Making Cars in the Great Lakes: Inside Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant

Before I left Chicago for points east, I had a chance to tour Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, a complex that finishes about 1160 vehicles a day. A great majority of those are Ford Explorers, pieced together by line workers wearing safety glasses and headphones, working pneumatic tools in a hypnotizing ballet of endless repetition. Whir, whir, whir.

Walking the floor, following pedestrian pathways marked by bright yellow paint, I watched linemen and women raise engine assemblies into vehicle bodies, hang doors and bolt wheels, as conveyor belts ceaselessly inched the unfinished machines ever forward. (A tip: When touring the plant, one steps over the drive-chains running through channels in the floor.)

My tour guide Larry, a dead ringer for Jesse Ventura, even let me jump in a just-finished Explorer the moment it rolled off the line. Videographer Stephen Greenwood, who’s riding along for this part of my ride, captured the mesmerizing shots after the break.

Traveling the American Road – Ford Assembly Plant Tour

SkyMall Monday: Hidden Litter Box

It’s confession time: I hate cats. Well, hate is a strong word. I just don’t understand cats. They seem completely ambivalent about my presence, selfish and they pee indoors. Dogs go outside like civilized animals. Cats defecate indoors in a box. That’s simply not natural. I can’t have the SkyMall Monday headquarters smelling like feline pee and poop. But, I understand that some people are lonely, have given up on the prospect of human relationships and have acquired any number of cats to keep them company on Saturday nights during Real Housewives of Atlanta marathons. And those people may want to hide the shame of having become someone who wears sweatpants in public, buys ice cream in bulk and gives her cats names like Sir Francis Snugglesworth and Purrack Obama.* Those people need to gussy up their homes and try to hide the fact that the inmates cats have taken over the asylum. And to those people, SkyMall says, “Yes we can…hide your cat poop.” This week, we take a closer look at the Hidden Litter Box.

For years, people have hidden their cats’ litter boxes in the bathroom, the kitchen or a spare bedroom. They’d provide their cats with privacy and keep the smell and the fecal matter in lesser-trafficked areas of their homes. And while these solutions may have kept the litter boxes out of sight, they lacked two things: the art of deception and a fake plant.

What fun is hiding your cat’s little box if you’re not doing it like some kind of super spy? The Hidden Litter Box is like James Bond’s litter box. In fact, I bet 007 has one for Octopussycat. And what home isn’t made less depressing by a fake plant that smells oddly like cat pee?

Think I’m meowing up the wrong tree? Well, take a gander at the product description:

With its Tuscany handfinish, our new litter box looks like a real clay pot, complete with an attractive, artificial decorator plant. Simply turn the entrance to the wall and no one will know (if your cat doesn’t tell)!

See, it even works with loose-lipped talking cats! Beat that with your “I keep my cat’s little box in the laundry room.”

So, tell Meowington von Catburt IV to keep his mouth shut and start peeing in the flower pot and then get back to eating Swiss Miss packets with a spoon, because the Hidden Flower pot is your new only friend.

* If your cat’s name is actually Purrack Obama, I’ll admit that you’re kind of awesome.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Photo of the Day (09.16.08)

Vietnamese beaches, while not known as the best in the world, are still top notch. In the little time that I spent in South Vietnam, a small portion was on a beach in Mui Ne, just east of Saigon and home to a resident population of windsurfers. To me, the soft white sand, pleasant staff and uncrowded beaches make it preferrable to Cancun any day. Flickr user ourmanwhere shot it on the beach of Phu Quoc.

Have any cool photos you’d like to share with the world? Add them to the Gadling Pool on Flickr, and it might be chosen as our Photo of the Day.