Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Feel Free


(Random picture of a cat driving a car.)

I've heard verbal comments from lots of people from the past few months about my blog posts but it seems like the web comments are down. That's fine, but I thought I would bring up that the web comments are fun to go back and forth with. It starts a broader conversation with everyone who tunes in. If you're nervous about your words appearing on the internet for all to read, choose the anonymous comment option. No one will ever know it was you. I've only ever jumped on one commenter one time and then he and his wife left our church (okay, actually I forced them out). But I rarely aim the literary guns at anyone. You have almost nothing to fear.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Don't Smile Too Much...

...cause my teeth got knocked out by a chainsaw."

Introducing the Turtle Man:



At one point he's holding a snapper by the tail and it really looks like it's trying to chomp his junk. That would be fatal.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Google Earth Freakout


(Bondi Beach near Sydney, Australia -- CLICK FOR A LARGER PIC)

Has anyone else been freaked out by the level of detail in Google Earth? Our part of the world is not very detailed yet but Australia is. I snapped this pic after finding a random beach near Sydney. You can make out individual people pretty well. See the 4 guys playing ping pong in the waist-high lagoon? I bet if you browsed the coastal areas you could eventually see a shark in the water.

Our corner of the world is not so detailed. We're several zoom-in layers behind. Somehow Newton, and probably west Wichita are one layer closer in than east Wichita which is ahead of Kansas City.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Viva La Verizon

I've come to the conclusion that all the cell phone companies suck. All the companies that use GSM towers, which is T-Mobile and AT&T, have signal issues. Sprint, which has it's own network of towers, occasionally completely mangle their billing. Verizon has excellent tower coverage but poor sound quality. Alltel had billing issues at one time but is now owned by Verizon. Pick your poison.

I will say that we picked up some neat phones from Verizon. Nifty LG's with full keyboards. Also the service we got a Best Buy was great.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Adios Verizon

EDIT: I just blew this post away. It sucked. I went on about how we had ditched Verizon, whose sound quality I have mocked in the past, in favor of Cingular whose call droppage has just turned me off. And I'm just not in the writing mood tonight. Why fight it?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Quickest BMW in the US.



To the uninitiated, this video looks like a somewhat quick car, but probably only a little faster than the car you drive. But this is because you don't have a good frame of reference for how slow a normal car is, at least when you're watching from the stands (not driving). It's not until you see the in-car portion of this video that you get an idea of how violently fast this BMW is. It ran a 9.8 second quarter mile time which is fast enough to run down the faster sport bikes out there. That's fast enough to make most of us pee our pants.

Hear the unique inline-6 sound again?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jason's Song of the Day



Okay, I'm a little late to the party on these guys. This has been out for 6 months. This song, Closer, when I first heard it made me think of Cody's band. Not that I don't like the song, 'cause I do. It was one of only 3 songs on the CD that I thought were worthy. But it's sounds like one of Cody's songs.

PS: Thanks Gossipgirl, whoever you are. I just found this on a search on youtube.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mario Kart



See! The French are alright.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jason's Olde Tyme Advice

When life throws you off that racing motorcycle, pick yourself up and get back on that thing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jason's Song of the Day

I love this band right now. Well, maybe just this one song. The rest of the CD doesn't quite measure up. Don't worry it's not actually death metal. That stuff can kill you. No, they're more like the Rolling Stones. Happy Turkey Day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The More You Know



Lighting yourself on fire might look cool, but it can burn you. No, seriously, dude.

(Warning: Some fowl language & much hilarity.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stop!


Ha! The last post was too bitter for you to comment on (except for Matthew). Cain't touch dis.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh Yeah, The Election



I haven't felt like writing much lately and have been pretty busy so it's been a while since I posted. Sorry for being boring.

Here's my synopsis of the presidential election. The majority of voters decided to vote against a washed-up 'moderate' old fart who swung to the right to appease his party base and was successfully portrayed as George Bush the third (if you're keeping count) and in favor of an admitted Socialist so that they could get their greedy hands in the grab bag of government that was promised to them. Those voters wanted free healthcare, money stolen from the rich and corporations, and an immediate end to the Iraq war so genocide can take place there, among other things.

Now look, don't take the word 'Socialist' as an insult, those of you who voted for him. That's not a dirty word as far as I'm concerned. It's a neutral description of the philosophy of a centrally-controlled economy and with the goal being redistribution of wealth. In several instances Obama, the big winner, said he believed in those ideals. I don't hold that against anyone, it's a legitimate belief, just one that I think is horribly flawed and illogical. But class warfare rhetoric sells socialism pretty well to casual TV watchers ignorant of both history and economics.

Hey, that's fine, give the other guys a shot a running the show. Bush certainly had his disappointments to me. It's not the end of the world and there will be another election in 4 years. Here's what I think will happen between now and then.

The Big Bail-Out Culture that has been created as the result of Carter-era (big-D) Democratic ideas which created a market for mortgages for people who can't pay for them, will continue to grow. Right now the automakers are getting $25b and are asking for another $50b. AIG, the insurance company, is now on the hook for $150b. This doesn't even get to the $750b in the main bail-out legistlation that passed a little while back that puts the government in the banking and mortgage business. So we're already at at least $1 trillion and we will continue to see more and more demands from industries far and wide. Whoever has made the most contributions to congress will continue to win. The numerous special powers given to the Treasury Secretary will not expire in 2009 as the law was written. That's a power grab that's never going to be returned to the people.

In the meantime, Obama and Congress will let the Bush and Reagan tax cuts expire in 2009 and 2010, triggering the largest income tax increase in our history. This idea will be sold as the rich finally paying their share. This is despite the fact that the top 50% of income earners in this country have paid 90-some% of the income tax for a long time. http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=6. The majority of voters will essentially be voting to take money from the minority.

This tactic will provide more revenue to the Federal government for a year or two, then revenue will drop from the stifling effect of the tax burden on our economy. Capital gains and corporate taxes will also go up and the same class warfare will be used to sell this idea. Despite the fact that most Americans have stocks in their retirement funds, buy goods from corporations, and are employed by corporations they will happily vote themselves into slow or no growth in those 401ks, higher priced goods, and a higher unemployment rate than we currently have. But they sure will be sticking it to the evil rich people and the corporations. Towards the end of Obama's term those voters will be wondering why GDP has been flat or receding for so many years despite all this government spending.

While they're in there, the strong Democratic majority will attempt to implement some form of government supplied healthcare or insurance, ignoring the many problems with the V.A. hospital system and the shortage of beds and doctors in Canada with their system, which largely survives because our imperfect but still world-class system is available right across the border. A lot of doctors will retire rather than deal with the huge beauracracy. Many worthy students won't bother going to medical school. This will be because the government will control how much those doctors' services are worth and it will be necessarily low if history is any indicator. In the meantime those doctor's liabilities will continue to increase, raising the cost of malpractice insurance. The combination of these factors will mean it's not worth it to rack up a those 6-figure school loans for a decade and a half of hard studying.

