David J. Phillip / AP

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge and winds up to 120 mph at its center.  Originating off the coast of Africa, Ike was responsible for at least 195 deaths:

Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year…  In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 23 are still missing. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle. Damages from Ike in U.S. coastal and inland areas are estimated at $29.6 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of $7.3 billion in Cuba (the costliest storm ever in that country), $200 million in the Bahamas, and $500 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of at least $37.6 billion in damage…  The hurricane also resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state’s history. It also became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.

Besides the devastation to homes and infrastructure, loss of life, billions of dollars needed for repairs and damage to Galveston’s tourism, it was also an ecological disaster.  As Swamplot noted in November 2008 (bold casing from original article): (more…)


This video is of the first 35mm film ever shot, taken from the front of a San Francisco cable car in 1906.  It is remarkable in many ways, not least of which is the surprising amount of automobiles present.  If you watch, you’ll see a cyclist in front of the car who functions as sort of a casual tour guide throughout the film.  It’s an amazing bit of history, accompanied by, yes, Air’s “La Femme D’Argent” in this instance.  Feel free to watch it on silent.

The film was “originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!) .. It was filmed only four days before the quake and shipped by train to NY for processing.”

(Quoted explanation unattributed for now.  Feel free to post the original source in the comments).

I went to Malta for five nights over the Easter holiday and have subsequently shifted through the 200+ photos from the trip trying to determine what might be worth sharing with my family or possibly posting about.  Although I know next to nothing about automobiles, I am an appreciator of classic vehicular aesthetics, and so writing about the buses in Malta is an imperative – I’ve never come back from a holiday with 10+ pictures of buses before, but this was exceptional.

The Boy and I stayed in Qawra on the northern part of the island, which we quickly discovered was not as happenin’ as more central areas like Saint Julian’s Bay, Sliema/Paceville, or even Valletta, the capital.  Fortunately, the bus service was cheap, accessible, and charming (for the most part).

The buses in Malta are, in a word, supercool.  They reminded me of the Weinermobile, as they are painted mustard yellow and hotdog orange and have excellent chrome detailing.  We took six or seven different buses during our stay there and while they ranged in vintage, every one displayed prominent Catholic iconography on the interior, which was actually more appealing than it sounds.  Several of the older buses featured a thrilling hop-on door that didn’t close, so we could see the countryside whizzing past as we barreled down the exceptionally well-maintained roads: (more…)

In December, Michelle Collins over at Best Week Ever turned up this amazing local advert for a perfume retailer ingeniously named the “Smells So Good Perfume Outlets.”

Quoth Michelle:

It was then that I discovered my Winter Jam of 2009. Never before had the epitome of luxury collided with the lowpoint of humanity in such a poetic and marvelous way. This youtube video, taped from directly off of someone’s TV, was the only online proof I could find of this work of art, and frankly its sh*tiness only heightens the dramatic effects of the commercial. It is the Andrew Cunanan of local ads.

Since I couldn’t possibly add anything more of value, I’ll leave her summation at that.  But it is also absolutely necessary to introduce those of you residing outside the UK to a (considerably slicker but no less beguiling) British contribution to the techno-commercial art world, that of We Buy Any Car (dot com).  Yes, you need sound: (more…)

BeggarFriday night, I took the tube home after drinks with some co-workers.  It was kind of an ill-advised evening, because I was tired and I’d had five pints (I know full well – after numerous studied trials and experimentations over the course of many months – that my personal London-drinking limit should be three pints, as the brew here is stronger than our watered-down pish from home).  At any rate, my American friend and I realized we’d surpassed giddy buzziness around the fourth drink, when a discussion as to how hillbillies talk on meth (it involved impressions)* led to ten minutes of giggle-fits and then eventually dissolved into fatigue.

So five pints in, I called it a night and was trudging from my tube stop towards the flat, when I passed a woman begging in front of my local Tesco.  You can’t walk through London without encountering dozens of beggars, especially at the doors of grocery stores, and if you’re standing in front of a bar having drinks, you can reasonably expect to be hit up by three people selling “The Big Issue” and at least one perky young volunteer in a cancer charity tee-shirt, all scrapping for your change.  Basically, you become inured to it after a while.  You learn to keep a pocket full of ten- and twenty-pence pieces, which you’ll hand off to someone or rattle into a bucket with hardly a moment’s thought – that is, if they’re polite.  Plenty of beggars have passed the “thanks and God bless” phase and headed straight into surly entitlement, and those are the people who piss you off.  (more…)


So last night Mr. K and I did something we very rarely do, we went to a movie.  We are absolutely notorious for saying we’ll go to a movie and then finding the slightest of reasons to talk ourselves out of going.  I don’t know why this is, I really don’t, it’s just the way it happens.  I think the last movie we saw at the theater was “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, yeah.


Anyway, even though the mister did suggest at one point that we head back home, we stayed the course and went to the movie.  Mr. K had suggested we see “Transporter 3” and I am not one to turn down H-O-T-T ass Jason Statham so I was good with the flick and looking forward to the show.  Amazingly we were also on time and didn’t have to rush into a darkened theater looking for seats while the soles of our shoes adhered to the soda-and-candy glue of the floor.  We got something to drink and some candy and moseyed on up to some choice seats.   (more…)

I hate driving. Hate it. Haaate itttt. I hate that the infrastructure of my little corner of the South is not set up for public transpo (yaaaaay urban sprawl!). So, by extension, I kind of hate cars. They’re dirty, noisy, expensive, and bad for the environment. Most of the cars on the road today are too damn big, too damn heavy, and horrible on gas mileage. I mean, really, people. Nothing triggers my gag reflex faster than seeing a.) A Hummer on the road, and b.) Topless pictures of Danny Bonaduce. So, when Who Killed the Electric Car? showed up in my mailbox from Netflix the other week, it was only natural that I’d become a fervent EV activist.

If you wanna see the movie, but don’t want to wait for Netflix, the whole thing can be viewed here through Google videos. I highly reccommend that anyone into the “green” thing check out this documentary. Granted, it’s not a perfect doc. It has some moments that feel a little Michael-Mooreish and willing-suspension-of-disbelief-y, but that’s beside the point. The thing that really got my blood boiling about the EV situation is when, towards the end of the film, one of the men who worked on GM’s EV project said something along the lines of, “The car companies will never give us EVs. They’re using hybrids and the prospect of hydrogen fuel cell cars to string us along.” And it’s true. It’s totally true. The car companies stand to gain nothing from folks buying and driving EVs. And the thing that is SO frustrating, so wrong and insulting about this is that EVs are not the “cars of the future”. EVs are NOW. The technology may not be perfected (when is anything ever perfect anyway?), but it exists. They’re rolling out EVs in Japan and India, but, for some unexplained reason, not in the US. It’s about time people knew that they don’t have to wait on the car companies here in the States to make EVs available for purchase. You can do it your damn self. After the jump, EV conversion made real! (more…)