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June 03, 2020

WEDNESDAY NIGHT OPEN THREAD

Tonight's theme is: Things that are better today than they were when this blog was young and dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

One thing, for sure, is cars. Maybe not the way they look, but definitely their dependability. Today's cars generally just work. This is not true of the cars this blog grew up with, which were always getting flat tires, or overheating, or "flooding." Remember? People were always opening the hoods of dead cars, looking at the motors, and saying, "Yep, she's flooded." Whatever the hell that meant.

Also the radios were AM-only and lo-fi, and the dashboard clocks never worked. And there was no a/c and you had to raise and lower the window by manually turning a crank. It was brutal.

So that's one thing that's better.

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Package tracking is a thing. Before, you just sent something, and--good luck!

TV we didn't have a TV until I was 4-5 years old. !2 inch screen, Black-N-wWite and only 3 channels. I remember when I was told we were getting a new TV. I had a fit because I liked the shows on the old TV.
(I thought that a new TV meant new shows.)

Telephones: never lost the signal, didn't break when you dropped them, you could through them across the room and they still wouldn't break and if you just did that with the "receiver" it would come back to you like a boomerang, BUT, if you wanted to end a conversation, (yes, people used to use their phones to actually talk to one another, and we didn't call them convos) you would actually have to hang up on the other party, and they would know that. Now you can pretend that you're going in a tunnel or dropped your phone in the toilet, or just lost the "signal" so the other party can't really prove you hung up on them, so, I guess, that's an improvement?

"throw' not through

People were mostly thin and fully dressed. Consequently, imaginations (male) got a thorough workout. Nowadays...well, not much of a mystery anymore.

Carbohydrates were harder to find. In mass quantities at such low expense, at least.

Having to get up and walk across the room to change the channel on the TV. Also, having to jiggle the horizontal and vertical hold to keep the picture from bouncing around.

Our first phone was on the wall, At least it was plastic and not one of the even older wooden boxes that the smaller towns had. We had a party line and had to go through an operator. We got a desk model and we got phone numbers. We still had to ask the operator for a connection because the phone didn't have a dial. I remember how happy we were to get a phone with a dial!

Now I have a smartphone with more computing power than the Apollo spacecraft but is still dumber than our canine underachiever who gets outwitted by the bushes almost every day.

Beer! Because there are so many great small brewers nearly everywhere. Used to be you just had the megabreweries. Shlitz (the headache beer), Miller (lousy taste, less filling), Budweiser (maybe the king of something, but certainly not beer), and Coors (nothing but that pure Rocky Mountain spring water).

Picture of my first car.

Picture of my first girlfriend.

A picture of my second car.

A fairly good picture of my second girlfriend.

Medicine. With the exception of Alka Seltzer being about the same as it was. And Specialists. There is a specialist for everything. Also, my second girlfriend. She had no room for improvement.

Definitely television. Anyone else old enough to remember Winky Dink? You put a plastic sheet over the screen and drew on it. My parents had a small television with a THINK MAGNIFYING GLASS in front of it - as Dave would say, I swear I am not making this up - to make it look bigger.

And yes, you (it was always us; you didn't think my mother was going to get up and do it, did you?) who had to get up and walk across the room to manually change the channel. Sometimes when adjusting the vertical or horizontal hold didn't work, you would have to STAND THERE HOLDING THE RABBIT EARS until the picture was clear enough to watch.

I gotta go lie down. You kids, stay off my lawn.

Obviously, that was supposed to be THICK, not THINK.

..that second girlfriend thing, didn't you mean to say that she had run out of room for further improvements?

My grandmother on my mother's side was born in 1871. I remember her telling me when she was young people had to chase down their transportation and either put a saddle on it or hook it up to a wagon to go to town shopping.

Forget any fancy things like a roof, rubber tires or spring suspension. This form of travel was very basic; self fueling if you let the propulsion system graze, and dependable unless it came up lame and you had to shoot it.

Then came Henry Ford, airplanes, paved roads and automobiles with a starter.

Grandma passed away in 1962 and was spared the time years later when I bought a Yugo. My biggest regret is that I never shot that car.

