Zero to Sixty

Back when I was 12 years old I spent an unusual amount of time reading about cars that I was too young to drive.    At the end of every article in Motor Trend, there was a list of specifications that gave the raw statistics regarding the wheelbase, the overall length, the width, the curb weight and the acceleration.

How long did it take the 1967 Mercury Cougar to go from 0 to 60?  I don’t remember, because I didn’t care.

Speed was the least important detail to me – a kid who loved cars as design objects more than conveyances.  I was much more interested in the roofline, what the grill looked like and the style of the door handles  than with anything that had to do with engines.

Drag racing made no sense to me – how could you properly admire the shape of an automobile when you couldn’t see it through a cloud of burning rubber?

I think it’s fair to say I’ve never had much appreciation for the whiplash takeoff no matter how it happens.  Which is why I can’t explain  my admiration for this video from SpaceX – a crewman’s-point-of-view look at the latest test of a mission abort system that jettisons the capsule (astronauts included) at well over three hundred miles per hour, going from zero to 100 in a few short seconds.

This is exactly how I’d like to experience liftoff – by not being there. Odd that the very risk of sitting on top of a rocket is mitigated by sitting on top of even more rockets that are designed to rush you away from the first set of rockets if necessary.

And while the powerful liftoff happens predictably at zero, the neck-snapping launch abort comes out of sequence – when you’re, by definition, not quite ready.

At, say, two.

15, 14, 13, 12
into the mystery we’ll delve
14, 13, 12, 11
rockets blasting into heaven
13, 12, 11, 10
computers count and tell us when
12, 11, 10, 9
every nuance must align
11, 10, 9, 8
could abort, it’s not too late
10, 9, 8, 7
way back when, it was eleven
9, 8, 7,6
if one valve misfires or sticks
8, 7, 6, 5
we may not get out alive
7, 6, 5, 4
waiting for the engine’s roar
6, 5, 4, 3
gonna pull some extra g
5, 4, 3, 2
4, 3, 2, 1
tower cleared and launch undone.
3, 2, 1, 0.
welcome back, already, hero.

When have you changed plans at the last minute?

22 thoughts on “Zero to Sixty”

  1. i do it often when writing poems. they often come out different than i planned. yours however has the ending planned before the beginning was begun.
    thats the other difference between you and me


  2. oh and remember the 67 cougar convertible. the last of the ragtops and what a wonderful piece of sex on wheels. thats what i wanted and i ended up with a 69 vw bus instead. (a different version of sex on wheels)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning. I had an opportunity to make a trip to Azerbaijan as an volunteer agricultural consultant and turned down that trip shortly before the time I was set to go. I had a family responsibility that I had to take care of that caused me to cancel the trip. I think it would have been a great trip. It would have been my second trip there as a volunteer and I was very interest in getting a second chance to visit that country. I am sure I would have enjoy a second visit to Azerbaijan because I had a great time exploring that country when i did volunteer work there several years before I was offered a second chance to go there.


  4. Well, there was that New Year’s Eve I was supposed to meet extended family at the MOA for dinner and a movie, but had to call and cancel at the last minute because I had an emergency c-section instead.

    Of course, that was before almost everyone had a cell, so last minute is a relative term.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve gotten really good at dropping whatever I’m doing.

      I sometimes think that has always been his plan-keep mom busy so she doesn’t get into trouble :).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My dad and my brothers are more of the ‘gearheads’ than I am. My dad loves watching the car auction programs on cable and going to auctions/swap meets with my brothers in Phoenix. Dad entertained the idea of buying a muscle car as an investment and fun toy to have about 15 years ago. After much research, he found his ‘hidden gem.’ The 1968 Ford Mustang with the ‘California Special’ package. The Mustang ‘CS’ was a special package of options that were only available through California dealerships and included special ‘CS’ seats, custom detailing, and (most importantly) a bored-out, larger pistoned engine, so it was much rarer and faster than its contemporaries. Just at the time he decided what he wanted, he had the chance to buy a mint one for all of $8000 from a dealer but, when faced with the actual purchase, he backed down.

    My brother, Tim, was always the speed demon. As a teen, he taught himself how to handle a car very well. He could get into and out of skids, spins, etc. In the mid-70’s he used to work at the gas island that JC Penney’s had at the Miller Hill Mall. One day the ‘holy grail’ of muscle cars pulled up, a canary-yellow, 1970 Plymouth Superbird. This was the epitome, the apex of muscle cars! As he refueled the car, he mentioned to the woman that was driving it how much he admired her car. She said, “You want it? I got this thing in my divorce and it’s nothing but a cop magnet. $3000 and it’s yours.” We were eating dinner when the phone rang, an occurrence guaranteed to get my dad’s dander up. When he answered the phone, we couldn’t make out the words but we all could hear that it was Tim, desperately pleading for something. Dad replied, “No, you can’t have $3000. I don’t care what it’s for.” And that was that. Tim’s dream car drove away. He still reminds dad that Superbirds sell for about $250,000 now. Dad reminds Tim that he probably would’ve killed himself in it about a week after getting the keys. Tim agrees.