I could go into the Iraq war but this is already getting long enough. I would hope that Obama's administration would learn from the first time we left Iraq when tens or hundreds of thousands of Shittes and Kurds were killed. If not then the 5k soldiers lives lost so far will be in vain and another dictatorship will pop up. Syrian and Iranian Ba'athists will continue to pour across the border. Iran's supreme leader will thank us for the gift.

So really, I think we're looking at Carter Part Two in 4 years and the Republicans need to nominate an actual conservative who can enthusiastically contrast their ideals. Enough of the voters will tire of a failing economy and probably multiple international bungles and the pendulum will swing fiercely to the other side where Reagan II will take over. For some, it will be the first time that message has been heard, which tells you something.

To my leftists buddies, don't take this as some attempt to get in your face an argue. I'm not about that. That tactic doesn't convince anyone of anything anytime. That's not what this is. It's just a blogger's take on what we're in for. Congratulations on your guy getting the job. Have fun with it. If I'm wrong 4 years from now you let me know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Writing Process



I don't know if this makes me a prima donna or not, but I only seem to be able to write coherently when I'm in a certain mood. Otherwise it comes out like a John Kerry interview, all incohernt and wordy. You get a long answer that starts and stops several times but doesn't really say anything. What the heck is wrong with me? It's like I have to have a certain amount of mental limberness that doesn't necessarily have to do with sharpness. I could swear it's all emotional. Anyway, this may explain some of my crappier posts. Nighty night.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Crystal Cathedral Has Cracks



It seems the Schullers, pictured, from the famous Hour of Power broadcast weekly from the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, have a split on their hands.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,444085,00.html

The old Schuller has fired the younger Schuller for having a different vision for the future of the ministry. People will have to make a choice. Some will be loyal to one Schuller, some to the other, and some will be torn between the two. Eventually the people in the latter group are going to have to take sides and that's a tough place to be.

One can only hope that the Schuller that initiated the split underwent some honest reflection and prayer before making the decision. I would hope the lines of communication were open. Maybe they were and we just haven't heard about it; I can only guess.

The Schullers pastored a very large congregation together. A split will likely result in two viable churches. Imagine if this sort of thing happened in a small church. It would probably be devastating.

PS: I've always thought the older Schuller looked like Skeletor from He-Man, especially when he wore a robe when preaching. Good thing it didn't have a hood.

NOTE: Edited for clarity and brevity on 10/29. For the record, I love and respect both of the analogous Schullers, not the actual Schullers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nothing To Do With Rally Racing


Edited on 10/29. Okay really, there is no possible tie-in to the people I commute with on the highway. I'm reminding myself of Walter in the Big Lewbowski these days. Not everything has to do with bad drivers, Walter. Sometimes chimps riding Segways are just funny.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Rallying

Here's what I guy who knows what he's doing in professional equipment. He's not screwing around.



The car is an early BMW M3, the famous e30 generation chassis, which is probably my favorite chassis of all time. The only thing wrong is the sound. M3's are high horsepower 4-cylinders; I prefer the luscious sound of the great M20 inline 6-cylinder.

Here's a sample of what the 6-cylinder sounds like. Almost gives me goosebumps.



Could you tell the difference?

Stage Rally Navigation

If you've ever wondered what the navigator in a stage rally does, this video illustrates it pretty well. The footage is from Keith Tanner who owns the famous Flyin' Miata shop in Colorado. Footage is from the Targa Newfoundland stage rally in a non-turbocharged Miata. The roads are pretty narrow. Looks like a blast to me but a bit slow in that particular car. Your typical rally racecar, like a Subuaru WRX would have more than double the power and all-wheel-drive so you can picture how much faster that would be.



Man, I've been jonesing to race lately...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Great Dub

Watch and be amazed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Music

Calexico - Two Silver Trees (Carried to Dust CD)


I really dig this CD. Found it just reading a record review a couple weeks ago. There are several other standout songs on the record: Red Blooms, Man Made Lake, The News About William, and House of Valparaiso. I have to admit this video is pretty lame but I don't know how else I can share the song. They really should have stuck to the art and other imagery instead of occasionally cutting to 2 average white guy band members every now and then. It just loses something. Consider minimizing the window while the video plays so you can just hear the music.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Faith In SNL Has Been Restored

Okay, a couple weeks ago they were making incest jokes about Palin's family. It's pretty hard to come back from that but now they're back in my good graces with this sketch.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Left My Sunglasses in Miami

I really did. This is why I never buy nice watches or sunglasses. If I don't leave them somewhere I destroy them.

Less than 48 hours ago I had my feet in the fine white sand in South Beach, eighty degree dark green Atlantic waters rushing over my hairy florescent midwestern office worker feet. I knew the Atlantic that far south was warm but didn't expect it to be so comfortable in October.


(Not my pic, just a Google hit.)

Ocean Drive runs along South Beach near downtown Miami, FL. It's lined with Art Deco era hotels and restaurants, all with patio dining areas and filled with beautiful people. As the tourists walk past, cute hostesses (and hosts) pounce on them so they'll sit down for a $25 plate of food with 15% suggested gratuity and hopefully lots of drinks from the bar. After a few passes all the way up and down the street I settle in at the News Cafe (check out the live cam), because of a lack of aggressive hostess mugging and the neat candle-lit courtyard with mostly full tables.

Dining by yourself is an exercise in trying not to look/feel weird and I've brought a book along to combat this but there are a lot of people passing thru, it's noisy and dimly lit, so I spend most of my time people-watching. Most everyone is speaking Spanish but I hear some German tourists every now and then along with a few other languages I can't identify with all the background noise. I expected a lot of Spanish speakers to be here but the landscape is almost completely dominated by it. Outside of a few of the employees at my hotel, everyone's first language is Spanish. Their accents are distinctly different from the somewhat lazy sounding Mexican accent we're used to. These people are mostly from Cuba, Central & South America. They also look like European Spaniards for the most part.

I hear the thin, neatly dressed waiter at the next table talking to his customers. He's a wanderer from Las Vegas who has been travelling across the US. He sticks out a bit being white but it's mostly the nearly-knee high black socks, wingtips, shorts, white shirt & tie. He appears to be very professional and I'm guessing he saves up cash working these kinds of jobs which funds the next destination. Timid me did not strike up a conversation but I wonder if he's headed north next or going to follow the southern coast back around. The weather here is way too nice to head to New York until well into spring. I have to admit that I'm a bit jealous at this point. I would love to have wandered the world without obligations or responsibilities before meeting my lovely wife and having children. Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy, I just like to explore. Trips like this are great for that. Wish I had another day or two but I couldn't have afforded a couple of nights at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa on my own dime.

