Sunday, January 20, 2008

And Now Something From Japan

Wait til the shooting and pistol whipping begins. Seriously.

"As You Can See, I am Very Into Fashions."

Ah hA

Thursday, January 17, 2008

For Your Automotive Education

Screw the Lamborghini Countach. Here's the only real Lambo. Watch this video and you'll have a leg up during the next game of Jeopardy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Living Dangerously

A concerned friend posted an interesting comment to my satirical letter post this afternoon that I think deserves a response. Here's what he/she/it said:

"Speedracer-How much is this costing you? I'm thinking between the tickets, the possible DL revoke/ jail time, and the obvious stress on your mental/ physical health, speeding may not be worth it. You may actually live longer and have a greater influence on your wife & children if you slowed down. Just a thought from a concerned friend."

First the numbers: The three tickets total about $360. My insurance found out about all three tickets this month when my policy went up for renewal which will raise my insurance $20/month in 2008 so $240. I don't know if this increase will stay the same until all three tickets are off my 3-year record or if it'll go down if I don't get any additional tickets. This is money that didn't need to be spent, which is regretful, but has not taken the wind out of my sails. It was my Speeding Club dues for the past 4 years.

The threat of a license restriction (see the 'for reals' letter from the state) if I get another ticket is something I'd like to avoid and I really have dialed back the speed, thus the new countdown on the right margin. I really am driving around at less than 5 mph over the speed limit on the highway and almost right on the money elsewhere around town except in certain areas to keep up with the rest of traffic like Pawnee Rd just west of Rock. This feels remarkably slow and does actually increase my commuting time. I don't feel any safer because I am now in with the pack of bad drivers instead of slicing my way through them and putting them and their friends as far behind me as possible.

In terms of stress, this whole ordeal really and honestly has not caused much. I did expect to get burned at some point but it had been over 4 years since my previous ticket and I was pretty comfortable. I didn't expect two get 2 tickets in that one particular week but really the only mental anguish I experienced was having to tell my wife. So I honestly reject the mental/physical health reduction from stress point. I would probably be ranting about something else in place of those tickets, probably the common driving errors I put in the satirical letter. Maybe politics or environmentalists. I'm not necessarily a calm person.

I'm not sure Concerned was implying this or not, but I don't believe speeding in itself is dangerous if the driver is focussed on the art like I generally am. Yeah, that sounds snooty but I stand by it. From what I can gather from the 75+ miles I drive each day, I am much more alert, aware, and in control that the majority of other drivers on the road. I'm constantly scanning the horizon and probably the 1/2 mile in front of me not just for speed traps and cop cars (although I can identify the silhouette of a Crown Vic from any angle) but for where traffic is flowing and what it's doing. This is a skill taught in race driving school (I've been thru a 1-day course) and something I consciously practice. It gives me a heads-up on who's going where and also reduces the sensation of speed greatly. If I see a slow-down and a sea of brake lights a mile ahead of me on I-135 I have tens of seconds to react instead of a split second like the average person who seems to be mesmerized by the rear bumper on the car in front of them.

I really take driving seriously. My hands are at 9:30 and 2:30 on the wheel at almost all times. My thumbs are even resting on the wheel, not choking it. This makes for quick precise steering inputs and full control at all times. None of my weight is resting on the wheel. If I have to react quickly I won't be off-balance and unable to correct the wheel if I have to swerve. If you look like this when you drive you're doing it wrong:

My seat back is also in the proper angle so that my arms aren't too straight and aren't too bent. It's comfortable and again, affords me a quick and precise reaction. The seat bottom is adjusted just far enough aft so once again my legs aren't too straight or bent for the same reasons. Sorry Mr. Gangsta but you're also doing it wrong.

I also have a personal policy of not talking on my cell phone while driving unless it's absolutely necessary. I'll really only pick up if it's Annie and I frequently tell her I'm driving and I'll call her right back if it's not an emergency. I've also don't spend much on car stereos. The ones I have generally came with the car and although I like music a lot I don't listen to it in the car much. I'd rather hear the beautiful wail of my BMW's inline-six or the frantic screams of the Honda B16 four cylinder when I'm in the city. Engine revs and gear changes are a thing of beauty and I don't get sick of it. That's my own personal problem. I do admit to listening to talk radio on the long highway cruise but it's not loud and I'm generally tuning half of it out because it's all commercials. If I'm really going on a long distance trip then I'll break out the CD's. I don't find much fault with that.

I'd also like to say this about speed limits. They are the lowest common denominator. The driver with the worst skills, the one who barely got a drivers license, in the worst street legal car is the one the speed limit is calculated for. The numbers haven't changed at all since probably the 50's except for the interstate highway speed limits which actually used to be higher in places. I don't know if any of you have driven a 1950's or 1960's car with drum brakes and uber-soft suspension, but it's a whole different world than today's cars. 45mph feels like 70 and turns you wouldn't notice today would test the limits of the tires and suspension. Brake pedals were firm and ineffective. The whole experience is not unlike hopping on a tractor these days. So our speed limits were designed around a car like that driven by someone with marginal skills and slow response times.

So what's an attentive moderately skilled driver in a well-maintained high performance car to do? In my case it will be something I should have done a long time ago. Buy a really nice radar detector and get on with it. I'm still going to have to play it cool for a while but that's the long term plan.

