Hardtop or Soft Top?

Today I learned my truck is being restored as a soft top, even though it started life as a hardtop. This might be a California thing since it’s being restored in San Diego. Nice and warm out there year round, why wouldn’t you want a ragtop? And I’ll be fine with that, Missouri winters be damned (and I’ll rarely be on the road more than half an hour). And it was soft tops that got me started down this (off) road. Every Land Rover that got me tingly (see below) had a soft top.

I included the hardtop for comparison. And the more I see the hardtops, the more I like them. I’m hoping there’s a way I can have both. These trucks seem pretty modular and a guy with the right set of wrenches could probably switch ’em out a couple of times a year. This guy seems to be having a great time without a top.

Google replacing Google Talk with Hangouts

I loved the bare bones simplicity of Google Talk (Gchat?) as it appeared the sidebar of Gmail. Don’t recall why I turned it off. Seeing stories today that Google forcing the switch from Talk to Hangouts. I preferred the spartan UI of Talk but like Hangouts well enough for this.

I only use it with a handful of online buddies who don’t have an iOS device. 90% of my IM’ing happens Messages on my iPhone. But I’ve added Hangouts to the Gmail sidebar and will leave it for a bit.

Renaming files when exporting from iPhoto

Once upon a time file names could only be a certain length. Was 7 characters for he name and 3 or the extension? 8 characters for the name? I can’t recall but somewhere along the way this limitation was lifted and we can name a file something useful. But I never developed the discipline to take advantage of this and have some old files with names like 4777959349_o.jpg . In my OCD moments this bugs me and I might take a few minutes (or a few days) and rename offending files.

I rarely see file names in iPhoto (I refuse to call it Apple Photos), just the Title I enter when adding photo. But my buddy George Kopp pointed out I can change the file name to the Title when exporting images for backup. This short screencast (4 min) shows this feature.

Property Lines

We built our home 30 years ago so I sort of forgot the shape of our 3 acres. Technology being what it is, one can now go online and obtain nice aerial views with lots of County Assessor info to boot.

The placement of our house looks a little odd unless you know we are at the top of hill. Siting our house closer to the middle of the property would have meant going up and down the hill every time we came and went. No, the guy that designed our house knew what he was doing. Still, it seems strange to see the property lines from above.

1979 Series 3 Land Rover

Before I tell you about my new Land Rover, let’s recap how we got here. I’ve been admiring vintage Land Rovers for years but the idea of owning one never occurred to me. In May I spotted another one on the Cool & Vintage website. A beautiful frame-off restoration of a Defender 90 Land Rover. I clicked the “more information” link and, following a brief email exchange, learned I could buy the vehicle for about $60,000. I decided I had to have it and spent a week or two begging the folks in Lisbon, Portugal (where the company is located) to take my money. They were too busy with their latest photo shoot.

A friend of a friend told me about a UK company called Arkonik that specializes in frame-off restorations of Land Rovers. I called and learned they’d be happy to build me one for $100,000 but there was a 13 month waiting list. I strongly considered it.

At this point a friend put me in touch with a “concierge buyer” in the Bay Area. I call him Mr. Wolf and he’s an expert in vintage Land Rovers. For a finder’s fee of 10%, he agreed to find the Land Rover of my dreams. And he did. It took him a bit more than a month.

We started searching for a Defender 90 but along the way Mr. Wolf suggested I consider a Land Rover Series (I,II,III) model. These are more truck-like (loud and slow). I loved the look so we expanded the search. Last week Mr. Wolf located a 1979 Series 3 Land Rover in San Diego. The restoration was still underway and the vehicle hadn’t been spoken for.

Mr. Wolf looked several hundred photos and talked at length with Luke Richards, the man in charge of the restoration. He was impressed. This was it. I wired the deposit and the Land Rover was mine.

When the restoration is complete, probably by August, Mr. Wolf will take it back to his facility in the Bay Area and drive it for 1,000 miles to find and fix any problems (that can occur with the most perfect restoration). Then he’ll put it on a truck and send it to me. I plan to visit Mr. Wolf during the shakeout period.

I love the idea of frame-off restoration. I love the look and charm of the older Land Rover… but I want it to be “new.” In the absence of time travel, that means taking the old car apart and rebuilding it bolt-by-bolt, nut-by-nut. I find it amazing anyone can do this, for any amount of money. Clearly a labor of love.

I don’t know the full story behind Luke Richards but at one time (perhaps still) he designed and built high-performance cars. Watch the video on his website. Somewhere along the way he and his team started restoring vintage Land Rovers. Again, check out the photo slide show on the website.

I assume I’ll have more photos of my Land Rover as it nears completion and I’ll share them here. The color (Stone Gray) is not a Land Rover color, it’s by Mercedes. I love it.

If you had asked me yesterday how long I’ve been working on this I would have said six months. It’s been less than two. Some serious time distortion at work. I’m eager to climb in this rascal and chug up my hill but I’m enjoying the anticipation, too. Watch this space for updates.

Before magnetic recording tape

I’m not sure I’ve shared this photo of my old man. I’m blessed with a lot of great pics. It’s clear from this one how much he enjoys what he’s doing. Note the disc on the turntable in the foreground: just one track cut into the center of the disc. Probably a commercial. You can see more of these to the right of the control board. This is before magnetic tape and they “cut” these discs in the adjacent studio. If you fucked up while cutting, you put a piece of cellophane tape over that track and cut another one. I can’t even imagine trying find and cue these while doing a live shift. But the alternative was reading everything live. That would get old fast, for the announcer and the listener. Must have been an exciting time.

Changed Skilled

I expect to see more change and more dramatic, accelerated change in the next 10 to 15 years (yes, I expect to live that long) than I’ve seen in the previous 69 years. It will be tempting to characterize the changes as good or bad but if I’ve learned anything along the way, it’s those are meaningless terms.

I expect to say, “Whoa!” a lot in coming years. I mean, really, a car that fucking drives itself? Are you shitting me? Virtual realities that are indistinguishable from from “real realities.” (We’re gonna need new ways of talking)

I expect the pace and scope of these changes will kill some folks. Their heads will explode (but only on the inside). We’re seeing some of this now and the big stuff hasn’t started. As always, the young will adapt since they have less world to get rocked. But people my age? Baby Boomers? A lot of us will lose. their. shit.

My plan is to become changed skilled. A phrase I first heard 30 years ago at a management retreat. It’s stuck with me. What a great skill to possess. To adapt to change. You can not do that if you’re holding on tight. But “letting go” is now a tattered old bumper sticker. Real hard to do.


When my shit was all lined up just the way I like it… don’t anybody move… this is perfect. And then everything changed.

And when things were going horribly…


How does one become change skilled, you ask? Easy. You just endure a lot of change and try to unclench your anus. (I also find meditation helps).