Note to Pearl: I walked through the Miami airport with John Legend. Yeah, seriously. I could have struck up a conversation but it would have gone something like: "Thanks for not being overly sucky in an incredibly crappy dumbed-down music genre. Did you get that shirt at the GAP?"

Other Random Notes:
  • The new Honda Accord is a nice driving car. It handles really well and I rode it hard. Don't have much praise for the Dunlop SP 7000 tires though. They're crap. I don't know if I should blame Honda North America or Hertz for those.
  • Downtown Miami is huge. Even huge-r than you'd think. Visit the world's neatest Target store while you're there.
  • Take a lesson from me while Karting at the Miami GP; trail-brake at corner entry or you'll never goet those rental karts to turn-in properly.
  • Don Johnson, David Caruso, and Will Smith were no where to be found despite what I've seen on the TV.
  • Miami traffic is pretty bad but the roads never see frost heave or snow plows so they're liquid smooth. I was so jealous.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Format... Again

Okay, I've changed the format again. The color of the previous one was starting to bug me and I don't have the patience to edit the HTML code twenty times while I took a stab in the dark at the color code #'s. Irritating.

Friday, September 19, 2008

17 Years in 2 Minutes



This guy took a picture of himself once a day for 17 years and streamed the pics together as video. Imagine how frightening this movie will get in another 13 years when it's 30 years worth.

What would your 17 year movie look like? I'm pretty sure mine would look like I was being inflated, then getting my head shaved, and shrinking slightly. Not pretty. Better work on the deflating part some more.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Car or Beefier Wife?



Last weekend Annie and I went racing in Salina in the Wee Little Beastie Honda. It was a very high speed course for autocrossing, upwards of 70 mph, but keep in mind that's with nothing but turns. It was a violent ride and Annie's first time riding/driving the car in several months. I don't want to misquote her but she said something along the lines of, "You scare the s%#t out of me on that ride," which I think is some kind of compliment.

Anyway the Honda has manual steering with a quick ratio gearset, lots of weight over the front wheels because it's front wheel drive, and race tires. That adds up to some substantial steering effort. I have to admit I was a tiny bit sore the next morning, but it went away quickly because I am so gosh darned manly. Annie, on the other hand, had quite a bit of difficulty steering the car on course. She had neither the grip nor upperbody strength to really keep up. We didn't plow into a wall of traffic cones, but we were worried several times. Unfortunately a power steering retrofit isn't really possible with this particular engine in this particular car. It literally won't fit due to the physical size of the engine.

So it's the classic question of whether I should get my wife to lift weights or go car shopping.

If I had a dollar for every time this has come up. Any suggestions, readers? At this point I am leaning towards an e30 generation BMW, one with 4-doors. We were already thinking about piecing one together with the parts of my current rusty 2-door BMW. Here's an artist's rendering.



Okay, really it's the D-Street Prepared class autocross champion's car. It won't be exactly the same but would look somewhat similar. Picture a babyseat in the back Monday thru Saturday.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kindergarten Music Milestones

My daughter will be turning 6 soon and started Kindergarten last month. For some reason today I'm remembering the weird music I heard on the radio when I was her age.

I don't think I've ever seen this video before. Eddie Grant looks a lot more normal than I pictured when I was a little kid. The guy in my head looks more like a scarier George Clinton.



Elvira has to be one of the weirdest country songs I've heard to this day. I wouldn't say I liked the song, just remembered it. Notice how the music ends awkwardly on this TV show performance. Those lip syncing hillbilly bastards!



One more; I actually liked this song from the Alan Parsons Project at the time. I remember this tape looping over and over on road trips between New Mexico and Kansas City. It's definitely nerd rock. Sorry, dad.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Foreigner Sucks

This is what happens when you listen to classic rock. It rots young brains. Obviously this young lad was overexposed. Just goes to show you can't be too careful. I bet he shows up to Kindergarten in a Canadian Tuxedo. By the time he's 14 he'll be predisposed to Camaro ownership.

This footage is a little long but stick with it. It gets pretty good from about 1:20 on.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

I Can Explain Everything



Okay; when I went down the big slide holding a toddler while plowing into another toddler, it was a horrible accident. As I was situating Anthony and I on the mat at the top of the slide I wiggled just a bit too much and sent the two of us barreling down the slide, totally unprepared, towards little Ally (age 4 and approximately the size and weight of a cabbage patch doll). Luckily I was able to spread my feet apart so she didn't get a shoe to the face. She impacted my gut and went flying with us off the end of the slide and onto the landing pad. She was a little surprised but thankfully not injured or crying. I stayed off the slide after that.

The next incident was in the inflatable boxing ring. Cody and I decided to duke it out because the cartoonishly oversized gloves looked like too much fun to ignore. Plus I think Cody wanted to get back at me for putting my bare feet on his couch one time, which I agree was thoughtless and tacky. By the end of that fight I was gassed and not standing upright but Paul R. wanted to get in on the fun so I decided to go a round with him. Neither one of us held back and I think we were starting to draw a crowd of kids. At this point I'm almost stepping on them because Paul has shoved me into the corner (hey, it's a fight). The staff person hurriedly pulled them out and away. We regroup and I'm throwing haymakers to get over the top of his guard. In my exhausted state this leads to at least one thump to the back of Paul's head. I've seen enough professional fights to know that's illegal and a bit discourteous, but I didn't have complete control over my body at that moment. After the last smack to the back of Paul's head we both drop to the inflated ground, fully exhaust and perhaps mildly injured in Paul's case. I lay there for a good 5 minutes because I can't get enough oxygen to limp out of the ring. Paul seems to be just fine and I apologize for hitting him on the back of the head.

So to sum up, I'd like to apologize to Ally & her parents (A&S), Paul R, the staff at Pump It Up (west location), and Mel & Cody for embarrassing them and potentially exposing them to litigation. The Pump It Up staff didn't take my picture, but I'm pretty sure I'm on some kind of list now.

Happy Birthday, Mason.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

That Tiger Went Tiger



Yay! I can finally post full width videos on this blog. Had to edit the HTML code for the template. Supwitdat, blogspot/google?

I love this video. A crowd of Asians (I'm guessing Indians [not Native Amurikans]) rope a tiger and pull it down from the tree. The tiger can't maul everyone but you gotta know going into it that at least 1 or 2 people are gonna get the teeth and claws; don't be the first guy in line on the rope. I'm not positive but it looks like blood might be spraying at 17seconds. I think that's the reason for the replay. I think someone's femoral artery may have gotten chomped. Let that be a lesson to you, kids.

They Want to Please What???

Don't worry! This car dealership ad is funny in an adult sort of way but nothing vulgar is said. Pay attention to the slogan at the end.




