2010-04-29

$DEITY please make it stop!

I must have angered a racing deity, for my woes with the Koni Sport double-adjustables won't stop.

Yesterday I picked up the Yeller from Dietsch Werks where Rob told me that the shocks are now finally firmly and unequivocally connected with the car's frame.

"I also have some bad news for you Alex," Rob added. "The rear shocks still make that noise."

That noise refers to the loud popping sound the shock absorbers have been making on rebound. Our original theory was that the noise was caused by all the slop in the top mounts, but now that all the proper parts are on the car, and there is no slop, the noise is still there.

The car handles better than it did before the repair, so it's not all bad, but the noise is very loud and seems to be getting worse over time.

Rob recommended that I call Koni, which I did. They say that because it's a racing part it is not covered by any warranty, even though it never saw any race use. I could send the shocks in for an inspection and a rebuild, but the turnaround time with Koni is very long right now (with the season starting and all).

However, the dude at Koni referred me to a shop in Sonoma, at the Infineon raceway, and I spoke with them earlier today. There they told me that someone could be there on Saturday afternoon, after I am done with autocross in Santa Rosa, so they could at least look at the shocks and give me a first idea as to what we are looking at here.

The way things were going so far, I strongly suspect the shocks will need work, and that shop charges close to $200 per damper to rebuild.

At this point I think I have had just about enough of this saga, and probably will use this opportunity to revert back to stock dampers, and have the Konis fixed, then sell them.

2010-04-21

Car-ayzeey people on the intartubes

Behold, this is a true email exchange between yours truly and the seller of a 1994 R-package Mazda Miata, which was advertised on Craigslist. Edited for names and personal info, only to protect the identities of the people involved. Enjoy.

Me

to sale-g9ejb-168
Apr 19 (3 days ago)
Hi,
Is the car still for sale? What aftermarket parts does the car have aside from the KYB shocks?

I am most interested in the sway bars and springs. Or are these still the ones that came on the car OEM?

Thanks,
Alex

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/1683046953.html

Jack Bauer

to me
Apr 19 (2 days ago)
Hi Alex,

The car is stock and has the larger sway bars and springs that came with the R package. The intake has been replaced with a CARB legal intake and I just had a new cat installed too. Don't know if I mentioned that or not. Yes it is still available.

Thank you,
Jack Bauer

Me

to Jack Bauer
Apr 19 (2 days ago)
Thanks Jack,
I am looking for a Miata to take to the track, so this one sounds like a good fit.

How many miles on the KYBs? Are they adjustable? Do you know the model of the shocks, so I can look them up please?

Was the motor replaced with a crate engine or a rebuilt one?

Is the clutch OEM or a performance clutch?

What about the intake? Is it a K&N or a Racing Beat by any chance? (If you have pictures from under the hood that would help a lot. I used to have a '99 Miata prepped for autocross, so I have an idea where things are :)

I can come up to look at the car on Sunday if this works for you.

Won't have all the cash on me but enough for a substantial downpayment. Am definitely serious and have the cash to buy the car, just not much into carrying wads of cash around. :)

You can reach me by phone at 555 555 5555.

Thanks,
Alex

Jack Bauer

to me
Apr 20 (1 day ago)
Hi Alex,

The KYB's are new with less than 1000 miles on them. They are not adjustable, model # 341126 front, 341127 rear. The motor was replaced with a used long block from Rising Sun Engines in Chico Ca. They bench run all motors until running temp, compression test which we verified at 180 per cylinder and oil pressure test. They are very reputable and I have all paperwork for all work done. The motor runs strong and delivers excellent power. Their motors usually have 30 to 40k miles max on them from Japan. I had the timing belt and water pump done by them before it was delivered, so you are good for 60k miles at least for the timing belt. Clutch is OEM, intake is Racing Beat.

As far as cash goes, i would need full payment before it leaves for a new home. If you are interested on Sunday, I will take a deposit and you can pick it up when you have the rest.

Thanks again for your interest.

Jack

Me

to Jack Bauer
Apr 20 (1 day ago)
Absolutely, I would not expect to have the car before I paid you in full. Your ad said that one needed cash in hand to test-drive, and I wanted to make sure I get to drive the car, so I mentioned the deposit.

Prior to completing the title transfer (and the rest of the money changing hands), I would want to have an independent mechanic to do a full pre-purchase inspection (they usually take 1-1.5 hours, and it goes without saying that I will pay) -- so after the car checks out, I would hand over the rest of the money in exchange for the paperwork and will be on my merry way.

That's the plan -- if that works for you of course.