Insect repellant.

There used to be stuff like "6-12" or citronella, which didn't work, or Woodsman's Fly Dope, which worked, but smelled godawful.

Now we have DEET, picardin, permethrin, etc.

I pity the dinosaurs.

DVR's are awesome!

Cars... Well, those little, triangular no-draft windows are gone, though, and without them, cars are virtually useless.

Speaking of cars from the past, can anyone remember ever seeing one of these Ramblers back when that *did not* have blue burning oil smoke rolling out the tailpipe?

The motors on cars from the past, the 40's and 50's and even some early 60's, tended to 'wear out' around 40 to 50K miles. I knew how to rebuild car engines out of necessity when I was young. On the other hand, brake pads of the past lasted for like 100k unlike today where brake pads last about every other oil change.

Every time I take my car into the dealer and they do one of those 'free' 12 point inspetions, I need brake pads.

"But, you just installed brake pads last time I was here?"

"Do you drive with your foot on the brake?"

"There is a messag on the computer screen that says to leave foot on the brake when accellerating, but never pay any attention to anything that screen says."

i-phones, for sure. Although I heard they’re bad for suspense plot lines in movies and tv— it’s hard to build a storyline about someone being followed or headed into a trap when the other characters can reach him on his cell, or he can get news alerts.

I bought my mom's '68 Rambler in '78, abandonned it on '82 (bad rings).
I know flash-drive mp3s in the car are supposed to be better, but I can change a CD without looking, I can't scroll through the menu without looking. New cars have no CD player at all.

CDs are way better tan cassettes or 8-tracks

Cars used to have something called a 'clutch' and a 'choke' in addition to hand-cranked windows and no turn signals. In our frozen north we were expected to roll down the windows and use hand signals. Brr! However, while all cars now come with turn signals, many drivers left hands must be atrophied since they don't use them.

My first car had a V8 engine, 500 cubic inches. It probably made 5 miles on on gallon of gas. It had a bench as front seats, so three adults easily could sit in front.

My car still has hand cranked windows!
One thing I miss about old phones is slamming down the receiver whenever someone on the other end made me mad. Pushing the "End" button just doesn't feel the same. I never watched TV when I was kid because I was always reading. In fact I only got a TV about 20 years ago. I still prefer to read.
The one thing that I cannot do without now is the navigation thing on my cellphone. I am extremely directionally impaired so this has saved me many hours of driving in the wrong direction on the wrong road.

Or, with a bench seat, 2 people could sit really close

A lot of today's cars are available with Turbo charged engines. When I was young I could only dream of having a high performanced Turbo Charged engine. So, I have not bought a car since 2007 that was *not* Turbo Charged, even for my wife...all her cars have been turbo charged.

So last year I told my wife to buy a new Honda CRV with a Turbo charged 1.5. Previously I told her to buy Turbo charged Mazda CX7 and Nissan Juke. My Ford Transit Connect has a Turbo Charged 1.5. Now my wife argue which car was fastest.

The Juke was the fastest."

"No, this Honda will put down tha Juke any day of the wek."

"But the Juke was small I could 80 and move around traffic like this (motions her hand like she is swerving in and out of traffic at high speed).

"You should not drive 8mph, you are not really in control in traffic, only out in the desert where no cars are on the road shouid you go 80."

"Shut up, I can drive better than you can."

"Oh relly. Who's trophy is that from '71 in the garage for blasting down the 1/4 mile?"

"I'm a good driver (run several cars off the road getting to right lanne to turn)>. None of my friends had cars. On,y me. I was a hotshot."

"You better pull over and get some gas up here, I'll pump it."

"I have a sixteenth of a tank. I don't need gas."

*The CRV has a flashing yellow light on the passenger side mirror that blinks when a car is next the car. When my wife is driving and I am in the passenger seat, I keep thinking she has turned on her right turn signal about to cut the guy driving next to us off.

"Don't turn there iks a guy next you."

"I am waiting until I get 20 feet from the turn to change to that lane, relax ok."

