My last wish

Since we're all gonna die of swine flu now, I think I will go and buy myself that supercharged Lotus Exige I've always wanted. I won't have to pay it off if I die! And with any luck, I might not die of the flu but rather of a heart attack from all the excitement driving this baby.


That woke me right up!

And now I am actually looking forward to the drive to work!

Those funky furry characters are showing about the right amount of exuberance over taking the S through a gymkhana course :)

Thank you Autoblog.


Back in the saddle

At last, I have reclaimed the position in top 60 per cent, where I finished last year with the Miata!

Now up and onward!

My co-driver Graham has won the class with a 63.916 clean run, so I know this car is capable of so much more. It helps to see how much further it can be pushed and still not break loose, and I hope I will learn to do the same before the season is over :)


Guess what happens...

...if you attempt a 90-degree turn under heavy braking? In a Mustang? Yeah, it rolls.

But then again, how was the guy in the video below supposed to know this if all the racing he's ever done was in a straight line? So let's cut the guy some slack.

Watch the video.


Bicycles for "Him and Her"...

...then why does the Club Monaco ad feature two of "her"?

Blond white child...

This is what Google comes up when you query "child"--top picks are pictures of white blond young children.

Kinda funny considering that majority of humankind is not "white"--whatever one constructs race to be.

In addition, three out of four are clearly female. Whatever that means.

Disney reusing animation templates

Really cool video. Via Consumerist.

Spotlight: Women

Just saw these two ads on Vanity Fair site. Kinda funny, how they say "Vanity Fair spotlights: Women" under the picture of Scarlett Johansson, however, there seem to be semi-naked women in near all other pictures on the page as well, much like the one of Gisele Buendchen right above.

Durham Art Walk Spring 2009

Went to the Durham Art Walk on Sunday, for the first time as a guest, and not as an exhibiting artist. That was actually quite cool. I got to see most of the friends I used to exhibit together with in the past, and after the show was over and picked up, Paula, Rodney, Andi, and her husband, and I had a couple beers together at a nearby pub.

I took a bunch of pictures and published some on Flickr. Enjoy.


How much is that in race tires?

When you are a hopeless gearhead like yours truly, you frequently quantify relative value of things in car junk. For example you could hear me say: "If I skip this vacation trip, I can get myself a set of Hoosier slicks." Or: "If don't buy any new entertainment electronics this year, I can order that super-spiff Gendron bar for my Honda."

Catch my drift?

So it is somewhat of a new experience for me to turn car junk into non-car experiences.

Let me explain. With the Miata gone, I have a bunch of loose crap left over that I am now trying to get rid of. Mostly in exchange for currency.

Last night, I dropped off four quarts of motor oil and two headlight bulbs that I used in the Miata back to the parts store and got cash back.

This morning, I sold two OEM Miata oil filters for $10--which I rapidly spent on a lunch at Little Tokyo.

Catch my drift now?


Selling Miata stuff

Now with Bonnie gone, I am trying to get rid of all the leftover odds and ends still in my storage shed. I listed a bunch on ebay and hope that it all will get bought. Don't really care much about the price, just don't want the stuff lying around for no reason, taking up space I can use for my S2000 crap. :)

Release of torture memos might lead to CIA fearing the law... Damn!

From The Economist:

Mr Obama says that he will not seek to prosecute the CIA operatives who carried out directives while “relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice.” Mr Obama’s critics say that he has done the intelligence community a disservice simply by releasing the memos. Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey, respectively the former director of the CIA and former attorney-general, say that the move will “invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept 11, 2001.”

Did somebody say nine-eleven? Run for cover!


Policy over common sense--wins every time!

As I was shopping for a party outfit a few days ago, I checked out Plato's Closet, which is great for getting stuff that I don't intend to wear a lot for cheap.

There was a line at the fitting rooms, however, out of three available stalls, only two were in use. The third one was empty.