BTW, welcome to the new format. I thought it was time for a visual change. The content won't change. It's the same crap as before.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

This guy used to work at Cessna. Good stuff.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Let's Hear It For Manual Steering

I promise not to make this too car tech nerdy.



I like to think I can take on anything related to repairing a car. I'm self taught (but overly enthused?) and haven't taken a car to a repair shop since 2001 because I've been able to do it all myself. I'm known for my large garage, stockpile of tools, car trivia knowledge, and piles of spare parts. I also have the patience to wait things out and do it right most of the time (here's where Teason tells a story about me from college...). Why just a month or two ago I spent 8 hours replacing some engine mounts. Most of that time was spent patiently lining up bolts in awkward places. Most people would have screamed and given up long ago.

But all of my skills and patience were put to the test this weekend and I failed.

What brought me to my knees? A power steering pump on an old-style Jeep Cherokee. Yeah, that was all it took. Nothing custom or more complicated than that. The truck belongs to a friend. I helped him change the belt in the parking lot at work last week. We determined the problem was actually the pump and since it was right on top and appeared to be easily removed I agreed to help him out and tackle the job Saturday morning while it was still cool outside. I estimated the professional book rate to be 1.5 hours at the most. It had one of those horrible press-on pulleys. They're a struggle but I've always been able to finish the job. I'm an automotive winner with an undefeated record.

Until now.

After we broke 3 perfectly good rebuilt pumps ($70-$90/ea) and 3 pulleys ($20/ea), made 4 round trips to Wichita ($30), sweated through 6 shirts (ew), broke 2 installation tools ($30), spent 15 hours (ack), and severely angered my wife (yikes), I waived the white flag. I had to tell my poor coworker buddy that I didn't have the time, patience, or will to continue struggling with his car repair. Another friend of his drove up and they towed the truck back to Wichita this afternoon. I don't think I've ever felt as defeated as I did today. We're still on good terms as far as I know but I feel bad that we spent a lot of money and time to avoid spending a lot of money in a shop and it completely backfired.

So Paul R, if you're reading this, this is why I wasn't at church and couldn't come over Saturday p.m. I definitely wasn't hanging out in the garage drinking beer and having a good old time. It was blood, sweat, and (internal) tears with surprisingly little cursing.

As a result of this un-fun experience and the resulting spousal friction I'm not going to volunteer to help anyone with their car anytime soon. I don't mean to take this out on you all but I'm going to have to for a while. We've got too much going on and I have to quit this habit of over-committing. Also, I don't care who you are, I'm not helping with your power steering pump if it has a press-fit pulley. In fact, if I had a vehicle with such a pump on it right now it would be up for sale; that's how strongly I currently feel about this.

I've never enjoyed the high steering effort in my manual steering Honda more than I did today.

Boring Technical Section
Honestly, why is this design still in use? This was on a 2001 model. I think it goes back a ways, at least until the early 80's, maybe further. Basically the only thing holding the pulley on the shaft is the interference fit between the pulley bore and the pump shaft. This is also what transmits all of the power to the pump. Therefore it's stinking tight. Deal with one of these things and you'll get knowing nods from parts store clerks and old timers.

The pumps have no thrust provision so you can't use a regular hydraulic press or you'll push the pump shaft into the impeller housing and out the back of the casing (ask me how I found out... twice). You MUST use an installation tool that threads into the internal threads on the shaft or you risk destroying the pump.

Also, the pulley is made of pudding. Okay, it's more like an aluminum hub with a polymer casting around it that forms the belt grooves. We broke 4 of them trying to get them off the pumps. The center lip, the one made to engage the removal tool, completely sheared off of 2. The others cracked and exploded around the edges when we tried to press them off a FUBAR'd pump.

So I have to ask... WHAT'S SO DAMNED HARD ABOUT USING A KEY WAY OR SPLINES AND A BOLT TO RETAIN THIS PULLEY? Basic machine design here.

No special tools would be needed and labor would be reduced dramatically. But it would cost another 50 cents per vehicle to do and part count would go up slightly. That's the summary of the modern car, especially domestics. They are designed to be easy and cheap to build at the assembly line level with factory tooling. If that makes the most basic maintenance operations a living nightmare it doesn't matter as long as the part makes it past warranty where it's someone elses' problem. As a result, it often looks like the vehicle was assembled around something you need access to. It just doesn't make sense from a maintenance point of view. Ditto on wiring harness and plumbing routings.

Anyway, if you have a domestic car built in the last 30 years, especially a GM product, you probably have at least one of these pulleys, if not 2 (check your water pump!). I've also done time in press-on power steering hell in a Ford product. I think I've done the last one that I'm going to do ever again though.

Okay, rant's over. Thanks for reading this far, fellow boring technical people. We may be boring people but at least we know it all.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Buncha Bull

I guess if you're not a good futbol (soccer!!) player but you have quick feet and good timing this is what you do for a living.



I promise there will be additional entertaining posts, dear readers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Wee Little Beastie

...is back on the road again



...in all it's low rider glory.



Oh man, the Fast n' Furious import geeks are jealous. Baggy-panted backwards-hatters stare at it everywhere it goes.

This car has probably spent more time on jackstands than on the ground since I bought it last year. Things are looking up though. I upgraded shocks, springs, rear anti-sway bar, and a quick ratio manual steering rack. Several parts were on backorder and I was short on time to work on it but the wait was well worth it.


(Here's what the shocks and springs look like. Yes, one is missing.)

Annie and I raced the car last weekend (sorry, no action shots). I was the fastest non-go-kart of the event until one car beat me in the last heat. Still, 2nd place out of 45 cars is dang quick. Annie was in over her head and never got comfortable driving it fast. In her defense she had driven the car for the first time just the day before. She's also new to autocrossing and the level of aggression needed to sling this thing around the course was completely foreign to her. I rode with her for every run and we trampled many cones because she underestimated how easily the it can change directions. She was pretty flabbergasted and tired by the last run. I think she may have kissed her blue Protege5 on the drive home from her parents that day.

We raced at the Sunflower Aerodrome in Yoder, which used to be Hutchinson Naval Air Base. The old abandoned tower is still there.



It's an unbelievably neat place and I really get a sense of WWII history there. It used to have two 7000 ft runways, which is very long even by today's standards. Some big iron used to fly in and out of there. One runway and several taxiways remain. The surface is starting to break up quite a bit though, and weeds and vegetation are everywhere. Nature is attempting to reclaim this mostly abandoned ground. The whole area is privately owned except for a stretch of taxiway the Highway Patrol uses for driver training and offices. The site has a long history of sports car road racing which took place their as recently as 1993 on some of the curvy taxiways that are no longer there. I got to drive on one stretch of it on our way across the site to the paddock and could picture how fun it must have been.