A lot of new car buyer's are taking their cars back to the dealer asking, "can you shut all this S@it off that keeps reminding of stuff?"

A lot of today's cars are available with Turbo charged engines. When I was young I could only dream of having a high performanced Turbo Charged engine. So, I have not bought a car since 2007 that was *not* Turbo Charged, even for my wife...all her cars have been turbo charged.

So last year I told my wife to buy a new Honda CRV with a Turbo charged 1.5. Previously I told her to buy Turbo charged Mazda CX7 and Nissan Juke. My Ford Transit Connect has a Turbo Charged 1.5. Now my wife argue which car was fastest.

The Juke was the fastest."

"No, this Honda will put down tha Juke any day of the wek."

"But the Juke was small I could 80 and move around traffic like this (motions her hand like she is swerving in and out of traffic at high speed).

"You should not drive 8mph, you are not really in control in traffic, only out in the desert where no cars are on the road shouid you go 80."

"Shut up, I can drive better than you can."

"Oh relly. Who's trophy is that from '71 in the garage for blasting down the 1/4 mile?"

"I'm a good driver (run several cars off the road getting to right lanne to turn)>. None of my friends had cars. On,y me. I was a hotshot."

"You better pull over and get some gas up here, I'll pump it."

"I have a sixteenth of a tank. I don't need gas."

*The CRV has a flashing yellow light on the passenger side mirror that blinks when a car is next the car. When my wife is driving and I am in the passenger seat, I keep thinking she has turned on her right turn signal about to cut the guy driving next to us off.

"Don't turn there iks a guy next you."

"I am waiting until I get 20 feet from the turn to change to that lane, relax ok."

A lot of new car buyer's are taking their cars back to the dealer asking, "can you shut all this S@it off that keeps reminding of stuff?"

I would like to reminder everyone I won a trophy racing my '64 Chevy on a major quarter mile drag strip. I was sixteen. I tuned up my car before entering at the drag strip and took a friend from the neighborhood. So, the Christmas light went from red to yellow to green. I had burned my tired to get them hot just before pulling up to take off. Real men do that. I raced a Mustang and He beat me at the wire. My friend said the announcer said, "That '64 Ragtop better get himself some new doors iif He comes back because He just got 'em blown off!"

I won a trophy! I later learned I won because I won the modified division my my class. The reason. I had snow tires!

Oh, for the good old days. My friend later became a well know orthopedic surgeon in the area. he was also a helicopter pilot in the Army. I want to mention, I once beat him in a game of Chess in FOUR moves. he has never forgotten to this day. Really, I was a very good reader as well as being exceptionally smart growing up.

I remember when vent windows began to become obsolete (their biggest plus, you could hold a lit cigarette in your hand next to the side of the car and the smoke would be sucked out the vent window), they were called "vent-less side glass", but I don't remember how much extra they charged you for giving you less car.

Selection of just about anything. I grew up with catalogs: Sears, JC Penney, Montgomery Ward, Burpee Seeds, book catalogs.
Kids: Great swathes of forest were beaten to pulp to make these catalogs!
This was when we lived 45 minutes from the city. You could mail in the order form with check for payment (postage was 6 cents) and, 4-6 weeks later, receive a brown paper parcel with your order.
Now we can use Google to find out who is selling the objet du jour, click on a hyperlink, and magically get transported to a seller: eBay, Amazon, or whoever. Click a few things and may electronic payment, and get your stuff usually in less than a week. And as John said, we get text notifications:
Your item is out for delivery today between 10:29-12:00p . .
Your item is only 10 stops away - see where it is now!
And you can watch, real time, as a little cursor moves on a map with 3, 2, 1 .. and hear the truck, hear the carrier place it on the porch .. and then
Delivered! Tell us how we did.

Being able to access reference material via smartphone
- I am reading C. S. Lewis. I keep my phone next to me so I can look up words that I don't know or references to a character that literary scholars commonly knew and maybe well-read people from the 1950's knew, but I don't. I can find them on Wikipedia. I can see paintings of murals about the characters.
When I grew up, there were sets of encyclopedias at the library (we certainly couldn't afford a set for the house). So one had to make due with a dictionary and wait to physically visit the library to use encyclopedias.

