2008-04-30

Dedication

I am so proud of myself today!

Worked a full day, then worked out for 50 minutes, then got home, ate a Lean Cuisine dinner, and--get this--changed the tires! Sounds easy, I know, but I had to first carry all four stock wheels with the new Azenis tires down from the third floor where I keep them in my condo's porch storage and then take the street Heliums/Kumhos back up the stairs.

Each rim weighs about 12 lbs, plus the tire, plus compressed air in it, so I would say each wheel/tire assembly comes up to approximately 35-40 lbs (15-18kg). If I weren't too tired to lift a tire another time, I'd weigh one, but for now an estimate will have to be good enough.

You might be wondering why on earth I needed to change my tires today and not at the event as usual? Well, the next event is this coming weekend, and since they are completely new tires I wanted to drive on them for a couple days for better traction.

Now I feel like I can't move a finger ever in my life again, which is obviously not true, because how else would I be typing this?

2008-04-29

Drool... Bugatti t-top Veyron

What can I say? It's a beautiful car.

Source: AutoBlog

Lou Reed at Carolina Theatre

Saw Lou at the Carolina Theatre last night. Awesome as always. I was really surpised that he even came to NC, but that's not something I'm complaining about. As it happens, this was the first time I saw him in the US, the other three being in Berlin.

The Durham show was not even on TicketMaster, so when I found out about it listening to NPR one morning, the other ones within driveable distance were all sold out, but not this one! Gave me a bit of a scare though, not to see it on TicketMaster.

I left office at about 5:30, got to Durham by 6pm, had a nice dinner at the bar of the Piedmont restaurant a block away from the theatre, had two cocktails with that and could not be in a better mood by the time the show started.

The opening act was supposed to be some bluegrass band, but luckily they canceled (or got canceled, with Lou I would not be surprised). The show started almost on time and powered all the way through the two hours of the show. I did not realise it was that long until they finished. The selection covered songs from the sixties to most recent, with the obligatory Sweet Jane and a surprising I'm Sticking With You. There were a few songs from the Ecstasy album, and even one from back in the eighties: Video Violence.

At some point Lou made a joke that the last time he was to NC was in 1985 (I think): "They have just invented the phonograph."

So I guess next time I see him will have to be some place other than my current home state. About time I went to New York anyway.

2008-04-28

Ashley Force wins

Congrats Ashley!

...even though I could not really care less for most commercial motorsports that aren't F1...

Which reminds me of a post I read earlier. Always liked Kimi.

It's all in the lighting

In the end, it's all about the lighting.

Thanks to Holger for sharing this awesome shot!

And since this skyscraper-cropped image is begging for some copy to go on its side, I thought, I'd share a few phtography links as well:

I am particularly fond of the point-and-click camera tutorial, because most people really have no idea how much they can do with a fairly simple camera. The tip with focusing on the object first and moving the camera while holding down the release button I believe is priceless. I have first-hand experience how discovering this simple feature made a friend of mine from your average snapshot-taker into a pretty damn good photographer!

2008-04-22

Konig Reasons for sale (again)

Konig ReasonsFinally re-listed the Reasons rims on eBay again. Hope someone buys them now. I mean, these are good rims, light, in comparison to most 15" wheels, and out of production. Someone out there is bound to need one or two to match their existing set... Right?

Way to go Paul!

Yesterday Paul Frields announced a change in Fedora Board composition from four elected and five Red-Hat appointed members to five elected and four appointed. Way to go man!

Paul is in town this week, so to honor him, and just to gather some good folks in the same space to hang out, I'm thowing a BYOB party. If you know me, email me for details.

2008-04-21

If it goes fast, it can't be a woman

Hate to give the misogynists on Jalopnik that much publicity, but the way the editors and most commenters treated Danica Patrick's first Indy Car win was less than encouraging, and in some aspects disgusting.

Before she won a race, the male consensus seemed to be: "Oh, she's just a pretty chick with no real talent." Now that she's won one, it's more along the lines of: "So what? And by the way I think she's ugly."

If I wanted to be mean, and I think I do, it'd be entertaining to find out how many of the couch racers have actually ever been on a race track, not to speak of qualified for a competition of this caliber.

In fairness to mankind, I have to note that there were many positive comments, and a couple folks actually stepped up to call the bullshit.

2008-04-20

Before and after

Before

Tow hook? What tow hook?

Richard at Dent Eliminators did a great job restoring the bumper. Now it's the best-looking part of my car :)


Right and left mud guards.

Contrary to the picture on Miata Mania, the guards came not flat black, but rather shiny black. Richard insisted that we have them painted and he was right. Look at them!