The place is still an active general aviation airport but with very few services. It's mostly used as a glider launch site (aka 'the Sunflower Aerodrome'). When we were racing last Sunday we were interrupted a dozen times by an old Cessna towing a glider into the air. They flew right over us at maybe 75 ft.



The Honda will have to serve as our main family car for several days. While patching a tire on the P5 (the Protege5 wagon) tonight I discovered that the inside edges of the front tires were destroyed and the tires were on chords. New tires are on order but until Wednesday of next week we'll shuttle around in the Honda. It's sort of loud and it rides hard but hardly anyone noticed around here. The kids have grown up in cars like this and Annie is used to it. We're a racing family for sure.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Bat is Back


(Peeka-Boo! Our Brown Bat buddy in his window ledge perch.)

Five years and counting. That's how long we've lived in this house and that's the number of consecutive years this little brown bat has migrated back to his summer home on a ledge above our living room window. I posted about him last September (scroll down about 3/4 to Sept 14th)

I'm kinda worried if he's going to be a liability when we put this house on the market. Not everyone wants this kind of critter on the front porch. For now I'm content with being able to say I have a bat and the fact the he eats his body weight in mosquitoes every few days or something along those lines.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Jim Morrison Simulatron



This is a few years old (2001!) but I was thinking of it again today and it's still up on themodernhumorist.com. They never seem to update that website. Anyway, have fun with this. My favorite phrase to 'play' on Mr. Mojo Rising is "Eat...Yo-ah...Pork an' Beans."

You can click on the pic above or use the link below.
http://modernhumorist.com/mh/0107/simulatron/#

And you thought this blog was pointless! Ha! In your face!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nutella



Nutella, where have you been all my life? Annie and I have just discovered this stuff. It's the most delicious thing you can put on toast, or bake into a croissant, or maybe put in your mouth. We're way behind Europe but well ahead of the rest of Amurika on this one.

I'm going so Euro. Just check out my Euro car, My Euro coffee (french press or espresso on any given day), and now my Euro toast spread. I'm still going to say 'non' to socialism though.

Honda VTEC Explained

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Roid Rage


(It may surprise you to learn this man was using steroids. Look up the story of Greg Valentino sometime. You may have seen the documentary "The Man Whose Arms Exploded" on Discovery Channel. His arms really were that big. This image wasn't Photoshopped.)

I got another steroid injection in my back late last week because my lower back muscles were starting to tighten up and potentially spasm again. I had to stay home from work again. These shots only last for about 2-3 weeks and it had been 3-1/2 weeks and my doc fully expected I would need 2-3 injections. The first round really seemed to help. The muscles relaxed and seemed to be healing. I had some evenings and mornings where things were sore but it was a huge improvement over the weeks and months before that and it really felt like things were healing. I didn't notice any side effects whatsoever.

Today though, I'm noticing something new.

I've been irritable and easily frustrated the past few days. I seem to be in a little bit of a mental fog too. Then this afternoon I felt energetic for no reason and went up the stairs in my office building two at a time and wasn't the least bit tired at the top. This was after an evening spent moving heavy car parts into a storage unit, something I had second thoughts about doing all evening because of my fragile back. I seem to be feeling a little bit aggressive too, like I could snap and throw someone over the counter while waiting in line at Subway if they piss me off.

Sounds like classic roid rage, doesn't it? My doctor mentioned that these side effects were very possible when I got the first injection. Looks like I have enough of it in my system now that it's showing up. I should go dig out the weight set from the basement and see what I can pull off in the next 2 weeks.

But seriously, I'm glad it's working because my fragile lower back muscles, ligaments, and discs are in horrible shape and I desperately need something to get me over the hump and on my way to recovery. I've been languishing and rupturing discs for way too long now.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Red Meat Comic

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jason's Montreal


(This is what Google Images says Old Montreal looks like. I have to agree.)

Okay, there's no way this is an actual guide to Montreal. I was in the town for 25 hours (11 a.m. Tuesday to 12 p.m. Wednesday) for a business meeting and this is a wholly unbelievable amount of time to form any sense of a foreign city, but I've always loved reading the 1-2 page summary of a place in the famous Frommer's travel guides. They attempt to sum up a culture, customs, local attractions, and etc in only a couple of pages and it's unintentionally hilarious. I've got 3 or 4 Frommer's that I'll have to scan the summary pages of so you can see what I mean. [New theory: Did Frommer's inspire Borat? Discuss.] Anyway, this is my attempt at a satirical Frommer's summary based on information gathered during my brief stay. None of this is meant to be insulting; it's just my goofy sense of humor. Feel free to make any corrections, especially you, 'Frenchgirl'. I wanted to talk to you before I left but didn't have time.

Montreal is located in the province of Quebec in the country of Canada, which is otherwise filled with Canadians except in Quebec, which is filled with displaced Frenchmen. These Frenchmen are a proud bunch and are afraid their language is being displaced by English which is the language of the rest of Canada who are displaced Englishmen themselves. Some countries such as Switzerland, whose primary language is not English, actually print the word 'stop' on their stop signs. This is convenient for English-speaking travelers but must feel like a cop out to the local population. It is for this reason that the Quebeckers print the word 'arrêt' on all their signs. To pound the point home, the arrêt sign is used at every intersection regardless of logic. There are no yield signs or roundabout intersections to make travel more efficient. Travellers will quickly learn the word, arrêt, via vigorous repetition.

Montrealtors are very capable drivers despite what most would consider to be tight quarters. They move quickly when needed and generally understand what their respective lanes are for. This is a good thing because there is an intersection every 20 feet and a lot of time can be lost if the driver hesitates to make the right move. This is also an opportunity for the traveller to see more of the city as he/she attempts to correct the inevitable navigational errors. Speed traps are virtually unheard of because there is little time and space in which to accelerate beyond the posted limit.

Compounding the navigational difficulties is the fact that there are actually two Montreals. Montrealites founded Old Montreal some time ago and lived there while constructing the regular Montreal, which is where the newer taller buildings are situated. If unsure which Montreal you have arrived at, simply find a Montrealian and recite the following question "Dites-moi s'il vous plaît si j'ai un grand fond?" and they will indicate to you which version of Montreal you are standing in.


(The author spotted no less than 6 navy blue Mazda Protege5 stationwagons, indicating that Montrealholics appreciate fine automobiles.)

Montrealitans appreciate healthy dining for the most part and there is much less junkfood than other places in North America which may appear to be sponsored by Hostess and Long John Silvers (see Frommer's USA). Excellent dining options are located in both versions of Montreal. Because both Montreals are located near a large ocean, sea food is both common and recommended.