Knowing that the doors lock when pulled closed, I assumed it was an oversight and asked one of the folks working the floor to unlock it, in view of all the people waiting.

The answer: "This is a handicapped fitting room, and we reserve it for handicapped customers only."

Which would have made sense if there was at least a single handicapped person in the store who could have potentially needed the room before any of us already waiting in line.


Some see a letter, others see a car... that could have been

Test drove the famed Nissan 370Z on Saturday. Thoroughly unimpressed.

The main reason I wanted to try it was for the SunchroRev Match function. And that was the most exciting part of the test drive. That and the torque.

It is almost eerie when the car rev-matches on downshifts, smoothly and precisely, each and every time. However, when that function is active, upshifts become very twitchy. I am dealing with a fairly touchy S2000 clutch day in and day out, and can assure you that if I set my mind to it, I could transport an open glass of water from A to B and not spill a drop. As a matter of fact, I did transport a vase with a bouquet of flowers in the passenger footwell once already. So I know what I am talking about when I say it was impossible to make a single smooth upshift with the rev-match function turned on.

The car has a standard-enough looking H-pattern shifter, which somehow felt electronic, like there weren't any actual gears moving and engaging as I was rowing up and down through the gears. That provided for just another degree of separation between driver and the road. The Z is very softly sprung for the torque it has, which results in a fair amount of squat and nose-dive on acceleration and braking.

The torque is nice, but that was it.

Plus, with 15 mpg city to 18 mpg highway, the fuel economy is simply pathetic. For that kinda money, I'll go get a 2 year-old Z06 and get all the torque and then some, and better gas mileage.

Exterior is a definite step up from the couch-potato looking predecessor 350Z. The wheels on the new Z are beautiful. Don't know how heavy they are, but they look very nice in real life. Even nicer than in pictures.

Interior was not cheap-looking, but not very awe-inspiring either. Granted, I only saw the basic interior package. There is a leather upgrade, which--let's hope--comes with higher-quality door and dash plastics. Probably not.

Anyway, it's a good thing I started the quest for my next car early, because the Z definitely ain't gonna be it. :)


I knew I liked Feynman for a reason!

Working from home is great, even when you got a head cold, because your transition from doing something "productive" on the computer kinda seamlessly blends into the leisurely surfing, and you don't even have to get up from your sofa!

So while reading up on Chris Gram's blog about brand I meandered over to the Keirsey character sorter and discovered that it maps directly to Myers-Briggs types.

Now, I've taken the Myers-Briggs tests twice so far, and have come out an ENTP and today I was quite delighted to find out that ENTP maps to the Inventor Rational type. There was also a list of famous Inventor Rationals, and Feynman was one of them.

Not that I have a claim to a Nobel Prize, but such company is flattering :)

I actually found the Keirsey temperament explanations, though riddled with typos (and biographical inaccuracies on celebs' pages) much more revealing than the Myers-Briggs ones I read before.

The Keirsey site lets you determine which of the four main temperaments you are for free, and wants to charge you for finding out which exact sub-type you are. If you know your Myers-Briggs type, you can simply find which sub-type your four-letter type maps to on their temperament overview pages.

Hot liquids, here I come

Caught a major cold, probably at the gym. Staying home today, drinking plenty of tea with lemon for extra vitamin C, consuming chicken soup and Kleenex.

DSL works fine though, so I can do my work just fine. In a moment of enlightenment yesterday I took the office laptop home, and so now I have all the files I could ever need.


Just the two of us...

It's just you and I now, little Honda...

It was a very sad moment when I deposited the cash in my account an hour ago, and did not feel much joy over the cash.

I hope the new owner will take good care of Bonnie.

Earlier, at the DMV, when I started to take the plate off the car, one bolt wouldn't budge, and only gave after I said "Bonnie, you HAVE to let me go."

I do feel better now that I know the car won't sit and rot in the rain while I am playing with the Honda.