    I’m with Dale. I’m much more about style, rather than substance. Horsepower only gets me into trouble. So, a few years ago, when I decided to get myself a ‘mid-life crisis-mobile,’ I did quite a bit of research. I wanted something affordable, stylish, practical, and fun. I was always a fan of the late-model Karmann Ghia’s but nice ones are expensive and they require much maintenance to keep them running correctly. I thought the Datsun ZX’s of the late 70’s were very cool (and they’re some of the hottest cars selling right now!) but the bodies had such thin sheet metal that spilling a to-go order of fries would probably eat right through the floor. Mazda Miata’s are nice but they’re all over the place…a little too common for my tastes. I finally decided on a Honda Del Sol. A hardtop convertible with a rack in the trunk, so you just take the top with you. Good trunk space, even with the top stored in it. Good gas mileage. Parts are plentiful and reasonable. You don’t need a specialty mechanic to work on it. And it’s FUN to drive. I managed to find a 1996 one with only 50,000 miles on it in Bangor, Maine. I flew out there and drove it back. I just took it out of the garage last week. And, yes, it’s still fun to drive!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. TGITH, I’m not familiar with the Honda del Sol. 1996 was post-car fad time for me. So when I saw your post naturally I had to look it up. Of course You Tube has the full owner’s manual video – in Japanese.


      1. Let me know if you’re interested in a ride. I’ll take the top off and we can feel the wind blowing through our…well…we’ll feel the wind anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. This video shows the ‘TransTop’ automated top system. Very few of the Transtop models made it over here. I wish mine was a TransTop. I have to lift the top on and off myself. Thankfully, it only weighs about 40#.


  6. I had a college roommate one year who was a fan of drag racing. That involves modifying cars to make them frighteningly powerful so they can roar across a quarter-mile track in an awesome display of noise and speed, racing in a straight line. (I can’t believe I just used the word “awesome,” but it used to be a word that meant something!)

    I was possibly a wee bit contemptuous of drag racing, preferring European Formula 1 racing. That kind of race involves speed but also braking and twisty turning. The young version of me was capable of being snobbish, and I fear I was smugly critical about the crude sport of drag racing. I was more attracted to the complexity and sophistication Formula 1 racing. The distinction in auto racing styles also reflected some of the differences between Ken and the young Steve. (He had a thing about Hugh Hefner that I never could share, too.)

    And what of the older version of Steve? I still find cars interesting but have lost my earlier fascination with racing and sports cars. Give me some kind of car that is easy to get in and out of, something comfy with a GPS and a good radio.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I typically never change course, unless I get really steamed about something. Going into preterm labor and having our son 10 weeks early was probably the most dramatic change of plans I ever had.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cars are things that get me and what I want to transport from here to there efficiently, effectively, and dependably. Don’t give a rip about much else.
    Quick changes of plans, marriage, two jobs, first house we bought, and big move.


  9. We had a rhyme about daughter when she was very little that went “She is just a so and so, she is just a to and fro” as she was prone to change directions quickly and without warning over the clothes she wore, her activites, and her opinions. She has been pretty good about her college major, and didn’t dither about her course of study.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. In July of 1995 I had a site inspection trip all planned to Alaska on a cruise ship. I was excited because Alaska is the only state I’ve never been to. Then on June 30 I got the information that there was a baby for me in China. This call came about two months before anyone expected it. I had about 10 days to get my visa, make airline arrangements, get a hotel room in Hong Kong for the way home, go through the Chinese medical reports, arrange housesitting for the dogs, get shots, do my maternity-leave paperwork and, of course, find someone else to do my site inspection. And there was the July 4 holiday in the middle of that 10 days. After that, nothing has ever seemed last-minute again!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I prefer to stick with the plan if possible, but hedge my bets with a rain date. Or snow date. You just can’t count on the weather to honor your best-laid plans.


  12. My trip to Alaska was a last-minute innovation we bought the tickets and I have been studying rental cars and hotel rooms for a couple months and when I went to book them I found out that the prices and the availability I have been looking at was winter pricing
    Everything changes in the summer and prices triple so the hotel room for $60 a night went to $150 a night we needed two rooms in the room was no such thing as a full-size van so I’m minivan for a family of seven went from $50 a day to $100 a day and wasn’t easy to find
    A quick assessment made a motorhome the only logical conclusion so we flew in at 9 o’clock at night and have the motorhome waiting for us as we got out of our cab and our trip began in the morning


  13. I don’t know if this qualifies as a “quick change in plans”, but at age 28, I decided to go off birth control pills without wasband knowing I did. Wasband was dead set against having three kids since we already had one of each gender, but I desperately wanted one more. At that time in history, 30 was considered too old to have a baby. Well, once I was pregnant, what was he going to do? Steven Scott Kuhl is one of the greatest joys in my life and was born nine months after my decision. Once he was here, wasband was glad.


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