Music can be a contentious subject in either Montreal. Most residents prefer listening to 70's vintage disco or Stereolab (bonjour!) while in bars and gathering places. Some Montrealters and other Quebeckians have made attempts at crafting Hip Hop musical forms but have generally failed due to their overwhelming whiteness and inability to sound tough.

There is currently no plan for the evil George Bush to annex either Montreal, which is a shame.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thanks Nattyman

Fellow blogger Nattyman posted a neat Newsweek article about globalization and the former dominance of the Western world by Fareed Zakaria. It appeared in Newsweek on 5/5. It's 7 pages long but reads quickly. I posted some comments on Nattyman's blog but thought it worth reposting here. I know some of you will disagree with my conclusions but I think you'll find it a good read anyway.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/135380/page/1


I disagree with some of the minor points about terrorism (we fight terrorism not because we're afraid of being killed individually but because it's a grave injustice.) and socialized medicine (cheaper for employers, tragically expensive for tax payers financially and physically) but agree with the overall conclusions.

The evidence really is all around us and I mean this in a positive way. Take a look at the aircraft mfg'ers in Wichita. International sales are brisk and providing tens of thousands of jobs locally.

If we Americans really want to compete globally we need to continue with the ideas we've exported. The same ones that took us from farmers and settlers to THE world super power in 150 years time. Capitalism and free markets. Those aren't dirty words.

Benny Hinn Gettin It Done

Benny Hinn smackin em up and layin em down!

Either there are a bunch of paid actors in the crowd at his events or it's a prime example of mob mentality or peer pressure. Maybe it's both.

But you have to admit that this footage is high-larious with the cheesy emo hard rock playing. You don't even have to have size 4XL pants and arcade button ear rings to appreciate this.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where We've Been

Hello Wheatland Mission folks and other Wichita buddies we haven't seen in a while. We miss you but haven't been feeling all that well lately. Last weekend I was the problem child. More back issues. I collapsed in pain in the parking lot the Friday before. All my lower back muscles were spasming at the same time. It was pain level 10, worse than the kidney stone I had once.

Luckily my dad-in-law suggested I see an anesthesia specialist for an epidural steroid injection. I got one later that day (ouch) and things got much, much better a day or two later but I was in no shape to sit in a chair Saturday. Things have really improved tremendously since the injection a little over a week ago. I still have a pinched nerve but it's manageable for now and may go away once the disc shrinks in maybe a month or so. If it doesn't shrink I may have to have surgery.

Anthony is the party pooper this weekend. The Lil Guy has had a fever off and on, but not much else. He gets to go to the doctor tomorrow.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Poop on Amici's.

I don't want this to be a long drawn out post like I'm apt to do on things like this, but let me just sum it up with this statement: Amici Italian restaurant at 37th St North and Rock Rd stinks. Don't waste your money there.

The wait staff is slow and unprofessional, although nice. The beef is tough and the prices are high. Don't bother bringing kids because they don't have a kids menu. At all. They also don't serve breakfast anymore. The entire time we were there we heard more about what they couldn't or wouldn't do than what they would be happy to do for us paying customers. We sat there and took it without getting grouchy or demanding, wishing we had left before the food arrived. The receipt I entered into Quicken (accounting s/w) said $58. This was for two adults and one child. No appetizers, no dessert, no booze.

If you do eat there against my advice, keep your receipt. You may find when you get your bank statement that they gave themselves an additional $10 tip. I've thought about going back in there to demand my $10 back but I don't have the original receipt, just a comparison to what I entered in Quicken and my bank statement which was $10 higher. $68 for poor service and bad food. Really chaps my hide.

So Amici is on my poop list. Luckily it's a short list, but you know how gung ho I get about these things. Don't get me started about Jack Miller Subaru in Olathe, KS or Buxman Motors in Newton, KS. My advice on that is never take your car to the dealership to get repaired unless it's under warranty. Even then, be prepared for a fight.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More Jason Approved Music

Jason Approved Music



Go forth and purchase.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Crazy John

Don't Touch Me!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So What is 'Autocrossing'?

I've had a few questions about 'autocrossing', the kind of racing Annie and I do so I thought it was high time I explained it better.

Technically and legally speaking, it's not racing. There's only one car on the track (aka 'course') at a time. The track is usually a big parking lot or airplane runway and the turns and straights are marked with regular traffic cones. The object is to get around the course in the shortest elapsed time possible without hitting any cones. If you happen to punt a cone 2 seconds is added to your time. If you hit 4 cones that +8 seconds.


(This is a friend's lightly-modified Honda Civic from the event we did a couple weekends ago. It's not uncommon for some cars to life the inside rear tire off the ground during really hard cornering. It's harmless and the driver can't even feel it come up or down.)

Cars are categorized into classes so that similar cars compete against each other. That's partially for fairness but it also makes for closer competition which really multiplies the fun. There are classes for completely stock cars like you're probably driving right now and there are classes for non-street legal full-on race cars with tens of thousands of dollars of modifications that go really, really fast.


(Here's a pic of a highly modified BMW in action. Pretty cool, huh?)

So who runs these events? A little known nation-wide club called the Sports Car Club of America which was formed shortly after WWII. There are clubs regionally all over the US and they offer more than just autocrossing. There's also road racing at dedicated race tracks, time-distance rallys (public roads, not actual racing), stage rallying (high speed racing on dirt roads and etc), and even hill climbs which involve racing up a mountain road against the clock. Anyway, at an autocross event the drivers also volunteer to run the event while they're not driving. Someone has to reset cones after they are sent flying, run the timer computer, flag the cars at the starting line, and so on. Those are all drivers waiting for their driving heat to come around.

The cost for a typical event is $20 if you're an SCCA member ($70/year). It's $35 for non-members. Annie and I generally arrive at 9:00 or so to get registered and get our car and helmets inspected. Cars usually start running at 10:00 or 10:30 and heats last for 1-2 hours. You have to be there for 2 heats; one to drive and one to volunteer. We usually make a day out of it and volunteer for extra heats just for fun.

So after all that explaining, here's a video for your enjoyment. This footage was taken with a roof-mounted camcorder on my friend's 1994 Corvette from an event at the Wichita Greyhound Park last summer. I've actually posted faster times than this guy in our family station wagon but didn't at this particular event because it had too many straights. I haven't explained anything about how to read where the cones are telling you to go but that is a vital aspect. If you take the wrong route around the course you are disqualified. It's easy to them with practice. One last thing: Here's a link to our Wichita SCCA club's website. There's a lot more info there. If anyone would like to meet us or drive at an event, just shoot me an email at jmr302 gmail com.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Back by Popular Demand... Benny Lava

Note: I should have put my usual disclaimer on this video. If you show this to the kiddos you might have some explaining to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Speed Racer Family

Here are some pics of Annie and I racing our station wagon last weekend. We were in KC at Arrowhead Stadium in one of the satellite lots (Lot L, for you sports fans).