Thanks for providing the information about the parts and the engine, it helps a lot. Good to know that you have all the paperwork as well.

So if Sunday works for you, I can drive up at around 11am if that works and we can go from there.

Jack Bauer

to me
5:06 PM (22 hours ago)
I do want full payment in hand for solo test drives. I have had a car wrecked years ago and once bitten twice shy. Too many headaches to get it resolved. no judgment on you at all, it is just the way I am handling this sale.

My only question is where do you plan to have the car evaluated at on a Sunday? I would not feel comfortable with the car being gone without full payment in hand. If you find something you do not like, don't buy it, I will return your money. If you want to do it another day and have it looked at in Novato, that is fine. I am selling the car as is and have all documentation you need for the work that was done.

I will not be available until 3:00 on Sunday afternoon. Let me know if that works for you.

Let me know your thoughts on the inspection.

Jack

Me

to Jack Bauer
9:24 PM (18 hours ago)
The plan was for me to look at the car on Sunday and test drive it.

If the car checks out and I want to proceed, you get the downpayment (keep the car) and I get to pick the mechanic close by for us to meet at later in the week for the inspection and the title transfer.

You do not part with the car until the mechanic gives the car a clean bill of health. Then we do the title transfer and you get the full payment. And I get the keys to the car.

This is pretty much standard procedure and I have had no trouble doing that in the past.

However, I am not going to walk around with five grand in hand, and I am not going to commit to buy a car without having test-driven it.

If this is not something that is going to work for you, I think I will take a pass.

Thank you very much,
Alex

2010-04-14

Kyrgyz scarf and other treasures

So Carlota and I went to the Textiles museum on Sunday. Discovered lots of beauty, even though I am coming to the conclusion that my brain is not wired like most women's. I definitely lack the connection to the textile art, and have to strain to make any sense of it.

The Navajo tapestries with their geometric shapes and bright colors were reminding me a lot of the carpets I remember on the walls at home growing up.

Quilt art of Joan Schulze was more accessible for me, but the artist's use of fashion magazines and cosmetics advertisements did not strike a chord with me. Maybe I'm not woman enough after all. Dunno.

The beautiful scarf you see in the picture above turned out to be the highlight of the visit for me. It is made in Kyrgizstan, by Bukon studio, and mixes very delicate silk fabric with felted flowers. The result of mixing a very thin and very coarse fabrics makes for a fascinating object to look at and to touch.

At $185, the price tag was a bit steep, but I was seriously considering buying it, until I asked the lady behind the counter what she knew about the artist, since all pieces in the museum store are on consignment.

Turns out, some dude drops Kyrgiz textile art at the store every once in a while, and they weren't sure how much of the proceeds the artist actually gets. So I decided to not buy the scarf for now, and get in touch with the studio instead. I found them mentioned online on the Souztextile Association page. Will be emailing them shortly to find out whether they have an official representative in the US and whether they know what the pricing over here looks like. I would not mind paying for art as long as I knew that the artist got a fair share.

Then there were also textile postcards and I got this "dead fish" one for Carlota. Goes without saying, a ditz that I am, I have forgotten to actually give the card to her, and it is now at my place. I hope I will remember to give it to Carlota next time I see her. Really adorable :)

And this fabric kimono I got for myself. Only need to frame it and hang it up some place. I haven't put a lot of art on my walls, got tired of hanging my own, and I don't own much of anybody else's, so this is a welcome addition.

Edit: Just emailed the studio, let's see what they say.

2010-04-04

Racer's trilemma

I have a serious choice to make, and am not sure what to do. Each has its pluses and minuses, and I thought writing this up will help me make up my mind. So here's the deal.

I want to get into wheel-to-wheel racing and do track events and hill climbs. This requires a real race car, with six-point harnesses, a roll cage, and other things that my current car does not have.

Now to my choices.

Modify the s2000.
Plus sides: I know the car, it is reliable, and we have a good thing going. I trust it, and it should start behaving well again once the suspension is finally fixed. Modifying it would cost some money, but that would be it. Pay for the mods, and start racing.

Minus sides: I really like this car and would be hesitant to drive it at 10/10ths on track for fear of damaging it. Also, I really am not too happy about the idea of cutting up the interior of the car to install the safety upgrades. An additional problem is the fact that it is my only car, and race cars tend to spend more time in shops than your average street cars. Any time I would be getting something done to it, I would not have a car to drive. To help with that, I can buy a motorcycle. So the money quickly is adding up and the whole deal is not looking all this cheap anymore.

I estimate the cost of this option at about $8-10 thousand dollars. Plus the cost of wear items such as brake rotors and pads and tires would run me about 500 for every racing weekend.

