So This is Christmas

Garland-photoWe celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior today yet our souls still ache from the loss of our spiritual patriarch and beloved step-father, Walter Garland. It is our first Christmas without him, and we will all be thinking of him as one of us says the prayer before we eat, wishing we could do it as well as he always did. We will miss his admonishment that today is intended to remember and celebrate God’s greatest gift to man.

Walter celebrates in the presence of the One whose birth generated this tradition, and in that he is far better off than any of us.

Lord, please pass this message along to your faithful servant:

Walter, we love you and miss you, but the wisdom you shared with us and the example you set in your days on this earth are the staples that help us endure this loss.

With our love, sorrow, and joy,

Tim and Robin

The First Land Speed Record


Castrol and Triumph Motorcycles have teamed up to develop the Castrol Rocket, a potential land speed record breaker scheduled to hit the salt flats in the coming months.

One look at the machine and it’s a safe guess that copious amounts of cash went into the two wheeled missile with its dual Triumph Rocket III engines and sleek aerodynamic body.

By comparison, it seems that the very first land speed record of 39.252 MPH vs. today’s 400+ MPH records was pitifully meager. But remember, that first official record was a giant leap compared to the under 3 MPH limits motor vehicles had achieved up to that time. It was as fast as the fastest quarter horse, and could keep that pace for much longer.

Yet more astonishing is the fact that that first official record was achieved not by an internal combustion engine, but by an electric car.

The electric car would be almost instantly eclipsed by the rapid development and refinement of the internal combustion engine and the portability and abundance of petroleum based fuel; but for that brief moment in history the electric car was the fastest land vehicle on the planet.

Full circle: the time of the electric car is returning. Infrastructure is finally being built to support cross country drives in electrics such as Tesla automobiles, Zero Motorcycles, and nearly a hundred different hybrids already passing you numerous times a day on the streets and highways of all major American cities.

jeantaud_ElectricWould Count de Chasseloup-Laubat have believed it if you told him the day he piloted his 3,000+ lb French Jeantaud electric car to the first land speed record that electric cars would one day dominate the world? Yes, he would. And yet there are those today who won’t believe it.

The day is coming.

First in Flight and the Overlooked Wrench Twister

It was heavier than air and powered by an internal combustion engine.

Lumbering along for what seemed like ages, it finally struggled free of the earth and rose mere feet into the air…and stayed there, gliding incredibly over the land with its human pilot operating stick and rudder.

wrightDecember 17, 1903, American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made that historic flight. It was not the first manned flight, but it was the first mechanically powered on board human controlled take off, flight, and landing. Thus it made history and the Wright Brother’s method of three axis control became the standard for fixed wing aircraft pilot control to this day.

Most Americans are familiar with the Wright brothers through our American History curriculum in middle and high school. But what is seldom taught is that there was a third very key individual playing a role in that first historic powered flight.

Hired as a bicycle mechanic, Charlie Taylor was the gopher mechanic in Orville and Wilbur’s bike shop. He was a wrench twister, but he was also a natural mechanical engineer.

Orville and Wilbur discovered that the internal combustion engines of their day were all too heavy with too little horsepower to be used for their aircraft. They turned to Charlie Taylor and asked him to build them an engine that had a power to weight ratio suitable for their machine to get airborne with.

Charlie Taylor came through. But that’s not the whole story.

Charlie Taylor came through in an almost miraculous time frame. In six weeks he designed and fabricated an aluminum block water cooled engine with enough horsepower to do the job that weighed under 150 pounds.

Just a shade tree wrench twister.

And were it not for Charlie Taylor’s engine the Wright Brothers may never have made the history books.

Robin’s Christmas Tree 2013


I’m banned from riding motorcycles for eight months after my spinal lumbar fusion surgery. Robin has the same operation affecting twice as many vertebrae and less than four weeks later she’s climbing a ladder to decorate her 2013 Christmas tree while no one else is home with her.

I suppose the Christmas tree is considered a worthy risk.

It is a gorgeous tree. It looks like one you would find in the front window at the original Macy’s or Tiffany’s. And she pulls it off year after year with a totally different color scheme. This year I was expecting so much less after we had a fire in the shop where the decorations and ornaments were stored on top of her having four vertebrae fused in mid November.

I think the woman should start a seasonal consulting business doing trees in businesses and homes. $500.00 labor not including ornament and tree costs would be a great deal to get a tree to look this spectacular.

Want to see it?

I’ll post a pic as soon as we reach five comments on this article. AND HERE IT IS:

Robin's 2013 Frazier Family Christmas Tree
Robin’s 2013 Frazier Family Christmas Tree

P.S. – While you’re waiting for me to post this year’s tree, here is our tree that Robin did in 2010:

Robin's Frazier Family Christmas Tree 2010
Robin’s Frazier Family Christmas Tree 2010