2010-06-25

Powerpoint

Reading a racing theory book, I was really shocked to find out that the word Powerpoint actually has a meaning beside "an advanced torture device which allows you to inflict varying degrees of pain and suffering using slides, handouts, notes, and outlines."

Apparently, a "power point" is the point in the turn where you stop slowing down and get back on the gas.

2010-06-13

Exit Yeller-Screamer, enter Bubba

Yes. It is true. Yeller and I are over.

The ordeal with the Koni shocks was having me look at converting the car back to stock shocks, and with the original ones being near end-of-life, at least competition-wise, I would have to buy a new set. Car's needing new brakes didn't help either.

All in all, four months of the car being at first unpredictable, and virtually undriveable, spending a total of two or more weeks in the shop, and ending up uncomfortably noisy for a street car sucked out all joy out of driving the Honda. And it's all about the joy of driving for me.

Who better to help me with my motoring blues than the company that has made the joy of driving -- Freude am Fahren -- their corporate tagline, the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

Yes, their tagline in the US is the ultimate driving machine, but we all know better.

Before making the decision, I spent a long evening with a friend, drinking and brainstorming what could possibly replace the S2000 and still be a step up from the high-revving, 240-horsepower screamy roadster.

With the spec Miata in the picture, a comfortable street car became a more acceptable option, since I did not have to compromise performance on track anymore, having to choose between a cushy ride and crisp handling at 10/10ths.

A number of cars were brought up and rejected, until the BMW Z4 was mentioned. I have always been partial to the lines of the flame-surfaced body of the car, but was not convinced by the performance. The M coupé sounded more like it, but I did not want to give up the bugs-in-your-teeth joys of driving a convertible, and I was not aware that the M version was also available in roadster trim.

This got me intrigued enough to take one for a spin. And I liked it. A lot.

Next step was to find the car that I would feel like taking home.

Now the thing to consider with these cars is that only 5070 of them were sold worldwide before BMW stopped making them last year, and a mere 3042 made it to North America. Which means that finding one for sale at a dealer across the street from home the first weekend you look at the cars is highly unlikely.

Yet this is exactly what happened. The dealership within walking distance had a silver M Roadster with a tan top for sale, in about the sane price range. I tried it, and liked it, but was not ready to pull the trigger on the first car I came across in my search.

The sales guy pulled the old trick of claiming he had a buyer coming in an hour, so if I wanted the car, I should act fast.

I said that I am okay with that, and if the car was there next week, I'll come again and we can negotiate then.

He said that I was sure to lose the car, and I bid him a good night.

The next day, Monday, I got a call from him saying the buyer needed another day, so I could come in and get a chance to snatch the car from under that other guy's nose. I said okay and came in to negotiate, but we didn't agree on the price. They low-balled me on my car's trade-in value, and I got them to come to a reasonable offer, but when I tried to get a better deal out of them still, they would not budge.

So I walked again.

The next day, I decided to widen my search to CraigsList and sure enough found a Z4-M listed. It was about an hour away, in Half Moon Bay, but the ad said that it had 2700 miles on it and included all the cool options that I wanted in my new street car, and cost the same as the car near home.

When I went to see it, the car did not disappoint, and I signed on the dotted line the same evening.

The dealer offered me 500 less for the trade-in on my Honda, but agreed to swap out the performance parts for the stock ones that I kept (brake pads, front sway bar, and the shocks), and said I could have the performance parts back once they were off the car. That sounded like a good deal to me.

So here it is, my new little Bimmer. Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 2006.

I will call him Bubba.

2010-06-06

Grownups are boring!

Some of you may know that I am currently in the process of getting my teeth transformed into a Hollywood smile with Invisalign. I am doing this mostly to help preserve the teeth than out of vanity, but there's some of that too.

Long story short, when you use Invisalign, you get to wear translucent hard plastic aligner trays custom-molded to fit over your teeth, each pair moves your teeth a little, and over a set period of time, you get them all nice and straight. In the process, you get to experience some discomfort while the teeth are moving and also to brush and floss your teeth after every meal. So far so good.

Until you realize that all mainstream toothpaste is mint-flavoured. Some add cinnamon or other flavours to it, but menthol dominates, wherever you look.

After five full months of tasting minty freshness in my mouth five or so times a day I got fed up with mint. Seriously. But grownup toothpaste is all minty.

So I turned to the kids toothpaste and my very first find was a success: Colgate Kids Manga toothpaste with "bubble fruit" flavour. Whatever "bubble fruit" is. I think it really tastes like bubble gum. And not a trace of mint.

Plus, it has sparkles in it!

I feel an urge to go on a web shopping spree for non-minty-tasting toothpaste.

When life gives you lemons, you make rum sour

Jason has a lemon tree in his back yard, which I have been oblivious of until recently, when we got together to make some ravioli from scratch.

The pasta came out great, and I contributed precious little to that, until my idle gaze fell upon the tree burdened with dozens of gigantic lemons. I picked two, and made us a rum sour each with some Myer's Spiced Rum and a little bit of sugar.

Came out yummy, and each lemon had about half a highball glass of juice in it!

2010-06-02

Talking to strangers, Vol. 1

I turned on the OKCupid chat, because I wanted to talk with a particular person, and while I was trying to reach him (without success, because he signed off), I got into this schlamassel. I think I understand now why my parents did not want me to talk to strangers.

This exchange has not been edited, not even for spelling or punctuation, only annotated, and the user IDs removed to protect the innocent.

