China a little bit, and I hope they succeed in this.)

Over the past thirty-five years I’ve made it a habit to buy the best tools I could afford, even when I didn’t have any money. That’s why I had (and still have!) Park spoke wrenches that cost eight bucks a pop when I was making two dollars an hour after taxes, and it’s why I have SK ratcheting box wrenches nowadays. One thing I never had was any kind of rolling shop stool, even though it would have improved my quality of life quite a bit over the past decade as my back has increasingly complained about leaning over to change wheels on cars and adjust derailleurs on bikes. This was partly due to the fact that I didn’t expect any $30 Harbor Freight stool to hold up for any length of time, but it was really a matter of snobbishness. How could I feel good about rolling a crooked Chinese stool back and forth between my Herman Miller benches and tables? Better to just pull out a Miller wire base table out and sit on it.

Doing that sucks, by the way.

So now I have something new: the USA-made, painstakingly-machined, no-expense-spared Vyper Chair, complete with custom embroidery. And it’s already proving to be indispensable, admittedly for a quite depressing reason.

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How Smart Can You Be If You Ain’t Got No Body?

The rate at which a middle-aged man is going to grow new leg bone and/or ligament tissue is

a) fairly fixed;
b) not fast.

Which gives me time to catch up on various blogs, including the one written by Scott Locklin. His post “Open Problems In Robotics” warms my heart, because he and I have come independently to some of the same conclusions, and have been influenced by some of the same concepts. He’s a scientist, while I’m a computer scientist. The gap between these two professions is immense, and entirely to the advantage of the real scientists. Yet since I’m also a writer by trade, allow me to take a shot at making a few things clear(er) on this particular topic.

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Weekly Roundup: Not Up For Debate Edition

Do you suppose that there was a single voter in all of the United States who changed his (or her) mind about anything after watching the Vice-Presidential debate? Why, it’s almost too ridiculous to consider such a prospect. This wasn’t a true debate, any more than the Presidential one that preceded it was a debate. It was a gladiatorial contest, a football game, a NASCAR race — all the things that boil down to My Tribe Vs. Your Tribe. A fly landed on Mike Pence’s hair. This was very bad, and suggested that Pence was a robot or possibly a human garbage dump. (When it happened to Mrs. Clinton in 2016, the same sources said it was an auspicious sign of emotion.) Oh, and Pence also interrupted Harris quite a bit, yet Harris managed to pull off the trick of speaking for longer than her opponent. Who knows how that was done?

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Guest Post: Seiko SNZF “Sea Urchin” Owner’s Impressions

Please welcome occasional commenter and new contributor “Mozzie”, whose username (and real name) suggest that he originally hails from an area now described with a -stan in its name. I’ve been sitting on a great piece of his about human vocal dynamics — no doubt figuring that I was too much of an ignoramus to edit that one, he has now sent me a simple watch review. Enjoy! — jb

The last time I owned a mechanical wristwatch was in the mid 1990s. As a young boy I didn’t know the limits of Soviet-era watchmaking capabilities and therefore lost the piece to moisture. Since then any watch I wore has been quartz-based, be it a Casio, Timex, or an analog fashion watch. In March of this year, having suffered through (he didn’t originally write “suffered through”, that’s an edit — jb) hours of the Watch & Listen podcast, I ordered the Seiko SNZF to complement my to-date favorite everyday watch, a Timex Expedition chronograph.

There are several reasons I chose this particular timepiece. One of my college jobs was in retail luxury goods, so I had hands-on experience with Swiss brands using ETA and in-house movements. As a result, being able to see the movement was high on my priority list. There are few options in this price range with a display back. I also wanted something I could wash with soap and water regularly, unlike my Timex with the leather strap. The Seiko “Sea Urchin” was the only option in my price range with solid end links. Lastly, the 42mm case size was just right for my dainty wrist.

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1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V: Really Red

Another day, another Mark. This is likely the 6th or 7th Mark related post I’ve done here at RG, and definitely the 2nd Mark V post this year; the earlier was an impressive triple turquoise ’79, with the optional turbine alloys. In fact, I spotted this one soon after the first V was published, but held back awhile.

The Mark V ran from 1977 to 1979. Unlike the T-Bird, which was newly downsized on the Gran Torino/Elite midsize chassis, the V was essentially a rebodied Mark IV with more razor-edged lines and a somewhat reduced curb weight. It was primarily styled by Don DeLaRossa.

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Update: 1980 Olds Ninety-Eight Diesel Back on the Road!

Back in April I did a post on a green 1980 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency with the 350 CID diesel V8. At the time it was available on Craigslist. Well, it sold. During this past summer the new owner, Ed Kelly, dropped me a line via FB. He’d seen the original article while doing a web search, and went, hey, that’s the same car! My car!

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Weekly Roundup: Folded, Spindled, Mutilated Edition

To the unpleasantries of September — contentious and unsatisfying club races, difficulties in getting my Radical prepped for the track, some coward lobbing libelous Molotovs at my employment from (what might turn out to not be) complete anonymity — I can now add a long, jagged fracture of the right fibula, sustained at Austin’s Walnut Creek Trails this past Tuesday. On my warm-up lap. I cleared three jumps on a borrowed Specialized P3 then promptly earned myself a two-month sit-down in the final turn.

Since I was in Austin for the primary purpose of reviewing the new Rolls-Royce Ghost, I stuck around for two days and did my job, walking on the ankle while telling myself not to be a you-know-what about it. This probably increased the difficulty of the repair to come, but I have a great young surgeon who trained with the fellow who fixed my left tibia in 2015 — who, in turn, trained with the fellow who did my femur nail in 1988 and who recently jammed some plasma into my right knee. I’ll be able to ride much of the indoor skatepark season and if I do all my therapy well I should be able to hit the big jumps at Snowshoe when they open in May.

This is going to hurt a little bit, of course, but if you know me then you know what really hurts is the loss of time.

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Quick Look: 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park: Pre-Crossover Artifact Espied

Another one from my pal in Texas, Lee Wilcox! -TK

By 1992, Ford and Mercury had gone Aero; the last year for bricks, including the squared-off Colony Park wagon, was 1991. These wagons came with 302 V8s and were underpinned by evergreen Panther platform. When this car was new, wagons were losing out to minivans for many reasons. Fuel economy was high on that list, but utility was not. But these are workers, despite being favored at the time by country club ladies and doctor’s wives.

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