My second option is to buy a race-ready Miata.
Pluses: Miatas are cheap to race and to maintain. Cheap to insure, and I am familiar with them, so doing my own work would be easy for the most part. If I bought a Spec Miata or an SSM one, with a supercharger, the car of my choice would come with a hitch and a trailer, some extra wheels and tires, as well as extra parts. It would not require any additional mods, and I could get to the fun (racing) part of the whole deal right away. Because it would be a cheap to fix track rat of a car, I will be more likely to drive it hard at the events and not worry about breaking something or damaging the finish. (Finish? What finish? You mean the peeling paint?)

Minuses are that I will need a place to store the car and its trailer and many extra parts. Then there's the familiarity breeding contempt factor involved. A Miata would be a bit of a step back for me, and less exciting than getting a car I have never driven before, or improving on the S2000.

I can probably get a race-ready car for 7-10 thousand, and the wear parts would cost me 150-250 for a racing weekend.

And finally, my third option is to get a Lotus Exige and slap a Katana supercharger on it (or find one that already has it). This option has the benefit of the Lotus being a definite step up from the S2k in all the ways that matter for racing: handling, weight, agility. These cars do not require much modification to be taken to track and are also a joy to look at.

The minuses of this option are the cost of an Exige ($25-30k used), and the cost of any repairs and/or body damage. Which would again result in hesitation on track and me not pushing the car hard enough.

On the plus side, it would be a Lotus! And I have wanted one for a while, with a brief intermission to lust after the R8, which I seem to have overcome.

The operating cost would be higher than that of the S2000 and the Miata combined, but I am not in the business of racing for saving money. If my objective was to save money, I would not race at all.

Every day I seem to lean one way, then the other, than the third way again, and I am tired of this indecision!

So there you go, here's my trilemma, and I want your opinions on which way to go.

2010-04-01

Grüner wird's nicht!


As my loyal readers will doubtlessly know, I have joined VMware last week (has it really been just last week? VMware time is like Red Hat time, about three to five times compressed).

Today I want to show you my new work environment, because I am quite inspired by my new company's commitment to saving energy and contributing to a sustainable way of life.

One could argue that I am overdosing on Koolaid, but the European in me has to say that this amount of effort to be environmentally conscious is quite unusual, even for California.


So, beginning with the outdoors part of the campus, you will see that the plants used for landscaping are local drought-resistant species, which do not require constant watering. I have not seen the campus in the middle of summer yet, but I hear that they let the grass dry up and yellow naturally, and then get green again when the rains start again in the fall.

There are also little stone gardens here and there, and some areas are covered in pebbles. Lots of outdoors stuff is made out of recycled glass and things like that.

Buildings are connected by winding paths as well skywalks. That's pretty cool, at least in my book. Each building only has one elevator, but a number of staircases, and those skywalks, too. All of it serves to encourage walking. If you asked me though, I think we also need a fireman pole or two, for when you are late for a meeting.


I have a soft spot for bamboo, and the fact that I get to walk past a few patches where it grows on the way to and from the office every day makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Then there's the lighting.

Buildings are built in such a way as to allow outside light to permeate the space as much as possible, and minimize the need for artificial light.

Gone is the buzz and flicker of fluorescent bulbs. And you can hear the birds through the open window.

Yes. Open window.

If you live and work in Europe, using windows (the ones with glass in them, not the operating system) to let the fresh and cool outside air in is normal. Not in the US, where people, particularly the ones in office buildings, have to live in stale, yet cold air-conditioned atmosphere.

VMware only uses air conditioning and heating in the few weeks in the year when it is either too cold or too hot to just close or open the windows to get the temperature right.


The Facilities team is providing us all with real porcelain plates and bowls to eat from, as well as real metal silverware and reusable water and coffee cups.

No bottled water is offered, but you can fill your cup with water from the filter on the fridge.

Almost all snacks are "good for you"--rice crackers, dried fruit, cheese, nuts, that sort of thing. There is even Finncrisp-style crispbread available! I should start bringing in some cream cheese for breakfast.


If you choose to bring some food to your desk from the cafeteria, they will give you a compostable container for that.

Every breakroom has bins for compostables, recyclables (aluminium, platic, and glass), and trash.

Best for last.

All sodas (and I figure there are 10-15 choices) are available in aluminium cans. Majority are sugar- and aspartame-free, but full-strength Mountain Dew is there too, for the hardcore geeks.

I am thinking of getting a motorcycle at last, or at least a scooter, for going to work in a more sustainable way. Sadly, public transport options from my location are nonexistent. :(