If you are in the area and need body work and/or an auto paint job done, ask me for Richard's number. Great service, attention to detail, and perfectionism. Highly recommend.

2008-04-15

Missing parts

Of course the Mazda Parts People ran out of the twilight blue mud guards just when I needed them, so I had to order with Miata Mania instead. I guess black will do fine, maybe even better, now that they cost me a few bucks more. Delivery is scheduled for tomorrow. Let's hope they get here on time.

2008-04-14

Poins Autocross in Greenville, NC

Autocross results page

This time, I truly sucked. Came in one before last in raw time, and last in PAX. I have great excuses for sucking, but last is still last.

Here are the results:

And here is the Course map.

So why did I suck so bad? Mostly because of my crappy tires. I had some old, hard-as-a-rock, dry-rotted touring Kumhos 617 on, and while the tarmac at the airport events was rough enough for them to grip decently enough, on the slippery asphalt of a parking lot last weekend they did not grip at all. I spun out accelerating out of the first slalom in my first run. Got me the 66-plus time and a cone. Charlie Monroe was in the car with me, and he said I did not do anything to provoke that, so we all agreed that the tires are at fault.

In the following runs, I simply did not trust the tires enough and was treading on eggshells out on the course instead of attacking it. And that accounts for the abysmal times in the remaining three runs. In the last run, the tires were gripping well enough for me to get a little more aggressive (still not much), and that's when I got the 54.4 time. Plus two.

Also, at this event, I got caught on camera twice in the second heat (I ran second and fourth, worked third, as usual).
Here they are: NOV 23 (1) | NOV 23 (2)


2008-04-11

Things I do for Bonnie...

Miata Mud GuardsTwo more items to pay for next: First, and actually necessary, is some work on the front right fender. Looks like the sticky tires Bonnie had on for a long time were kicking up enough rocks and road debris to wear off the paint on the lower corner of the front fender. To the metal. So to avoid losing the fender to rust, I am having it touched up by Dent Eliminators, who were warmly recommended by fellow THSCC members.

To make sure this sort of thing does not happen again, I have ordered custom Miata mud guards from Mazda Parts People, the added bonus being that they come in matching Miata factory colors, and not just black or primer-colored, like Miata Mania is offering. Marginally cheaper, too.

Strangely enough, on both web sites they show rear mud guards, but no fronts, so I have only a vague idea what they'll look like mounted. Saw them on a few Miatae before, and if I remember it looked fine. I just hope they fit.

The mud guards should arrive within the next couple of days, and I am planning on having the work done next Saturday.

So, that's $68.90 for parts and $125 for touch-up and mounting labor.

Falken Azenis RT615The second item is slightly less necessary, as in, my car won't fall apart if I don't buy it. But my autocrossing tires will. So I'm replacing them with a set of brand-new 185/60/14 Falken Azenis RT615.

Edge Racing had them on sale for $60 apiece, and local Discount Tire matched the price, so I'm getting them mounted some time next week.

We meet again, Mr Bond...

It was a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon two weeks ago. I had no plans and nothing else to do. So I thought, wouldn't it be cool to go to a museum, and learn something new?

And so, on the world-wide-interwebs I went and African American Cultural Complex (AACC) caught my attention. They were giving tours of the complex by appointment only. I called, and there was one tour scheduled at 3pm. Yay!

It turned out, AACC is run from a private residence (I almost drove away, afraid they'd call the cops because I was trespassing) by a retired couple. They mostly focus on African American contributions to US industries and culture, and have a hall of fame as well.

After the tour was over, I asked them if they needed help with their website (click at your own peril: last I checked, it had a 72 point heading with <blink> tags around it, courtesy of some well-meaning volunteer, I suspect). They said they did, but most urgently, they needed someone to help them set up the new Lenovo workstation that was donated to the museum. I offered to come next weekend.

The following weekend, I received a call from Juanita from AACC saying that some young man came out earlier and set up the new machine for them, told them they needed a bunch of upgrades, offered to purchase new software for them using his student discount and left them dazed and confused.

I tired to find out what software exactly was missing or needed upgrading, and it turned out to be Office. My mind went: "Hah! Perfect candidates for OpenOffice.org package!" So I said: "Don't touch anything, I'm on my way!" Jumped into my Batmobile and stormed off.

Upon arrival, I quickly uncovered that the new box was installed with Vista and a full Office package. How the "young man" who was supposedly IT-savvy missed it is beyond me. With slight disappointment (no open source evangelizing today!) I made desktop links to the crucial applications and was about to leave when I thought of asking where the old data went.