Medicine. Medicine is waaaayy better than when I was a kid.

I had a friend with polio. I had another friend die from the measles. My uncle died a slow terrible death from cancer.

Today, no more polio, measles are an afterthought and they are working miracles with curing/stopping cancer.

Litter. Streets used to be garbage dumps. I'm not talking city streets but freeways and highways.

@MOTW - I like having my smart phone to be able to look up information on the fly, but I need mortar-and-brick libraries, too. I will read ebooks and listen to audiobooks, but my preference is always for a printed book; thus the necessity of turning of actual pages.

JustSomeGuy, I gotta agree that medical care is so much better, especially our care for trauma, heart attack and stroke. When I was a junior in high school, I lost three of my classmates in a horrible one car accident. It happened a half mile from a major hospital. Nobody knew back then about the “golden hour” in trauma. There were no paramedics to help stabilize patients at the scene, and an ambulance was essentially a station wagon. Modern trauma care could have saved one, maybe two of those kids,
Cardiac care was equally primitive. There weren’t many medications available which helped reduce risk factors like high blood pressure. The medications that did exist had unbearable side effects for some patients which made compliance difficult. Treatment of heart attack patients was basically load them in the ambulance, take them to the hospital and pump them full of morphine until they recovered or died. Now we have clot busting drugs that can restore circulation to a heart (or a brain in the case of a stroke) in the ER before a patient gets admitted.
You can reminisce about the “good old days”, but there’s no comparison of the medical care available then vs now.

My first car, actually my dad's work car, but I used it on weekends in high school.

Many "firsts" happened in this car. I wish I still had it.

Computers are better. My first one was a flat, wooden thing with a middle part that slid back and forth. The big name making them was K&E, who I read (long ago) donated their engraving machine to the Smithsonian. Talk about feeling like a caveman ...

Special effects in movies today. Look at the original King Kong or Godzilla, and remember how amazed we were. Then pull up the most recent remakes. My dad would crap his Fruit of the Looms if he saw them now.

No, cars were BETTER back then.

You had bench seats up front so your date could cozy up next to you. You could drive one-handed with your other arm around her. Today, she's buckled into some bucket seat on the other side of console. Where's the fun and excitement in THAT?

And the back seats were big enough to have their own Zip codes. Lots of guys and girls made the passage into adulthood in the back seat of one of those land yachts. Try those moves today in the back of a Corolla and you'll end up in traction.

Computer hardware. Better every year for the same or lower price.

GPS is a wonderful improvement. Used to stop at service stations and get all these maps which are hard to read while driving and at night. No more stopping and asking a hayseed is this is this the road to Ducktown, Tenn? Another is the microwave oven. And air conditioning. And most of all the mute button on my remote control so I don't have to listen to Joe Namath and politicians. @Steve. The only good thing about my wooden computer was it was Y2K complaint.

I love the score bug in the corner of the screen when a game is on, so when you turn on the set you know immediately what the situation is.

pogo - If your dad bought that '55 new, I am curious how much it cost? My dad bought a brand new 1957 Pontiac Chiefton when I was two years old. He had it for years and I fondly remember that car. My dad learned to drive when there was no speed limit in rural Illinois. So naturally as He got older He drove 100mph everywhere He went.

My first car was that 1964 Impala convertible. I paid $450 for it. Money I had from a motorcycle I sold. I had the motorcycle when I was 15. Got my Permit and Drivers License on my 16th birthday. Drove a '65 Pontiac Catalina station wagon to take the Driver's test. Then went home hopped on my motorcycle and got my Motorcycle license on my 16 birthday, too.

My dad, my uncle and I rebuilt the motor on that '64 convertible. Took it to the drag strip!