I'm #27. The stickers in the window are from the event sponsors. I actually have a full set of sponsor magnets that we stick on the car but I had left them at home. It doesn't look NASCAR-ish when fully decked out but is funny nonetheless.


Believe it or not we were actually sliding around a lot more than I wanted. No, that's not a good thing. I don't have any photos, but on a grippy concrete surface we're probably lifting that inside rear wheel off the ground while cornering hard.


Here's super-speedy Ann Christine, #72, your 2008 Midwest Division Kansas City H-Stock Ladies Class Champion driver. So far she has not demanded that I address her by her full title. Note the 'L' made of masking tape. I didn't have time to make a magnetic 'L' to match the numbers and letters I already had.


Another pic of the 'The Champ'. She really improved this weekend and learned a few new techniques. I suggested a front shock damping adjustment between runs and she was readily able to feel the difference in how the car responded. For a little while we were like a successful driver/engineer pair, like the big leagues. Like Jeff Gordon and whoever his crew chief is. Yeah, like that.

How did I do? Well there were 4 other experienced drivers in my class and 3 of them had actual race tires and cars more suited to the class so they beat my times handily. There was one other car/driver combination I thought I could beat but I was consistently 2 seconds slower both days. Really what I've found is this car/tire combo is extremely lousy on smooth asphalt. It was much, much more competitive a few weeks ago at the last event on concrete. I was able to beat several Honda S2000's and Chevy Corvettes, believe it or not.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Alicia Keys' Conspiracy


Alicia Keys: Great voice, great looks, dumb as a sack of hammers?

Alicia was recently quoted in an interview with Blender magazine as saying the government invented Gangsta Rap so that black people would try to kill each other. A casual analysis of that statement reveals that Alica believes a race of people are so gullible and violent that the right song lyrics or beat will cause them to kill their fellow people for little or no reason. After all, they were told to do it. No thinking is involved.

At first I was skeptical, but after mulling it over a little more, I think she's right.

Just look at all the other conspiracies the Gubbermint has been involved with; the moon landing, the JFK assassination, Elvis, the theory that Pontiacs are sporty cars, Big Foot, Area 51, and more. So I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't pulling the strings in the music industry. We've all been duped. But it's not just black people they're after. Look at what they've done to Country Music. I think the Gubbermint uses Top 40 Country to pacify rebellious white people! How else can you explain how every Top 40 Country song appears to have the same blandness? Why do all the instruments seem to come from the same limited sound effects library? Why is there no portion of the song without vocals? Why is the tempo so formulaic? Why do they all look like Michael Boltons with cowboy hats?



Yeah, Kenny's got "No Problems". That's because he's an agent of the Gubbermint sent to pacify rebellious white people. That's right, Whitey, ignore your deteriorating rural schools and communities and just smoke dope and be cool. No problems. Just stay in the trailer and drink Budweiser.

If I'm wrong then how can you explain how Johnny Cash was assassinated recently? That's right, I said it. Johnny finally crossed the line after so many years and they had to smack him down. I'm sure Bush tried to protect him for as long as possible but in the end had to give in to his evil minions Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Those bastards!

The only way to fight this hugely successful campaign to control our minds is to form a unified front; an army of informed citizens who only kill each other for more legitimate reasons. An army that actually puts their shirts on before being arrested in the trailer park. I'm willing to lead that army, as the first person to bust this conspiracy wide open, but I need your help. Without your monetary support I cannot reach the communities who so desperately need to be informed. Please consider making a credit card, cash, or paypal donation to the cause today. Together we'll unify the races against the evil Bush administration and end this insanity!

Thank you, Alicia Keys for your insight! YOU HAVE SET US FREE!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Danger of Bathing Toddlers

FOD = Foreign Object Debris.



Sad, sad Bella.



Who, me? Yes you, Tub Pooper.

Watch It

Friday, April 11, 2008

Self Explanatory



Supposedly this rally car was going 136 mph.

Friday, April 4, 2008

In Memory Of



I don't think this applies to anyone I know, so time to talk about it Seinfeld-style.

What is it with these "In Memory of..." stickers on peoples' cars? What exactly is in memory of the deceased person, thing, or pet? Is the sticker itself in memory of whatever? Is the 1986 Honda Accord? Is it the crappy purple window tinting? Oblivious/negligent driving? If you have multiple people, pets, or things (yeah, I know) die are you going to have multiple "In Memory of" stickers or will it become a list?

Normally at a fo-reals monument site it's pretty clear what the monument part is so all that's needed is the statement "In Memory of". But here I'm not getting it. I need more hints.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Huh?



To quote a famous Missourian, rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. Annie and I both spotted this at the same time. While simultaneously predicting our economic demise, the same paper has a front-page contest/advertisement for a goods from a successful American company. The story is linked here. Either they don't believe their own reporter or they're full of crap or both. Could it be that your average European is delighted that the world's most successful economy is having a downturn? Laugh it up, jerks.

You know it may just be that Apple is trying to sabotage the EU. Maybe I should send them my video iPod in some sort of contest. Then they can deal with the iTunes PC issues and the various lock-ups that require resetting. That's if they can get over the sub-par audio quality. In the meantime I'll find a better solution from another domestic company. And I'll somehow be able to do this while buying cans of generic lima beans for dinner. Times are tough.

I'm full of sarcasm today.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Speed Racer



Yeah, he's back. The countdown is over as some have noticed. I now have a one-ticket wide buffer before getting another letter from the state. Really though, I've been speeding for a while now, just not as much as before. I've been regularly doing 10 over on I-135 instead of 15. That makes this deadline less dramatic I suppose.

I'm still eyeing that Valentine V1 radar detector in the window. It's consistently the best unit on the market. At $399 it should be. So far there are other things I'd rather spend the money on. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Year of the Nyquil


Wow, what a year. I'm sick again (another cold virus - Now with new and improved feverishness!). I've almost spent more time sick in '08 than well. How is that possible? I was sick with a nagging cold most of January, the stomach flu hit in early February, and now I have this horrible feverish cold.

I'm finishing up my 3rd bottle of Nyquil. I'm surprised the stuff even works anymore. Surely I've built up a tolerance for it. We're lucky I don't drink alcohol (another post, another time - not a moral stand) or I'd have to drink buckets of the stuff to get to sleep.

The thing is, I was only sick once in the winter of '06/'07. Bella was in preschool then as now, so it's not the kids-in-school factor. I think I do know what it is though...