Turns out, nowhere. It was still sitting on the old machine, which was still sitting in the hallway, in pretty sorry state. One of the side covers was missing from the CPU tower, a bunch of loose cables and connectors dangling everywhere, all power cords and perifery cables missing. I asked if they wanted me to try and get the data off the old machine and onto the new one, and Juanita agreed, but said that the other guy said it would take hours to migrate. I had a 1G USB stick with me, and thought, How much data will they have on there?

First of course, we needed the cables. After 15 or so minutes, we could locate the most crucial ones. I connected the monitor, old keyboard and mouse, flipped the switch to on, and pressed the start button. Nothing. I looked inside the tower... Hard disk was disconnected, and a few other orphaned connectors were looking at me sadly.

I plugged in the hard disk, but could not find the components to which the other connectors belonged. Briefly considered yanking the hard drive and taking it to work to migrate in peace and quiet instead of on a kitchen floor. Mentally braced myself. Pressed the start button.

Beep! Whirrr!

Ahah! The machine went to boot. And boot. And boot again.

Poor thing kept rebooting.

To add to excitement, keyboard and mouse PS/2 ports were dead. The 2 USB ports worked though, so I yanked the mouse from the Lenovo box, and when login screen came, gingerly clicked on the Admin profile. For the first time in ever I prayed they did not set a password (would be hard to type without keyboard, and the cable of the schnazzy USB one from Lenovo looked hard to detangle from inside the cabinet they put the box in).

No password! Doing good!

Next step, using mouse only, open Windows Explorer and copy files onto USB stick. That worked. The old box only had USB1, so it took ages. And still did not finish. Machine went to reboot about 70% into copying.

When it finally tired of rebooting and settled on the login screen again, I did the same thing. Turns out, Windows does not have a prompt asking "There are identical files on the target file system. Skip all? Replace all? Cancel?" Instead, it would prompt me file by file. At least something more entertaining than staring at progress bar.

I will not bore you with many more times the box went down and up and down and up again. Three hours later, I had filled my USB stick to the hilt with what I'd think would be 98% of all data that was in the Admin user's "My Documents" directory. That considering that I did not move music and video and binary files probably saved in there by grandchildren.

Unstable as the old box was, I had no real chance to look through the files and only move the relevant ones. So some stuff (about 200 Megs worth) did not fit.

They had no virus scanner on the new box. I hope nothing was infected in the heap of old files I moved to it.

That took all of 5 more minutes.

At which point I offered to disassemble the old machine again, but they said they wanted to move the other files themselves later. So I pushed the old box under the desk on which the new was sitting and bid my farewells.

This was my first meaningful interaction with Windows in about five years. It's still as sad as I remember.

I don't mean the poor old box that wouldn't stay on. That box was a little computer that could. On its last legs, it stayed on long enough to move one Gig of data off it. But the new box, little time though I spent with it, failed to impress me. Same interface as I remember from Win 2000 (yeah, I refused to upgrade), same tired metaphors, and same obnoxious tendency to assume Windows knows what's good for the user.

Like making the "Programs" menu hidden by default, so you can't easily see what you got, unless you hunt for it. So I can't really blame the poor other volunteer for not finding the Office package: It was not where one would expect to find it!

And the morals of this story: Kids, Just Say No.

Use Fedora instead :)

2008-04-07

This just in

Greed does not pay: My insurance has denied the Chevy driver's claim. Hers has denied my counterclaim, so we're quits. Have installed the new taillight assembly back before Easter, so the only thing left to fix is the rear bumper cover.

I am still not sure what I will do there: either get a new aftermarket bumper cover, have it sprayed and mount it myself or maybe buy a new bumper cover and mount it, and then have the whole car repainted.

Another option would be to just have them spray the front bumper when they do the rear. The front bumper is all scratched up and no amount of buffing helps on it anymore.

Also, I did not manage to sell my rims on eBay. The guy who bid on them realized three days later that I only had two to offer, and he was hoping to get all four alloys for 50 bucks! So he said he will withdraw and I am waiting now for the dispute to resolve on eBay so I can relist. He said he'll pay the listing fee.

2008-04-04

Two good reasons...

Finally I got around putting my two Konig Reasons 15" rims up for sale on eBay.

I got them back in 2006, new, after an unfortunate fishtail that cost me two of the Konig Heliums that came with the car. Took me half a year or so to replace the Heliums (got them on sale, too), and the two odd wheels have been sitting in the shed packed up since.

Now that they seem to be out of production, I hope I'll get at least half of my money back, the rims being rare and all...