@man tom--When I was in high school my dad had a doctor friend whose hobby was restoring vintage Cord automobiles. The Doctor had a restored green Cord Convertible with a Lycoming V-12 supercharged motor. I loved the chrome exhaust pipes coming out the sides of the hood. I only got to ride in it going down Main Street with the top down. I waved at all my friends and wish to this day I could ride in a Cord just one more time.
https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1937-cord-phaeton-convertible/

A brand new 1964 Chevy Impala convertible listed for $3196.

Today that is like the down payment lease price for a lot of cars. The price of today's cars compared to say the 50's and early 60's is hard to understaand. My parents bought a home in the city back then for 14K.

Le Petomane - In high school, my auto mechanics teacher, Mr. Ford, drove an old Packard to work every day. My dad found me an old lawn mower engine and I rebuilt it in class and got an A. That is another thing. Remember the cars parked every day on your high school parking lot. We had a lot of '55, 56 and '57 Chevys. Even Roadrunners, lots of Camaros and SS Chevells. Then there were the Mustaangs. Hardly any foreign cars on the lot except for the VW Beetle.

I was fifteen and a friend of a friend had a '57 Chevy for sale. I begged my dad to buy it for me. I almost convinced him it would be a good thing that I have a race car at fifteen so I would be ahead of the pack when I turned sixteen. Later in life I parked my Harley in his garage, but never forget He would buy me that '57 Chev. I still remember he wouldn't do it.

It was fun riding around in that '57 doing lawn jobs on several homes. Two punk kids in a primer gray '57 Chevy, solid lifter cam, open headers doing doughnuts tearing up your lawn. You know who you are.

That '57 we did the lawn jobs in looked exactly like this, but it didn't have any paint, just primer. There were also several missing body parts, bumpers, part of the interior and a lot of dents. But still looked pretty cock. If you didn't have a primer color Chevy when I was growing up, you may as well have not even tried to date girls.

My grandmother's phone was a party line, shared with four other families. When you are five years old, that equals endless afternoons of eavesdropping fun.

I always asked for Winky Dink for my birthday. After all, what kid didn't want to draw on their TV screen?

Geezer Alert: The Winky Dink Playset was nothing but a transparent plastic sheet you taped to the screen to draw tools to help the cartoon characters "escape" from whatever situation they found themselves caught up in.

Bread is better. Dave’s Killer Bread the Good Seed variety is better than wearing a head full of pool noodles while shopping at Publix. The Jed Bush Publix.

^5 Jane on Dave's Killer Bread Good Seed. My cavemen love it!

Someone pumped my gas for me and you could say two dollars worth please and fill it up with oil.

One good thing about New Jersey...we aren’t allowed to pump gas.

Late to the conversation here, but the cheap basic outdoor solar lights are great. The Nobel prize should go to whoever designed those cookie package where the cover reseals neatly each time it's opened and closed.
In more serious matters, phasing out smoking - I spent my childhood in a hazy cloud of secondhand smoke.
The treatment of special needs people by our society has changed dramatically for the good of all.

Clothes. They are WAY better than the 100% polyester decade of the '70s. Aside from fashion, clothes are just more comfortable and the fabrics are better - cotton instead of sweaty polyester, fleece instead of scratchy wool, stretchy elastic waistbands (for the "quarantine fifteen"), etc.

"The Squirrel Whisperer The only good thing about my wooden computer was it was Y2K compliant." Indeed. I should confess mine was actually made out of plastic. The real wooden K&E ones were expensive. Also, at some point I got a little circular one, also plastic, that had the Periodic Table on the back. Show me a modern computer with that!

The city library! We have more than 100 branches and I can order a book on-line, it will be picked up from the nearest branch and sent to my branch the next day. I'll get an email message telling me to come pick it up. No charge. Having grown up in a very small town with a very small library, I still find this system amazing! Now if the system would just reopen...

Tried Dave’s Killer bread , but my mom’s home made bread was better especially warm with butter.
My first car cost $200. It was a ‘48 Jeep roadster. Sold it for $400 and bought a ‘49 Jeepster for $50 which I sold last week.
Medical care is better no doubt. I’m here thanks to replacement parts, hardware, and software. Morning meds amount to a small meal.
Don’t get me started on Zoom meetings.
Save a geezer seat for me.

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