...Red Bull



Yes, that Red Bull. This is going to sound strange (maybe not to you regulars) but I used to drink 1-2 Red Bulls per day. In my defense, it was purely for the taste and to keep the caffeine headaches away. I actually like the stuff. At first sip it's like a sugary Strawberry soda but quickly changes into a bitter but pleasant taste. It's honestly a bit of an acquired taste. There's nothing else like it. None of the other energy drinks come close, even when they tempt me with 2-4 times the fluid quantity per can. A coworker friend of mine was into it the same time as me. We were like drug buddies. Either one of us could smell a freshly opened can all the way across the room. We used to buy pallets in bulk at Sam's Club to save 50 cents per can. It has that certain something.

I had to shake the Red Bull in late January when my back started getting really bad. I didn't need the calories (it's actually slightly less than regular cola per volume) and the caffeine Jonesing was another excuse for calories in general, so I quit cold turkey. It's not that hard when you're in the kind of pain I was. Also it was costing $2-$4 per day which ads up to $1100/year on average. Yikes.

Anyway, my original point: does a Red Bull a day keep the doctor away? It's not just caffeine. There are different herbal energy ingredients too. Maybe one of them is it. Maybe Taurine maintains your immune system. Maybe I should do a study and write a book.

Or maybe I should save my $3/day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Tanker Deal



Okay, I know I'm going to catch heck for this, but here goes.

I'm going to speak my mind about this whole fuel tanker deal. I know Boeing is *sort of* the home team here, so yeah, it is a big deal to Wichita, but was it the correct decision for the Air Force to choose the Airbus / Northrup Grumman design over "ours"? Before anyone answers, I would say there's almost no way to know for sure. None of us has read the technical proposals or financial contracts. This huge negative reaction is entirely emotional. All we know is Boeing is good for Wichita and it didn't work out so something criminal must have gone on and Tiahrt/Roberts/Brownback need to see who could possibly have screwed this up.

In the big picture here, I would argue that what matters most is that the armed forces get a tanker that's the right technical solution and they get the best price for it. The US Government is not a jobs program via military contracts. The end product matters the most when the rubber meets the road and the tanker is in service. It's not like we're buying a MIG from the Russians or Chinese here either. France is a NATO ally and Northrup Grumman is an American company. What might be a bummer for Wichita may well be a boon to Northrup Grumman's hometown and the US military. And before you poop on the French realize that they just elected a government that's intent on patching up US relations. In other words, a majority of the voting French public rejected Jacques Chirac's actions and actually have a pro-US stance on several matters.

Tiahrt/Roberts/Brownback will continue to hunt down a bogey man for this but the fact is they are local politicians concerned about protecting their home district. This is the kind of thing that gets them reelected. If they were from another district we wouldn't be hearing from them, most likely. Don't fool yourself. Of course I'll continue to vote for these guys for other reasons but the point of this post is to encourage us all not to get wrapped up in this for purely emotional reasons.

Red Meat Comics

Am I the only one that thinks these cartoons are funny? It's not always hysterical but sometimes it hits me just right. The Marlboro man is probably my favorite recurring character.

Monday, March 17, 2008

AC and Me



Man, is it neat to have a common hobby with your spouse. This is a picture of Annie and I freezing our rears off last Sunday at an autocross race with our Mazda stationwagon. The site is Strother Field in Winfield for you aviation buffs (which is probably no one). Annie's gracious parents agreed to take the kids for the day and even volunteered to keep the overnight to save us time in the morning. That was probably worth 30-60 minutes of extra sleep. Thanks T&L!

Annie improved a lot over the course of our heat, dropping 6 seconds off her first time and getting smoother and better almost every run. She already reads the courses better than most; this is a really important component to autocrossing, BTW. An autocross (aka 'solo') is like a miniature road race. It's mostly turns with short straightaways and you have to 'read the cones' to know where to go AND figure out the best way to get through it. Some people just don't have the visual and motor skills to get the first part correct. Annie has picked that up really quickly and will eventually be a very quick driver if she wants to.

Even though this hobby is about like a college major in terms of interest for me and a community college night course for Annie, we have a lot of fun together and I hope it's something we can continue to do.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't Funk with the Colonel!

It's Friday (almost). Time for some another edition of Neg's Urban Sports. A reminder: No one curses like the English.



There are several more new posts in my head this week. Just haven't had time to post them lately. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sideburn Rehab



Okay, I'm getting a little frustrated with my current barber. I directly asked for sideburns that ended where my natural hairline ended AND covered up the dark freckle in the middle of this area. What I got was Forrest Gump / Billy Bob Thorton in Slingblade non-sideburns. So for the next 4-6 weeks I will be rehabilitating my stubs. Please do not be alarmed during this time. Grief counselors will be on site to assist you.

So I'm going to have to change barbers. This is the 3rd or 4th time this has happened in 6 months. My hair is too butch and too simple to take to a 'hair stylist' but does require enough finesse that I can't really do it myself (top is a #3 guard, sides/back are #1.5 blended up). If anyone knows of a manly barber shop in town with a friendly (but not too friendly) staff that listens to their customers, I'm all ears. Guns n' Ammo magazine subscription and talk of 'dag-gummed liberals' is a plus.

Happy Birfday to Me.




I'm 32 today and don't look a minute older than 43.

I've always been the guy who looked older than he was. Is that stress or genetics? I don't know. I used to think it was related to my 1/4 Italian heritage but all of my relatives on that side aged gracefully. I'm the only one that's starting to look like Al Pacino post-Godfather II.

I may look even more grizzled and mean the older I get but I am refusing to let my body get any worse than I am now. It's time to hit the gym and pushback from the table a bit. I was quite an athlete at one time and it's been way, way too long since those days. Hopefully I haven't damaged my joints and back beyond the point of no return. There probably won't be much jogging or powerlifting in my future but I intend to get back on a bicycle and hit the weights and work on flexibility. Having a high school wrestling and Tae Kwon Do background I'm thinking of joining a mixed martial arts gym in Wichita. They have a lot of new equipment and teach boxing fitness and martial arts classes, which should keep me entertained. So far from just moderate dieting (no deserts, no vending machine food, no soda) I've lost 10 lbs at about 2-3 lbs per week. Cranking up my metabolic rate should really get things going. [Note: I did indulge in some birthday cake this weekend and today. Thank you AC + my moms]

Who knows; if things go well I may need a plastic surgeon in another year or so to take care of the extra skin. Maybe I could keep the extra and reupholster a chair or something. How cool would that be?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Curvy Roads

I came across these pics in an email fwd recently.

I could drive roads like this all day.



Looks like a life-size slotcar track, doesn't it?

Here's my favorite. I have no idea where this is. If it's in the US, I'd guess California or the Pacific NW, but that's just a S.W.A.G. I can't make out any of the road signs so who knows.



Here's the same road at night during a long photo exposure:



To really cap off this driving experience I'll need the car to sound like this.

I've talked to Annie about dropping the kids of with Gramma and heading for Arkansas just to find roads like this. One of these days it's going to happen.

Now on to politics or something...