Stranger Number 1. greets me with...


Stranger: Why do all the cute women have such attitude?

Yours Truly: Have I done something?

S: lol...actually, no...just specualating

YT: well, you do have a charming way to kill a conversation

S: i'm sorry...didnt mean to

YT: That's alright.

S: want to chat?

YT: what did you have in mind?

S: or are you busting some other guys ball right now? :-)

YT: I really do not feel comfortable with this sort of humour that implies I am a kind of a ball-breaker.

S: well, you ARE intelkigent, I'll give you that (NOTE: I feel such relief. And you can't even spell "intelligent.")

YT: thanks

YT: i noticed that your profile is quite laconic (NOTE: He has no picture and exactly one paragraph about how he is looking for the one true love.)

S: what are your thoughts on foot kissing? yes is it loconic, but Ill be happy to answer any question you might have

S: wow, are you German? That is very sexy! (NOTE: He has not read my profile before contacting me. Love at first sight, I guess?)

YT: Is it?

S: to ME...yes

S: you have an accent (NOTE: Wow, an assertion, not even a question.)

S: ...and you have one hell of a bottom lip

YT: well, that's flattering I guess.

YT: tell me something about yourself.

S: sure it is...anything positive is flattering

YT: "one hell of" is positive then. noted.

S: ....something about ME...i'm sorta attracted to you....but NOW... i'm actually more attracted to what your personality is turning out to be...i like the way you talk

YT: so what do you do?

S: medical biller

YT: cool.

S: not really...but thanks for the positive vibe

S: looking for a long term romance?

YT: i am actually not really looking these days.

YT: are you?

S: i'm a bit particular these days, but yes

S: and we can role-play german senerios (NOTE: Whoa! Where did that come from? I mean, not like he hadn't me at foot kissing!)

YT: i am sorry, i am not even sure what it means. but if it implies nazi s/m -- thank you very much. not interested.

YT: and i never said i was german. (NOTE: I did not say it. At least to him. Particularly given his peculiar tastes.)

S: lol...i was kidding...and its ok if you're not German

YT: Oh thanks.

YT: I think I better go.

S: attitude...see how smart I am...it's the very first thing I said to you. ok....take care

S: thanks for the chat

S: :-)

YT: attitude?

YT: i think you were the one who approached me--a complete stranger--with requests about foot-kissing, and "German role-playing" and when I said I was not interested your response is "Attitude?"

S: Forgive me. I like you...no worries. :-) (NOTE: Whew, and I was worried he did not like me. But he does, so it's allright.)

YT: It's alright.

YT: I've gotta go.

YT: Bye.

2010-06-01

Long weekend

I am not a big fan of long weekends on which I don't get to go vroom-vroom, so looking back on the past one I have to admit with a little bit of surprise that it was a good one.

On Saturday, I went to Lia and Bryan's wedding, and it was a beautiful one! It was also the first formal wedding I have ever been to, so I was not sure what to expect, but it was truly great.

There was no religious ceremony, instead there were readings from a number of books, including the Bible in one case. The couple looked so in love, and everyone could feel the importance of the moment when they were saying their vows.

After the wedding, I took Carlota to her place to pack, as she was flying out to NC the next morning, and then we proceeded to the Ninja Date Night, out at a bowling alley!

I played poorly, but enjoyed myself thoroughly, and met some great new friends.

On Sunday, Jason and I went to the Hiller Aviation Museum, and that's where all these pictures are from.

It was really interesting to see up close some of the original early flight machines.

Some of the older machinery was quite impressive for its time, and some was more scary than impressive. As an early aviator, you had to be a true daredevil to trust these rickety machines with your life.

This is just a small selection of the hundreds of model planes that were given to the museum by one person. And he built them all himself. They have a number of glass display cases full of models just like these. I cannot even begin to imagine the time and patience it took to build them all.

This was an early attempt at vertical flight, and supposedly a prototype of the same kind was tested in Germany "with limited success." Whatever that means. I find it hard to imagine that this thing would ever fly, but it has a lot of style to it.

Very steampunk.

After the museum, we went to Malibu Grand Prix outdoor karting track. That was not very exciting, because the karts did not go very fast, and were set up to brutally understeer no matter what. You could also not do flying laps and had to go back to grid after every lap and launch from the dead stop each time. They would space the karts in such a way as to make it impossible to catch up the the car ahead, eliminating any need to pass.

Nevertheless, Jason and I took first and second lap times respectively for the session, and likely for the day.

I guess this makes the long weekend no longer racing-free, but that's okay.

Hawks and doves

After 18 months, I am looking at new pads on all four corners of the S2000 and all-new rotors for the front as well. The front rotors are dished about 1.5mm deep, and the inside front pads are on the rivets. Rears are better, and the rotors look salvageable, but I figure I should better change to a more streetable pad now. Really tired of the dust. Noise did not bug me much at all, but the dust was epic.

When I originally bought the pads and rotors in December 2008, Carbotech said nothing about the street-ability of AX6s. These days they say on the site that they do not recommend them for street use.

Aside from reduced rotor and pad life and tons of dust, I have no complaints about the AX6s. They do stop the car in a hurry, and worked wonderfully for me for a season and a half, doing double duty for me and my codrivers.

I am contemplating putting either Carbotech Bobcat pads on the car next, or maybe Hawk HPCs. Not sure yet, will have to think about it for a day or so.