Next week I will start selling all the accessories I have left over: The full-body car cover, the boot cover, and a few other things like gaskets and top fasteners. Should be another $200-500 worth there--all to help me pay off the S sooner :)

Cones I like: Pictures from Danville autocross




Yes I noticed that there are actually no cones in the pictures... Well, that's how I like my autocrosses, cone-free :)

Cones I don't like: Pollen cones

The pollen season is in full swing, with everything outside covered in a thick layer of yellowish-green pollen. The culprit: North Carolina pine. So far, my immune system has been dealing with all the pollen just fine, but this morning I woke up to a scratchy throat and itchy nose. Maybe it's a cold though. Either way, the pollen does not help :)


Ever closer to paying off the S

I barely ever use physical banking, because I don't like using cash and paper checks, and my ING account lets me mail paper checks from the online UI for free if I have to. This week has seen heavy analog transactions though.

I deposited three checks and expect one more. The one was from Time Warner, being the refund after account cancellation; the second was from my co-driver for the event in Laurinburg; and the third, today, the refund for the car rental from AirTran. The coming week I am finally doing the official exchange of Miata title and keys for currency, which will also land in the same account.

All of this cash will go directly into the car loan, bringing me over the magic 50% threshold to fully owning the car.


Drooling over the Gendron bar

Spent some time today "doing research," which mostly manifested itself in drooling over the super-spiff Gendron front sway bar for my little Honda. The idea is that once the car is paid off, which is soon going to be the case, I can put this bar on the car to tame its tendency to snap-spin.

Tuan posted a good overview of the bar and how it compares to others on the market on "Temple of VTEC" and included a number of pictures showing the installation steps. Seems an easy-enough installation, but don't they all, until you actually try? :)


How to save money and still look meh

Got my hair cut today. For 13 bucks.

Just as mediocre a cut as the local fancy styliste guy who charged me $55 would give me, so all in all, I saved money and time.

She did it all in 15 minutes.

There is a hairdresser in DC whose cuts make people in DC stop me in the street and ask who did my hair.

Here, I have given up hope.

So I went to Cost Cutters.

I drew the cut I wanted. I did not get it.

But the 55 dollar guy did not give me the cut I wanted either.

Same bad cut, in under half the time and for a third of the money.

Still fast and still furious

Warning, spoiler alert!

The movie has got cars in it. Seems to be about cars. And the good guys win. I think. Maybe.

I failed to notice a plot. Let me know if you do. I'd like to know what the fuss was all about.

A Subaru dealer from the area was giving away free tickets to the screening to Subi drivers, and I happened to know one. Can't complain about a free movie.

The one thing that got me thoroughly agitated was how neither of them bad-ass drivers wore any restraints. Not even as much as a wimpy three-point seat belt. I find it hard to control the car, merely autocrossing it whenever I forget to cinch the belt and pull it as tight as I can. These must be some drivers to not wear any restraints and still be able to control their cars like that!..


Now we're talkin'!

Alright, I think there is hope for me in autocross.

Just looked at the results, and they confirm what was just a feeling until now: I am getting more comfortable with the car. Yesterday was the first time I felt that I was driving the car, and not the other way around. Here, have a look:

Amazingly, I have the same rank in PAX and in raw times... Happened to me a couple times before in the Miata as well. I wonder if I can make this work by placing first eventually ;)

Title photo courtesy John


Elbow grease and S100

I can't believe that I finally am mostly done paying for the sins of my ignorance and negligence! Not knowing that performance brake dust will cake on the wheels into a dull black coat that won't wash off with soap and a brush, I left it on for over six weeks. And discovered for myself what a bitch it is to get the wheels clean and shiny again.

Now, after three separate and quite determined applications of S100 wheel cleaner plus about a pound of elbow grease, the wheels are finally sparkling clean! Mostly, that is. There are still a number of tiny specs of black on them in hard-to-reach spots, but I did not have the patience to deal with them today.

Now the goal is not to let this sort of thing happen again, and to rinse them off regularly, particularly after a rain.