Striping Wasabi

Now that I finally broke down and named my race car Wasabi, I thought I should do something about that dark burgundy stripe, which I never was too fond of. In photos, as well as from any distance, the stripe appears black, but in certain lighting it gets an almost purple look.

Long story short, I have procured some 6" wasabi-green vinyl stripes and some 1" black stripes for edging, and will be applying them to the car soon. My hope is the weekend of July 10th, when I'll be also hanging around the garage for some general maintenance on the car, such as a water pump and timing belt replacement.

Not sure what to do about the contingency stickers, hopefully white will be visible enough on the green-black striping. Bought both black and white from Mazdaspeed just to be sure.

In the meantime, here's a very rough, out-of-scale, mock-up of what the stripes will look like once we're done. I think it's going to look mean and super-fast!

I like this trend :)

I will not claim I know why my page views are climbing, but I like this trend.

Just to put it in perspective, the online community I run for VMware gets more page views in one hour than I have counted since the statistics have been enabled. But then again, it's not like I am trying to make money off of this.

I have been showing some Google AdSense ads on the pages and in the RSS feeds (sorry if they annoy you) and have earned all of $8.88 in the two years I had that running. I think I will take down the RSS ads, and possibly the others as well.

Turns out, AdSense does not pay out your earnings until you trip $100, and that means that at the same rate, I have another five years until I see any money out of this, and potentially annoy both of you, my loyal readers.

Which also makes me think, that there must be untold millions sitting on the AdSense books that Google can't even recognize as revenue, and which all of us small-fry bloggers will never be able to get our hands on. Not like the eight bucks will break the bank here, but this just appears like a sub-optimal arrangement.

Art.com, on whose daughter site ArtistRising.com I have set up an account to sell prints also has a minimum amount to trigger a payment, but at the end of fiscal year they still cut you a check. So at least they balance the books once a year.

My princely revenue from that undertaking was all of $3.00 but I see no reason why they should have kept it. Neither should Google AdSense.


2009 The County Fair Wingman

This 90% Shiraz - 10% Viognier blend from Sebastopol has a few things going for it beyond its affordability. It made for a very decent accompaniment to a dinner, and got finished over a movie. Otherwise utterly unremarkable and forgettable, which explains why I am having a hard time remembering what this wine was like.

2009 Cocobon Red table wine

These days, when I come to Trader Joe's, I tell the folks in the wine aisle straight out about my quest to find the ultimate wine for less than 10 dollars.

Cocobon came highly recommended by the dude I spoke to that day.

I was immediately taken by the tastefully designed label. And though the suggested chocolate cake pairing did nothing for me, I could imagine a thing or two to go well with this wine.

Back at home, the wine did not disappoint. Just as promised, the rich chocolaty flavor dominated the nose and palate. What this wine lacks in complexity, it makes up in boldness.

Despite being a dry red, Cocobon drinks almost like a port wine, without the typical side effects.


My imaginary Car Talk episode

I have a dirty secret: I am a dedicated Car Talk listener, and have been, since I bought my first car in 2006.

Every once in a while I like to imagine what it would be like to be on Car Talk as a caller.

Due to the fact that car noises do not puzzle me anymore, I don't really have a good excuse to call Click and Clack. Well then, I'd have to make something up!

I figure the call would go something like this.

Ray: "Hello, you're on Car Talk!"

Yours truly: "Ohai, this is Alex from San Jose. I have a 1990 white Mazda Miata, and sometimes it makes this loud BAM! noise from underneath the car."

Ray: "Is it a metallic noise?"

Me: "No, it's kind of like if someone whacks the underside of my car with a rubber mallet."

Tom: "Can you make that noise again?"

Me (happy to oblige): "BAM!"

Ray: "And it comes from underneath the car?"

Me: "Yes, kinda like from the wheel wells."

Ray: "All four at once?"

Me: "No, one, then another... but I think all four corners do that."

Tom: "When does the noise usually happen? Right away, or after you've been driving for a while?"

Me: "It usually is after I have been driving for a while. Like five to ten miles. Sooner when the weather is hot."

Ray: "Do you need to be going fast for the car to make the noise?"

Me: "Yes. Definitely over 70 miles an hour."

The hosts would hem and haw, and try to gain some time by asking more questions.

Tom: "So you said your car was red?"

Ray: "No, she said it was white!"

Tom: "You haven't got a clue, have you?"

Ray (to his brother): "Do you? (Then to me) Do you park your car in the street?"

Me: "No, I always park it in the garage."

Tom: "How many miles do you think you drive the car every month?"

Me: "No more than 200. Mostly on weekends."

Ray: "So when would you say are you most likely to hear the noise?"

Me (finally spilling the beans): "I'd say, at the end of a straightaway, like when I'm approaching Turn One at Thunderhill. Could it be the tire worms?" [1]

I don't see how this could possibly go wrong.

[1] Tire worms are worm-like pieces of melted rubber that accumulate around the circumference of the tire as the car slips a bit in corners. When you get to a straight and gather speed, the centrifugal force of the rotating tire will make some of them fly off and hit the underside of the car with that typical Bam! sound. The longest worm I saw stuck to my car was about 7 inches long and a good 1/4 of an inch thick.


A license to race 2

Long story short, I have a full racing license now. Another three races, and I will be taking those orange letters "R" off my car.

This post is not going to be an epic tale of great deeds and derps. I want to use this time to look back at how I got to this milestone.

A little over a year ago, I walked into my first drivers' meeting at Thunderhill. I remember Barry Hartzel asking who of us in the beginner group wanted to become a racer, and me raising my hand with a few others in the room.

Had Barry asked me that day when I thought my first race would be, even in my wildest dreams I wouldn't have guessed that the correct answer was eleven months. Exactly twelve months after my first track weekend, I was holding my full competition license in my hands.

A year later, I must admit that the physical aspect of driving was the easier thing to learn and master: inputs at the wheel and the pedals, threshold-, trail-, and left-foot braking, general car control. The mental part is what I find to be truly challenging: overcoming the fear of going outside the comfort zone, learning to focus on the right things at the right time, and plotting out your line a few turns ahead.

I have run five races now, and in each race, I was turning the slowest laps of the entire field. However, in almost every race I managed to finish ahead of at least one car. Though I intend to improve my lap times, the lesson I learned from this is that consistency and patience will get me further than pure speed, if I am not yet ready to operate on that level.

Racing has more in common with yoga and martial arts than you'd think, as all three demand full concentration and inner calm, paired with the ability to quiet your ego so it doesn't get in your way of performing at your best level.

I am certain that even as I improve and learn new tricks, racing will continue reminding me to remain humble on my journey up through the ranks.