If this world and this government were perfect there would be a multi-tiered drivers license system based completely off training and ability testing. Your base level license would only allow you to pilot a compact car and the new low level speed limit. With each successive training class and test you could drive something bigger and/or more powerful and at the new higher speed limit on the same roads. This is basically the way airplane pilot's licenses are structured. I do believe it should costs thousands of dollars to get to the top level and something like $1500 to get the very basic first level license. Then drivers would take things seriously and the unskilled and the dangerous would be weeded out. Public transportation would flourish (you can thank me later, environmentalists) because I'm betting 30-40% of the driving public today would be forced off the roads. They just wouldn't be capable of proving themselves in a lot of situations and/or wouldn't want to make the necessary investment.

I'm sure I'll have some explaining to do when Anthony and Isabella are 16 but it's going to be hard for me to accept that their skill levels will be up to the task of driving this way at essentially zero seat time. They are also individuals with unique skills and interests and may not ever be up for it. That's a bridge I'll cross when we get there. But in the meantime I won't fib to them. They're going to witness their old man speed safely. Hopefully that's a good example even if it's not a perfect one. It's not a good thing to say the laws don't apply to me but I just happen to disagree with this one and the government also considers it to be a fairly minor offense.

Is this the longest post ever? I'll have to check. Anyway, no hard feelings, Concerned, seriously. You brought up a good point and I'm glad we could do this.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Maniacal Manifestos

Man, I gotta be more careful blogging just before bed. It's produced some long-winded manifesto posts. You readers will have to taken into account the time of day each post was made.

I'm not sure my humor worked on that last post either. I should have kept the faux letter from Sebilius short and sweet and left out the long list of poor driver errors.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dear Jason

Dear Jason,

Thank you for being so speedy this year. The City of Wichita, City of Newton, and State Highway Patrol officers tell me they relished the opportunity to ticket one of our state's most notorious speeders. I'm told they set up several speed traps just for you only to be foiled over and over again. You really made them work for it and all 3 officers appreciated the opportunity to better themselves.

I also have to thank you for your generous cash donations to our fine state and various municipalities. Without citizens as rapid as yourself we may have to raise revenue through alternative means. I've already been shot down multiple times on my air tax proposal, so you can appreciate our dilemma.

I do have to warn you though, that our law enforcement officers are exhausted. If we are required to issue another citation for bravery on your behalf we will be forced to put you in Time Out for 30 days so we can get a breather. So until at least January 30th we'd appreciate it if you drove like a normal citizen. Here are some guidelines:

1) Drive at or 5 mph below the speed limit in the left-most lane. The ability to change lanes and keep to the right is an unrealistic expectation. Feel free to accelerate quickly or wave your fist in anger if another motorist attempts to pass you on the right side; after all you're the one in the left lane and you've earned it. Never relinquish the prize.

2) If you have difficulty merging onto the highway, feel free to come to a complete stop. Some think this endangers the drivers behind you but I disagree. Roll down the shoulder at walking pace while expressing your discontent at the very drivers you endangered.

3) While on the highway, feel free to vary your speed continuously. This keeps all other drivers on their toes. Cruise controls are difficult to understand and we wouldn't want to interrupt your cell phone call while you fumble with the buttons.

4) Conspire with other motorists to block all 3 lanes while on the canal route. Your impressive display of speed matching will surely amuse the audience gathering at the rear of your car.

5) While approaching an intersection in the right-most lane do not bother looking at cross traffic until you have come to a complete and full stop. When you feel comfortable doing so, and you have adjusted the heating/air-conditioning controls and adjusted the stereo, look to your left then right then left then right then left then attempt to pullout then abort that attempt when you suddenly notice cross traffic for the very first time. If the person ahead of you completes this same procedure and there is a mile between you and the next approaching car, ignore it completely until it is your turn.

6) When an ambulance is approaching on the opposite side of a divided interstate, immediately lock up your brakes and head for the shoulder. Ignore what all other drivers behind you are doing. After all, that ambulance, which is travelling at 75 mph may suddenly swerve across the median or burst through the concrete barrier into oncoming traffic to come to the aid of an invisible car in the lane ahead of you. Get over at ALL costs!

The above behaviors are NOT ticket-able and will help you blend in with the rest of the driving public in your city. I hope you will consider taking these courses of action in the short term.

Lean Mean Kathleen

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thanks Lil Buddy

Annie has already posted about this one but I couldn't help but double-up and post a 3rd picture.

That's me gapping the sparkplugs with the spark plug gapping tool on my keychain (never leave home without it). Right around this time Anthony did manage to eat part of one of the boxes. It was surprising how long he sat up there and never tried to crawl out or bail over the side. He was really having fun up there next to me. I think this may have been the highlight of my time off.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Ruse

Look at me. I'm a prolific blogger. A fiend.

Saw this clip hyperlinked in another blog. Couldn't help but embed it here for your amusement. I love this scene. Highbrow movie viewers will instantly recognize the movie. Sorry for the low quality.

I Love Fedor

It's a man-crush. But in a sports fan sorta way, not ...well ... you know.

Here's why: - Watch more free videos

Have I ever mentioned I'm a big MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fan? Well, I am. I follow the UFC (Ultimate Fighter Championship), Pride (recently gobbled up by UFC), and IFL (International Fight League). That soft looking Russian is quickly becoming known as the best fighter in the world regardless of weight class. He finds a way to beat everyone... calmly. The fight above is the most animated I've ever seen him and I've seen at least 5 or 6 of his fights. He's incredible to watch. For reference, Fedor is roughly 220 lbs. The Korean guy he's fighting in this clip is 370 lbs and the top rope is about at waist height. He has overwhelmed a lot of skilled fighters with sheer bulk and power.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Blondes Prefer Toyota

Just for you, Pearl.

I won't say I'm bored and wish I was back at work but, yeah, I've had some idle time over my vacation.